Interview: Abacus Tax and Accounting Services

I always love meeting moms who are also running businesses.  They remind me of somebody.  I just can’t put my finger on who….
Today I want to introduce you to Lauren Gross of Abacus Tax Services, momma to three, business owner, and really cool lady! I was able to chat with her about her life and business, and I’m excited to share with you here.

PWCM: Tell me a little bit about yourself and how you ended up doing what you’re doing.
LG: I live in Manassas right next to the Kline’s freeze, I moved here about 9 years ago.  I was in college at the time (American University) and when I was a senior I got recruited for a tax firm in Alexandra, which turned into a full time position.  I worked there for 8 years until it sold.  I wanted to cut my commute anyway and was happy to open my own firm.

PWCM: So what all do you do?
LG: Tax preparation services, mostly individuals and families and small businesses or Mom Based Businesses like Avon, Tastefully Simple, are my specialty, and I also do Nanny payroll.

PWCM: Nanny Payroll- that’s a new one for me- what does that look like?
LG: Right- if you have someone that comes into your house and watches your children and you pay them more than $1900 a year, you are required to give them a W2 because they are a “household employee” in the eyes of the IRS.  It’s especially important for government employees and contractors so that you stay “squeaky-clean”.  I take care of all the compliance for you- issue the W2 and fulfill the state requirements for VA, DC, or MD. 

PWCM: Wow- I had no idea.  When should someone contact you about that?
LG: Generally I tell my clients that they should get in touch before they hire a nanny so they understand the tax liabilities as an employer so you aren’t spending more money in fees/taxes/liability before you realize what you’ve done. Then once a quarter I help you do tax forms to stay current.

PWCM: Speaking of nannies, tell me a little about your family.
LG: I have 3 kids all May babies, 5, 2, and 9 months.  I’m able to work out of my home office, and I’m happy to work odd hours after work, which is great for my clients who need hours that aren’t taking away from their work day.

PWCM: It sounds like being an accountant is a great fit.
LG: What I do is a great fit because I can take off time between tax seasons to be with my kids and then work from January-April.  It is one of the main reasons I really stuck with this career path because it allows me to balance my work and family life.

PWCM: So, working from your home you must have a really different feel from say, the large green box people.
LG: Absolutely. Even though I work from my home office, you’re always welcome here.  I know handing over all your personal financial information can be stressful, so if they want to come and meet me and meet my family, that’s fine.  It’s a very different experience than going to H&R Block, mostly because my son will be running around the house pretending to be Buzz Lightyear. I just had a client come over with her toddler this past weekend to go over all of her paperwork. She joked it was a "two birds with one stone" appointment... tax prep and a play date. However, I can also make it really easy- you can submit everything digitally and I can save you a ton of time which I know is very valuable to moms out there. The most important benefit that comes from working with me, compared to a retail establishment, is that I am here for my clients yearlong rather than a seasonal employee that may change year to year. I am available to help and answer questions when my clients buy a house, start a business, grow their families, and other things that life throws their way. And, if you have ever received a letter from the IRS you may know the knot in your stomach feeling that turns up when you see the return address on the envelope. Even I get it! But, most of the time it is undue stress. I can handle any correspondence that you may receive from the auditors. 

PWCM: When’s the deadline for people to file with you?
LG: April 1st would be my deadline for on-time filing, but I can take people for extensions anytime.

PWCM: And what does that cost?
LG: As far as pricing goes, a basic return is $300, which includes the 1040, Schedules A and B and one state return. Each additional form (for example: Schedule C for self employment income, Schedule D for stock sales, Form 8283 for non-cash charitable contributions) is billed at an hourly rate, so the cost is dependent on the complexity of the form and how clear and organized your data is. The most accurate way to provide you with a quote would be to send me a copy of your 2013 returns. If you situation is similar this year, I can give you a good idea of what my bill will be.

PWCM: Finally, as a working mom, do you have any advice for other moms about how you do it all?

LG:  In my opinion, being a working mom is hard but, being a stay at home mom is harder.  I would say that whatever you do, you have to do what’s best for your family.  I think that allowing myself to take a break from being a full time mom and getting back to the workforce a couple times a year is really good to connect with who I am as a person and a woman versus who I am as a mom.  Every situation is different and try to make the most out the the time with your family, even if it is short. 
For more information about working with Lauren and Abacus Tax and Accounting Services this tax season, or throughout the year, visit her website or shoot her an email, lauren@abacustaxes.com.   

Disclosure: Abacus is a PwcMoms advertiser. 

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