On Mike Holmes and Going Cheap

“Cheap tax help is often the most expensive.”

-Joe Kristan at the Tax Update Blog, quoted from this blog post.

My wife and I recently downgraded our satellite package in an effort to save money. The downgrade took away all the sports channels that I used to watch but of course left all the channels my wife likes to watch (HGTV and Food Network, mainly). So I get to watch a lot of HGTV these days.

I do enjoy the various Mike Holmes shows that air on HGTV. I appreciate his insane attention to detail, and I like to think that I have a little bit of Mike Holmes in me when it comes to my work as a tax accountant.

All of the “Holmes” shows center around the premise that homeowners got taken advantage of, either by contractors or by home inspectors, and Mike Holmes has to come in and fix the work of incompetent and unethical professionals.

But as I watch these shows, I can’t help but wonder, especially in regards to the problems people have with contractors: how many of those homeowners went with the “cheap alternative” instead of paying a little more to get a competent contractor?

I’m not trying to excuse contractors who do shoddy work. But perhaps many of the homeowners Mike Holmes helps simply got what they paid for?

I see it frequently with new clients who bring me their old tax returns from the “cheap alternative” (oddly, the cheap alternative is usually not an unlicensed preparer but rather, it’s usually old CPAs in rural towns) who prepared the person’s reasonably complex tax return for a ridiculously cheap price and ended up massively botching it.

As Joe Kristan at the Tax Update Blog says in the opening quote to this story: cheap help (of any kind) is often the most expensive.

“This blog post, along with comments that may follow, should not be considered tax advice. Before you make final tax or financial decisions, please secure a professional tax advisor to give you advice about your unique situation. To secure Jason as your accountant, please click on the ‘Services’ link at the top of the page.”


  1. Steve Crooks says

    Lose the Oprah crap. You’re a tax pro. I want to read about the interesting cases you’ve dealt with(your friends identity theft). Focus on the quirky issues that only a veteran has seen. Thanks

    • Jason Dinesen says


      This is a blog post about pricing of services, and people’s perception of pricing. Pricing of services is by far and away the most difficult thing for most people in the tax world — especially for solo operators like me.

      Anyone who has followed this blog for any period of time knows that I write about an eclectic mix of stories and topics. My writing will continue to try to shed light on issues for my clients, peers, and readers – not always in that order.

      Thanks for reading. I am glad that you find the content on here valuable enough to comment on. Have a good day!