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3 Red Flags I Ignored When Dealing with my Accountant

January 16, 2016 Author: 3 Red Flags I Ignored When Dealing with my Accountant

Inertia is powerful. Once you're moving in a certain direction it can be tough to change course. It's the same way with service providers. Once you've settled in with a provider you know, it can be tough to leave.

So it was with my accountant. Ten years ago I was referred to him by the financial advisor who rolled over my 401k when I said buh-bye to employment and started my massage practice. All was well for a few years. He was patient with my new-business questions. He was easy to reach throughout the year.

A few years in, things changed.

Confidentiality

I ran into that financial advisor and he said, "Accountant said you cleared 40k last year, good for you!" Yup. That was good for me and my bank account. But not so much for my privacy, since there was no reason they needed to communicate about my finances and no reason for Accountant to be telling him what I earned.

I brushed it off because... well, because I was dumb. I shouldn't have brushed it off.

Advice

The next year at the end of my tax prep session I asked about the best retirement plan options for my income and business setup. He gave me an answer, but didn't really want to expand on why that was the best option. I chalked it up to him being busy. Except, tax prep went pretty quick and we had plenty of time left in my appointment. Huh.

Sloppy Work

The next two years, stuff was just sloppy. He missed an address change. Then he messed up the addresses on the 1099's he completed for me. He typo'd my last name.

Still, none of it was a big deal, and change is hard. I haven't always been confident about how I handled my money. I was too embarrassed to switch to a new accountant. (As if having a heap of debt and not enough retirement funds is an unusual thing in one's late 30's. Good grief, Allissa.)

The Final Debacle

But last year's tax prep was a doozy. I went into the meeting knowing I had made more money, and would owe a chunk of money. In fact, I had tried to check in with him the previous fall to see if I should make a bigger quarterly payment, but he was hard to reach.

So when he told me that I was getting a refund, I questioned it. He ran through the numbers again and found his error. In fact, I owed a big chunk of money. I asked about my options. He was not at all patient about answering my questions. When he printed out the documents for me to sign, my first name was spelled wrong. Sigh.

There were more minor debacles (on the IRS end) after the filing, and he was not at all responsive or helpful. I handled it myself and vowed I would make an appointment with a new tax pro before 2016, and get all set up to do things right.

Of course I blew it off. Even though 'call new tax dude' was in my calendar throughout October. I even had an enthusiastic referral to a new tax pro, from some other small business owner friends. But last week when I started getting my paperwork together I actually almost considered going back to the old dude. Because inertia.

Then I shook myself right outta that silliness and made an appointment with the new dude. It happened this morning. Just like you would expect, I'm smacking myself for not switching sooner.

The new guy is great. He's obviously patient. And he was really measured and professional when he found some obvious errors in last year's return. I'll be refiling and decreasing that tax bill.

It was not at all painful. No one made fun of my financial situation. (Why would I even THINK that?? Geez.) Had I just made the switch when I had the first gut feelings of ickyness, I would've saved myself a bunch of time, money, and aggravation. Darn you, inertia.

I learned the hard way. I hope it helps you!