(1) How did you become interested/involved in preparing tax returns or teaching taxes? .
(2) How were you educated/trained in preparing tax returns?
Like many general preparers, I took the HRB tax school. First the Basic class, then other advance classes as they were offered. I was lucky that the owner of the franchise (my mentor) insisted that if we had a question that we researched it before coming to him. That in itself was a great learning experience. As was studying for the EA exam.
(3) When and why did you decide to write a blog on tax issues?
Early in the history of the internet I started playing with writing the code for websites. Soon, I was doing my own and a few for other businesses. I took an online class on blogging because this was a new internet trend. Part of the class was to write a blog, and I continued on once the class ended. This was in 2004 and at the time I could only find one other tax blog (class assignment) and soon they stopped posting.
I can’t say that blogging has helped my business financially. My clients know I write a blog, it’s in my newsletter, but I don’t think they are that interested in following tax info. New clients come mostly from recommendations from existing clients. The business help I have received is from keeping current with issues and thinking them out enough to write about them. Also, the attention I have been getting lately is great for my confidence.
(5) What do you consider the “best tax advice” you can give anyone?
Take responsibility for your taxes and return. Too many taxpayers don’t look at their return. I review the return with clients and too many tell me to skip to the refund/balance due. They won’t tax plan and then whine and grip when they don’t get the results they wanted.
(6) Do you think the regulation of tax return preparers is a good thing?
Yes!!! There are a lot of good, honest people in the profession who are competing against “preparers” who are not following the rules or don’t have basic tax knowledge. Look at the ads and you see the offices who are offering to file a tax return based on the last pay stub or other illegal practices. If you follow a public tax bulletin board or forum, I am sure you will see some “paid Preparers” asking simple questions because they didn’t take any type of class and are relying on their software. The licensing should give the IRS the ability to track the problem preparers and I am hopeful that the taxpayer education will wake most taxpayers up. Taxpayers tend to assume that a paid preparer knows what they are doing and end up getting hurt. We will never see all the bad preparers leave the field but I think the new rules will make it harder for them to operate.
(7) Do you think CPAs and attorneys should be exempt from testing and required CPEs in taxation?
If the CPA or Attorney is signing returns, I don’t see the problem with them having to pass the basic tests and keep up on the CPEs in tax. To be honest, I bet most of them are already meeting the standards. My issue is the audit CPA who thinks he can do returns or help a friend with a tax audit because he has the letters CPA after the return. My sister-in-law is a prosecutor but that doesn’t mean she has any business doing taxes. She would be the first to admit that but some let their ego get ahead of what’s best for the client.
(8) What is your favorite Broadway musical – and why?
That’s a hard one. I boiled it down to 2. One everyone does the other you seldom see. But which one to mention . . .
Into The Woods – Great story and music. It’s one I’ll watch on any level from High School on up. The music is all over my iTunes. Not just from the production but covers by other artists. I love the way it plays homage to folk tales but at the same times says that these are stories not real life. Real life is relying on yourself and making hard choices.
My “buddies” all have good advice. I agree with Trish that too many clients are only interested in the “bottom line” and do not take the time to actually read the 1040. I try to emphasize in the cover letter than is included with the finished return that even though my signature appears on the return they are legally responsible for everything that appears on the return, and that they should contact me immediately if they find something that they do not understand.
To be fair, while Henry and Richard’s actual tax preparation leaves much to be desired, I have heard that their tax courses are very good.
A good Broadway selection, as was the other musical she considered (I asked). Careful what you say - children will listen.
Next week we meet Mary O’Keeffe of BED BUFALLOES IN YOUR TAX CODE.