Do As I Say, Not As I Do

I should take my own advice!.. Do as I say, not as I do!

What you should NOT cheap out on and what to look out for…

I should take my own advice! Jeff and I recently enjoyed a pretax season cruise 🛳. Unlike most of the other cruises we take, which depart from Ft Lauderdale or Miami, this one left from Tampa. We decided to spend the night before the cruise in a hotel near the port and preferred a hotel that offered longer-term parking and possibly a shuttle to the port the following morning.

I previously mentioned that I could be cheap (with some things), so I searched for a reasonably priced hotel that offered eleven-night parking. I found a website,, that displayed a variety of hotels that seemed suitable. And investigated each one and found that all but one, Econolodge, provided only up to seven nights of free parking. So, I reserved the room. Bingo! One less task to complete before the tortuous job of packing. But that’s a story for another day.

Sunday afternoon, we drove to Tampa, pulled into the motel parking lot, and Jeff and I just stared at each other. We had never stayed at an Econolodge and figured what the heck. It was just one night. So, I went in to register and requested a first-floor room, as Jeff’s knee was bothering him, and we could watch the luggage in the car parked in front of our room.

The MOTEL was not to our usual standards. Okay, so at $99.00, we figured we could suck it up.

As we pulled up to the very back of the building, just outside the room we were given, there was a man next door sitting outside in a camping chair in front of his window that displayed laundry soap and other cleaning products. Oh crap!!! I really should take my own advice.

Jeff walked into the room, and the guy started talking to me about the pot he was smoking and that he was out of edibles until the next day, and I could come back then if I needed any product to take on the ship. It appeared he lived in that room. My hackles were rising!

I went into the room, looked around the space, and found no closet. In addition, the electrical outlets did not work, the power strip under the bed seemed to be a fire hazard, and the thermostat wasn’t working. Double crapola!!

Jeff kept asking me what I wanted to do, so the cheapie in me said, “it’s fine.”  These are the two words all men love to hear. NOT!Do as i say, not as I do. The word advice on a blackbird

But soon, my lungs began to bother me, and breathing was difficult. That was the last straw, so we quickly determined that it would cost $86.00 each way to the port using an Uber as they didn’t have a shuttle, which, unfortunately, I failed to consider when selecting this inexpensive hotel. What a silly bunny I was!

If we remained in this motel, the cost of the room plus the transport of 🚗 to the port would be $286.00.

And I was having a panic attack just being in the room.

When I went to the front desk to complain and check out, the girl told me she knew all the problems and wanted to put us on the second floor. She could have told us this in advance, and we would not have wasted time.

We bugged out of there and headed to a Hampton Inn for $149.00 in Ybor City and booked cruise parking for $185.00. So, it cost only $50. 00 more and I could breathe! Besides, it was my birthday, so we dined at the original Columbia in Ybor City. Yummy!!

So, all’s well that ended well, and I learned that I should take my own advice!

The moral of this story is to be careful what you cheap out on. Being a cheapo proved not to be in our best interest. Likewise, cheap-ing out using an unqualified tax professional is not in your best interest. I said it before, “I should take my own advice!”

Let’s talk tax prep and what you should NOT cheap out on and what to  look out for:

  1. Be sure your tax preparer is credentialed and will sign the tax return they prepare for you, such as an Enrolled Agent (EA), CPA, or attorney.
  2. Ghost tax preparers are cheap, non-credentialed, and will not sign your return.
  3. A preparer that does not have a PTIN number.
  4. A preparer that does not ask the right questions to ensure the return is prepared correctly is not doing his job.
  5. Ensure the preparer signs your return and is available after tax season. For example, suppose the preparer disappears after tax season when you can receive a letter from the IRS asking for more information or advising you of errors made on the return. In that case, you have no one to respond to the IRS, and the notices will begin hitting your mailbox.
  6. Did they ask, “What information will you need from me to file my taxes?”
  7. Did you check out what their tax preparation process looked like?
  8. What about a conversation about what you could do differently to improve your tax situation?
  9. And what other services were offered to you?

If you are in a #taxjam, you cannot afford to cheap out when looking for a tax resolution specialist.

Unfortunately, cheap is not the best, as I found out. You need to ask the right questions before hiring a tax professional that is experienced in IRS tax problem resolution. In addition, they should have reliable and current credentials that validate their legitimacy.

These questions are:

  1. How many years have you been handling tax resolution cases?
  2. Can you explain what options for IRS problem resolution are available?
  3. Are you a Certified Tax Resolution Specialist (CTRS) and Enrolled Agent (EA)? Many CPAs do not handle tax resolution and refer these cases to a CTRS.
  4. Performing a web search will reveal any significant issues a business has had with the law or its clients.
  5. Review the testimonials on the website.
  6. A legitimate company will meet with you to discuss the situation and won’t accept payment before you’ve created a plan of action for tax relief.
  7. If the tax relief company you’re looking into brags about how quick or easy they can make your tax resolution, you should consider that a red flag. Resolving your tax issues can take time; a legit firm will explain this in detail.

Head honcho Jeffrey Schneider, EA, CTRS, ACT-E, is the tax guy you need in your corner when you are looking for an experienced tax pro.

Ali “I should take my own advice!” Schneider
Director of Business Development