The Tax Attic — May 21, 2009

May 21, 2009 // 0 Comments

Two provisions of ARRA take immediate affec I attended a tax conference last Thursday and Friday in Grand Rapids. One of the instructors was Marilyn Meredith, an Enrolled Agent from Port Huron. I have known Marilyn since I started in the tax business 30 years ago. Marilyn is one of those rare really smart tax people who also have the ability to teach. I know many really smart tax people, but most of them don’t function well in front of crowds. Two-day tax conferences seem to be especially hard on the instructors for a couple of reasons. According to the National Association of Tax Professionals, the average age of all tax professionals in Michigan is 57 years of age. That means the average tax professional in Michigan is very experienced. It’s a veteran crowd that prepares lots of returns. They aren’t looking for an instructor to go over the basics of tax law. They want some meat on the bone, so to speak, and they tend to ask tough questions. Two days in the same place gives them a chance to come up with lots of tough questions. Rookie instructors tend to get flustered and over-whelmed. Instructors like Marilyn have well-written material, have the knowledge to back up the material, and tend to roll with the questions. If they don’t know the answer right off, they either get some help to research the question immediately or tell the person to talk to them later. It’s quite a highly prized skill. I think it’s kind of like being able to hit a curve ball. Either you can or you can’t and, even though practice might allow you to hit a poor or regular curve ball, no amount of practice will get you hitting a good curve ball. You just have to have the natural talent of hitting a curve ball. Marilyn is one of those natural curve-ball hitters, and the seminar attendees love and appreciate her work. One of the tough subjects she covered was evaluating how the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) is going to affect many of our clients right now. She pointed out that two provisions in particular are going to be of immediate effect. First, a one-time $250 payment […]

The Tax Attic—May 7, 2009

May 7, 2009 // 0 Comments

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 […]