Unfortunately, mistakes happen, and even accountants aren’t immune to errors. If you make a mistake, the prospect of telling your clients can be scary. But you need to let them know.
Don’t delay. Ideally, you should let your client know about the mistake as soon as possible. When telling your client what happened, try not to make excuses or cast blame on other people. Instead, own the error and admit where you went wrong. Also, remember to apologize.
When possible, you may want to take steps to reduce the impact of the error on your client. For instance, say you made a mistake while creating a cash flow projection chart. You thought your client would have enough cash on hand to cover a certain expense at a certain time, but unfortunately, that’s not the case. To help your client out, you may want to identify another time when it can afford that expense or you may want to help it identify other ways to boost cash flow. A backup plan can soften the blow.
If the error was on your client’s tax return, you should let it know about the Canada Revenue Agency’s Voluntary Disclosure Program. This program allows you to admit errors to the CRA without risk of penalties. It’s always better to reach out to the CRA before it reaches out to you, and the VDP makes it relatively easy to report mistakes on both income and GST/HST returns.
It’s never easy to admit you were wrong, but when you’re dealing with clients, you need this skill. In fact, learning to communicate through difficult situations can be critical to your professional development. To help you deal with financial issues related to the occasional mistake, you may want to look into errors and omissions coverage.