Our Spotlight series highlights the careers and lives of tax professionals around the world. This week’s Spotlight is on Teresa “Terri” Alley, an enrolled agent and co-owner of Alley & Bradl LLC in Piqua, Ohio.
Alley became interested in personal taxes after being a stay-at-home mom and working for several years in the administrative field. She became an enrolled agent so she could help people with audits, sign tax returns, and train and supervise employees. After spending more than a decade at a local accounting firm, she and Ann (Bradl) Epperly, a CPA, started their own company. “I consider the last 15 years of my life my second act — it’s never too late to find your passion,” Alley said.
When she’s not working, you’ll find Alley watching the latest episodes of The Crown, eating peanut butter Easter eggs or curled up with a good book.
What is your official title and what does it mean? I am a 50% owner of our business and a registered agent. I handle most of the administrative tasks for our office, IT and technical materials and most of our 1040 preparation and representation work. This includes clients’ IRS matters, plus state and local matters. Since we are in Ohio, we have many municipal tax departments to work with.
Free time: book, audiobook or podcast? Books, definitely! I have a huge bookshelf in my living room filled with historical fiction, biographies and pulp novels. They are like friends that I visit from time to time. Just looking at the bookshelf makes me happy.
Tax is a big topic. What is your area of special interest? Personal income taxes. It involves a lot of customer contact, and I enjoy providing a personal service to appreciative customers. Our customer base ranges in age from 19 to 99 and they live all over the country. When clients leave but still want to retain our tax services, it shows that they value the personal relationship as much as I do. I like to think that we offer relationship tax preparation, not retail tax preparation.
What’s the last movie or show you saw that you liked (DVD, Netflix, or in the theater)? Right now, I’m trying desperately NOT to enjoy The Crown, but to squeeze it into just one or two episodes a night. Before that, it was Becoming Elizabeth. It’s history, royalty, but most importantly, real people. This is my escape.
What faculty did you attend and what did you study? I attended Edison State Community College and received an associate degree in business administration, with a certificate in accounting. I was a stay-at-home mom in my 20s, did general administrative work in my 30s, and didn’t get into taxes until my 40s. I started college working full time and it took eight years, during which I moved three times, got divorced, and studied and passed the Special Enrollment Exam to become an EA. Life happens, but I stretched it out to get my degree.
Go to-me-up: Coffee or tea? Coffee in the morning and Mountain Dew diet in the afternoon.
What is the best tax or financial advice someone has ever given you? When I bought my house, the kitchen was a nightmare. I had planned to live with it for a few years and save up for remodeling. A good friend advised me to rethink this and look for ways to make it happen sooner rather than later. I found someone who would do the job if I took care of removing the old cabinets. My son-in-law was more willing to swing the hinge and pull out the old stuff. I have been able to find cabinets, counters and flooring for 48 months just like money. The only initial out-of-pocket cost was labor. It definitely increased the value of my home and having a nice and clean kitchen really made my house feel like home right away.
If you weren’t working in the tax profession, what would your dream job be? I would like to write historical fiction so that readers can be entertained and learn at the same time. All the traveling and research I would have to do would be a bonus for me!
If you had the chance to make one change in the tax world—an additional credit, a prohibited deduction, whatever—what would it be? No changes to the current year’s tax law should be allowed after August 31. It is so difficult to help clients plan when talking about tax changes that may or may not happen.
Favorite meal, snack or dessert during tax season or another busy time? Peanut butter is always a favorite! Especially those peanut butter Easter eggs that are available right at the most stressful time of tax season.
What news or tax moves had the most impact on your practice or clients last year? We have a handful of small business customers who have taken advantage of the employee retention credit, although they are still awaiting refunds. The increase in the child tax credit made a difference for many of our individual clients, especially when we used the options for married filing jointly versus filing separately.
If you received a large tax refund check right now, what would you do with it? Put some into my retirement plan, top up my HSA, put some into my grandchildren’s college fund accounts. Boring stuff. 😊
You can learn more about Alley on LinkedIn.
You can learn more about Alley’s firm, Alley & Bradl LLC, on its website and on Facebook.
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