Inside Business - Tax Season Is Upon Us
Estes Park Trail-Gazette
It is tax season. Which means it is crunch time for businesses and individuals alike. One local company that tries to ease that stress and help businesses file their taxes is Mueller Pye & Associates.
Paul and Teresa Mueller have built their business on helping other businesses. A business has to worry about much more than just filling a tax return. There are a lot of ins, outs and what-have-yous when it comes to business tax code, so the Mueller's say the onboarding of a new client is not something that happens a month or two before taxes are due.
What Mueller Pye & Associates focus on is planning ahead. They can help a business analyze if it is better to buy or lease, merge or acquire another business, plan charitable gifts, select a fiscal year, plan a business succession and much more.
"We operate a little bit differently than most accounting firms because we focus on businesses clients." Paul Mueller said. "They have needs all year round, like whether they should buy or lease equipment, whether they should acquire a competitor or whether they should monitor their cash flow a little bit more closely."
There are also a number of recent changes to the tax code. The Tax Reform Act was passed at the end of December 2017 and went into effect in 2018. Included is a higher standard deduction and a 20 percent deduction for small and medium businesses' profits.
"We were real busy with our clients all throughout the year making sure they understood the new deductions that were available and how to take advantage of those new deductions. The biggest deduction for small and medium sized businesses this year is the opportunity to treat 20 percent of their net profit as tax free income. That's a big number, we've seen some really tremendous savings with some of our clients this year," explained Paul.
And with the standard deduction being higher now a lot of people's donations and other tax deductions are not going to make a difference for their tax return.
"We've been consulting our clients on advanced philanthropy and legacy vehicles, charitable trusts and donor advised funds. We've been having a lot of conversations with people about that to try to get a tax benefit for their donations when their regular giving isn't doing them any good. In our business once you know what the rules are, once you know where certain deductions have been cut off, you have to identify the other avenues," said Paul.
And another reminder... business returns are due March 15, so business owners can claim the profits for their personal returns due April 15.
"This is our busiest time because a lot of the business returns are due by March 15... so we're surfing the tsunami right now," Paul said. "We do our best work between May and October when we're doing mid-year planning and figuring out how the numbers are going to turn out for the next year. When May roles around, that's when the second season starts for us, we get a lot of inquiries and we will start meeting with new clients in May."
Mueller Pye & Associates CPA also sets itself apart with upfront pricing, setting mutual expectations with the client and having fun. The stereotypical accountant is not usually the life of the party, but Mueller says if they're not having fun, then there is a problem.
"We do more laughing and giggling in the office than is probably allowed by law but that's the way we operate, we just want to have fun," Paul said.
Which is probably why they moved to Colorado in the first place. The Mueller's planned on moving to Estes Park after they retired but they could not wait to move from Texas to Colorado. Now they operate the business out of Loveland with a satellite office here in Estes Park at 1200 Graves Ave. (catch Paul on Friday) and another office in Houston (headed by Robyn Pye).
Another reason to be in Colorado are the family ties they have. Their daughter owns and operates The Barrel at 251 Moraine Ave.
"My daughter and son-in-law moved out here 8-9 years ago... and they figured out they would rather run a beer garden and serve beer than knock out tax returns, and I don't blame them for that," said Paul.
Craft breweries have become a bit of a niche for Mueller Pye & Associates. They work with 15 craft breweries in Colorado, however that is not why the firm also goes by the name The Smart CPA.
The name started after Paul purchased a Smart Car. He said people would see his firm's number on the Smart Car, they would call and ask if he was the Smart Car CPA guy so one thing led to another and they became the Smart CPA. Anyone who attended the Rooftop Rodeo parade a year ago might recognize the Mueller's Smart Car. It drove down Elkhorn with a pony on top.
The Mueller's have been involved in a lot of community groups. Paul chairs the United Way Larimer County Board of Directors. He is also a board member of the Estes Valley Partners for Commerce and the Estes Valley Restorative Justice Partnership. Teresa is a member of the Regional Development Council and the Investment Committee of the Community Foundation of Northern Colorado, a member of the Front Range Community College Business Advisory Committee, a member of Rotary Club of Loveland, and Treasurer of Rotary District 5440. She also received the Women of Vision Award by the Colorado Women of Influence in 2012.