Pro Spotlight Ep. 6: Tracy Schultz On The Benefits Of Hiring A Tax Professional
Let’s face it; taxes are complicated. That’s why there are talented tax professionals like Tracy Schultz who can help individuals file their tax returns without any stress. On this episode, Schultz, a Taxfyle Pro living in Houston, talks about her career as an accountant and how she helps tax filers during tax season.
Q: Why did you become an accountant?
Schultz: I majored in accounting in college and passed the CPA exam shortly thereafter. So, I liked math in school, and I like everything to be where it all balances out and has an objective answer, one that can be supported and explained by numbers. And that's what accounting did for me. So I've been an accountant for a little over 30 years now.
Q: When you were in college, did you initially want to be an accountant?
Schultz: I don't think so. I knew I wanted to be a business major. And then, after taking all the different entry-level subjects, that's when I picked accounting.
Q: When you were taking those classes and you're getting a feel for what different majors in business would be able to offer you what was the moment that you realize that accounting would be a good fit for you?
Schultz: Honestly, it just came the easiest to me. Debits and credits just make sense to me. And I think I really liked too that accounting had a clear, definitive path forward. For some of the other business majors, were kind of wide open, and I kind of like, I like the noun of accounting.
Q: When you graduated college and you got your CPA license, where did you begin working from there?
Schultz: So I went a little different route, I first worked for a major oil company here in Houston. That's where I'm based out of and I had a talent for the software side of the business, which in the 90s, that was kind of a new and upcoming things. So they started an SAP implementation team. And that was a logical choice for me. So I moved over into SAP implementations. And that kind of took me down a different career path, but one that worked well for me at the time.
Q: When did you decide to change career paths and begin working in tax?
Schultz: So once I had kids and started a family, the SAP team was wasn't real conducive to that. So I took some time off, stayed home with the kids. And then once they got in kindergarten, and I had a little bit more me time, I took a tax class locally just to learn more about that even though I passed it on the CPA, I'd never worked in taxes. So the tax side of being a CPA has really given me a lot more flexibility in my schedule.
Q: When you began working in taxes, where did you first start?
Schultz: Well, I worked from home a little bit, and then I for a really small, little firm. And then from there, I went to a larger family-owned firm here in town in Houston, and I worked there for about the last four years.
Q: What was it about working at a firm that made you enjoy being in the field and working in taxes and most?
Schultz: I really liked developing a relationship with the clients. I like helping them and you really get to know them. It was a kind of a family atmosphere honestly, the clients felt they kind of talked to you as if you are a family because you're learning a lot of personal information about them while you prepare their return. And you get the feeling that you're helping them, and I really liked that about that that's something that you don't get when you're working in the corporate environment.
Q: What was it or what else is about working in tax that you appreciate compared to your past experience in a corporate job?
Schultz: I like the flexibility. I like that you work really hard during tax season, and then when it's not tax season, you get to relax a little bit, take your vacations, exercise a little more, cook healthy a little bit more. I like that. That it is just not always busy 100% of the time, I like that flexibility in the schedule.
Q: How did you first hear about Taxfyle?
Schultz: Okay, so I first saw them online about a year ago, the firm that I was at was going through some transitional changes, people were wanting to retire. And I just really didn't want to purchase the firm and go into debt in my 50s. So I decided to resign and just start working from home for a little bit and see where that takes me. So in order to supplement my income, I was open to some kind of online job until my personal firm took off. And honestly, it's become a whole different ballgame for me. So I really just found it online, the Taxfyle option.
Q: When you saw a Taxfyle what was it about the services that are offered for you as a tax professional that intrigued you the most?
Schultz: I wasn't sure. Right away. Kurk called me. No sorry, AJ, AJ called me and interviewed me and got to know be better. And that had a different feel for it. I wasn't expecting that with an online company. And then he started offering me positions with filing tax returns for different CPA firms across the US. And so once I started doing that, I wasn't real sure about it at first but then once I started doing it, it's just been amazing.
Q: What's your preferred area of tax to work with?
Schultz: Definitely the small business and personal tax returns Well, that's where my knowledge lies. That's what I'm good at. I don't work in estates that much. I don't know I just that's the part that I really enjoy. Because you get to know the people better.
Q: When you were getting into tax as a profession, especially after your corporate job, what was it about individual taxes and working with small businesses that you came to really appreciate and wanted to grow your career around?
Schultz: So getting to know your clients and connecting with them one on one, learning more about their personal lives and different changes that you can make and adjustments on choices, financial choices that they make, to save them taxes in the future. I really started feeling like I could help people, I can help them save money, I can coach them guide them. I really liked that side of this business.
Q: When he began working with Taxfyle, what was your initial experience like?
Schultz: It was amazing. Right off the bat. I started working for a firm that had some very, very complicated tax returns. And they were challenging. I loved it. Lots of business executives across the US use this firm. And they do work papers differently than we ever did. So I learned how they do their work papers. So I felt like I grew as a CPA I was challenged more. It opened. Honestly it just opened a lot more doors to me to be more national across the US than just here in Houston, Texas.
Q: What is it about working with firms that maybe you didn't expect but you still enjoy now, as a Taxfyle Pro?
Schultz: One thing I didn’t expect is that it just was quicker to do it. You can turn it around a lot quicker because if you need Some documents, if you're missing anything, you just go back to the firm, and they handle all that and provide it to you. So I'm able to turn around returns a lot quicker than maybe you're able to do in your personal firm. And that was fun. I like the challenging returns, that I, you know, I don't always get to see in the small area where I work here in Houston. So it's just, it's been challenging and rewarding.
Q: Tracy in tax season, what are some of the common mistakes that individuals or small businesses could make when they file their taxes themselves?
Schultz: Yes, so my experience with that is, you know, when they're buying a tech software off the shelf, they answer questions. And depending on how they answer that question, it makes decisions for them how their tax return is going to be filed, sell, buy, sell, and they may not answer it correctly all the time. And that may make them miss out on a tax deduction, or a tax credit that they don't know about. Furthermore, maybe the tax software doesn't ask the question at all for something that is, like we had a lot of COVID issues the last two years that the government put out some new policies and tax credits that were available to people. But if they didn't, you know, a lot of the end users did not know about these tax credits and stuff that were related to COVID. So they may have missed out on that. I saw that a lot in my firm.
Q: What's the biggest benefit people can have when they file their taxes are the tax professional?
Schultz: I think the biggest benefit is that they know it's followed, right? Whereas it's not always followed, right? If you don't go to a professional CPAs have to go to mandatory continuing education classes. I know I focus all that training on keeping up with the tax law and the current changes and every year I know what the new changes are and what the new benefits are. So the biggest benefit is not only as it falls, right, but you're also made aware of all the deductions that may be are possible that you didn't know about that you wouldn't know about if you didn't use a professional also, while we're preparing returns, we're able to guide people on decisions and behaviors changes that they can make the following year to save even more taxes and maybe take some deductions that they weren't aware of this year.
Q: What are some other mistakes that you're aware of that people can make when they're filing their taxes on their own?
Schultz: Oh there are so many lot of people don't know like the rules for who is a dependent like they may not understand that. You know, a parent can be a dependent a parent that you provide 50% support for maybe doesn't live with you. There are so many different tax situations that we know what the rules are and they don't always know to ask that question or aware what the different changes are that year.
Q: What do you do to ensure that your customers are prepared for tax season and they're getting everything done appropriately?
Schultz: I communicate with them throughout the tax season. I let them know you know be sure to here's your tax documents that you provided to me last year. Make sure that I receive at least those same documents this year. Mostly it's communication.
Q: What are some tips that you usually provide your customers heading into tax season that make the tax filing process a little easier?
Schultz: Tips to make it easier? Oh, I thought of one other thing one other thing that I didn't mention that like, for example, a lot of people don't know is maybe they don't always want to provide their bank information. Well, if you don't provide your bank information, then you're going to receive a check in the mail, it's going to take you longer to receive it. And it's not going to be direct deposited, it's not as safe as a direct deposit. So you know, there are some people that are afraid to give their bank information over the internet or online or to the IRS because they're afraid the IRS might take their money out without their permission, but we're able to explain to them the benefits of doing this and that, you know, they don't have to fear about those fears aren't valid fears.
Q: If someone were, let's just say, on the fence about using a tax professional and they think that you know the cost might not be worth it versus doing it themselves what would you say to them to help get them over the fence and let assure them that a tax professional is in their best interest?
Schultz: I assure my clients that a lot of times tax savings that we're able to provide to them on their tax return will cover our costs, things that they didn't know about, again, that COVID credit was a big tax savings last year, and that alone more than covered the fees of a tax professional. And I had a few clients that you know, didn't know about that using tax package that they purchased or their father purchased to prepare their return for them on the you know, shelf of a large box store.
Q: Overall, how would you rate your experience being a Taxfyle Tax Pro?
Schultz: Overall 10 stars out of 10 I have enjoyed it so much. It's opened up so many doors to me, it's been such a pleasant surprise as a CPA. It's opened up my business and my talents to a national level. I've learned different software like sure prep, I've learned you know, like I said the different ways of creating work papers. Mostly I've enjoyed the level of challenging returns that I've been lucky to work on its privilege returns with over 30k ones returns of notable people that you might see on television. Taxfyle also asked me to help like to broadcast a tutorial on ultra tax which is the tax software that I choose to use for some other tax repairs and that was fun and rewarding and I was compensated for it. So I've just grown so much as a CPA and a tax preparer choosing this path I feel like I'm a healthier person mentally physically. You know we talk so much about work- balance it's made that possible for me.
I you know they're always there's a chat option online with Taxfyle where you can get instant answers or help or assistance you they give us their cell phone numbers their emails, they always respond in a timely efficient manner and I can put faces to the names so it's amazing you think it's it impersonal and personable online company like that's what I was expecting but I'm I'm blown away it's really not that it's way more personal than sometimes seeing people in person it's been amazing.
Q: Is there anything I may not have asked you about the benefits for individuals or small businesses to use a tax professional when they file their taxes that you think is important people know?
Schultz: I have seen it when you start a small business there are so many different routes and paths that you can go to file taxes on that business. And if you consult that CPA professional or tax professional you know, they're educated to help every every situation can be different. And the way that the you know the different pros and cons of going different routes and help me help them make the best decision I've seen. I've seen a lot of mistakes definitely on business returns that, you know, they don't, sometimes on escorts, they don't know that they have to take a salary will that's huge that can really come back to hurt you later. So there are just so many tax rules that you have to know and be aware of. And so it's, it's, I feel it's always best to consult a professional when you have a small business like that.