Is This the Year of the Scammer?

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If you specialize in taxation, there is no doubt you receive a large part of your yearly income between the months of January and June. After that, it seems software companies and even “professional organizations” know that tax professionals are hemorrhaging cash. 

It’s likely your tax software company comes to you twice a year with a “special offer”: before the end of June and before the end of October. Why? They know at these times, you have the cash. And software companies are not the only ones that have figured this out.

If you believe what you see on social media, there is some secret that someone has figured out, and it will make your firm a seven-figure business. From learning tax resolution to following someone’s technique, we are led to believe that after a free webinar (which is basically a hardcore sales pitch), I am to make an appointment with a “coach” of sorts. 

At the consultation, I will be told what this company can do for me, and the cost associated with their services. Think about this for a second. If you had something that set yourself apart in this industry, would you then sell that “magic sauce” to anyone, or would you just keep your head down and make your seven figures?

If you are an enrolled agent, CPA or tax attorney, there are people who will tell us how to make seven figures by integrating tax resolution into our practice. In fact, we are told there is NO EXPERIENCE necessary. 

My advice is to take some continuing education (CE) courses that will teach you all about tax resolution so you can see if it appeals to you and if you can work in that field. After all, tax resolution is probably the nastiest business that you can be in, not to mention that you have to be intimately familiar with the letters the IRS sends and the different deadlines. 

Recently, in a tax group on FaceBook, there was an enrolled agent who had asked a question about something called a Certified Tax Coach. For whatever reason, because the requirements to become an EA do not require a college degree, a lot do not have a diploma and feel as though they are less than their CPA counterparts. 

As a consequence, there are companies that will come up with these “certifications.” Basically, a company has trademarked a designation and has created a test to turn it. They make their money by charging you a monthly fee to use their trademark.

The person posting in the group was stating that they had talked to a salesperson and told them that the company would train her to do tax planning and help her market her business. She would study for the test, and when she passed, they would provide all the marketing support she needed.

 However, they used the old salesperson trick. The cost was $4,000, but if she waited more than 24 hours, the price would double. (A side note: If anyone ever tells you this, end the conversation.)  What they are trying to do is get you to think that the offer is exclusive and not give you time to either think about it or vet their company.

First of all, she is already an EA, and I presume she already knows a lot about taxation. There are several tax planning strategies that she employs with her clients each year. The difference is that this course will teach her some “magic formula.” 

Then, she was excited about the marketing aspect of program. If you are self-employed and don’t know how to market yourself, you better learn quick. Simply Google “How to be a successful self-employed accountant" or something similar, and those sites will tell you that you simply go through your client database and see who may need the new services that you are offering. Just sell these services to clients who already trust you for a good fee. 

In short, be very careful, because there are tons of companies and people out there that are trying to separate you from your money, even in our profession.

About Craig W. Smalley, EA

Craig Smalley

Craig W. Smalley, MST, EA, has been in practice since 1994. He has been admitted to practice before the IRS as an enrolled agent and has a master's in taxation. He is well-versed in US tax law and US Tax Court cases. He specializes in taxation, entity structuring and restructuring, corporations, partnerships, and individual taxation, as well as representation before the IRS regarding negotiations, audits, and appeals. In his many years of practice, he has been exposed to a variety of businesses and has an excellent knowledge of most industries. He is the CEO and co-founder of CWSEAPA PLLC and Tax Crisis Center LLC; both business have locations in Florida, Delaware, and Nevada. Craig is the current Google small business accounting advisor for the Google Small Business Community. He is a contributor to AccountingWEB and Accounting Today, and has had 12 books published on various topics in taxation. His articles have also been featured in the Chicago Tribune, New York Times, Yahoo Finance, Nasdaq, and several other newspapers, periodicals, and magazines. He has been interviewed and been a featured guest on many radio shows and podcasts. Finally, he is the co-host of Tax Avoidance is Legal, which is a nationally broadcast weekly Internet radio show.

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