The Unbearable Lightness of Being a CPA | AccountingWEB

The Unbearable Lightness of Being a CPA

Am I the only CPA attracting whacko, cheap, mean-spirited, stupid, desperate, lazy, crooked, brain-dead, sloppy, crazed clients?

Do you get those daily calls from cheapoes who, upon attempting to do their own tax returns, become stumped on a tax issue and want to pick your brains for free?  Or from losers wanting to qualify for a HUD mortgage, but need an accountant to fudge some numbers on unfiled tax returns for the past five years, and are unable to pay your fees, but offer in trade an old Adobe Creative Suite CS3 that they somehow acquired but cannot for the life of them recall how?!  Or how about the caller who doesn’t have a W-2—no less knows what one looks like—but needs to file a tax return immediately in order to obtain a tax refund to pay his child support to stay out of jail?  And the client who uses QuickBooks but debits revenue for receipts, credits revenues for loans, and expenses all capitalized costs, and then asks you where all his money went?  Or the client who insists on mixing personal with business disbursements year after year, in spite of your threats of reprisals year after year?  Or those who send you a backup copy of QuickBooks and have no idea what the administrator’s password is?

Do you, too, have clients who bring in documentation a dribble at a time, as if you were the IRS auditor?  Or better yet, clients who bring in receipts white-washed from having been left in their jeans while doing their laundry?  And those few who do have receipts, do they bring them into your office in a shoe box all folded, torn, caked with filth, and scrumpled up so that they are unreadable to the human eye, never having heard of file folders?  Or how about those small business owners with bank statements full of indecipherable electronic transactions without a clue as to what they were for?  And you, too, must have clients who think that the tax organizer is for you to fill in, not them.

And do you have the proverbial client who keeps asking in metronome fashion, how can I pay my taxes?  Or the ex-husband who still wants to claim his ex-wife as a dependent?  Or the up-and-coming business tycoon who not only wants to deduct as business travel every mile on his new corvette, but every meal, those trips to the Caribbean, and even the ski lodge rental for the entire winter with his family, and then complains about your bill?

Do you, too, have clients emailing you every hour of the day about some issue or question?  Or who are insomniacs, calling you faithfully on the hour every night after 11:00 PM?  Or leaving you voice messages, placing their calls strategically before your office opens or at lunch or dinner hours, so as to require you to pay for the returned long distance calls?  Or those unforgettable ones who need their tax returns processed immediately, even though they take months, if not years, to pay you?  Do you also have clients whose QuickBooks files are a total wreck, missing half of the transactions that occurred throughout the year, but then complain that your tax return preparation fees are more than those charged by the franchised tax preparing services in town, after you had spent endless hours reconstructing their records from the twilight zone?

And you must also have as clients those recalcitrants whom you had called, emailed, begged, pleaded, and wooed more times than you ever did your wife throughout your entire married life about bringing in their vendor information on time in order to process their 1099s, only to have them dump their lists in your office on the 31st of January, no less, with either taxpayer identification numbers or addresses missing?

Or how about that Pakistani client, who in spite of his pious devotion to Mohammed, heaps upon you a slew of endless vulgarities that would make a camel’s mouth go dry because you off-handedly and unknowingly remarked to his wife that the accounting records prepared by her were a wreck, after which she obediently reports your “insults” to her husband, sobbing uncontrollably as if she were violated by a gang of heathen infidels?

Where have all the clients gone who saved receipts?  Are business checks a relic of the past, replaced by debit cards and nebulous electronic transfers with acronymic descriptions?  Are bank reconciliations too taxing even in QuickBooks, where all that is required from the user is a click here and a click there?

Alas, tax season has arrived.

This article is provided for informational purposes and is not intended to be construed as legal, accounting, or other professional advice.  For further information, please consult appropriate professional advice from your attorney and certified public accountant.

Have a tax or an accounting question?  Please feel free to submit it to William Brighenti, Certified Public Accountant, Hartford CPA Accountants.  For information and assistance on any tax and accounting issue, please visit our website, Accountants CPA Hartford, and our blog, Accounting and Taxes Simplified.

If and only to the extent that this publication contains contributions from tax professionals who are subject to the rules of professional conduct set forth in Circular 230, as promulgated by the United States Department of the Treasury, the publisher, on behalf of those contributors, hereby states that any U.S. federal tax advice that is contained in such contributions was not intended or written to be used by any taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed on the taxpayer by the Internal Revenue Service, and it cannot be used by any taxpayer for such purpose.  The above tax advice was written to support the promotion or marketing of the accounting practice of the publisher and any transaction described herein.  The taxpayer recipients of this offering memorandum should seek tax advice based on their particular circumstances from an independent tax advisor.


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The Barefoot Accountant—is a Certified Public Accountant, Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor,  operating an accounting, tax, and QuickBooks consulting firm in Berlin, Connecticut, Accountants CPA Hartford, Connecticut, LLC.  Bill has instructed graduate and undergraduate courses in Accounting, Auditing, and other subjects at the University of Hartford, Central Connecticut State University, Hartford State Technical College, and Purdue University. He also taught GMAT and CPA Exam Review Classes at the Stanley H. Kaplan Educational Center and at Person-Wolinsky, and is certified to teach trade-related subjects at Connecticut Vocational Technical Schools. His articles on tax and accounting have been published in several professional journals as well as on several accounting websites. William was born and raised in New Britain, Connecticut, and served on the City's Board of Finance and Taxation as well as its City Plan Commission.  Bill is a crazed animal lover, feeding birds, squirrels, chipmunks, skunks, possums, stray cats, and any two-legged or four-legged critter traversing through his yard.  His backyard in Berlin, Connecticut has been certified as a habitat suitable for wildlife by the National Wildlife Federation.

Bill also writes an Accounting, QuickBooks, and Tax blog:  Accounting, QuickBooks, and Taxes by the Barefoot Accountant.  For entertaining articles, please see his listing at The Amazing Brighenti.

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