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Variance in taxes is part of the game

April 24, 2015

I have little patience lately for tax accountants who assert that their approach is “correct” and that all other results are “errors”. This is like having the sideline judge disagreeing with the referee on the field that called the play.

We understand the mentality that the law is meant to be precise and therefore the results should be precise. Precision means that the results should be predictable and repeatable. Yet this is simply NOT THE CASE in the tax field.

The well-established truth is that if a client hires 5 different accountants to prepare or review their tax return they will come up with 5 different tax solutions. Each accountant will believe that their approach was the correct method. The IRS will accept at least 4 of the 5 as properly calculated and legally complete.

This variance is an inherent part of our tax reporting system but not, IMO, a reason to cast doubt on others’ work or raise client concerns. Variance among accountants’ positions is as much a part of the tax profession as questionable referee calls are to the sports world. It is time for all of us to accept this for what it is.

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