Hiring a Tax Preparer Doesn’t Mean You’re Excused from Understanding Taxes.

I’ve seen it so many times. I sit down with a client to talk about finances or taxes. As I talk, the head is nodding, the mouth is saying, “Uh huh, uh huh,” but what they’re really focused on is the pen in their hand. They don’t want to understand, they just want to sign off on the paperwork and be done with it. “That’s what I hire you for,” they say.

Big mistake. I could be sentencing them to time in a federal prison. Trusting someone else to the point where you abdicate all responsibility and have no knowledge of what you’re signing or what is being done in your name is a recipe for a big fat slice of disaster. That’s how embezzlement happens—I trust Mary completely. Bob always takes care of that. And it’s also how business owners end up in trouble—What do you mean he took a deduction for my Chihuahua as a guard dog? Hey, why didn’t I get a deduction for my new computer?

You have to know enough about taxes to be able to read your return intelligently so you know what you’re signing. You also need to know enough about taxes so you know what your tax preparer needs to know to prepare your return accurately and to your best advantage.

And don’t get your education from your buddies. I heard a lot about these “special deductions” you can take. Usually the information is not based on facts or tax codes. It’s a conglomeration of bad information that can get you into tax trouble.

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