The most frustrating phrase to a good tax preparer when it comes to tax information is; “This guy at work said….” And it doesn’t have to be a co-worker. Substitute brother-in-law, beautician, relator or any other non-tax expert for the co-worker and we (I at least) cringe.
The problem generally isn’t the tax advice or information that is shared. Nor is explaining and educating the client why their source is wrong on an issue. The issue is the client fighting me once I explain the tax rules and why their source is wrong.
For example, Joe is told by a co-worker that he can deduct the mileage he drives to work every day (commuting). The co-worker assures Joe that his preparer does it all the time. Joe comes into see me and tells me he wants to deduct his commuting mileage. I explain to him why he can’t deduct commuting miles. Then he argues with me about who is right; me or his friend.
I don’t know if Joe’s co-worker is really deducting his communing mileage. That’s between him and his tax pro. I will venture a guess that the co-worker brings in the info and assumes that it’s on the return. But I have seen returns where the commuting mileage has been deducted. And just because the return was never audited doesn’t mean that the deduction is correct. It means that it wasn’t caught.
Joe’s problem is that he thinks he’s found a deduction that will save him lots of money and he wants that deduction. He’ll fight for that deduction and honestly believes that he can bully me into giving it to him. Not!
Sometimes the co-worker is right or partially right. If not, it gives me a chance to educate my client. But if clients like Joe won’t listen to what I say or ignores the documentation I show him, they won’t convince me to do what I know is wrong. And I bet we’ll both agree that he should talk to his co-worker’s tax pro.