Author Topic: You're a great friend, but how good at your job are you?  (Read 3402 times)

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AnnaJane

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You're a great friend, but how good at your job are you?
« on: February 14, 2013, 08:34:40 PM »
I'm trying to figure out a way of hinting to my husband that his great friend may not be the best possible at his job, without implying that that makes him less of a good person.
We've known him for  years, and he really is the nicest guy, but......Friend is an accountant, though he has been working in another accounting field, he is trying to start up his own tax prep business, and got my husband to agree to be one of his first clients. So, we talked out what our estimated taxes were going to be and we'll owe a LOT more this year. A lot more than previous years, and a lot more than my doing a quick run through of the numbers came out. I' m wondering if it's because friend is so new to a tax business and hasn't gotten everything worked out yet. Now, I know taxes are up, but I don't know if it ought to be by that much. Several of the deductions numbers are not quite adding up either, but I worry that if I bring this up, friend will get offended and take it very personally. I get that his dream is to own his own business, but I also don't want us to lose by it. Is there a way to tactfully ask for a second opinion?

Carotte

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Re: You're a great friend, but how good at your job are you?
« Reply #1 on: February 14, 2013, 09:16:06 PM »
Tax is not something to joke around with so, anyway to have someone else look over them before sending them?
Would it be possible to frame it as such: "Friend, since you're new with this kind of accounting, and it can be tricky, how about you do a practice run with our tax, then we have it done by OurUsualTaxCompany and then you can compare how they did it and learn a few tricks?"

artk2002

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Re: You're a great friend, but how good at your job are you?
« Reply #2 on: February 14, 2013, 09:17:48 PM »
This is the problem with mixing business with personal relationships -- which is your mistake in all of this. If you are afraid of giving him honest feedback then you shouldn't have agreed to have him do your taxes.

I'd go to someone else, or use one of the online tax programs or TurboTax and not worry about offending your friend.
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bow lines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. -Mark Twain

LifeOnPluto

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Re: You're a great friend, but how good at your job are you?
« Reply #3 on: February 14, 2013, 09:19:15 PM »
If you can afford it, I'd get a second opinion from another accountant, and not mention anything to your friend.

If you can't afford it, I'd raise the issue with your friend. Ie, point out that the figure is much higher than in previous years, etc and ask him to double check the numbers.

peaches

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Re: You're a great friend, but how good at your job are you?
« Reply #4 on: February 14, 2013, 09:31:26 PM »
I suggest you do a trial run on Turbo Tax before meeting with the friend - and before he submits your tax return, which could be wrong and end up costing you a lot (either in lost deductions or in unpaid taxes and penalties).

I'm sorry that your DH jumped the gun and told his friend that he could do your tax return without discussing with you first.

We never mix business with family or friends. And we've had plenty of opportunities to do so. But I have always argued against it, because you can't be frank, you can't complain about the work or service, and you are in a world of difficulty if something goes seriously wrong.

This is a bad idea. If you can't persuade DH to cancel this idea, at least protect yourself by preparing carefully or getting a second opinion. Then next year, go with someone else.



AlansGirl

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Re: You're a great friend, but how good at your job are you?
« Reply #5 on: February 15, 2013, 10:36:26 AM »
I am an accountant and I use TurboTax for our personal return.  You can pick it up for $49 at Sam's Club and it should only take an hour or so to run through your return, unless you have some particularly complex situation.  That's a pretty cheap and easy way to double check what your friend is doing so you will know if you have something that needs addressing with him.

RebeccainGA

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Re: You're a great friend, but how good at your job are you?
« Reply #6 on: February 15, 2013, 10:42:34 AM »
I'd run it through Turbo Tax at a minimum to make sure he's not doing anything just flat out wrong. If you go through the web, unless you file, it's free (you pay right before you file, but can see your outcome first).

I agree, though, bad to mix business and friends. In fact, the mixing being a bad idea may be something you can use as leverage/excuse for backing out of the transaction altogether.

cheyne

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Re: You're a great friend, but how good at your job are you?
« Reply #7 on: February 15, 2013, 11:06:53 AM »
Does your DH agree that the numbers are a bit hinky when compared to last year?  Have you showed your husband last year's tax return and compared it with the numbers for this year?  That would be my first step.

You shouldn't have to "hint" to your DH that the numbers look skewed.  If you file a joint return, your name is on it and you will be held liable if there are any mistakes.

http://www.forbes.com/forbes/2011/0627/money-guide-11-tax-joint-return-irs-wedding-marriage-trap.html




CuriousParty

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Re: You're a great friend, but how good at your job are you?
« Reply #8 on: February 15, 2013, 11:07:42 AM »
You've gotten some good advice, and so I just wanted to pitch in my experience/perspective as someone who has had an accountant for several years.  This year, with the feds dinking around so much on multiple fronts (fiscal cliff, anyone?) my accountant told me at our annual check-in that it was becoming extremely difficult to predict taxes with accuracy.  It was a bunch of if-they-then-you-but-if-not-then-maybe that was only further complicated by any actual complications the individual experienced (like us - for personal reasons our income is lower this year than in past years, which made estimating quarterly taxes challenging already).  For these reasons, we're in refund status, which annoys the heck out of my accountant - she likes to be conservative but cut it close so that I'm not handing out an interest free loan.

All of that to say, although your husband's friend MIGHT be doing it wrong, he also might be getting yanked around by the powers-that-be.

My accountant was my accountant first and is now also a friend, so I'm not quite as opposed to business/personal relationships, but I did find it helpful to get some general answers to questions so I knew we were on the same page/had the same approach.  We both prefer to play it safe in terms of not expensing things that are.....teeechhhnnically legal.  We both prefer to pay a little at the end of the year as long as we're not in a situation where we could get dinged for not paying enough on estimations.  Those kinds of questions helped me understand her mindset, and I think are important to determine if you can have a good working relationship.  The numbers after that are just numbers.

Cami

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Re: You're a great friend, but how good at your job are you?
« Reply #9 on: February 15, 2013, 01:06:19 PM »
We had that happen the first year we were married. With our accountant -- my MIL.

Oh, the joy of telling her that she would not be doing our taxes again as she'd made such a HUGE mistake the previous year. (Luckily, I caught the mistake myself. It was so incredibly obvious and commonsensical that honestly, it made me doubt if she should be doing anyone's taxes.)

But I'm not pussyfooting around when it comes to taxes and those sorts of financial and legal burdens/consequences. I was polite about it (my dh was not particularly polite about it), but that was the end of that.

LEMon

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Re: You're a great friend, but how good at your job are you?
« Reply #10 on: February 15, 2013, 03:08:33 PM »
An accountant should be able to explain to you exactly how he came up with all the numbers.  And you should feel comfortable asking.

Take a little bit to figure out if your concern stems from you being afraid of being direct with a friend, or if his personality is what leads you to believe there might be a problem.  Is it you, or him, or a bit of both?

Then you will be more prepared to have an honest talk with DH.  Questions to discuss include:  Do you both feel like you can talk about your taxes with friend openly and honestly?  Do you feel you can question him?  Do you feel he will respond professionally?  Express your concerns.  You have to feel like you can be blunt and real with the one you hire, and that he will be professional.

Deetee

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Re: You're a great friend, but how good at your job are you?
« Reply #11 on: February 15, 2013, 03:16:17 PM »
Quote
but I worry that if I bring this up, friend will get offended and take it very personally

If you are worried that your accountant will get offended when asked to explain his tax calculations to his client, especially when there is a significant change from year to year, then he is simply NOT going to have a successful business.

If you are in business with a friend, I believe there is a greater onus to treat it as a pure business relationship when discussing the business. There is a fine line between mixing friendship and business (BAD) and having both a business relationship and a friend relationship with the same person (GOOD).

These are your taxes. Like everyone said, you have a right to know how they are being calaculated. (I'm not saying he has to go over every step-that's a total time suck, but he should be able to explain why there are huge differences)

peaches

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Re: You're a great friend, but how good at your job are you?
« Reply #12 on: February 15, 2013, 10:10:58 PM »
There's another issue that hasn't been discussed - privacy.

When someone prepares your tax return, they will see your income and income sources, interest and dividends and which institutions they are from, stocks sold, 401k and IRA statements or amounts saved, etc. That is a lot of very personal information IMO.

I would not feel comfortable with a friend or relative having this information about DH and myself (even if I trusted them not to share any of it).


norrina

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Re: You're a great friend, but how good at your job are you?
« Reply #13 on: February 15, 2013, 10:23:14 PM »
My now-ex-husband and I met our freshman year of college, and were both filing our first taxes just a few months after we started dating. I prepared my own taxes and was getting a refund, whereas his mother had the family's usual tax prepare complete his taxes, and he was owing a few hundred (or more) dollars. I asked if I could look at what was going on, and discovered that the preparer didn't know what to do with his grant money (which the EZ instructions clearly addressed), so they just claimed it as "gambling winnings".  :o Once I properly reported the grant money XH ended up with a refund too, a difference of about $500 between what the tax preparer said he owed and what the IRS actually owed him.



AnnaJane

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Re: You're a great friend, but how good at your job are you?
« Reply #14 on: February 16, 2013, 05:15:52 PM »
Thank you all for the excellent advice. I particularly like the TurboTax suggestion; it's clear, objective, and if it brings up mistakes, I have something definite to show. If it's presented as our way of making absolutely sure we're held not going to be in trouble with the IRS, I can't see friend objecting. And it's perfectly true.
Then DH and I get have a talk about how these kinds of decisions need to be discussed first. >:D