My chronicle of how the IRS and Tax Court affect taxpayers' daily lives.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Don't Burn Bridges

There are many examples that I come across that indicate the importance of maintining quality professional relationships in life.  There are times when that relationship can be strained, and a client and our firm may separate from working with each other.  Many times this occurs because of a conflict in communication style or a misunderstanding of who is responsible for what. 

The important thing about ending a relationship is to do it professionally and introspectively.  I know that I cannot be the best accountant to every single person on the face of this earth.  There are going to be clients that I will not be able to satisfy, and I am ok with that.  As long as we walk away respecting each other, than you can be successful in the long run.  This allows for relationships to continue for years, even though money is not changing hands. 

A few examples:
  • I have a referral source who is a realtor.  He worked with my father over 20 years ago.  When we started meeting as part of our professional group, it was a funny coincidence.  He and Alan separated with respect, and that allows us to work together 20 years later.
  • A long time client separated from us about 5 years ago because of a fee issue.  He thought we ere billing too much.  He came back 2 years ago (when I rejoined the firm) because he realize that the work we do for him is actually worth it.  If we had not respected his concerns in the past, we would have lost him forever.
  • Finally, the story that spurred this post.  We volunteer for the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) providing QuickBooks training for their Phoenix chapter.  He mentioned that they are working on doing more social networking training, and I said "You should call my friend ..."  He had already spoken to her in the past, and she was an integral part of the project.  Someone always knows someone that knows you.  If you make them mad, your name will be smeared for those other generations. 

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Aaron Blau, E.A. is the Vice President of the Central Arizona Chapter of Enrolled Agents and a member of the Government Relations Committee of the National Association of Enrolled Agents. The opinions and ideas expressed here are in no way representative of the official position of the National Association of Enrolled Agents, Arizona Society of Enrolled Agents or the Central Arizona Chapter of Enrolled Agents.

For official comments, please e-mail NAEA Director of Communications at or Arizona Society president

"To ensure compliance with the requirements imposed by the IRS, we inform you that, to the extent this communication (or any attachment) addresses any tax matter, it was not written to be (and may not be) relied upon to (i) avoid tax-related penalties imposed under the Internal Revenue Code, or (ii) promote, market or recommend to another party any transaction or matter addressed herein (or in any such attachment). In addition, nothing herein is intended to convey an expression of an opinion as to the likelihood a tax position would ultimately prevail if challenged by the IRS. This communication is intended solely for the person to whom it is addressed; no one else should rely on the tax advice provided herein. The person to whom this advice is addressed is under no obligation to keep the advice or matters related to the advice confidential."