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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Banish the Idea that Selling Is Difficult

Two businessmen shaking handsDon’t take rejection personally.

By Martin Bissett
Business Development on a Budget

If winning new clients is simply a matter of being yourself, why is selling so difficult for accountants? Well, it’s a combination of several factors, but there are two main reasons.

MORE ON BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT: How to Win Your First Client | 5 Ways to Make Selling Easier to Swallow | You’re Selling All the Time

First, accountants have not traditionally been required to sell. Maybe your practice has grown by referral – business has come to you and you haven’t had to do much to win that business. Unfortunately, however, business doesn’t always walk through the door; you don’t know how often it will, or what caliber it will be when it does.
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25 Things Customers Love

The best strategies from the best companies.

By Arnold Sanow
arnoldsanow.com

Arnold Sanow
Sanow

In today’s fast-changing and competitive environment, excellent customer service is not only nice but essential for success.

In fact, the only way to differentiate yourself and to become less of a commodity in the marketplace is through outstanding customer service.

After studying more than 500 companies and organizations – as diverse as Lexus/Toyota, Bristol Meyers Squibb, Lockheed Martin, Homeland Security, Forever Broadcasting, The Medical College of Georgia, Aspen Institute, Marin County Realtors Association, and Choice Hotels – a few strategies emerge again and again.

Here are 25 of the best practices used by some of the world’s best companies to get new customers, keep them, and turn them in enthusiastic fans and referral sources: READ MORE →

Check Yourself: How to Reality-Test Client Satisfaction Levels

Arnold Sanow
Sanow

To keep both your staffers and clients happy, tax and accounting firms need to gain a thorough understanding of their perceptions and perspectives — and to make they align.

Customer service guru Arnold Sanow suggests 15 questions to ask yourself, your staff, and, above all, your customers. serviceThe biggest opportunities will surface when you compare and contrast their responses.

Be prepared for an eye-opening, sometimes gut-wrenching, exercise in hard truth: READ MORE →

Enhancing Client Financial Health through Collaborative Services

Clients benefit when CPAs and investment advisors work together.

By Martin E. Levine, ChFC, CPA, MBA
4Thought Financial Group, Inc.        

Martin Levine 4Thought
Levine

Even if the client isn’t always right, helping clients understand and make the best financial decisions is always the right course of action. 

CPAs understand the implications of financial decisions and strive to advise clients in ways that improve their financial well-being.  However, clients frequently have multiple – sometimes conflicting – financial goals, and use other financial professionals, including financial advisors, attorneys and business consultants, to achieve them.  READ MORE →

Will Obamacare Penalties Kill Your Small Business Clients?

drug in syringe on white background

Fines run $100 per day, per employee.

By Stephen L. Nelson, CPA
and Elizabeth C. Nelson, CPA

Small Business and the Affordable Care Act

By now, many of your small business clients understand they don’t have to provide employees with health insurance. The employer mandate starts when a firm employs 50 or more full-time-equivalent employees.

But here’s an awkward follow-up question: Do your small business clients understand that many of the ACA’s rules still apply to them and that they may still be vulnerable to the ACA’s 4980D excise tax penalty—which runs $100 per day per employee?

LEARN MORE: Small Businesses and the Affordable Care Act: What Every Tax Practitioner Needs to Know (55-page PDF digital download)

Can We Talk IRC Code Sections?

People sometimes hear references to the 4980D penalty and scoff, say you can’t believe everything you hear on talk radio or read at some blog. So let’s look at the actual Internal Revenue Code Section in question.

Here are the first few sentences of IRC Sec 4980D: READ MORE →