Pro Spotlight: Jeremy Miller On Changing Careers and Being A Taxfyle Pro
Before Jeremy Miller was filing taxes for customers, he worked as an Iowa state corrections officer. But when it was time for his family to grow, he felt a new career path was in order. After working at firms, Jeremy is now running his own tax and accounting practice. Meanwhile, he uses Taxfyle to boost his income while making the most out of the flexibility our platform offers Pros.
Q: Jeremy, you weren't originally an accountant? What made you decide to change your career path?
Miller: Having a family. Originally, I was a corrections officer for the state of Iowa. And when we found out we were going to have our first little one, we decided it was time for a career change, and accountancy was the path I had chosen to go.
Q: Why did you choose accounting?
Miller: For a few few reasons. I've always been good with numbers, I really enjoy puzzles. And to me tax returns, bookkeeping projects are just like a puzzle, you have to put all the pieces together, and then you just see what the end picture looks like. The other was I grew up around small businesses, small family businesses. I saw how hard it can be for small businesses without guidance. So I wanted to be one of those people to help guide small businesses, especially family businesses, help them have more ups than downs each year, so they can better plan for retirement or family succession.
Q: When you were deciding to change your career and become an accountant. What was it like to make that decision?
Miller: Knowing that it would take a ton of work, just to get back to square one. It was terrifying, especially having a newborn. But thankfully, I have a very supportive wife who guided me and pushed me to go back and become an accountant. I can say it's well worth it, and I wouldn't want to have it any other way.
Q: So how did you balance getting your degree, working, and raising a family?
It was a lot. We had a crawler at home, I did work part-time. And then I did full-time online classes. I was able to go online, and I was able to finish my four year degree in actually 14 months. I did have a very supportive wife who worked full-time while I was going to school and working part-time during that time of our life.
Q: What was it about accounting that really made you feel comfortable, that really made you feel like this is the right choice that you made for your family?
Miller: Not just stability, but for me, it's something different each day, every client has something different. So knowing that, you know, I wasn't going to go in and just punch a clock and do the same thing day after day; I actually get to meet people and help people. And I just enjoy what I do.
Q: Once you got your degree, where did you start working?
Miller: I worked for a local firm out of the Quad City area here. I was lucky enough that I had a connection. He actually was a partner for that firm. So he said, “Hey, you know, we actually have this seasonal tax spot open come in. If you work hard things go, well, you know, we may have a full-time position for you after the season.” So that's just what I did. I put my head down, worked hard, and learned a lot in that first season. And at the end of it, they said, “Hey, you know, this is really working.” And I went on full-time with them, and actually I was there for almost five years at that firm.
Q: So what was your experience like working in firms before you became a Tax Pro?
Miller: Working for other firms, it was always a focus on numbers. Focus on your billable hours. Focus on what your billable rate was, what your realization was, it was a focus on numbers. Yes, they were there to help their clients, but they wanted to make as much money as possible. And we were the tools, the accountants, you know, the people that did most of the work. We were their tools to get to that point. So it had become, you know, a 60-hour busy season, you know, the life that we had gotten used to actually was becoming 70 hours and 80 hours. And eventually, there's at the first firm I worked for, it was actually 90 hours a week, seven days a week is what they expected out of us. And it just became too much. So that led me to step out on my own and start my own firm.
Q: From your experience, why do you think that's the case working at firms?
Miller: That's a hard question. I mean, it's, I think the biggest thing is, that's just because that's how it's always been done. If you talk to partners or other firms that kind of have these legacy models, that's just what they've always done. They work six days a week or seven days a week. And that's normal for them. I don't think it is actually the norm of the industry anymore. And I think, honestly, that that's what scares away a lot of young professionals that only have a couple of years, you know, working for a public accounting firm. It scares them away and leads them into the private industry.
Q: What motivated you to open up your own practice?
My family. I have four young kids, and they're getting older, but having the time with them. So instead of working that 60 70 hours a week, I may have worked, you know, 50 or 60 hours a week, but I was able to actually focus on my family. I ate dinner with them, put them to bed, and then I went back to work for maybe an hour or two, but I had that time and it was my choice when I could spend that time with them.
Q: When did you make the decision to open up your practice?
I started on January 3 of 2022.
Q: You've made a couple of big decisions in your life with changing your career path, and then now working on your own, what was it like to drop everything and decide to start on your own?
Miller: Even more terrifying, than like going back to school, and starting from scratch. I had had no guarantee of, you know, income stream, no prospects, because I had just left another firm. So of course, I can’t solicit any clients or anything like that. So not knowing where that money was, and just having faith that things were going to work out. And once again, my wife was there to back me up to say, “It's okay. We will get this. It'll be okay.” And we did. And it turned out great. And, you know, a lot of that is, thankfully to Taxfyle.
Q: What did you do to help get things off the ground?
Miller: The biggest thing was just advertising, and talking to people. I use Taxfyle as a supplement, to help make sure that there was work to keep me busy to keep the income coming in to pay the bills. While, you know, I’m waiting for the IRS to open up or waiting to meet new clients, because you know, brokerages don't come out until the end of March or so. Just being out there and being available is what has helped me grow as quickly as I've grown.
Q: How did you hear a Taxfyle?
Miller: Google. When I decided to start out on my own, one of the first things I did was I went in and I did a Google search. I searched for, you know, contracting jobs for tax professionals. And I ended up finding Taxfyle on that list. I did some background checking, went through the website, read a lot of the documents, and basically I clicked that Contact Me area, you know, signed up for a meeting, and actually that night, I was able to meet with Kurk and learn more about the company and just get things rolling. It was within days, we were up and going
Q: When you're learning about the product, what was it about Taxfyle that stood out to you the most?
Miller: Flexibility. It allowed me to focus on my firm to grow, but allowed me to pick up jobs when I was able to. If I was gonna be busier one week, you know, I just chose not to pick up any jobs or I was able to pick up jobs and speak with, you know, the client, “Hey, this might be another day or two.” But just overall flexibility, and the ability to reinvest those funds that I've earned from Taxfyle into my own firm to help it grow.
Q: With only being on Taxfyle for less than a year, how would you consider the platform and how it's helped you have that supplemental income?
Miller: It's been amazing. The people I work with almost on a daily basis now, just because finding that that balance of practice with with Taxfyle, it's allowed me to pick up almost daily jobs. So it's just been absolutely amazing. Its easy to use platform, I can review what work is out there if it's a good fit for what my schedule is coming up, being able to speak with the team, and if I have any questions or anything like that everyone's been very helpful, very easy to get a hold of, but it's just been super.
Q: What do you think are some of the biggest benefits that Pros can have access to when they're on as a Taxfyle Pro?
Miller: It its flexibility. And that supplemental income, if you want to call it some might use it as primary source of income. Let's just say you're you're looking just for seasonal work. You know, if you're responsive, and your communication is excellent, you can pick up anything, make as much money as you want, pretty much I'm available to pick up work without affecting the clients that I have at my own firm. That income, you know, has allowed me to build my business but for other Pros, you know, let's say they only want to work part time on it, maybe it's to save for a wedding, maybe it's just to save for a vacation. It could be to pay off college loans or send other your own kids to college, you know, put savings away from that. I think you have the availability to do any of those as much or as little as you want.
Q: How different do you think you would be right now if you may not have had access to that supplemental income?
Miller: Starting from scratch, not having having this income, this extra work, I'd be a lot more stressed. I could very well be possibly looking for another position at another firm or going private just because of the market that I'm in. There's a lot of firms out here so it takes time to build. I am building quickly thankfully but having this flexibility in this extra income, being able to focus it back into advertising or looking for commercial rental space to expand over the next couple of years, it's allowed me to take these plans and pick it up actually quicker than what I had expected.
Q: When you say flexibility, what do you mean by that?
Miller: By flexibility, I mean, if I have a busy week of current new client meetings for myself, I don't have to, you know, I don't pick up as many jobs off the Taxfyle queue. It allows me to, if I do have during tax season, even though I have a lot of client meetings, or I'm preparing returns inside of my firm, I can still pick up jobs I can work on at night. I can work on them in the morning. I don't have to be punched in or out at a certain time working on these jobs. For Taxfyle, the biggest thing is communication. So you know, if I pick up a job, and it might be a day or two, being in touch with clients, so they know I'm here. If they have any questions, I'm available, it just might be not the normal nine to five working hours that I'm working on these jobs.
Q: How do you manage the balance between running your own practice and being a Taxfyle Pro?
Miller: Planning, keeping track of making sure that I either have a couple hours, once or twice a week, or during tax season, I would actually leave a day open during the week just so I could focus on the Taxfyle jobs. Maybe it was a couple hours at night, but it was just all planning, being able to make sure that I wasn't burning myself on both ends, you know, creating burnout, because that was the reason why I created my own firm. [The reason] I just started my own firm was burnout, working all those extra hours. So being able to schedule, not only around my clients, but around the Taxfyle work has really paid off and lets me go hand in hand with actually both aspects of my practice.
Q: Jeremy, for those that are wondering if they could you know, balance their current job with Taxfyle on the side? What advice would you have for them?
Miller: Go for it. I mean, you get in, you start working with it. It's very simple. The platform works perfectly for for these types of if you want to call balancing acts. It's just about communication. And that planning, save yourself couple hours, you can work on a few projects, you can make that extra money. You know, instead of maybe watching a TV show at night, you know, I'm able to review a tax return and I get paid for it. So changing a few habits, but again, just leaving myself time to work was important.
Q: About how long does it take for you to pick up and then complete a job?
Miller: So it depends on the job. But for clients, we'll say it's reviewing a, you know, high net worth 1040 that has brokerages and some K-1s we're looking at three quarters of an hour to maybe an hour and 15 minutes on average. There are some spaces where you prepare returns. So again, depends on what all is going into it. But I would imagine my average time is anywhere from one hour to one and a half hours for those jobs.
Q: On average, what is your schedule like when you're balancing work as a Pro and your own practice?
Miller: Right now, I probably worked about 35 hours inside of my practice during the offseason. And I'm putting in about 10 hours for Taxfyle. During the busy season, I was working about 50 hours inside my practice and do another 15 to 20 depending on how close it was to the deadline for Taxfyle. But it was, again, my choice of how much work I wanted to pick up. You know, it wasn't demanded. It was my choice as professional when I wanted and how much work I want.
Q: With your practice, what kind of work do you specialize in?
Miller: I specialize in that the small family businesses, self employed individuals, I also do a lot of senior citizens that can't afford around here to have their tax returns done by other professionals because other firms might be charging a minimum of $400 per tax return. I try to leave myself open to do you know a good number of jobs for senior citizens that really don't have income but they are relying on some type of return to be filed.
Q: Why did you pick those as your specialties?
Well, the small businesses comes back to my to my my upbringing and my raising and inside of that, you know, a family business. I want to I enjoy working and helping these businesses grow. Taking some of that stress off of them, letting them focus on what they're good at, which is their business, it might not be the monthly bookkeeping or their payroll. And the the older crowd is it's just a neglected market around here. There's no longer any free clinics. So I just felt, you know, my way of giving back might not be free, but I'm at least able to provide a great product at very reasonable value. And then in turns, you know, that did lead a lot of referrals of, you know, just because they're happy they finally felt comfortable with someone and happy with the end result.
Q: Why do you feel like taking care of the elderly is an underserved portion or segment of the population?
Miller: I think it has to do with how hard that generation has worked in their past. How hard they had to work for those retirement plans. So that Social Security income, I feel it's important that they keep that wealth, you know, that they worked for, instead of either one, not filing a return because they don't want to pay the money, and then receiving notices and having issues or just being able to feel like out of respect that you know, I have a lot of respect of what they did to create where we are, helped shape us how we are.
Q: Is there anything you may not have been asked that you think is important people?
Miller: No, it just Taxfyle has been amazing, great program, platform, super easy to use. Flexibility, pick up as much as little as work as you need to at that point in time without pressure of getting stuff done. But also just the team at Taxfyle have been amazing to work with.