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Thanks to you all for responding, at least I now what to ask my accountant without sounding like a "Fool".

Before I respond to this statement, let me say that there are several well qualified and service oriented professionals that inhabit this board, pmarti, irasmilo, to name a few. They take their time to help fellow posters by answering their questions and providing a tax education along the way. Quality Professionals.

That being said, it appears that in general, today's tax professionals are resting on their laurels,(among other things)when it comes to providing service for their clients. They are no longer doing what their clients are truly paying them for, their advice and skill in navigating the tax code for the pupose of legally reducing one's tax burden.

The statement that opened this post came from a post on this very board. Statements like these are common place and are uttered over and over by the tax paying public each and every tax year. Why?

Why should someone paying a fee to a tax professional feel embarrassed to ask a tax question about their return. Isn't that the reason a professional was hired in the first place? The concept baffles me. Specifically, what I do not understand is the fact that the client would have to ask their advisor about the major purchase and the tax ramifications. I admit I'm a bit old fashioned when it comes to helping clients. I like to ask a lot of questions and investigate their financial structure before I sit down and recommend strategies to reduce or even prevent unduly taxes. Please understand that this post is in no way meant to criticize the client, but meant to expose the laziness of the common tax professional.

When a client retains a tax advisor they assume certain information will be conveyed to them. Namely the following:

What is my current tax liability?
What if anything can I do this year to lower my taxes?
What should I be doing to lower my future tax liability?

Keep in mind, in this process each person in this transaction brings to the table a certain responsibility. The client's responsibility is to ask as many questions as he or she likes about taxes, afterall, they are the customer and the person in this relationship paying the fee. The tax professional's duty is to satisfy the client by not only answering pertinent questions, but, also by giving suggestions and conveying knowledge to assist the client in reducing their tax burden. So in other words, to be proactive not reactive in working with the client's personal tax structure. This leads us to consider the next question.

Have we as a group become the allegorical monkies at the computer, eventually printing out a return? I mean anyone can learn to punch in data, its getting the numbers to input that requires skill and knowledge. Obviously, the public's perception of the modern day tax professional is just that, a data entry clerk. If I'm incorrect in my assumption, explain to me the success of the do-it yourself tax software. At some point the general public decided they were not getting value for their hard earned dollars, and starting looking elsewhere for the technical know how to file their returns. It boils down to customer satisfaction or lack of it. In order to create a different perception of tax advisory services in general, I suggest we refer to a baseball analogy.

Remember when you were a kid fielding a ground ball? What did your coach teach you? That's right, charge a slow roller or hopping ground ball, play the ball; don't let the ball play you. Who hasn't been embarrassed by that mysterious bouncing grounder that takes a funny hop over your glove as you wait on your heels. In other words, be proactive not reactive to your clients needs. Find the tax liabilities before they jump up and surprise you and your client.

This tirade has been triggered by the lack of respect for those who hire us, and by those professionals who are complaing about the erosion of their client base. I'm sure this doesn't affect any of us here, but I thought I would adress the subject anyway. Have a great tax season.
James Mulligan
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