Second look

So, I’m doing what H&R Block calls a ‘second look’ for a new client of mine and my wife, the lawyer in the office, comes over because I am chuckling to myself.  Before I get into the story too far, let me explain what a ‘second look’ is.  You take the client’s previously done tax return and flip it over so you can’t see what the other tax preparer did.  This is important, as the natural inclination would be to simply duplicate their work, which would give you no chance to find anything that they missed or put in the wrong place.  So, a ‘second look’ is actually a duplicate ‘first look’ – as a former CPA I would refer to this as an ‘audit’ but NOBODY wants to hear that word in or around a tax office, so we mean pretty much that when we say ‘second look.’  Now, when I worked for H&R Block, there were people who would do a second look with the prior tax form open in front of them and never really look at the original source documents (w-2’s, 1099’s, etc) and then they would be amazed that their numbers would always come out the same – I don’t do that – when I do a second look, it is a SECOND LOOK from the ground up.  So here I am redoing this guy’s 2013 taxes and when I flip over the tax return done by an H&R Block employee the first thing I notice is that they put 1099-R information in the space designated by the IRS for W-2 income.  I shrug and think, well, I wouldn’t have done it that way, but it is kind of a ‘no blood, no foul’ kind of thing – although the IRS may want to get cute and try to put that 1099-R income in the space designated for pensions and such and send this guy a letter explaining that he owes them a bunch more money – but that is pretty easily fixed – well, IF you know what you are doing.  Then I get to the interest and dividends section and notice that they simply missed reporting about $1,000 that they should have.  So this is when I start chuckling to myself and when the wife comes over I lay it out for her – I explain that I’m doing a second look and ask her what she sees when I show her the original return and a few of the source documents – she immediately picks up on the missing information and the mis-catagorized information and asks how on earth someone could miss something so blatantly obvious.  In an effort to explain I look at the date of the 2013 return, expecting to see an April 15th date, and am all ready to say, well, it was a new tax preparer (you could tell by the PTIN number – he had only been doing taxes for about 6 months when he got this one – and it was quite obvious that his manager was doing something other than managing) and he got this one in the heat of the end of season – except for one thing – it was dated March 18th – the ‘dead zone’ – when nobody is coming in – so there you have it – no excuse for such sloppy work – now I get to explain to the taxpayer how he owes another $1200 to the feds and state because someone was having a very bad day in March of 2013.  The moral to the story?  Friends don’t let friends go to H&R Block – oh, and be sure to have a competent tax preparer do a second look on your prior years taxes.