Every year, we find new ways to make the process smoother, just as the government finds ways to complicate things. You can claim that this year, but not next year. You can itemize this but not that. You get this credit but only if you stand on your head and drink water while saying the alphabet backwards.
You think I’m kidding? I swear that one is in the tax code somewhere. If it isn’t, it should be. If for no other reason that to give tax preparers something to laugh about as they wade through the idiosyncrasies of the tax code.
What makes the job so stressful is the fact that you’re dealing with people’s financial outlook. Mistakes can cost your client thousands of dollars and can even land a huge fine (or worse!) on the tax preparer. We strive to do the job RIGHT. No law bending or “personal interpretation” being done here!
So, within that, I present to you my tax season pet peeves for 2011 (in no particular order):
- Please don’t wait until the last minute to bring in your tax work and discover you have items missing… then STILL expect the return done by deadline. Let me introduce you to Mr. Extension. He will be taking care of you this trip, and we’ll attack your lack of information sometime AFTER deadline.
- We aren’t mind readers. We don’t sit with a crystal ball to consult on every return. Did you have a child this year? Did you get married? Divorced? Move? Go self-employed? Buy stocks? Did your nephew come to live with you for the year? These are all things we NEED to know to properly do your return. Just because your baby’s birth announcement ran in the newspaper back in July of last year doesn’t mean we saw it. Help us out here. (And when we DO ask, don’t get snippy with us. Just give us the information… please?)
- The old idea of throwing your receipts in a shoe box for your preparer to wade through is just not happening these days. Either wade through them yourself and put them in some sort of order or be prepared to be charged extra for the extra work/stress you’ve brought to our office. Or, you know, meet Mr. Extension.
- Bigger and better refunds than the competition! Bull corn. If you’re going to get a refund its based on tax codes and how everything falls together on your return. If you owe, it doesn’t mean WE (the preparer) screwed up. It just means you owe money. When a software or tax company promises you bigger refunds than the competition, it doesn’t mean they have this magic dust they sprinkle on the paper to make it appear. It just means its a gimmick to get you in the door.
- Please don’t try to get us to lower our fees. I had a whole blog post on this earlier this year. See it for more on THAT whole rant of mine.
- If we take a message instead of patch you through to the preparer you wish to speak with, its not because we don’t love you anymore. Its because they are doing a return and need to focus to do the job right. You get mad if we make a mistake (and we’re human, so it happens), but you have to understand that often mistakes occur due to constant interruption while the work is being done. We might not take you call because we DO love you. See?
- If you feel like I might be treating you like a 5th grader, its because I’ve found its just a good rule of thumb. It never fails that when I assume someone already knows where to sign, etc… they don’t. So its just easier to assume you DON’T know and risk offending you than it is to assume you DO know and then get us ALL in a heap of trouble.
- We have over 400 clients. Yes, over half of you have been coming to us for 5 – 10 years (or longer). Still… help me out with your name when you come in to pick up your return or if you want to see someone. It’s not that I don’t love you, its that sometimes I just haven’t had enough coffee to put a name to a face. Some days, there just isn’t enough coffee in the world. Feel free, in that moment, to treat ME like a fifth grader. I won’t mind. I promise.
- If I give you that deer in the headlight look its because you just asked me something I can’t answer. I figure you know that, but, hey, sometimes people reword the question thinking maybe I’ll know the answer if they do that. Nope. I still don’t know the answer, and now you’ve made me feel dumb twice. Give me a moment to find someone who CAN answer the question. Thanks.
- Please don’t ask us to bend the rules. We won’t. And when we refuse, don’t get angry. We’re telling you no for your own good. Kinda like the time your Mom said you couldn’t have that candy bar before supper, because she knew if you ate it you wouldn’t want that yummy pizza she was making. Remember? Yeah, kinda like that. Only we are saying you can’t fudge the rules because we don’t want anyone to go to jail, nor anyone pay a huge fine and yucky stuff like that. We’re licensed professionals. We do things by the book.
- Finally, please don’t ask me to discuss politics. Not only do I just not want to go there, but with the work we’re doing, it just isn’t appropriate. I’m so glad you’re so passionate about it, but please don’t ask me to jump on your bandwagon for the sake of making you happy. Lets do the work at hand and move on from there.
Oh I’m sure I have plenty more little things that either made me cover my face or beat my head on the desk over the last few months, but I figure these suffice.
Ah. We did it. Another season in the books. A lot of extensions to do in the coming weeks/months, but we’re always grateful for that as well. Thankful for another successful season, and thankful for the loyalty of our clients. Without them, we’d be nowhere. So even as I have my little pet peeves, at the end of the day… I don’t really mind. It keeps things interesting at least.