Income Tax Service in Anthem, Arizona, has every client sign an engagement letter in which he explains “not only the client’s responsibility but my protections for them and the remedies afforded them,” he said.
“When they tell me about crooked tax preparers, they always say that’s why they come to me because they trust me,” said Kathy Hawboldt of Hawboldt’s Tax Service, in Louisville, Kentucky.
“They’re usually telling us that they are glad they don’t have to worry,” added Marilyn Meredith at Michigan-based Meredith Tax Service.
“Several of my clients have personal experiences with either crooked preparers or ones that just really don’t know what they’re doing. I think the work that I do and my reputation is reassurance for them,” said EA Laurie Ziegler at Sass Accounting in Saukville, Wisconsin. “About 80 percent of my new clients come from referrals. Current clients wouldn’t be sending their friends and/or relatives to me if they didn’t trust me themselves.”
“I prepare approximately 450 returns a year. This is my 19th year, and I can safely say that I’ve only heard that concern from less than 10 clients,” said Frederick Reynolds, an EA in Utica, N.Y. “I put those with a concern at ease by telling them that I work for a reputable national tax company and that I’m an EA and am held to high preparation standards.”
“So the client asked me how she knew she could trust me. I explained that I was licensed by the IRS and was in business 15 years (at that time). And I had a good rep with the IRS. That worked, and I’m still doing her taxes eight years later. And yes, we did fix the issue with the bad preparer,” Pennsylvania’s O’planick said.
Is that enough?
“Anyone can do illegal things and it doesn’t matter if you are a non-enrolled preparer, a CPA or an EA,” Connecticut’s Armstrong added. “Those measure education achievements and hold you to various standards. The best measure is someone who is full-time and has been around for quite a few years. Credentials don’t make anyone ethical. It’s much deeper than that.”