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Republic CPA puts focus on professional service

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by Kris Ann Hegle

SBJ Contributing Writer

Short of your doctor, there's no other professional that knows more about you than your certified public accountant, according to Lindy Maus, CPA, of Republic.

Maus said sometimes clients get a little nervous when it comes time to disclose their finances, but she tries to put them at ease right away.

"People have to put the kind of trust in me that they would put in their doctor," Maus said. "You can get a lot of personal information about someone just from doing their tax return. My clients have to trust me enough to tell me everything so I can do everything I can to help them."

Maus and her team of six employees, which includes two other CPAs, provide a variety of services to individual clients, sole proprietors and small businesses. During tax season, which runs from early January to mid-April, Maus works as much as 80 hours a week preparing tax returns.

In the off-season, Maus and her associates work mainly on corporate tax returns and act as consultants to small businesses doing such things as generating financial statements, helping with business plans and creating in-house payroll systems. Maus and her team also help business owners pick out and set up accounting software systems and train their employees.

According to Maus, who has been in business for more than 19 years, computerized systems have changed the way she and other CPAs do business.

Today, every tax return is done on a computer, and clients are given the option of filing electronically with the Internal Revenue Service.

Computers also have changed the way information on tax laws is referenced. Although some tax manuals are printed, Maus usually puts a CD-ROM that contains tax rules and regulations in her computer when doing research.

Technology also has changed the way some people do their taxes. While some popular software packages work well for individuals who want to do their own taxes, Maus hasn't seen any decline in business.

According to Maus, nothing can replace a CPA's experience and judgment, particularly when it comes to interpreting gray areas of the tax law.

For example, two years ago the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997 sent a lot of business her way. The tax act included provisions with special significance for families, students, homeowners and investors. Since then, it has gotten a lot more difficult for individuals to keep up with changing rules and regulations, Maus said.

As a result, she said she believes one of the more important services she provides is professionalism.

Like other CPAs in Missouri, Maus is licensed, and each year she completes 40 hours of continuing education. She also undergoes a voluntary peer review every three years.

Maus said she also works to educate her clients. New clients receive an organizer to help them determine what receipts and records they should keep during the coming year.

Clients who have questions can call the office anytime during the year, Maus said, and most questions are answered free of charge.

"I don't compare myself to other accounting firms when it comes to fees," Maus said. "I know my clients, and most of them are sole proprietors or small businesses, so I try to keep fees low. I charge by the hour, but I'm really selling more than my time. I'm also selling my skills and my judgment."

Maus said the personal touch makes her stand out. From her business logo, to the furnishings in her office, to reviewing every tax return that leaves her building, Maus oversees every detail of the business that bears her name. In fact, Maus said, she made the choice a few years ago not to expand her business if it meant compromising her attitude toward personal service.

"Some clients value a personal relationship," Maus said. "If you go to a franchise tax service, sometimes you see the same person who did your taxes last year, sometimes you don't. There's no relationship there. I have a history with most of my clients, and they know they can trust me."

Although CPAs weren't always allowed to advertise their services, that has changed. Maus said she doesn't do a lot of advertising, however, and most clients are referred by word-of-mouth. Being a long-time resident of Republic has helped, also.

Maus said when she first opened her business 19 years ago, she was the only CPA in Republic. These days, however, she competes with other CPAs for clients who live in Republic, or in Springfield and the surrounding area. However, Maus said she doesn't worry about the competition or attracting new clients.

"Most of my new clients are referred to me by someone whose taxes I've done," Maus said. "When you do a good job, your business will grow."[[In-content Ad]]

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