Social media is great for a lot of things. Been to the beach? Share those photos and restaurant recommendations on Facebook. Get married or add a new little one to the family? Post those images on Instagram and share with the world. Find a quote that has changed your life? Tweet that thing for all to see. But when it comes to things like say, tax advice, is social media really the best resource to use?
I bet if you went onto social media right now and searched the word ‘taxes’ you would get hundreds, probably thousands of results. Every “professional” out there has got advice for anyone who is willing to listen, but that doesn’t always mean it’s the best advice or that it’s even correct or legal for that matter. You see, free advice isn’t always a benefit especially when, if the advice is incorrect, you could be audited and wind up owing the IRS. And while we fully understand that accountants are business owners too who just want to take advantage of the business-building aspect of social media, we also understand that no two people will have the exact same tax situation. It’s difficult to make generalized, blanket statements when it comes to filing your income taxes and this is not the time to settle for cookie cutter advice.
That being said, we are going to discuss whether or not it is a good idea to skip the professional tax filer this year and simply hop on social media…or maybe not so much.
You Got Questions…Do They Have Answers?
When you walk into your accountant’s office during tax season, chances are you not only have a box full of receipts and ledgers, you also have a million and one questions. When you sit down with a professional tax preparer, you can immediately have your specific questions answered which can give you peace of mind. The chances of you finding the exact answer to your specific question on social media is probably zero, not to mention the time you would spend actually researching your question. Just something to consider.
Is Giving Tax Advice on Social Media Legal?
Then there’s that little question of legality. While there are no specific guidelines for giving tax advice on social media, there is an issue of privacy that should be addressed. When accountants provide legal (in this case, financial tax advice) on this platform, it can easily be misconstrued to apply to certain situations for which it was not intended. People may also, in an effort to get their taxes done in an inexpensive way, ask personal questions in a public forum without realizing the danger they could possibly be facing by placing themselves as well as their personal financial information online for all to access. So while it may be completely legal to provide a certain type of tax advice on social media, it may not be the wisest choice to participate in a public forum where sensitive information is being discussed. It may be a better idea to meet with an accountant personally.
So lots of companies simply post a disclaimer on their social media accounts stating that they are not to be held liable should anything negative happen as a result of the information given on a certain platform. But the truth is when it comes to disclaimers on social media there really has not been a precedent set as to whether or not it’s sufficient to place the disclaimer on the profile page of a social media platform or if there needs to be access to that disclaimer with each and every post. This is a tough situation and you want to make sure that your information is kept private and that you are receiving the proper tax advice for your particular situation.
Lots to think about when it comes to whether or not you can trust tax advice that you find on social media. While there is probably a lot of great information out there, this may be one of those situations where it’s best to personally consult a financial professional and save social media for vacation photos, inspirational quotes, and cat videos.
LightHouse Graphics specializes in several areas of online presence such as graphic design, website design, and social media marketing and content creation…just to name a few. If your business needs assistance in any of these areas, give us a call. We’d love to work with you.