Friday, September 21, 2012
TAX BLOGOSPHERE BUDDY - JAMAAL SOLOMON, EA
(1) I have decided to revive my series of interviews with TAX BLOGOSPHERE BUDDIES as a regular Friday feature for the next several weeks.
First up in this new series is Enrolled Agent Jamaal Soloman, owner and CEO of the Brooklyn NY based J.S. Tax Corporation, and author of THE TAX FACTOR blog.
I first learned of Jamaal in a post by Trish McIntire of OUR TAXING TIMES, who was interviewed in the first TBB series (click here).
Each post at THE TAX FACTOR begins with a music video appropriate to the topic of discussion.
I was especially interested in Jamaal’s comments about his classes at “a tax franchise”.
(3) How did you become interested/involved in preparing tax returns?
I graduated from college with BS in Business Management, a semester after 9/11, so the job market was horrible for new graduates. My original plan was getting a job to become a store manager. Doing taxes was the last thing on my mind. However, two years after graduation I found myself taking classes at a tax franchise about how to prepare taxes. I felt that the company was only teaching us how to type our clients’ response in their program. You didn’t need to know about taxes because the computer program told you everything. I felt that the computer program was a disservice to their clients. I never worked for the company but I became fascinated with taxes. Half way through the lessons, I got a job with a small accounting firm. The firm allowed me to continue the class.
How were you educated/trained in preparing tax returns?
I started my tax career with a small accounting firm with only one owner/accountant. The owner taught me everything he knew about taxes. I learned how to complete Forms 1040, 1120, 1065, 990, 1041, 1023, 990 and payroll taxes. Plus, I learned how to communicate with clients and the IRS. I would have never received this direct experience with a large corporation. This experience encouraged me to obtain a Master’s degree in Taxation from CUNY Baruch College and get licensed as an Enrolled Agent.
Currently, I own an accounting company called J.S. Tax Corporation. I’m small now but watch out for my company in five years!
When and why did you decide to write a blog on tax issues?
The idea popped in my head after I obtained my Master’s in 2009. The only thing I learned from my Master’s program was how to save millionaires and billionaires money on their taxes. I wanted to write posts for the average American taxpayer. However after about four posts, I became bored with the blog and decided to stop.
Fast forward three years later; I felt the need to write tax blog posts again. Too much people in my community are scared to talk about taxes. However, this time around to keep myself motivated I decided to make it a different tax blog. I decided to make it unique by adding music to most of my posts. I absolutely love music and can’t write creatively without it. On my posts, you could find songs from artists like Johnny Cash, the Beatles, Jay-Z, James Brown, etc.
How has blogging helped your business?
My blog is still new so I haven’t seen any benefits to my business. However, a lot of people have told me that they enjoy reading my posts.
What do you consider the “best tax advice” you can give anyone?
"Don't Let The Joneses Get You Down" by The Temptations
“Ow, people gather round me, it's whom it may concern.
I'm not trying to run your life.
But you're never too old to learn, huh.
Stop worrying about your neighbors and the fancy things they got.
'Cause if you do you'll find it sure, you're gonna wind up on the spot.
Don't let the Jones
Don't let the Jones
Don't let the Joneses
Get you down, oh down.”
In other words, don’t worry about what tax refund other people received. Everybody situation is unique when it comes to tax returns. Seeking huge tax refunds tend to get people in trouble.
Do you think the regulation of tax return preparers is a good thing?
Yes, because I believe there are too many fraudulent tax preparers taking advantage of their clients. I tell my clients all the time that “I’m too skinny to go to jail.” Some of these clients are used to tax preparers making magical numbers so they can get a refund.
Do you think CPAs and attorneys should be exempt from testing and required CPEs in taxation?
Just because someone is a CPA or attorney doesn’t mean that they know about taxes. People need to respect how difficult it is to be a good tax return preparer. It is not all about entering a W-2. A lot of people think all CPAs are tax experts. However, some CPAs only dealt with taxes when they studied for their CPA exam. At minimum, CPAs and attorneys should be required to take annual CPEs in taxation.
Do you think experienced tax preparers should be exempt from the initial RTRP competency test under “grandfathering”?
No, because if you are an experienced tax preparer then the exam should be a piece of cake. Some so-called experienced tax preparers don’t know what they are doing. It is time to prove that you can correctly prepare a tax return. I don’t want to hear about the “new technology” excuse. Paper tax returns will be extinct in about five years. I don’t want to seem harsh but I have seen may people get hurt by corrupt or incapable tax preparers. This is one of the reasons why every week I create a “Tax Preparers’ Hall of Shame” post on my blog.
How would you reform/rewrite the Tax Code?
Life is too short for me to think about ways to improve the Tax Code. The Tax Code is so complex, long, corrupt and unfair. Politicians and lobbyists make the Tax Code unbearable for the little guys. Most people direct their angry towards the IRS. However, it is Congress that makes the tax laws. To change the Tax Code, voters must stand up to their elected officials. If voters don’t stand up then thinking about how to improve the code is useless.
What is your favorite Broadway musical – and why?
It is crazy that I love all types of music expect musical movies and plays. Broadway musicals are too long for me. My mind starts wandering and next thing you know I’m thinking about taxes in the middle of the play.