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Accounting News Roundup: Jay-Z’s Former Accountant and Narcissistic Bosses | 04.01.16

Self-prepared tax returns

Earlier this week, we talked about boycotting TurboTax, a noble but flawed idea. The idea being that if everyone gives up TurboTax, H&R Block, et al. and prepares their returns manually themselves, then BIG TAX PREP will give up and go home and we'll get 10-second tax returns. In reality, the problem is far more complicated, mostly because Intuit and H&R Block spend millions lobbying Congress to oppose any simplification that would result in taxpayers not giving them money. But also, there's a problem of the IRS scrutinizing manually prepared returns:

It can be difficult to fill out forms correctly by hand “unless you’re just a teenager with a summer job,” said Raymond Edwards, a CPA based in Los Angeles with wealth-management firm Aspiriant LLC.

When the IRS enters data from such returns, it automatically checks for math errors and other mistakes. They can generate not only a letter but also further scrutiny, he said. 

So while FreeFile Fillable Forms could be used to avoid some common errors, it only performs "basic calculations" and "[u]sers must perform some calculations themselves." And yes, that's probably enough to scare some people away from preparing their own return. Still, people could double-check their math and….oh forget it.

Life after accounting

I'd venture to say that my career of writing on the internet about accounting is more interesting than my career as an actual accountant. I'd also venture to say that most people who leave accounting behind to do something different would say that their new career is more interesting than being an accountant. I'm not so sure that's the case with Robin Broughton-Smith who left her career as Jay-Z's accountant to start a bakery 

Broughton-Smith grew up in Willingboro – baking as a young girl – and studied finance at Howard University before heading to New York City. She said she, as a junior employee at a firm, landed Jay-Z as a client around the time of his Reasonable Doubt album, in 1996. She and a partner in the firm later went in-house with the entertainment mogul.

In her last two years, she got married (Jay-Z and Beyonce attended her 2008 wedding to Ronald Smith Jr., who works for the State Department, just before their own secret wedding ceremony) and she had her son, Tre, now 7. The couple also has a daughter, Linden, 2.

Broughton-Smith worked for Hova for 12 years before "she decided to 'stop working like a crazy person' and settle down." So while there's obvious benefits to having Jay and Bey as friends (e.g. no one will top those wedding photos), even keeping a hip-hop mogul's books in line can get old.

Working for narcissists

I feel like "narcissist" gets thrown around in a rather cavalier fashion, similar to how people use "OCD" or "psycho." If your boss were an actual psychopath or if you really had obsessive-compulsive disorder, then your life would be far, far, harder than it actually is. Aren't you glad that the Harvard Business Review is here to tell us these things?

Don’t just label your egotistical boss a “narcissist.” “There’s a difference between someone who’s an egomaniac and puffed up with self-importance and someone who has narcissistic personality disorder,” says [Michael] Maccoby. When you’re dealing with the latter, it’s helpful to get a handle on what makes him tick. Read up on this personality type. After all, says Maccoby, “the more you understand people, the better your relationships will be.” Narcissists, he says, have a “strong ego ideal—a vision of who they think they should be. They are controlled by the shame of not living up to this ideal.” Productive narcissists are often creative strategists who see the “big picture” and find meaning in the risky challenge of changing the world and leaving behind a legacy, he says. It will serve you in the long run to make an effort to “understand who your boss wants to be” and take steps to “help him live up to that ideal,” he says.

Huh. After reading that, I actually feel less confident about knowing how to distinguish between a regular boss and a narcissistic one. In any case, I feel like making your boss look good is decent advice for anyone with a boss not just those with narcissistic bosses. Still, the clinical difference can be hard to spot sometimes, especially for accountants/armchair psychologists. 

Previously, on Going Concern…

Megan Lewczyk wrote about the risks of system-generated reports. Plus, I stumbled across an accountant who might be 2016's worst person. And in Open Items, someone wants to know about Big 4 Tax in San Diego.

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