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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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 →

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 →

It’s Not Sales. It’s Your Duty

Ed Mendlowitz CPA The Practice Doctor Q and AHow to suggest additional services to clients and why you’re doing them a disservice if you don’t.

By Ed Mendlowitz
The CPA Trendlines Practice Doctor

QUESTION: I always feel awkward telling clients they need additional services that I should perform for them. Can you tell something that could “rev” me up for this?

MORE PRACTICE DOCTOR Q&A: Yes, You Should Send Rejection Letters | When to Hire an Admin Assistant | 7 Ways to Lose a Client’s Trust | How Much Should You Pay To Buy, Sell or Merge an Accounting Practice? | Why the Average Fee Doesn’t Matter | No More Printouts at CPE Programs? | 6 Ways to Take a Client Beyond Tax Prep

ANSWER: Actually, by suggesting additional services you are doing the client a favor and a good deed. Also, you are in business and the easiest way to generate additional revenues is to cross-sell services to present clients.

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7 Ways to Lose a Client’s Trust

Ed Mendlowitz CPA The Practice Doctor Q and AAre you about to do any of these? Is it worth it?

By Ed Mendlowitz
The CPA Trendlines Practice Doctor

QUESTION: I believe I have a very high degree of client trust. But somehow I feel it is not 100 percent. Any comments?

ANSWER: This person has a common problem. The trust is very high – probably higher than any other profession – but not complete. It is rare for trust to be 100 percent. But here are seven ways to lose a client’s trust:
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Are You a Passionate Accountant?

Young Asian entrepreneur reading magazineTake this quiz to see whether you’re phoning it in.

Do you seek out opportunities to learn new things that will help your clients overcome their most difficult challenges?

Selling value-creation advisory services is truly a slam dunk with most modern business owners, according MentorPlus. The bad news is that, although most CPAs would say they are their clients’ most trusted advisor, few could answer the following questions in the affirmative.

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