Crux Issue: Respond to Ms. Black’s email and clear up the confusion.
Explain to Hilda what we had discussed in June and how my answered her question about tax-deferred fund accounts has nothing to do with cashing in bonds. Therefore, I cannot be held responsible for her mistake.
Secondary Issue: Minimize damage to the relationship with the customer in order to keep an open future. Define the Audience Scope
Primary Audience: Hilda Black
Secondary Audience: Any peers, co-workers, or bosses in the workplace that could discover the email. Also any of Ms. Black’s friends or her lawyers.
Group Mentality: Ms. Black is very anxious about her finances and gets overwrought when something goes wrong. She firmly believes that I misled her and deserve to be sued. The situation must be dealt with carefully in order to avoid a lawsuit.
Credibility: I have credibility with Ms. Black because I have prepared her taxes for 5 years. I also have archives of her recorded conversation in April that will help prove the credibility of my argument
Tone: As Ms. Black is a nice old Lady who has been a customer for 5 years, the tone needs to be gracious and caring in providing an explanation for the confusion. The bad news, however, must be delivered directly and clearly so that she understands that it was her fault.
Ms. Black needs to understand that I cannot take responsibility for her bills. My explanation needs to put her into my shoes so that she can approach the situation with a level head.
Define the Goals
Primary Objective: Explain the misunderstanding.
Our phone call was me simply answering a question about tax-deferred accounts, not bonds.
Explain why the IRS is billing her—she is not allowed to cash in bonds without paying taxes.
Show that the decision is fair.
Secondary Objective: Minimize damage to the relationship.
Offer help with minimizing the penalties.
State the decision in a way that does not offend her or ruin relationship.
Look towards the future so that she will not try to do her taxes on her own again.
I. Top Bun
b. Buffer: value relationship and willing to help.
a. Reviewed archives
i. Talked about rolling over funds ii. She cashed in bonds
b. Her possible assumption mistake
i. IRS requires all investment income gains to be taxed ii. Legal obligation
a. Empathize with frustration
b. Be clear with bad news
c. Graciously suggest alternative solutions
IV. Bottom Bun
a. Goodwill Gesture
i. Possibly lower charges ii. Taxes for next year
To: Hilda Black
From: Kurt Schiewetz
Subject: RE: A Taxing Manner
Dear Ms. Black,
Thank you for reaching out to me with your concern. I value the relationship we have built over the past five years, so I am more than happy to help you with any issues. As a veteran tax consultant, I have dealt with IRS concerns in the past, so I will…