The government is about to start offering a Cash for Clunkers type of program for old inefficient appliances this fall, so why not cash for clunker tax returns and financial statements?

Unfortunately, there are certainly a lot of those to go around, and accountants are often called upon to clean up the mess. There should be some kind of incentive program to reward their environmental efforts. They are often stuck with fixing gas-guzzling fuel excise tax claims and restoring the balance to out-of-whack balance sheets.

Client fees are generally the reward for this type of work, but in these days of oodles of federal stimulus money, it seems like it might be a good idea to provide an extra government bonus, especially if the effort helps save on all the energy expended by IRS audits and SEC investigations. On the other hand, it does seem wrong to reward somebody just for doing the right thing, and accountants already have a duty to abide by the standards and regulations governing the profession.

For clients, then a cash for clunkers program might be a better idea, especially if it encourages them to turn in legible invoices and receipts. There could be extra services or faster turnaround if they keep track of their expenses in some kind of personal finance or small business accounting software package that can be easily reviewed by their accountant. In that case, maybe accountants could offer cash for clunkers incentives of their own, especially if clients avoid bringing in a shoebox full of crumpled-up checks and bank statements. That alone should be worth a generous discount.

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