Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Death and Taxes

Excuse the stereotype, but I am a total girl when it comes to math. In college, I majored in Communications, known by the acronym COM. It was fondly known as College of Optional Math.

I took The Philosophy of Science as my math/science credit. ‘Nuff said.

Taxes have always made me anxious, although I am capable of doing them. When we first filed jointly, Scott and I went and had our taxes done. It was an unpleasant experience. For $300, this dude dawdled for 3 weeks (or more likely, he had some accounting student dawdle for 3 weeks) and then filed our taxes without factoring in our mortgage. Small detail.

So after that, I insisted we do them ourselves. So when Scott brought up hiring it out this year, I about lost it. But he was right (you see that, Scott? It’s in writing), we had to have some help this year because of some unfortunate financial losses we suffered with his side business.

So I set out to do some due diligence and get a GOOD accountant this time. One that might, you know, realize a mortgage is a rather important little deduction.

The first woman I met with was phenomenal. She had a checklist and a list of forms she needed. Even though I had not hired her, she handed me a list of everything I would need and a recommendation of what to deduct in terms of the business.

She cost a little more than I was ready for, so I went out and met with another accountant.

The experience was slightly different. His office was in the midst of an antique store. He was near the bathroom and apparently someone had a wee touch of a stomach virus, or possibly a kidney explosion. The smell in the store was horrific!

Trying not to hold my nose, I ducked into his office and shut the door as quickly as possible. I started to sit down and realized I was almost sitting on a chair full of wood shavings. He pointed me to a seat nearer to him and asked that I excuse all the papers on his desk.

He said: “This will be the first year I actually get my own taxes done on time. My books are usually such a mess.”

Confidence inspired.

He flipped through my paperwork, totally baffled by a form for my Health Savings Account and daycare reimbursement. He repeatedly said: “hmmm…haven’t seen this one before.”

Confidence growing.

I began to get anxious as he pulled up TaxAct and started entering in my information. Unlike the woman I had seen before, apparently he was unaware that this was merely a consultation, to get a basic price quote and information before determining who we would ultimately use.

When I informed him, he pulled a number out of the air. It was exactly the number I wanted to hear…from ANYONE else’s mouth.

In my post about superlatives  I mentioned one of the things I don’t like about myself is my inability to sit still. The other? That I am not more assertive in business transactions. I should have said right then and there that I was not interested in his services. But I let him keep talking. He was talking about his clients who had been audited (seriously, worst…marketer…ever) and how many things can go wrong.

I was getting that feeling where you’re crawling out of your skin, where you think if you have to sit there one second longer, you will lose all control and just yell out, all Tourettes style: “you don’t know what you’re DOING, I would never hire you!”

I managed to escape without yelling that. About to relax in my car and text everyone I know about this horrible experience, I see his face at my window. Almost…died.

He had taken a few of my papers and added them to his own pile.

I don’t have to be good at math to know an accountant who can’t file his own taxes, has multiple clients who have been audited, and can’t keep paperwork straight on a first meeting is not going to be the right one to get us all we’re owed this year.

Scary + Dumb = Fired.

Do you do your own taxes? Are you someone who does them early or marches right up to the April deadline?


Anonymous said...

Lady, your story just kept on getting more and more horrific! You had me at the setting of the office...But the piles of papers and the audits? No one deserves that.

As for personal taxes...My Dad is a tax-hobbyist, so he does mine.

One of Marcus' fraternity brothers is a CPA and he does Marcus' (and likely mine next year), so if you want his phone number to get in-touch, definitely let me know.

Amanda @ It's Blogworthy said...

My sister is an accountant and does our taxes for us, although she doesn't really like taxes. This is the first year we've had our house for a full year, PLUS we have Mommy's Little Tax Deduction, so I'm hoping for good things this year. I usually wait till the very end -- I, like you, have a past college of Optional Math. :)

Aidan Donnelley Rowley said...

Wow, this man was an utter disaster, but I must say that this encounter was tremendously blogworthy :)

Not a Perfect Mom said...

OMG...I can't believe it...
what an idiot...he totally should have lied and pretended like he knew what he was doing...and not seeing the daycare credit before? insane...
came over from fab but evil...

Tara said...

thankfully, my mom does ours for us! we always do ours early. we filed them over a week ago!

Small Town Mommy said...

We use an accountant but he is a good accountant. Our taxes are really complicated (involving forms that I don't even know what they are) so there is no way we could do it ourselves. See if you can find someone who used to work for the IRS. Ours did and it provides insight into IRS red flags and what is and isn't deductible. Good luck! Also, run, don't walk out of that second accountant's office. Do you have a friend or associate you could ask for a recommendation?

The Sweetest said...

Oh, jeez. that sounds terrible. We asked around, asking other families if they had someone they liked. We found someone that way, a guy who works out of his house. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

Seriously, that guy sounds horrible. I wonder how he gets any clients at all (though I guess some people are seduced by the 'cheapness'). We do our own taxes. One of the benefits to being married to an accountant! :)