There is a tax consulting service company operating in Canada called Farm Business Consultants Inc (FBC). They have regional offices in Ontario ( London was head office until recently), Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta ( head office Calgary ), and British Columbia.
They package their service as a " membership; " per taxation year that includes review of past returns, planning, consultation, preparation of tax returns mostly for farmers and some small businesses. This " membership" commences on the day that they pay their so-called annual fee and expires on the day that the FBC data collector shows up at the " member's " location.
The fee paid, for example, by an average farmer on a $250,000 gross operation would be $3,274, plus taxes.
The sales brochures and sales presentation materials promote these services well enough, but make no mention that the so-called membership expires, along with all benefits and services, at the time that the FBC data collector visits supposedly to collect data for the current year's tax return.
However, before the data collector collects any data he is required to collect the " membership" fees for the next tax year. He is paid on commission. The data collectors have used tactics such as refusing to collect the data; creating an impression that the tax work will not be completed, or that the "member" will risk audit if he refuses to pay. In other words, whatever it takes to get the pre-payment for the following year's services. This means, using the fee example given above, that the average farmer would pay over $7,000 to get his tax return completed for the current year.
This happens at a time of year when the "member" has limited time to explore other options. If the annual fee was paid on January 3, 2001, as an example, it would be due again on February 3, 2001, if that was the day of the FBC data collect visit. Responses to this vary from grudging compliance to angry refusal to pay in spite of the loss of the fees already paid for the work, yet uncompleted.
There are a number of contacts available to you on this story should you wish to proceed.
Also, Consumer Protection Branch Saskatchewan Justice, Government of Saskatchewan are reviewing this matter.