It’s time for my annual look back on how the tax season went. Unlike the last 3 seasons, I don’t have a lot to complain about.
ONE: It’s Not Really Over Yet
I have a record number of clients on extension — 39 to be exact. This is double the number from last year, and represents almost one-fifth of my clients. Almost all of these — except for maybe 2 — are on extension because they haven’t provided me with all of their information, or they gave it to me so late in the game that I had to file an extension.
Two: The Wave Hit Earlier Than Usual
Usually I can ease into the season, as not much happens until the middle of February. This year the wave started in late January, and I fell way behind. I didn’t reach a point of feeling “caught up” until around April 10th.
Three: Nothing is “Easy” Anymore
My clients often complain that it “takes too long” for me to get their return done. But there’s a reason for that, beyond the fact that I’m one person working with nearly 200 clients.
The main reason it “takes so long” is because taxes are hard. The majority of people who work with me tell me “my return is easy.” But in reality there’s no such thing as an “easy” return anymore.
Even returns that should be “easy” have some complication where I have to stop, ask questions, research, do a calculation, ponder the alternatives, etc.
At any given time, I will have up to 90 tax returns in process (92 was the record this year). Of those, maybe 5% are ones that I can just sit down and “do” right away and get done. The other 95% have some sort of complication, which causes things to come to a grinding halt with their return. And once it gets set aside, I then have to make my way back to it.
Four: Don’t Give Your Clients Your Cell Phone Number
Years ago when my practice was just a side business, I used my cell phone as my business number because it made sense to do so. I was already paying the cell bill, so it made sense not to take on an additional expense for a separate business line.
But now, even though I do now have a separate line, my cell # is ingrained in people’s heads (and still listed as my primary number in some places).
And so clients feel compelled to send texts to me at 6:30 in the morning or 10:30 at night, and then they wonder why I don’t respond right away. And it’s always inane crap like “how r u comming w r tax return?” Or “we would like too stop by too sign 2nite if u will be thier.”
Five: I Don’t Deal with “How Are Things Coming?” Questions Very Well Anymore
Speaking of “how is it coming,” (or “how r u comming w r taxes”) I don’t deal well with being asked that anymore. It’s the equivalent of your children asking “are we there yet” from the back seat.
This question is never asked innocently. People are never “just checking.” I have learned through the school of hard knocks that when a client asks “how are things coming,” it always means “why the hell is it taking you so long, and why isn’t it done yet?” To which I refer people back to #3 above: taxes are hard.
I think this is all for now, but there are a few other things I plan to write about based on what I saw this season, such as: what happens to clients who go elsewhere to “seek a second opinion” on their tax return?