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Don't Shoot the Messenger! Please!

Updated on August 15, 2010

I'm going to do something I really try not to do on HubPages. I'm going to whine.

I've had to deliver some bad news, recently, to several of my upper-income tax clients. They seem to blame me for the steep increase in their taxes. I really can't help it. It's the law. They pay me for my expertise in tax preparation--the numbers are what they are, and if the client doesn't like the numbers, he/she may go elsewhere, and discover (if the tax return was prepared legitimately, according to law, and correctly)--that, hey presto! The numbers didn't change.

I am responsible for correctly preparing the return, according to the data I'm given... I'm NOT responsible for the amounts.

This has been a professional burden over the decades I've been an accountant and a tax preparer. Businesses, company presidents, and individuals all seem to think the results are the accountant's or tax-preparer's fault, if they don't like the numbers.

Hey, look, we only report the bad (or good) news. We don't create it! It would be irresponsible of us NOT to report the news correctly, no matter how well or poorly it is received. Our job is to record, track, compile the information. Our job is to show profit/loss, taxes, things of that nature...we don't have any responsibility towards what those numbers show, so long as we've gotten the information correct, and done all the computations correctly. This is our important limitation, because that's the important check-and-balance on the whole system.

We have to be neutral, impartial parties, and not, essentially, part of the transactions and fiscal and monetary movements we record, track, would vastly upset that important limitiation, that important check-and-balance, to have us involved in any way in the decision making processes behind the numbers.

So bitching out your tax-preparer or accountant, if you don't like the numbers is, excuse me, INFANTILE! Don't do it. You're creating bad feelings for no good reason at all. And it gets old, so old, as the decades pass...

I imagine many professionals feel this way...lawyers, doctors...teachers, too, maybe? I don't make the news, I just report it, so, PLEASE!



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    • Paradise7 profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Upstate New York

      Thanks for the comment, TM. You wouldn't believe how upset people get over taxes or debts. It seems they don't want to accept responsibility for the situation and must find someone to blame. People being human, God love us!

    • travel_man1971 profile image

      Ireno Alcala 

      6 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      It's your job. They should know better that you're not the IRS. You're just following the book.

      Being an accountant is really a dangerous job, just like here in the Philippines.

      Taxpayers should not take it personally. If they don't want to hire one expert, they should personally do it , all that computing matters.

      Always be careful. :D

    • Paradise7 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Upstate New York

      Tell her hang in, in any job there's always some flak of some kind. That's why they pay us!

    • Faybe Bay profile image

      Faye Constantino 

      8 years ago from Florida

      I agree, my daughter just finished school last year and now works for an agency as a tax preparer, of course she took a lot of heat because it's her first year! It's like they thought she didn't know as much because she just finished school.

    • Paradise7 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Upstate New York

      Yes, Lamme. I've always been in the line of fire. That's such a good way to put it.

    • Lamme profile image


      8 years ago

      I feel your pain. I guess when you're in the line of fire, angry people lash out at those that are within reach. Keep your spirits up and don't let them get to you.

    • Paradise7 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Upstate New York

      Thanks, poet!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      if you go in the forums you can get cheese and biscuits, with your whine. Everyone has to whine at times.

    • Paradise7 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Upstate New York

      Thank you so much for getting my back, here, BK!

    • BkCreative profile image


      8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Oh, yeah, I am so with you there. EVERYTHING and I do mean EVERYTHING - is always the fault of someone else with people like this. But I can say for sure, a professional tax preparer makes all the difference. Try doing tax deductions or handling a difficult tax situation on your own, and try wading through all that tax information.

      You tell it like it is and more people should. Yet, this was fun to read. Thanks!

    • Paradise7 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Upstate New York

      Thanks, Tammy, for the comment and for the encouragement. You shouldn't have to put up with being cursed out--nobody should, but that's often what happens when we deliver the bad news. You really AREN'T the only one.

    • profile image

      Tammy Lochmann 

      8 years ago

      I know how it is to be the messenger...Doctors yell and curse at us all the time when all we are doing is reporting what we are supposed to. I feel your pain...It's okay to rant...I like a good rant it makes me feel like I'm not the only one.

    • Paradise7 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Upstate New York

      That's a plan, Micky!

    • Micky Dee profile image

      Micky Dee 

      8 years ago

      Take one of those punching bags with you when you're giving bad news. Paint "The Guv" on it or something. They got Al Capone for "tax evasion". He did a lot worse but that's what he went to prison for. Thanks!

    • Paradise7 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Upstate New York

      Thanks for the comment, Mike. That's SUCH a GOOD POINT! I give my clients the maximum tax advantages allowed by law, but I have no magic wand. I can't make taxes go away completely.

    • Mike Lickteig profile image

      Mike Lickteig 

      8 years ago from Lawrence KS USA

      Paradise, I can understand your frustration. I think when someone has their taxes prepared, they naively assume the accountant will dig through their papers and "discover" deductions, as if you are waving a magic wand. Unfortunately, you can only give them what they give you, and folks don't understand that, perhaps because TV commercials always shout at us, "I went to (fill-in-blank) and got back $2500 more than I thought I would." It is even worse if someone has a need or want to fill with their refund--they probably look at it as if you're robbing them by doing their taxes properly.

      I understand your frustration, and hopefully you can take a break in a couple weeks.


    • Paradise7 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Upstate New York

      Advisor and trose, thank you both so much for your comments...Yes, indeed, frustration begins to describe the feeling! You, trose, would be my very favorite client if we were nearer! You actually appreciate the work we do instead of getting in a high state of piss-off at the numbers.

      I DO feel bad for my upper-income clients this year and last. They are taking a real beating, tax-wise, and it's hard, because a lot of them are overextended already with credit, and maybe at least a little uneasy about their jobs.

      We played, America did, with all this free and easy credit, and now, folks, we are PAYING!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      You need a disclaimer stating "I am not the IRS or associated with the Government in any way. I am merely the preparer and the reporter. PLEASE, don't shoot the messenger!"

      You need a nice vacation to someplace warm and sunny.

      By the way, thanks for the work you do. I am not skilled enough to prepare my own taxes and always hire an accountant. Accurate numbers reported to the IRS is more important than the short-term results of those numbers. I know that if I did my own taxes, the numbers would probably not be accurate and I would be audited! Eeek!

    • advisor4qb profile image


      8 years ago from On New Footing

      I had something similar happen lately, but it was one client who was not calculating sales tax correctly. I am just going to let her figure out for herself that I was right, I guess.

      Frustrating, isn't it?!!!

    • Paradise7 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Upstate New York

      Thank you for your encouraging and heartening comments, Veronica and scarytaff. I look forward to retirement, maybe even the opportunity to travel more, but I'd really miss my occupation. I like the work itself. I have learned how to deal with irate people on the job with some grace and tact over the years, and I have learned how to handle delivering bad news in the best way.

      I think I just needed to let off a little steam built up over the years...I can't say these things directly to either my former bosses or my current clients. Normally I stay positive no matter what, but tax season is a fairly stressful time, for everyone!

    • scarytaff profile image

      Derek James 

      8 years ago from South Wales

      Try to keep yourself cheerful, think how happy you'll be when you retire, No. 7

    • Veronica Allen profile image

      Veronica Allen 

      8 years ago from Georgia

      It never ceases to amaze me how some "professionals" at times can be really unprofessional. It really does make them look like oversized babies.

      I prefer your proactive form of ranting over theirs any day - sometimes we just have to get things off of our chest.

    • Paradise7 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Upstate New York

      Thank you so much for your comments, breakfast pop (hah hah!), dohn121, and anjalichugh.

      Yes, I HAVE had to fire someone, one time only (that usually didn't fall within the scope of my duties, thank goodness!) and I do understand, as professionals, anjalichugh, we have to deal with the fallout LIKE A PROFESSIONAL.

      Dohn hit it on the button. I was just ranting, releasing some pent-up steam. Thanks, Dohn.

    • anjalichugh profile image


      8 years ago from New York

      I can relate to that. It happens all the time with professionals. I know how you feel but over the time we all get used to such kind of responses from our clients. Part of the deal! :)

    • dohn121 profile image


      8 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      Have you ever had to terminate/fire anyone Paradise7? I think that's the worst thing I ever had to do while in an occupation :( But if you take into account (pun?) that you are running a business (and it's not personal) then you'll be able to sleep better at night! Rant all you want :D

    • breakfastpop profile image


      8 years ago

      I agree. Tax accountants have enough pressure without being assaulted by their clients! It's a very "taxing" profession!


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