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Valuing the art of taxation

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August 8, 2011

While teaching depreciation to my individual taxation class at the community college, I paused and reflected upon why I love to teach this class so much. It’s my opportunity to educate students on more than just what is in the text book. It’s a chance to also teach them about the judgment calls practitioners make every day—decisions that greatly benefit the client and rely on a combination of in-depth tax knowledge and years of experience.

It is an opportunity to teach these future young professionals about the “art of taxation” and why it’s important to sell the value of what we offer.

As I discussed Form 4562 and all the various methods of depreciation with my students—including 179, bonus, and regular old MACRS—I wove in examples of when judgment calls are required. I explained the need to put our tax expertise and experience to work for the client…those moments when you select alternatives (over what the software tells you to do) that prove to be far more beneficial for the client.

Through these examples, my students had a better understanding of what it takes to serve clients and run a successful firm. They got a glimpse at the value a true tax expert can bring to the table.

I make judgment calls all the time; decisions that benefit my clients greatly. Do they know I am making these executive decisions? Do they know the level of education and practical experience it takes to make these decisions? For the most part, the answer is no. And I think this is true for most practitioners.

We go about our daily business making value-added decisions because it is what we are used to. However, the value is so great to our clients that they should know what they are getting: the level of expertise, the assurance that they are in good hands.

As a profession, we have a hard time talking about and selling our value. We don’t give it the attention it deserves because it’s just part of our regular day. We become our clients’ trusted advisor because of the knowledge and experience we offer, so it’s time to start selling it and really letting clients in on the level of service they are receiving.

Just think about tax compliance to start. How many areas are there within small business and individual taxation where we make decisions based on our expertise? Let’s start a list together—and then sell ourselves like we should!

Jody L. Padar, CPA, MST, is a Certified Public Accountant experienced with Complex Federal & State Income Tax Compliance for Business & Individuals. Jody is an adjunct professor at Oakton Community College, where she teaches Taxation and QuickBooks Courses. She is part of Intuit Trainer Writer Network and speaks nationally on various Technologies and Taxation. She can be reached at www.newvisioncpagroup.com.

Comments (1)
Great insight, Jody. This is true for everyone. As a CPA in industry, I realize that I am too lax in communicating the value that I add to my company. Most people shy away from "shameless self-promotion." But I think the people we serve are very interested in plain-English explanations of the magic we perform behind closed doors.
Posted by gregkyte | Tuesday, August 09 2011 at 5:54PM ET
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