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.
- Local News
Shootout of a sale
An original article of the Wild West will be made available at auction Thursday. The rifle of legendary lawman Wyatt Earp will be part of the J. Levine Auction & Appraisal’s Summer Quarterly Auction in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Earp was an Arizona deputy sheriff and deputy town marshal in Tombstone, Ariz. He is legendary for playing a key role in the gunfight at the O.K. Corral. He died in 1929 at age 60.
Wyatt Earp collector Barry Tapp of Edmond will be selling his 1895 Wyatt Earp Marlin rifle at the auction. The rifle has an estimated value between $50,000 and $75,000. It includes authentication documentation from Tombstone Heritage Museum, according to the auction house
UCO forensic researcher answers key question
After working a few human recovery cases on a volunteer basis with a variety of police departments, a question kept bugging Kama King.
“You spend the whole day,” the UCO W. Roger Webb Forensic Science Institute student said, “sometimes days, searching for someone and only find a skull or a few bones and it just ate at me. Are we not finding this or is it not there to be found?”
Oklahoma sales tax takes a holiday
Beginning at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 1 and ending at midnight Aug. 3, Oklahomans will be able to participate in a sales tax holiday giving shoppers the opportunity to purchase certain clothing and shoes free of sales tax.
Yes, retailers may not charge tax, including state and local sales taxes on items that are tax-exempt during the sales tax holiday weekend. The sales of clothing and shoes priced at less than $100 are exempted from sales taxes.
Peace through Business empowering women entrepreneurs
Peace Through Business is part of the Institute for Economic Empowerment of Women (IEEW) based in Oklahoma City. It is a program that connects small business entrepreneurs in Afghanistan and Rwanda with business owners in Oklahoma. One such entrepreneur found out about the program from a friend, applied, and was accepted to take part in this year’s session.
Upon earning a master’s degree in Civil Engineering from the Universite de Sciences et Technique de Lille in Belgium, Lyliose Nduhungirehe began her career working for a construction company in Brussels, but she quickly switched paths to Information Technology.
Local church welcomes new pastor
For one of Edmond’s newest pastors, faith and family intersect on a personal level.
Sam Powers, pastor at Edmond 1st United Methodist Church, 305 E. Hurd St., and his family arrived in mid-May and his first Sunday in the pulpit was the second one in June. He and his wife Sheryl Heaton Powers, have two children — Kyla will be an eighth-grader at Cheyenne Middle School and David will be a fifth-grader at John Ross Elementary.
Keith, 5 others to receive service awards
The 2014 Door-Opener Awards Gala dinner and silent auction Sept. 4, benefitting ASTEC Charter Schools, will recognize five outstanding Oklahomans and one Kansan for lifetime contributions made toward helping others in society maximize potential and achieve dreams.
Those selected to receive a Door-Opener Award at the Skirvin Hilton Hotel event include Dr. Harvey Dean, Pittsburg, Kan.; Toby Keith and Tricia Covel, Norman; Former Gov. George P. Nigh, Edmond; the late Dr. Ramona Paul, Edmond; and Natalie Shirley, Oklahoma City.
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.
Local man relies on experience in July 4 emergency
Andy Billups just happened to have gained experience as a combat zone firefighter/medic while he was serving as a civilian contractor in Iraq.
The Edmond businessman just happened to have a friend with a place on Grand Lake where he has been viewing Independence Day fireworks for a number of years, and he just happened to be there July 4.
And he just happened to be relaxing on a hammock when he heard a some kids making a commotion.
Located two blocks east of Disney on State Highway 28 in the foothills of the Ozark Mountain Range in northeast Oklahoma, the 59,000-plus surface acre Grand Lake is known for its state parks, marinas, restaurants, motels and fishing.
5-year-old learns valuable lessons
It is never too soon to learn about giving and receiving. An Edmond 5-year-old recently learned about both.
Kendall Kingry will be entering kindergarten at Will Rogers Elementary this fall and she is already looking forward to November.
“I get to go to Disneyland in November,” Kendall said.
- More Local News Headlines
- Shootout of a sale