Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Not Worth Dying Over

There is a corner in my office where the paint is gone and the plaster is cracked and falling out. It is the corner I pound my head in when events are too much to take. A year ago I had such an event.

It all started with a new client that was referred to me. I had her sit down with Jeff and go over her tax problems. She had accumulated several years of unpaid tax bills and was very jumpy as the IRS was getting serious about collecting.

She became more animated by the minute. I was asked to step in and see if I could lend some guidance. She talked a mile a minute and never stopped for air. I told her we will need to review her documents to come up with a game plan. She set another appointment for a week later. Jeff and I were drained from the high voltage encounter.

Within an hour, her friend is on the phone complaining we did not do enough to help the new client. I told the friend we needed to review the documents so we can create a plan of action. The friend came within an inch of telling me I’m incompetent.

At this point I normally tell the client I will no longer serve them, but, because she was a referral, I decided I would give it “best effort.”

The next week we meet and I presented a plan that was livable. I got the IRS on the phone to hammer out the details. All the while she rambled on. It was very hectic and stressful.

I explained to the IRS what we had and our offer. The IRS accepted and wanted her verbal acceptance as well; so I put her on the phone. Reluctantly, I might add.

She continued her verbal assault with the IRS. The IRS agent tried to get her to settle down. She then tells the IRS agent she will kill herself if she couldn’t get this done her way. And then it got exciting.

You know how it goes, you threaten suicide and the IRS and tax guys have to take certain step, as required by law. We managed to get New Client settled down without her being hauled away. The IRS calls back a while later to verify the situation is under control. If not, the IRS would bring in the police, etcetera, etcetera.

Long story short, we got the agreement with the IRS done. I told her I could no longer serve her. She left in a huff.

A half hour later, her friend is back on the phone explaining my lineage to me. She was very unhappy with my service. I could not hold back any longer, and said, “Then she should be happy to never return here.” She hung up on me.

Folks, please. Taxes are bad, I know it. But it is not worth killing yourself over. I only bring this up because I had two clients come in over the last eighteen months with large tax issues and never let me do my job and then told the IRS they needed a rope. Stop. Before you say a word, stop. Okay? I can solve a lot of tax issues, but not if you work against me. Remember, your way does not work. You tried it and it lead to the mess you are in. I don’t win them all, but I do win a good majority.

It has been a year since I had all that excitement. The plaster in the corner has been repaired. I am gun-shy, though. Will the next client deal the suicide card? God, I hope not.

Have mercy on your friendly accountant. Smile. We want to help. Really, we do. Answer our questions as best you can. Let us build an action plan for you, one you can live with.

It is not worth dying over.

And now you know why I have no hair on my forehead.

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