What Not to Say to Your Accountant During Tax Season

accountants, accounting, tax season, tax preparer, tax return, cpa
Want to get your return done right…and as quickly as possible?
So does your CPA.

First, a laugh:

Ha ha ha!


Are you guys laughing?

I laughed my head off when I first saw this video, back in November. We all have eye-rolling factors in our jobs, no matter what they are. But when we do what we love, it's all good. We embrace the negatives because we are so into the positives.

[Tweet “We all have eye-rolling factors in our jobs. But when we do what we love, it's all good.”]

After all, the whole reason we are accountants is because we love working with numbers all day long. We'd certainly rather be working with numbers than with, say, car parts or legal briefs or a kitchen full of ingredients we can't pronounce. Numbers are our thing, and we're more than happy to leave the other stuff to mechanics, lawyers and chefs who love what they do.

It's the “twelve hours a day” part that makes a difference. Let's face it–even fun things (like binge-watching 80s movies or hanging out at the beach) get old after twelve hours.

But we all have moments in our jobs where that's what we've gotta do. It's called “busy season,” and we all have them.

As you probably know, ours is right now.

Which means the video above hits pretty close to home.

Tax Season Is Stressful for Accountants, Too

Tax season is a unique time in every person's life. We all have to do our taxes, and we all feel at least a little stressed out by them, for two reasons:

  • We're on a deadline
  • That deadline is when we have to pay a largeish amount of money to the government
  • We have to get that amount right, or else… Well, let's just say “or else.”

Picture Christmastime without December 25. A ton of work and preparation leading up to…not a day off spent relaxing and opening gifts with loved ones, but a day of watching your savings account shrink by up to 45%.

If you didn't plan for that, it's really stressful. Even if you did, it's still not exactly a warm fuzzy feeling.

And with all that stress is swirling in the air, guess where the buck stops?

Um yeah. It stops on our desks.

Say It: Your Accountant Is Your Friend

Your CPA knows you need your taxes done. They know how stressed you feel. And they totally know you'd like to see “the damage” as quickly as possible, so you can go have a stiff drink and then move on with life.

We want to help with that! But here's the thing…

To get your taxes done right and done well, your CPA needs a few things from you, too.

[Tweet “To get your taxes done right and done well, your CPA needs a few things from you.”]

So here are a few ways you can get the most out of your relationship with your accountant during this magical time of year:

  • Don't show up on April 10 and expect your taxes to be done on time.

Maybe someday Amazon will be able to prepare tax returns by drone, and have them finished and dropped off in a couple of hours. Until then, it takes time and a skilled human being.

The later you bring in your tax records, the more likely you'll be filing an extension. (Here at the Bottom Line, we don't even take new clients between March 1 and April 16.)

  • Don't drop off a disorganized batch of receipts.

People do this all the time, and it's the worst. It makes us want to break pencils and set cars on fire. Don't be that guy.

Instead, take the time to organize your tax items into something that will make your CPA's heart sing, like a spreadsheet.

At the very least, organize your receipts into bundles and label them–“Office supplies,” “Gas,” “Charitable contributions,” etc. And don't forget to bring last year's records!

  • Don't expect to get deductions on things you haven't documented.

That is illegal and no good accountant will do it. If you want something deducted, you have to be able to prove that you bought it.

  • Don't drop off your file and expect it to be ready in a few days.

If you're working with a CPA to get your taxes done, take a minute to realize that your file is essentially standing in line. There are other people in front of you and behind you, and that accountant is working for all of them.
Someone has to be first, someone has to be last, but remember: everyone will get their taxes filed by April 15, because that's part of an accountant's job.

  • Don't call/email/drop in on your accountant to ask if your taxes are done.

If you've hired a trustworthy CPA, he or she is hard at work throughout the entire month of March and April. When your taxes are done, they will let you know (and they will be as happy as you are to have another file finished).
Face it: the only thing you're accomplishing by contacting your CPA every day is delaying the process. They're spending time answering your questions when they could be, you know, doing your taxes.

  • Don't offer your accountant advice on how to do their job.

If you heard something on TV or from a friend about how something is tax-deductible, don't ask your accountant if they made sure to include that deduction on your taxes.

Nearly every deduction or tax credit has limitations, exemptions and exceptions, and your accountant spends their whole life keeping up to date on those things.

Also, a lot of the “experts” you hear are often flat-out wrong.

  • Don't shoot the messenger.

We get that it's sometimes a shock to see how much you owe. If you want to work with this accountant again, don't fly off the handle, don't accuse them of getting a commission from the IRS (that's not a thing), and definitely don't ask for a discount on their services because you have to pay more than you expected.

  • Don't hire a cheap accountant.

CPAs are like most other things in the marketplace: you get what you pay for. If you hire somebody at low cost, you're probably not going to get the same level of education and experience that you would if you paid a little more. It's your call.

The Bottom Line

We all have busy seasons in our jobs. We plan for it and we know to expect that things will get messy sometimes. But as you probably know, it still gets to us when people aren't very nice.

Courtesy and consideration go a long way. On behalf of all accountants everywhere, we hereby extend the hand of friendship to our clients and ask you to take a deep breath, know that we are doing our best to take care of you, and do your best to take care of us.

[Tweet “Your accountant is doing their best to take care of you…so do your best to take care of them!”]

Also, can we put in a quick plug for creating a financial plan? Tax season is soooo much easier when you spend an entire year preparing for it! Let us help you get one in place! Click here to get on our waiting list and we'll let you know as soon as we start accepting new clients.

…after April 15, of course.