Happy Halloween! October is a time for cozy sweaters, hot apple cider, pumpkin spice and, of course, scary stories. There are few things more exciting this time of year than a good horror story. If you’ve ever navigated the world of accounting without professional support, you’ve likely come across a few chilling tales of your own!

In the spirit of the season, here are three truly terrifying accounting tales we’ve found across the web—along with a little bit of helpful advice to help you avoid the future.

Beware the fires of hell!

The manufacturing client a CPA was auditing kept most of their records hard copy in a room directly above the foundry. There was almost no light in this room, the floor had gaping holes, and it was hot! There was only one electrical outlet, hanging from the ceiling by the cord. The poor CPA was trying to find specific documents by laptop light while carefully avoiding the holes in the floor with feet or financial records. Luckily, neither the accountant or records caught fire. Thanks Reddit for this tale.

Don’t get “burned” by bad bookkeeping habits. Record keeping is extremely important, regardless of business size or industry. An experienced accounting firm (like us) can help you organize, digitize, and maintain all your records. Get rid of your paper dungeon today!

IRS trick means no treat!

An accountant was meeting with a prospective tax client – a married couple. The husband insisted his wife file separately, with his status listed as Head of Household and his wife as Single. When the accountant explained they couldn’t do this, the husband became irate and threw an empty baby carrier across the office. The couple ultimately found someone else to file their taxes, but tried (and failed) to implicate the accountant during the subsequent IRS audit. The husband was sentenced to 5 years in jail for federal tax fraud and falsification of audit documents. Thanks Cheapism for this tale.

The IRS has inked some of the most terrifying rules ever published. In this case, the couple should have just followed them. Even though only about 1% of tax returns are audited each year, having a reliable accounting partner can save you from a trip to the financial or legal graveyard. Want to avoid an audit abyss? Use the right filing status! 

Drowning in debt!

An accountant’s business client was paying a water bill and pressed the submit button eight times on a $17,000 payment, thinking the transaction was not processing. After receiving eight “thank you for your payment” emails, he immediately called the water company and the bank. The water company rep confirmed that only one payment was pending. The bank rep agreed to block the extra ACH transactions. All set, right? Not quite. Two days later, all eight transfers went through for $136,000.

Talk about finding yourself underwater! As they say, patience is a virtue.

Don’t be the next horror story!

Stories like these are always fun—that is, until they are happening to you. Our goal is to keep you from ending up in one of these situations. When you are in doubt, hire a professional. We’re happy to answer your questions, asses your individual or business financial health, keep your books, and help you minimize tax liability. Make an appointment with your qualified, experienced CPA today. We’re open on Halloween…