Income Tax Time

Income tax time

If you’re getting income done, you need a great accountant

There are a few things in life we all covet dearly – like a trusted auto mechanic, a great family doctor, or a dry cleaner who actually removes stains, etc. For me, you can add my tax accountant to this list.

In one of my favorite Seinfeld episodes, there were always lineups outside the store of the Soup Nazi – because the soup was so damn good. It’s the same for George, the Tax Nazi.

There are a few things in life we all covet dearly – like a trusted auto mechanic, a great family doctor, or a dry cleaner who actually removes stains, etc. For me, you can add my tax accountant to this list.

In one of my favorite Seinfeld episodes, there were always lineups outside the store of the Soup Nazi – because the soup was so damn good. It’s the same for George, the Tax Nazi.

My guy has been looking after me and my businesses for ten years now. He was just starting out when we first hooked up, having spent several years prior working within as a tax auditor.

Even in the early years, when money was tight, George had exacting standards as to who he would take on as a new client. Now that he is uber-successful, these standards are a source of exasperation for many, and a constant source of entertainment for me.

I now understand that with me, he was unusually patient in the beginning. I would meticulously prepare and categorize every receipt, sometimes replicating receipts, invoices, and statements to make things easier for him if I felt an item might require inclusion in more than one section.

receipts I would prepare detailed, cross referenced spreadsheets on many sub topics. I would annotate my bank statements with explanations and colorful highlights for unusual items.

Being a controlling type person, it was second nature for me to prepare this road map for my tax preparer. I had always done things this way – and no one had previously challenged me.

George would accept my banker’s box with a knowing smile, and call me back to his office a month or two later. After asking a few clarifying questions and making last minute adjustments on his computer, he would then simply print out my returns with all accompanying schedules, and tell me where to sign.

Not so fast, I would say. Let’s look it over together. Did you consider this spreadsheet? What about these receipts? Don’t forget this kid is still in school, and that one is overseas. That was an intra company transfer of funds – not income. These LCBO bills are for a client party I hosted, etc.

The first few years, George patiently answered all my questions, while making no effort to make further changes to his work. As far as he was concerned, he was done, period. He respected my tax knowledge, so he listened to me. But as far as he is concerned, your are done the way HE wants, not how you think.

As time went by, I began to relax about this. Our payable were always less than expected; our corporations never had any hiccups; and anytime sought additional information, George would take over and manage the issue to completion, never charging an additional penny – no matter how complex the matter.

exclusive club I began to refer other family members and my clients to George. They too were always delighted with his work, and began to boast to their social network about “their guy.”

Now that his business is highly successful, George has allowed his ‘inner eccentric’ to fully surface. He refuses new clients now as a matter of course. And clients who fail to follow his rules are fired without explanation.

Only if you are my blood relative, and you can work within his exacting relationship parameters, then he may consider taking you on – after all, a few spaces open up each year due to client mortality.

The unwritten rules of one great accountant

  • Don’t call me – I am too busy to answer the phone and I rarely listen to voice mail. If you want my attention, send me a fax, or drop off a package in my mailbox. The fax machine may or may not be switched on to receive your messages. After seven years of working like this, he let me have his email address, but “if you give my email address to anyone, you will no longer be my client.”
  • I schedule the months of January to April according to a sixteen hour work day, filled with thirty half hour appointments. You will be notified of your two scheduled appointments. One to drop off your stuff, (it better be complete) and the second to pick up your returns, and sign where needed.
  • Give me everything – don’t hold back. I don’t care if it is organized or just dumped in a box. I charge more if it is not organized, but your result will be the exact same.
  • You must not follow up correspondence with Revenue Canada on your own – send it to me, and I will deal with it on your behalf at no charge.
  • If you miss a scheduled appointment, find yourself another tax accountant. No for you!
  • If you show up at my office without an appointment, no for you!
  • Certain nationalities he will not deal with – there is nothing racial about this – but if he accumulates a few bad experiences from a particular immigrant group, then their entire nation is not welcome in his practice.
  • If he gives you specific advice for the following year, and you choose to ignore it, you had better have good reason or no for you!
  • If he finds out you have been lying to him, you will have to find yourself another tax accountant.
  • If you want to do anything other than your year-end returns, or quarterly filings your appointment will be in the summer months.
  • Thank you for all your presents. None of them are necessary though. I have enough bottles of liquor to open up my own store, and it doesn’t change my levels of service, or my prices.

What made this accountant so great?

beautiful mind He has a brilliant mind, and is always on top of the changing tax landscape. He knows exactly where ‘all the bodies are buried’ and what is the best way to present any situation to CRA.

He is 100% dependent and reliable. If he says he will do something, it will be done.

When you pick up your returns, he returns all your supporting documentation and tax returns back to you in clearly labeled, highly organized binders. You can tell at a glance what was used where, and which information was of no use.

You may not understand any of it, but he explains everything he has done, in an unhurried fashion. You may even enjoy some small talk!

Every year around the holiday season, he sends out a personalized card with a check list of everything you have to prepare for him, and notifying you of the date and time of your two appointments. (This allows you to cancel your winter vacation if there is a schedule conflict)

His prices are actually very reasonable – in fact I chide him for not charging enough. He’s the best I ever worked with – and would be at double the price.

He’s a very nice guy, quite charming – just fiercely dedicated to his craft. He is an avid outdoorsman. I have seen lame geese and ducks, a wild boar, and even a beaver in his back yard – all of which he nurtured back to health before releasing them back into the wild.

duck hunter He even took me skeet shooting one day, and he had reluctantly given me his cell phone number to ensure we met up at the right place. A couple of months later I called his cell about a tax matter – he freaked out over the phone, demanding to know how I got the number. Next day, he changed his cell phone number. Fortunately though, he did not fire me.

Note: I wrote the above article in the height of the 2012 tax season. Little did I know that George would fire me one year later, for reasons still unknown to this day – won’t return calls, emails, or faxes. Ah well, I can’t say I wasn’t warned!

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