My first encounter with income taxes came in February of 1972, when I was in my second semester as a freshman at local Jesuit institution St Peter’s College (I am not Catholic – it had a good reputation for business). I had taken the first half of Accounting 101, but had not taken any tax classes.
My uncle’s tax professional, James P Gill, would hire students from St Peter’s College during the tax season as apprentice tax preparers. During his annual visit, always on Lincoln’s Birthday (then an actual legal federal holiday), my uncle happened to mention to Jim that I had taken my first accounting course and that I was helping him with the books for the non-profit organization for which he worked. Jim told my uncle to send me in to see him – and the rest is history!
When I arrived at Jim’s storefront office near Journal Square in Jersey City NJ (where the Jersey Bounce began) he took me to a desk in the outer office. He gave me a copy of a client’s previous year’s tax return and a briefcase full of papers that constituted the current year’s tax “stuff” and told me to “jump in and swim”.
I still remember my first 1040 – it was for one of the “outside salesmen” insurance agents who shared an office around the corner from Jim (Jim did all the agents in the office). While I no longer prepare that person’s returns, I still do one of the agents from that office, who has since retired.
Prior to meeting Jim Gill I had no experience with or education in any aspect of income taxes. I had never even done my own simple returns – they had been prepared by my father’s tax pro (not Jim, but a colleague from his NYC office). As I mentioned I had not taken the college tax course yet. Which was good – Jim preferred to get student apprentices before they had taken any tax courses. He wanted us to learn the practical reality of tax preparation.
If I had a question about a tax return I would ask Jim, who would either take the time to explain the answer or tell me where to find the answer in the CCH tax library. So I was self-taught via on-the-job training. I learned how to prepare income tax returns in the very best way possible – by preparing income tax returns. And I learned at a “storefront” office located at a busy transportation hub of a large metropolitan city, at a firm with a clientele of taxpayers in all walks of life and all levels of income and education.
In my 45 years in “the business” I have never prepared a 1040, or any other tax return, using flawed and expensive tax preparation software. Each tax season I prepare about 250 sets of tax returns manually. And I have no intention of starting now. I see absolutely no cost effective benefit to me for using such software. Because I do not use paid software I therefore cannot submit the federal returns of my clients to the Internal Revenue Service electronically. I do however, whenever possible, prepare NJ state income tax returns and submit them directly to the NJ Division of Taxation electronically via the NJWebFile system available free of charge on the NJDOT website – and I would do the same for federal returns if a similar system was available at the IRS website.
I am currently “winding down” – and plan to retire after having completed 50 tax filing seasons. I no longer accept any new tax clients.
I have been writing the popular tax planning and preparation blog THE WANDERING TAX PRO (http://wanderingtaxpro.blogspot.com) since the summer of 2001, inspired by a seminar at the 2001 NATP National Conference. I am also the creator and author of the websites FIND A TAX PROFESSIONAL (http://www.findataxprofessional.com), A TAX PROFESSIONAL FOR TAX REFORM (http://taxprosfortaxreform-com.webs), and the monthly newsletter LIBERTY TIMES (http://denouncetrump.blogspot.com).
A member of the National Association of Tax Professionals for over 30 years, and founding member of the New Jersey chapter, I often write for the Association's TAXPRO JOURNAL as well as the newsletter of the New Jersey state chapter. I have created and compiled several packages of forms, schedules and worksheets and special reports and guides on tax planning and preparation for the average taxpayer.
I am available to write articles and columns for websites and portals and print or email newsletters, on general tax topics, or specifically for your individual audience. You can find samples of my writings at http://robertdflach.blogspot.com.
I currently live in North East Pennsylvania, moving here in 2012 from Hudson County NJ. After the tax season I enjoy travel and theatre.