There’s a news story floating around the other week about politicians having to prepare their own taxes. (Here’s what I’m referring to, btw: https://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/13/business/yourtaxes/13essay.html) Apparently, the proposal gets a few laughs from those who hear about it, because, really — it’s becoming mind-numbingly complex, even for many professionals.
You think I’m kidding on that one? Well, you should see some of the
returns we review for people who have had them prepared elsewhere … yikes.
So, just as the choice to file taxes via robotic software fails the test, selecting the wrong professional to file your returns can be a big, big mistake.
Here’s what I mean.
Is There Really Any Difference?
Unfortunately, with the way that most tax professionals and CPA‘s present themselves to the world, it seems like we’re all the same. We all seem to offer the same services, for pretty similar fees. If I weren’t working every day in this industry, I’m pretty sure I would think that all accountants and CPA’s were the same. Nothing could be further from the truth.
You see, each tax professional does have certain qualifications. Some might be experts at this sort of tax law, or in working with farmers or with getting money back through IRS representation, or a whole variety of different things…but are they really providing what you, the consumer, wants?
What do you want from a tax preparer?
When I sit down and talk with regular consumers, here’s what I discover:
You want to be able to work with a caring professional…NOT one of those “cattle call” shops, where you’re squeezed in with a bunch of other people, and seen by harried, poorly-trained employees that just took a basic tax course.
You want an accurately filed tax return. You want the whole thing broken down in terms that you understand, and in a way that you don’t need a translator to communicate. You want there to be processes in place to ensure that the most money is kept out of the grasping hands of Uncle Sam, and in your wallet (legally).
You want a “heads up” about future ways you can legally add deductions and make sure that you can get even more money back in the future. You want assurances everything your tax preparer is doing for you is valid and correct, so a guarantee(s) is essential to the process.
And of course, you want do it fast. Look, I know this is a big deal for consumers…you don’t want your accountant pushing back at you all the time, saying “give me more time”, when you know it’s not because they’re working hard on your behalf, but that they’re so poorly organized that they’re not getting ANYBODY’S work done on time!
Oh, and if you ARE getting a refund, you want a tax firm who can get you the most money back the fastest … with the most electronic filing options available.
Here’s the bottom line: You want professionalism … accuracy … you want clarity … you want to be aware of beneficial tax options … you want peace of mind … you want an efficient use of your time …. you want your refund money back in your hands fast …. And at the end of the day, you want to KNOW you got the most money back from Uncle Sam AND know that the IRS will stay off your back so you can sleep like a baby at night!
If the accountant or tax professional you are talking to can’t do these things, you need to call one that can.