Well, it’s hard to believe but we’re just about at the halfway point to our “tax season”. And I should tell you — it’s been fairly messy, on the IRS side.
Certain tax forms just became available, many refunds are being significantly delayed, there are communication problems to consumers and to professionals (not to mention the consequences of the sequester), … and I have been hearing from a lot of colleagues in the industry, here on Long Island, in Stamford and beyond, that all of this muss has significantly affected their clients and their business.
In our little world, we’ve done all that we can to keep these issues from impacting our clients, but when a screaming headline on the Drudge Report last week declares that most refunds are delayed and the IRS is a mess … well, if you’re feeling frustrated with them, know that you’re not alone!
Now, this week, I’d like to put together a primer on something that I’m not sure I’ve ever clearly communicated, but I believe that it will help in any circumstance in which you’re dealing with a pro. Consider this some friendly advice.
Long Island and Stamford Tax Expert, Michael Kessler, on How To Be a Great Tax Client
I’m sure that none of these things are ever really an issue for you! And, in fact, these tips aren’t intended to be a correction to my own Long Island and Stamford tax client base. But I’ve discovered over the years that sometimes you just need to be clear about your expectations.
So, here are mine…
Lying or hiding will wreck everything: Denying or hiding your tax obligations will do just one thing: get you in deeper tax trouble. So never lie about a tax situation. Remember, even though you’re getting help, it’s you, the taxpayer, signing your return. That makes you ultimately responsible for what’s on the forms and schedules.
Our reputation, however, is also at stake. So if you knowingly falsify information that leads to headaches for you and for us, you can bet you won’t be welcome as a client in future tax seasons.
Remember that this is a professional relationship: Some of my best friends are my tax clients, and this presents a tricky — and occasionally awkward — scenario this time of year.
Here’s my advice in this area: if you hire a friend to do your taxes, you need to remember that this is a business arrangement. Don’t expect special treatment, and don’t bug your tax pro just because you know him or her personally.
And never call your tax preparer at home or after hours unless it’s an extreme tax situation. And no, a missing W-2 doesn’t count!
All that said — I sure love talking with my friends in this context, and coming alongside their families. But it’s always better when they keep these things in mind.
We love thorough: Please remember that any “magic” we are able to make with your return starts from the foundation of the clarity of information that YOU provide! If you inadvertently (or worse, knowingly) omit or withhold key tax information (see my first point, above), your tax return results will not be what you had hoped for.
So, when we ask for certain information or documentation, provide it. And do so quickly, and completely. Don’t try to hide income, and don’t fabricate receipts. If you’re missing some tax material, we can definitely help you recover it, or provide acceptable substitutes.
Please act your age: Yes, we know. You hate paying taxes. So do I.
Get over it. It’s the law of the land and you know that, or you wouldn’t have hired us help to file your taxes.
So please refrain from acting like a spoiled child, and/or complaining about the tax laws that we cannot change. Tell it to your Senators and Representative — they make the tax laws by which we must cope and comply. Oh, and we are also not the direct representatives of the IRS to the consumers. We aren’t able to speed up your refund.
What we CAN do is help you to make the best of the current laws. Especially when we are operating in a no-whining zone, we’ve found that there isn’t anyone else in the Long Island and Stamford area who does a better job keeping the IRS off your back, and ensuring that you are keeping as much income as legally and ethically possible.
I’m hoping that sounds good to you. If so … just remember the above, and we’ll all be in great shape!
And please do feel free to call [(516) 449-2852 or (203) 658-5092] or email me and my staff with any tax or financial-related questions.