Category Archives: General Ramblings

The Ultimate Black Friday Tax Prep Deal

What, a tax preparation Black Friday deal?  How is that even possible?  Isn’t tax season in like April?  Yes, tax preparation may be the farthest thing from your mind given that yesterday most of us stuffed our tummies to the max.  However, tax season IS just around the corner.  But what’s even better is that we are going to give you several was to save some dinero IF you take advantage of our deal.  So what’s included?

As if all of the above wasn’t good enough, how would you like to get some extra money during the 2016 tax filing season?  Well, if you send us your friends, family and co-workers and they become a client, we’ll give you $40 for EACH person you send us.  While the details for tax year 2015 aren’t final just yet, it will operate very similar to our 2014 Referral Program.  And the best part is that you DON’T have to be a client to earn referral commissions (you just have to tell your friends to mention that YOU sent them when they meet with us and we’ll do the rest).

How To Get This Deal

  • Go back to the home page
  • Enter in your email above the green “Get Guide” button
  • Check your email account for a message with next steps and further instructions (it will be sent with 6-12 hours)

Instead of offering separate deals for Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, this deal will cover them all.  As such, you must submit your email before it expires at 11:59PM on Tuesday December 1, 2015.

Our 10th Year Anniversary!

 

Thanks for the past 10 years!

Thanks for the past 10 years!

So this tax season was a little more challenging than anticipated; thus the reason this post is coming out in October.  Needless to say, back on September 14, 2005 Wilson Rogers & Company came into existence.  That means that 2015 marks 10 years of us being in business!  A lot has happened in that time frame.  So with this post, we thought we would not only recap our history, but just how we were able to make it that long.

2005
So after years of Jared getting “hey, your’re an accountant, I have a tax question for you.” he and Aaronita Wilson decided to start a tax company.  “What are we going to call it?” was the question for a while.  “How about we call it Rogers Wilson” Aaronita would say.  “Nah, how about Wilson Rogers?” Jared replied.  “Kind of sounds like a person.  Some estately dude on a horse playing polo.  It also sounds like another tax company we know…”  And with that, Wilson Rogers & Company took form.

2006
This was the first year that we actually started doing returns for pay.  Some of the key highlights:

  • Mr. Asberry becomes “client number one” by sending us his information.
  • Mr. Simpson becomes the first transmitted return as he was quicker to process than Mr. Asberry!
  • Jared and Aaronita get married on September 22, 2006, thus effectively removing a person named “Wilson” from the company.  Don’t worry, people still ask to speak to Wilson Rogers when they come to the office!

2007-2010
These were the “slow years” for the most part as there really wasn’t much that changed.  Client levels stayed pretty consistent and revenues were largely flat.  This was primarily due to the fact that both Aaronita and Jared maintained full time jobs within Corporate America.  This would start to change in the following year.

2011
Sometime towards the end of 2011, the decision was made that Jared would leave Corporate America to head up our first “retail” office.  Up until this point, all the tax returns were done “in house” by making appointments to pick up documents, preparing the returns at night and then providing the completed return to the client at a later date.  2011 was filled with decisions about health insurance, resignation dates and how to outfit the new office.  Somehow, someway, it all managed to come together.

2012
Tax Season? Ready, Set, Go!

Tax Season? Ready, Set, Go!

So this was the first tax season with the new office.  If you want to read the recap on how it went, you can check that out here.  Some of the things that you won’t see in this post:

  • Mr. Campbell had the honor of becoming “retail client number one” on a cold day in January.  He had all his paperwork…we didn’t have the nice frilly folders to give him his tax return in. Oh man…the early days!
  • At the same time we were opening the office, Jared was moonlighting with the fine folks of Intuit with their Turbotax Ask A Tax Expert (ATE) team.  It was also the year that he broke the wrist on his dominant hand and had to finish out tax season using his left hand.  Talk about bad handwriting!
  • We also took many steps into the marketing world to help get the word out.  One of these included developing relationships with sites like Teaspiller (which was later acquired by Intuit)

2013
So we survived another retail office tax season.  That recap can be found here.  The one standout item for this year was that Teaspiller was purchased by Intuit and folded into the TurboTax brand.  What that did was drive additional tax preparation business to us that was above and beyond what we had projected.  It also continued Jared’s relationship with Intuit, which further broadened in late April when he became certified as a Quickbooks Proadvisor.

2014
This was the year that we hired “employee number one” so that Jared could have a little help.  You can read all about Stephanie in a little interview that we did here.  If you want to read about the season, that is located in this post.  That post will also talk about how we began using bus benches to advertise to local traffic in our area!

2015
This was our fourth tax season with the office, and man did things really pick up.  They picked up so much that we hired Patricia as “employee number two” to keep up with things.  This was also the year that we launched www.fileoldtaxreturns.com to offer those needing to file older tax returns an option to do so.

How Did We Survive 10 Years?
Everyone knows the statistic that most businesses fail to make it to the 5 year mark.  While we have been lucky enough to avoid the top 5 reasons businesses fail, we must admit that it takes a little more than that to last for 10 years.  So what are the keys to the castle?  In summary we think:

  • Provide good service.  If you don’t do that, you’ll be lucky if you last beyond a year.
  • Value your customers. We have wonderful customers and we try to let them know that as frequently as possible.  Without them, there would be no Wilson Rogers & Company.
  • Stand out from your competitors.  We’ve all heard that insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.  If you look, sound and act just like your competitors, expect to get their results – average!  So be bold. Do things differently. Give the public what they want, not what YOU think they want.
  • Make adjustments when necessary.  Getting to 10 years has not been a straight line drive.  We’ve had to adjust and pivot along the way.  Have we made mistakes? You bet! Have we learned from them? Continuously.  The key is to make adjustments when needed, forget the past and try to do better in the future.  If you can do that (combined with the above points), then maybe one day we’ll be reading about how you survived your first ten years.

Here’s to a bright future!

Our 4th Tax Season

It’s sort of become a tradition for us to provide a recap of how our previous tax seasons have gone. What is special about this year is that while it is our fourth with our Beverly retail office, it marks our 10th year in business! Keep your eyes peeled for a future post on that topic and some special things we will be doing to celebrate.

As always, we’ve still got some more analysis to do, but here are some of the preliminary successes that we are aware of:

  • 20% growth in client load
  • 49 new clients entrusted us with their tax situation
  • Revenue growth in excess of 45%
  • Processed returns in 19 states, which is slightly down from last year, BUT does not include anything we have on extension (which could send us above the number of states processed last year).

Our Challenges We won’t rehash too much of this here as we already put out a post on why this was the worst tax season in 35 years. We’ll just simply let you read that one at your leisure!

Our Triumphs. There were a lot of things that did go well this season. The short version includes:

  • Staffing – We had some of our seasoned folks come back and we added new faces to the lineup. Without either Stephanie or Patricia working in the trenches this year, things would have been a lot harder than they were. Thank you ladies!
  • Bus Benches – We’ve written about how bus benches work in the past. What we noticed this year is that the longer they are in the public space, the better they do over the long haul. This year alone we can attribute 18% of our new clients coming as a result of these benches. With a little bit of refining, looks like this will continue to be a medium we advertise with.
  • Gaining Scale – Scale can mean a lot of things in business. What we are referring to is that fact that the business is taking on a life of it’s own. It’s reached a size where things are sort of just “naturally occurring” and it’s now our job to simply try and guide it. This is a good thing though and something that we’ve been anticipating for the past 3 years. It now means that we can begin to transition how we do things and set our focus a little further down the road instead of simply where are next sale will come from.

While growing a financial service business is not easy in today’s competitive environment, it’s satisfying to know that we’re still able to make progress towards the goals we set out for ourselves 10 years ago.

If you want to know how any of our past seasons went, feel free to read about them here:

Season One
Season Two
Season Three

Here’s looking to a bright future and since we’re 80’s babies, only this song would be considered fitting!

Worst Tax Season In 35 Years!

We’re usually pretty positive and “Pollyannaish” when it comes to things around here. But this tax season is REALLY different. Things are taking much longer than they should, clients are delaying, there aren’t enough hours in the day; the list is endless. The last time things were this bad was back in 1986 when Congress enacted the Passive Activity Loss rules.  But why is 2015 so bad? Take a look below:

The Budget. Congress has shrunk the IRS budget over the past five years, while at the same time requiring the agency to administer even more complex laws. The IRS topline budget for 2015 is about 10% less than it was in 2010. But the real drop is actually steeper since the 10% doesn’t account for cost increases that have occurred in the past five years. During roughly the same period, the number of IRS personnel has fallen by at least 8%. Furthermore, the amount of money the agency has for staff training has dropped by more than 85%.

What this means is that the average taxpayer has to 1) wait almost an hour to speak to a representative, 2) greater than 50% of taxpayers that call the IRS wind up hanging up without getting an answer and 3) even us practitioners can’t get our work/cases solved in the same amount of time with the agency. Frustration on all fronts would probably be an understatement.

More Work and Complexity. This tax season is the first where the IRS has to administer the premium tax credits and individual mandates under the Affordable Care Act. Firsts are never perfect, of course, so it should be expected that this will be long, painful and not easy for most taxpayers or professionals. Need help figuring it out? See the first pain point above! 

Tangible Property Repair Regulations. New and effective for 2014, these regulations changed how we evaluate repair costs as they relate to tangible property. If you file a Schedule C, E or F, you have the potential to experience what may be the single biggest pain in the arse of the entire 2015 tax season.

While the IRS gave small businesses a reprieve from having to fill out Form 3115, Change in Accounting Method, for those with many years’ worth of assets on their books (e.g. landlords), you may still want to fill one out. This is because 1) you will forego audit protection if you don’t submit it with your return and 2) you may need to calculate a Section 481 adjustment if things are still being depreciated and shouldn’t.

The best part of Form 3115? It has to be sent in via paper to Ogden Utah prior to you filing your return and then again when you electronically file it. With that being said, the average tax preparer is probably completing more Forms 3115 this year than in all of their career.

Needless to say, all of the above hasn’t made for an “easy” tax season to say the least. So if you know someone in the tax industry, make sure you give them a hug or tell them that it will be alright. Many of us could use the love!

Time To Quit Your Job?

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A few days ago we were talking to Jared about the various employers he worked for before heading up Wilson Rogers.  While chatting, we wondered what made him leave various employers.  From that, we learned that when he was a “young” professional, he would be very quick to make judgments and contemplate whether he should hit the door.  But as he became more “seasoned” in his career, he would tend to think about things a little longer before making his ultimate decision.   However, just because he took longer does not mean that he didn’t have to ditch an employer, or two, to make his life a little happier!

If you think it may be time for a new job, we suggest that you ask yourself the same five questions Jared would ask himself.  This will keep you from telling your boss off and security escorting you off the premises!

Do you truly hate what you do?  If the answer is yes, the next question is not should you quit your job, but when will you quit your job.  We have no idea what your financial overhead amounts to or what your debt is. What we do know is that even though life is short, doing something with it that you hate will only make it seem very long and very miserable.

Have you asked for a raise and the answer was “no?”  If you’re truly working your butt off week after week, month after month, and year after year, and you’re not getting raises or growing your income, something is wrong.   Even if you get just the national average annual raise (a little less than 3 percent), in five years you will have increased your income by over 15 percent. You need these increases to be able to keep your head above water financially. The increase in the cost of gas alone requires that you earn a raise.  However, and this is important, the key is that you earn it.

Do you work for a company you don’t respect?  If you’re not being paid well and not getting raises, and on top of that you don’t respect the company where you spend 40 hours or more a week, that’s a pretty amazing sign that it’s time to come up with a plan to quit.

So be honest with yourself right now: Do you respect the company you work for? Do you like what it stands for? Do you like what it does? Does it care about you and its customers? Does it have a plan for the future, or is it living in the past?

Do you work for a company that doesn’t respect you?  The fact is that not all companies are created equal. There are bad, good, and great companies, and they all treat their people in radically different ways.  Does your company respect you? You pretty much know the answer, don’t you?  If they don’t respect you, then why would you want to pour all of your talent, emotion and drive into a place that probably isn’t going to reward these efforts?

Are you’re bored to death and not challenged?  This is the hardest sign to recognize because it can change over time. You may be one promotion away from new opportunities, but things can be pretty brutal if you’ve been bored out of your mind for years.

It can happen, by the way, even when you’re experiencing tremendous success, getting raises, and working for a great company. It can happen when you run your own business. It can happen when you’ve worked for 5, 10, 20, or 30 years and achieved all you ever dreamed of achieving. And, yes, it can happen even sooner than that.

Plan Before You Go
Often, we reach a point where what we do simply doesn’t work anymore. We’re not fulfilled. At that point, you have to ask yourself if it’s time to change where you are, or what you do where you are.  We’re not being cavalier here by suggesting that you simply quit your job today. What we are suggesting is that you think about these five signs. Ask yourself the questions. Talk them over with someone you love. If you already know that the answer is “yes, it’s time to quit,” then it’s time to start planning the “I quit” date.

Be smart, think it through, and once the decision is made, congratulate yourself for not settling on the status quo. Quitting a job often requires that you step outside your comfort zone – not always an easy thing to do. But once you’ve done it, new and exciting opportunities await. Good luck.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Being a parent is a hard job in general, but being a mother, that is the ultimate.  I was fortunate to have (and still do) two very loving parents in my life.  I also have very vivid and fond memories of my mother and all that she did for me throughout my childhood and adolescent years.

Like the times she fixed up my scrapes and cuts from my attempts at doing something insane.  Like the weekend nights she would play Anita Baker and Luther Vandross full blast on the stereo.  Like taking my sister and I to swimming class so we could eventually swim with the big kids in Lake Michigan.  The list is literally endless.

Yet if I was honest with myself, I know that I in no way thanked her even an inkling of what I should have for all that she did.  I’ll probably spend the rest of my life attempting to show her that she meant the world to me.  But in the meantime, I just want to say thank you Mrs. Tonia Rogers for being the bestest mom that ever was!

In 2009, the other Mrs. Rogers (aka Aaronita) joined the motherhood club with the birth of our daughter Pilar.

The reason Mrs. Rogers celebrates Mother's Day!

The reason Mrs. Rogers celebrates Mother’s Day!

There is little that I can do for Aaronita that will indicate the gratitude I have for what she does for Pilar.  Yeah, breakfast in bed is a nice gesture, so is a fancy piece of jewelry.  But in reality, those things pale in comparison to all the drop offs to school, pick ups each night during my tax season, the ballet classes, the story reading, family trips, etc.

Family fun in the California Sun!

Family fun in the California Sun!

But similar to the senior Mrs. Rogers, I will start by saying thank you babe for being an awesome mommy!

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there – regardless if you have biological children, adopted children, foster children or people whom you simply provide for!

Our 3rd Tax Season

Funny how time flies; has it really been three years?   We’ve posted in the past how our 1st and 2nd tax seasons played out, so in keeping with tradition, this post will tell how this year went.

We’ve got some more analysis to do, but here are some of the successes that we are aware of:

  • Approximately 150 clients served
  • 50 new clients entrusted us with their tax situation
  • Revenue growth in excess of 20%
  • Processed returns in 20 states, which is a 18% increase vs. last year

Our Challenges
This year was not without its challenges.  Some of these were self imposed (i.e. possibly setting the bar a little too high) while others were outside of our control.  With that being said, here is what we faced:

Staffing.  In working to grow and serve more clients, you have to add infrastructure.  While we did a good job on the employee screening front, we encountered a issue mid season that required a personnel change.  The biggest problem with this is that it happened mid season so finding a replacement was a little challenging.  However, we successfully navigated that challenge and in this post, our first employee discusses their time working with us.

Testing marketing programs.  This year we went a little big on the marketing front and threw our hat into the ring on multiple fronts.  Problem with this is 1) it cost money and 2) you won’t know what doesn’t work until you test it.  Needless to say, we did find out what made the phone ring and people come through the door.  The downside is that we spent a lot of money to get that education.

Hey, who is that guy?!?!

Hey, who is that guy?!?!

Aggressive projections.  Last year we had a 3rd party source that brought us a sizeable amount of business.  Problem with that is that we based our projections for this year with that business in mind.  Unfortunately, we lost a nice chunk of that business (i.e. the clients didn’t repeat) which of course impacted our numbers.  But the lesson learned is that past performance is not indicative of future results.  So we’ll lick our wounds on that front and come back with a new plan for next year.

In the end, we continue to plod along and we continue to grow.  More clients come to us each year and tell us how glad they are to have found us.  This gives us hope that if we keep acting like the little engine that could, maybe one day we’ll make it to the top of the mountain!

Get To Know Our 1st Employee

Back in this post, our CEO Jared Rogers talked a little bit about himself.  Well, this year our staff has grown with the addition of our Customer Service Representative; Stephanie L. Young.  With that being said, we decided to ask her a few questions so that you could get to know her.

Just like the classic interview question, tell us a little about yourself!  Well, before coming to work at Wilson Rogers & Company I had a 27 ½ year career at AT&T.  I recently married my best friend and soul mate Donald Walker this past October 2013.  I have one daughter Tiffani Edwards and one grandson Christian Carter.

What do you like to do for fun?  Well, I wouldn’t say that I have hobbies but I love internet shopping for everything.  When the weather is nice (50-70 degrees) I like to do a lot of walking with our 2 year old boxer Jordan.

What do you like most about work?  I like that my job is here in the neighborhood; it takes me all of 10 minutes to get to work.  I’m also glad that we don’t wear jeans to work because my work clothes are finally getting another chance to be worn again (yeah)!  I didn’t know I was so out of touch with answering the phone, but it’s coming back to me as the time goes on.  Jared is also an understanding boss who demonstrates good patience when my brain is sometimes off.  Thanks for all your understanding boss!

How would you describe the work environment here?  The work environment here is good and I like the fact that Jared comes to work every day pleasant (and if he’s not in a good mood he hides it well).  Jared has good patience with me too.  But if he didn’t I know how to run out the door real fast!

What’s the biggest thing you’ve learned so far?  The biggest thing I’ve learned so far has been how to work in Excel.  This has been a little bit of a challenge for me because in my employment at AT&T I didn’t really use it.  But I have and continue to pick up on it and Youtube is a great teacher.

Tell the folks one thing that you’ve learned about the tax business that they may not know.  I never knew there were so many different tax forms.  I also didn’t realize that you don’t necessarily have to visit your tax preparer.  I’ve seen documents faxed and mailed to the office for us to work on.  I also didn’t know that your tax preparer doesn’t have to live/work in the same state as you.  I’ve seen tax returns being prepared for people in states as far away as California, New York and Florida.

What’s one thing people don’t know about you?  I really do love cooking and if I’m not doing that I could play cards (bid whist) all night.  I can also crochet pretty good.

What will you be doing this summer once tax season ends?  If I’m not working another job I will just be relaxing and enjoying the good weather.  I’ll also try to eat right and not pick up any extra weight.  I’m also hoping that our family takes a few short road trips maybe to Michigan and Wisconsin and maybe a longer trip to Mississippi.

What would make you come back to Wilson Rogers & Company next tax season?  If Jared hired me back!  I appreciate the trust that Jared demonstrated in hiring me.  He knew that he could depend on my coming to work everyday and being on time.  He also knew that he could depend on me doing what was asked of me and doing it right.  If I didn’t understand something I’d tell him.  So with that being said, I’d like to say “thank you” for being really easy to work for and I’d love to come back next season if given the opportunity.

 

Want $40? Our 2014 Referral Program!

Every year, we listen to what our clients tell us they like and what we should change.  While we had a pretty decent referral program in the past, this year we’ve decided to go even bigger so to speak.  This year we’re offering a program where the referrer can earn $40 for each and every client they send us; an unlimited number of times.

This is open to existing clients, new clients, friends and family of the practice – essentially anyone who respects us enough to send business our way.  So no, you don’t actually have to be a “client” to earn money with us.  However, you should probably send us an email with your contact info and the name of the person you are referring so we can send you your gift at the end of the season.

So why are we doing this?  Well, all of the details can be found here, but the short answer is to reward those who think highly of us.  If you’re willing put your reputation on the line by recommending our services, we’re willing to earn it, in more ways than one!  But seriously, we want to give a little something back to those who continue to help us grow and move this practice forward.  Besides, who couldn’t use more cash these days?

Milestones – Our 100th Post

To know where you are going, you must know where you've been.

To know where you are going, you must know where you've been.

Funny how time flies.  Two years ago we were just a few weeks away from opening up the doors to our Beverly retail office.  In this, our 100th post, we thought it would be appropriate to reflect a little.

When we created our blog, we set one simple goal for it; create one post per week with content we believed would be relevant to our customers as well as general taxpayers.  During that time we’ve gone through two tax seasons, refreshed our website, increased our client base as well as a host of other things.  The point you may ask?  Well, none of this would be possible without milestones.

Milestones serve to inform us of how far we are in our journey and how much further we have to go.  In the short two years of opening our office, we’ve come quite a way from our beginnings.  Yet, we still have a long way to go to our self prescribed destination.

With that said, as we prepare to enter into a new year (which many will mark with New Year’s Resolutions), we urge all of you to set goals for yourself along with milestones.  That way, when you’re questioning whether you should continue on your journey (or if you have the strength to) you’ll have a pretty clear answer to help you in your decision.

Now back to getting ready for our 3rd tax season…