Tuesday, May 3, 2011

"Too busy for the taxman"? - don't blame your accountant

I admit I was unaware that 'British couple' Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne had admitted to owing the IRS around £1,065,000 as a result of being “too busy” to look at their finances. Now it seems they owe a further £213,000 for unpaid federal income taxes from 2007.

According to the Daily Express Sharon's schedule has left her little time to meet with her accountant.
“I cancelled two meetings with him over the past 18 months because I was way too busy. Even though he is paid to do a job, the buck stops with me. I was too involved with myself – because I think I love myself a little too much.”
I am pleased to note that Sharon is not blaming her accountant. I trust that he or she has the necessary experience to advise Mrs O on US tax matters and was aware of the likely reaction of the IRS to late filings and payments of tax. I wonder if Mrs O's UK tax position is uptodate. Our tax system is very different and it can take some time before the demands start to pile up for unpaid taxes.

It is likely that the accountant has tried to meet with Mrs O more than twice in the last 18 months. At least I hope so. It's hard to imagine dealing with her tax affairs properly with just one face to face meeting each year.

Some people want to blame their accountant when problems develop with the taxman (in the US or the UK). This is rarely fair. Most accountants will have been in regular communication and warned the client of the consequences of letting their tax affairs get in arrears. Most accountants will also stop chasing clients if their fees are left outstanding. At which point the client has no one to blame but themselves.

It doesn't pay to be "too busy for the taxman".

By the way. As from 2012 the penalties for late filed UK tax returns are increasing. If you traditionally wait until the last minute and file your tax return online in January each year, I'd get a move on. You really don't want to risk missing the next filing deadline.

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