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URL:  http://boards.fool.com/as-an-outsider-it-seems-to-me-that-the-accounting-16497595.aspx

Subject:  Re: Has Accounting lost its way? Date:  1/18/2002  3:48 PM
Author:  jcmn Number:  57340 of 121572

As an outsider, it seems to me that the accounting profession is suffering because the assembly-line tax services that have become very popular in recent years. These services, mostly bank on speed vs accurracy. Preparers are very rarely accountants and rarely trained in accounting. When I worked as a preparer, (after 2 hrs of "training") I was amazed at the large numbers of people that were more concerned with "How fast I can get my money" rather than having an accurate return with a view toward reducing next year's tax liablity. I offered some advice when it was obvious, but it they were rarely interested. I even occasionally tried to talk them out of the outrageously priced "Fast refund" route, but was rarely successful.

It seems that today's most precious commodity for most people is time. These "speed tax" services take this to the extreme and it seems to me, are making a killing doing it. The service provided by accountants suffers because of pressure to compete with the "speed tax" services. There is no longer time to reflect on one particular customer's return for too long. The pressure is also put on by accounting firm customers that see the endless "speed tax" ads promising returns prepared while you wait and refunds within 2 days and compare it to an accountant's much slower (and hopefully accurate) process.

It also can be viewed from the point of view of diminishing returns. Everyone has a point where *they perceive* that a more accurate return is not worth their time. IOW, the time saved is worth the loss of potential extra tax savings and the risk of an IRS audit. That feeling is transmitted to their accountants. I know I reach that point with my mother's taxes when I wonder if it is worth asking her if she can find this piece of paper or another in the huge pile of papers scattered in her office area. I hope this makes sense to the tax gods out there...
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