Every tax pro receives those phone calls that make them squint or squirm. The client or prospect has some wild hair about saving taxes in a way that is dubious at best. Their neighbor’s uncle’s dog’s best friend’s owner told them they should (insert strategy that they only understand bits and pieces of). The tax pro sighs, and then explains why that’s not a good idea, only to hear the sound of the caller’s eyeballs rolling in their head because the tax pro is a killjoy.
Yet, there are times the client knows what they are talking about, but their tax pro just doesn’t have enough of the knowledge required to vet the strategy or implement it. That’s where I was; I only suggested clients delay invoicing, make pre-tax contributions and buy equipment at year-end that they usually didn’t need. However, I found these strategies really weren’t the most beneficial for the long term and didn’t help my clients beyond the current year.
I knew there had to be more we could be doing.
That’s why I decided to join the American Institute of Certified Tax Planners (AICTP), a nonprofit organization that certifies, educates and maintains a membership of professionals who are proficient at proactive tax planning. This education is above and beyond what’s available through other credentials; the current EA, CPA and CFP exams do not teach advanced tax strategy.
The process of becoming a Certified Tax Coach (CTC) includes a live, three-day intensive training, self-study webinars and a hands-on case study. The program also includes monthly continuing education and case studies to further hone each member’s tax planning skills. Combined with the tools from the AICTP, the CTC helps me feel competent and ready to tackle advanced strategies for our clients and prospects.
The program also includes following the CTC’s process method of ways to engage with new clients, starting with coming up with strategies, tailored to their goals, to reduce their tax liability. Advising them on these strategies helps solidify CTCs as competent professionals who understand the client and their goals.
Leading with tax planning helps us help our clients build sustainable and stable businesses – the ingredients for happy clients we love!
Editor’s note: This article first appeared on the Intuit® Tax Pro Center.