Short, excellent article on how to balance workload between the data entry folks and the tax return reviewers at a CPA firm. It’s all great advice — I recommend reading all the points the author makes regardless of whether you file your own returns, run your own firm, work at a large firm, or even do taxes at all. Many of the comments regarding staff training, systems, and creating a culture of excellence hold true no matter what kind of work you’re doing — accounting, taxation, or… heck, architecture, human resources, photography. Anything.
However, people are particularly emotionally stressed about their tax returns. You simply cannot be careless with them. And taking the time to go through someone else’s work line-by-line and sending back feedback would make me insane. Worse, I could do as the author suggests and have someone else go through their work line-by-line — it’s a great idea, but I don’t think I could handle that… for accounting, yes. There’s a materiality threshold. But not for taxes.
(I’d find myself sneaking in a line-by-line verification myself regardless. If my name is going on that return, it’d better be my work. My mistakes. Even if someone on my staff were perfect, I’d wonder and worry. Not worth the stress.)
People often ask why I don’t expand further. I have one staff accountant who is almost full-time, two very part-time Excel experts, and two very part-time bookkeepers. The bottleneck is that I am the only staff member who prepares tax returns, so we can only grow so much. I turn away a few clients a week. And I’ve come to the conclusion that this is just fine. My personality demands perfection — I don’t always achieve it, but I always strive for it. And I read an article like this and immediately think, “oh my goodness, I’m so glad we don’t have to deal with that at my firm.”
As Khalil Gibran said, “Work is love made visible.” Do your work and do it well. It’s okay if you don’t make as much money as you could otherwise. It’s okay if you don’t grow as much as other people think you should. What’s most important is that you love your work, and that your clients can see this in everything you do.