Every day, literally every single day, I learn something new about taxes.
When people wonder why it “costs so much” to have a tax return prepared, consider: it’s impossible for a preparer to know every little thing about every nook and cranny of the tax code.
Sure, you’re paying the preparer to get it right, but once you get past a 1040-EZ where the taxpayer only has a W-2 … you get into complications.
Usually the new things I learn happen by accident while researching something else.
I’ve also learned to take a deep breath and look more deeply into things before making rash judgments or writing angry blog posts.
For example, earlier this year, I wrote about clients who were receiving a Form 5498 in the mail in late May, and how I couldn’t understand why the forms were arriving “so late.”
An alert follower of mine on Twitter pointed out that the due date for Form 5498 to be issued is May 31st, so the forms weren’t late-arriving after all. While it’s certainly jarring for a person to receive a tax form in late May, I was wrong to say the forms were “late arriving” — in fact, they were arriving right on time.
Where am I going with this? I guess I’m just pointing out to people that there’s a reason why I so often DON’T give answers off the top of my head. I know it drives my clients crazy when I say “it depends, let me research it and get back to you.”
The answer to almost every question about taxes is “it depends.” And when you get burned a few times — as I have with some of the dumb mistakes I’ve made (which I’ll write about more) you learn to be cautious with giving off-the-cuff answers.