Tax season is here. Are you pleased with how your existing CPA took care of you last year? Did they do a professional job in a timely manner? Did they answer all your questions directly? Did they treat you with respect? If not, it might be time to fire your existing provider and find a new CPA now.
I just got off the phone with a client who had a bad experience last year but wasn’t sure if it was time to give her CPA the boot or not. Because the client’s situation is complex, I have been forced to deal with this CPA many times. He pushes my buttons because he’s arrogant. It’s easy to dislike this guy. But is that enough reason for my client to fire him? Let’s go through it together.
Harry the CPA doesn’t answer questions directly without providing tons of information that is extraneous and confusing. That’s frustrating and it takes much longer to get anything done than it otherwise should. Like my client, I find that this is one of the most irritating qualities possible in a professional.
This CPA doesn’t sell investments or insurance. Also, he is usually thorough and he likes to make sure nothing is left unchecked. He rarely makes mistakes and he is reasonably priced. Last, my client likes Harry even though it’s an ordeal to work with him. These are all points in his favor. But that doesn’t make up for his other shortcomings.
This client’s situation got rather complicated this year as I said. The CPA doesn’t have a full grasp of all the facts. When my client and I brought this to Harry’s attention, he tried to blame someone else. This really irked me because the client spent days preparing for tax season and she brought all the data he had to Harry in an organized fashion. All the CPA had to do was open the file and review the data. Sheesh.
Last, he isn’t giving us clear recommendations. He just re-phrases our questions. This drives my client up a tree and it makes me want to give Harry a nice smack in the head.
You might not have a CPA like Harry but you still might have problems with your tax person. Here’s a quick list of the most common problems I hear clients complain about and how to decide if it’s time to move on or not.
1. Is my CPA overcharging me?
This is a simple question to answer. Take your return to 3 or 4 other CPAs and ask how much they would charge to do the work. Compare and decide. Next.
2. Is my CPA making too many mistakes?
Everyone makes mistakes. CPAs are under a ton of pressure during tax season and errors are bound to happen. If he slips up here or there, it’s understandable. Still, if you see a pattern of repeated mistakes year after year or he or she produces more than one blunder on your return in any one year, it’s a huge red flag and it’s probably time to hire a new person.
Of course you may not know if your CPA makes mistakes and that is worrisome. You don’t want to discover this by getting a nasty letter from the IRS. Instead, take your return to a few different tax people and ask them if they see any way to improve the return.
3. Your CPA doesn’t treat you as well as you’d like.
I don’t like it when professionals treat clients unprofessionally. But during tax season, everyone who is in this business is under unimaginable stress. I think we have to be a little forgiving and understanding. If your tax man or woman does a good job at a fair price, I would let occasional gruff behavior slide.
But no matter what, you should be treated with respect. I don’t care what stress the other person is under. That’s a deal-breaker in my book at least.
Are you happy with your CPA? Why or why not? What are your deal breakers when it comes to your CPA?