Your Accountant’s Weird Habits – Explained

If you have a pet in your family, maybe you’ve seen those articles purporting to explain why your dog spins in a circle before lying down, or why your cat would rather drink from the faucet than a water dish. To many people, there is a creature even more alien and perplexing than any animal: the finance professional.

Your bookkeeper or tax professional might say or do things that don’t make a lot of sense to you. Some of their actions might seem flat-out contradictory. But, as with any exotic species, there is a reason behind all of it.

I want to break down a few of the most commonly complained-about behaviors, along with the explanations behind them (with the assistance of cat pictures).

 

First annoying habit: My accountant keeps nagging me to get organized.

Your bookkeeper wants you to have a system for tracking open customer balances, or wants you to keep all your expense reports in one place. It’s frustrating, because the whole reason you’re paying them is for them to “keep up with that stuff”.

So why do they do it?

For starters, good bookkeeping relies on complete information. (A balance sheet showing $1M in the bank doesn’t mean much if there’s a $995K liability that got left off.) Unless you have an in-house accounting staff, your bookkeeper is relying on you to get that information to them. A good organizational system ensures that all of the information is getting to who needs it.

Furthermore, most accountants charge based on time expended, and though good accounting can be had at a good value, it’s still not cheap. Paying your accounting service to dig through files and hunt down info is a waste of their time and your money.

Accountant Cat 1

Accountant Cat is tired of looking for your payroll reports.

 

Speaking of “time”, my accountant freaks out if I don’t get certain information to them right away. What’s the rush?

Certain items, particularly related to tax filings, can incur massive penalties if late. Your accountant needs the information in advance of those deadlines, to record it and check for accuracy. (Inaccurate filings can also, of course,  result in penalties.)

If your accountant is pestering you to get information to them quickly, it’s because they are trying to keep you out of trouble and save you money.

Accountant Cat 2

Accountant Cat on April 10th, waiting on you for info.

 

Since we’re already talking about taxes…Why does my accountant try to make me spend money I don’t want to spend? For instance, why do I have to treat certain workers as W-2 employees, instead of paying them as contractors?

Because worker classification is a big deal. Not paying employees correctly can result in audits, fines, and even lawsuits. Your accountant is being a stickler about the rules because they don’t want you to get sued.

Accountant Cat 3

Accountant Cat, finding out you’re paying your 9-5 office assistant as a 1099 contractor.

 

Still talking taxes…Why does my accountant say I can’t take this cool deduction I found? I saw online that I can expense my home office/car payment/pet kinkajou/etc.

Present blog excluded, internet advice is no substitute for real, professional guidance. Though you’ll seeing many articles claiming that you can write off an entire car payment, or take a “home office” deduction, the actual guidelines surrounding those items have specific criteria which must be met. Unfortunately, small businesses, particularly those which are sole proprietorships, are frequent targets for audits. Taking excessive, unqualified deductions puts you at an even greater risk. If you trust your tax professional, trust that they will advise you of deductions for which you do qualify. (If you are not happy with your current tax professional, we can recommend some.)

Accountant Cat 4

Accountant Cat has some bad news about that great deduction you found…

 

So I have to spend extra on employees, but can’t take any of the fun deductions. And now I’m being told that I need to watch my spending on meals, and look at ROI for things like advertising. Is my bookkeeper just a kill-joy?

No, they just don’t want you to go broke. Going bankrupt isn’t just bad for you; it also means you can’t pay your vendors (like your bookkeeper). So they have a vested interest in keeping you solvent.

Because, no matter what your business, one thing we all have in common is that we like to get paid.

Accountant Cat 5

Accountant Cat could lighten up if you’d stick to a budget.

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