Laura J. Hanlon
CPA
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Laura J Hanlon CPA’s Thoughts On Taxpayer Guarantees

The brackets are all set — well, by that I mean, the NCAA basketball brackets … the TAX brackets have been set for quite some time, and we’ve been spending our days with them far more than any basketball bracket!

I know the struggle is real for normal humans around these next few weeks to stay focused, but it’s not so difficult around THIS office simply because we are in such intensive work mode. But this, for us, is fun — it’s what we’ve been preparing all year for!

Sadly, not every tax professional makes the kinds of year-round preparations that we do here at Team Hanlon CPA. And by saying that, I don’t mean to bash anyone in particular, but simply as an observation based upon the work we occasionally do on prior year returns (more about that in a moment) when they are prepared outside our firm.

Throughout the year, we go to conferences (put on by the IRS, and by others), we share strategy with other tax professionals around the country (unless we’re in fierce local competition — but even then, I make it a point to be giving), and we often get to see each other’s work (reviewing returns).

But even more than specific mistakes or sloppy work, one of the problems with some tax professionals out there are the “terms” by which they operate, and a lack of communication about what happens when … well, read on.

Laura J Hanlon CPA’s Thoughts On Taxpayer Guarantees
“Most ball games are lost, not won.” -Casey Stenge

Do you have a tax accountant who guarantees their work…in writing?

Sure, some guys might say: “We’ll make it right if we screw up”, but then the stuff hits the fan and they fight you every step of the way.

I’ve heard too many horror stories about taxpayers getting a letter from the IRS, then they take it to their accountant, and then the letter sits on a desk gathering dust.

Or, stories about the CPA who makes some quick calls on your behalf, but then you get charged an arm and a leg in the process. Or sadly, a taxpayer doesn’t get any help from the person who prepared their taxes for them so they “go it alone”, call the IRS themselves and have to try to figure out what to do and not to do during this normally-ugly IRS correspondence … THIS can be a nightmare.

Don’t let that happen to you. You need to have a written understanding with your tax professional that you won’t be left in the lurch. Oh, and also: does this guarantee actually do something you want it to do?

I’ve seen some accountants “guarantee” that they will file your taxes for you by April 15th (the 18th this year) or they will file an extension for you. Well…great. That sure makes you feel good in the morning, doesn’t it? Other weak guarantees I’ve seen in the tax industry are, “We guarantee we will begin preparing your tax return the same day we meet with you.”

To most taxpayers, this means nothing. You don’t particularly care when I start preparing your taxes. You want to know how long it is going to take someone to finish it, and to do so without silly errors you know should have been caught.

So remember — the guarantees should be in areas you care about, like:

Tax Return Accuracy … Speed of Service … Most Money Legally Yours … Ongoing IRS Protection For Years After Filing … etc.

These are the things YOU care about. Make sure the tax professional you choose stands behind these critical areas of tax preparation, so you get the most out of your tax filing experience.

And speaking of errors and omissions …

There are (literally) almost one BILLION dollars in unclaimed refund money available from the IRS from 2012 returns. Here’s the catch: You must claim it by April 18th, 2016. (Source: http://ti.me/21rmve4).

How do you do that? Have us take a look at your return, and file an amendment if we find something which needs changing, updating, etc. There are all kinds of reasons why this might be — suffice it to say, “nothing ventured, nothing gained”.

Or, alternatively, there are people who simply didn’t FILE a return, but just trusted that the taxes withheld from paychecks was correct. Oops — that’s where the IRS gets the billions figure, because there are so many unclaimed refunds due to unfiled returns.

Either way, we can help (and routinely do). Call us.

Warmly,

Laura J Hanlon CPA
(501) 548-6400

Laura J Hanlon CPA PA