The Love-Hate Relationship with my Accountant

I found my accountant through a client-turned-friend a few years ago. I figured he was a good person to take a recommendation from because, at the time, he had a low W-2 income which he supplemented by selling high-end weed to a handful of customers and wanted to report enough to get a mortgage eventually (which he did, so I’d say his CPA did an excellent job). I mean, I tried to find an accountant on my own — one was a barter situation that went bad, the other was someone nearby I found on a “find an accountant” website who was just plain weird weird weird.


My accountant deals almost exclusively with the self-employed and tiny S-Corp businesses, so he’s had maximum exposure to cash businesses and what kinds of claims and deductions will keep us out of audits. In fact, that’s what he considers his #1 function: not raising any red flags with the IRS, even if it means not claiming certain legitimate deductions. His fees are reasonable, my IRS bill is always acceptable, the only notices I get from the IRS are when they think I’ve overpaid by $9 or something like that, and I’m comfortable being totally up-front about everything.


He sucks at deadlines and time management, and he sucks even worse at communication/keeping me in the loop. Emails and phone calls go unreturned repeatedly, to the point where I end up sending him a freaked out email asking him not to put me in a position to figure out what measures I need to take against a CPA with all my tax info who won’t produce my returns. I mean, I saw him in February last year, he ignored 3 emails and 1 phone call in the first two weeks of April until I begged to know if he’d filed for an extension. He lied to me about having them ready to mail to me, then I get them and find 3 mistakes, and he takes forever to send me a corrected copy. I mean, the customer service angle is horrible.

So I’m conflicted about what to do this tax season – find a new CPA or stick with the evil I know?

18 Responses

  1. That’s a tough one. My CPA’s service is not the best. She almost missed one of our quarterly deadlines. I’ve found it helps to do my end (scanning, cataloging, reconciling) way, way ahead of time.

    It’s so hard to find a decent CPA. I guess it also depends on how much he charges. If he’s expensive AND flaky, that’s worse.

  2. Ugh… It’s hard to say. On the one hand, you know what you’re expecting with him, but on the other hand, he really sucks at keeping you in the loop.

    Also he knows your history. That’s another thing to keep in mind. A new CPA has to learn about you.

    Fabulously Broke in the City
    Just a girl trying to find a balance between being a Shopaholic and a Saver.

  3. Uh, the lack of communication in the first two weeks of April would be an immediate deal breaker for me. That’s terribly unprofessional.

    There are way too many accountant out there who will fulfill all your Love needs without that huge gaping Hate.

  4. He’s in the business of providing a service and it’s not limited to accounting and tax preparation. He needs to communicate with his client (you). I agree with Little Miss Moneybags that you should search another.

  5. oh gosh, ditch him and get another one! i absolutely would not do business with someone who was not communicative, who lies to me and who out right ignores me. seriously, he’s not that specialized that you should fear getting a new CPA. a good quality CPA can provide the same level of knowledge and expertise.

  6. I’d start looking for another one, there has to be a more professional CPA who can at least return your calls. He is adding stress to your life and you have to pay him for the pleasure! In NYC there has to be loads of CPAs.

  7. Move on. But send him a letter telling him that you thought his actual accounting work was GREAT but that his unavailability down to the wire was unacceptable and you’re moving on.

    Maybe he’ll shape up and try to win you back.

  8. I appreciate the comments. As a tax cpa in my small but growing firm, I appreciate your comments. It is so hard to gain new client but so easy to lose them.

  9. As an owner of a cpa firm in Miami and Atlanta, its a tough call, on the one hand lieing is never acceptable, however on the other hand I understand the situation. Most cpa’s or tax professional service providers are bombarded with tight deadlines and (new and old) clients who wait until last minute to produce tax and accounting supporting documents, therefore we’re always faced with having to balance the two. Also, more than likely having to manage the scheduling of client work flow is based largely on deadline and fees. A lot of people prefer to pay for services once there is a finally end product or conclusion, however the cpa firm has to allocate staff and resources upfront to get the end product completed therefore, a client who pays a retainer upfront may always be on the front end of the work flow scheduling process.

    Also, someone mentioned that switching to a new cpa firm should be easy, they are a dime a dozen, however keep in mind there is a lot of fraud and abuse therefore having someone you trust is peace of mind anyday and going to a new cpa may cost a bit more as the cpa will have to spend time trying to understand your situation and will bill for this. I would suggest scheduling a meeting with your cpa after the tax deadlines to communicate how best to handle the situation, and if it continues then use the off season to start interviewing 2 or 3 cpas to start the transition process before the next tax season.

    As Judd mentioned earlier, it was really good to read the comments, I will keep all of this in mind as we continue work with clients. I think communication and understanding is key upfront.

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  18. I have a very similar issue with my previous cpa. I would say to leave. You could even do them yourself and sounds like it would be smoother. I ended up calling up a firns until 8 found one that I felt comfortable with.

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