My Pet Peeve: Friends Wanting Free Tax Advice
Without going into why my tax season had me question what I do for a living, I had a philosophical discussion with my wife about why this job rakes my nerves.
She has told me to take time off, to have dinner with friends, and get out. Maybe this only happens to me, but every time I try to relax with friends, and it doesn’t matter if I know them or not, the subject turns to whatever tax issue this person has. I can’t escape it!
To clarify, I couldn’t care less if a professional is stuck, and sends me an email. I’ve been there, so I understand but to go out with friends to dinner, or drinks, and have the conversation turn to whatever tax issue this person has is another matter. We inevitably spend the night discussing this tax issue and the evening ends with me offering to help, pro bono, of course.
By the time the 10th of April comes, I am just dead tired and can’t keep up with emails, texts, and phone calls, plus work. Yet these “friends” will stop by my house on April 10th and be upset that I’m not home at 4:00 pm. If I’m not home then they text and call.
I made a declaration to someone the other day. I don’t have friends. The reason for this is simple. Firstly, I don’t want to feel obligated to handle someone else’s tax situation. Secondly, when someone is your friend they don’t think the rules apply to them. Do you think I want the door to my house being knocked on the day before tax day? Or to have “friends” dropping off their information at my house at all hours of the night?
In 2014, I had a friend get a CP-2000 Notice, and I amended the return. I never heard back from him until three days before the deadline. He knocked on my door and I didn’t answer. I know better. He left his notice and check, because apparently it was my issue to get this in the mail for him.
The friend that wanted me home by 4:00 pm on a weekday, got a little touchy. I told him to leave his information in the planter next to my door. Our 16-year-old son lives with us and my mother in law is over all the time. They know to check the planter. He goes on went on rant about identity theft, and I filed an extension for him.
The worst pro bono work I ever did was an Offer in Compromise (OIC) for this person that was my wife’s best friend’s mom. After a year of haggling, I got her IRS debt down from $675,000 to $5,000. She said that I could ask her to do anything, and she would. When I did eventually ask for a favor, she refused.
I don’t mind helping people, after all, once I get a break, I will love what I do for a living again. However, in what world is your tax issue mine? I know how to fix it but it will take hours and will take away from billable work I need to get done.
I do have one friend. I can text him at anytime and ask if we can get together for Cuban cigars and some drinks, and just talk about our lives. Taxes never come up.
Craig W. Smalley, EA is the CEO and Founder of CWSEAPA®, PLLC, located in Orlando, Florida, with clients all over the country in every industry. He has been admitted to practice before the IRS as an Enrolled Agent, and has a Master's Certificate in Taxation from UCLA. He has been in practice since 1994, specializing in individual, partnership...