I’ve told you how much your Bourke Accounting professional likes you. And, at Bourke Accounting, we hope you like us, too. I hate to bring up a sore subject, but if you think about it, the relationship you have with your bookkeeper or tax preparer can be compared to social distancing – you keep me safe and I keep you safe. Your financial expert trusts that you are telling the truth and you assume that your expert is telling you the truth.
This is just the natural way in a civilized society, but after reading The Kiplinger Tax Letter the other day, it would appear that some of us just don’t know how to behave.
For example, Kiplinger reported in their 4/17 newsletter that a tax preparer was recently barred from ever preparing tax returns again and must pay $545,000 in restitution to the US Government. Why? Because this gentleman decided to prepare returns that included “phony business income and expenses [and] education expenses” (Kiplinger, Vol. 95, No. 8). In addition, the gentleman then charged a larger fee because of these much bigger tax refunds (Kiplinger). A legitimate tax preparer will offer an upfront price – your refund amount shouldn’t have anything to do with accounting fees.
And then you have clients like Mike Sorrentino (“The Situation”), a reality television “star” from The Jersey Shore. This guy, along with his brother, “intentionally failed to inform [his accountant] about the true income amount” (Don’tmesswithtaxes.com) he received from his MTV show. In addition, Sorrentino gave his tax preparer a list of business expenses that weren’t quite right. Basically, “The Situation” bought a whole lotta stuff for personal use and thought: Well, shucks, I need this for my business, sort of. According to Forbes, these false returns “defrauded the IRS out of between $550,000 and $1.5 million.”
Gregg Mark, the accountant, pled guilty to filing fraudulent returns, agreed to work with prosecutors and avoided jail time (“The Situation” received 8 months in jail). When Gregg Mark admitted his fault, he explained that he filed false returns “to reduce the taxes owed by the Sorrentinos” (Accountingtoday.com). I don’t know if Mark is still able to prepare returns, but he has a Linkedin page, so that’s a little scary.
Was Gregg Mark trying to be a “bro” when he filed fraudulent returns? I mean, according to his profile, Mr. Mark has been an accountant for 33 years (no, I’m not including a link). After 33 years, you’d think an accountant on the up and up wouldn’t do illegal things in order to curry favor with a 30-something with a dubious claim to fame.
If you have any bookkeeper or tax preparer worth their salt, you’d better be prepared to furnish proof of dependents, business expenses and income. If your financial professional doesn’t require these things from you, as Gregg Mark has shown, there will be one more person on the prosecution’s side if things go sideways.
Bourke Accounting bookkeepers and tax preparers are not your “bros”. They won’t file fraudulent anything, with or without your knowledge. In a willy-nilly world, the one thing you can depend on is a wholly transparent relationship with your Bourke Accounting expert. Your Bourke Accounting pros can protect your financial interests better than a Teflon vest, but you wouldn’t ask them to take a bullet for you now, would you?
Written by Sue H.