Here Are The 6 Most Absolutely Annoying Types of Tax Clients

Don’t Be These Guys

I’ve been reading many stories dealing with the woes of those who try to prepare their income tax returns on their own. I wish to present the other side, the travails of the tax professional.

When January 1st rolls around, my stomach churns with eager anticipation and dread. Eager anticipation because it’s what we in the industry call “the harvest” — the time of our year with the best cash flow. Dread because I know what lies ahead of me for the next three and a half months.

The biggest problem is the stress. No matter how I try to put systems in place to create manageable stress-levels during the season, I never get through without physical manifestations of the stress. Several years I’ve had an uncontrollable neck twitch. Other years sciatica. One year it was colds, the flu, and a stomach virus — I was sick every week. This year it was headaches.

Maybe if the personal income tax deadline was the only deadline I had to focus on, I could cope better. But many other deadlines are in there too, including a payroll deadline, a sales tax deadline, and the annual corporate income tax deadline. Who came up with this schedule?

So with the deadlines and the workload, I work, eat, sleep, shower, repeat. When family or friends are off due to a holiday and ask me if I want to do something, I must decline. There are no holidays for me during tax season. And I pray that no big family events happen during this time. Sure, it’s good to step away for a day. But it’s twice as stressful the next day.

But by far the biggest stress is the clients themselves. Most are pleasant. And without a doubt, the best times are when you’re calling to bring them good news of either a large refund, or an unexpected refund. They’re happy, you’re happy. But 20 years in the business has shown me many personalities.

We can start with the group who owe money. People in this group fall into 3 categories: those who expected it, those who expected to owe but experience sticker shock, and those who expected a refund. The first 2 groups are easy enough. The last group divides into 2 subgroups: 10% experience devastation, but take responsibility for the financial mistakes they made during the year. The other 90% are in denial, quick to blame tax preparer error. No, sunshine, you can go scratch. Here’s the skinny: if you receive income during the year and don’t withhold taxes when it’s given to you, you will reckon with it at tax time. It’s that simple. Do not come with a 1099 from unemployment with no taxes withheld, a 1099 from an early distribution from your retirement account with no taxes withheld, and a 1099 from your freelance assignment and then have the nerve to insinuate that I don’t know what I’m doing. No such thing as a free lunch.

There are other annoying types of clients as follows:

  • the ones who come with either a shoe box or dirty plastic bag jammed full of EVERY receipt they hoarded during the last year. These people believe in the above-mentioned free lunch program in the literal sense. As if the government will repay you for your three-times-a-day McDonald’s habit.
  • the ones who are getting a 5-figure refund from the IRS and say, “Is that it?!”. Don’t do that. It’s disgusting.
  • the ones who compare themselves with their friend at work. As in, “My friend at work who makes the same as me, she’s getting back much more than I am. I don’t understand.” Let me dissect it for you, Swee’ pea. Unless you and your friend have the same salary reported in box 1 of your W-2, with the same deductions withdrawn per paycheck, with the same filing status, with the same number of kids who are the same age, and the same write-offs, then your results will differ from your friend’s. Sorry. But if the scene I described above applies to you, you have a serious case of “Single White Female” (Google it) and I suggest you seek psychiatric help.
  • the ones who come to you on April 11th and express surprise they have to go on extension. Unless you will pay me $1,000 to do your return, I’m not skipping you to the top of the stack. I’m supposed to drop everything I’m working on because you got around to getting your stuff together? Are you so arrogant to assume that you are my only client?
  • the ones who fancy themselves tax professionals. They quote tax code and point out on which schedule and line items need to be reported. Listen Einstein, if you’ve got this figured out, why the heck are you hiring me? Go buy a box of Turbo Tax and do it yourself. Save me the aggravation.

There are others that could make this list, but you get the point. These are my biggest pet peeves. Do I sound jaded? I guess it’s to be expected after 20 years. I don’t dislike my clients, only their behavior. But I guess that’s to be expected too, it’s their money. I’m glad the season is over, and everyone can relax. Until we get closer to the extension deadline that is.