Presidential Debates and Changing Accountants
In last Wednesday's Presidential Debate, President Barack Obama challenged Republican challenger Mitt Romney about tax loopholes for the wealthy. The challenge included an assertion that a tax break was available for moving businesses overseas, thus causing U.S. job losses. Governor Romney said that he was not familiar with such a break, saying "I may have to get a new accountant." The challenge was part of an overall strategy by Obama to "flush out" the details of Romney's tax proposal.
I suspect that other bloggers have already addressed whether Obama's claim of a tax deduction for moving jobs overseas was accurate or not and I do not claim to be a political expert regarding how specific or vague a candidate's proposed legislation should be. I will address the question of when, if ever, to seek a change in accountants [note: I suspect some readers will disagree with my conclusions]. Generally speaking, phrases like "guaranteed refund on taxes" or "what would you like depreciation to be" are good reasons NOT to choose an accountant. While your accountant should be supportive, there is no reason for an accountant to zealously represent a client in the way a trial lawyer represents a defendant in a criminal trial. It is fine and appropriate for an accountant to choose accounting principles or tax positions with reasonable support that favor a client's position, but at the end of the day an accountant should be an "honest broker." Coming back to the original question: change an accountant if you have located to a place where your accountant doesn't serve (and with CPA mobility laws, this is less of an issue than it used to be except for Hawaii); if your accountant is so busy that he or she cannot give you the time that you need (not always the same as the time you want or think you deserve), if you believe that they are not acting in your best interest; if they appear to be unqualified or if you are less than confident that they can be trusted. Otherwise, be hesitant to change.