Tough Love for Tax Delinquency Addicts
Despite our best efforts -- our professional coddling, those gentle-reminders-turned-stern-warnings which seem to fall on deaf ears -- there may always be some unrepentant tax delinquents on our client roster.
Unfortunately, their blasé attitude doesn’t let the financial professional off the hook, and the challenge becomes how to tug them toward the compliant path without tugging our hair out by the roots.
CPE Link instructor Eva Rosenberg points out to her clients that the problems associated with tax delinquency are huge and go beyond just hefty catch-up checks. They can include sleepless nights, emotional and physical problems, damaged relationships that can include divorce, and worse.
And tax delinquents are often who you’d least expect, she says. They can be “successful, high-power individuals” who are very conscious of how they appear to the world at large. They’re often “good looking, work out regularly, social animal” types of people.
These “rules don’t apply to me” folks may catch up and file every few years, pay huge fees, and then revert back, Rosenberg says, as they pursue their manic-depressive financial and life paths.
Their patterns often include making lots of money, then spending or losing it, then doing it again.
Rosenberg (aka “Tax Mama”) uses a 12-step “Tax Debt Anonymous” approach to help those people. The steps, although written somewhat tongue-in-cheek, are a solid, sensible approach to tax scofflaws.
They include a fearless moral inventory, the willingness to take responsibility, drawing up a list of all defaults past and present, and making direct amends.
by Sue Anderson - Based on 30 years of experience in continuing education for accountants. Currently program director for online CPE provider, CPE Link. Formerly with the California CPA Education Foundation managing key operational areas including marketing, program development, and distance learning.