Ernst & Young, which claims to have the largest tax practice of any Big Five firm, is now offering those services directly through the Internet. The Ernie Online Tax Advisor (EOTA) will allow corporate clients to address their questions directly to tax specialists, who will provide answers within a guaranteed time frame and defined cost range.

Clients will submit their questions through a questionnaire and indicate when a response is needed. For an additional fee, answers can be requested as soon as the next business day. Questions can be on a broad array of topics, including tax accounting methods, compensation and benefits, financial services, inventory, international issues, mergers and acquisitions, state and local taxes, and partnership taxation. Queries will be routed to an appropriate specialist, who will perform the necessary research and draft a response to be reviewed by another specialist.

Fees are capped at $2,500 per question, per jurisdiction. Clients with further questions can call a toll-free number for assistance.

Ernst & Young claims that online responses will meet the same quality standards applied to any other written advice provided by the firm. Presumably the online format will reduce costs and increase convenience to the client. EOTA is available to current registered Ernst & Young clients.
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