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Discussion:Do you really like this business...or?

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Discussion Forum Index --> Business Growth Community --> Do you really like this business...or?

94nole (talk|edits) said:

1 March 2011
...or are you just stuck now because it is all you have ever done?

I find that the older I get the less I enjoy the stress of always wondering if I am doing everything I can to lower a client's tax liability. I don't think I ever get totally comfortable that I have considered everything and that all is filed as completely and accurately as possible.

Isn't that what they pay us for? Surely, it isn't simply to key their data into tax software and save them a couple of bucks in postage by efiling their returns.

I just find that I am totally drained at the end of each day only to have to get up and do it all over again tomorrow.

JR1 (talk|edits) said:

March 1, 2011
I'm not going to help you out! Right. Let's see, the gov't has made us the cops, without pay. And whack us hard now when things go wrong. There are our own errors, which seem more and more inevitable as complexities go through the roof, so you're always doubting, wondering, worrying, and waiting. . .The clients are totally clueless, and as we all grow more selfish and impatient, we also get blamed for stuff that's not our fault, the knowledge base increases exponentially each year, and more and more reporting ends up in our lap, for things we don't know, can't possibly remember, and yet are responsible for, etc. etc. And there's no end in sight.

But I get paid well. And it frees my time up for far more important things.

Taxalmancer (talk|edits) said:

March 2, 2011
That's a prefect explanation of exactly where our profession is especially the doubting, wondering, worrying and waiting.

Fletch (talk|edits) said:

2 March 2011
Yes, I, for one, like this biz a lot. Excellent biz model: Repeat biz pushed by outside forces, opportunity for additional back-end profitable biz helping them in MULTIPLE ways thru-out the year. Where a systemized biz puts you in a MUCH lower stressful environment than competitors. The glass is WAY more than half full. And nearly every negative mentioned above I see as a reason why they NEED us. The Code makes us more indispensible each year.

Explain to clients that tax PLANNING, with rare/unavoidable situations, is not done during tax FILING season. You have a marketing opportunity -- and if you don't like "marketing," call it an educational opportunity -- to schedule mid-year & yr-end planning engagements every single time a client expresses disappointment in the amount owed or a "smaller than expected" refund. And if you do a good job of this, or do a terrible job of this between now and April 15th, but make up for it in May thru July by promoting tax planning meetings, the opportunity is sitting right there to grab: help clients where they WANT help and get into billable work.

And after doing this one year, you forever get to say to a complainer, "Why didn't you come in when I invited you to come in for a tax planning session?" or if you can soften it by saying, "Let's make sure this doesn't happen again next year" while grabbing your appointment book. That last thing you can do RIGHT NOW and for the next 45+ days. Or you can focus on the negative. You are Free To Choose.

Fsteincpa (talk|edits) said:

2 March 2011
People need to start listening to Fletch. He is 100% correct.

I was an auditor for many years with a small <80 return> tax practice. Now I do 600+ individuals and 50+ business entities along with a smaller audit practice.

The difference in perception is amazing. I love helping and interacting with the clients.

Actionbsns (talk|edits) said:

2 March 2011
I understand both 94 and Fletch. There's a lot of burden being placed on us from so many different directions it gets overwhelming at times. I love helping and interacting with clients, like Fred. But I tend to be too nice and probably don't charge enough for all my efforts, but often I just don't feel right charging more - until I look at my software costs. I have a client who is have a really hard time right now, small business in town and very nice people. She called a couple weeks ago to talk about their health insurance and how it impacts their tax return, we also discussed reasons to keep it that don't have anything to do with taxes. She had several bills that needed paying, limited funds and was terribly worried. Next thing I know, they've canceled their health insurance because it's just too expensive right now and they need to pay their bills, and I had a check from them in the mail paying my bill.

Taxalmancer (talk|edits) said:

March 3, 2011
I enjoy the client interaction too which is what keeps me keepin' on.

What is very frightening to me is to come to this website, and see the likes of R2, and realize how profoundly little I know compared to him. Now he's a tax adviser; the best I've ever seen and I've seen a lot.

Having said that, there's always that cloud of doubt hovering like a thunderstorm that just won't go away. Was there a Tax Court case, a revenue ruling, or some other authoritative instruction, issued last week, or last month, that I don't know about? Is the advice I just gave a client, solid?

A master carpenter learns a skill and hones it over the years. Maybe new equipment helps him stay on top of his game but his skills, learned over a lifetime, keep him above the rest. In our industry, you're only as good as last week's tax law. No question there is knowledge layering but the most important layers are last learned. LIFO!

JR1 (talk|edits) said:

March 3, 2011
Yeah, I, too, certainly appreciate the impact I've been able to have on people, tho' each April 16 I get a fresh awareness of how meaningful this really is, by shredding the returns that just passed the statute. That said, yes, we have a business as long as there is money and a gov't. The trouble is that as things change so quickly, the comfort I used to take in merely knowing more than my clients is no longer a comfort. It's not brain surgery or building school buses, no one dies when we screw up. But my usual human fallibility has now been exponentially increased because no one can now possibly know all of it, maybe even most of it. Yet both the client and IRS expect us to. That is plain scary. Frankly, seriously, if I didn't have One Who Cares For Me, I'd push off for Mexico with someone else's money and lay on the beach.

PeteEA (talk|edits) said:

7 March 2011
Hey, I haven't posted much lately but I read the forum all the time. I'm writing this after working 3 straight weeks without a break and wondering if April 15 will ever come. Not that I'm complaining, business has been really good this year and I know it will make the off season easier.

I've come to the conclusion that the pursuit of perfection in our industry is an unobtainable goal- not that you are going to put a bad product out there- but it's just not possible to be perfect 100% of the time. There is always something you're going to miss each season. The key is owning up to your mistakes and putting things right if things go wrong. I've reimbursed a few penalties and interest here and there; and I actually think it stregthened the client relationship- they know I have their back if things go wrong.

Once a return is finished, I forget about it. No point worrying that a CP2000 notice might come in or whatever.

I do my CPE dilligently each year and keep my E&O insurance up to date. That's how I deal with life in our industry. And having come from the corporate environment, I wouldn't have it any other way!

CathysTaxes (talk|edits) said:

7 March 2011
If I like the client, then I like what I'm doing. So it depends on whose return I'm doing.

94nole (talk|edits) said:

7 March 2011
I hear that...I guess that was exactly what I was dealing with on the day I originally posted.

Although I have never given birth...doing their return every year is as near to childbirth as I can imagine.

I ask them 3 questions and they answer 1. I ask the other 2 questions guessed it, they answer 1.

They tell me that they spoke with "their investment guy" and "he says you really don't need the 1099-R form."

And finally, "Oh, it's a charitable trust remainder, not a charitable remainder trust. It's a trust he set up so that he can make contributions each year and get tax deductions".

Fletch (talk|edits) said:

8 March 2011
They tell me that they spoke with "their investment guy" and "he says you really don't need the 1099-R form."

If you care to REALLY create a problem for "the investment guy" (esp if its a wirehouse guy) send the investment guy an email/fx stating: I understand you are giving our mutual client, Mr. XXX, tax advice b telling him xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx. At least that's what he told me. Did you tell him that or did he misunderstand? If true, does your compliance officer, and FINRA, know you are giving tax advice to clients?

You will ROCK THEIR WORLD....and not in a good way.

Fsteincpa (talk|edits) said:

8 March 2011
Where's the like button when you need one. Fletch, I enjoyed that one.

SteveWB (talk|edits) said:

8 March 2011
Client came in the other day and said he was going to put $6K into his wife's ROTH IRA. I asked that he provide me documentation on the deposit. I thought no big deal. I get this all the time. He uses USAA for his investments. He made the deposit today. USAA will not send him a confirmation. He has to get a telephone appointment with a financial advisor to even request one. The order taker told him they would send out the form in May or June and if his tax preparer did not understand that form then he needed a new tax preparer! I just left it alone. Client is caught in middle. I told him just forget it. Not worth the client going through such hassle.

BrockEA (talk|edits) said:

8 March 2011
I really like this business. It is nice to help someone who is nervous about their taxes and/or business operations get things straightened out and help them out. I have received most of my clients as a result of other practitioners of varying types and varieties who refused to work with the client because they were disorganized or too much it is nice to also restore a little faith in the profession.

We have challenges just like any other business but I must continually remind myself that if my clients were organized or knowledgeable in what I need from them and how (without help) then they probably could do their own tax work.

Fletch types some sage advice, there is a difference between tax preparation and planning, a fact I have taken great strides to explain to my clients. I do not charge my clients for basic questions in the off season and am more than happy to help a client out. Yet, year after year I end up with a client who goes off the reservation and does something first and asks me about it later. Gee a normal person would think to ask their Accountant about starting a partnership with their best friend for a part-time heating and air business as an S Corp. Yep, not one single call about that little gem.


Tax Writer (talk|edits) said:

8 March 2011
Fletch, you are fanned and faved. That last post was priceless -- copied and pasted to my archive.

BTax2010 (talk|edits) said:

8 March 2011
Being new to the biz in a more professional capacity I am still very much enamored by the potential of this business...I am striving to be in business for myself full-time and I see this as my ticket to get there....I am not nearly as busy as I would like to be right now, but I am on the map and learning every day....If some of you have seen my other post I picked up an Estate tax client from a small group I participate in at my church.....$0 marketing dollars required....

I am finally starting to learn the type of patience you need to grow your business and I am excited about the possibilities.....I am currently working on my new business mailing list....I found that the public records were available online through my local library for free....I will have to key them into excel manually, but hey, free is free....If I can pick up a client or two then I will invest in a paid subscription and keep it going from there....

So right now, I am liking this business and looking forward to the future....

-Also Steve's Post-

The order taker told him they would send out the form in May or June

Why do they do that? I noticed it years ago while preparing returns for both my Aunt and my wife's prepare a return and then this Form 5498 I believe it was shows up in May or June....If you didn't know they made the contribution before hand you missed it....always very that I think about it though you can make those contributions up to April 15th and it counts on the previous years tax return.....just my guess...

Mr cheese (talk|edits) said:

12 March 2011
I'm in this business because it's all I know, all I'm good at, and the only real job I know I can make a decent living at. I stumbled into public accounting out of necessity. I never intentionally planned on becoming an accountant. Accounting is safe, secure, stable work and, although its hard to get rich at it, the money ain't half bad and there will always be an intense demand for it...even during the peak of recession, where everyone, including the gov't is going broke. If my clients all left me at once, tomorrow, I would just put on a suit, walk into a fancy cpa firm with my resume and land a job right quick....but then I'd be forced to suffer with the long hours, tedious work and constant hassle from the bickering partners....not to mention deal with co-worker company politics.....In the end I either work independently, work for an llp, or stand behind the counter at a starbucks making coffee...I'd rather starve to death than work at another corporate gig where I'd be expected to wear those lame polo shirts and khakis everyday.

Most accountants fantasize about moving up at a big public accounting firm, with the goal of eventually making partner. My day dreams include doing something where I can go through the day in dumbed-down zombie mode....come to think of it, i was pretty much set to zombie mode during my last couple cpa firm gigs.

I don't know how long I'm going to be doing this, but if I ever have to change careers, my next job will probably require me to wear a paper hat.

Dhtax (talk|edits) said:

12 March 2011
The worst part of the job (aside from PITA clients)is the stress about getting it right. Am I doing the right thing for my client? Did I miss something? Did I screw up and will I have to pay for it later?

The best part (and what I tell my friends) is that I finally figured out how to make a living from schmoozing. I meet lots of really nice folks. I started tax prep at age 54 and I'm now 66 and plan to keep going thru semi-retirement as long as I can hold out. (Aside from the fact that I can't afford to fully retire.)

My solution is to try to dumb down my practice, turn down clients with complications. (I do a lot of expats and NRAs, so there are plenty of odd issues.) My friends say "come on, you enjoy the intellectual challenge, don't you?" HA. Not during tax season. And in the rest of the year I've got plenty of other subjects I'd rather exercise my few remaining brain cells on.

Fletch (talk|edits) said:

12 March 2011
Dhtax, that NoComplexTaxResearch is FUNDAMENTAL to lifestyle maximization. Good insight.

Death&Taxes (talk|edits) said:

12 March 2011
To do this work, you have to be like this

Fsteincpa (talk|edits) said:

12 March 2011

94nole (talk|edits) said:

14 March 2011
Mr. Cheese and Dhtax,

I am so glad to know that there are others who stay as far away from highly technical, complicated situations as do I. I have no desire to be SuperTaxMan and if I will stay focused on growing my little practice could make quite a nice living doing rather mundane tax returns.

Seungjh (talk|edits) said:

15 March 2011
I am a chicklet just making its first step in this industry so I can't speak for most of you advanced TaxAlmanac members.

But with my limited experience in IRS VITA program, I can confidently say that I enjoyed every minutes of it.

From the interview, linking paper knowledge into actual work, to seeing happy clients, I have never felt such satisfaction and accomplishment.

As my first client, lady came in with already prepared return (not been e-filed yet) for my review. Through mining information from her, I was able to find more credits available to her allowing more refund at the end.

I still can't forget the smile on her face ;)

Sjpaccounting (talk|edits) said:

17 March 2011
It is nice to see that people on this forum who I look up to and have so much knowledge, share the same worries that I do. I thought I worried just because I was so new in the business and perhaps maybe a bit ahead of myself in what I do. I feel more comfortable with bookkeeping, obviously, but I am an EA for a reason. I appreciate this forum, though I do not post much because I don't have much to add to anything, because I can read and see that I am not the only one who feels the way I do!

Z32 Twin Turbo (talk|edits) said:

17 March 2011
I enjoy helping people. While we are not a large practice, we do put a hurting every year on big green and the other national firms in our area. We are approached every year to sell our practice (as I imagine others are too). But that will never happen. Its the over charging big guys that drive me to help others and enjoy it. Every year I get new customers who were charged an arm and a leg the previous year by the big guys. Just because they get EIC or are getting a large refund does not justify jacking the fees way up. Though they says it doesnt happen, I see it. Especially young single mothers. So for me its the greedy, cookie cutter firms that keep me going and the gratitude of new and existing customers.

Southparkcpa (talk|edits) said:

18 March 2011
I am now a fan of mr cheese. Nominated for great post.

Urey to specialize, have clients I adore and make a great living. My concern is that I strive to make an above average living and with that comes demanding clients. I only do about 250. 1040s and 100 biz in a 3 person firm BUT the clients are typically self starters , demanding and stress comes with it. I have become a MUCH better CPA because of the demands my clients put on me and have really learned to enjoy WHAT WE DO. Bottom line though, for all of us is the relationships. I have several clients I count as great friends and at the end ofmthe day, we will remember the relationships NOT the tax return.

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