What I Learned Last Year: My Time for Tax Consultation isn’t Free

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I am quasi-famous in this industry, due to all of the writing, and speaking engagements that I do, and as a consequence, I get a ton of calls and emails from other professionals regarding those articles and seminars.

I always call the person back or reply to the emails, but one thing I won’t do is give someone an answer to something or tell them how to do something that took me several hours to figure out for myself. My response is always that I’m not trying to be rude, but you are a competitor and do your research, just like I did.

One lady called about an article I wrote. I called her back, and she was unavailable. I told the person who answered the phone that she could email me, which was met by, “Oh, no. [So-and-so] doesn’t do email.” I’m doing you a favor, and I’m not going to make it easier on you than it is for me. I feel it is completely rude of someone to set the terms at which I help them with something.

The notoriety also produces potential clients who make an appointment about an article I wrote. I will give you a free one-hour consultation, but for some reason some people will think that extends to follow-up emails.

After the initial consultation and receiving an email about some kind of tax planning, it is returned with an engagement letter and credit card authorization. I am either engaged, or the person goes away. I can’t spend a bunch of hours doing things for free.

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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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Jan 22nd 2018 17:07

That's a main reason I had to get off of LinkedIn - constant emails and messages from people new to the career or new to being on their own asking for detailed and multiple explanations on how to read certain reports, where to book things etc. Then more times than not they'd reply that it didn't work for them and would I take a look at their files to see what the differences are. (in other words do 4 hours of work and give them the answer) Do what I did - go to school and get your education and spend 30 years amassing this knowledge or there's a great new thing called GOOGLE that even I use often.

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Jan 23rd 2018 03:38

Nice article, but one point I disagree with:

"I told my kids to find what they love to do, and the money will follow."

The money will ONLY follow if what you love to do is something other people actually value. Otherwise, you are just dabbling in a hobby. Passion is nice, but it doesn't always lead to a steady income.

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Jan 23rd 2018 17:47

You are exactly right! Couldn't agree more! I appreciate your insights!

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