Art of Accounting: How an Out-of-Work Tax Preparer Saved Our Lives

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IMGCAP(1)]A number of years ago we purchased a practice in late February to get the business clients. However, we had to agree to service the individual tax clients, of whom there were about 180, with each paying a very low fee. The seller did not want to hang up his long-time clients.

We had just moved the files into our office and were really concerned about how we could get the returns done without totally straining our system when Lenny called asking if we had any per diem tax season work for him. We told him to come in the next day. He basically “saved our lives.”

When Peter Weitsen and I started our firm Mendlowitz Weitsen LLP in 1988, we put together a pre-tax season training program the first Monday night in February. We had six people on our staff. Since we put in a lot of work organizing the program, we invited a few sole practitioner friends to participate as our guests, including Lenny. Lenny had sold his practice the previous winter and moved to San Diego, but he agreed to come back at the beginning of March to work tax season for his buyer. When he arrived a few days early, he called the buyer and was told he wasn’t needed. He called me in desperation looking for work since he was here.

At our annual tax program (which we still do and have 130 attendees coming for free) Lenny always contributed ideas and tips and was constantly on top of the new tax laws. So when he called, we had a database of knowledge about his ability. We knew he knew our systems and he was a natural to help us. We benefited greatly, as he did. What’s the expression? “One hand washes the other.”

Sharing benefits everyone. Don’t be stingy with your help. In that same vein, do not hesitate to contact me if you have any practice management issues you want to discuss.

Edward Mendlowitz, CPA, is a partner in WithumSmith+Brown, PC, CPAs. He has authored 20 books and has written hundreds of articles for business and professional journals and newsletters plus a Tax Loophole article for every issue of TaxHotline for 27 years. Ed also writes a blog twice a week that addresses issues his clients have at He is the winner of the Lawler Award for the best article published during 2001 in the Journal of Accountancy. He has also taught in the MBA graduate program at Fairleigh Dickinson University, and is admitted to practice before the U.S. Tax Court. Ed welcomes practice management questions and he can be reached at WithumSmith+Brown, One Spring Street, New Brunswick, NJ 08901, (732) 964-9329,

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