OKLA. CITY —
The need for tax preparers is growing, and that’s no surprise to Jessica B. Gatzke.
She digs into federal and state tax codes for a living, and sees that, as much as politicians might say tax laws should be simpler, they don’t seem to move in that direction.
Tax rules have become very complicated, she said.
“There are so many phase-outs and thresholds and exemptions and credits and deductions,” said Gatzke, a certified public accountant and senior manager with the firm Scribner Cohen and Co. in Milwaukee. “Absolutely, it could use some simplification.”
But with easier-to-grasp tax rules not expected any time soon, professionals who can help their customers understand their tax obligations and accurately file returns are in demand.
While working with clients, Gatzke, who has a master’s degree in accounting from Marquette University and a master’s in taxation from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, also recruits and works with the firm’s interns, including six currently.
With the April 15 tax filing deadline looming, Gatzke recently carved out some time to talk about being a tax preparer.
Q: What does a personal tax preparer do?
A: “A tax preparer helps everyday individuals understand the complexity that is the U.S. tax code,” Gatzke said. “So we work with the information either provided by their employer or their financial advisers to make sure they’re in compliance with their annual filing requirement with the Internal Revenue Service.”
Gatzke said a lot of people think all tax preparers do is “enter numbers in boxes.” There’s much more to it than that, she said. It can mean working throughout the year with clients to make sure, for instance, that they’re not overpaying or underpaying taxes. Tax preparers also help clients consider how their investments are going to affect them, and whether they should be contributing to any sort of flexible spending accounts or dependent care account.
“We help with a lot of aspects of everyday life, and then at the end of the year, yes, we do put some numbers in boxes to fill out a return,” she said.
Q: What kind of training and education is needed to become a tax preparer?
A: “Certainly you need a bachelor’s degree in accounting,” Gatzke said. “That doesn’t have to be tax-specialized, but usually in most of the degrees you have some tax courses. And then from there, you really need on-the-job training and experience in preparing the returns, because each one is unique.”
She said hands-on experience is one of the great benefits of being an intern.
“We give them two weeks of intensive training, learning about the tax code, learning about the preparation software and learning about the planning that goes along with tax preparation,” she said. “It’s the on-the-job, getting-your-hands-into-the-return training that really helps you become a good tax preparer.”
Not everyone is cut out for the job.
“The people we look for, they need to be inquisitive. They need to be detail-oriented. And obviously, they have to have honesty and integrity and follow-through. Those are some of the most important traits and characteristics we look for,” Gatzke said.
Q: What is the most enjoyable part of your job?
A: “Working with my clients and working with our interns,” she said. “It’s helping them understand this crazy world of tax and helping them feel a little bit more comfortable and confident at the end of the day, so that they can go to bed and their obligation to file their return is done _ and it’s done right.”
Q: If there is one key thing the average taxpayer could do to make his or her life easier before filing day, what would it be?
A: “Keep records throughout the year,” Gatzke said. “There’s a lot of individuals who have small businesses that report directly on their individual income tax return. If they’re trying to summarize their entire business after the year’s over, it’s going to be real hard to get all that paperwork back together again.”
Gatzke said clients should call their tax preparer throughout the year if any tax-related questions occur.
“That’s what we’re here for,” she said. “We’re here to help ease their mind and ease their pain when it comes to tax reporting.”
OKLA. CITY —
The need for tax preparers is growing, and that’s no surprise to Jessica B. Gatzke.
Anderson Properties continues to grow
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Anderson Properties recently announced the acquisition of Tulsa-based Prudential Alliance Realty, an eight-office, 150-agent brokerage operating in Tulsa and Oklahoma City and Edmond.
The transaction gives Anderson Properties, a full-service real estate agency a total of 38 offices and more than 600 agents.
Logan County pays off jail tax early, seeks new one
Logan County is paying off a sales tax ahead of schedule and needs a new one to be able to afford funding jail operation and maintenance, officials said.
Citizens vote on the county sales tax which is split for redistribution by state law. The tax is collected by the Oklahoma Tax Commission and redistributed back to the county as specified by voters.
In 2005, citizens passed a 10-year sales tax, scheduled to end next month, to fund the building, operation and maintenance of the county jail, which operates on a $1.3 million budget. Jail capacity is 188 without anyone in a holding cell or a temporary bunk. Thursday it was holding 130 inmates, said Logan County Chief Deputy Richard Stephens.
Edmond School District’s change orders anticipated
When building new schools and classrooms there may be additional costs, but when renovating older buildings those costs can more than double, according to a Edmond School District official.
“When remodeling, you have unknown and hidden costs and you need to include in your budgeted funds for the built-in items you can not see,” said Bret Towne, Edmond’s associate superintendent of general administration.
Planning Commission approves rezoning
The Edmond Planning Commission this week voted 4-0 in favor of rezoning from a single family district. Peter and Kimberly Roberts made the request to allow a planned unit development on the southeast corner of Jackson and Lincoln Avenue, said Bob Schiermeyer, city planner.
“They would like to have D-2 family (neighborhood commercial) zoning for duplexes, 14,000 square feet,” Schiermeyer said. “They can put four units on the property.”
A Q&A on ‘Obamacare’ Court Rulings
On Tuesday, two federal appeals courts issued conflicting rulings on the legality of tax subsidies being provided to people who bought “Obamacare” health insurance policies in Oklahoma and 35 other states.
Here’s a look at the rulings’ potential impact in Oklahoma.
Q: I’m confused. What did the courts rule today?
A: A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals circuit in Washington, D.C., decided that the government can’t provide tax subsidies for Affordable Care Act plans purchased in 36 states where the federal government is operating the health insurance exchange. Oklahoma is one of the 36 states. A few hours later, the U.S. Court of Appeals circuit in Richmond, Va., issued a conflicting ruling that upheld the legality of the health-care law’s tax subsidies.
June healthy month for Oklahoma jobs
Nearly 10,000 new jobs in Oklahoma were created in June, according to the U.S. Labor Department.
Gov. Mary Fallin said Tuesday the state experienced one of the largest increases in employment in the nation in June. More than 9,600 additional people joined the state’s workforce in June.
The unemployment rate in June dropped to 4.5 percent, its lowest ratio in six years. June’s rate was down a percentage point from 4.6 percent in May and April, according to the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission.
University of Central Oklahoma recognized as having friendly work environment
The Chronicle of Higher Education named the University of Central Oklahoma as one of the “2014 Great Colleges to Work For.” Central is the only higher education institution in the state recognized on the list and one of only a handful of institutions in the nation given the distinction of being named to the Honor Roll for being cited most often among all the recognition categories.
Central joins Duke, Baylor and Notre Dame on the list of the 10 universities named to the large institution honor roll.
Council approves funds toward ADA update
City Council members have approved a $398,800 professional services contract with Accessology, a McKinney, Texas, firm, to establish an Americans With Disabilities Act transition plan for the city.
Title II of the ADA requires state and local governments to make their programs and services accessible to persons with disabilities. It includes access to government facilities, programs and events and relevant policy changes.
Accessology was selected out of a pool of five finalists by a five-member committee to create Edmond’s plan. The firm will partner with Kimley-Horn and Associates, a design consulting firm located in North Carolina.
Edmond’s last ADA transition plan was created in 1992.
Panel approves jail services agreement
City Council members have approved renewal of the city’s jail services agreement with Oklahoma County for prisoners incarcerated at the county jail on city charges.
The current annual agreement expired June 30. It provides the feeding, care, housing and upkeep of said prisoners. Edmond uses the county jail when the city jail is at capacity.
The sheriff’s office proposed a slight increase from $46.25 to a $46.50 daily rate per prisoner. City staff said the current agreement is working satisfactorily and believe the proposed rate is reasonable. The new agreement took effect July 1. The city can hold prisoners in its current jail up to 10 days; a new jail with 10 male and five female cells will be available inside the new Public Safety Center next year when the facility opens.
Panel establishes 911 phone rate
City Council members have established the rate for the 911 emergency phone service fee for calendar year 2015
Council members set the rate at 3 percent of the recurring charges as designated by the tariff for exchange telephone service or its equivalent within Edmond beginning Jan. 1, 2015.
Fees collected by wireless and voice over Internet protocol companies are established under a separate statute. To continue collection of the locally authorized service fee on landline phone bills, local governments must approve a resolution on an annual basis to set the actual fee.
Governments must also through the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments notify the appropriate incumbent local exchange carrier and competitive local exchange carrier phone companies by Sept. 1, 2015.
ACOG recommended for calendar year 2015 to maintain service fees at their current level of 3 percent.
- More Business Headlines
- Anderson Properties continues to grow