Why Do Unethical Clients Bother Working With Tax and Accounting Pros?

why-234596_1280I’ve been lucky to have not encountered too many unethical clients in my short time on my own in this business. But I have encountered a few, and they quickly become ex-clients.

What I don’t understand is, if you own a business and you’re all about gaming the system, not reporting income, not filing the required reporting forms, etc. — why would you even bother working with an accountant to begin with?

Things business owners have said to me:

  • “I’m not going to report my cash receipts. I know what I can get by with, and if I don’t tell you about it, there’s nothing you can do about it.”
  • “I’m not filing a tax return in (insert name of state where the company conducts extensive amounts of business).”
  • “I’m not collecting sales tax.” (The exact quote was “I’m not fu#king serving as a collection agency for the godd@mned government”)

These discussions end with the client looking elsewhere for an accountant.

What I want to know is, if a business owner has this type of attitude to begin with, why would they even seek out a licensed professional to work with?

How do they think I, or any licensed professional, will respond when they say “I’m not fu#king serving as a collection agency for the godd@mned government.” Do they think I’ll just give them a wink-wink, nudge-nudge and laugh about it?

The question can be applied more broadly to unethical taxpayers in general, including the non-business-owner individual who wants to play games on their personal tax return. Why would they come to a licensed professional to begin with?

I asked one of my peers about this and he said it’s because that type of person likes to feel important. They “have an accountant” and they can brag about it to their friends.

I think maybe it’s like how some people “doctor shop” til they find a doctor who will give them antibiotics every time they get the sniffles. Keep changing doctors til you find one who tells you what you want to hear. \

The unethical client tests the waters. If they discover that this accountant expects them to follow the law, they’ll move on til they find an accountant who will overlook their transgressions, or who perhaps won’t ask as many questions and thus won’t stumble upon their transgressions.

Image courtesy of user Geralt on Pixabay.com