Why Accountants Must Offer Tax PlanningTax Planning
The year was 2002 and I was in my first tax season. It was March and so far it had been great. It was my first year out of KPMG and I was making money and loving the freedom…
March is an interesting time for a tax preparer, it is usually when I begin to see the “Tax Due” returns (after 13 years you can see the patterns) and in my first year I was about to have my first meeting with a client that owes tax.
I remember it because it was a friend of mine, and he owed around $15K. He had just started a new business that year and this was just as new to him as it was to me…
To make a long story short, the meeting was a disaster. When my friend saw his tax due amount, he freaked… I panicked because I figured he was expecting something like that, and now face to face I was back-peddling and trying to calm him down…
The meeting ended nice enough, but our relationship and friendship was never really the same. He was a client for a while, but then moved on as so many strained client-accountant relationships can and do…
My first question to you is: “Have you had this happen to you?”
This Could Have Been Avoided
If you answered “yes, this has happened to me.” you are not alone. All of us, if we are doing tax returns (and no tax planning) have had a meeting like this.
These type of client encounters can be avoided, and it is the #1 reason we should be doing tax planning.
Some might say the reason we do tax planning is to save the client tax. I disagree, the first reason is to make sure the client is not surprised by tax outcomes. To save our own skin, to ensure the relationship is fruitful should be our first instinct.
Yes, eventually we will get to tax savings and the proactive advantages of tax planning, but first we must be motivated ourselves.
You have the power to make every tax meeting you have with clients this year a successful, positive experience. You can ensure satisfaction at tax time, and all it takes is some planning and some communication.
In the blogs to come, I am going to show you how. But first, let’s talk about other advantages to tax planning.
Clients want Superman/Superwoman
I wouldn’t say I am an authority on comics, but I know the general premise of Superman (imagine each time I say Superman I also mean Superwoman, I don’t mean to be gender specific )
Superman was the guy who could rush to the rescue, always did the right thing, had the law on his side and was stronger than his enemies.
That is what clients want too. They want you to show them some exciting strategy, but to always be within the confines of the law.
If the TaxMan shows up (the TaxMan is our fictional character at Tax Planner Pro who symbolizes overpaying your taxes or what you could have paid) you are supposed to take him out and make sure he thinks twice before coming back.
You are the honest advisor, you are the creative advisor, you are the shelter in the storm…
Bottom line, it’s hard to be Superman….
This is where tax planning comes in. You can be all of these things, but you must emphasize planning as much or more than you emphasize tax preparation.
Tax planning is where Superman fights the bad guy and wins…
Tax preparation is when the bad guy has his day in court…
Get it? Tax planning is where you are a hero, the return is just an afterthought and should be in most cases a foregone conclusion.
The reason you should be doing tax planning for every client is that it’s the key to being Superman to every client.
And Superman gets paid…. A lot…. Which brings me to my final point.
Money isn’t everything, but it is something….
I meet quite a few accountants these days. Many more than I ever did the first 12 years of my career. Making accounting software puts me in touch with brilliant people that I have learned quite a bit from.
If I had to list 3 things we talk about most, one of them has to be “making more money”. It is on our minds, after all we ARE accountants!
I always make the same BOLD STATEMENT when I am asked about making more money:
“Tax Planning Can Double Your Income If You Let It”
That's fairly bold right? Double Your Income? That seems like a lot…
But I am serious, I have seen it work. I am a believer that clients would rather pay for the planning than the tax return. But the key part of my statement is: “If You Let It”….
I believe accountants of all skill types and levels should be involved in tax planning. And that accountants have to be willing to explore tax planning services.
Further, I also know that many tax accountants charge for tax return preparation but give tax advice and ideas away for free.
Later in this blog series, I am going to show you why these situations need to change, and why everyone (bookkeeper, tax preparer, CPA, EA, etc.) needs to be doing tax planning at every level.
I am going to challenge tax accountants and bookkeepers to stop “Giving” tax advice and to start “Selling” tax advice.
And finally, I am going to show you how you can “Double your Income” with tax planning services.
This first article in our Tax Planning 101 series was meant to answer the question of “Why should I offer tax planning services”? In the next installment we are going to show you the “How” and as this multi-part series continues we will cover several aspects of tax planning and firm management.
This will culminate with our FREE offer to give you my 25 video course: Tax Planning Mastery which is available through Tax Planner Pro’s Accountant Portal. It launches officially this December so there is no time to waste.
Let get into our next topic!