Emily Kingan finds her rhythm preparing taxes for the creative
Emily Kingan knows how to drum up business. As a relatively new licensed tax consultant in Portland, Ore., Kingan has found a niche within her natural talent and community - helping fellow artists and musicians organize and file their taxes. On a typical day, Kingan can be seen riding her bike around town, parking at a neighborhood coffee shop and meeting with clients. It's obviously working, as her practice is already booming.
Here we catch up with Kingan to find out a little more about her beat.
Location: Portland, Ore.
Job: Licensed tax consultant
Clients: App. 200 artists and musicians
Firm: Math LLC
Extracurricular activities: Plays drums with a pop folk electronic band called Lovers; also plays drums with Hooliganship; member of the former punk band Haggard, and has started playing the saxophone.
How it all began: I got a degree in mathematics, and at the school I went to, accounting wasn't a major. ... I just knew I had a proficiency for math. I started working as a bike mechanic and there was an opening for bookkeeper, so I started working as the bookkeeper. Then I got this idea, I think my mom suggested it to me, to become a tax preparer.
The process: In Oregon, to be a tax preparer you have to go through a certain certification requirement, take this six-month class and then pass the state board exam for apprentice-level licensing. If you want to be self-employed, you have to take a further exam and also work underneath someone for two years. I did all that. Now my designation is licensed tax consultant, but that's an Oregon licensing. I'm not a CPA and I never went to accounting school.
Meetings with clients: A lot of times musicians and artists get scared of doing their taxes and they procrastinate, so I am getting a lot of clients right now. When they are late they will pay the penalty or interest, or a lot of times they don't owe taxes anyway because they get the Earned Income Credit. Many people don't really feel comfortable going into a CPA office because I think they feel intimidated. They don't know anything about it and a lot of CPAs don't have the time to spend educating them.
Handling tax season work/life balance: I'm kind of a stress case, but I still can practice [music]. You have to do something besides looking at your computer.
How clients find out about her: Word of mouth. One year I put some fliers up and I found a lot of people that way, but I don't need to do that anymore. It was kind of a whim that I went to tax school and then I got totally bombarded by people - artists and musicians who have been like, 'Oh my God, where have you been?'
Favorite part of the job: Meeting with new clients and learning about what they do. .... I meet them at a coffee shop, I have coffee with a new, interesting person, and then I go home and try to save them a bunch of money. Then hopefully when I meet up with them, they are pleased. I make a lot of friends doing this, too. So yeah, it's awesome. I like working with money, so I like trying to save people money that I know don't have much.
Most challenging part of the job: That the Internal Revenue Service has so many rules and changes that come up, and keeping current with all the laws. Part of my licensing is continuing education, so I take classes throughout the year and listen to a podcast of Tax Talk Today.
Biggest issue her clients are facing now: I've had a few people who had to short-sell their houses. They can't make their mortgage payments and their house isn't worth what it was when they bought it, so they are selling their houses and getting cancellation of debt. I definitely notice that some clients weren't as prosperous last year. ... I've got a lot of people who are trying to form LLCs and partnerships and are not sure how to do that or how to treat their band - a partnership or a single-member LLC and contract people out. ... So I'll help them a little bit with that, too.
(c) 2009 Accounting Today and SourceMedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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