09 Jul 2010

CPAs versus Murphy

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I seriously may become a socialist. To paraphrase George Costanza, “Bob is getting very angry!!!”

Last year my CPA did my personal and business taxes, and they were rife with mistakes. Things like putting my business address on my personal tax returns, and claiming I ran my business out of my home (even though she had done the return for my business and saw it was a different address). I think I had to manually change at least 3 things on the return before mailing it in. So, since I couldn’t trust them with things I could catch, I decided to go with somebody else for the following tax year.

Well naturally I didn’t get around to actually hiring another firm until March 2010. At some point that month, the old CPA emailed to say, “Hey we are going to need your info pretty soon to get your returns ready in time.” I nonchalantly said I was going with a different firm that was closer to my office. (This was true but obviously not the whole story.)

OK so I haven’t heard from then since, except today I get a bill for $350 from them, for “Preparation of W-2’s for year ending December 31, 2009” etc.

So I call the head of the branch (the boss of the person I used to deal with) and got his voicemail. I told him the situation, and that I frankly did not want to send them any more money. Since they didn’t actually do my taxes this year, I asked him to just the thing go.

He called me back a little while later. He said, “Well I’m looking at your invoice, and this is actually for your personal taxes for 2008, which our records show you never paid us for.”

I pointed out that the invoice in my hands was talking about 12/31/09, so it couldn’t refer to 2008. He agreed, apologized for looking at my personal taxes, then pulled up my business file.

Then he maintained that the charges weren’t for the actual tax returns, but instead were for work done in January 2010 for quarterly returns.

This was technically possible, and I thought he might say that. So I asked, “Well, I’m new at this; you’re the first CPAs I’ve ever hired. Is it normal to first bill someone in July, for work performed in January?”

There was a long pause and then he said, “Well, I actually am not in charge of billing. Let me talk to ______ and get back to you.”

Argh. (BTW, of course I had paid them for the tax returns they did in 2008. So he was wrong about that too.)

But wait, it gets worse. The new firm I hired has been giving me trouble too. I won’t bore you with the details, but some of it was laugh-out-loud funny.

Anyway, back in April they were billing me to fix a mistake that was their own fault. (It was something I had anticipated, the guy said he would take care of it, and then never did.) So I complained to the boss, she said “the customer is always right,” and told me to knock $50 off the invoice.

Naturally, a few days ago I got an 61-90 days overdue notice for that $50.

And to add to the frustration, Gmail has no record of any of this stuff. I can narrow it down to a 3-week period when all of these crucial emails occurred, and yet they don’t seem to be in my inbox, sent folder, or trash.

I am ready to join the Marxists.

12 Responses to “CPAs versus Murphy”

  1. azmyth says:

    NNOOOOoooo!! Don’t leave us Bob, we’ll miss you. Besides, there are way too many Marxists in the world already.

  2. Not Bob Murphy's Love Child says:


  3. Jim says:

    Gee, the way these guys do business you’d think they were protected by some kind of state licensing insulating them from competition or something. Oh, wait . . .

  4. Alex Tabarrok says:

    But Bob if there were no taxes none of this would have happened!

    • bobmurphy says:

      And there would have been no postal system for them to send me such outrageous bills.

  5. Paul, London says:

    Bob – in my commercial opinion what most of us see as ‘standard service’ for things (ie decent job, no mistakes) is actually 4 or 5 star service which is much more expensive (although in my opinion worth every penny). Most businesses deliver 3 star service (while promising 5 star) but you should expect a few mistakes and will definitely need to check the work. Sad, but true. So next year, accept that you’ll either need to cough up or put up.

    • bobmurphy says:

      That was true for the people last year. I am coughing up so much this year that I’m hoarse.

  6. Malalex says:

    It felt like a condensed version of Atlas Shrugged. I was waiting for the big speech in the middle.

  7. Yancey Ward says:

    I am still waiting for my $500 for reading your blog faithfully. You do remember that, don’t you?

  8. Todd S. says:

    As someone else pointed out, competition would weed-out the bad ones if there wasn’t a guild-like monopoly on it (well, technically you don’t have to be a CPA to prepare taxes – in fact the only thing a CPA license gives you that Joe Schmoe doesn’t have is the ability to sign off on an audit report).

  9. Jeff Z says:

    Bad CPAs are a dime a dozen, but a good one is well worth it. You say you didn’t get around to hiring a new firm until March, and they billed you in April? Did they seriously attempt to complete the return of a new client (during busy season) that quick? Why not file an extension? There’s your problem. This firm seems to care more about pumping out returns than actually doing a good job. Find another CPA.

  10. Kathryn says:

    Gmail: Did you look in “All Mail”