Discussion:Client owes big blames CPA

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Discussion Forum Index --> Advanced Tax Questions --> Client owes big blames CPA


Discussion Forum Index --> Tax Questions --> Client owes big blames CPA

Southparkcpa (talk|edits) said:

26 March 2013
I screen clients as well as anyone. Yet I accepted the sister of a great client 3 years ago. I have never enjoyed working with her. Attorney, self employed, went to a TOP 10 law school.

She took 55K from an IRA, husband earned 100K with 8K withheld and she has income of 90K with 5K withheld.

She owes almost 27K in fed tax alone.

She told me that I am not aggressive enough and she heard of businesses all over the country not paying any tax. She "scolded" me for not taking a home office. I agreed to finish the return, payment first and then I would resign.

Unreal.... I haven't had one like this in years. She told me she took the 56K out to pay the tax from last year that I made her owe. I asked her "I made you owe" she said YES.

Any one got a horror story and want to vent?

Fsteincpa (talk|edits) said:

26 March 2013
Gotta love the clients. What I would do, and I did this with one lawyer who didn't like the proper tax treatment, is have a statement drawn up that has them certifying that you have explained the rules that allow one to take a home deduction and that they certify they understand these rules and it is their belief that they are eligible for this tax deduction. Also add in that if the situation is not what they certify to, and that the deduction is invalid, that this might be considered a fraudulent filed return and then list the consequences of that.

Include in the certification, the requirements to claim said expenses and have them initial each one indicating they understand each requirement and they are certifying the deduction as being in compliance.

Let them know that you will be aggressive as they choose should they sign a similar one for each and every questionable expense.

I bet their comment will be no way, I could get disbarred.

EatonCPA (talk|edits) said:

26 March 2013
If it's your fault she had to pay big last year, then why did she bother to come back this year?

So, does she have a home office? That's pretty cut and dried - either she does, in which case I'm sure you would have taken expenses already, or more likely, she doesn't, in which case she should be very familiar with the word for signing/testifying to something which one knows is not true.

Ckenefick (talk|edits) said:

26 March 2013
You gotta be real careful with lawyers. And she must not be a good one if she's only making $90k, especially in the city of Charlotte.

She is obviously dissatisfied with her marriage or some other personal aspect of her life and she's taking it out on you.

I feel for you, though. We get beat up enough during tax season and having one of these interactions doesn't raise one's spirits.

Southparkcpa (talk|edits) said:

26 March 2013
She has an S Corp...in an office bldg. the home office example was really simply to show how out of touch she is.

A home office to make a 27K liability go away?

CK...yes I agree. I have many lawyers as clients.

Smokeytax (talk|edits) said:

26 March 2013
A wise mentor once told me you can't let your confidence get rattled in this business, even if it means resigning from clients who get under your skin.

Podolin (talk|edits) said:

26 March 2013
having one of these interactions doesn't raise one's spirits. I'll drink to that.

Fr. Mackelhenry (talk|edits) said:

26 March 2013
Good riddance. Kick her out and think nothing of it.

"She told me she took the 56K out to pay the tax from last year that I made her owe. I asked her "I made you owe" she said YES."

"She told me that I am not aggressive enough and she heard of businesses all over the country not paying any tax"

I could write a book about this. Statements like this do not surprise me in our current political environment. It is cliche and corny, but taxes are the price of civilization. We need to send SOME conservatives and the libertarians to Bolivia for 3 months to see the results of not investing in the public sphere.

2013 Report of the American Society of Civil Engineers on American Infrastructure: D Plus.

http://www.infrastructurereportcard.org/

If this lady is so smart, let her self prepare in the future, maybe she can offshore herself and still pretend to be American.

Ingo (talk|edits) said:

26 March 2013
I would have just told her to find someone else....now, this year.

I had a similar horror story: Husband an engineer...wife a lawyer

They wanted to know "how they could pay less"

(He lost about 100K in options sales...not happy about the $3000 loss limit)

He told him..."The best way to pay less tax is to earn less money."

They were "one year only clients"....5 years ago. And I still go on rants about them.

Southparkcpa (talk|edits) said:

26 March 2013
I am somewhat fortunate that I dont attract many clients like this. The ONLY REASON I accepted her a few years ago was her brother is a big client.

That said...I did resign but I thought it was pretty ridiculous that a lawyer could not see the relationship between income and tax and assume a "good" CPA can just make the tax go away like the many loopholes she has read about.

INGO...when a client owes too much, one of my favorite lines is "write me a check" and deduct it.

Ckenefick (talk|edits) said:

26 March 2013
Husband an engineer...wife a lawyer

Oh! That's all we need to know. I had an engineer client once. His annual 5-page letter started like this: "Chris, you will note that our interest income, as reported on Form 1099-INT is some $140.13 lower this year than last. This is attributed to lower rates in the CD Market. If you recall, our CD matured at the Credit Union and we moved the monies to XYZ bank, whose rates were some 1.6576939030498% lower than said Credit Union. Accordingly, our interest income this year, as reported on Form 1099-INT, was lower than last."

....please somebody shoot me.

Kevinh5 (talk|edits) said:

26 March 2013
Chris, you forgot to tell that the 1099-int had a yellow sticky note on it with the words "Interest INCOME" written in red felt-tip pen on it. And they were alphabetized and placed into a color-coded folder with the title "INCOME" typed or written neatly on the label. With an Index as to which folder to find the INCOME and which folder to find the VARIOUS DEDUCTIONS in.

And a note to have you explain your final tax computation if it differed from his excel spreadsheet. Which was in the BLUE folder.

Kevinh5 (talk|edits) said:

26 March 2013
Going through one of those right now. On the 1098, next to where it's printed MORTGAGE INTEREST STATEMENT, he has placed an orange sticky note with the words 'MORTGAGE INTEREST', in red felt-tip pen. Just to be sure that I'd know what this arcane document might be trying to tell me.

CrowCPA (talk|edits) said:

26 March 2013
Kevinh5 - I hear you loud and clear. I HATE it when they put those sticky notes on everything. Just give me the damn documents, please. I know how to read them.

Southparkcpa - I have had similar issues and have a standard line: I think we will both be happier if you find someone else to prepare your tax return.

HowardS (talk|edits) said:

27 March 2013
For all you "I keep copies of everything the client provides" folks out there, how are all those sticky note copies working? lol

Fsteincpa (talk|edits) said:

27 March 2013
Engineers are the absolute wooooooorst. I had an engineer/lawyer combo as well. What is with these people.

And Kevin, your description of them is to T.

Ckenefick (talk|edits) said:

27 March 2013
Chris, you forgot to tell that the 1099-int had a yellow sticky note on it with the words "Interest INCOME" written in red felt-tip pen on it.

I'm peeing in my pants now. Hilarious!

And I love the guy that sits across the table from you. He's a control freak and will run the meeting how he wants to run it. He will not relinquish that stack of documents and simply slide them across the table to you. Instead, he picks each one up, one by one, examines it for 10 minutes, explains what it is and then hands it to you.

Yes, Mr. Jackass Engineer client, I know this is a W2. I've seen one before.

ChrisV2 (talk|edits) said:

27 March 2013
This thread finally explains why I hate myself...thank you...

Ckenefick (talk|edits) said:

27 March 2013
Don't feel bad. Those engineer clients leave our offices and then go back to work, "Guess what Joe. I just met with my Jackass Tax Accountant. Worst meeting ever. I'm glad I only see him once a year."

Death&Taxes (talk|edits) said:

27 March 2013
"I'm looking for aggressiveness, pushing the envelope and making gray areas white. Now you know where I'm coming from."

"Oh, I thought you walked over from 18th and Market."

Conversation circa 1985 in the middle of the Decade of Greed. Are people worse or better today? The 8-1 shelters are gone, just ask Ms. Donna Guerin (heading off to the slammer for 8 years).

Marcilio (talk|edits) said:

27 March 2013
Engineers are easy to have fall into place. I tell them that I have an hourly rate, and that I don't charge by the form. Works wonders.

Kbairtax (talk|edits) said:

27 March 2013
God....just had one of these today...only not an engineer, but an old retired math teacher.. He picks up the 1040 instructions and 1040 forms every year from the library and fills them out so that I have "something to work from".....he is a sweet well meaning old guy....but I have to admit, I schedule him early in the day every year so that I have the most patience.

He writes everything that is on the tax form on the outside of the envelope it came in then makes up a sheet so that I can "follow his math".

I loved telling him today were he had a math error! LOL Of course that led him to recalculate the entire return while I sat there and watched him do it.....then of course had to verify that I got what he got on certain lines. I bet he sat home for another hour after he left here filling in some of the blanks in between.

Taxaway (talk|edits) said:

27 March 2013
Don't you love the clients who hand you one piece of paper

at

a

time.

"Now this is my W2..."

Southparkcpa, if I had a client who insulted me (they can get mad at their tax predicament, IRS, Congress, etc. all they want, even ask me to explain/show that my tax treatment is correct) but throw out condescending remarks, they're done. Here are your papers, and see how the front door work both ways. No payment wanted. Not worth the aggravation.

Southparkcpa (talk|edits) said:

27 March 2013
Taxaway.. Agreed.

Ive been doing this since 1989 and have been through it all. When she exploded at me I said.. "I Knew you would do this.

That's why I think you should get a CPA who can connect with you. I have failed after 3 year to connect with you".

Tongue and cheek of course but she was never a good client.


I have an engineer client who prepares his return on a LOTUS, not excel, spreadsheet and hands that to me.

Ingo (talk|edits) said:

27 March 2013
Kbairatax...OMG....I think I do his twin brother!

Mine is a still working very bright (Princeton grad) 90 year old "bridge engineer" (built the major ones in NYC). He always does his own return...comes with a completed one....and really just wants to verify that his figures are correct.

He won the lottery this year for $35,000....and is all panicky because his figures aren't working out. It seems he actually does the return 2 places...or something like that....and the results don't match!

I told him to calm down...doing the return is what he pays me for.

He really shouldn't be on this thread. First year he was a PITA. Next year I told him to go elsewhere (didn't want to pay very much...didn't want to e-file)...but he came back begging in a week or so. Since then he's been very pleasant.

Ingo (talk|edits) said:

27 March 2013
Oh...and more more thing about engineers. They figure out their estimated payments to the penny.

Smokeytax (talk|edits) said:

27 March 2013
Way to go, Southparkcpa, resigning from the client. And you know what? I'll bet her brother will not be surprised, and may in fact be even more grateful that you continue to work with him.

Fsteincpa (talk|edits) said:

27 March 2013
I love the 1 at a times. Not. They wish to participate in the process.

Or the ones who separate everything between him and her. Helloooooooooooo, you're married. A union, one, not separate.

Or, can you show me the calculation that proves it's better to file together vs separate.

Had one of those the other day. A 'people of Walmart, newly married couple"

She wanted to see, so I did a MFJ to MFS while they were there. What it came down to was that she wanted to see what was hers. Whether any of her refund was used to pay his stuff.

Oh how I love the people.

Fsteincpa (talk|edits) said:

27 March 2013
On a good note, we also get the clients that send an email to us and one of their friends telling them

"hey, this is my accountant, he can help you with your taxes, Fred meet MH, MH meet Fred"

A very nice young lady, now in NYC, that I inherited from her father, she has referred me to a few of her NYC fashionista friends. One Trust Fund baby even. Actually, I need to remind myself to give her a discount this year.

Southparkcpa (talk|edits) said:

27 March 2013
Fred...a NYC Fashionista?

Ask her if she's a JETS fan!



"Inside joke between Fred and I" 2 frustrated JETS fans.

Gfisher (talk|edits) said:

27 March 2013
Me next! New client, corporation + individual - tells me her work is a "cream puff" and books come "camera-ready"; she's never had to answer questions or been given a single journal entry. I didn't get to look at the return before giving her a price estimate because it was "confidential" until she decided to work with me.

Then I get the return and I see why no questions - that's another rant entirely, the stuff the predecessor did! My first scream about this client is when she SENT ME A TASK "corporate return due - March 15th" at the beginning of March and then I got weekly followups. Meanwhile, the ball was ALWAYS in her court, since I did have to keep asking a lot of questions and she was slow to answer. I was so incensed that I taped her task to my door so all could see.

And yes, we billed her more than the quote and STILL ate a fair amount.

This weekend, she sent me 26 separate pdf files (but no Organizer), so I had to sort them into proper tax return order and insert the proper pages of a blank Organizer in between where it belonged - then bookmark. I wrote to her and said I would get it into production as soon as possible, but it was going to take me a little longer to get it into proper form before I could assign it. Her answer? "no problem - we still have 3 weeks, right?"

I wonder if I'll have a chance to kill her before she sends me her April 15th task ...

Death&Taxes (talk|edits) said:

27 March 2013
And with PDFs you find two kinds: the one who sends you them page by page (as you said 26 attachments) or the one who sticks them on the ScanSnap and you get one compressed file, which means perhaps 25% of the pages are 'boilerplate' or 'This Page left intentionally blank.' Every self-respecting pro like Fred will tell me to use two monitors, but that means turning off Cabaret or Cool Hand Luke or whatever DVD I am playing on the second monitor. I think sometimes that when one of these comes, I will capture the leering shot of Joel Grey as the MC and send it back to the client. Wilkommen

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hBlB8RAJEEc

Fsteincpa (talk|edits) said:

27 March 2013
David, first off, I have no self-respect. That is why I troll the gutters at night with Tommy the Tao looking for cheap thrills and cheaper women.

Now, with the above being said, simple solution, 3 monitors. 4 monitors. Oh yeah, I'm making the move after tax season.

Dream machine will be 4 monitors. the 2 lower level ones will have This year and last year, the upper one will be my play one and the 4th one will be facing the clients and will be off until I flip the switch to turn it on and that will be a duplicate image of the current year monitor, so I don't need to turn and swivel the monitor when I am showing things to clients.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled gutter trolling.

ChrisV2 (talk|edits) said:

27 March 2013
Good idea. I hate it when clients try to lean over my desk to see what I'm doing as I prepare their taxes. Especially when I am googling "how to prepare income taxes" while they are sitting there. The nerve of some people!

Rupert (talk|edits) said:

27 March 2013
...and the 4th one will be facing the clients and will be off until I flip the switch to turn it on and that will be a duplicate image of the current year monitor, so I don't need to turn and swivel the monitor when I am showing things to clients.

My 3rd "monitor" is a projector that displays monitor 2 image on the wall. Call me a nerd, but I think it's pretty cool. Clients seem to really like it too.

Tbm103 (talk|edits) said:

27 March 2013
Worst client this year:

We emailed her the return to review before filing. She emailed it back with sticky notes all over it. The first was for the Roth conversion amount from 2010 that is payable in 2012. She deleted it because she didn't know what it was. She then proceeded to point out every other number on the return that the change would affect. I emailed back and explained that she had converted $280 in 2010 and half was taxable in 2011 and half in 2012. She insists it isn't. I copied and pasted the directions from the IRS where it explains it. She says she didn't know it was an option to pay all the tax in 2010 instead of spreading it out over two years. She now wants us to amend 2010 and 2011 and take it off 2012. Having trouble explaining to her how this won't change the tax and if anything, will have to pay interest on the amount she owes for the previous years.

She also pointed out that we hadn't deducted our fee in any of the years in question, even though it's on there but it doesn't exceed the 2%. Wants that changed too. Wants to know what other mistakes we've made.

Rupert (talk|edits) said:

27 March 2013
She now wants us to amend 2010 and 2011 and take it off 2012.

I don't think that is an option...

408A(d)(3)(A)(iii) unless the taxpayer elects not to have this clause apply, any amount required to be included in gross income for any taxable year beginning in 2010 by reason of this paragraph shall be so included ratably over the 2-taxable-year period beginning with the first taxable year beginning in 2011.
Any election under clause (iii) for any distributions during a taxable year may not be changed after the due date for such taxable year.

Ckenefick (talk|edits) said:

27 March 2013
Here's an email I sent to a former client earlier today:

"Not including this e-mail, so far during tax season I've spent 5 seconds on your account, which is 5 more seconds that I wanted to."

Southparkcpa (talk|edits) said:

27 March 2013
CK..

Curious, why would you send that? Just some frustration?

Dont get me wrong. Love it!

Ckenefick (talk|edits) said:

27 March 2013
You know the type - the client that is always wanting or needing something. The selfish, spendthrift, needy, entitled client that acts as if Life is a one-way street - me, me, me. Do for me. "What, I have to pay you?"

The client that you end up devoting too much (valuable) time to. Always putting out a fire, fires caused by one bad client decision after another. At some point, you release the client and tell them no more. But then they don't go away. They still need this, they still need that.

Not really frustrated, just letting the former client know where I stand on the matter, which is here: I don't want to spend another second on your stuff. Whatever you need, obtain it elsewhere. Or, check your files, because I've already sent it to you 3 times prior.

Fsteincpa (talk|edits) said:

27 March 2013
On a positive note, a client who usually has a bill of about $500 and always pays when they come in the following year, sent us a check to day for $1,000. Payment for last year, and a pre-payment for this year. My office manager said we don't have anything from her here yet, why is she paying us.

It's a prepayment, simply deposit it and her stuff will come.

Actionbsns (talk|edits) said:

27 March 2013
I already commented on this particular client in a thread I started. But just a question to CPA's, and I don't mean to start the CPA/vs EA argument. A new client comes to you at this time of year wanting you to "review" the work of an EA. What do you do? I'm sorry, I'm just so upset about what has happened with a particular client I'm just not sure of how to respond. I've written an e-mail and stored it in draft mode to review later.

HowardS (talk|edits) said:

27 March 2013
Give it to an RTRP unenrolled preparer to review.

Fsteincpa (talk|edits) said:

27 March 2013
There is no argument. lol.

Let's start off by saying they wanted me to review the return of another preparer. It would depend on whether I had the time or not. And I have done reviews of prior years returns for people. My policy has always been to tell the truth. If the return is fine, I will tell them their previous preparer did it right and if they wish to simply thank me and go back to them, it's more than fine.

I use it as an educational experience as I want them to take responsibility of their return. I show them how they control refund or amount due.

TaxDude (talk|edits) said:

27 March 2013
I've had to fire three different client this year (unrelated incidents) because they didn't like the results and asked me to "make the numbers looks better". I told each of them I thought the numbers looked fine, because they are accurate. One of them suffered large business losses this year, so no EIC. She asked me if I had to report all the expenses, whether I could just remove some expenses so she could qualify for EIC. I said no, so she left. The others just didn't like the results.

Sadly, all 3 of them were long-time clients; 10+ years. Oh well, I certainly don't want those types of clients anyway - see ya!

Ckenefick (talk|edits) said:

27 March 2013
By wanting only a CPA to review the work, the client is expressing his own ignorance of who is qualified and who isn't. I don't necessarily mean that as a sleight to the client, because the client obviously doesn't know any better and perhaps we should not hold that against the client.

It is also obvious that if client has supplied all info and nothing has been missed, the client indeed owes the $5k, absent some math error by the software, which is unlikely. As K5 will tell you, software is always right.

These arguments generally come from the unsophisticated type. Moreover, instead of trying to sit down with you, in an open-minded fashion, to ensure everything has been accounted for and is accurate, client cuts you off and wants you to subject your uncompleted work to the review of another professional. Again, a sign of unsophistication and unprofessionalism.

So, Action, you have done nothing wrong. It is the client that is the trouble-maker.

With that background: I say, consider three options (1) cease and desist, terminate the engagement, give the client nothing, don't ask for payment (2) finish your work and get paid (3) don't finish your work, give client what you have, with a letter indicating it is incomplete, and get paid for the work you've alredy done.

It's really up to you. It doesn't matter how a CPA would handle the matter once presented to him or her for review.

I myself don't play this game. If someone has a return prepared by someone else for my review, I generally decline. They can hire me to prepare the return or not. If they decide to hire me, then I'll decide if I want to hire them. It all depends on the feel I get from them.

But truly, what will a CPA's review accomplish? If nothing is wrong, does untrusting, unsophisticated, complaining client, who has broken the trust with you, think he can come back to you? I hope not, this is unrealistic. But if client does think this, add another arrow to his quiver of unsophistication.

And what if something is wrong? Will client take this information and sue you? Maybe, all the more reason I wouldn't want to deal with the client after you have. I don't like litigious people. Stay away from them. Like I said, I will decide if I want to take the client. If client gives off any scent of being whiney, complainy or litigious...they can take a hike. If client simply feels they have been wronged, and it turns out they have been wronged, and they simply want to move forward with a new preparer, then I'll consider them. So, that's how I'd approach it - cautiously. But that's just me. There's plenty of CPA's that would jump right on to the client bandwagon, take on the work, and enjoy beating down the prior preparer just like the client has.

Death&Taxes (talk|edits) said:

27 March 2013
Paula: one way to send them away is tell them you will have to file an extension. This often panics first-timers.

Ckenefick (talk|edits) said:

27 March 2013
I think Paula is after some more thoughtful responses than that. She's obviously very upset about the whole thing. This has been a good client for a number of years. Now, all of a sudden, client doesn't trust Paula. It would upset anyone, especially when the reason is so unreasonable.

Southparkcpa (talk|edits) said:

27 March 2013
For me....that is a deal breaker and I would release the client. A year ago or so, I was asked to do the tax return of a very wealthy woman ($>10 mil in assets) and she asked that I send the tax return to her financial advisor (his request) before filing. I said, as a courtesy, I would do it 1st year but not ongoing. She told me she couldn't agree to that as her advisor demanded to review my work.

Good for both of us.

Ckenefick (talk|edits) said:

27 March 2013
I agree 100%. It comes down to trust. If there's no trust, there's no relationship. Just ask Tiger Woods.

Ingo (talk|edits) said:

27 March 2013
Ok...mine of the day.

The client has an MBA from Wharton. He's 27 and made $280,000. His wife is going to school and does student teaching (no income). He wants to take her "teaching expenses". He said when he did the return himself on Turbo Tax it changed the NY refund.

I'm only a RTRP....I think his return needs a CPA. (That was a joke. It's one W-2 and short term loss carry over.)

Southparkcpa (talk|edits) said:

27 March 2013
Come on INGO..It's NYC. $280,000 "aint" what it used to be. Can't you help him out. lol

Podolin (talk|edits) said:

27 March 2013
MBA from Wharton, age 27, made $280k, and he has a short-term cap. loss carryover? Hmmm...

Ingo (talk|edits) said:

27 March 2013
Last year (2011) he lost about $80,000 trading options. I guess that wasn't his area of expertise.

Primobabe (talk|edits) said:

27 March 2013
As obnoxious as Southparkcpa's client might be, I think I can top the horror story.

A client received a $500K bill from the IRS. I pulled out every trick in the book, devoted more hours than I could possibly charge, went back-and-forth with the IRS for months, and finally reduced the balance due to $2K.

When I called the client, I expected to start jumping up and down in elation; if I'd received such news, I'd be having the happiest day of my life. Her reaction: "But I don't want to pay ANYTHING."

Actionbsns (talk|edits) said:

27 March 2013
Thanks guys. Some of you always make me laugh, others just plain realize we're all in this together and it happens to all of us. Chris is right, to have this happen with this particular client is more upsetting than it would be with someone else. On the bright side, I just had an hour and half meeting with a new client that was very satisfying.

Ckenefick (talk|edits) said:

27 March 2013
out with the old, in with the new.

LOL to Ingo. I'll give Ingo $10 if he calls up client to go over the Schedule D...and then finishes the conversation with, "I thought you had an MBA from Wharton."

STG (talk|edits) said:

27 March 2013
I know it's way back in this thread, but I have to comment on the sticky labels. My problem is my client who labels the 1098's as "Mortgage Interest" but doesn't bother to label them as "Rental" or "Personal"

Fr. Mackelhenry (talk|edits) said:

27 March 2013
I just had an hour and half meeting with a new client that was very satisfying.


Mercy! It's no wonder our pagan forebears chose the bunny as the mascot for the coming season. Everyone try to control yourselves until after the 15th, then you can go wild.

Ckenefick (talk|edits) said:

28 March 2013
I know it's way back in this thread, but I have to comment on the sticky labels. My problem is my client who labels the 1098's as "Mortgage Interest" but doesn't bother to label them as "Rental" or "Personal"

Yeah, no kidding. Now, everywhere in the software, I input the lender and the last 4 of the account number, to keep things straight.

AccTaxMan (talk|edits) said:

28 March 2013
In my opinion, what is really sad is that a lawyer would actually think we have the ability to make tax go away. I thought only an educated person would imagine in that way. And have you said she actually went to a top ten law school?

Marcilio (talk|edits) said:

28 March 2013
Interesting to me that there is a missing ingredient to many of these posts...what effort was put into nurturing the client, educating, having proper technology, communicating problems, anticipating bad results and informing them, etc.? I remember the Japanese proverb that goes something like this... "When you point a finger at someone; remember that three fingers are pointing back at you."

I know that most of the time when I have had problems with a client, it was because I didn't take the time or care to make sure that they were comfortable with the process and that the result was fair. Expectations are everything. If you fail to meet a client's expectations, you will lose them; therefore you need to spend the time to find out what those expectations are.

Similarly, the client needs to know what to expect from you and what you intend to deliver. If it is a tax return, simply putting there numbers on a form, you will usually fail to meet expectations - either theirs or yours. Anybody can put numbers on a form, some better than others, but if that's all you are doing, then you are delivering a commodity, and commodities are traded with the lowest bidder.

Relationships are the name of the game. I don't like everyone that I do business with, but I can still provide them with good counsel. One of my nastiest clients used to complain bitterly when I gave him a $700 invoice. Now he pays $1,400 with nary a comment. He knows that I am working for him, and not the IRS.

Ingo (talk|edits) said:

28 March 2013
Marcilio-

Perfect! I also work for the client, not the IRS.

When someone "refuses to believe", I try to explain "why"? And then I'll give them choices (but sometimes the only choice is to go elsewhere). But, there are times when one cannot do/change anything (as with my engineer/lawyer combo).

People come to us to save on taxes and not get in trouble at the same time. It's our job to balance this.

If we just "read the rule" without any interpretation, this would be a very dry boring profession.

I'm not the IRS police...nor am I anyone's mother (other than my son).

Fsteincpa (talk|edits) said:

28 March 2013
Marcilio, truly excellent comment. You need to provide the aura of value to a client. For some, we're no different than the oil change guy, but for others, when we do take that time, and we provide more than just the numbers, that becomes a very valuable relationship indeed.

Fr. Mackelhenry (talk|edits) said:

28 March 2013
Relationships are the name of the game...

Terrible comment, but well intentioned nevertheless. Relationships, fine, but at what price?

Southpark has a successful practice, so he must be doing something right. The problem here is that our adults in America are beginning to act like children. Just how much should a professional be asked to tolerate?

The lawyer had been living beyond her means (probably for some time) and she got pulled up by the short hairs. Not all client relationships are worth keeping imo.

Gazoo (talk|edits) said:

28 March 2013
Many adults today play their life as if they are re-enacting a film role:

Don Vito Corleone: My taxes are to high, make them go away.

Give me a break. The lady knows better. A certain baseline of behavior should be expected from adults.

Ingo (talk|edits) said:

28 March 2013
People don't take personal responsibility. That's all there is too it. And then they expect us "to do something".

My last story on this thread...but really "on target".

I had a young woman for about 5 years...a principal making a good salary. She was single...always got nice refunds. Got married to a reporter, also with a good income. To pay for her wedding she really reduced her withholding. I told her (probably my error...I thought she understood the process) the tax would be the tax...and at tax time it would get sorted out.

Tax time came...and OMG! I had to do the return "joint" and "separate" and with this and without that. And who owed what...and who was responsible for what if they filed joint....and the list goes on. And then they went for the 2nd opinion. And then they came back to me and I filed it. I put hours in on this...never charged more than my original quote although I had done the return with many variations (and phone calls and e-mails from him, from her, from them).

I never saw them again after that year.

The morale of the story...no matter how hard you try...you can't win them all and you're better off losing some!

Southparkcpa (talk|edits) said:

28 March 2013
I agree with marcillo's point. To that point... we all have the client who walks in with a 1099R with say 10 percent withheld and they assumed that was the tax. This client, in my instance should never have been a client. A 1099R with no withholding, no call about the withdrawal etc AFTER owing 11K the prior year. How much spoon feeding is enough.


I know who I connect with etc... this client believes that only "others" pay tax.

Fsteincpa (talk|edits) said:

28 March 2013
My question becomes, when the 1099-R client comes in and states, but I paid the tax. What does everybody do?

I know I stop them immediately and say NO, you absolutely did not pay the tax. I use that as my opportunity to explain how THEY control their refund, not me. That if they have a business entity, it allows me some magic wand stuff, but not them.

I use a Christmas Club analogy. I explain to them that taxes withheld, and estimated payments made are just like depositing money into their Christmas Club account. When Christmas comes, if they go overboard and buy too many presents, they have to add some cash to the mix. If they estimated right, and they buy responsibly, when they shop, they go under budget and then they have some left over money.

I've tried other analogies, but this one seems to work. I love it when I see the click in their eyes. Unfortunately, some will never ever get it.

Ckenefick (talk|edits) said:

28 March 2013
Ingo, I think the moral of the story is: Don't give fixed quotes.

And Southpark is 100% on point. Everyone thinks the tax laws apply to everyone else, but not to themself.

Flvacpa (talk|edits) said:

28 March 2013
With Troublesome clients - I'm real quick to send them a "PayPal Payment Request" - even while on the phone, "check your email" -cash first then I'll listen complaints. I have a Special Rate for listening to - how stupid other Preparers are, how stupid the tax is - how awful the IRS is....

Fpayne (talk|edits) said:

28 March 2013
Had a taxpayer that thought I "made him owe"... final tax higher than Fall planning estimate.

So I agreed with him. I am you. You are the victim. It's all my fault. Therefore, when I pay the increased tax this year, you will contract from now on to use me each year, and pay all estimated payments that I define - agreed?

He paused, groping with my willingness to pay a tax bill... yet not wanting to commit...

Once he understood that I would own all his future refunds (I am you, taxpayer, so let's act like it!) he was insulted. Only wanted me to be him for 1/2 the transaction. Told him I wouldn't handle bi-polar assumption of only part of him. For me to be him, it had to be 100%.

He left.

FYI - for self employed attorneys, real estate agents, etc - do the facts support a defined benefit plan? Have a new client this year, spouse self-employed, thought they had an "S-corp" but no separate checking, no s-election found. Am not supporting an 1120S dodge of SE tax for them, but spouse did buy a Tundra truck near year end. Funny, over 90% business use for 2 months, will remain 50% business use. I'm sure of it and bet clients will have at least 50% going forward.

179-time and a nice net loss for 2012 to offset other spouse's high wage income. Hinges on home office. Yes, minor home office matters - because business mileage starts at the doorstep, no commute. Am big on home office where it is real. For 2013 if they get serious about a separate legal entity and treat it like one, they can drop the truck into a corporation (need 351 election) and press on with actual vehicle expenses.

Marque (talk|edits) said:

28 March 2013
I do agree with the poster who pointed out that it is important to develop a relationship with the client, but there is one important point that is being missed. Difficult clients who are irresponsible (not providing documents, not following up on phone calls/emails or any other problem pointed out by numerous posters here) most likely acquired those irresponsible habits when they were growing up. Is it reasonable to assume that we accountants can suddenly change that? We are neither social workers nor therapists, so we should not assume that we can deal with the underlying non-financial reasons why clients behave in this manner.

I recently accepted a client who had not filed his tax returns in 13 years. He had many of the problems pointed out in this thread. I had to fire him because I did not feel that there was anything I could do to change him.

Southparkcpa (talk|edits) said:

28 March 2013
Marque

Agree completely. Except, a client with 13 years unfiled I would never take, not anymore. That type behavior is too much for me to bridge. I havent seen a clinet like that in many years (over 15). I wont take clients that have unpaid payroll taxes either etc... just a business decision I made many years ago. For me..not good work. For others, its good work. I refer out stuff like that.

Its now basically 4/1 and I have about 20 clients that will come in between now and 4/8. WHY? Not sure but this is behavior I have tried to change and can't.

Ckenefick (talk|edits) said:

28 March 2013
Not sure but this is behavior I have tried to change and can't.

Surely, you'll be extending these returns, right?

If not, I can see why their behavior won't change.

Supdat (talk|edits) said:

28 March 2013
She told me that I am not aggressive enough and she heard of businesses all over the country not paying any tax.

No single statement from clients/family/friends/etc annoys me more than this. So many people claim to know someone who pays no taxes. My response is that I meet people from time to time in my practice who are being criminally investigated for tax evasion because they were using tax savings "strategies" they thought were legitimate.

Fr. Mackelhenry (talk|edits) said:

28 March 2013
You either have a tax expense, or a lobbying expense. A good loophole will cost you some money, but generally it's non-recurring for x loophole; then on to y, z and then around to a....

Southparkcpa (talk|edits) said:

28 March 2013
CK...some yes. Some I can bang out in an hour or so and accordingly I do just that.


I have several clients that are automatic extensions.The 20 I referred to..about 15 will not be extended. basic returns, no reason to extend. I have almost learned to enjoy the deadline push. In general, they are good people.

Ckenefick (talk|edits) said:

28 March 2013
Well, now you know why they won't change their behavior.

Southparkcpa (talk|edits) said:

28 March 2013
CK...VERY FAIR POINT. Reality is I dont mind these last 20 or so.

Im busy all tax season so there is NO good time and so Im OK with these people.

There were a few I chased out.

HowardS (talk|edits) said:

28 March 2013
I've never fired a client. The bad ones mysteriously die.

Fsteincpa (talk|edits) said:

28 March 2013
Is it wrong to say damn, isn't he dead yet, when an unliked elder client calls for their appointment?

Ukbones (talk|edits) said:

28 March 2013
Read "The Secret" and you'll be able to manifest death without the nuisance of being caught. It's true. I read it.

Mscash (talk|edits) said:

29 March 2013
Tell her that H&R Block will give a free look to a new client's previous return to see if there is anything they can do to reduce the tax and invite her to take the return with the $56K that you cost her there for a second look.

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