“Moreover, it is one thing for a client to self-prepare his or her tax return which may be perceived as straightforward, even though very little in current tax law is simple. The consequences of a mistake on a Form 1040 involve penalties that, although painful, will not destroy most taxpayers. It is quite another thing, for a client to self-represent when very serious consequences, possible jail time and draconian civil penalties, are at stake. These kinds of outcomes can destroy a person financially and emotionally.”
Note the use of the word “emotionally”!
I receive many calls from taxpayers considering how to bring their unreported offshore accounts into compliance. Sometimes and often with respect to expatriates, these individuals will have prepared their own returns and even attempted to represent themselves through some of the tangled web of rules concerning the OVDP, Streamlined Filing Compliance Procedures, Transitional Rules or opting out of the OVDP. Likewise, many calls originate from people who’ve divorced and have represented themselves in innocent spouse disputes with IRS. Usually, they call when something very bad and unforeseen to them happens in their case.
I always tell them that their self-representation likely has made more difficult the professional’s job of representing them. One client recently asked, “Why do you think that representation by a professional is often made more difficult when clients have represented themselves initially?”
I thought others might benefit from my response which is reprinted below.
While representing himself…
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