What does “Confidential” mean to you?
According to the dictionary, “confidential” means something spoken, or written, or acted upon in strict privacy or secrecy. It implies having confidence or trust with secret or private affairs. “Confidential” can intimate that a magazine article will be juicy and full of information you can’t get anywhere else. In my business, it is quite the opposite. I acknowledge that you, my clients, tell me things that you share with no one else. I value your trust. I honor your trust in keeping true to my oath of confidentiality with your important tax information. You ask me questions, I answer them to the best of my ability. Sometimes I must research the law to arrive at the right answer under the current law. Occasionally tax professionals will consult with one another about how they might handle a tax issue. But when we are discussing actual tax facts, names and other identifying information are never revealed. I am blessed with clients who have been with me since my first year of being in business. I am proud to acknowledge that this year marks the 30th year of my tax practice. Some clients that are with me today have been happy with my service since their first day with me and some are with me until they file their final tax return. Life happens and not every client can stay with me, some move away, some marry and the new couple may decide to go with the spouse’s preparer. There are some clients unhappy with the advice I render and they chose to find another advisor who might give them the answer they are looking for. Many times a client will be happy enough to recommend family and friends to come to me. What they discuss among themselves is their choice, their business, but what each individual discusses with me is held in strictest confidence. If one family member should find a reason to change advisors, the rest of the family may be influenced to leave me as well. I can never discuss the business of one with the others. Misunderstandings can never be explained by me to people not involved in the particular situation. As your preparer, you will never hear me talking about you or your situation as part of any dinner conversation. I was at a restaurant one evening and overheard a man at another table talking with his tablemates. He sounded to me like a tax return preparer talking about another person known to the group, but not present at that dinner table. I wanted to go over and ask him if he knew what he was doing. I didn’t embarrass him or myself and quietly stayed at my own table. As your tax return preparer I an bound by law to answer honestly any question the IRS has about the preparation of your return during the processing of that return. But when I represent you at the IRS in a tax audit, I answer their questions truthfully, but with your best interest in mind. When I hire staff to assist me in my tax office, I have them sign a Confidentiality Agreement acknowledging that client privacy and confidentiality are of the utmost importance. If they should violate this agreement they can be subject to a fine of up to $25,000. At the end of any tax season you will never see boxes of outdated records sitting by the curb on trash-pickup day. Any piece of paper with confidential data that is no longer needed to be kept in my office is fed into the cross-cut shredder. No one would be able to put that piece of paper together again to find out what is between only you and me and the IRS. When I was a young girl growing up, my mother never taught me how to gossip. I am so glad she shared her confidential standards with me. I hope you are comforted by my level of respect for you, your identity and your private information.