What Do You Do When No One’s Watching?

It doesn’t happen very often, but I’m sure it’s happened to each of us at least once: while taking a payment at the door, someone pays you in cash. And a thought that may run through your mind is, “I don’t have to report this. There’s no trail, no evidence, and then I don’t have to pay taxes on it later.”  Tempting though that potential break may be, whatever else you may want to do with that money, don’t do it.

This issue really just comes down to honesty. I know there’s all kinds of things I’d rather be doing with the money I earn than paying taxes. Even when I set the money aside specifically for that purpose, I don’t want to do it. But the fact of the matter is, the reputation of your company is not worth the odd payment here or there that you didn’t report. Transparency in your business is better than that new car, or that dream vacation. If nothing else, being honest in this area will at least help you sleep better at night. No matter how ridiculous you may feel your taxes are, lying on your taxes will hang over your head and never let you rest.

When I’m paid in cash, I like to fan the bills out and take a picture. This picture can then be attached directly to my workfile, and I am able to keep track of the payment that way. If anyone asks, I have a “receipt” of the transaction.  Even if reporting cash payments is a hassle, even if you’d rather do anything else with your money than pay taxes, do the honest thing. Protect your integrity and the integrity of your business. You’ll be glad you did.

For more information on this subject, please download and listen to The Appraiser Coach Podcast Episode:

9 thoughts on “What Do You Do When No One’s Watching?”

  1. Prior to 2009 (HVCC) when appraisers had control over their business, and in working San Diego county (heavy Mexican population / customary), more than 75% of my business was collect at the door (cash). As a business, being in control of how one collects their fee was never a big deal, but post HVCC that all changed. The change in who could pay us residential wise, is the number one reason why AMC’s exploded.

    If you put principles before profits it doesn’t matter how get paid, but unfortunately since May of 2009 many have seen the appraiser, and the appraisal as a profit stream. Didn’t Dustin stop being a fulltime appraiser in 2010 (strange timing)?

    Seek the truth.

    1. I know you have to find a way to slam Dustin on each of his blogs, however this is one of your most incoherent responses. You should get sober before responding.

      1. What are you talking about Kevin? With the average appraiser being in business for 25 years, how relevant is a blog about being paid in cash and questioning one’s morals related to such a payment? Chances are, you’ve either figured it out by now, or you haven’t. Meaning, if your having others fill out the report for you, drive your comps, and do vacant property inspections for you while not disclosing, then we all know what your going to do with a cash payment.

        Related to Dustin not being a fulltime appraiser since 2010, HVCC starting in 2009 and sunsetting in 2010, and selling of an appraisal business model that he no longer seems to use (Dustin is a W2 employee for an AMC), that is not a slam, but rather seems to be a lot of smoke. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

        Good luck Kevin.

  2. Yes. Pay tax on it so joe can give it to zelensky who can give it to his wife to shop for Luis Vuitton in n Paris. Seems honest to me.🤷

  3. If someone pays in cash provide a receipt with a carbon copy for your records. No pictures needed. It is best to report all your earnings due to ethics and just because it is the honest thing to do. And also, for those of us who are nearing retirement, the more income reported means a larger social security check.

  4. Hey Dustin,

    Thanks for all your contributions to our industry.

    Nailing down what we do when no one is watching is critical! I love to hunt and one of the things I love to hunt is deer. In the Deerhunter space, there is a sunrise and legal shooting light is 30 minutes prior to sunrise. Then there is sunset, and a legal shooting light is 30 minutes after sunset. A question that has come to me in the past is: Would you shoot a trophy buck 10 seconds after legal shooting light? Or, If it was just across your property line, would you shoot it? The answer always has to be an emphatic “No.”

    What we do when nobody is watching is an absolute essential! As a Christian, it’s my testimony. Otherwise, I’m a phony, fraud and hypocrite. Then, if that’s the case, how is that displayed in my marriage? Or with my children and grandchildren? It’s not pleasant knowing you’re living a lie. That’s a pretty scary place to live. And like you said, it hangs over you.

    Not that I, or any of us, have attained perfection, but that’s where confession and repentance kicks in, as well as mercy and grace.

    Thanks for bringing that topic up!
    Integrity matters!

    God bless,
    Kevin Harden, SRA

  5. What if everyone started paying you in cash, you would have to change your idea about cash or become a criminal and pay no tax and all.

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