Miller Mobile Tax Service - One Minute Highlight
WCBC Review interviews Gary Miller of Miller's Mobile Tax Service- A CPA who can meet you wherever you're at.
In this episode we discuss growing through word of mouth, how to give outstanding customer service, and (of course) getting as many deductions as possible on your taxes.
Gary Miller can be found at Miller's Mobile Tax Service on Facebook, and on his website.
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Miller's Mobile Tax Service
Cardinal: Hello and welcome back to another episode of WCBC review, where we put the spotlight on small businesses. Today we're interviewing Gary Miller of Miller's Mobile Tax Service. How are you today Gary?
Gary: I'm doing very well. Thank you for having me.
Cardinal: Oh, well, thanks for being here. First of all, what exactly is mobile tax service?
Gary: Predominantly I do the same business as HR block, Jackson Hewitt, and other large retail tax preparers. Except that I come to my client. I have a CPA and notary business here in central California. I also work virtually, and I find that people want that 1950s customer service that they just don't get anymore.
And that's what I provide is if you can't get out of your house, like you have elderly folks, you have children and you just find it to be a hassle, to have to load in the car, go down to HR block and hope you have everything and deal with somebody who may have only two weeks of training to do your taxes and then come to find out you forgot something.
So you've got to drag everybody back home and come back. You don't get that with me. You call me, I come to you as a service professional should. And you're at home and I can sit there, and I see deductions that that tax preparer would not see. Like, I can see that you have a small baking business on the side where you're selling pies and cakes and such as a hobby business that could be deductions for you, that they won't.
So I can see all the little deductions. At the same time, you're in a more calmed environment. You're not stressed. You're not having to worry and I don't have the overhead. So my price point is so much better than you're going to Jackson Hewitt.
Hm. Well, that sounds real nice, especially right about now.
Or maybe you don't want to go out in public to a shared space and want to stay sheltered at home.
Exactly. Uh, How
Cardinal: long have you been doing this, Gary?
Gary: 16 years as of this year.
Cardinal: .Wow. All right. Solid. And, and what made you first get into this?
Gary: That's kind of a long story, but as with most people, it was my wife.
I graduated in 2001 from SIUC. So they're not only university of Carbondale. And when I left the dot com had just burst. So there were people that had 40 years experience in accounting and tax preparation on me. So I couldn't find a job coming straight out of college, many college age folks these days can relate to that.
So I went and I did every blue collar job. You can imagine I did truck driving. I did tow boating. I worked on an oil rig. I've done ditch digging. And everything else that will get your hands dirty. And when I met my wife, I was working as private security in the Bay area. And well was one thing led to another.
We moved in together and she started going through my boxes and found my master's degrees. And she was like, you can do taxes. I'm like, yeah, I can do them in my sleep because I had kept up all of my hourly requirements to keep them back there. And she goes, well, can you help my mom? Oh, the, the old girlfriend asking a favor kind of thing.
And she got me to go and help her mother while I went over to her mother's house and was doing your taxes at her table. And she had a game going with a couple of other older ladies and one of them looked up and said, if you're doing taxes, can you help my daughter? And I explained to her that I was only helping family, I didn't had not went through the IRS P 10% program at that time.
So it was the only family allowed kind of deal. You know, you'd go to your dad to get your taxes done situation. And later that night, my wife was my girlfriend at the time. Who's now my wife said, well, why can't you help her? And I explained to her the situation, she goes, well, go get that. And I was like, well, that's great.
But no one goes to people's houses to do their taxes. And after a couple of days, it kind of lamented in my head and a little light bulb went off. No one does this. No one goes to people to do their taxes. They always have somebody to come to them. So I went, got my P 10, got my C tech, which is California equivalency for tax repairers, got my Oregon taxation number.
And I sat there and I went and helped that young lady. And of course, she went down to the senior center and gave my name. And 16 years later, just by word of mouth and a few cards, I have about 250 clients. Wow. So it's built over time. But my thing is, is I help those who either can't get out of their houses or have situations where they need somebody to come to them.
And that has led me to meet many great people. And it's just been a wonderful experience.
Cardinal: That sounds great. I love that you saw that need there, and I can totally relate to the level of intimacy almost that comes with going into someone's home. I used to be a in-home caregiver to people who, you know, couldn't necessarily leave and there is a surprising amount of those people in the world. You know, us, able-bodied individuals going about our business just don't really think about it that often, but there's a lot of people who are stuck at home and that's just their life, but they need to do their taxes as well, you know, death and taxes and all of that,
Gary: that, and then we also have a lot of single folks that are displaced.
I volunteer. For the women's shelter and for a LGBTQ transition house here in the central Valley, that the people there don't think about their taxes, because they are dealing with a lot more stuff than what they need to just access. But at the same time, like for our women's shelter, they have young ladies that are escaping abusive relationships, that have children. And they don't think about the financial gain that, that abuser gets by putting in his taxes and claiming the kids. Where they can do it and actually use the money to help the children and themselves.
Cardinal: Wow. Yeah. I never thought about that either. Oh my goodness. Well, it sounds like you're doing good work, Gary.
I really liked that. When you were just starting out, what was the toughest thing about opening up?
Gary: The other thing for me opening up was finding a open source program for tax professionals without having to pay $20,000. Hm. And I was lucky because at the time I found Tax Dragon and it was an $800 program.
And I actually used my tax return to get it. And from there I've used it every year and I promote it to all new tax preparers that I meet, because it shouldn't cost you an arm and a leg to start a business. It shouldn't cost you anything to strive for the American dream.
Cardinal: Well, I'm glad you were able to find that program Tax Dragon. If you had to go back to day one, is there anything that you would've done differently knowing what you know now?
Gary: I would have actually got my my C tech and that earlier and kept those with my records.
Cardinal: What are those documents? I don't even know.
Gary: PTN means. Professional tax identification number. It's what the IRS gives every tax preparer. So if you go to somebody and this goes for anyone and they say, Hey, I'm a tax preparer. Ask to see their tax preparer identification certificate. You get it every year when you renew with the IRS.
And what that state is, is that you've had 26 hours of ethics training.. You've had four hours of continuous education and you've had the bare minimum of eight hours of renewed education or federal tax law. So, you know, you have somebody who is not only authorized by the IRS to do your taxes, but art is basic knowledge to do them.
Cardinal: So you would have gotten that earlier than yes. Mm, I'm zooming back to the present, what's the toughest part of having a business and in 2020 and 2021?
Gary: The toughest part in 2020 is all of the legislative red tape that is required. Not only do I have to keep my mileage, my work information, but. Also, I have to keep track of who can be taxed on what so like, here in California, if I use a credit card, I have to charge a processing fee.
If it's cash, I have to make sure that that person has a invoice right then. And it's all this little minutia that really gets in the way of just saying, Hey, here's your product. Thank you. And it's there because the larger businesses have to have it. So little businesses have to have it.
And for me, I'm a little bit more free. I'm more of a free society person. I would rather see us have tiers. Two things, because what is good for the big business may not be good for a small .Business people.
Cardinal: Yeah. There's a big difference too, between big business and small businesses. That's billions and billions of dollars.
So yeah, it's not a one size fits all situation at all. Hmm. So have you seen the amount of red tape increase in the past couple of years?
Gary: I've actually seen here in California, it decreased a little bit because of some of the changes all at the same time, I have noticed that the IRS tax code has gotten more complex, especially when it comes to hobby and 1099C businesses.
Cardinal: Hmm. Hmm. Well, that's no fun. It seems like it's already complicated enough, but that's why there are professionals out there.
Cardinal: So has the internet played much of a role in your businesses at all, as you grow?
Gary: Since the pandemic, it has grew exponentially because of the internet. Hmm. A lot of people, a lot of my clients are truck drivers, blue collar fishermen, who are out on the boat, you know, in the middle of the Bering Sea. And they don't get to come home, you know, except for maybe two weeks out of the, out of the year kind of deal. Or they're only here in my state, around my area for two days. Now I can go on Zoom, get the information I need, get their taxes done and they can mail me the documents. And I can send them via Zoom, their signature pages.
They signed, send everything back to me. And it's just as if I was in their own home.
Cardinal: Have you found that to be easier or do you like going to location more?
Gary: I enjoy helping my clients. So it's more advantageous that they see me on a screen like this. I'm there. If they need me at their house at 2:00 AM, because that's when they get off and they work, like you said, like you were a home healthcare aid and your relief comes at 2 am.
You gotta be back at eight? I'm there. I've had truck drivers who called me from the rest area. That's 20 miles from my house and said, Hey, I'm here for the night. I need my taxes done now, April 14th. Oh. I was down there and I've done them. And that's what I want. I'm it doesn't matter the medium that I'm helping with.
It's the fact that I'm helping people.
Cardinal: Nice. That's very warm-hearted of you. Very kind. If you have to look into the future, let's assume that the pandemic is over, hopefully in a year or two. What, what are your business goals? Where do you want your business to be in, in a year?
Gary: I would like another 25 solid customers.
Hmm. That will learn and grow with me to assist with their taxes. I know I am not one to say I want 500 new clients. That's just not a realistic expectation or goal. And just like with my financial advice, I always start small because small steps are what lead to great journeys.
Cardinal: Would you even be able to handle 500 more clients? That's that seems like a lot of work anyway, for one person.
Gary: I would be remiss to say that I can do about 19 returns in a day. And I've actually did that at, I have one client it's really funny story my wife, lovesto tell it. I went and I did a young lady's taxes at her
dad's. And we got there. I finished her taxes. The next year I went to do the same set of taxes for the young lady and her mother had seen the due diligence, the ethics , and just the care that I put into her daughter's taxes. And she had rounded up 22 families in the area to meet at her house and they didn't tell me!
Cardinal: Oh my goodness.
Gary: And I show up and she's like, all of these people want their taxes done. And so I sat down, I set everything up and I worked all the way for 18 hours doing everybody's taxes.
Cardinal: Wow. Well, that's a different kind of surprise party there.
Gary: It is. But I felt very humbled and very. Appreciated because of it. And every year now, when she calls, she doesn't, she doesn't tell me a date.
She just says, I have this many people. Can you come? Hmm.
Cardinal: Oh, that's fun. Does it does actually kind of sound like a party where everyone's hanging out there too, and I'm sure there's some food maybe..
Gary: Yeah, there's usually a lot of food. It's a Southeast Asian community and they turn it into a gathering of family. And sitting there and watching the interaction is also what I really love, because it shows me the differences that we all have, but we all have the same.
Cardinal: Hmm. Interesting. Well, that sounds fun. I never knew that tax preparation could actually put you in so many different situations. I suppose. Mobile, mobile tax preparation.
Gary: Yes, mobile, mobile, but mobile, anything will bring you to adventure. Yes,
Cardinal: I did mobile massage a little bit. I'm also a licensed massage therapist.
I do a lot of random stuff but. I there's just something about going to someone's home. It is very humbling. Having them invite you into their private space and you really get a glimpse into their life and make friends that way. Long-term friends.
Gary: Yeah. I have clients that for 15 years now, they came to me.
And over that time, I've watched their children grow from babies to graduating, to getting cars, to them, bringing their children to me and saying, Hey, they need their taxes done. They worked a whole year at Hardy's and they were ecstatic because their daughter now can get her taxes done. And the daughter knows me.
So it's like, yeah, I knew you were going to do them, Mr. Miller, here you go. And it's just very humbling to have that. And to also have those friendships, I've had clients who I know who I can know that do plumbing and all this. So I'm also the guy that one of my, one of my clients calls me and says, Hey, I just had my water heater blow up.
What do I do? Not only can I advise them to get an energy star rated appliance that will meet the credit that they get on their taxes, but I can also say, Hey, I know this guy he's really good. Let me give you his number. And that way I know my client is taken care of because I'm referring another client that I know who's also a small business and that builds on what we need.
Cardinal: Community. For sure. We got to support each other as small businesses. So we're wrapping up in the interview. And the last question I always like to ask people. And I'm excited to ask you because you've been doing this for 16 years. Is if you had a brand new business owner in front of you, what advice would you give them?
Gary: Start with a three, five and 10 plan and be realistic with yourself.
Cardinal: Three, five and 10 years.
Gary: Yes. Most businesses in America- and it's very sad- fail in three years because they don't have a realistic goal. Everybody's like, I'm going to make a million dollars a year. Well, if that was the case, we'd all be millionaires.
But if you say, Hey, I'm going to make a hundred thousand dollars this year doing this, and this is how I'm going to do it. And you stick to that. Yeah. You may fail of getting the a hundred thousand dollars, but you will have an idea of what you can actually accomplish by going full boar for a year. And then you can plan accordingly on down the road.
And from those small steps, you can build giant empires. I love to point people to the pyramids. That one block is two and a half tons, but it doesn't build the entire structure. That two and a half tons had to be moved over and over and over. So that took determination and drive. And that's what a small business needs to build a giant megalithic structure is that determination and drive to actually put the blocks in place that will support what you are doing.
Cardinal: Sort of a one brick at a time kind of approach.
Gary: Exactly. And it also does. It also does take more than one person. So for me, I'm a tax accountant, which means that I know the books.
I know how to take care of all the numbers, but I'm not a mechanic. Yes. I was a gear head in high school, but these new cars don't know them. So my car breaks down. It's my lifeline. I'm calling a mechanic, it's an outlay of cash, but it's, I need that person to move that block for me, and that's how we move ahead.
Cardinal: I feel like small businesses too, tend to try and move all the blocks themselves. They try and move the text block themselves and the management block and the production block and the marketing block and end up burning themselves out and actually not being able to grow at all because they're stretching themselves too thin.
Gary: And a lot of times it comes down to the money aspect. There are many different ways that us small business owners can move and prosper without burning ourselves out like that. For the accountant, we sat there and we come in and we figure out where you're losing money, but at the same time, our costs that we're charging you is a tax deduction .
Professional service for production. Most places, especially smaller industries. They make great product, but they may be overspending on product and they may have wasted. Again. That's where a good bookkeeping and supply route idea of how much it costs you to make something can pair you down so that you can actually make more of that one item and have less waste. And that's also a tax deduction because then you have all of that product you're buying that has to come up for the final product. And that's how I work. I look at what people are doing . I look at from conception idea to finish product.
There are deductions in every step. Hm. And for many small businesses, they don't look at that.
Cardinal: That's some good advice. All right, Gary thank you so much for coming on the WCBC review. We really appreciate your time. And where can people find you if they want to look you up?
Gary: I have a website; Miller's mobile tax service on Google.
I also am found on Facebook at Miller's mobile tax. And if anybody wants, they can always just ping me on Facebook at Gary Miller.
Cardinal: Sounds great. All right, Gary, thank you again. And to me all your business dreams come true.
Gary: And to you!
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