What If I Hire a Pro and She’s Not Much Help?
This is a common complaint. Why shell out your hard-earned cash to someone who doesn’t help you? But before you make the hasty decision to cut your Tax Pro loose, ask yourself if you are partly at fault.
Do you call and schedule appointments for consultation on specific issues? Or do you just show up for your routine tax preparation appointment and expect that, like magic, all your questions will be answered and all your problems solved during your one-hour appointment.
Frankly, tax season is an insane, hectic, non-stop grind. During that time, most Tax Pros only schedule enough time for each appointment to get the tax returns done. The deadlines are too tight and they don’t have time to sit around planning with you, or to try to fix all the things you didn’t ask about last year. Don’t expect your Tax Pro to solve your personal or professional problems between January 2nd and April 15th. That’s what the other eight and a half months of the year are for. (If you must discuss particular problems during your tax appointment, call in advance and schedule an extra hour or so for the consultation–and do expect to pay for it.)
Usually, I manage to convince people to give their Tax Pros another chance. Nobody can do a good job for you if you don’t call them BEFORE you take action. Meet with them when they are not rushed. Tell them exactly what your plans or intentions are for the consultation–you’ll probably get all the help you need. You’d be surprised how good your Tax Pro can be after a little preparation and a full night’s sleep!
Where Should I Look For a Tax Pro?
Calling on a Tax Pro who has worked with someone in your family is often a good place to start. You should also try asking around among your friends. You may be surprised how many folks have Tax Pros they just adore! The good ones probably know more about their clients and their lives than any priest, rabbi, spouse, lover, drinking buddy, or best friend (Oh, the secrets we could tell!).
If you can’t find someone through your usual networks, get in touch with one of these professional organizations:
Enrolled Agents – EAs and Tax Specialists (licensed by the U.S. Treasury to practice in all 50 states)
Accounting Associations – CPAs (licensed to practice only in specific states)
American Bar Association – Attorneys (licensed to practice only in specific states)