This edition of Feature Friday introduces you to my accountant, John Coleman of Commonwealth Business Services.
John has been my accountant since I started 1 to 1 Discovery. He’s been with me through both that journey and my failed sign store “adventure” a few years ago. I think he is a great accountant, and I have not hesitated to refer him to clients and other associates.
But I’ve always had a niggling question in the back of my mind. Is he really saving me more on my taxes than Turbo Tax? (And now that Turbo tax has an iPhone app…) Be honest. Haven’t you had the same thought about your accountant? It’s hard for those of us who aren’t money people to really know.
Well, I’m going to tell you, it’s the wrong question. The right question is “will Turbo Tax help me through an IRS audit?” I think we all know the answer to that, right?
John Coleman and his staff have been with me for the last nine months as we’ve navigated the frustrating, frightening and expensive process of an IRS audit. I’ve hated almost every minute of it, but John has given great advice, and the best part is, we won! I understand that’s not the usual result of these, so John’s proven himself to me.
A few highlights of the story and John’s performance.
Last May, I got the totally terrifying IRS letter announcing the audit of the 2008 return of the (now-defunct) company that we’d used to buy the sign store. After I got past the inevitable “Oh SHIT!” moment and was able to speak words of more than four letters, I called John. He told me to send him a copy of the letter.
For a brief period of time, it looked like it would all go away. But I wasn’t that lucky. The official audit was the day after my birthday (great timing, eh?) John took care of it. Through the whole process, I’ve never met the auditor, which is good. From some of the stories I’ve heard, I probably would have punched her out, which I doubt would have helped my case.
Before the audit, John and his people drove me insane with all the requests for paperwork, canceled checks and the like. I swear there was a request for blood in there somewhere. A few times I wanted to tell John where to put his requests, but I got everything I could find. (Still anemic, even now.)
First round went to the IRS. They refused ALL the losses from 2008. I won’t say exactly how much that was, but let’s just say there were a few digits before the comma…
John asked for a meeting with the auditor and her supervisor. In preparation for that meeting, there were requests for yet more papers. And then John dropped a big one on me. He wanted to me to spend almost $3500 to get a well-respected tax attorney to write a letter supporting my case. Honestly, I thought about taking my chances without the letter, but John’s advice hadn’t led me wrong yet, so I gulped and said okay.
Good thing. John said the auditors were surprised we went to the trouble of getting the letter, but it was what tipped everything in our favor.
In case you were wondering, I only understood a few words of the letter. The salutation and the closing. Everything else was incomprehensible to me. That must be why lawyers can charge so much.
More rounds of documents. I swore I’d given them everything earlier, but no, the IRS wanted even more.
In the end, I’m paying a bit of tax plus interest for 2008. And as soon as that’s processed, we amend my 2007 and 2009 returns and I get back everything I just paid to the IRS and more. So the IRS ends up losing money on the deal! Which doesn’t give me back all the money I’ve paid to defend myself, but as least I have the satisfaction of saying Nyh! Nyh! Nyh! to the IRS.
Was it frustrating? You bet, but I knew I was in good hands. Was it expensive? Hell yeah! But it cost roughly half what I would have paid if I’d lost. And through all of it, John and his team explained, supported and did their best for me.
One of the things that most impresses me about John is that he knows what he knows, and he knows what he doesn’t. We hired a couple of other accountants to advise John on some things he was pretty sure of, but he wanted everything to be solid. That’s part of how I knew John was always doing his best by me.
Would Turbo Tax have been there for me? Can you imagine going to a meeting with an auditor and sitting there next to an empty software box?
Do you need an accountant? Well what are you waiting for? Call John right now! He’s worth every penny.
Join me in two weeks when I introduce you to an amazing print broker.
Meet Simon Turner