Pro Spotlight Ep. 7: Curtis Patalano on How Tax Pros Make Filing Taxes Better
Curtis Patalano wanted to get back to what he loved about the tax industry. He wanted to file taxes and not have to focus on much else. So when he had an opportunity to become a Taxfyle Pro, he seized it. Now, Patalano focuses on what he loves.
Q: How long have you been an accountant?
Patalano: I've been in accounting; I've been a CPA for 28 years.
Q: What is it that drew you to the career?
Patalano: It's just something I've always been drawn to. I took a class in high school that got me interested, and I pursued it in college. And then afterwards, in a family business we had, I started working with the CPAs. And I decided I just would take that on as a career path.
Q: What kind of work did you do with those CPAs, and when did you understand that this is the right fit for what you want to do with your career?
Patalano: Well, that was almost immediately. I was an accountant, a private accountant in my family business, and I had to prepare reports for our company CPAs. And I was always envious of their jobs and I wanted to know more about it. So I asked them a lot of questions. And I that's how I started my career.
Q: When you graduated college what was it like stepping out into the professional world?
Patalano: It was exciting. By my senior year in high school, I was you know, I was tired at school and I wanted to start working. And, you know, it was just, it was exciting to start a new path.
Q: So what has your career been like since graduating college?
Patalano: Well, I started in a family business, and then I and then I went into public accounting. I started part time and during that time, I also became a lawyer. So I got my law degree later in life but my passion was always accounting and I always came back to that.
Q: What drew you to Taxfyle?
Patalano: I was I was taking a class, CPE, and I got an email from my provider that mentioned Taxfyle, and said that they were looking for certified public accountants to work for this company and I pursued it. I clicked on the link I asked for more information and you know, I went through a background check, I got more information, and it sounded like it was tailor made for me.
Q: What made you feel like being a Taxfyle Tax Professional was the right fit for what you wanted in your career?
Patalano: Well, there were so many reasons. I had my own accounting firm and I wasn't doing the tax work that I enjoyed I was mostly doing administrative work. So you know, with Taxfyle I can prepare taxes myself, which is my passion. I can work on my own schedule, I don't have to I don't have to set up fees. The clients are diverse, I really enjoyed working with the different client base. To me, it's all an advantage of working with Taxfyle.
Q: What are some of the other benefits that you've come to appreciate by being a part of our pro network?
Patalano: Well, as far as on the professional end, you know, other than working on my own schedule, I don't have to drum up business. You know, accountants are not very good at that for the most part. I don't have to set fees I don't have to collect fees I can just prepare taxes and engage with clients and do what I do best. So that's mainly those are the biggest benefits I find with Taxfyle.
Q: What is it about the field of taxes and preparing and filing tax returns that you enjoy so much?
Patalano: Well, I think it's complex. You know, someone who doesn't prepare taxes it's it's quite complicated learning to the tax laws. And for me, it's finding out you know, meeting a client for the first time, and maybe that client knows nothing about taxes and by the end of it, we've developed a relationship and I've hopefully explained what I'm doing. And I'm taking all of their documents and finding the best tax [solution] for them, you know, the lowest taxes with the biggest benefit. And for me, that's a challenge and it's also something I really enjoy.
Q: What aspects do you think you have that makes you such an adept tax filer?
Patalano: Well, I'm very organized and I love taxation, so loving something, for me anyway, I research it more and it becomes more of a hobby for me and I try to learn as much as I can stay up to date. And in by preparing so many taxes, when there's someone in a similar situation, it's a lot easier for me to come up with a plan for them because I've done it before.
Q: And when you say that you've fallen in love with taxes what when you think about your relationship with that part of the accounting industry what do you love the most?
Patalano: Well, I just I, I guess I love the actual preparation. I love taking a pile of source documents that a client might give me and turn it into a completed accurate tax return. A person who does this needs to be organized and I sort of pride myself in that I can I can cover a lot of ground and do a lot of work in a in a short amount of time because of my organization skills and and that's basically what I enjoyed about tax prep.
Q: There are a lot of areas of tax prep that are complicated and nuanced what individual fields or niches do you specialize in?
Patalano: Well, that's hard to say. As far as individual taxation, I guess I my favorites, favorite type of client has a somewhat complicated tax situation, maybe they have a rental property or they are partners or shareholders in a corporation or maybe they have their own small business and with so I enjoy learning more about the clients and then also try to figure out the best way to maximize tax savings for these different clients.
Q: What has changed the most about the IRS and how does that impact tax filers?
Patalano: The IRS, it's almost like they've been non existent, the client would have very small likelihood of success, try to contact the IRS with any issues. I know they've added more agents but I haven't seen any changes. So getting help from the IRS is next to impossible. Tax pros. We have other ways to contact the IRS we have special lines, but the tax laws are getting more complicated. And it's really difficult for consumers. I don't know how a consumer would do their own taxes these days, especially if if they're younger and haven't had much experience. The IRS isn't going to help them too much.
Q: What is the biggest difference a tax filer can experience when using a tax professional filed their taxes for them versus a do it yourself software?
Patalano: Oh, well do it yourself software is basically it starts off with an interview and asked clients questions and a client may not even understand the question, but has to keep going on and a lot of times there are certain assumptions made with these online self preparing sites. For example, a client may end up by paying use tax on purchases made in in another state or save from an online company when they don't need to. They're not maximizing state deductions, maybe maybe their state allows deductions for apartment rentals in these, these online services don't really do a good job with that. Also, the client may not know what they need, if they deal with a Pro, we will tell them exactly what they need and ask the correct questions to make sure that we know exactly what's going on in their tax life. So that we can prepare the return for them. It's just it's much easier to hand over documents and have the return prepared correctly than doing it themselves I believe.
Q: When you're dealing with new customers or clients, how often do you find yourself catching areas that they could be taken advantage of whether it's for a deduction or credit?
Patalano: Almost every single client, but especially the younger, more inexperienced clients who don't really understand the situation yet, for example, they will get a W-2 and think that's all they need. So, but if, you know, a tax professional can take any tax return and look at it and at least ask the correct questions, make sure there's nothing else that we're leaving on the table.
Q: How has being a Taxfyle Pro benefited you the most?
Patalano: Well, you know, it's, it's just, well, I guess, some of the things I did not enjoy, were, you know, having to collect fees or to set fees. In in coming up with new business. So with with Taxfyle, basically, I can work my own schedule, and I do work a lot of hours, but that's my choice. And I so basically, I will get a, a request for a job. And if I accept that request, I can guarantee I'm gonna get all the documents I need, or I'm gonna get all the support I need from Taxfyle to get the job done. And that's exactly the part of preparing taxes that I enjoy the most, I I have none of the work that I don't like. So it's ideal for me in other accountants who are like me.
Q: What does flexibility mean for you?
Patalano: So tax season can be a nightmare for a CPA or a tax professional and with Taxfyle, being a Pro, I can manage that. So I know if I have a meeting or something to do, you know, family gathering, I can work around that, where if I had my own firm, I probably couldn't, because other people would be making appointments for me or, you know, there could be a software issue or somebody could be out sick. And with Taxfyle, my schedule is my own. I certainly once I accept the client, I respect the timeframe that I have to follow. But if I couldn't if I couldn't work on a certain day, I don't have to accept a client for that day and that flexibility means everything in tax season.
Q: Did you imagine you would be in a scenario where you have flexibility like that?
Patalano: No, I you know, it's funny, that's an interesting question, because I find that I'm actually doing more work than I would in an average tax season. And but it's easier so I know that's an anomaly I guess but that's really how it is. Because of this flexibility I feel I can just get a lot of work done. I can if I'm waiting for items from a client, I can go into the Taxfyle chat. Tell the client what I need more Going to another client. And Taxfyle keeps that organized for me. When a client uploads documents I get notified, I can go back to that client. And it's just a very, very easy way to get a lot of work accomplished.
Q: Is there anything I may not have asked you about tax season and the impact that you know filing taxes has on consumers when it comes to using a pro that you think is important people know?
Patalano: From a client's perspective, I don't think they could do any better than Taxfyle. Because once they submit their documents, it's in our hands and, you know, we're CPAs and we're licensed at this and they're in good hands. We're gonna make sure we do a good job for them and and it's something that takes a lot of worry out of a client. And you know, just it just makes it so much easier for them. It makes it easier for the tax pros. So I guess that's all I can think of.