Sunday, March 29, 2009

Two Types of Clients

The workload of returns is beginning to pick up. My tasks now mainly entail entering data in the tax program, Pro Systems fx, for the supervisor, or actually completing returns myself. Mostly I am piecing through hundreds of documents at a time, trying to get things organized. Soon I'll be taught how to file extensions!

I've come to find that there are generally two kinds of tax return clients, with my preference being neither toward one nor the other. 1st) The client who turns in very few documents. 2nd) The client who turns in every piece of paper in their house.

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With the 1st type of client, the preparer has an easier time organizing and compiling the return, but s/he must wait a long time for the client to send in every last document. How I've learned to deal with clients like this: compile as much of the return as possible, and then make a list of missing items; contact the client with the long list of items and request that the documents be faxed/mailed in ASAP; as the documents arrive piece-mail, check them off the list; when every item on the list is checked off, then proceed to finish the return. This way, the preparer (me) only has to see the return twice, and the client is happier because I don't have to bill them as many hours.

If I put each document into the return as I receive it, then I likely have to analyze their whole case again, and that's a waste of time. So while this type of client can be less aggravating to deal with than the 2nd type, his/her return still has to take up space in my filing cabinet for several months. Likewise, the client remains on my mental WIP* list, which can seem to become overloaded at times.

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The 2nd type of client is the one who sends me their entire life on paper. These are the people who can rest assured that every single penny that's legally deductible will make it into their return. What they often don't realize is that when they send their accountant a bunch of good stuff lumped together with a bunch of crap, then the accountant has to sort through it. Sorting takes time. Time equals money. Do the math.

I sometimes get frustrated when a client sends in hundreds of prescription receipts without having counted them first and given me a subtotal. It means that I have to undertake the mundane task of counting them- something that years of accounting coursework is trumped by. The client's tax preparation bill will undoubtedly be higher, but this 2nd type of client can sleep easy at night knowing that they got all their deductions.

By the way, it bothers me when I have to count prescription receipts and it ends up being that the client takes the standard deduction because their itemized deductions weren't high enough.

* * *

Either way, Client 1 or Client 2, both get the peace of mind that their taxes have been done correctly to the fullest extent the preparer was able, given what was turned in. My third grade teacher used to say "Cakes and turkeys get done, people get finished." I say "Cakes, turkeys, and tax returns get done, people get finished." If you peak at this Washington State University web page, you'll be led to believe that my third grade teacher may have incorrectly corrected her students. Now I'm stuck in this rut of finishing things, never simply 'doing' them.

The time has come to sort out which accounting classes I will take in the fall. Tax could be in the mix....

I've stopped numbering my work days- the post titles were too mundane.

*WIP = Work in Process


Anonymous said... you come!

kiersten said...

I'm an accounting student too... and thanks for sharing your experiences though I can't understand some of the terms cos I'm still a freshman but I'm getting there!!^.^