Motorcyclists, cops, and Trekkies all of their own "codes." And although your accountant's code of conduct might not be as obvious as the others', they still have one. What you say and how you deal with them makes a difference. But like other arcane worlds, it's hard to learn the ins and outs on your own.
That's why we've taken the time to reach out to accountants and ask them what they wish their customers knew before they walked in the door.
One common response we got from accountants is that they wished clients would take more responsibility for their actions and finances. Often clients will hand off a box of receipts and ask the accountant to basically do a magic trick and fix everything. However, it’s better if you actually participate.
“Spending the time to review your business operations on an annual basis can be a time to create opportunities for tax savings or keep your compliance in check,” says Lauren Stinson from Windward Tax. “We are here to help you.”
“I cannot get your return done without all the information I ask for,” says George Sleeman of Tax Man to You. The only way to do this is if you understand your own finances, at least on some level. Otherwise you’ll be more inclined to leave something out accidentally.
If you’re confused, don’t stay silent! The more you understand the better off everyone will be, including your accountant. A well-informed client also means an accountant can quickly do what they need to do and not face unnecessarily backlash from someone wary of everything they’re doing.
“Give me a call if you have a question,” says Chris Peden of The Accounting Scribe, “no matter how insignificant the matter may seem. I would rather have them ask me what they think is a stupid question, than not ask and have something that should have been reported go unreported.”
“Not all spending is deductible,” Sleeman also said. “Also, you cannot expense everyday clothing because you wear a suit to work.”
The more questions you ask about subjects like this, the sooner you stop trying to get away with expensing items like this. This makes the accountant’s (and your) life much easier.
Don’t expect miracles from your accountant. While sometimes it does seem like they wave a magic wand and everything is fixed, they go through a lot of hair-pulling and mind-warping to get your money in order. However, the more you pressure them, the more heavy sighs you’ll hear when you walk through the door.
“I cannot get your return done in an hour,” Sleeman continues. Such ridiculous expectations are not only stressful to both parties, it’s just not possible. Also, the chance for errors skyrockets if you put unnecessary pressure on them.
Has anything in this post opened your eyes about your accountant? Let us know in the comments!