Bruce Norling, Accountant, Sudbury, MA Complaint - A Stunning lack of competence and professionalism which leads me to my first public complaint in 53 years.

Review by Chris333 on 2011-01-02
SUDBURY, MASSACHUSETTS -- My taxes are not complex, the numbers are clear and payment amounts have been quite consistent over 20 years. I had one professional, delightful, efficient 20 minute meeting each year with my trusted accountant who retired. My Apple is down so apology in advance b/c this laptop is
tricky to use.

This is difficult to write and will jump to the silver lining. My friend was in the FBI and knows to
use the best. He shared his gifted accountant in Concord who righted this MESS and got my correct taxes in On time with four days notice. He found
TWELVE significant errors in the taxes that Bruce Norlings office
did for me in THREE minutes having No previous knowledge or information
about me or my finances.

I have been a professional all of my life and before having my children was an Executive in Human Resources. So, I know we all make mistakes, am not a fan of nitpicking and embrace a Win win approach. This is a complex
situation. The bottom line is, I do not like to complain but I have sat with what was to me the most stunningly unprofessional situation in my 53 years and cannot move forward without taking time to communicate my story in the hopes of helping others. To me taxes are a most serious
business and each day I am troubled thinking others may be suffering as
I did.

Bruce was a vague referral through a neighbor from her friend. We later learned she had also left him b/c he became so expensive. I met with him, gave him every number twice, watched him write down each number which
were few and crystal clear. He assured me that HE would be doing
my taxes himself, noted he was not as busy as he would like, seemed warm
and sincere at first blush. The total price was reasonable and I double
checked the amount. I could go into complete detail but will try to keep
to the points as there are several.

1. When I picked up my taxes the Federal and State payments were each close to FOUR TIMES what I have been paying for approximately 19 years.

2. I was told that his fee
was TWICE what he had ASSURED me it was in our meeting and I will not share his secretaries response when I gently and firmly noted this additionally disturbing fact.
3. I said I was rattled and would need to look them over b/c they were
not even in the ballpark of the previous 20 years with no changes, I was terrified. I gently asked his assistant and was told sternly they were correct as if I were a child, no discussion.
4. It was disconcerting to be told a minimum of 4x in increasing levels of
assertive verbiage to write out the State and Federal payments so they could put them in the mail disregarding my concerns. Good thing I stood strong b/c my sons and I could have lost our home.
5. I am proud to be the Great Grand daughter of Thomas Alexander Mellon
and share this only to give backing to the fact that I am a reasonably
intelligent businesswoman.

I have a copy of the notes Bruce took at our meeting with the correct numbers in regards to my house tax, etc. and these were NOT even remotely
correct on the tax document they prepared. It seems to me if an accountant
cannot transcribe numbers correctly, given this is the most fundamental and imperative ability in this particular profession, there is a serious

I gave him a copy of my previous years taxes for reference, have one home,
have been here 24 years, my income and everything was consistent. Common
sense might dictate that having some ability to follow and put numbers
together is also imperative and a basic Must when you are trusted with
and paid to do others taxes. I take taxes Very seriously.

Bruce promised that HE would do my taxes in our meeting. Yet all communication after I paid him were from Alison who I believe is his daughter. She reassured me she was most experienced and I trusted them until I saw the work which was not even remotely correct.

To right this catastrophe, I missed my son's state champ meet, I cancelled
a client meeting, I spent time desperately looking for competent help, I
prepped and met with my new accountant. I work exceptionally hard, have
two active sons and am divorced so this was extremely disruptive to our

I spent further time writing Bruce and finally got `1/2 of my payment back. My time with this company was severely counter productive. I paid HIM
him and spent my time giving him everything he needed to do good work. Yet,
there were approximately 20 significant transcribing errors, a deduction
was completely missed, and there was more. I felt a full refund was in order. If e paid me
even a portion of my hourly fee for the time I had to put in to correct
this mess, he would owe me a lot of monies. But his letter was consistent
and I was told 'he was being more than fair by refunding 1/2of my payment
back to me". More time spent writing two=three missives to make this happen, then many months to get this much back. I have to wonder what exactly he feels he did to benefit me b/c nothing was done correctly on my taxes, I lost a great deal of time, paid someone else all because they did
NOT do their job.

I am doing my utmost to be careful with words but this
feels no less shocking almost one year later so for New Years I am taking
time to be honest. I am doing this to
help others and also myself b/c I wonder every day if others went along
and paid more than was due. I am fair minded and insist on paying what is right. But I work hard to be very good at what I do and I CARE so much
about the well being of my clients. I remain horrified and fearful for
others after my experience with Bruce Norling. I take my time and
taxes Very seriously and after signing them over and trusting Bruce professionally, I was let down in EVERY way.

I have not seen this level of complete disregard in such an important
venue. If I were buying a T shirt and was charged 4x the correct amount,
told there was an additional fee they forgot to mention, all the
numbers were incorrect anyway, the boy who owned the stand said he
would stay right with me to work this through, vanished, it would be no problem b/c it was just a t shirt. I have not experienced this level of
chaos at any professional
level but do take taxes seriously and in my humble opinion we have the right to expect competence and professionalism from those we pay to do our
taxes. This company handle millions of dollars of hard earned monies, nest eggs, and Accountants are not liable if their client underpays and goes to jail, or overpays and loses monies.

wish I had more time to perfect this writing but do not. I wish
everyone a very interesting, joy filled 2011. Best, Christina
Comments:9 Replies - Latest reply on 2011-01-03
Posted by unhappy999 on 2011-01-02:
It seems you are a very intelligent person. If your taxes are not complicated, why not do them yourself?
Posted by T on 2011-01-02:
My question is the same as this unhappy person's.

Why not do them yourself? I first started doing my mom's taxes because she complained about the errors she found her longtime accountant had made. Actually they did an audit one year and I visited the IRS with her :) I took a look and found they were very similar from year to year. Saved my mom $$$ each year and prepared me for when mine became more involved.
Posted by unhappy999 on 2011-01-02:
Exactly, if your taxes are not complicated, they do not vary much from year to year.
Posted by MJGoldfarb on 2011-01-02:
If the taxes aren't that difficult, why not buy "TurboTax" or another tax program. That's much less in cost than the "professional" you used.
Posted by momsey on 2011-01-02:
Don't bother buying software. Just use TaxAct! It's free to use, you only have to pay if you use it to file state taxes.
Posted by Anonymous on 2011-01-02:
The IRS will help you do your simple taxes for free.
Posted by olie on 2011-01-02:
This is a good lesson--get a direct referral from someone whose judgment you trust.

I can see preferring to go with a pro, if you think your returns are even moderately complicated. Since yours, Christina, were pretty much the same from year to year, you could have tried to do the taxes yourself. That's what I've done in the past.

The worst that could happen--you'd have to pay someone to do the returns anyway.
Posted by Inat on 2011-01-03:
as others have said, if your taxes arent complicated, use turbotax online or some other software. I use it and am very happy with it - the only time is it more confusing is if there are capital gains, losses, etc
Posted by Kenneth on 2011-01-03:
I used TurboTax for several years, and only last year started with a CPA. The CPA tripled my return. Last week, however, I got a whopping tax bill for errors in my 2007 return, which was done by TurboTax. My taxes are also not complicated, so this is puzzling. I'll stick with the CPA from now on, he knows great deductions that I would never have gotten otherwise.

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