I read a tragic story of an accountant who informed her client of a $100,000 tax debt and what it would mean. She wrote that she focused on speaking about the technical and procedural issues. The client, married with young children, committed suicide. It seemed that the accountant was trying to emotionally distance herself from the tragedy. This is nderstandable and unfortunately, perhaps, the normal response in our profession.
I take a much different stance. I know that as accountants, we cannot be just number crunchers and say “not my job” when it comes to a client’s welfare and mental health. My practice focuses on the person, not the numbers. When handling a tax problem I emphasize that solving the problem is just the first step in our journey. I assure them that every tax problem is solvable. My offer to take over responsibility for addressing this emotional burden helps to immediately reduce their stress level. Showing a positive confident attitude is important in that this affects how the client feels. Later, I will support them in assuring that the problem does not recur. Finally, I offer in advance to help them financially recover from this problem and difficult time. Moreover, it is important to stress that their life success is much more important than taxes. From my first introductory video and continuing through every conversation, the focus is on the big picture of their success in life and not about taxes. Over more than three decades I’ve helped many clients move from the depths of bankruptcy depression to successful happy lives years later. Even my own personal life story follows a similar pattern.
Over 6 million people are facing tax debt. We can and must do better in solving these problems.