What The Heck?!?!

by Misty Leinberger

My Heros

As mentioned in a recent blog article, it’s been a rough tax season. I mean, really rough. Absolutely brutal. The demographic that makes up the largest portion of my clientele is the mid to upper-middle-class earners. Every day, I am breaking bad news. Yesterday alone, I had to break $20K worth of tax liability news to several clients. I have always used tax comparisons with my clients, but this year those comparisons are my lifeline as I explain to these people why they suddenly owe when they haven’t ever before. That being said, everyone has handled the information with such grace and understanding! It’s amazing and truly appreciated by the messenger! There is one group of people, though, who are not being so understanding and becoming downright bullies.

The ‘Victims’

The most common phrase I am hearing from those to whom I am able to give the news that they are receiving a refund is, “That’s not as much as last year.” After that, they go on to either infer that or directly accuse me of missing something. “That has to be wrong!” Out comes those tax comparisons I am relying upon so heavily.

THIS IS THE BIGGEST REASON YOUR REFUND IS NOT AS MUCH AS YOU ARE USED TO:  Your net take home pay increased because the amount of payroll taxes being withheld from your check decreased (something that is also helping to cause my clients who owe money to owe money).  That’s where most of that refund went.  This is the biggest reason your refund is less this year.

It Bothers Me

Ok.  They understand now.  These people then move on to blaring about how the IRS and the Federal Government is screwing them. Trump is an ass. 

And there I sit, completely befuddled.  The people who I have had to tell owe money this year (and not small amounts), the people who have so much to be frustrated about and a legitimate reason to complain, are shoring themselves up, dealing with the problem, and working with me to make adjustments to prevent it from happening to them again in 2019.  The people who are receiving refunds (and not small amounts) are playing the victims and trying to tell me I did something wrong. 

I understand that they look forward to, and even depend on, those refunds every year. But I have sooooo many problems with that mentality:

1 – Let’s start off with the fact that I really don’t like my clients to get large refunds for three primary reasons:

  • Tax fraud – Thieves are less likely to steal the tax identity of someone who owes a little money each year. 
  • IRS Reviews – It’s supposedly random, but if I were to present you a scatterplot of the returns I have done that have been pulled back by the IRS for ‘additional reviews,’ which make the process of getting the refund processed take up to 9 weeks longer, you would see dots become much more dense at about a $3000 refund and higher.
  • It’s not a windfall. It’s YOUR money that you gave to the IRS to hold onto for a year with absolutely no return on investment, because it’s not an investment!  That money does worlds more good in your accounts than the governments.  It should be used to pay off debts and increase your credit score, not to take a vacation at the end of the year or buy a new car.

2 – I’m pretty sure EVERYONE knows there have been significant changes in the tax laws that are affecting people in different ways, but are affecting everyone. Some good, some bad. What makes you think you would be any different than anyone else this year?

3 – It’s downright unappreciative of what you do have.  I realize it’s all about perspective, but I have a VERY hard time dealing with people who do not appreciate that they are getting something rather than owing.

4 – It’s incredibly entitled behavior.  I realize that I am more sensitive to it because of my experience with it, but it’s a difficult pill to swallow.

5 – Bullying the messengers is just not appropriate.  I’m over it.

Just Stop It!

It’s supposed to be a nerve-wracking experience telling people they owe money.  I should not be gaining more grey hair because I have to tell people they are getting a refund.  To those of you who are receiving a refund and aren’t thrilled with the amount, please stop and think.  Please stop whining.  Please stop villainizing the messenger.  You’re not a victim.  I promise you.  I’m sure some of my true victims would be more than happy to discuss their experience with you.  Wait.  Maybe not.  They’ve already moved on.

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