Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Communication

So I'm filing quarterly taxes now that I'm an independent contractor and, I must say, it's been nothing but a pain in the ass. Oh, I don't mind paying the taxes, it's not that. What I've been having a problem with is my tax preparer. He has another time-consuming day job besides being an accountant. I know and respect this so I try to not bother him until close to tax time (in this case, Sept 15). The history up to this point is that the man is also chronically last-minute with these things (maybe it's more dramatic?).

When he suggested setting up quaterly taxes for '09 I thought that was a good idea. He said, "Call me in June." This was around the time we did 2008 taxes so I just thought maybe it was too late at that point to make the quarterly April payment. No biggie. Well, June rolled around and it was like pulling teeth to get ahold of the guy. Again, I understand he's busy but the next payment was due 6/15 and, of course, I didn't get the info about the payment until the end of June. WTF? And even then, there was no interaction. A brief phone message informed me that my info was ready and so, when I went to the man's place of business to meet with him found only an envelope waiting for me. Inside was the info I had given him plus two payment vouchers (fed and state) along with the amounts to pay--very large amounts.

I would have loved to question the amounts but the guy had gone back into hiding and was incommunicado. Fine. I paid the taxes (on July 1) and life went on. But then before too long September rolled around. I made a phone call or two that wasn't returned and then discovered an email for the accountant at his day job. After sending an email on 9/3 and on 9/10 I was getting a bit peeved. I made a final request for aid this morning but, as of this moment, received no response.

I was lamenting my state to the woman where I get my coffee in town (we're pretty good friends) and she mentioned another accountant in town whom I had forgotten about (and who lives 30 seconds drive from my house). Immediately I went home, gathered my tax info, and went down to see Charlie(who I actually knew from my drug store days). Charlie brought me right back into his office and, after some quick and dirty figuring, came up with some lower numbers. I let him know how much I paid in June and he could not believe the numbers which, as it turns out, were enough to cover me for the year!! Charlie said not to make any kind of Sept payment but instead to contact him in Jan. Then we could check my year's pay stubs and make sure I don't owe any more for '09.

Ah, finally some relief. And, I suppose, this could be why the first guy wasn't contacting me--I had already paid enough for the year. Even so, how fucking hard is it to return an email? Thus, we come to the point of this post--communication: just do it. Whenever you deal with others, be it personally or professionally, you have to have communication. Nothing drives me up the wall more when someone doesn't get back to me. I don't care if you have good news or bad; whether you can get a project done or not.

You have to be up front with people in a timely fashion. Life can then move on. I'm happy I jumped ship to a new accountant. It was something that was long overdue (not unlike I believed my taxes were about to be!).

4 Comments:

Blogger Mike said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

11:48 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

Sorry, I horribly misworded my original comment, so I deleted it.

Suffice it to say you've hit on one of my biggest pet peeves, and one of the main reasons I'm mostly getting out of freelancing and moving on to some other things.

I'd rather get responses like "sorry, I'm busy, contact me later", or something negative - even outright rejection - than no responses at all. I've had some publishers lately who won't even respond to specific questions about projects I'm under contract to write. I can kind of understand not responding to unsolicited proposals, but that? I don't understand.

With an answer or response - even one that you don't like - well, you can at least take that information and move on, if need be. If your accountant had simply said "I'm really busy, you'd probably be better off finding someone else, sorry" ... you could've figured out what to do next, rather than wasting time trying to work with him and getting frustrated unnecessarily.

11:58 AM  
Blogger Bret said...

Yeah, it's one of the headaches I don't miss with freelancing. At least now I'm in charge of things and, I can assure you, no email will go unanswered--especially if you're under contract with us! That little tidbit of yours is too strange. Do companies think they're "too important" to sully themselves with trivial emails to folks who should just be happy they're deemed worthy enough to write for them?!

Hm, that sentence made less sense as it went along but you know what I mean. :) Speaking of communication, I haven't seen anything regarding your proposed Tricky Owlbear projects lately, Mike. :)

12:51 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

I don't get it either. Especially since (in my opinion) some of them have been important questions, like formatting issues, or content, which affect the final product. But I've given up trying to figure it out.

As for the Tricky Owlbear projects ... they're in queue. :) I'm down to my last two contracted projects, which should be wrapped up over the next month or so, and then I'm pretty much free to work on whatever I want.

1:20 PM  

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