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    CPAs and EAs have complained forever that half of the issues on their tests are things they will never, ever see in practice. Probably true, but you never know. I'm sure I forgot a lot of these things that I "learned" studying for the SEE, but guess what? Every so often an issue comes up and something in a hidden brain cell tells me there's a rule for that. Then at least I know to look it up. So, while some tax areas may seem remote and you'll likely never encounter them and will forget the details, knowing that they exist may be helpful someday. I am resigned to the fact that the industry needs regulation. We have all seen the shady and/or stupid things that some tax "pros" produce. And we've all have potential clients walk because they didn't like the result. Where do they go? Back to the jerk who lets them deduct commuting miles, "uniforms that consist of jeans or black pants, nonexistent education, you name it.
  3. 8 likes
    Yes, I see this as the biggest problem I have in business. It's frustrating. I got 15 new clients this year, newcomers to the area, all with errors on their 2015 returns. Yes, all. Only one has received a letter, and her problem was a 1099-R that was left off the return. The 1099-R was missing from her paperwork, however, she did include a brokerage statement that showed it. I might have missed that one, too. The other errors were from carelessness or intentional fudging or lack of expertise. And you know what? They will never get a letter. It's easier to be careless, or fudge, or be inept. They can charge less because they "work" faster. And if they're REALLY into fudging, they can charge more. The honor system is tough on honorable people sometimes.
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    I appreciate all of your feedback. I feel comfortable with what I charged. While he keeps good records it always comes in by mail in a large jumbled pile at the end of the season due to the fact he has to wait for the amended 1099 forms from his brokerage accounts. I forgot the K-1 form from some fund he has. It takes easily 4.5 to 5 hours to address all of this plus he mails them. If he ain't happy he can just take a hike as I am too old in the tooth to fret over clients like him anymore.
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    I would ask the client a simple question,... and wait.... Long pause... and deep thought would follow..... Quite the young actress...Yeah..?
  7. 7 likes
    Hubby thinks their robots dial many more calls than can be answered at any one time by their call center employees, counting on answering machines, etc. So sometimes you or another real human answers but, thank the Lord, no employee is available quickly enough to bug you and you have silence.
  8. 7 likes
    I don't have a house... but my fiancee does... plus a beach condo and their both paid for. Married poor the first time, won't make that mistake again.
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    I cannot give out information about the client's return without signed permission from the client. And if they are going to get the client to give me permission, why not just ask the client what he paid me last year? There are legitimate reasons to ask - as Rich said, they might be deducting it on schedule A. Or maybe applying a portion of the fee to a schedule C, E or F as a deduction. But why don't they just ask the client if they need to know?
  10. 7 likes
    Stop it. Just spending an hour with you would be worth $225. If he is too cheap to pay what you are worth, let him go. You offer more than just filling in the amounts, you offer your expertise, your time in the off season, a reliable professional to give good advice all year and planning for future years. If this guy can't see that, it is his loss. Tom Newark, CA
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    My 20-year client called this week, gonna sell her rental, adjusted basis about 20,000, for 90,000. Congrats! "I'll just make enough to pay off the heat and air unit I think. Just wanna know if that'll cause me to pay back SS benefits." Ummm. (I seriously had to sit there a minute, thinking, this is your one and only concern right now??) No, you'll get to keep em, but they'll be taxable. And I will be mailing you a pretend return so you can see how much of your heat and air conditioning money you best save up for yer tax bill. Love, Rita, EA (Even After 20 years they think if they say they didn't make anything my job is to tell IRS that.)
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    As promised. "Unfortunately, I can't find those particular documents." Eheu, litteras istas reperire non possum. "I know why the numbers don't agree! I used Roman numerals!" Scio cur summae inter se dissentiant! Numeris Romanis utor! "This amount here, is that what I made or what I owe?" Haec summa, estne quod merui aut quod debeo? "Where do I sign?" Ubi signo?
  15. 6 likes
    I am shocked, *shocked*, to find gambling on the premises. Oh, wait, my winnings... https://www.forbes.com/sites/kellyphillipserb/2017/06/26/irs-private-debt-collectors-accused-of-pressuring-taxpayers-breaking-the-law/#428eb5252aeb For those who don't like to click links, here is the first paragraph-and-a-bit from Forbes: A new law which went into effect this year directs the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to hand over some unpaid tax bills to private agencies for collections. The law was pushed through despite the failures of past privatization efforts and despite concerns about what privatization efforts might mean for taxpayers (including those recently expressed by Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration J. Russell George and National Taxpayer Advocate Nina E. Olson). It appears those concerns were not unfounded.
  16. 6 likes
    Since I started this thread, I want to give an update. The first potential buyer called and said he didn't think it was fit after reviewing some of financials. However, he did mention a friend of his who might be interested. This second potential buyer and I had a two hour meeting getting to know each other. The one take away was we agreed that January 1 would be a good takeover date. Of course, many other details will be worked out over the next months. We have another meeting scheduled for July. Looks promising.
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    I have asked what day this week is good for your tax prep appointment... I remain persistent on that being the only purpose for their call.
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    When I don' t recognize the number, I put it on speaker and don't say anything when I answer. If the call holds with no one speaking on the other end, I just leave the call connected on speaker. Eventually it hangs up, but at least I've saved one or two other people from getting an annoying call. If there's a live person on the other end who speaks up, then no matter what they say, I respond with what Katherine recommends - "who are you and why are you calling?" That keeps control in my hands. It also gives me chance to tell them to put me on the "do not call" list, although I know it's pretty much a waste of time to utter those words. I handle the "your computer's infected and we need to fix it" calls quite differently if I have some time, because they're a real danger to some people. I have some fun with those guys.
  19. 6 likes
    The "Do not call registry" is a toothless, worthless, paper tiger with no enforcement capability whatsoever.
  20. 6 likes
    And having a business logo put on the truck does not make all the mileage deductible because advertising. I don't care what the barber told them.
  21. 6 likes
    All I do are tax returns. No accounting, no payroll. I'm not ready to retire yet, but at 61 I am still thinking about how many more years I want to work. "WANT" being the operative word. This year I did clean up my client list by sending several clients away, for a better fit. We all know what that means. I don't want to work forever. I am getting less and less enamored with being locked to my computer for 4 months, having over 40 extensions, and having the tax season drag on until October 15th. I want to play. I want to go outside and play in the sun. Without any work hanging over my head. I love my clients, love my work, love the challenge. But most of all, I love the "seasonality" of the business. And that season is spreading out too much. The responsibilities and complexities of being a tax professional might be what actually has me whipped. It's almost like I have to stay sober all year long. Geez...
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    If other class action suits are an indication, I'd say about enough for a cup of fancy coffee... maybe $7. Twenty years from now.
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    Since you didn't say anything about the client being disorganized, having an inordinate number of entries on B or 8949, or otherwise a pain, I'm going to say I can't charge this price here in rural TN. But I am not THERE, where you are, so this information is not really helpful to you, but hey, I like talking to you all. I think you'd have a much better handle on how you compare in pricing by calling some preparers around you. I know we on this Board all EARN more than we make, but until IRS makes it really important to file accurate returns, we are stuck with charging what we can make. Maybe this client is one of those who are never happy, but the perception he has is that this price is too high for him, and he will go elsewhere if there is a less expensive alternative. That's the way that cookie crumbles. It's one thing to know your worth, but it's quite another thing to watch business go down the street. I personally would rather charge $275 and HAVE a client than know I'm worth $325 but be sitting here watching the client parked over at Tammy's X-Treme Tax Returns. Tammy is not going to the store for me.
  25. 5 likes
    I can vouch for Pioneer's ineptness. They were put in charge of PA's amnesty program that ended June 19th. I understand that a lot of the issues with the program stemmed from the State's own utterly ridiculous ineptness. But Pioneer did not help the cause. PA and Pioneer together sent out 100,000 notices to delinquent taxpayers. Some of those delinquencies went back into the 1990s. Some of those notices were to my clients for whom my office has been filing and confirming reporting and payments for a great long time. The State, somewhere in the interim, changed over to a new system and did not bring over the history with them. So many, many of those notices were in error. But for that far back, can I expect my client to keep those records and cancelled checks to prove to the State that there is no delinquency? Why do I implicate Pioneer in this mess? Pioneer was the muscle behind trying to collect this stuff - and often times in a less than friendly manner - and Pioneer had no interest in being logical nor interested in coming to a reason solution to the problem. I have a notice still on my desk for 18 periods of non-filed quarterly sales tax reports dating back to October 2006. I can not do anything with it because every time I pick it up, I can not see it through the anger I am feeling. This client passed away in early 2006; we filed all of the paperwork to close the business and we cancelled the sales tax license and confirmed that cancelling within just a couple months of his passing. We, and the client's widow, have not heard one word about unfiled reports until the widow received this notice from Pioneer dated 04/28/17. Pioneer collecting for the IRS? This ought to be fun.....................................!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  26. 5 likes
    I raise my prices a little every year, on most clients. I usually keep the simple returns pretty cheap, or I lose the easy money. The more detailed returns always go up every year. It's better than skipping a year or 2 then hitting them noticeably hard. All prices go up. Social Security benefits are the only thing that remains the same. So, my prices increase.
  27. 5 likes
    Frannie, I'm assuming you aren't a tax practitioner as this is your first post. There are many, many factors that need to be considered before amending this particular type of return (situation). It's best to get professional help before the grave is dug deeper. Take care, Cathy
  28. 5 likes
    Robin Williams once said (actually, he probably said it many times, but only once in the show I saw) that baby poo is one-half toxic waste and one-half velcro.
  29. 5 likes
    I agree. And I feel this way about anybody skating on debts they owe. It's a real kick in the teeth for people who do what they are supposed to do and when they are supposed to do it. Someone pays for those who don't. Every time.
  30. 5 likes
    Federal Court Prohibits Nevada Tax Preparer from Preparing Returns Containing Foreign Earned Income Exclusion A federal court has barred a North Las Vegas, Nevada, woman and her business from preparing federal tax returns that contain or involve foreign earned income and from promoting the exclusion of foreign earned income to others, the Justice Department announced today. The civil injunction order, to which Sheila Bunting consented, was entered by U.S. District Judge James C. Mahan of the District of Nevada. The injunction also bars Bunting’s business, 5 Star Tax LLC, from continuing to prepare tax returns that contain or involve foreign earned income, and from promoting the exclusion of foreign earned income to others. According to the complaint, Bunting inappropriately attempted to exclude foreign earned income from the calculation of her customers’ federal tax liabilities, which understated her customers’ correct tax liabilities or inflated improper refunds. Typically, U.S. citizens may exempt some foreign earned income from the calculation of gross income if they are present in a foreign country for at least 330 full days out of 12 consecutive months. This period can be waived when the Secretary of the Treasury determines, after consultation with the Secretary of State, that individuals were required to leave a foreign country due to war, civil unrest or other conditions that preclude the normal conduct of business, among other things. In implementing this waiver provision, each year the Secretary of the Treasury publishes a list of countries that have been determined eligible for waiver requests. According to the suit, Bunting disregarded the published list of waiver-eligible countries in filing the exclusion of foreign earned income on behalf of her customers. The injunction requires Bunting to provide a list of customers that identifies by name, social security number, address, e-mail address, telephone number and tax periods, all persons for whom she has prepared federal tax returns or claims for refund since Jan. 1, 2012, that reference foreign earned income
  31. 5 likes
    I have been known to break out in song at telemarketers. Happy Birthday and My Way. Real loud until they hang up. But usually I just click the phone on and off. If they are persistent, I block them. Helps in the short term.
  32. 5 likes
    I don't get too many at home, but on my work phone, easily a dozen or more each week. Since most of my clients use email rather than call, I virtually never answer the business phone. If I see it's a local number, I might, but even then a lot of times it's robocalls. Drives me nuts.
  33. 5 likes
    "Hello" is a word that activates the robot to put the call through to their live call center. Answering with "good morning/afternoon" leads to a lot of dead air.
  34. 5 likes
    I have started answering no-caller-ID calls at home (and on my cell) with "who are you and what do you want?" because apparently if they start with "is this X?" and you say yes, that is then taken as consent to be called. If they won't start by self-identifying, I want nothing to do with them. Then I congratulate them; telling them their phone call has cost their company $20K when I report them to the FCC for calling a number on the do not call list. I generally don't get all the way through that before they've hung up on me... but it's still a LOT more fun than just hanging up on them.
  35. 5 likes
    I'm 81 and didn't do tax returns this year. I am still doing some payroll and sales tax and a little bookkeeping. I quit doing income tax because my mind is just not functioning as well as it used to and I was beginning to have trouble keeping up with the changes in the tax law. I just felt that it wasn't fair to my clients to continue doing tax returns. I just gave my tax business to a friend that saved my business for me when I had a massive heart attack nine years ago. Another big factor that caused me to quit taxes was that I am having more and more trouble getting my computers to do what they are supposed to do. I used to be able to work with DOS without any problem, but windows is getting to be more and more of a problem for me now. My mind is slowing down and computers are getting more complex. I believe God intended for us to work for as long as we are able but to be able to recognize when it is time to slow down, but even then we should stay as active as we are able to.
  36. 5 likes
    I too plan on working until I don't want to anymore because I love what I do. At some point I may not want the grueling hours of tax season so may go to work for a big practice or tax attorney doing legal research to derive "substantial authority" for positions clients might want to take. And/or do estates and trusts only, especially estates since they have their own fiscal years and don't get bunched up into a few months. I understand everyone's concern with letting go long-term clients and worrying about them getting into good hands. Don't. Long ago when I was with HRB I put off leaving for too long because of concern for loyal clients, many of whom had been with me for years. (I was always booked solid every hour I worked and fortunately didn't have to deal with walk-ins.) After I bit the bullet and left, a couple of dozen found me even though my new position wasn't anywhere near the HRB area. The rest I trust got settled with someone else or somewhere else. I still think about the deaf client whom I always started with a big sheet of paper so we could write each other notes, and the one who couldn't read but wouldn't admit it so I had to read things to him. Now I too have lots of mail-in clients I've worked with for years, and almost all need advice or opinions from me year round. You know what, though? If and when I retire, they might just find someone in their locale and realize it's better for them that way. This year I picked up two new clients (referrals since I don't take new clients) who had been dealing with out-of-state preparers and finally decided to go local. Both were thrilled with the ease of getting their returns done, dropping stuff off, etc. It will happen to your clients too. Maybe the hardest part of letting go is admitting we are not indispensible.
  37. 5 likes
    I always knew you were a smart one. Congratulations and good luck.
  38. 5 likes
    I have a new answer to give clients when the price of their return goes up..... Dear Jack, Thank you for being a valued accountant partner. To support you in your work, I am reaching out to provide you with advance notification of two upcoming price changes that may affect you or your clients. 1. QuickBooks Online Plus 2. QuickBooks Desktop Payroll These price changes will enable us to invest in the further development of QuickBooks to meet the needs of accounting professionals and the business clients you serve.
  39. 5 likes
    That is absolutely something to consider. It's definitely all relative. I did Google searches for median home values in Fairfield County, CT and Crossville, TN. The top hits show that the numbers are $535,600 there compared to $90,800 here. It's different here - I love my low cost of living town, and I don't struggle. I do love to work, and I do like to get the business I want. My house cost $342,000 and it's paid for. I'm doing ok.
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    Just some food for thought. Maybe we are bidding some of these prospects too low. I like to set my prices high enough that the prospects have an inkling that I value my services. If it is too high for that prospect, so be it. I can tell you that I have heard a word on the street that my fees are high. OK - but I can tell you straight up - and I have a boat load of clients to confirm it - that there must be value in what I provide at those "high" fees. I use to strive to not be the lowest price in town. Now I strive to be one of the most respectable and respected firms in town.
  41. 5 likes
    This is why I love you, Tom. Yes, I'm as good or better than whomever told him $185. But he couldn't tell that from a ten-minute conversation. None of them can. I didn't even get a chance to hug him. They don't know what they don't know. Maybe he went to Tammy's X-Treme Tax Returns and she put 60,000 miles on Form 2106 or totally missed a mutual fund sale, and he'll get audited, and I'll see him again... Thanks, I'm talking myself into not kicking myself, Tom.
  42. 5 likes
    Passing the USTCP is impressive.
  43. 5 likes
    Congress should require that every tax return that is efiled has a marker back to the original box S/N, and a requirement that the S/N is registered somehow. So that the "shake the box" bad guys can be tracked down. Even bogus registration info is still attached to a taxpayer that can be quizzed. I do not care if there is more preparer regulation, I am a CPA and past all that. All the regulation in the world does not make a difference to those that are outside the rules and stay there.... Rich
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    IMHO, you under charged your client. My very minimum charge would have been $475. Depending on how many other factors were involved in the actual preparation of the returns is the only way I would feel comfortable in telling you if my fee would exceed $475 or not. It's amazing how some people can split hairs in regard to your fees in preparing something as important as their income tax return. And don't let the fact that you are not a CPA discourage you from charging how much your fees should be. I have seen errors on returns prepared by CPA's, their receptionists, and others regardless of what initials they use on their signature line. If said client doesn't return, consider yourself fortunate as he/she is likely to be a thorn in your side every year. Let them go play "winning through intimidation" somewhere other than your office!
  46. 5 likes
    If it takes you 4 to 5 hours, then you are under charging.
  47. 5 likes
    Oh, see, I was guessing this took a couple of hours, tops. I absolutely would charge this much for 4.5 to 5 hours. Your teeth are neither old nor long.
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    Only for the purpose of hysterical laughter...
  49. 5 likes
    ..... Or..Vicious Attack.???
  50. 4 likes
    I turned 70 last fall and plan to keep working as long as my health stays good, since I enjoy what I do. Most of my income comes from 9 monthly writeup/payroll/tax clients. The largest ones I also function as their contract controller/CFO. These are all clients, that I have had for many years, so it would be very difficult for me to sell my practice. Last year I did less than 70 tax returns, so I don't have any walkins. Occasionally I will get a new client due to an unsolicited referral. Financially, I am now in a comfortable place, now that I am on Medicare, plus I started receiving SS last year. It's a wonderful life, now that I am working about 20 hours a week.