RTS #038 The Super Bowl of…taxes???

It seems like everyone has traditions when it comes to the Super Bowl, but mine might be a little more unique: I eagerly look forward to the inevitable tax preparation commercials. This year did not disappoint.

In case you missed it, TurboTax had multiple versions of a commercial with a woman in a red dress telling taxpayers to use TurboTax this year for their tax filing needs. The big reason your clients should pick TurboTax? Free lotto tickets. I started laughing out loud when I saw it (my son was not impressed). No attempt at describing a problem they could solve or promising value, or even claiming they are higher quality than the competition. They simply think you should use TurboTax so you can be entered to win $1,000,000.

After a rather long inner dialogue about how ridiculous this approach is I had an unexpected thought: “at least they’re transparent about it”.

I’ve never seen an Advisor offer a potential prize like this, but I see plenty of marketing around savings hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars in taxes…but promising them as if they apply to everyone in every situation. At least taxpayers who sign up for TurboTax have a shot at the prize they were offered. It may seem exciting to lead with the most extreme examples, but you’re anchoring on the wrong expectations.

People are going to sign up for TurboTax for a shot at a million dollars and then be disappointed with any other outcome. Even if you are not leading with lofty claims of massive tax savings, your prospects and clients are hearing them in other places (like the Super Bowl). In the absence of you setting clear expectations, they will create their own, not tell you about them, and then be disappointed when you don’t live up to them.

I never tell people we are going to make taxes fun or easy, and I certainly never promise specific tax savings or that we can eliminate tax bills altogether. Instead I talk about making taxes less painful and that will help make sure they are taking advantage of the opportunities available to them to sand off the rough edges of their tax bill. Along the way, we absolutely create real tax savings, at times in very powerful ways. But if I lead each intro with “Here’s the most we’ve ever saved someone,” that’s what every client will expect.

What can you do about it?

Consistently set expectations of the true value that comes from the services you offer, including tax planning. Clients will be thrilled about consistent, incremental tax savings that they would never have gotten on their own, but only if they don’t think that they missed out on an alternative that was promised to them on TikTok.

Happy Tax Planning!

About The Newsletter

The tax code is 80,000+ pages and Google has 875,000,000 results when you search “Tax Planning”, so each week we are going to help you wade through all of that noise and get to the Relevant Tax Stuff.