Everything’s up to date in Grandview, MO at the offices of L&R Tax Preparation, where Bruce McFarland, the internet’s MISSOURI TAX GUY, has been preparing tax returns professionally since 1999. The L and R in the company’s title refer to Bruce’s youngest children.
(1) How did you become interested/involved in preparing tax returns or teaching taxes?
One of my Aunts way back when had just been divorced. She had never filed a return and asked if I could help. How hard could it be - right? So, very young and eager to be a help to her I said “sure”. The intricacies of the plus this and minus that just amazed me. What I thought would take an hour or so took days. The tax return became a big logic puzzle that ultimately made no sense. I was hooked.
(2) How were you educated/trained in preparing tax returns?
There really is no “school” that will teach a person how to prepare a tax return, so one is left to their own devises. All through school I became more familiar with 1040s by way of helping my classmates each year. I took several tax classes from my school and what the local library would sponsor. I interned and was employed by a very large accounting firm working in the tax department. Through the years (going on 24 now I think) since I helped my Aunt, I have indulged myself with home study courses, on-line courses. And in my future I see myself going back to college for a degree in Taxation.
(3) When and why did you decide to write a blog on tax issues?
June 8th, 2008 was the date I published my first blog post – “Stimulus Payments”. Why? Wow, uhmm. I read an article that was in the TAXPRO Journal from NATP where Robert Flach talked about his blogging. From that I found several other bloggers in the tax field and was hooked reading them. The more I read the more I felt I could contribute myself. Finally what broke the proverbial straw that sent me out there to figure out how to get a blog out was all the phone calls and questions I was getting from clients about the Stimulus payments.
(4) How has blogging helped your business?
I really wouldn’t say that blogging helps my business. I am sure it does in some way but I don’t see it that way. My blog isn’t a business commercial but rather a way for my clients and all the other taxpayers to find information that will help them. Here of late I have been trying to pimp my business through my blog, but to date the only thing my blog succeeds in is putting out information; that works because that’s why I do it.
(5) What do you consider the “best tax advice” you can give anyone?
The best tax advice is at best general, as everyone’s return is unique. The “best” advice for one may be worthless to another. Let’s see, if I could generalize advice the best thing I’d tell everyone - it might be time consuming but go through the motions to see if itemizing will help. Even the IRS will tell you that they make millions because people didn’t itemize. So people, go through the motions, at least realistically examine the possibility to see if it will benefit you to file that extra form.
(6) Do you think the regulation of tax return preparers is a good thing?
I do believe it is a good thing, however not in the respects as the government is proclaiming. In a nut shell the government is telling everyone that this will get rid of the unscrupulous prepares out there. It won’t. In my opinion if anything it will cause those “bad” prepares to be harder to find.
I am also under the impression that because of the added rules and cost for this or that that many very qualified prepares will no longer participate. So in essence, it will reduce the number of qualified prepares even further.
(7) Do you think CPAs and attorneys should be exempt from testing and required CPEs in taxation?
Why? I mean why should they be exempt? Nothing in Certified Public Accountant or Attorney at Law says “I know everything about taxes”. In fact nothing from either of those groups says they know anything at all about taxes. I could go crazy here in big long tangent but to simplify things, let’s just go with a very large and resounding NO! They should be required to test in tax prep just like any other preparer.
(8) What is your favorite Broadway musical – and why?
OKLAHOMA. That’s where I am from.
I am proud to have been a part of Bruce’s “inspiration” to blog!
Bruce is doing a more detailed interview series of tax bloggers over at THE MISSOURI TAX GUY – and I will be up on January 3, 2011.