Wishful, you brought back memories of when I had to schedule staff. Each day was broken into 3 hours of staffing, by how many clients came in the year before at those hours. 90% of the time after peak it was wrong, and it was a scramble to call people in, or send some home early. They then went to calling each office every few hours wanting 3 numbers. How many preparers were in office, how many clients at desks, and how many clients in the waiting room. Depending on the answer, we were asked to send people home, or poof, another preparer from another office showed up. Usually too late, as the waiting room was empty by the time they got there.
When I started at HRB, we had to take turns with clients, if we got one that took 1/2 hour, and our coworkers got one that needed an hour or more, we had to sit idle till our turn came up again. There could be 3 of us in the back room joking around while 3-4 clients sat in the waiting room. A couple years they made a big deal out of appointments, taking them ahead of walk ins that lost a lot of walk-ins, then walk-ins had priority over appointments.
The worst thing they did was have a phone center making appointments and NOT honoring the client's request for a preparer of choice. Or a preparer having 2 appointments at the same time because the office was also making appointments. All my years of doing tax returns, staffing is still a problem hard to resolve. I've had many 3 hour shifts turn into 8 hours with no break in the day. Likewise, I've had days of surfing the Internet between clients, while clock watching.
This is much closer than most realize. It started about 20 years ago with computer filing, and has been IRS's dream. Every year they get more intrusive. Think 3921 and 3922, that allows them to know the basis of stock purchased. Or 1099 K, for every business that accepts credit cards. They already have our income with W2 and 1099's, they know how much interest and dividends, and there are now a lot of cities that have a small tax on rental property with a monthly report of rental income. IRS can tap into their computers. They know how much interest and property tax we pay on the mortgage, and can disallow a charity donation of $250 (to one organization) without a receipt. They have the power to challenge a parent by making them prove the kid lives with them by asking for school or doctor's records. Their ability for getting a bigger and bigger paper trail is growing by leaps and bounds. Sch A (itemizing) has been growing smaller. (For those that remember when all interest was deductible, plus the gas tax, and casually lost was only subject to a $100 floor). We use to be able to deduct food when moving, NOT any more! While insurance cost go up, deductabilty goes down (7.5%, now 10% for under age 65). These were items taking away from main street. Easier for IRS's paper trail's dream.
Agree, IRS hasn't the ability to audit most returns. Long, long time ago in a Playboy article on taxes, it said take every deduction you can "dream up", put the refund money in the bank for 3 years, and if you're not called for an audit it's yours to keep. Most couldn't do that, they rather sleep at night. 50 years later, not so much when we hear of billions in fraudulent refunds. Seems easier to rob taxpayers, than banks, no mask or get away car needed, can do it from home while sipping coffee. Congress needs to re-think these refundable credits (IRS should be a collection agency, not a welfare agency that hands dollars out), and needs to get ALL W2's and 1099's, and 1098's into their computers before accepting returns to make sure they are legit. 2 simple ways to clean up fraud!
OH MY, stock price is sad. Could it have been over the 50% off? Had one client who told me it was 50% off last year's price by forms, and since he needed extra forms this year the price kept going up till he left. I know the reduced price had to hurt the preparers finally hourly pay, which I imagine hurt their moral. Was it just a down year as has happened in the past, due to no new tax codes to deal with, or is Turbo Tax getting friendlier.
Had a neighbor that used Turbo Tax and owed a couple thousand, he got stuck on Form 8880, not understanding what to do so he asked me to look at it, and we ended up with an $1,800 refund, because he left his business income off due to losing money, and he thought he didn't have to report a loss. Turbo Tax may be a great way to save money, but when I think of some of the questions and remarks clients make on what they believe are deductible expenses (my brother says so and does it every year), I always wonder could that little piece of misinformation cost brother later when it's caught and interest and penalties are added.
Luckily for one client who got an IRS bill for over 6K, we had done his return. It was an IRS error that he was ready to pay, thinking IRS must be right. Had he done it on his own, he would have paid it without question.
Great question, I've asked myself for years. This annual reporting of all income to the feds, to how big our families are, to who qualifies as our dependents, and having the IRS constantly looking over our shoulder where they already know our birthdays, our addresses, where our kids go to school and how much we give to charity, or how big our mortgage payments are, and what assets we sell. It's become the "BIG Brother" nightmare with access to all our money and can punish us with higher taxes unless we follow their social engineering where your dollar gets treated better than my dollar cause you know what special interest loophole they deem worthy of not being taxed. It's such a complex system, where one can get thousands and thousands of dollars in refunds year after year for not being truthful, it's created an "underground" (under the table) workforce. Congress does NOT want IRS to go away, it's half their power in controlling the population, selling loopholes for campaign money, and keeping them on a spending streak of pork barrel projects. Why do we put up with it? They can jail us if we don't!
Wishful don't forget their newest marketing. 50% off. Great for clients, but commission based pay is also cut in 1/2! When Richard and Henry gave discounts, they would still pay the preparer their % on the full cost before the discount, and GREW the # of offices, and loyal preparers. HO HUM, that's when OWNERS ran companies and called staff family and wanted us to stay around.
Except for the 1095's, (most not needing any input) it's a boring year of same ole, same ole. Nothing exciting or challenging. With what I'm seeing, most people can do their own return using last years' as their guide. We seriously need Congress to simplify our tax codes like they did in 1986 with over 400 changes that made it a banner year just on the depreciation method of ACRS. I think of all the Forms lost to time. Sch W, Sch G, 5-10 year averaging even if not born before 1936. With the short version of OIH, it's one click, no more direct or indirect columns, adding up those yearly utility bills. HO HUM.
Liberty did good on the $750 advance, it's bringing in new clients but most of them are going on hold for missing paperwork. Software sucks, very time consuming to view all the paperwork, which takes a lot of mouse clicking, and then doing it a 2nd time for signatures. Once is enough! We can explain and get signature on the first time around. Half the time explaining what they're signing their eyes glaze over. They only want to hear how much their refund is and how fast they can get it. Another week and it'll be "no time for lunch" days, remember to bring finger food for the break-room! Good luck all.
It's here. The start of a new tax season. Hope everyone has finished all their classes, passed the tests, renewed their pin #, and can squeeze in the time to get those practice problems done before clients show up. January is a great time to get to know the newbies, and be their mentors, and catch up with coworkers they haven't seem in 8 months. Not much new to deal with this year, mostly getting used to the new numbers for mileage and limitations on varies forms. I still to this day remember reading Block's policy and procedure manual 20+ years ago and the one item of "do not wear P.J.'s in the office" and it still makes me laugh that it had to be a written rule. Who were they hiring that needed to be told?
Yes, you are right about not all Block offices having the software for higher end returns, but they always have a Premium office near by to refer clients to, and if there is experienced pro's in any office capable of doing partnership, corps, and estates they are allowed to meet the client at the Premium office, or ask for the software to be put in their office. Block did that for me.
Any predictions for the upcoming tax season? I don't see any major changes, but must confess I haven't done much more than read IRS' email newsletters, and searched to find how many 2015 forms were out. I like reading the forms to see if there are any line changes, and it's odd that the 2015 1040 form is not available yet.
SO, now they're office leaders and no longer managers? Did the pay go up with the new title? Are they the most knowledgeable in tax prep? Or are they still 1st and 2nd year employees? As you say yourself doing the leader's work when they're not available, some like it, some don't. The reason some don't is because there is NO compensation for extra duties, plus there isn't that strong loyalty to the company because the company keeps playing with pay, giving more priority to share holders than those who actually do the work that brings those dollars in. ANY professional in any field, who can do an hour's worth of work and charge $300-400, yet only gets paid $10-20 an hour is way below what they're worth.
You nailed it Wishful. If only those in today's management had worked under Richard & Henry they would have known why Block became a top brand in tax prep. Training, training, training was Block's highest achievement, and team work was a must. District Managers were "cheer leaders" for Block, always available and approachable. Some thing happened in the 90's, when computers came in. Then end of the quality control department, (computer diagnostic replaced them) and more work for the preparer, as we had to print & assemble and give the client the return before they left, the end of DM's knowing taxes and being hired from the outside, and then the worst part was Managers with nothing more than the basis course who had no idea how depreciation worked, or when to use 4797 and had no idea how to handle an IRS letter. All this plus lower pay, and selling products, and being judged on how many POM's were sold.
And John will be supplying gift wrap paper, ribbons, and wages for all that marketing? Funny how he thinks people who do taxes must be good at gift wrapping and it's just what they've been wanting to do to gain client trust!!!! Insurance agents to call and pester people, GREAT marketing idea!!! Forget competition, pick one agent and hope he's good?
25 years with Block, 12 years with Liberty, both offering the same service of tax prep and are in competition with each other. Offices come and offices go. Mostly location and prices have a lot to do with success or failure. Both need high quality tax preparers and training, training, training is the key. Opening a franchise with 1st year preparers was OK when we had the RAL crowds, but with RAL gone, what is Liberty doing to advertise offices that can do partnerships, corps, estates and complex returns? AND, why isn't every Liberty franchise offering that service? That's where Liberty needs to go now that software is cheap and easy to use at home. This old saying that "anyone can do taxes" is a big lie, and I spend a lot of off season time doing amendments and explaining IRS letters. I would seriously like to see Liberty demand franchises hire MORE experienced pros. They don't have Block's volume that has 6-20 workers in an office at the same time blending both pro and newbie. Older Liberty's can do this, but new franchises don't, and one failing franchise is a reputation killer to the rest. Competition should mean MORE and better service than the other guy.
Not only did Block stop paying preparers for returns paid for after April 15th, but they pay min. wage to the off season help who did finish them. Talk about a company win-win, this is it. When I think of how many years I worked in the off season, my mindset was on the learning experience and gaining new clients, and getting in my 1,000 hours a year to keep my 401K active. Only once did off season min. wage pay bother me. It was when I lost my paycheck stub and thought: "what if a $400-500 client finds it?" Would they still have confident in me, when I was worth so little to the company?