Not always stupid, wishful. Had client that owed the big bucks every single year, could NOT talk him into estimated payments. According to him, he said he invested the money that would have gone to IRS, and made more on his investments than the cost of penalty and interest. Since he got richer every year, it apparently worked for him.
Plus to owe or get a refund should be a very personal choice. People that are savers like to break even, people that don't save will never put that extra few bucks in the bank, and enjoy the "forced" savings that
allows them a good size refund once a year that can pay off a credit card, or take a vacation.
I usually ask, when I do a W4, will you put $20 a week in savings, or will you buy an extra pizza or t-shirt with it? It's like a "light bulb" goes off, and they opt for extra withholdings. With the average savings accounts paying less than 1% interest, it's not like they're losing anything with letting Uncle Sam hold it. NOT only that, but trying to open a new savings account for high school age grandchild, who has her first job, bank said there will be a $7 a month charge till account is over $300. Made sense to go Single Zero, and let IRS hold her savings, where hopefully she'll have a $300 refund to open the account next year.
Amazing what a yo-yo this stock is. I think it was 1983 when I bought my first shares taking advantage of their option plan, and every year thereafter when it was too good to pass up. I don't actively watch it, as it was a "someday" tucked away for my old age kind of "nest egg". Now due to splits and 4 times a year dividend reinvestment, I can't imagine what my basis would be. Instead of being a treasure for my old age, it's become a treasure for my next of kin, or handing IRS 20% of it, plus paying the state. Kind of weird how its tax free for next to kin, but me who took the risk, IRS demands a basis. Nice of them to be so generous after I'm dead.
Reading buy verse lease, took me back to 20 years ago when I had my sights on the car of my dreams. After picking it out I was escorted to the upstairs office, where the manager, the salesman, and bookkeeper surrounded me giving me a sales pitch of why I should lease it. This meeting lasted for over an hour, and my polite NO thank you was falling on deaf ears. Explaining I had a check in my purse to purchase this car, didn't shut them up. I left in a huff, went across the street to another dealership and bought the first car that had all the bells and whistles I wanted. I still feel cheated to this day about not getting my dream car, and have never gone back to that brand of car.
It brings back many memories of our RAL clients. The guy that kicked the wall down when his check wasn't there, the guy that threatened a preparer for "flagging him" when his refund was kept for child support, the guy that banged his fist on my desk screaming at the top of his lungs, the gal that made a huge scene,crying and screaming saying she'll sue us, as she had already mailed out checks to pay her bills believing she
could deposit her refund loan that day. I'm sure all offices had these type incidents being done in front of a room full of clients. Many were refused the next day check, and had temper tantrums hearing they had to wait 2 weeks, and were sure it was OUR fault! Many believed getting the next day loan would stop IRS from keeping their refund due to child support, student loan, etc., as they lied about owing it on the loan app.
Did years of RAL, followed by a lawsuit Block was overcharging the poor with 3 digit interest rates, do damage, when non-RAL clients were witness to it? Did it run them off, making us look bad? Didn't Block have Holiday loans just a couple years ago? Did RALs taint the brand's reputation to the higher end clients who witnessed these incidents? Probably yes.
Yes, wishful, instructor pay has always been low. One year we got a "bonus" which added an increase for the number of students in a class over a certain number. It near doubled my pay for a basic class. They only did it for one year. The more advanced classes got paid more, to encourage us, and there were many years I would teach up to 10 different courses over a 6 month period, plus having to take classes to be rehired.
Being an instructor only gave us XXX # of points towards rehire.
We were told we were privileged to be chosen, and the majority of us did work off-season, or in the quality control department of checking returns. (before it was closed down)
For a couple years new instructors were chosen for the highest number of POM's sold, which wasn't Block's best idea, as many did not have enough tax knowledge, and the failure rate on the final exam hurt the count of newbies that could be hired. One instructor cheated on the final exam, giving answers and NO ONE could be hired from his class, and none of the hours spent in his class counted towards rehire.
Pay for off season work has always been min. wage and it was also considered a privilege to be chosen. ONE year I actually earned vacation pay by going over 1,000 hours with working off season and teaching many classes, and it shocked me. It also allowed me to join their 401K plan, that I think Block gave a 25 cent match for a couple years. For a few years I was on profit sharing, and used to get yearly statements that I had XXX # of dollars and was XXX # of years vested. Before I became fully vested it disappeared and I got NOTHING but a letter saying the money would be divided up to be given to full time staff. SO, yes, Block has been playing the "less for the preparer" game for over 30 years that I'm aware of. They counted on our loyalty, and our love of the job and kept asking us to do more work for less money till they broke us.
IMHO Block does keep shooting itself in the foot with pay modification. I think any one with a skill in any trade who can find a higher paying job has and will move on. Turn-over in stores and restaurant's has always been high, as its not a one on one service that builds a relationship. Block does NOT follow up or interview those who quit, in fact shows no interest in keeping them, and has an attitude that they'll save money by replacing them with a newbie. ANY ONE that does taxes, knows how a newbie struggles, having never been introduced to many forms and schedules. Many of them don't know how to fill out their own W4! There is a TON of money to be made in tax prep, some years better than others, but it takes a lot of experience getting to the $400-900 returns, and once a preparer is capable of doing them why any company would "modify" their pay or not bend over backwards to keep them is stupidity at its finest.
CF Ditto! You have great insight into the tax prep business and are always a pleasure to read.
CF, sad to say, yes, too many good preparers do throw hands up in the air and walk away, and most of the time it's due to management micro-managing. I always told my staff (when I was office supervisor) that Block needed them, more than they needed Block, because the company could NOT hire just anyone. Then we would go to a mandatory meeting, and they would hear the DM tell them to sell POM or they would have their hours cut, or be replaced. One gal who did miss the mandatory meeting due to being at her husband's side in the hospital, was NOT allowed any hours till she went to a make-up class. She was our only Spanish speaking preparer, and we lost clients, having to turn them away, because we did NOT know when she would be allowed to return, as she waited for a date to when the make up class would be. She finished the season, but would not return, after losing 2 1/2 weeks of work over a SELL POM class. The amazing part is she was a top seller of POM for our office! BUT, K.C. made the decision: NO Class, No work, No exceptions because they did NOT take the time to know their employees. Today she has her own tax business for Spanish speaking clients, and we keep in touch by email, when she has tax questions. These were clients Block could have had if they hadn't run her off.
I love your PIP! Well said! YES, that's what it's all about. Our personal reputation, integrity and pride in doing the best job we can is what tax prep is all about.
Currentea, you're almost right about preparers who consider pay last on the list of what's important. The majority of people that can accept seasonal work are retired, homemakers, or moon-lighters who love the work. Why else would they spend hours and hours of their own time in classes and hours at the kitchen table doing homework? Few preparers work 40 hour weeks (except for peak) and hours are cut in March, unless they've built up their own clients to ask for them. The newbies I have taught are always shocked to hear how low the starting pay is. They can't believe they've sat thru 66 hours of class, and 66-100 hours of homework and won't make as much as a hamburger flipper. I told them to look at their first 3 years as an apprenticeship (did I spell that right?) That the basic tax course is only an inch in the foot long need of knowledge, and a tax season will make them aware of how much more they need to learn. Most who HAVE to work to put bread on the table, don't stay for 3 years. Those with a working spouse, a pension, or other means of support do.
Many Block preparers make 40-50 an hour after building their own cliental. Experience and knowledge has them doing more expensive forms, better interviews, while being totally comfortable with the software, memorizing every line on every form. (it's why I hate computer practice problems that do NOT allow seeing the entire form, and reading every line).
The problem with Block pay, is it keeps changing. Creating "buckets" that are complex, and can lower the hourly rate even if the same hours and same # of returns were done. SO, yes, then pay matters. NO one wants to work for less even if they're not working for bread and butter. Averaging $24 an hour one year, going back with MORE tax courses and knowledge, and end up with $18-19 an hour makes one less loyal to the company. Seeing prices rise, and pay go down has made a lot of my EX-Block coworkers quit.
That is so true wishful. Yesterday, all 3 of us had clients at the same time and the phone never stopped ringing. I had gone in to do payroll, and it was near noon before I could start it. One lady said she drove office to office, stopping at both Block and Liberty, and couldn't find anyone open till she drove pass our office and saw the open sign.
Tax professionals up by .7, not a large number, but it does show the value of the business. We knew there would be a client loss with the ending of the overnight check, and the depth of the EIC questions, plus no complex changes in the tax codes. Some clients were really upset with the new 10% floor on medical expenses, that's the kind of change I call "back door" tax hikes.
With the season behind us, anyone ready to predict what changes might happen in Oct., besides Obamacare fines? Looks like "hardship" exclusion will about cover most from paying. Trying to keep up how this is unfolding is difficult and depends on what website you read.
The Block mindset is that "I work strictly on commission so the more butts I can churn in and out of that seat the more money I can make, and if I'm asked to do anything that doesn't involve making commission I'll kick and whine." That is your words, and yes, I do resent them. I and my Block co-workers NEVER felt like that, we always worked as a team and worked at growing the office business. Client service was (is) important to us. Block has many problem, that I will agree on, but NO we never had the mindset to churn clients in and out. The mindset was (is) to RETAIN clients. Did a newbie or two get greedy, yep, now and then they would take on more than they could handle, and try to speed up the process for the commission, only to find their hours cut as soon as the office manager saw what they were doing. Customer service, client satisfaction is Block's WAY, and also the ONLY mindset a good preparer will have. YES, you did insult Block's preparers calling them greedy and whiners. Bet you would hate it if I put Liberty's problems in a post and said I would NEVER hire a Liberty trained preparer. Think about that!
True, ramsdude, but they have a Premium office in each general area to refer clients too, and when they don't, they WILL put the software in a regular office when they have an experienced preparer capable of doing them. They did that for me, when I did not want to drive to the premium office.
Are you saying you do NOT pay a commission/bonus to your employees on the number of returns they've done? Liberty does encourage giving bonuses that starts at 2% and goes up to 20%, based on # of returns each employee does. Do you ignore that? Just because you observed 2 idiots fighting over who's next, you want to paint all Block employees with the same brush? Personally, it's none of my business who you hire or don't hire, but PUTTING it on the HRB comment board, trying to insult Block employees and SELL Liberty as a better place with better employees, is definitely the wrong way to market your company. Liberty doesn't have a tenth of the experienced pros that Block has BECAUSE they don't have the extensive tax courses, that a Block employee must pass with an 80% or higher grade to be rehired.
The Block mindset? Heavens, what could you possibly mean by that? Trained in tax prep, interviewing skills, policy & procedure, customer service, computer software, etc., what mindset do you think is incompatible?
A good tax preparer is a good tax preparer NOT from where they came from, but for how much tax knowledge, experience and customer skills they have. Many who left Block are easily grabbed up by CPA and accounting firms, or build their own business and are successful BECAUSE they were Block trained, yet, you seem to have a problem with that? I have been hired as an instructor at a few Liberty franchises, and do all the training for our franchise and will say again, Block is superior in training their staff. Keeping them is Block's problem due to micro-managing, and sales of unrelated products. Discounting Ex-Block employees as "unworthy" is about the dumbest thing I ever heard! BUT, since most Liberty's do NOT do partnerships, or corp's, or estate returns, most Block employees are over qualified to work there anyway.
CF, if there is any thing I miss more than my EX-coworkers at Block, it is the classes Block offered. While I find Block and Liberty's basic course to be about the same, when it comes to advance courses Block is superior with a much bigger variety. While computer classes seem to be growing, its the class room atmosphere I miss the most. Nothing beats a good question and answer session when an instructor knows the details. Hearing another voice ask a question we didn't have enough knowledge to ask is priceless.
I sincerely believe Block has the pros that can do any & all complex return, but has one short coming of NOT valuing their worth to keep them from leaving. Block is the only company I know that trains it's competition, year after year, believing knowledgeable pros can be replaced with newbies cause "the computer" does the work.
HAPPY tax day to all........... Be sure to fill the break room with finger foods and sneak in a bite, it's going to be a LONG day trying to squeeze walk-ins between appointments. Tomorrow you can sleep!
According to IRS stats preparer returns are down and self prepared returns are up. With THE last weekend here, I expect we're going to be crazy. There are going to be people thinking they have all day Sunday to face this annual chore, and will be frustrated, owe too much and think they're missing something, or will have an out of state return that overwhelms them. I am booked these last 5 days, and have had to turn long time clients over to other staff, some take it well knowing it's their own fault for waiting, while others are offended I won't work longer hours, as I should have "expected" them, and left a spot open for them. I expect the "walk-ins" to be overwhelming, on Monday & Tuesday and will need to be drop-offs. To all preparers everywhere, bring finger foods and fill the break room, keep the coffee hot, and the fridge filled with soda. Get coloring book and crayons for the kids, and wear your most comfortable clothing.
Did you get the hourly calls from the DM? We had to answer with 3 numbers.
1. How many clients being served
2. How many preparers
3. How many clients were in the waiting room.
Many times if there were 2 in the waiting room, a preparer from another office showed up within the half hour, and by then, there were NONE in the waiting room, so the preparer would hang around for a couple hours hoping to snag a client!
If there was no one in the waiting room, and more preparers than clients, they would tell the office manager to send someone home. Some times it left us short handed as clients arrived after we sent the preparer home.
We LEARNED to answer these calls making #1 and #2 equal, and ZERO for number 3.