Families Helping Families Do Taxes
One thing you don’t want to underestimate if you are going to become a tax preparer is that families–and the concept of family itself–are an integral part of the tax preparation business. Think about it: you, as a tax peparer, are seeking to support your family by helping other families comply with their tax reporting obligations to best advantage. In addition, the relationships that you develop with your clients can be tremendous and in some cases resemble the affection and respect that beloved family members share.
What’s more, the tax preparation business makes a great family business in terms of a family getting together, everyone pitching in, and creating a business helping other families do taxes. We have seen much of this family dynamic with our 20 hour CTEC tax update course. Many people take our courses “in tandem” with a family member, a spouse, or a very close friend. This gets us to thinking:
Why is the tax preparation business a business that inspires family members to work together?
Well first of all, I guess you need to consider the cultural element. When income tax reporting and filing first became necessary / beneficial for mainstream Americans, in and around the early 60s, it was only natural that people would ask their family members to help them comply with regulations. After all, many people will trust family members more than outsiders (although sometimes, it’s the complete opposite).
This trend of asking family members to help with tax preparation still goes on today and may even be more popular than ever with the advent of TurboTax (registered trademark) and other do-it-yourself online tax preparation products. Especially if you have a family member who has a knack for the taxes, getting a family member to help out with online tax filing has become a good option for some people and certainly in this difficult economy the chance to save money on tax preparation is appealing.
Some family members make a nice side money income just by taking care of their family’s taxes!
But of course this cultural disposition towards hitting up family members for help at tax time does not explain why so many tax preparation businesses are family run or include multiple family members working there. (Full disclosure: my little brother, Luke, is ripping through our course as we speak, that’s why this topic came to mind.) Over at RenewCTEC.com, for example, we noticed a conspicuously large segment of our user base were made up of husband and wife teams of tax preparers.
This was a very interesting observation because we are a family business, too!
The answer here has a number of factors to consider: firstly though is that the off-season idea of not needing to work for more than six months of the year, is appealing to many people who have families. As we all have seen and experienced first hand, families eat up a lot of time (in a good way, mostly!) especially if you have kids, it can seem like all you do is follow your kids around, introduce them to people who then make comments on them, and then it’s stuff everything in the car and off to another of your child’s sporting events.
By becoming a tax preparer, you have the chance to participate constantly in your kids’ lives for more than half the year. How many people working a corporate job can say that? Not many, we assure you!
In corporate America, you are lucky if you get 3 weeks vacation and you are blessed if you get a month. Tax preparers, meanwhile, get a solid 8 months.
Of course those 8 months are no pleasure cruise in terms of your earning potential. There are challenges of seasonal tax preparation, no doubt. Budgets can be tough and you may not have much money to spend on Christmas presents (reminder: Christmas is NOT about gifts that cost money!).
Nevertheless, the idea of spending more time with family, especially growing children, is one major reason why husband and wife, father and son, brother and brother, sister and sister, and even grandmother and grandson have all started successful tax preparation and consulting business.
One tip we would give you though if you are thinking about working with family to make money doing taxes is to remember that your clients are your top and really your only priority, so you have to hire and train family members just like you would any other employee in terms of demanding that they give good service to the clients. It is no good just if someone is a family member, they don’t have to try their best and do a great job for clients.
As a tax preparer competing with so many other tax preparation options, you need every client you get and you can only take on team members who can truly help the cause. In most cases, you will be able to tell early on if someone has absolutely no aptitude for the tax business. Most people do have sufficient aptitude and with the right hands-on tax training they can help the cause so much.
Just make sure that you keep your clients at the top of your priority list–even above your coworker family members, at least during tax season that is!!
Tax season only comes once a year so no offense but any family member that prevents you from earning your keep, throw them overboard immediately. Tax season is not the time when you want to deal with any more nonsense than you have to. Insist that family members understand that “it’s harvest time.”