The Tax Attic—May 7, 2009

Jerry Coon, Enrolled Agent

Jerry Coon, Enrolled Agent

Seminars help to improve client service

As I have gotten older, I enjoy listening to more different types of music than I did when I was much younger. For instance, my future son-in-law Devon Cunningham and I just happened to end up at Founders Brew Pub in Grand Rapids last weekend. I have written before about the variety of craft beers available in West Michigan and the fact that I do enjoy drinking a good craft beer now and then. Founders happens to brew some of the best so we happened to be sampling some of those best beers.

After a while, some musicians started setting up for some live music. The band setting up was a collection of musicians called the Grand Rapids Jazz Band. When I was 20 years old, I might not have enjoyed the jazz they played. However, at this stage of my life, I enjoyed it tremendously, as did the rest of the crowd at Founders. The jazz music played was very lively and, from what I saw and heard, the Grand Rapids Jazz Band has quite a few very talented musicians who really know how to play jazz. They play at Founders on the first Sunday of every month. I might just happen to end up at Founders sampling one of their craft brews on one of these future first Sundays of the month.

I am also going to end up attending a few more tax seminars than normal this coming summer. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) has guaranteed more education is required for all tax professionals in the coming few months. The tax business, like most businesses, is a client service business and the more knowledge we have of the tax laws, the better we can serve our clients.

On May 14 and 15, the Michigan Chapter of the National Association of Tax Professionals (MI-NATP) will hold a two-day conference in Grand Rapids. Among various topics, the ARRA has top billing. I am a long-time member of MI-NATP, and their specialty is bringing taxes down to my level of client service. The instructors are tax professionals, such as me, who are practicing tax professionals. They know where the rubber hits the road, so to speak, and are more than willing to pass on their experiences to the rest of us.

Specifically, there will be quite a discussion on the Making Work Pay Credit and the American Opportunity Tax Credit. These provisions of the ARRA are the provisions that have reduced federal withholding for everyone in America who is getting a paycheck. Without guidance, some clients are going to have their withholding reduced too much and they will have a balance due at the end of this year. We will discuss at the conference how we can reach these clients and give them the client service they deserve.

There will be a discussion on the Energy Tax Credits available as well as regular tax topics such as the evolving Dependency and Qualifying Child Rules.

I am sure it will be an interesting two days. There are also seminars available monthly throughout the summer. I’m not sure how many of those I will attend. After all, I do have to get in a week of fishing up in Canada, a week and a weekend or two of camping with my family, and make time to attend the Knoxville Nationals sprint car races in Iowa.

My fear is that the summer will be gone in the snap of my fingers.

However, in September, the regular seminar season gets started. At these seminars, normal everyday subjects are covered in-depth. Items such as how to deal with a client’s vacation home that is rented out, how to counsel a client who is contemplating starting a business as an LLC, how to help a client who inherits some stock, bonds or a house, or how to help a client who has lost a job and is contemplating withdrawing money from his 401k or IRA.

Knowing how to answer these questions and properly help these clients is the difference between a tax preparer and a tax professional. It does take time to attend seminars and conferences and convert those experiences into client service, but it is time well-spent. This is Jerry Coon signing off.


Jerry Coon is an Enrolled Agent. He owns

Action Tax Service on Northland Drive in Rockford.

His e-mail address is


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