“Character is doing the right thing when nobody’s looking. There are too many people who think that the only thing that’s right is to get by, and the only thing that’s wrong is to get caught.”
– J.C. Watts

Well, I wanted to start off by giving you a little “nudge” to make sure you at least *remembered* that the big V-Day is coming. Look–you may call it a “Hallmark” holiday, but your spouse may think otherwise. So, just…don’t forget!

And further, before I get into this week’s Strategy Note, I did also want to say one last thing re: the Haiti earthquake:

Congress has just passed legislation letting you take a 2009 deduction for contributions of cash (but not property) on behalf of earthquake relief before March 1, 2010. That new law also eases recordkeeping requirements for “accelerated” deductions, especially for those you make by phone. If you give by text message, for example, your phone bill satisfies the new requirements if it shows the name of the organization, the date of the contribution, and the amount of the contribution.

So–if you need to get your tax bill down, that’s a nice way to accomplish two things.

Moving on to this week’s Note, many in our profession are leery about guaranteeing their work. We accountant-types can be a fussy bunch (which is probably appropriate, given our work). But I wanted to go out on a limb here, and give you some thoughts on what to make sure you’ve got from someone who’s handling something as sensitive as your tax info…

“Real World” Personal Strategy
Mistakes Made During Tax Season (Part 3)
Working Without A Net

Do you have an accountant that guarantees their work…in writing?

Sure, some guys might say: “We’ll make it right if we screw up”, but then the stuff hits the fan and they fight you every step of the way.

I’ve heard too many horror stories about taxpayers getting a letter from the IRS, then they take it to their accountant, and then the letter sits on a desk gathering dust.

Or stories about the CPA who makes some calls on your behalf, but then you get charged an arm and a leg in the process. Or sadly, a taxpayer doesn’t get any help from the person who prepared their taxes for them so they “go it alone”, call the IRS themselves and figure out what to do and not to do during this normally ugly IRS correspondence … THIS can be a nightmare!
Don’t let that happen to you. You need to have a written understanding with your tax professional that you won’t be left in the lurch. Oh, and also-does this guarantee actually do something you want it to?

I’ve seen some accountants guarantee they will file your taxes for you by April 15th or they will file an extension for you. Well…great! That sure makes you feel good in the morning, doesn’t it? Other weak guarantees I’ve seen in the tax industry are, “We guarantee we will begin preparing your tax return the same day we meet with you.”

That means nothing to me. I don’t care when you start preparing my taxes. I want to know how long it is going to take you to finish it and do so without leaving out silly errors you know you should have caught.
So remember: the guarantees should be in areas you care about, like:

Tax Return Accuracy … Speed of Service … Most Money Legally Yours … Ongoing IRS Protection For Years After Filing …

These are the things YOU care about! Make sure the tax professional you choose stands behind these critical areas of tax filing so you get the most out of your tax filing experience.

I hope all this helps! To your family’s financial and emotional peace…