The crypto-jerk

Morris Armstrong, an EA and registered investment advisor at Armstrong Financial Strategies in Cheshire, Connecticut, found himself with a new client (“from hell”) who dealt in cryptocurrency, whose voicemail box was always full and who never answered email promptly.

“I told him that I cannot pull his info out of the air and it must come from him,” Armstrong said. “He had a spreadsheet from the coin exchange and I was able to convert and upload it. (There were more than 200 transactions and the results were dismal.) He also objected to a slightly higher fee to cover the input of those transactions – a very modest fee. When I gave back the return I made sure to point out all of the schedules that they should give whoever does their return in 2019.”

Mr. Left-It-Out

Closeup portrait, dumb clueless senior mature man, arms out asking why what's the problem who cares so what, I don't know. Isolated white background. Negative human emotion facial expression feelings
“Where do I begin?” asked Marilyn Heller Ayers, a CPA in Brick, N.J. “Honestly, it’d be the client who always leaves out some important document or important information and then blames you for the IRS or state notice that says they owe more money.”

The zero prospect

Confused young businesswoman shrugs her shoulders in a clueless gesture
“Easy: The sole proprietor (Schedule C) who presents me with even number income and expenses,” said Frederick “Rick” Reynolds, an Enrolled Agent in Utica, N.Y. “The odds of them keeping correct books is almost zero. I hate to lose the business but I can’t put my signature on such a return.”

The expansive expenser

“My cousin Vinnie, the cement contractor,” said John Dundon, an EA and president of Taxpayer Advocacy Services in Englewood, Colorado. “Pinocchio has a smaller nose and I do not push the limits of IRC 162 for anyone.”

The pit maker

Portrait of an angry businesswoman yelling at phone
“The one who didn’t follow the advice we gave them year after year – and then got upset,” said Gail Rosen, a CPA and shareholder with Wilkin & Guttenplan, in Martinsville, N.J. “You can’t help a client who doesn’t put in the effort to help themselves. I’ve always told my staff that if a client puts a pit in your stomach, look at ending the relationship.”

The small thinker

Heap of paper sales receipts in a mound isolated on white background.
Marilyn Meredith at Michigan-based Meredith Tax Service hopes to never again see the client “who has lots of things to sort and enter and then complains about the time and the price,” she said. “This is a small-businessperson who thinks because they don’t make much money they should not have to pay much – but their work [takes] longer than a big company that has good records.”

The tipster

EA Patrick O’Hara of Tax Alternative Group in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., has grown tired of the client who “reads the tax tip teasers in many articles and I have to spend more time explaining why they don’t qualify for the tax break than I do in filing their return.”

“A couple years ago,” he added, “I had a client taking the standard deduction demand that I include her union dues and disability tax from her W-2 as a deduction when it made absolutely zero difference!”

The dearly departed

“I’ve already fired any clients who were not worth my time,” said Kathy Hawboldt of Hawboldt’s Tax Service, Louisville, Kentucky. “The ones I fired were the ones that drag their feet getting information to me and then want me to jump when they finally get around to giving me what I asked for.”

Mr. I Need An OIC

irs ahead conceptual road sign over sky
“He keeps adding to his balance, gives me part of what I need for the OIC and then eight months later gives me a little more and so forth,” said EA Kathryn Morgan at Puzzled by Taxes in Haughton, Louisian. “Got his passports pulled … I told him right flat-out this season after I finished the return – with a large balance due again – that the OIC was off the board until he decided he wanted to … get his stuff together. Also that he has to fix his withholding so he doesn’t keep building up more debt because he’ll get bounced out of the OIC plan. He and his family are going to miss out on a big cruise because of the passport thing. I’m just tired of dealing with them.”

Another dearly departed

“I’ve already sent a letter to this client explaining that I will no longer prepare returns on his behalf due to trouble obtaining the materials and payment of invoices,” said preparer Andrew Piernock, of Piernock Accounting and Tax Services in Philadelphia.

The Sec. King

Internal Revenue Code books sit during a House Ways and Means Committee markup hearing in Washington, D.C.
The Tax Code at a House Ways and Means Committee hearing on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
“The one who thinks they know more than I do about the tax law,” said EA Laurie Ziegler at Sass Accounting in Saukville, Wisconsin. “The one who’s ‘heard’ or ‘seen’ or had ‘a friend that said.’ I take more than 100 hours of CPE every year to make sure I have a good working knowledge of the tax laws and associated changes.”

The bargain shopper

“The taxpayer who sees preparation as a commodity, like oil changes and tire repair,” said Kerry Freeman, an EA at Freeman Income Tax Service, in Anthem, Arizona. “They’re only looking for the cheapest price, often comparing EAs’ and CPAs’ knowledge and expertise to DIY box or online programs. They don’t recognize the complexity of the tax system – or even the complexity of their own return.”

The testy

Mature man chewing pen while pointing thumbs down on calculator, with computer and papers on desk
“Some prefer to play the blame game instead of being proactive,” said Gail Kinsella, a CPA with The Bonadio Group, in Syracuse, N.Y. “A successful income story bears a tax burden. Common wisdom, yes, but apparently difficult to put into practical application by some. One of the most challenging relationships a CPA can have is with the individual who’s unwilling to provide timely, accurate information regarding income from transactions, is unresponsive and ultimately a bit testy when the time to remit taxes arrives.”

The truly helpless

Welcome mat
“I’m hoping to see them all [again] and then some,” said Paul Knapp of Exact Income Tax Service, in Santa Fe, Texas. “I have a few high-maintenance clients that I would not be upset about losing, but these folks need me more than others. Any preparer can handle the easy clients. I’m glad I have the people skills to help these, too.”