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This post is a little hardcore, a little in your face, but I am irritated with the rash of commercials about how people can/should prepare their own taxes. We are ferociously committed to our clients, are trying to provide the highest level of service and work diligently trying to be the master of accounting and tax that our clients deserve and should demand. 

I find TurboTax’s new commercial about small business owners being people who can also act as their own tax professional irresponsible, ridiculous dangerous and a disservice to the very business owners they proclaim to support with their family of products including Quickbooks.  We all have different skill sets.  We do not all possess all skill sets.  The whole reason why so many service businesses exist is because we all recognize that we should not build our own home, fix our electrical problems, draw up our own wills and trusts, install appliances. 

Jack of All Trades, Master of None….Not a solid business model

The list goes on and on with the issues that most people do not know enough about to take care of for themselves.  Just because you have a great business idea or model, does not mean you have every skill set required to run, manage and operate a successful business.  If that were true, then the fact that 50 – 85% of new businesses fail in the first year and those that make it past year 1 will have a similar failure rate by year 5 would not be true. There are some services where it is absolutely better to hire the Master of One than the kinda good at many option.

I am actually insulted by Intuit/Turbo Tax/Quickbooks frequently with their desire to sell as much of their product as possible by misleading their consumers that everything about running a business is DIY.  I have a Bachelors of Science in Accounting, I took the CPA exam a few times in order to finally pass it, I had to get 2 years experience in a CPA firm in order for them to give me my CPA Certificate.  I am required to get 40 hours a year every year of continuing education to keep my certificate. So what I do is not something anyone can do by googling some terms, using a tool that is meant to assist you in handling business transactions or buying a cheap tax software that will allow you to take deductions you are not allowed because you seriously do not know what you do not know.  If a $50 tax software were so good, why do accounting firms spend several thousand to 10s of thousands of dollars on tax software every year.

Have you read the Tax Code Lately?

It is all completely ridiculous.  The tax code is several thousand pages long with an additional 70,000 pages of regulations, private letter rulings, revenue procedures, etc. used to explain the tax code… tax professionals.  Do most people even know that tax regulations to explain tax code even exist, do they know why there are private letter rulings or revenue procedures or that there are court cases that change how the tax code is interpreted or upheld by the courts?  This is like telling someone that they can remove your appendix because they read the basics of surgery on the internet.

Are there basics of tax law that everyone can understand?  Of course. Are there deductions that taxpayers will take that they are not allowed?  Of course.  Are there tax deductions that taxpayers do not know about that they could take?  Of course.  Why would a company that makes its living on selling businesses a tool….YES IT IS JUST A TOOL, to manage and run a business encourage their very revenue base to do more for themselves than they are qualified to do?  What it says to me is that they are more interested in selling something to you today than they are still having you as a consumer in 5 years.  They know the failure rates for new businesses, so they work hard to sell you something today, while you are naïve, hell they perpetuate your naivete so they can sell you their product and do not partner with you toward success by explaining that businesses that have a trusted advisor, an experienced, qualified accounting and tax professional have a significantly higher success rate.  85% of them survive the first year, grow faster, are more profitable than the ones that survive with the DIY mentality.

Did you read the new tax law that was passed in December of 2017?  Are you familiar with the tax deductions that were taken away, the ones that were reduced?  Are you familiar with the Qualified Business Income Deduction?  The new deduction that took months to get explained, whose regulations were so complicated and screwed up that 10 months into the new tax law, many tax professionals were still trying to figure it out.  You are probably familiar with the Section 179 deduction, but do you know what happens in you sell that asset within 5 years? I would lose my CPA certificate if all I relied upon was a google search to advise clients. There are the basics of a code section, then there are the regulations, which sometimes differ from the actual code for which they were written, then there are the exceptions, the various limits or limitations. For some businesses, rules are different if you are an S Corporation vs a Partnership or a C Corp. Most people would agree that the tax code is some of the most complicated technical reading out there, but Intuit thinks everyone can be a tax professional for themselves.

I am worth my fees, I bring more value than what I charge….If you are serious about operating a successful business.

I am tired of having my profession undervalued, underestimated and underutilized.  I have 40 years of experience, I have an MBA, I have worked in the accounting/finance/tax field for most of my career.  I spent a few years in corporate America writing business plans, doing competitive analysis, being the CFO of a $70,000,000 subsidiary that was miniscule to the parent company I was employed by.  What I am saying is that I know some shit that not everyone has a reason to know.  I don’t fix my own plumbing, I don’t maintain my own computer server, I did not install my new roof, I don’t fix my own car.  My skill set is accounting, tax and helping businesses be successful.  I don’t waste my time on tasks that I do not have any skills for.  Business owners….just like me…should do the same.  Hire qualified accounting and tax professionals to ensure that your business is operating in a manner that allows the tool that accounting software is to help you make decisions that will make your business more successful.  Yes, reconciling your bank account is not the end… is the start to getting accurate financial statements that you use to measure where you are succeeding, where you are not succeeding, what areas of the business need attention.  Are you familiar with the KPIs that your particular business should be measuring?  Did you even know there were KPIs that your business should be measuring?  Do you even know what KPI stands for? We bring value to the table in ways you are not even thinking of.

I am not trying to insult anyone here.  I am trying to point out that the phrase “You don’t know what you don’t know” is true across unlimited subjects and accounting and tax are one of them.  Why should someone who owns a retail store, a restaurant, is a digital marketing consultant, is a professional trade provider know everything there is to know about accounting and tax?  Why would they want to?  If you are a killer auto mechanic billing your time out at $75 an hour, why would you want to waste time doing your own bookkeeping or tax return instead of billing as much of your time out as possible?  We work with a lot of people whose hourly rate is $200 or more.  Why would then waste their valuable time performing tasks they are not qualified for?  That tells me that they have not figured out the basic business premise of sell what you are good at, can be the expert in, can make the most money doing. Do not spend your time performing tasks that you are not qualified for, will probably screw up and will have wasted time that could have been spent growing your business.

Hire specialists, move forward faster and sleep at night knowing that you are getting the best advice available, which is not always your own advice.

Hire experts. They know more, can get the job done faster, can get it done better and are worth the expense. That is why so many service providers specialize in one aspect of their trade, so they can be the expert for people who need that service. Attorneys do not handle divorce, litigate your criminal trial, write up your will and represent you in a liability suit. Just like law is too large a subject matter for attorneys to be the master of, so is accounting, tax and business advisory services. Don’t let Intuit, TurboTax and Quickbooks make you feel dumb because you are not feeling comfortable with doing it all yourself. Master what you are in the business of and let us help you reach your potential by providing the services we are masters of.

Post Author: Tricia O'Connor CPA MBA