The National Association of Enrolled Agents bills EAs as “America’s Tax Experts.” At various times in my career I have been introduced to people as a “tax expert.”
And you know what? I HATE being called a tax expert.
Most of this relates back to me having the yips. I’ve gotten over the worst of the yips but it still rears its head now and then.
I have learned, as the old saying goes: “the more I know, the more I realize I don’t know.”
There was a blissful ignorance to my early days in the tax field. You can find that blissful ignorance — mixed with a healthy dose of arrogance — in many blog posts on this very site from 2011 through around 2015.
The blissful ignorance came from not having seen as many situations and scenarios. I didn’t always know the questions to ask.
Now I know the potholes. Now I know the questions to ask to get to the root of an issue. And in so many cases, the answers to the questions reveal even more problems. This happens again and again.
I Learn Knew Things Every Day
I wrote about this nearly two years ago, and it really is true: I learn something new every day.
And it literally is every day. As I type this post, I can count at least 3 things I have learned about taxes in the last 24 hours that I didn’t know before.
I also have two tax returns sitting on my desk that need amended because of things I should have caught when I prepared the return, but I didn’t and so now here we are, needing to amend to fix.
This is scary stuff!
And unfortunately it causes me to freeze up a lot of times. (Back to the whole “yips” thing.) I need to get work done for my clients. But I sit at my desk and wonder “what about this?” and “what about that?” and “wait, what if this obscure thing is true?”.
I like to think that I know more about taxes than most other people, and that I take my job seriously, and that I always try to do the right thing and reach the right conclusion even when tax law is unclear on what the right answer is.
In other words, I do believe I am a tax professional who runs a tax practice, and that the word “practice” is interpreted literally because it really is a “practice” of learning new things every day.
But please, don’t call me an “expert.”