“It’s not what you do once in a while, it’s what you do day in and day out that makes the difference.” – Jenny Craig The Queen dvd

Last week was crazy. We had so many last-minute folks come through our doors before the 15th, that I was (briefly) tempted to shut our doors so we could handle the flow!

But we didn’t. I’m glad to say that we worked very hard during the “offseason” so that we would be prepared for the tax season rush. We were able to work with everybody that came in, even folks who walked in on the 15th.

That said…shutting those doors at the end of the day on Wednesday (the 15th) was sweet. My staff and I could look back on months of hard work, and take real satisfaction in hard work and a bunch of new client relationships which we’re excited to see last for years.

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“So…what now?”

That’s a good question–and it takes me back to our offseason preparation. Sure, we’ll be taking some well-deserved vacation around here soon…but we NEVER “shut the door” on our relationship with YOU!

That’s why I’ll continue to post thoughts for you here on a weekly basis, and we’ll continue to be here for you for all of your tax and financial needs. If you came to us this year for your first time…you’ll soon find out that we make big deal around here of keeping in touch, and offering you hope and wisdom about the current state of the economy–and YOUR wallet!

Many tax businesses shut their doors pretty firmly during the summer and fall. Not us. This week’s Strategy Note, in fact, deals with a topic which most taxpayers have no idea about.

“Real World” Personal Strategy

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Little-Known “Secret”: Amended Returns

If you’re a client of mine, you’ve already got the peace-of-mind that you were able to claim every possible deduction legally allowed in the tax code. We put each return through an extensive review process to ensure that you’re keeping all the income you deserve to keep.

But what about your friends?

Well, since it’s now AFTER April 15th, they might think that the proverbial “fat lady” has sung on their 2008 returns. Not so.

Did you know that according to a 2002 report issued by the General Accounting Office, taxpayers overpay the IRS almost $950 million every year, which equates to an average overpayment of $400 per taxpayer. That’s a somewhat dated report…and the current numbers are certain to be higher.

What’s worse, is that folks who prepared their own taxes (with a software, or on their own) are the most vulnerable. But did you also know that taxpayers who used one of the “big chain’ preparers are almost as bad off?

A more RECENT report from the GAO (2006): In a Limited Study, Chain Preparers Made Serious Errors

In GAO visits to chain preparers, paid preparers often prepared returns that were incorrect, with tax consequences that were sometimes significant. Some of the most serious problems involved these preparers…

1. Not reporting business income in 10 of 19 cases;

2. Failing to take the most advantageous postsecondary education tax benefit in 3 out of the 9 applicable cases; and

3. Failing to itemize deductions at all or failing to claim all available deductions in 7 out of the 9 applicable cases.

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More items from the report:

* The 19 paid preparers visited arrived at the correct refund amount only twice. On 5 returns, all for the plumber, they understated our refund amount by a total of $3,465.

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* All 19 of the visits to tax return preparers affiliated with chains showed problems. Nearly all of the returns prepared for us were incorrect to some degree, and several of the preparers gave us very bad tax advice, particularly when it came to reporting non-W-2 business income. Only 2 of 19 tax returns showed the correct refund amount, and in both of those visits the paid preparer made mistakes that did not affect the final refund amount.

So what can your friends do about this (or you, if you haven’t seen us)? Simple: file an “Amended” Return. Many tax businesses don’t provide this service (and most taxpayers don’t even realize it’s POSSIBLE!), but even though we’ve completed our clients’ returns, we WILL review any of your friends’ returns (or yours)–at no charge. Contact our office about it for more details…

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