Sunday, December 19, 2010

How did I become a tax advisor ?...

Long, long time ago when I was totally lost about my taxes (like you), I basically just waked into the first place I spotted as “tax preparation," and sat down, made myself comfortable and gave all my W-2 forms to that girl inside that little cashier's check place at Slauson Ave in that nasty area of Los Angeles. I just wanted my forms to be filled up (just like you), sign them, mail them and be done with it. All of us think that’s all we have to do to be cool with the “devil” (the IRS).

Within  the years I became aware of stuff that can be done in order to pay less taxes “the loopholes” some call it, so my refund check will get fatter and fatter every year. But to get to that point wasn’t easy at all, it took me a few painful lessons through the years (money lost forever), a few letters from the devil himself, literally stressful moments, tears, and some blood too.

Everything started when I had a few simple questions that weren’t answered to my satisfaction, and then those questions became red flags, then concerns, then hell letters from the devil himself "notifications from the IRS". And all of that just because I trusted the wrong tax preparer, I thought he was competent ( next year I moved to the valley and keep a new guy for years). I’ve always noticed other people talking about their doctor’s bill deductions, commute expenses, mortgage interests, rent, auto, insurance, etc. and seemed like I was the only one not getting these deductions!

I’m the type of guy who saves all his receipts for everything, so, with that in my “DNA”, keeping records was never a difficult thing to do. I remember keeping all of my receipts  in a long line, stick one by one together in a long line IN THE WALL, yes I was a little weird back then, it just made it easier for me to add them up.

Anyway, every time I used to get pissed off at that incompetent tax preparer thinking  of the money I could  have had claimed, but I didn’t for my own ignorance, for that incompetent, unprofessional, ignorant, not up-to-date, but specially not-willing-to-explain-things-to-me tax preparer. I must say now (from the other side of the desk) the reason a tax preparer would not explain a thing to you is because he DOESN’T KNOW.

Get to the point! Ok, one day I found myself playing with the tax software at this real estate company I used to work for (horrible experience by the way), and I decided to redo my own taxes, for some reason I did not get the same refund, I got more, way more than I really got that year. Then, I started playing with the personal deductions area,but I learn that you needed more than a certain amount to really kick in (to make any difference) but when I went and play with the “business expenses," that was a sweet refund I was supposed to get, but business expense would be an entire new blog by itself.

That got me thinking “would it be possible to claim that money back?” I didn’t know better and decided to get enrolled in a four month tax class. During this time my due date to file my tax amendment elapsed. Yes I lost that money forever.

After my tax class was over and I got my tax license then I decided to file my first tax amendment, I got almost 3K back, and just because my old tax preparer didn’t know how to allocate my business expenses, this happened down the road, and this was my 3rd tax preparer!. For me it was just insane to think why in the hell the IRS won’t let me claim things so simple like phone expenses, rent, auto expenses, etc.

My First tax preparer, a girl who just imputed all my W-2’s information into the software, just like anyone can enter by  him/herself over the IRS website, and unless you know what you are really doing, then claim some of your deductions, even for me, a tax preparer with years of experience some times is difficult to find the drop down menus and navigate those tax software’s, because they change every single year. I know from experience!

My Second tax preparer, a guy who was just lazy, I remember bringing all of my receipts for him to do his work, just like I saw on those commercials, but now, I’ll never forget him telling me “I won’t be organizing and adding up those invoices," later after a few of my questioning of his job he basically told me if I was to use those invoices he would have to charge me more, then he said that it would make no difference to my tax filing. I should have report him to CTEC and to the IRS, that what I should have done! Next thing I knew I was walking away with all of my invoices in search of my next tax preparer.

Firing you tax preparer is a good thing to do, for the right reasons. In my “finding the right tax preparer journey” I’ve learned that you may have a lot of reason to do so, so far you can see I had plenty!

My Third tax preparer was another girl, she didn’t know the heck she was doing about my business expenses, and god knows I got plenty that year! A hint for me was when this girl put major business expenses on the “miscellaneous expenses” and writing on those blanc lines items like “office expense, cell phone expense, rent expense” these items have their own place at the main Schedule-C form, they didn’t need to be place all the way at the end, but I found out about it later, after the taxes were filed.

As you can imagine, when I got my CTEC license by mail, I was ready for better and bigger things. I started by amending my own taxes, fixing all these stuff that didn’t look, sound or just didn’t make me feel comfortable enough to leave it alone. Then, I told a friend about my experience, then he asked me a few questions, then he wanted me to do his taxes, and he kept coming for more every year; then he told to a friend, then his friend told to another friend, then all of a sudden I had five whole true clients! Although I always felt too embarrassed to charge them anything other than a lunch or dinner, with the years those lunches and dinners became small fees, then standard fees. That alone can be another whole blog by itself.

Well, I could be writing all day and night about taxes, tax advice, bad tax preparers, etc. However, I don't think I can keep you interested enough on the item to continue your reading of the topic.

The lesson learned for me? Regarding taxes “just trust you” ALWAYS, or call me. I'll be more than happy to help you achieve  short or long-term goals.

I hope and you enjoyed reading my very first blog, almost as much and I enjoyed writing it.

17 comments:

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