I’ve always filed my own taxes, but this year a variety of circumstances made that impractical.
Based on a personal referral, I met with a tax adviser from Books in Balance just before Thanksgiving and posed three concrete questions:
1. What do recent IRS advisories mean for registered domestic partners in CA?
2. What will my estimated tax liability for 2010 be given a combination of long term capital gains and standard income?
3. Are there opportunistic retirement investments I or my boyfriend could still make in 2010 to benefit our tax liability?
I explained that these questions were timely and the tax adviser informed me she would be able to help me answer them well before the end of the year.
I left on Thanksgiving holiday confident she would do just that.
Then the insanity began. First, it took us weeks to understand that the “for filing” copies of our 2009 taxes, although they contain the exact same information as those that we filed, wouldn’t work for the adviser.
This was frustrated by the fact that she took a few days to respond to each email and failed to answer direct questions like “what is the difference between what we sent you and what you need?”
Once we finally got her the information she required, we heard nothing for at least another week.
Our ongoing communication was fragmented and the adviser repeatedly failed to response to direct questions.
Finally, after a month since our initial meeting she sent over a spreadsheet showing our estimated liability and informing us that we would in fact be able to file federal taxes in a beneficial way.
The issue was her calculations were completely off as she disregarded both the change in my income for 2010 compared with 2009 and the specifics of our long term capital gains, both of which we specifically discussed in our interview and reconfirmed via email since.
At this point the holidays were upon us and the adviser was conveniently out of the office either on holiday, with clients, or sick through the end of the year.
To make a long story short, we wasted a month and a half working with Books in Balance only to eventually be told that they wouldn’t be able to help us with our 2010 taxes.
This was one of the most unprofessional interactions with any sort of service firm I’ve ever experienced.
Between the poor communication, long delays, and general attitude we received and the fact that in the end they failed to solve any of our problems I would firmly recommend that you avoid doing business with them at all cost.