We all have high expectations of our accountant but have many of us thought about how we can build the relationship and work more closely with them to ensure the best results possible. Bryce Welker gives advice on what is and is not possible to help you on this journey.
Tax time is nobody’s favourite time of the year.
It can be easy to get annoyed with your accountant if things haven’t worked out as well as you hoped … but your accountant may be wishing that you would get your act together too.
Here are six things your accountant really wishes you understood at tax time:
#1: Not Everything Can Be Expensed
Accountants often complain about clients wanting almost everything deducted as expenses.
Even if you spend some time working from home, you can’t deduct your rent, mortgage, or any other bills in their entirety. You might be able to deduct a percentage of them, but definitely not the whole lot.
#2: They’re the Expert …
Your accountant probably spent 400 hours preparing for their CPA exam (and a bunch more time taking their bachelor’s degree before they even got to that stage).
Trust them; they know a lot more about accounting than you do. If they ask you to send in some specific documents, send them – don’t question why they’re needed. Assume your accountant has a good reason!
#3: … But They’re Not a Miracle Worker
If you owe the IRS more than you budgeted for, that’s not your accountant’s fault. They’ll make sure you’re avoiding unnecessary tax, but there’s only so much they can do.
Don’t blame your accountant, and don’t expect a miracle. Ideally, don’t leave it to the last minute to get tax advice, either: the sooner you get in touch, the more time they’ll have to help.
#4: This is Not the Moment to Ask for General Advice
It’s mid-March, and your accountant is doing their level best to file your taxes on time … so this really isn’t the best point in the year to start asking their advice on retirement accounts.
They’ll be happy to answer those types of questions, of course, but not when they’re in the middle of their busiest period of the year.
#5: You Aren’t Their Only Client
Your accountant has other clients, too – not just you. Those clients, too, want to talk to their accountant on the phone and want prompt replies to their emails. They also want their taxes completed right now.
If your accountant takes a while to get back to you, or can’t turn around your taxes as quickly as you hoped, that’s because they have a bunch of other businesses that they’re helping. A little understanding of this will go a long way.
#6: They Can’t “Bend the Rules”
Perhaps you really wanted to expense that swimming pool you had installed at home (hey, some of your favorite clients get to use it) – and you’re disappointed that you can’t.
Don’t expect, or even ask, your accountant to bend the rules for you. They don’t make the rules, the IRS does – and if they do something illegal on your behalf, the repercussions on both you and them could be severe.
A good accountant will be a huge asset to you and your business. Make sure you’re working with yours, rather than against them, and they should be happy to stick around for many years to come.
Bryce Welker is an active speaker, blogger, and tutor on accounting and finance. As the Founder of Crush The CPA Exam, he has helped thousands of candidates pass the CPA exam on their first attempt