3 Rules for Asking Great Tax-Return Questions

Question marks

Preserve your sanity, amaze your clients.

Frank Stitely, CPA, CVA
Clarity Practice Management

Asking clients great questions is central to Ruthlessly Efficient Workflow Management (R.E.W.). Great client questions can save hundreds of hours of time during tax season and prevent projects from falling behind schedule. Here’s an example of questions done badly.

We sponsored a table at a local group’s presentation. The group’s event coordinator asked me this question. “What are the names of the people, who will be sitting at your table?” I responded with the names, and the next day, he replied, “What are the company names as well?”

So why in the hell didn’t he ask me for that with his first question? Now we’ve had two e-mail exchanges when only one was necessary. I’ve been inconvenienced, and since I’m the most important person in the word (to me), I’m not happy. He’s a banker by profession. So we can’t expect much, but he looks like an idiot to a referral source – me.

CPA, accounting, and tax firms frustrate clients this way all the time. There are three rules for asking clients great questions.

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Frank Stitely



About the Author

Frank Stitely, CPA, CVA, is the managing member of Stitely & Karstetter CPAs in Chantilly, Va., and leader of Clarity Practice Management.

He is the author of

The Relentless CPA,
available exclusively from CPA Trendlines.

He graduated Summa Cum Laude from Clarion University and received the Elijah Watt Sells certificate in recognition of his performance on the CPA exam. His professional affiliations include: The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, Virginia Society of Certified Public Accountants, President of the Association of Professional Accounting Software Consultants, Member of the Sage Software Small Business Certified Consultants' Steering Committee, Member of the National Association of Certified Valuation Analysts, Chair of the Audit Committee on the Board of Directors for Christian Relief Services, Maryland Society of Accountants, and the National Society of Tax Professionals.

Click here for more by Frank Stitely