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Firm and Workflow Management

10 attributes of a good tax client

Shaun Hunley  Senior Technical Editor / Thomson Reuters

Shaun Hunley  Senior Technical Editor / Thomson Reuters

We've all heard it. I bet you've even said it in times of frustration. "The customer is always right." If this saying holds true, then every client is a good tax client, right?

WRONG.

And many tax practitioners would agree with me. We often discuss the characteristics of a good service provider, but service providers should look for similar traits in prospective clients. That’s why I’m excited to present 10 attributes of a good tax client.

A good tax client:

  1. Provides necessary documents in a timely manner (well before the filing deadline).
  2. Gives the preparer a reasonable amount of time to respond to inquiries.
  3. Understands that the practitioner is juggling hundreds of clients at the same time.
  4. Doesn’t expect or insist that the preparer engage in illegal or unethical behavior. (I know this seems obvious, but you’d be surprised!)
  5. Proactively listens to tax advice and takes timely steps to implement such advice.
  6. Isn’t interested in schemes that are too good to be true.
  7. Understands and appreciates the value the practitioner brings to the table.
  8. Doesn’t threaten to fire the practitioner if an extension needs to be filed for valid reasons.
  9. Pays his or her bill within a reasonable amount of time.
  10. Is kind.

Are your clients lacking any of these attributes? If so, don’t give up hope. There are ways to manage the client’s expectations, such as sending occasional reminders to provide documents or clearly setting boundaries in the engagement letter. Although implementing these practices can be uncomfortable at first, they will save you (and your clients) from headaches come next busy season.

 

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