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I have a client for which I designed a presentation for a fixed price. I sent an initial invoice and got paid. No problem there.

Sometime after he requested an editable version of the invoice because he needed to "add some items".

I told him I only worked with PDF versions of my invoices but that I would happily help him out.

He is requesting to add an additional item to the invoice for which I haven't charged for nor work on.

It seems a bit shady to me but I wanted to know what the best way to proceed in this situation.

Any pointers would be greatly appreciated

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It is shady.

Invoices are your business records. They reflect your income. You should never add anything to any invoice which your business is not directly responsible for.

The client is asking you to put yourself in an untenable position. Refuse to add random items or provide anything editable. No one should ever need to edit an invoice you send them.

It sounds to me like this client wants to pass on costs to someone else.. and wants to make it appear you are charging more than you did in an effort to hide his/her fee. Or, in order to better the client's position financially (taxes) they want to make it appear as though they paid you more than they actually did. It's absolutely shady, if not fraud.

If the tax man comes calling and wants to see your business records... and there's an invoice for an additional $x amount you added merely because the client asked you to, but never collected any actual money.. well.. the tax man will see that as income for you/your business and you had better pay taxes on this "invisible" amount.

I would explain to the client:

Invoices are business records. I will not allow my business to be liable for line items you request be added unless my business is directly responsible for those line items. In addition, I will not jeopardize my tax position with invoices which reflect inaccurate income amounts. What you are asking is unethical.

If that angers or upsets the client, for me, I wouldn't care. There's obviously some nefarious business practices taking place and he/she is trying to pull me into that and I want no part of it.

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It is in the best interest of your business and best practice to only send out accurate invoices. It is out of your control what happens to the document after you release it. If you feel like you want to help in this specific instance since you're already discussing it with the client, chances are it wouldn't cause a problem for you, but best bet is to advise the client to google "free pdf editor."

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  • You mean you don't protect your PDF invoices against being edited in this illegal way? – Chenmunka May 6 at 9:56
  • Pdf protection prevents editing the original file which will deter the unskilled schemer; there's really no way to prevent someone from taking a screenshot of whatever page(s) and editing the file as an image or a new pdf... – AmishNick May 6 at 10:09
  • You could use a digital watermark I guess; personally I havent reached that level of security for my business, it's not a bad idea though. – AmishNick May 6 at 10:09

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