Archive for April, 2017

Reflections From Another Tax Season

Saturday, April 15th, 2017



An accountant recalls (non) Kodak moments from another tax season


As another tax busy season slogs to a close, this CPA has some memories:

  • (client) “Why must I give you the same forms that I gave to you last year? Can’t you just use those?”
  • (the wife on March 20) “I booked our vacation for April 1-7; we got a great rate!”
  • (a client on March 25) “I want to thank you for the great job on my taxes. How about dinner the first week of April?”
  • (client) “Why must I pay? I don’t like what the government does with my money!”

Recounting another tax season


  • Some clients you must gently warn of the potential downsides of aggressive tax positions; others you must read the federal sentencing guidelines to.
  • The public accounting analog to “will you love me in the morning?” is “will you still employ me after April 15?”
  • (client) “Mr. Windee: in response to your request for my wage statements, I enclose all of my charitable contributions. I trust you now have everything and can complete my return.”
  • “Hi. I dropped my taxes off this morning and was wondering if I could pick  up my returns now.”
  • “I wasn’t expecting such a high quote of $400 to have your firm do my taxes. I think I’ll just go back to H&R Block and pay $500.”
  • Being a public-accountant is the art of wanting to tell some of your clients “go &@%#!$%!* yourself!!!” but instead saying “thank you for being my client.”
  • (partner) “Look, I know that Widget Corp. is and has been a tough client who had 3 bookkeepers last year, multiple staff turnover on our side and their books are a mess; not to mention that the owner is recalcitrant and disagrees with everything for the sake of disagreeing. BUT WHY ARE WE OVERBUDGET WITH THEM AND THEIR TAXES NOT COMPLETED??!!??”
  • During tax season, snow days reveal the inherent dichotomy between staff and management. For staff, a light dusting means staying home for a week and hoping the apocalypse will pass. For management, 3 feet of snow can be easily driven in if you have 4-wheel drive and good tires.
  • (partner) “I’m glad you came in on the new daylight savings time. But remember: at the end of the day it is really an hour earlier under the old time so feel free to stay and make it up.”
  • (to client): “We need your brokerage statements to complete your return.” (client): “Okay. What do you need to complete my return?”
  • (client e-mail) I still have to get you the remainder of my tax papers. :) And the deadline is only 2 weeks away. :) :)  I’ll be on vacation next week in the Bahamas. :) :) :) I’ll get you everything when I get back. :) :) :) :) Boy, I bet you could use a vacation! :) :) :) :) :)
  • (client) “I only gave 4 of the 24 pages of my brokerage statement to you as I did not want to overwhelm you. I also figured that this would keep the bill for your services down. You’re welcome.”
  • (client) “Is a deposit on my grave tax-deductible?”  Yes, in the after-life.
  • (client) “I tagged and identified what each self-explanatory document is (1099, w-2, etc.) just in case you couldn’t understand them. But I threw my receipts in an envelope and assume you can figure them out.”
  • (client) “Mr. Windee: I got your voicemail about brokerage statements and to answer your question, I included the food store flier as I took advantage of their 10% Off Sale and wasn’t sure if that had tax implications.
  • (client) “This is unbelievable. You mean I owe $200,000 of taxes on 1 million dollars of income??!!?? I can’t comprehend this misfortune!!!”
  • For a deceased client’s final return, what address do you use? Heaven? Hell? How about their occupation? Corpse?
  • (client) “I know you might be busy as it’s April 10 but I got the 17th and final notice before levy for me to file a franchise tax return for 2 years ago. I didn’t give you the prior 16 notices as I assumed this would all blow over. They gave us 10 days from receipt to file which means it must be submitted tomorrow.”
  • (client) “I don’t mind [sort of] paying you for your services but my refund was only $300; isn’t your fee of $200 a bit much compared to my refund?”
  • To the client who generously gave $20,000 of non-cash donations in the form of various household items: “Your New Jersey return shows a refund, would you like to donate to any of the charitable causes listed on it?” The answer is predictable.
  • (the client from March 25 above) “I haven’t heard from you. May I presume Friday night, April 1?”
  • (client) “Is there a box I may check on the return that switches me from Liberal to Conservative so I may pay less? Those wild-eyed Conservatives are starting to look more reasonable.”
  • (client) “My taxes this year should be easy as there’s not much to report: most of my income was paid in cash.”
  • A power outage made me appreciate auto-save and document recovery in many programs. How was it done before computers? A power outage meant all work on paper was lost, no doubt.
  • (client) “It’s so stressful trying to get my papers to you. How do you do it?”
  • When a partner tells you that you’re not paying for yourself when you work 50 hours a week and are billed out at 3 times what you are paid, you feel like the $4 candy bar that hotels claim they lose money on.
  • (the wife when working home): “DON’T TELL ME IT’S MARCH 30 AND YOU’RE BUSY WITH TAXES!! I SAW YOU GO TO THE BATHROOM WHICH IS NOT EXACTLY ‘WORKING FROM HOME’! Now the garage needs painting; put on your overalls and grab a brush. After that you’re take me shopping.”
  • (client)  “Did you e-file my returns yet?” IMW: “No, did you send back authorization to do so?” Client: “No, but why didn’t you e-file my returns yet?”
  • (an accounting firm partner calling on the phone) “I’m looking at line 17 of Schedule E of the Smith return. How did you get to that amount?!?…..What do you mean you can’t recall?!?….YOU PREPARED THE RETURN ONLY 2 MONTHS AGO!…..You want to refresh your memory?!?…..What do you think this is, the courtroom?!?…..I think you’re suffering from memory loss!”
  • (virtually any accounting firm partner in the full-heat portion of their career e-mailing a staff member) “We are in the business of providing answers to our clients. If every time they came to us with a question and we responded with a deer in the headlight look, they would not come back to us. Which means they would not pay us. Which means we would not pay you. I trust you see the interrelationship. If you are unable to immediately provide answers to complex, arcane and often unexplored questions of tax law, may I suggest another shop? Jackson Hewitt and H&R Block come to mind. At least there you would be only asked what the standard deduction amount is, although I’m not sure you could even handle that one given your recent performance. Please take this as all my remarks are intended: constructively.

-I. Beetum
Partner/Morale Director

1. Partners & Staff
2. Accounting Today
3. Journal of Accountancy

  • (client) “Thanks for doing our taxes again this year. When you get a chance, could you look into why you sent us a bill last year?”
  • (client) “No, I paid the balance from last year, but did not pay any of the “estimated” tax vouchers. Is that an issue?  I figured that was only a suggestion.”
  • A tax manager should remember that there’s a reviewer checklist to be strictly followed and adhered to when reviewing a staff-prepared return and that such list should be discarded when reviewing a return prepared by a partner. How could a partner be wrong?
  • (client) “I got the tax returns you prepared for me but the return I drafted on TurboTax not only produced a lower tax but no tax at all…”
  • (client) “I know I owed money from last year that you said would be offset against this year’s refund but I don’t understand why they took my refund this year? Would you explain it to me for the 17th time?”
  • (the memory loss partner) “Look, we encourage good health but why are you going to the doctor during tax season?!?…….Do you see me going?!?….Can’t you wait until April 15?!?……You should have stopped coughing up blood by then and you’ll save the co-pay!”
  • (the wife) “I don’t care what time of the year it is! The fertilizer must be laid down no later than April 14!”
  • (client) “Great to see you again, Mr. Windee. Seems like only a year ago we spoke.”
  • (client) “Hi Mr. Windee. I received my w-2s today. I have no idea what the next step is with them. Could you let me know what I do?”
  • [an accounting firm partner]: “What happened with the Widget Corporation return??!!?? It was a 20-hour job that I priced at 10 hours and budgeted to do in 5 yet you put 7 hours in on it!!!! Where’s the 2 hours over budget gonna come from??!!?? Your paycheck??!!??”
  • (client) “Wow! The way you just explained my return to me makes it sound so simple! I’m good at math. Maybe I should try doing my returns myself.”
  • (the client from March 25 above) “I figured it out; you’re on a diet and don’t want to eat out. How about a Yankees game on April 13? It’s against the Orioles, a great rivalry!”
  • (client) “Why do I have to make a payment when my neighbor doesn’t?”
  • (the wife on April 12) “I don’t care about your silly client meeting at 6 pm. You tell your client that every Friday night is pizza night with the family and you must be home early. Besides, your top client will understand, trust me.”
  • (client) “If I only supported the Iraq war but not Afghanistan, may I get a reduction on my taxes?”
  • [that accounting firm partner in a voicemail]: “Where are you? You may have 3 inches of snow where you live but there’s no snow here at the office! And I hear it’s 78 degrees and sunny in Hawaii. How can you not drive when it’s 78 degrees and sunny??!!??”
  • Starting in late March, my firm has a shoot-to-wound policy: any tax professional who strays too far from the building receives a leg shot that allows them to keep functioning in front of a keyboard…… least until April 15.
  • (the client from March 25 above) “I’m disappointed having not heard from you and it’s mid-April. I’ll give you one last chance: how about snowboarding the first week of July?”

-I.M. Windee