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Accounting Horror Stories from the Businesses that Lived Them

Accountant Horror

Great businesses are built with great advisors.

Whether they work in the company or alongside it, these rockstars bring perspective, experience, and the guidance necessary to launch and maintain a business.

And if you’re really lucky, these advisors are your accountants.

But what if you’re still “dating” around? You haven’t found that perfect accountant yet and are trying on different firms for size. And because of this sometimes—just sometimes—your accounting goes awry.

We here at Bill.com spoke with multiple SMB owners and asked them to tell us their worst, horror-induced accounting missteps. From minor report atrocities to overpaying taxes by $100,000, these are their stories...

Paper is so 1905.

  • Our past bookkeeper wanted every invoice and P.O. printed, filed away, and saved. He did not want to integrate the different systems we used and was very archaic in his style of work.
  • A former accountant was very old school and made everything as complicated as possible, using three to four transactions when one would do.

There’s no “we” in IRS.

  • My first accountant gave me an estimate of how much I would owe the IRS. He was low...by over 400%.
  • The accountant told us to overpay the IRS on a quarterly payment by hundreds of thousands of dollars.
  • My accounting firm waited until 7:00 p.m. on a Thursday night to request information due to the IRS on Friday.

Competency is an added expense.

  • I spend more time verifying/correcting my accountant's work then if I had done it myself.
  • I called my accountant on April 14th to ask if our taxes were complete. I was told, “Oops, I forgot.”

Audits are only fun in the movies.

  • My CPA got audited then the IRS audited all of the CPA’s clients.
  • The representative from our firm was not prepared for questions from the audit committee and this created unnecessary concerns over the accuracy of the work.

Talk about those billable hours.

  • My CPA changed his rate from $150 an hour to $375 an hour.
  • I paid $30,000 a year for accounting services and then had to pay back taxes because something was left out.

Have you tried turning it off and on again?

  • I worked with an accounting firm that was not taking the time to reconcile the books correctly. I noticed that there were cascading issues once migrating to a new system.
  • The connections to banks went down and we could not pay bills or access our account for almost two weeks

Bookkeepers, man.

  • There is no firm horror story. I did hire a flaky bookkeeper once.

While these horror stories were truly comical, the stories of firms continuously saving the day blew them out of the water.

  • In a particularly difficult time, our current firm slashed their rates mid-contract to help us stay in business
  • Our accounting firm and a staff member swooped in at the last minute to coordinate getting 1099s out quickly when someone quit suddenly and left the books in a mess.
  • My CPA found $5000 in double-paid bills.
  • When my warehouse got robbed and they helped me with all the financial and tax issues
  • My current firm found the area where the first firm was skimming.
  • My firm caught an overpayment on quarterly taxes over $68K.
  • They caught unauthorized charges an employee was making on our company card.
  • During a state sales tax audit, my accountant saved me thousands when the state auditor turned out to be an idiot.

Finally, the best accountants give great advice, look out for clients, and provide no surprises.

  • My accountants save the day every day. They routinely advise me of tax savings opportunities and methods of controlling my tax liability which speak to my specific situation.
  • My accountant is very knowledgeable about tax laws and he is constantly giving me advice that helps my business tremendously.
  • The new team created an accurate forecast and weekly budgeting model that has helped us to always stay in line with cash flow.
  • My accountant organized my whole accounting system and business set up in a month. Everything is way more streamlined and I get reports to make better business decisions.
  • Our accounting firm has consistently provided on time and accurate work for us. Not having any surprises is a very nice way to do business.

Have your own financial horror story? Tweet us at @billcom!

February 13, 2018
Kate Wilson
Social Media Manager, Bill.com
Kate is in charge of all things social at Bill.com. When she's not writing every type of content imaginable, she's drinking strong coffee and debating the use of the Oxford comma with her coworkers.