Thursday, April 15, 2010

Be Kind to Your Accountant

The third post about an ideal workspace will come soon.  Meanwhile, this is what's on my mind:

Long, deep Sigh.

I have been working at an accounting firm for about 16 months - two tax seasons.  I have a whole new respect for accounting. 

The accountants I work for have been working 7 days a week and keeping very late hours for months. They haven't had any time to enjoy spring.  At this point they are worn out.  Haggard.  Walking around like zombies.  Hanging on for dear life.  They have been looking forward to this day - April the 15th - like a drowning person waiting on a life raft.

I have learned a few things from working there.  I'd like to pass on some tips.

E-file.  Use direct deposit.  It's safer and more secure.

Extensions are good. If your situation is normal and you aren't expecting to owe an arm and a leg, extend.  Your accountant will have more time and energy to work on your taxes if you wait til after spring.  It's ridiculous to think that everyone's taxes can be done in such a short period of time.  So many people come in a week or two before the 15th and expect to have their returns completed on time.  If we said anything about the limited time and/or number of returns ahead of them, almost all would tell you that theirs was really simple so it should be no problem.  Hello.  A whole lot of simple returns still add up to a whole lot of time.  Get in line.  I wish I could have been more blunt. 

Make copies of everything your give your accountant.  I don't say this to suggest anything about reliability.  I say this because unforeseen things can happen.  Accountants can die and clients can't get their stuff.  Offices can burn.  Make copies.  Give your accountant the copies and you keep the originals. 

Be organized.  Put your name and contact information on the things you turn in.  I am amazed at how some people turn in their stuff.    If a client brings in a heap of papers and receipts in disarray, it's very likely that something will be missed.  And just remember, if you or your taxes are a pain to deal with, you'll probably be charged more.

Smart clients have their papers grouped into categories.  They add up their contributions.  They put their items in a folder or envelope or small binder. They use gem clips, not staples!  They make it a point to learn what's needed.

If your accountant gives you something to fill out... FILL IT OUT!   It's for your own good.

Last but not least, be kind to your accountant... even if you end up owing.  They did the best the could for you.

Today was my last day at my job.  I loved the people I worked for. They were fun and incredibly nice, though I do question their sanity for being in this business. I know it crazy, but I loved organizing and making folders and doing the little jobs I did.  But, I am so excited to be a homebody again.  I have so much I want to do... as soon as I recover from tax season.


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