My name is Mark Goodfield. Welcome to The Blunt Bean Counter ™, a blog that shares my thoughts on income taxes, finance and the psychology of money. I am a Chartered Professional Accountant and a partner with a National Accounting Firm in Toronto. This blog is meant for everyone, but in particular for high net worth individuals and owners of private corporations. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are written solely in my personal capacity and cannot be attributed to the accounting firm with which I am affiliated. My posts are blunt, opinionated and even have a twist of humor/sarcasm. You've been warned. Please note the blog posts are time sensitive and subject to changes in legislation or law.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Confessions of a Tax Accountant -2012- Week 5 - The Top Ten Accountant Pet Peeves about Personal Income Tax Season


In honour of David Letterman, today I present the top ten pet peeves accountants have during personal income tax season. Of course these peeves relate to experiences I had prior to arriving at my current firm and from what other accountants have told me, since my clients sign a blood pact to do none of these things.

Top Ten


10. Clients who in the past year have had a change of address, got married or had children and expect their accountant to reflect such on their tax returns by telepathy. 

9. Clients that provide a shoe box with every receipt they received during the year from tax forms such as T4's & T5's to receipts for his and hers waxing's (I outlawed shoe boxes ages ago). 

8. Clients who sell inherited shares and think we should know the adjusted cost base of the Bell Canada shares they inherited from their great grandfather in 1973, that have split six times since. 

7. Clients who do not track their auto or employment expense and say “just use last year's”. The problem being they have said just use last years seven years in a row and you have no clue if the expenses claimed on their tax return, have any resemblance to their actual expenses.

6. Clients and friends who call you up to tell you about their golf score and what a beautiful day it was, while you work on your 30th tax return of the day on your 30th consecutive day of overtime.

5. Clients who bring their income tax information in on the Monday of the third week of April and call on Wednesday to see if it’s done yet.

4. Clients who bring in all their tax forms in the original envelopes, unopened; and insist on opening each envelope one by one in front of you (with my limited patience threshold, suffice to say I have none of these types clients).

3. Clients that buy a Turnip farm limited partnership for $100,000 without consulting you, but then argue over $100 on their tax return invoice.

2. Clients who insist on emailing or faxing each individual tax slip as they arrive.

1(a). Clients that call you up complaining that their refund was not large enough.

1(b). Clients that insist on meeting with you and reviewing each item to be used in their personal tax return, as if you have never prepared a tax return before, or wouldn’t know what to do with their professional dues or interest expense.

The blogs posted on The Blunt Bean Counter provide information of a general nature. These posts should not be considered specific advice; as each reader's personal financial situation is unique and fact specific. Please contact a professional advisor prior to implementing or acting upon any of the information contained in one of the blogs.

22 comments:

  1. This was a great post! Thank you!! You managed to cheer up an accountant who's doing her 30th day of overtime, doing her 30th tax return of the day, and biting her tongue as certain of her clients give her the grand tour of each slip & what to do with it..... Well done!

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    1. thx, I guess you will be on day 50 by April 30th- all the best to the end line. Little do most people know that on May 1st every client who has been considerate of our time knowing it is tax season calls and it all starts again until June 30th.

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  2. Thanks for the heads up on what not to do. It really is helpful. Now, how about a list of ten specific solutions or strategies that really benefit the process of personal tax completion for both you and the client.

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  3. Thx Pursuit99, like that idea, i will use it at some point.

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  4. In response to Number 2 - we had a client who took a photo of every slip when they received it and emailed individual JPEGs daily.

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    1. They just wanted absolute clarity in their return :)

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  5. Re: point #2 -- what to do?

    Wait until they're all in before giving you the papers (but then you get the info at the "last minute"), or wait until most tax slips are in, and then PDF/mail you the stragglers?

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    1. Hi Anon:

      If you have T3 or T5013 slips that come in April, we prefer to receive all your cap gain info, rental income etc and T4, T5's RRSP in mid march. Then a second batch the 2nd week of April with t'3s and T5013's. Or if you only have a couple of these type slips, then emailing is fine. Sending multiple emails with individual slips wastes our time and the slips have a good chance of getting lost or misplaced when you have hundreds of pieces of paper being sent by a hundred different people. You should ask your accountant what they prefer.

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  6. This was enjoyable. Thanks. I'm a client who has committed NONE of these sins. lol I organize, label, and provide many sticky notes filled with info. Possibly, THAT drives my accountant crazy! lol Maybe I should ask for a "good client" discount! lol. :) I, actually, really appreciate my accountant.

    Wishing you all good clients and a restful May. :)

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    1. thx Anon--you sound like a good client-- however, u may want to ask your accountant whether he/she likes the sticky notes-- they may prefer a written summary page- I personally hate sticky notes

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    2. Thanks. I'll do that. I was thinking about that exact thing while I read your blog this morning. :)

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  7. Mark, we sent you our tax stuff on Friday. Is it done yet?

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    1. Thx, unfortuantely we are a little backlogged; so please be available on April 30th at 10:00 to pick up your return and have it registered by the post office:)

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  8. I think the problem is with the lack of information accountants give to their clients... you would have far fewer problems if you educate your clients better. What I see here is a great opportunity for someone to take the initiative and set them self apart from other accountants.

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    1. Daniel, I know our firm and others I have worked at, send out various letters, links to forms etc to ensure the informaion exchange is seamless. I have almost no issue with my clients in regard to my top ten in my blog,other than getting timely information in some cases.

      If your accountant does not communicate their needs to you, the ask them straight up.

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    2. I agree with BBC! I had a client call to confirm what he had to pay in tax...which was already written on a transmittal letter, in the 5th page of the return, AND on a remittance voucher! Sometimes if folks could take an extra 5 minutes to read stuff, it would save alot of time all round!! Like BBC said, most accountants do try to help folks understand.

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  9. All of those on the list are my clients!

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  10. Great post thanks - I'm going to send the link to my guy - you might like this post I wrote about him a couple of months ago. It was originally called The Tax Nazi - I was too scared to send him the article though.

    http://askross.ca/2012/01/the-tax-nazi/

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    1. Hey Ross

      Great blog post about your CA, pretty funny. I guess we all operate differently.

      Not sure if you are being sarcastic or not about your CA not responding to calls or emails, but I was mentored early on to always respond to client questions on a timely basis, even if it is a message to tell them when I will get a chance to respond. Because I was mentored this way, my issue is dealing with others who are not responsive.

      Personally, I would never accept a shoe box no matter what and I will still take on corporate clients, although I very rarely take on personal tax clients anymore.

      Anyways, different strokes for different folks and you appear to be very content with your CA relationship, so good for you.

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  11. I've done at least half of these in the past. I apologize officially to the tax preparation community. I have reformed since then.

    Thank you for being patient with those of us who appreciate the help.

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  12. What do you expect? Knowledgeable and well-organized folks are doing their own tax returns with one of the dozens softwares available, for an average cost of $20.

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    1. Anon, dont confuse knowledge and simplicity- on simple returns I agreee totally, any complexity mistake if you ask me.

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