Keep These Tax Clients While You Have the Chance

Portrait of an angry man yelling on the phone21 reasons they switch firms.

By Ed Mendlowitz
Tax Season Opportunity Guide

Clients have many choices, including the choice of a tax preparer. Every new client an accountant gets is because that client left – fired – their previous accountant.

MORE: What’s NOT to Like about Tax Season? | Can Your Reviewers Answer These 10 Questions? | 5 Small Leaks That Can Sink a Tax Season | One Can’t-Skip Touch for Tax Season | 3 Steps to Tax Season Happiness
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So why do clients leave? Here are 21 good reasons why they should: READ MORE →

Yes, Christopher Columbus Had an Accountant

John Vanderlyn’s painting, “Landing of Columbus” in the Capitol Rotunda, depicts Columbus’s accountant, Roderigo Sanchez, as fourth man standing on left
John Vanderlyn’s painting, “Landing of Columbus” in the Capitol Rotunda, depicts Columbus’s accountant, Roderigo Sanchez, as fourth man standing on left

Valuable contacts can become friends.

By Ed Mendlowitz

One of my hobbies is my interest in accounting history.

Delving through history is very interesting but usually a solitary pursuit. However, when you meet likeminded people, the discussions can become very animated. It can also cause you to meet extraordinarily interesting, bright and nice people, and I have.

Learn more: Call Me Before You Do Anything: The Art of Accounting

I wrote the lead article in the Journal of Accountancy’s 125th Anniversary issue, and two of the editors were Dale Flesher and Gary Previts. We “met” over the phone discussing the article. A few months afterward the AICPA had its 125th Anniversary Council meeting and Dale and Gary called and suggested I come to Washington, D.C., to meet them and perhaps visit the Capitol and have our photos taken in front of the painting by John Vanderlyn showing the landing of Columbus, including Roderigo Sanchez, the accountant hired by Queen Isabella to accompany Columbus.

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My ‘Brand’ Is the Exciting History of Accounting

Smiling businesswoman talking on cameraWhat feels right to you?

By Ed Mendlowitz
Call Me Before You Do Anything: The Art of Accounting

In 1998 I read that Andersen Consulting would be spending $100 million to brand their company. This seemed unusual for a few reasons.

MORE: Be an Accountant, Not a Salesperson for Other Things | 10 Reasons for My Success | When the Kids Don’t Want to Take Over | Staff May Surprise You with Leadership | Problem Clients | When Pushing the Pencil Pays Off | When to Say No to Pro Bono Work
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1. They were in heated litigation with Arthur Andersen to leave the accounting firm and set up an independent company.
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10 Things NOT to Say During Tax Season

Older man with finger on lips and other hand out in "shush" gestureEliminate excuses.

By Ed Mendlowitz
Tax Season Opportunity Guide

Tax season is a busy time and preparers sometimes neglect to get something outside of tax prep done. Needless to say, clients don't want to hear it. And your firm may miss some valuable opportunities.

MORE: What’s NOT to Like about Tax Season? | Can Your Reviewers Answer These 10 Questions? | 5 Small Leaks That Can Sink a Tax Season | One Can’t-Skip Touch for Tax Season
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Here are a bunch of phony reasons why some things don't get done...
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Top 12 Tax Return Errors

Error stampedDon't ignore last year's return.

By Ed Mendlowitz
How to Review Tax Returns: The Field-Tested Update

Following is a checklist with a listing of the most frequent tax preparation errors. Use this as a guide of what the reviewers should look for.

MORE: Why ‘Tick and Tie’ Needs to Die | Use Tax Return Prep for Training and Growth
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  1. Number transposition and spelling errors. This includes income and deduction amounts and client Social Security numbers, addresses and ZIP codes. Spelling errors should also be avoided – they indicate a lack of attention to what you are doing.

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What’s NOT to Like about Tax Season?

Businesswoman holding green folderIf you're not happy, target why.

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By Ed Mendlowitz
Tax Season Opportunity Guide

Successful people are happy with their practices and what they do and get joy from interacting and helping clients.  I know a lot of accountants who continuously complain about tax season – yet they make most of their money during the period.

MORE: Can Your Reviewers Answer These 10 Questions? | What Makes a Good Tax Season Client? | 5 Tax Review Keys | 5 Steps for Tax Season Success | 12 Ways to Have More Fun This Tax Season
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Do they expect someone to knock on their door with a wheelbarrow of money to hand them? If they are financially secure, why do they keep working? If they are not, then, DUH! Either do it or find something else, but stop complaining. Better yet, look at all the benefits from what you do (if you need me to tell you the benefits then find something else to do).
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Why ‘Tick and Tie’ Needs to Die

Businessman shaking hands with grim reaperA rundown of seven types of tax return reviews.

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By Ed Mendlowitz
How to Review Tax Returns: The Field-Tested Update

There are numerous ways to review tax returns. Most reviewers have their own techniques, and some alter these based on

  • the type of or size of the return, or
  • who the preparer is or
  • who the partner in charge of that client is.

MORE: Use Tax Return Prep for Training and Growth
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There is nothing wrong with this as long as the reviewer is experienced and really knows their stuff.
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Be an Accountant, Not a Salesperson for Other Things

Extreme close up of female hand with pen pointing on cash flow document."A piece of the action" didn't pan out.

By Ed Mendlowitz
Call Me Before You Do Anything: The Art of Accounting

There are accountants who only do accounting and accountants who also do other things such as selling financial products and doing deals with the client. There is nothing wrong with this, but with some very minor exceptions, I never did the other things.

MORE: 10 Reasons for My Success | Social Security Is an Asset Class | How to Waste Lunch Hour | What’s Your Negotiating Style? | How to Make Your Own Opportunities | How I Became a Published Author | Large Clients We Landed from QuickBooks Consulting
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Accountants have many openings and opportunities to

  • sell life insurance, annuities, mutual funds and tax shelters;
  • broker mortgages;
  • find buyers for a client’s business;
  • manage investments;
  • introduce investors;
  • perform executive searches and
  • even invest along with clients.

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Can Your Reviewers Answer These 10 Questions?

Businessman looking up answers in a bookWe're nice and provide the answers just in case.

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By Ed Mendlowitz
Tax Season Opportunity Guide

The primary people who should review tax returns are trained tax department reviewers. However, often the bunching and compression of work shifts some of the review to higher level, non-tax personnel such as audit managers and partners who might not necessarily have the comprehensive training, background and experience to handle everything that might come up during the tax preparation process.

MORE: What Makes a Good Tax Season Client? | Do Your Clients Feel Important? | 5 Small Leaks That Can Sink a Tax Season | 5 Tax Review Keys | 4 Reasons to Push Ahead with Tax Question Research | One Can’t-Skip Touch for Tax Season | 5 Steps for Tax Season Success | Help Tax Clients Help You | 3 Steps to Tax Season Happiness
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Additionally, in many firms, almost everyone on the staff prepares some returns. That lack of dedicated preparers with the trained skills places an added burden on the tax reviewers, making it important for them to have the range of experience needed to perform the review.Following are 10 questions reviewers should be able to answer to qualify for their role.
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10 Reasons for My Success

Number 10Watch for opportunities.

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By Ed Mendlowitz
Call Me Before You Do Anything: The Art of Accounting

Recently I was asked if I could provide some reasons for my success.

MORE: Social Security Is an Asset Class | When Clients Don’t Know | Why You’re Only as Good as Your Staff | Why Tax Time Is the Best Time to Get New Business | Becoming a ‘Media Star’ | Don’t Pass Up Opportunities | Why We Train on Excel, Word and Adobe | Stop Pricing by the Hour | Getting by Giving Back
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This gave me an opportunity to think about it and I came up with a list of 10 reasons that I am presenting here. I hope you take away some ideas from this. If you have your own list, I would appreciate it if you would share it with me.
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What Makes a Good Tax Season Client?

Green cast iron sign with white 16 painted on it16 positive qualities.

By Ed Mendlowitz
Tax Season Opportunity Guide

Clients are our customers who pay our salaries and present us with stimulating opportunities allowing us to grow.

MORE: Do Your Clients Feel Important? | 5 Small Leaks to Beware During Tax Season | 5 Tax Review Keys | 4 Reasons to Push Ahead with Tax Question Research | One Can’t-Skip Touch for Tax Season | 5 Steps for Tax Season Success | Help Tax Clients Help You | 3 Steps to Tax Season Happiness | 12 Ways to Have More Fun This Tax Season | Bill with the Tax Return, Get Paid Faster
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There is no such thing as a bad or nuisance client – although there are clients who sometimes do bad or nuisance things.
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Do Your Clients Feel Important?

Portrait of a mature businesswoman giving a binder8 ways to delight them.

By Ed Mendlowitz
Tax Season Opportunity Guide

Clients are our customers. They pay our salary and enable us to make good livings. Do what you can to accommodate them and make them feel important – as important as they believe they are.

MORE: 5 Small Leaks to Beware During Tax Season | 5 Tax Review Keys | 4 Reasons to Push Ahead with Tax Question Research | One Can’t-Skip Touch for Tax Season | 5 Steps for Tax Season Success | Help Tax Clients Help You | 3 Steps to Tax Season Happiness | 12 Ways to Have More Fun This Tax Season
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Also be user-friendly – do not make it difficult to work with you. Clients don’t know how smart we are. They think we are great, but they measure us by the small things – the good and bad.
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Social Security as an Asset Class

Scale with coins on one side, alarm clock on the otherWithdraw funds from elsewhere.

By Ed Mendlowitz
Call Me Before You Do Anything: The Art of Accounting

If you have ever worked in the United States or were married to someone who did, the chances are you will eventually receive Social Security benefits.

MORE: When Clients Don’t Know | When the Kids Don’t Want to Take Over | Staff May Surprise You with Leadership | Problem Clients | When Pushing the Pencil Pays Off | When to Say No to Pro Bono Work | I Used to Hate QuickBooks | Things Change
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There are different ages when regular benefits can start beginning at age 62. The longer the benefits are delayed, the greater they will be … until reaching age 70.
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