Up-to-the-minute advice, information, resources, and, on occasion, commentary on federal and New Jersey state income taxes, and the various New Jersey property tax rebate programs, and insights and observations on tax policy and professional tax practice, by 40-year veteran tax professional Robert D Flach.
Thursday, December 12, 2013
PUT IT IN WRITING
You really can’t
reach me by telephone during the year.I
know it is weird, but it’s just one of my trademark “eccentricities”.I do not have a cell phone, and if I did I
would use it for auto emergencies only and would not give anyone the number,
and my land line is unplugged most of the year (except for January 15 through
As a result, a client
with a tax question will sometimes send me the following email –
“I have a tax question.Please call me at 123-456-7890.”
I do not want
clients to do this.I really, really,
really want clients to ask the question, and provide all the details, in the
body of the email.
For one thing,
clients who do this will get a much quicker answer from me.I often find myself at my desk between 6-7 AM,
and the first thing I do each morning is check my “in-box”.I obviously am not going to pick up the phone
and call a client at 6:30 AM or even 7:30 AM. It is much easier for me to send a reply, or
do some quick research and send a reply, immediately at that hour of the
I am bad at
returning calls.If I do actually decide
to call the client it could be many days later.Sometimes the answer is needed promptly.
But the main reason
I want the client to put the question in “writing”, with all the pertinent
details, in the body of an email is so that we both will have a written documentation of the question and, as I
will provide my answer by return email, my answer, so there is no confusion
about what was asked and what was answered in the future.I also think it helps the person asking to
see his question in text.
to the world we live in, I feel it is important to have a written documentation
of both the question and the answer to cover both of our arses.Not that
I anticipate the client will do this, but it prevents him or her from saying, “you
told me to do this” if the return is questioned when I actually told the client
to do that.And I cannot say to the
client, “but you asked me that” when he or she actually asked me this.
I also get emails
that say –
“I got a notice
from the IRS.Call me at 123-456-7890”.
Again this is a
total waste of time.As I say in the
memo I include with each finished tax return –
“If you receive
correspondence from any of your “uncles” (or “aunt”) during the year relating
to a tax return I have prepared send it directly to me immediately.DO NOT CALL FIRST.”
If I did call the client in response to the email the first thing I would
say is “mail me the notice”.And that is
exactly what I say to the client in my responding email.I cannot do one damned thing until after I have
actually read the notice.And I will need
to send a copy of the notice in any response I may make directly to the IRS or
state tax agency.
So if you have a tax question you want to ask your preparer, instead of
picking up the phone submit the question in an email, with all the pertinent
facts.And if you receive a notice from
the IRS or your state, mail it to your
tax pro immediately.