Updated July 2, 2015
In all of my initial conversations with new clients, I ask the following question. “What is the main job of an accountant?” As a Small Business Accountant Chicago Illinois, it’s important for me to gauge their expectations. It also amazes me how their answers normally fall into a few similar categories.
1 – To do accurate tax returns
2 – To keep me out of jail
3 – To make me happy
Yes, a part of what we do has something to do with all of those items. We certainly need to be accurate, we need to keep our clients out of jail, and while maintaining our independence we need to make them happy. But I believe that those answers don’t go far enough in explaining the relationship that an accountant has with a client.
Our main job is to protect them. Many would say that my definition is the same as the others, but in fact it goes much further.
Protection From The Taxation Agencies
We need to do accurate and auditable tax returns prepared inside existing tax law. At that point, when one of the taxation agencies decides to audit, they go away empty-handed. Certainly, that customer isn’t going to jail, if the returns are done correctly. They normally don’t end up owing a dime.
Protection From The Business
The simple process of owning a business can get owners into quite a bit of trouble. How many situations have been referred to me where a person shut down a business years ago, and they still have outstanding payroll or income tax liabilities. Every time that you file a business income tax return, you face the possibility of a tax evasion charge. If your income isn’t counted or shown properly on the return, you could face up to 12 months in the pen. Owning a business and not handling your taxes properly can be a nightmare.
Protection From Family
Most of the cases of embezzlement that I have seen, are committed by a trusted family member. I seen children steal from their own parents saying, “This is what is best for the Family.” No one enjoys dealing with these situations, but they do happen. Generally, the accountants are the first to know. Especially when you have an aging business owner, we need to protect them sometimes even from their own family.
Protection From Themselves
No one likes paying taxes. many business owners from time to time will tell a “Little White Lie”, in order to save some money. The problem is that not being truthful in filing an income tax return can turn a little white lie into a major situation. No one should be expected to police themselves. Protecting a business owner from themselves is certainly one of the more difficult parts of the job. It is also one of the most important.
Ultimately, your Accountant is your last line of defense. If you talk to your Lawyer, he will listen to your problems for $400 an hour and then ask if you want to sue someone. Your Insurance Agent will want to increase your insurance coverages. If you tell your Spouse about your problem they will tell you to shut down the business and get a real job. If you tell your employees about your difficulties, they will start interviewing and ultimately leave.
Our main job is to protect. If you are having problems with your Small Business Accountant Chicago Illinois or with your accounting in general, we would love to help. I love hearing from my readers, and can be contacted at
Additional Accounting Articles and information on my firm can be found at
Chris Amundson is the President of Accounting Solutions Ltd., a full service public accounting firm of Certified Public Accountants and Enrolled Agents handling the bookkeeping, accounting, tax preparation, and audit representation needs of Businesses, Estates, Trusts, and Upper Income Individuals.
Updated July 2, 2015