THE TAX PROFESSIONAL

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I’m back! 


Sorry for the almost two month absence.  For one there has not been much new to say.  And a health issue side-tracked me for most of July.


A TAX PROFESSIONAL SURVEY


Chris Basom recently reported on an informal survey he took at last month’s NATP National Conference in New Orleans (which I unfortunately missed) In “And The Survey Says...” at the SMART CENTER BLOG.


Here are the questions Chris asked – and the responses I would have given if I were there -


What is the greatest joy you get from practicing?


John “Hannibal” Smith, George Peppard’s character on THE A-TEAM, used to say, “I love it when a plan comes together.”  Well I love it when a tax return comes together – when the many components of a more complicated return come together in a 1040.


I also enjoy catching up with clients (certainly not all), many of whom have become friends as well over the years.


And I find satisfaction from saving taxes for my deserving clients.  And from client loyalty – the continued faith in me as their tax preparer.


What is the greatest frustration you experience from practicing?


Perhaps the greatest frustration is getting all the necessary information from clients on a timely basis.  Often this is not the fault of the client – it results from the fact that brokerage houses issue “corrected” Consolidated Form 1099 Reporting Statements, often several, late in the season.  This can result in GD extensions – and I long for the day when I have no more than a handful of GD extensions.    


Another frustration is the wait for payment from some clients.  One of the few things I miss about having a storefront office is that when a client picked up his or her returns I got paid on the spot.  I need to emphasize the fact that payment of my invoice is due upon receipt and not 30 days later or after the refund has been received. 


Are your fees to high, or to low?


Quite obviously too low.  This is partially because of the low overhead of my practice – no employees, no flawed and expensive tax preparation software, a home office, etc.  As one client pointed out a while back, I bill based on cost and not market.  I do need to increase prices – and as I am trying to “thin the herd” as I wind-down my practice in anticipation of retirement in 5 or 6 years raising fees may be one way of doing this.  


Has Turbo Tax/DIY software hurt the industry?


I really do not think so.  Taxpayers who chose a box over a tax professional are looking for the cheapest alternative – and not the best type of client.  Choosing a box hurts the taxpayer and the government more than the tax preparation industry – many more incorrect returns being filed (under reporting of income, claiming erroneous deductions and credits on one hand and taxpayers missing out on legitimate tax benefits on the other).


The industry needs to get the word out to the taxpayer public that no tax preparation software is a substitute for knowledge of the Tax Code, and no tax preparation software is a substitute for a qualified and competent tax professional.


Has Turbo Tax/DIY software hurt your practice?


Not at all.  My clients are extremely loyal.  None of my clients have left me for a box.  My practice is unique – I do not accept any new clients (period) and, as mentioned above, I am trying to “thin the herd”.


Here is a survey I would like my fellow tax professionals to take –


1. Would you welcome and participate in a voluntary independent industry-based tax professional credential program – an RTRP-like credential, with more extensive testing, NOT administered by the IRS?


2. Do you see the need for a unified lobbying organization of PTIN-holders to represent the interests of tax preparers before Congress and the IRS?


For background info see –


http://www.accountingtoday.com/news/It-is-Time-for-Independent-Certification-for-Tax-Preparers-65564-1.html


http://www.accountingtoday.com/taxprotoday/news/who-speaks-for-the-tax-preparer-68867-1.html


I invite you to take this survey.  Send your responses to rdftaxpro@yahoo.com