Whenever you talk to your co-workers, friends and neighbours about tax, the conversation almost always starts with ‘how much tax did you pay?’ or ‘how much did you get back?’ You then have your say and chances are that they’ll reply that they’ve been with this so and so accountant, they always do a good job and they saved more tax or got more refund than you did. You may also talk to someone who earns way more than you but pays less tax than you do. Then you begin to wonder, how does it so knowing that in Canada, the more you earn the more tax you pay?
And something rings bell in your head, ‘what is my accountant really doing?’
Accountants, just like you, are human beings. Each and every one of them has different personality and ability. For example, some accountants are ‘conservatives’, thus limiting your opportunities to save tax. Some accountants are ‘forgetful’ or ‘not detail oriented’ so they miss out on deductible expenses that you could have claimed to save more tax. And that what was probably happening in the above example. On the other extreme, some are ‘aggressors’ who may raise some concerns of tax evasion and brings auditors to your front door and you want to avoid these accountants at all cost. On the positive side, some can be aggressive yet with their creativity, expertise and detail, they can pull off the maximum savings while adhering to the rules. And those are the ones you want to be with and this is the reason why getting a second opinion is necessary.
Many people have this misconception that tax and accounting are some acts of manual number crunching (it is to a some degree), a set of rigid, must-follow laws, or regulations, rather than a set of ‘reasonable’, ‘flexible’ standards that can be used to your best advantage. Moreover, it is not entirely revenue minus expenses, as many believe– if it was, you can teach a 8-year old to do revenue minus expenses without a problem and you should start wondering why there are so many accountants around. Also, the accounting profession itself is never about being a data-entry machine that simply spends hours entering client information exactly as it is and sends it to you or to the government for assessment. Rather, accountants should really be your ‘advisors’ or ‘consultants’ who assess your current situation by understanding the nature of your business, your particular circumstances and your needs through a thorough interview and provide you with the best solution for your tax savings opportunities, general accounting, and even with your business plans. In other words, the creativity of tax planning thus saving comes from how accountant can effectively rationalize and substantiate the grey area of Income Tax Act to apply to your case. They should be your the best business partner.
Yes the downside of getting a second opinion is extra cost of meeting, reviewing etc. and this can also be time-consuming so it’s very normal to hesitate. But at the end, you’ll end up paying the same hard-earned money to either your current accountant who might possibly be simply crunching numbers for you to get you the low savings every year or the other accountant who understand you and your business and wants the better and the best for you. If you are already satisfied with your current accountant, no problem – this is also an excellent opportunity to get some assurance over whether your accountant is doing the right thing and providing the best for you and it’s always good feeling to be assured.
So why would you miss out on this wonderful opportunity to get the greatest bang for the buck? Whether you may be satisfied or dissatisfied with your current accountant, it never hurts to get a second opinion. If you are dissatisfied, (or was already satisfied but you realized that he/she is not doing the best for you,) now may be the time to start searching for a new person who can make you say, “I saved more and got back more”. On the other hand, if you are highly assured about your current accountant through getting the second opinion, you are now off to a good, well-rested sleep at night.