Platt’s Perspective: Dear Tax Preparer

Platt’s Perspective: Dear Tax Preparer

Dear Tax Preparer:

Let me be honest with you. I don’t look forward to receiving your tax organizer at this time of year. But I will also come clean with you – it’s probably the one communication that I get from you each year that I am sure to review. Given that you have my captive attention, let me give you some advice so I can feel like you truly have my best interests at heart.

So as you are communicating with me this season, consider these ideas that I just might find appealing:

  1. Tell me what I can purge. Include a page that describes your recommended document retention policy. How much of my mountain of paperwork can I shred?
  2. Tell me what I should do in the next 60 days to improve my financial position. I can probably find a beginning-of-the-year tax and financial checklist on the internet, but it would be much easier and more helpful if you were to tell me what I should do in the next few months to get my financial house in order.
  3. Let me choose my fee. That’s right, you heard me. I know two things about tax season: I have one deadline – April 15 –  and I know that you’re a professional and that you’ll get everything done by that date, regardless of my tardiness. So, if your average fee is $100/hour, why not give me different deadlines with different fees? For example, if I get my organizer back to you by February 15, I pay $80/hour. If I get it back by March 15, I pay $100/hour. If I drag my feet and get it to you after March 15, charge me $150/hour.
  4. Tell me when I should meet with you. My dentist sends me a postcard every six months to remind me that it’s time to meet with him. I respect you enough as a professional to allow you to dictate my schedule – just a bit – and tell me when I should schedule a call for a “tax checkup.”
  5. Tease me with your talents. Your firm does my taxes, but you probably do a lot of other things that can help me as a business person. Show me what you have – and tell me how it can help me. And go ahead, be creative to catch my attention. Attach a dollar bill to your promotional information and tell me “there’s plenty more where that came from,” or something similar.
  6. Make it easy for me to buy more from you. I know that you work in a very formal profession that requires engagement letters, consultations and scope-of-service agreements. But if you’ve got a simple service – like a $200 mid-year tax review so I can talk with you for an hour to make sure I’m on track – add a checkbox on the organizer so I can easily say “yes” to your offerings. Follow up with me to set the appointment and consider offering me a slight discount if I commit to the meeting when I return the organizer.
  7. Show me that you are human. I like doing business with people I know. Send me a link to an article that shows your staff involved in some community activity. Send me a photo of the tax service team along with a bio on each person so I can see the human side of your firm. Don’t worry – I’ve got enough “love-thy-neighbor” goodwill left over from the holidays to warmly embrace your “softer” side.

Please take these ideas in the spirit in which they are given – I want you to be successful because I like to work with successful people. I know that sending out the organizer is seen as a logistical and administrative task in your firm, but don’t overlook the marketing and client relationship-building opportunity it presents.

Good luck, and thanks for listening!


Your average tax client.

Mike Platt

Mike Platt, Principal, INSIDE Public Accounting



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