Yes, I’m a CPA. Got the framed certificate and everything.
No, I don’t do taxes. It’s a clear strategic and practical decision that I made when I started my practice.
Like Tevye says “Sounds, crazy, no?”
Not for me it’s not.
But people I meet online and in person are always taken aback. And then the questions start:
“You don’t do taxes?” Nope
“Really? But but but … you’re a CPA!” Yes.
“Aren’t you required to do them?” Nope.
That’s a darned good question! Here’s a few answers:
Taxes are not my zone of genius.
In my experience, doing taxes well takes a special kind of brain that thinks in a special way. I don’t have that brain – and never really wanted to acquire it or the skills that go along with it. Accounting for taxes is not really the same as accounting for the day-to-day, practical, tactical needs of freelancers, coaches and consultants – and that’s where I’ve always shone.
Taxes bore me.
I did not get bitten by the “tax bug” (like so many of my colleagues) when I was a B.Comm undergrad at the University of Toronto. Put me in a room with a bunch of tax nerds geeking out over the Income Tax Act and my eyes will be glazed over in about 10 seconds and I’ll be desperately searching for the exit.
When I completed the course evaluation form for the tax course I took for my designation, they asked “What did you learn from this course?” I answered with:
- I’m not a tax expert
- I don’t want to be a tax expert
- When I need one, I’ll hire one
And that’s been my attitude ever since.
My clients want an expert, a specialist in a sea of generalists.
I can’t be “an inch wide and a mile deep” about everything. There’s not enough hours in the day for me to acquire knowledge and expertise in bookkeeping and accounting and the software that I use – and at the same time keep up to date with the ever changing landscape of the world of taxes. If I want to be the answer to a Google question (“Who’s the best bookkeeper and accountant for freelancers, coaches, and consultants in Canada?”) then I’ve got to focus on bookkeeping and accounting, not taxes.
I specialize in Quickbooks Online (QBO) and Hubdoc – taking care of my clients means that I’ve got to be pretty darned good with the tools I recommend, rather than merely adequate with several. It’s also more efficient – for both you and me – in the long run.
Tax and compliance will always come to dominate a practice.
Doing taxes in a CPA practice is like kudzu, garlic mustard or purple loosestrife. (Or cats. I know. I’m owned by cats). They’re invasive and they take over – and they will dominate the business and become its bread and butter. It’s the nature of the beast. And that’s not the business that I wanted to build.
Tax season is brutal.
There’s no other word for it. The hours are incredibly long and stressful. When I started my practice I decided that spending several months of the year exhausted, stressed out and not seeing my family or friends just wasn’t worth it.
On the other hand, many of my fellow CPAs feel about bookkeeping and non-tax accounting the way I feel about taxes. So I’ve got a perfectly complementary and non-competitive practice. There’s no chance that they’ll “lose” their tax work to me. Ever.
I know you’re probably saying “Wow! That’s quite a list! But aren’t you leaving some (easy) money on the table?”
If I did tax work, I’d have more money in my bank account. I’d also NOT be a happy camper.
Who’d you rather work with? A sad, grumpy, exhausted or depressed Lawrence? I don’t think so.
Let me ask you – is there something in your business life that YOU don’t do – that everyone else assumes that you do?