Today I read an all-too familiar blog post about how a studious young professional business woman gathered her tax documents, made her appointment and prepared for her tax appointment…. begrudgingly (and compared it to her bi-annual appointment to a dental exam). As a CPA and Tax Advisor, of course, I’m thinking wow…. Uh-oh.
Oh, but it goes deeper, of course. Perhaps this hit home with me even more because of the dentist connotation. After all, SERIOUSLY – I will pay a dentist easily one thousand dollars (credit card, barter, etc) above any insurance payment made (pfft.. if any) for nothing more than strong anesthesia – as long as they ensure me I am COMPLETELY KNOCKED OUT. The kicker? I do this even for a simple tooth filling. I honestly think I would rather relive BIRTH PAIN than go to the dentist (true story).. and yet now somehow I have found myself in a profession where people think the same of what I do. Wow.
So certainly (even though I’m a cool, savvy, fun CPA…. stop laughing, it’s actually true)… this entire post fired me up a bit. Why? Because I hear this same thing over and over again. Jeez… why?!? It should NOT be like that. My clients don’t feel like that…. I know this for a fact. So what is the problem here?
Forewarning: This is NOT a plug for me, my company, or my industry.. I promise. This is nothing but truth:
Here was my response to her post (that I felt worthy of sharing):
Rivaling a bi-annual dental exam.. really?!? I am a CPA.. and sadly yes, I have heard this before as well, Jill.
While most CPA’s and Tax Advisors think the newest tax law changes and credits will amaze and dazzle their clients (OMG… seriously, they really do think this), the truth is clients want a few simple things, right? They want:
1) to pay the least tax possible;
2) to file their returns correctly (to keep the IRS away if nothing else); and
3) to not be GOUGED by huge fees to do the above two things.
Right.. or wrong?
SADLY… it is right. And… SADLY both CPA (or Tax Advisor) and the CLIENT are also WRONG!!!
I have three points, and then I’m done.. poof, outta here (and absolutely NO PLUG for me, my company, no sales pitch, none of that… I despise that).
From me… as a CPA/Tax Advisor, here it is:
1) EXPENSES: I have an easy to remember ‘rule of thumb’ I share: Keep track of any and every expense that
- a) produces income;
- b) has the intent to produce income; or
- c) could possibly or will in the future produce income.
That’s it. Adopting puppies from the pound is a noble thing to do, but unless we can get them social security numbers (to claim them as dependents) – or – we have a ‘dog breeding’ business intent.. noooo… it is not a deductible expense.
2) CREDITS: Ahhh… these are things that should make you LOVE your accountant. These actually reduce your TAX dollar-for-dollar (not just the income that you are taxed on). They change yearly, but this is why professionals (if they don’t GOUGE you on fees) are invaluable.
- Of COURSE THERE’S A KICKER: These ‘credits’ all depend on the mood of popular politics honestly. Oh yes… we now have fuel economy car credits, energy efficiency home repair credits, child care credits, education credits, adoption credits, etc., etc.
- MANY of these software-in-the-box-programs miss these ENTIRELY!! (Hehehe… I love it when I get new clients that use those programs or go to the local franchise firms.. Sorry folks, but yes I LOVE IT because they leave happy with money coming back to them.. and yep.. they love me back too. Now, THAT’s how you should feel leaving your tax appointment. Good grief!
3) Lastly.. and in my humble opinion the most important of the three: When you leave your accountant…. if you feel like you are glad your ‘bi-annual dental exam is finally over’…. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE… consider finding another accountant. Seriously.
- If you don’t leave with a confident plan of action for the upcoming year…. or
- If you don’t leave with new knowledge of how to improve your small business or tax situation for the year ahead… PLEASE at least look around.
- Most CPA’s will give a free consultation.
- You need synergy with them. You need to feel like they understand you, your business, and your goals.
If you don’t have that… see you at your next dental exam.
(Hope it’s not a root canal).
Michele Robbins, CPA