Business

Small Business and Personal Tax Planning

There’s no time like the present for tax planning.

Certainly in September, April 15 of the following year does seem to be a long way off. Yet, it is autumn’s financial moves that lay the groundwork for minimizing tax obligations due the next spring. That is not to negate the importance of end-of-the-year efforts, but as James Thomasson, owner of Accelerated Financial Services, Inc., based in Mobile, Alabama, has experienced, those year-end efforts are often more fruitful when tax planning becomes a year-round endeavor.

While his firm has its roots in tax preparation, Thomasson is now a veteran of several tax seasons branching out to offer tax planning as well.

jamesthomasson quote
It is a mindset change – for the client and for the advisor.

That kind of tax planning happens best in relationships that span several tax years. And, relationships are just what Thomasson and his staff aim to create while preparing client’s taxes.

“We let people know that we care. They are not just a number here,” Thomasson said. “Even our clients that come in just once a year for just an hour or hour or so to do their taxes are folks that we continue last year’s conversation with this year – and we will continue this year’s conversation next year. We learn to know our clients.”
Knowing the client means being able to foresee necessary changes in the client’s tax and investment situation whether those be of a personal or professional nature.

Would the client’s business be better protected with an LLC or a S-Corp status? Should the client’s IRA be rolled into a ROTH? What impacts does divorce, remarriage or the birth of a child bring to the client’s financial status? Should one buy or lease a new vehicle for business or personal use? Clients are seeking answers to these and many other questions.

This is where the team at Accelerated Financial Services excels.

Thomasson is a Registered Tax Return Preparer with the Internal Revenue Service, a status that gives clients assurance that the outcome of his work is aligned with the federal agency’s policies. And two full-time tax preparation specialists at Accelerated Financial Services maintain certification with online industry programs related to taxation and bookkeeping.

95884308 2911250022262743 3665891214340653056 nBut the firm also uses some commonsense tactics that he says many other tax preparers do not. For example, their clients don’t swing on by the office to pick up their prepared tax return at the front desk. Instead, Thomasson insists that he or one of the other tax preparation specialists meet directly with the client to go over the return line by line.

“We like to go over a tax return completely with a client before they sign anything and are subject to the liability of owing taxes,” Thomasson said.

He also offers an unconditional 100 percent money-back guarantee if a client is not fully satisfied with the tax preparation work completed by the firm. That guarantee has no exceptions and will be honored, Thomasson said, for any reason.

“If a client is not completely satisfied,” Thomasson said. “They owe nothing, We stand behind that.”

That guarantee even incudes confusion on the part of a customer.

He tells the story of a woman that sent her husband to get their taxes done. The gentleman mistakenly went to Accelerated Financial Services thinking that was where their previous tax preparation was completed. Turns out, his wife had been using a different preparation service and was not completely satisfied – mostly because her husband had gone to the wrong firm.

No worries for Thomasson, though. He refunded the preparation charge for the couple that year. But the following year, the couple returned.

“After she saw us stand behind our promise, she decided to come back to us,” Thomasson said.

That standard is a big part of what has helped Thomasson grow Accelerated Financial Services to a four-location firm with three offices in Alabama and one in Florida.
That standard of quality customer service is also what guided his response to the COVID-19 pandemic and how to best serve the firm’s clients. He knew that federal stimulus legislation would prompt plenty of questions from his clients and the need for face-to-face discussions regarding what financial moves they should make.

In a proactive social media move, Thomasson made his own video regarding the proper use of masks combined with what financial information clients needed to bring with for their visit. He discussed how social distancing would work at Accelerated Financial Services offices and the fact that the firm purposely had fewer employees in the office at any given time as employees rotated working from home and working in the office.

94700748 2885907921463620 1862455711133335552 o“Early on, I decided we needed to do a social media outreach to show our clients that we are taking all of the necessary precautions to protect our clients and our employees,” Thomasson explained. “We wanted to protect our clients and their families and protect our employees and their families.

The challenge of mastering the nuances of the federal CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) which includes the Economic Impact Payments from the IRS, and the Paycheck Protection Program for businessowners to keep employees paid during closure due to the virus, has been a bit of baptism by fire.

Clients are asking reasonable questions that Thomasson – and so many others in the financial services industry – just simply currently do not have complete answers to.

Why haven’t I received a stimulus check? Will my business have to re-pay the entire amount of PPP or will some or all of that be forgiven in the next tax year?

These questions and the answers being sought have brought Thomasson more clients.

“In addition to our regular business, the July extension was a blessing for us,” he said. “Folks heard about us on social media were referrals from current clients and we were able to grow our business during this. It certainly has been an unusual tax year,” he admits.

In fact, it’s probably the strangest tax year since Thomasson began his career in October 1987 and since purchased Accelerated Financial Services in 1995. Through the years, his focus hasn’t changed. He doesn’t chase large corporate accounts. His attention is on small busines owners – their businesses and their personal tax preparation needs. That is still 75 percent of the firm’s business with bookkeeping and payroll services also offered and expanding his role as a client’s trusted financial advisor.

The firm’s website proudly states, “Better than the Rest,” and Thomasson stands behind that claim.

“We are a value-based company,” he said. “We are better than the rest because everything we do demonstrates to clients that we are in this for the long run with them.”

For more information on Accelerated Financial Services, Inc., visit: acceleratedaccounting.tax

 

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