So, as frequently happens, taxes come up in conversation. Well, at least, when I am around, they come up in conversation. But, there are some strange things out there that have been said about taxes or tax preparation that leave tax preparers, both seasoned and unseasoned, scratching their heads.
Here are just a few tax myths, lies and untruths that were relayed to us – just this year:
- A client died in June. Her daughter brought in her tax information for us to prepare the final return. As I was finishing the interview, I was asked “How much will this cost?” I replied, “It should cost about the same as last year.” Response – “It should be half – she was only alive for half of the year.” Yep, number of days alive has never been a factor in computing the work that goes into tax preparation.
- A “friend” says to one of our team members that her community college tuition does not qualify for the lifetime learning credit. When questioned on this statement, here is the response. “My accountant told me that since I had paid cash in 2007 for tuition, that I could never take the credit.” No words for this one. None.
- A client transferred brokerage firms. When we asked the new brokerage firm if they were importing the cost basis on the transferred stocks to the account, the response “We cannot do that – we can only use cost basis we have verified.” What? Not sure how they are going to correctly prepare form 1099-B for that client.
- As frequently happens, clients will send an email with what they think is a question for which we immediately know the answer. There are about a bajillion pages of code and regulations and publications and relevant case law (I think you get the picture), so we many times need to look something up. I responded to a client with this comment “An excellent question. I will look it up and get back to you.” His response is the best I have ever seen “I wasn’t going for excellent, I was going for simple. <sigh>”. I am still chuckling over that one.
- Finally, the biggest myth: No matter how many times you call or email in the last two weeks of tax season requesting your tax return, it does not speed up the process. We are working as fast and as best as we can. Please be patient with us.
As another tax season comes to a close, we truly want to thank all of our clients and our team members. The things that they bring us during these hectic three months enrich our lives – from recommendations for after tax season reading, to movies to see, to just the punchy every day “accountants’ humor” in the hallways in the evening, it makes it worth it. Year after year. Thank you.
Donna H. Laubscher, CPA