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Bookkeepers and Tax Preparers
Can anyone recommend a good bookkeeper and tax preparer?
I highly recommend Monty Lee at 1393 Solano Ave., Albany, 94706.
His # is (510) 528-1112. Monty is a smart and caring individual. I hope you call
Tax preparer for self-employed taxes
self-employed and have always done my own taxes but it's getting more confusing.
I'd like to find someone who doesn't mind my confusion and is willing to help
me through the process of figuring out what information I give them (I'm used to
being self-sufficient!) Someone in Alameda or Oakland would be great - someone
who I can schedule and ask questions with via email even better. I want to talk
to someone long before next April, although my taxes for this year are done -
just to know what expenses I should be keeping track of etc., to make next
year's taxes easy. Thanks!
Jan Zobel literally wrote the book! ''Minding Her Own Business'' tells you
what you need to know about taxes for the self-employed. And she gives
workshops throughout the year in the Bay area.
I have had my taxes done by Jan for years and love her!
[Sept 2014 Editor Note: Jan Zobel is no longer accepting new clients]
Just posted this same response to another tax question - Deborah Fisher Bell
at Williams Adley in Oakland is AWESOME! I called her based on BPN reviews and
she did a great job with a combo of personal and S Corp taxes. Maggie Harmon
Looking for a Great Tax Preparer
I foolishly waited too long to find a new tax preparer and now tax day
is around the corner! Mine retired and I have not found someone yet.
I have a fairly simple return (one W2 & one 1099). I am single and
have one child who is a dependent. I realize it's most likely too late
to prepare my return before April 15 so it would be fine to have the
tax preparer file an extension and prepare the return at a later date
since I know I will get a refund.
Anyone out there know a really good tax preparer who doesn't charge an
arm and a leg but who is also very competent?
Thanks so much for any recommendations!
We have used Teresa Kaiser, CPA in Walnut Creek area for about 8 years.
Telephone (925) 820-3996. She is super efficient (if you act fast Im sure
she can get it done in time). We seem to always have some complicated
arrangements that she doesnt see as complicated at all. She wrote a letter
for us when we were mistakenly audited over the state's confusion about the
new domestic partner tax laws. Her fees are reasonable. She's not the kind
of CPA (are there many?) who will accept a mishmash of documents for her
to sort out. She sends you a long form to fill out, and you send her your
documents. I can't think of any reason not to recommend her. Carey
Tax preparer for new law firm partner
I've always done our personal income taxes but this year my husband has become a partner
at his law firm and things are getting much more complicated. Can anyone recommend a
tax preparer to us? Someone who has experience with K-1 income from a law firm
partnership where a large percentage is from states other than California. Preferably
located somewhere around Oakland/Berkeley to Walnut Creek. (I had hoped to get a
recommendation from his co-workers but no one seems to be very happy with their tax
Can't do it myself any more
Deborah Fisher is a CPA at Williams Adley. She used to work for the IRS and is
totally on top of tax issues. She's very experienced and committed to helping
her clients no matter what it takes. I've worked with her in the past and find
her easy to talk with. I'm sure she will not work with you if she doesn't feel
she can do what you need. Because there are others in the department,
to the best person will not be an issue. Her office is in Oakland and her
is 893 8114 X 16.
Deborah Fisher Bell at Williams Adley in Oakland is AWESOME! I called her
based on BPN reviews and she did a great job with a combo of personal and S
Corp taxes. Maggie
Congratulations on your husband making partner! I am a solo attorney. Eva
Konigsberg of Savvy Tax does my personal and law practice taxes. Eva is easy
to work with, and local. We drop off documents and handle most issues by
Seeking an amazing tax advisor for a teacher
I'm hoping BPN can steer my family towards an excellent, and
affordable, tax advisor for this year. When we lived in New
York we used someone who was fantastic and offered a
wonderful discount for teachers. We may have to file in
New York again this year as well as filing in California as
full time residents and I wasn't super impressed with the
person we used last year.
Any recommendations? Closer to San Leandro is better but I'm
willing to travel for the right person!
Too much to do ourselves anymore
I love our tax preparer, Karen Gokay! She's over the hills,
but comes to your house, first to collect information, then
to bring returns. She's reasonably- priced and flexible,
and has helped both myself and friends through some tricky
tax situations. firstname.lastname@example.org satisfied customer
I highly recommend Jerry Howerter, in Richmond, 235-5820.
I'm a self- employed music teacher with a somewhat complex
tax situation. For decades I was paying top dollar to one
fancy accountant after another. Finally, a music teacher
friend turned me on to Jerry. I still remember her words:
'He has a mind like a steel trap.'
Well, not only did that turn out to be completely true, but
he also charges a fraction of what the other accountants
charged me for years, although he is at least as smart and
knowledgeable as they were if not more.
The hitch: he's not a CPA. Also, he has an old-fashioned,
almost shabby office in downtown Richmond. He has no website
or web presence, although he will submit your return
electronically if you so desire. Fancy he's not. But he
knows what he's doing, he's so good that he still does taxes
for many of his clients who have moved out of state, and he
is extremely personable as well as efficient. He won't mail
your tax return to you, as my past accountants used to (and
probably charged me double for the service). You have to go
pick it up. But it's worth it. Anon
Tax help for teacher/single parent
Hello BPNers. I'm looking for a tax preparer who can help me with
fairly simple taxes (but I'm overwhelmed!) I am a high school teacher
and a single mom of 2 teenagers. Thanks
I've recommended him before, but I'll do it again: We've
used Mike Schoenholz of Schoenholz & Associates for more
than 10 years now. He is fantastic: smart, friendly,
extremely efficient, knowledgable. He has done simple taxes
for us and complicated estate and trust taxes for us. I
cannot recommend him highly enough.
He has moved his office in the last year or so, so here is
the most up-to-date contact info for him:
Mike Schoenholz Schoenholz & Associates 1350 Treat. Blvd., Ste.
280 Walnut Creek, CA 94597
In the past I always did my own taxes but realized that there
was a reason why come april 18 I had not done o9 and 10 taxes,
I'm a single mom too and simply overwhemed. So I googled yelp
and found paul thode in the dimond district, and I say it was a
good investment. He has a yelp discount so I paid $90 for each
year, but then again I saved my sanity and 2 weekends worth of
time which I used doing fun stuff with my baby. I will use paul
again! Sorry for typos, posting from my phone.
We have been using Bob Stimmel of Cayucos Tax service for
10years. He is thorough, knowledgeableand honest. That is why we
don't mind doing everything we need to do by email & snail mail
since he lives out of the area. His contact is Bob at
cayucosTax.com/ (805) 995-5049.
I've had experience with four different accountants since I
started filing taxes in CA about 25 years ago, and have been
very happy with DeSilva and Holman, who I've used for the
past three years. (For the record, the first two accountants
retired, and the third was good but too expensive.) DeSilva
and Holman is located in Montclair, phone is 510.531.6262
I also starting doing my return myself on TurboTax,
simultaneously with putting it together for my tax preparer.
This has helped me better understand the impact of various
factors, although I always file a professionally prepared
return. And every year Bob DeSilva has saved me money over
my TurboTax return.
For tax help, go to Dennis Roberts at Check Mate services on
Addison (behind Andronico's) in Berkeley. 510-849-1555
He is patient, methodical and very helpful! A few of my
teacher friends recommended him.
We've been really pleased with the Financial Fitness Center
in Oakland. We've used them the past few years and they
seem to know their business well. They are sort of a
one-stop shop for all things financial.
I just had an excellent experience with 'Beall & Weil Tax
Service' in Albany (on Solano). I used their services for
the 1st time this year and had my returns done within a week
during the crunch time of tax season. I got more back than I
would have doing taxes myself and had the peace of mind
knowing they were done correctly. Using their services was
In the last week, I then took in my previous years tax
returns to have them amended and got significant returns for
each year. I'm extremely happy with them.
1329 Solano Ave
(between Pomona Ave & Ramona Ave)
Albany, CA 94706
We're looking for someone intelligent and well-informed who is easy
to talk to and can tell us how we can write off business and
household expenses to save money.
We have two home offices and Henry Amado at Abacus Tax Service at
Cedar and Shattuck has done a great job with our tax returns. (510)
Nancy in Berkeley
I have used Peter Morfin (in Kensington) for many years and find him
helpful and knowledgeable, with reasonable fees. He can be reached at
I like Jong Lee with over 30 years experience. He is wonderful in
every way, patient, a teacher for his clients and calm, 836-7400. I
have referred clients to him before and everyone is very pleased. I
have a small business in Alameda with a retail component which
requires a lot of bookkeeping and technical input and he in my opinion
is the best.
Five years I had to change tax preparers after many, many years with
some one in Marin. I found Rick Naish and have been very happy. He
has an office on Ashby, an office in San Francisco and is finishing
law school. Rick Naish email@example.com
Call Jim Rigelhaupt in Oakland, 510-893-0921. He is a lawyer by
training but has been doing only tax returns and tax accounting for
over 15 years. Very friendly, accessible, professional, smart. Uses
Turbo Tax software, explains everything.
Seeking a tax person in Berkeley or Oakland who is
competent and very aware of tax laws, and also down-to-
earth, and able to help a self-employed person
utilize ''loopholes'' for deductions, etc. I'm interested in
being able to be honest with someone without being advised
to rigorously declare every penny of my income, and who
can, in fact, offer ideas about ways to deduct generously.
Someone who really knows the tax laws and is able to
utilize to my advantage. Feel free to tell me something
about your work if you're a CPA or about whoever you use,
and please no emails saying ''use Mr. Smith. He's great!
510-555-1212.'' I'd like to really hear about what you
like, style, sensibility, etc. And fees, please.
Hi Sarah, I highly recommend Deborah Bell Fisher. She is
the director of Tax Department of Williams & Adley Co (a
CPA firm). She is a CPA for 25 years and worked in IRS in
charge of auditing for 18 of those years. So she knows the
tax law inside and out. She is thorough, takes initiative
and always stays of top of the game. She provides great
value by helping you with tax planning and strategy, not
just filing tax return. She is very easy to work with and
she is always there when you have any questions. Her fees
is very reasonable and competitive. She is a wonderful
person. Quite a few of my clients work with her and speak
highly about her. She offers free consultation upfront.
You should give her a call and find out yourself.
Deborah's phone# is 510-893-8114 or email:
We've been using Carol Epstein of Taxplus in Berkeley for the
last 8 going on 9 nine years. She is fast, down-to-earth and
has helped us with some complicated business and personal
tax matters. Last year, she finally got us started on
planning because of the recession and it has really helped.
We recommend her because she has made it easy for us to get it
all done on time and get our refunds early. She is located
in the Strawberry Creek Design Center at Addison and Bonar
Another small business owner in Berkeley
I need help from a resonably priced tax preparer for this years taxes. In
short I've become a first time homebuyer, become a landlord, have a
dependent, and have to negotiate deductions with my wife for our
separate federal returns. Help!
There were several requests for a tax person in this
newsletter. We've hired Deborah Bell of Williams, Adley and
Company in Oakland to help with a challenging tax issue. As
someone who had worked for the IRS, she has knowledge of
both sides. Deborah is also very easy to talk with and gets
the job done. Reach her at 893 8114.
Please call Just Taxes at 6327 Fairmount Avenue
El Cerrito, CA 94530-3647,
(510) 528-8299. Janet Blackburn and John Stephenson are a
two person show so it is very relaxed and homey. John
handled our taxes for years, including years when I had a
home based business. He did an excellent job for us. I was
called for two audits (through no fault of his), and he
represented us admirably at each one.
I can highly recommend Mike Schoenholz of Schoenholz &
Associates. I've recommended him on BPN before, but it has
been over a year and he has a new office. I had a couple
years of complicated taxes, and he handled it so easily and
never made me feel stupid. He is up to date on every single
new tax law. His efficiency is really incredible. Also, Mike
is one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet. Here is his info:
Schoenholz & Associates
1350 Treat. Blvd., Ste. 280
Walnut Creek, CA 94597
Hi. It's that season again. My husband and I need tax
and financial advice. We would like to work with a
comprehensive service that could prepare our taxes as well
as advise us on our many new life changes including paying
nanny taxes, being new homeowners, possible work related
deductions for professors. We really want someone to fine
comb and suggest areas for deductions or instruct us how
to do things differently so we can qualify for
deductions. But we also want someone ethical who won't
expose us to risk. Additionally, it would also be nice to
have someone review our investments under the same roof.
We are new to this so we don't know what to expect. We'd
like to find someone in the Berkeley area.
I have the perfect person for you! She is all you are
asking for, plus she's incredibly fun to work with. Her
name is Cathy Mu, CPA, CFP, and I've used her services for
several years now. I am so certain of her expertise that I
have actually relaxed about all of my investments! She has
been a miracle worker in regards to finding deductions and
having me stay on track about them, plus she has
recommended things I never would have known about. She has
offices in Walnut Creek and Albany, so she is not far from
you. She can be reached at (925) 979-2378. You will rest
easy after meeting her!
Anyone have a tax accountant they can recommend? In Alameda
would be fantastic.
I've been using Rick Vincent in Alameda for years. He's honest, reliable,
reasonably priced, and gives good investment advice if you want it.
His phone number is 769 - 9744
A Satisfied Customer
Try Mark Nakamura in Downtown Oakland. He's highly experienced and rates are
reasonable: (415) 412-4244.
I'm looking for a tax preparer who is familiar with the adoption tax
credit. Any recommendations?
Try Susan Levinkind, J.D. She has well over 20 years exp.
Honest, smart, competent, compassionate...
She can be reached at
If Susan can't help you she will direct you
to the person who can.
Iryna Oreshkova is a CPA who could help you. She prepares my taxes
and is so thorough. She has many years of experience and for
several years, she worked at Deloitte & Touche. She does a
wonderful job and explains everything beautifully. Her number is
510-467-9506. Her office is at 1212 Broadway, #616, Oakland
I have changed occupations recently from SAHM to sole
proprietor/independent contractor. I am in need of some
basic tax advice and tax filing and am unsure if I need to
contact an Accountant or tax professional. My case is pretty
straight forward no twists or turns really. I just need
advice as to whether I qualify for the home tax credit, how
to properly apply/record my expenses and financials for tax
time, and what tax benefits I can take advantage of. I am
looking for recommendations for someone who works with the
''little guy/gal'' (meaning we don't make very much money).
Do you have a reasonably priced, attentive and knowledgeable
tax or CPA gurus that can help?
We have the BEST tax accountant I have ever seen. Not only is he
extremely knowledgable and thorough, but he is one of the nicest
people you will ever meet.
You can contact Rick Naish at 510-5483200. His office is on
I was a sole proprietor/independent contractor for several years.
An important tax benefit is the self-employed 401k. I set mine up
through Fidelity because they were the only firm at the time that
offered them for $0 fees. It is well described here:
Another important ''benefit'' -- or at least a deduction to be
aware of -- is the money you spend on health insurance premiums.
I did my own taxes using Taxact.com and I'm sure the other tax
softwares are equally good. You don't need a special ''business''
v. of tax software as an independent contractor. Generally, I
found it sufficient to save all my expenses and then follow the
software script -- it was all very straightforward including the
calculation of allowable home and car expenses related to your
Not too complicated to DIY
After two years of H & R Block getting our child care credit wrong on our
taxes, my husband and I are looking for a tax preparer who can deal with
relatively simple things like that, and other more complex issues like
Any recommendations for affordable, and personable tax preparer
I would highly recommend Lynn Smith of Smith Office Solutions in a
beautiful part of Point Richmond (across the street from Hotel Mac).
She began this family business with her adult children, who all work
there too. She's an enrolled agent (tax specialist) and is incredibly
patient and friendly even under a lot of pressure. So I've found she's
very easy to work with. She does my family's taxes and we have very
complicated taxes because I have a home office and my husband is a
minister, getting some of his salary in living expenses. She does a
great job and is very professional. Please mention my name when you
call her. Her number is 510-231-4787.
I have loved working with John Stephenson of Just Taxes at 6327
Fairmont, just above San Pablo Ave., in El Cerrito. He is just across
from the Mechanics Bank, next to the corner store. 510-528-8299. He was
good with our real estate, my small business, and representing me
through two audits. Go, John! Be sure to tell him I sent you.
We've used Turbo Tax for the last five years and ended up owing
a lot this year. We thought it would be a good idea to have a
real person examine our returns for the last few years. We
aren't looking for anyone who would advocate for questionable
deductions, we just want to make sure we are overpaying. If it
does end up that we've been overpaying, we'd like this person to
be able to help us apply for refunds. Our finances are fairly
straight forward, it's nothing too complex. Still, we feel it's
a good idea to make sure the system we've been using to file our
taxes is working in our best interest.
Somebody in Oakland would be best, although Berkeley is fine
too. Also, we don't have a ton of money to spend, so somebody
good that charges a reasonable rate - is that too much to ask?
Patrick McDermott is a fabulous CPA-
He is extremely knowledgeable.
His office is in Berkeley.
I can't recommend Hank Leavy and his team highly enough.
They're located on College ave in Oakland. Very thorough and
honest. I feel very comfortable with them every year.
We have been THRILLED with Mary Canning E.A.,J.D.,LLM (tax) in
Piedmont. We had used several tax accountants with horror
stories as a result. One (found on BPN)involving putting our
completed tax information in the mail (the person lived 2 miles
away and never asked if we preferred to pick them up)with NO
RETURN ADDRESS. Our taxes along with all of the personal
information included were lost.
Mary is a CPA and a certified financial planner. She is the
dean of the Golden Gate University MBA Accounting program and
she is fantastic! She is thorough, knows the tax code and all
of the changes that come each year and makes sure everything is
examined. We have used her for the last 2 tax seasons and have
been so happy with her professionalism and expertise. Her
hourly rates are very much in-line with most CPAs and we feel
that she is worth every penny! She can be reached at
Two fantastic tax people who really know their stuff:
1. Marvin Tate, CPA, JD
Marvin is in Oakland. He was my Real Estate Taxation and
Exchange teacher. Run to Marvin if you own any investments,
need to strategize, etc.
2. Herb Yarmo, EA
Herb is an Enrolled Agent in Berkeley. Has done our taxes for
years and saved us buckets-o'-cash.
In 2007 I rented out what used to be my primary residence, and I need help dealing
the income, expense & depreciation reporting on my taxes. If you have personal
experience using the services of someone in the east bay who has done a good job
with this for a fair price, would you please share the info? Or, if you know of a
good, not-too-technical reference book that might make it possible for me to
prepare the income tax reports myself, please share. Before I had a rental, I did
my own itemized tax reports without being traumatized. Many thanks!
I know an accountant who has lots of experience with this: Iryna
Oreshkova, MBA, CPA. You can call her at 510-467-9506 or email her at
We're looking for someone to do our taxes this year --- they should be
pretty straightforward and simple. What seems to be the going rate for
such work? Has anyone had good success with a particular tax preparer?
Thanks for the advice.
Our taxes were simple too (so we thought), but we were referred to Nick by
our friends -- he is based in Berkeley, email: firstname.lastname@example.org). He was
very well versed in our situation (working couple) and he knew how to sort
through the details we were not aware of, and helped us figure out how to
deal with our small investments in the future (proactive tax planning was
not in our minds at the time).
He was very reasonable in what he charged us last year (around $250) given
some tricky items in our return. He was quite busy when we first contacted
him, so he asked us a lot of questions, but once he took us on, he also
gave us a lot of suggestions on how to improve and streamline our
finances, and look at how they affect taxes.
I don't know if he is open to taking on new clients - send him an email
and he see what he says.
We haven't done our taxes since our youngest was born in
2004 and we need HELP! Up
until then we have always taken care of taxes on time. We really
want to find someone
who can get us back on track without being judgmental or
breaking the bank. I have a
regular full-time job & my husband has a small business so we
need someone that has
experience with that and who can provide solid guidance
regarding deductions etc. for
the future. We are in Berkeley, but would certainly be open to
using a "highly
recommended" professional anywhere in the Bay Area that
could help our situation.
It's taxing to do taxes...Procrastinator No More!
I've recommended him on BPN before, and I'll do it again: Call Mike
Schoenholz of Schoenholz & Spiegel, LLP 2033 N. Main St.,Ste. 365
Walnut Creek 925-977-4000. His office is right near the 24/680
interchange, so it is easy and quick to get to.
He is the nicest, least judgmental person in the world, plus he is a
true tax genius. He has helped us with our taxes (my husband has a
corporate job, but I am a freelancer). He sorted out extremely messy
estate and trust filings after my father died. Then, he helped my
father's widow with her taxes. And that was a real mess because she was
experiencing the onset of alzheimers and we didn't realize it. Her
papers and records were in total disarray. Throughout it all, Mike was
patient and on top of every new tax law, code, and detail. I have never
been disappointed in anything he's done for us, big or small.
I Like Mike
I work from home and recently switched from W2 to 1099 status. I need to find a
knowledgeable tax accountant who can save me money by guiding me on how and what
to deduct (office, phone bills, travel, etc). Anyone know a good tax accountant
who specializes in 1099 status?
I highly recommend Jan Zobel. She specializes in working with self-employed
people and independent contractors and she's been helping me with my 1099s for
the past 7 years. My tax returns have been different almost every year for
various reasons, but she always makes tax season a breeze for me. She also
teaches a really helpful tax seminar for self-employed people that I can't
[Sept 2014 Editor Note: Jan Zobel is no longer accepting new clients]
I am seeking the answer to a complicated question regarding
Mortgage payments and tax claims. I am not sure of who exactly
(what profession) would have the best, legally thorough answers.
The question: If I am not on the title of the house or a
co-signer on the loan, but will be paying the full mortgage
payments, property taxes, and contributing to the account set-up
for house maintenance, (essentially as a renter) how can I (or
can I?) claim this legally for a tax deduction? and what (if
anything) would legally need to happen so that I could do this?
Does my mom need to set up a legal agreement? Do I need to be on
the title? Do I need to be a Co-Signer on the re-financing of the
home loan? This is regarding half of my mom's home (she is on
title and the full signer for the loan as she had the better
credit), She is co-owner of half the house with our upstairs
neighbors (who are fully aware of the situation) who also make
the other half of the payments. She is retiring next year and
leaving the country and we are seeking the recommendations of
where and who might be able to help us determine these answers. I
am not sure of who exactly would have the legal answers? (what
profession? tax lawyer, tax accountant? which is more affordable
and recommended?)and is there anyone who has recommendations?
Thanks for taking the time to consider our questions.
This is not an uncommon scenario. These particular tax deductions, as a matter of
public policy, support home ownership. So you have to be a homeowner, on title,
to take these tax deductions - the tax law is clear on this.
I recommend that you go to the IRS website - they have a publication (that is
designed to be readable by lay people) on home deductions. These publications have
FAQs and will probably answer your questions and can be accessed at your
convenience. I don't know the local tax professionals but do know that there is a
local H&R Block and they'd be able to answer this for you quickly.
I highly recommend ''Just Taxes'' in El Cerrito - they are super knowledgeable and
have always saved us money and given great advice. Just Taxes is located at 6327
Fairmount Ave in El Cerrito (near the plaza) and their number is 510 528 8299.
I am looking for recommendation for a Tax Advisor. We run one small and one not-so-
small business and are looking to make some changes that will have definite fiscal/tax
implications and require some practical advice before we do it. The ideal person will be
someone with experience in working with Building Contractors & S-Corps.
Cathy Mu is the person to interview for your tax questions. She receives
rave reviews from her clients, and is always told she doesn't charge
nearly enough for the work she does. She has two offices, one in San
Pablo and one in Walnut Creek. (925) 979-
2378. Please be aware it is tax season, but she will respond as quickly
as she possibly can. Julie G
Can anyone recommend a tax preparer on the Walnut Creek side of
the tunnel? We've never paid someone to do our taxes, but it's
I think you could not do better than Michael
Schoenholz of Schoenholz & Spiegel. He is fantastic. Their office
is at 2033 N. Main St. in Walnut Creek. The number is
We have worked with Michael Schoenholz of Schoenholz & Spiegel
for several years now. He also handled my late father's quite
complicated trust and estate tax issues. I cannot recommend him
highly enough. He is kind, quick, efficient, easy to talk to, and
is so completely up to date on even the most arcane new tax laws
it is unbelievable. His office is in Walnut Creek, very near the
We use and like Earl Yerina at what used to be AmEx Financial Services in WC; they
were bought by H&R Block but nothing has changed.
I need serious financial help. I can't maintain a budget, I owe serious
backtaxes, and I am completely disorganized with financial matters--like
having my water turned over for not paying the bill, not from lack of
funds, just lack of time. I don't have credit card debt, but in my early
40s, I have no money set aside for retirement or my kids' college
Part of my problems are attributable to being laid off for several years,
but more of it has to do with my compulsive spending (which is what I do
when I'm not doing compulsive eating!).
I am now self-employed and making decent money. I really feel this is the
time to make a change, like paying off tax debts (if I can figure out
what I actually owe). But I can't do it alone. It seems I need a
bookkeeper, a tax preparer, a financial planner, a tax attorney, and even
a therapist to help me figure out why I have this problem! Of course, I
need to have enough money left over to actually pay debts/save/etc.
This is all coupled with my fear of financial experts - I always fear
Help! Can anyone make recommendations about any of the above types of
professionals? (And any other words of advice are welcome!)
We recently started having our taxes done by Lillian Lea, on the
recommendation of a close friend who sounds as if he has some of
the same challeges you do. She's been doing his taxes for a long
time, and we figured if anyone could be skillful and patient
enough with his tangled financial mess (including lots of back
taxes) we'd be glad to go to her too.
She's very down to earth, human, and extremely saavy in the
financial realm. I think she'd be a good starting point - have
her help you get the tax part of it under control, and then
maybe ask her who to go to for the next step. She has decades
of experience doing taxes for all manner of individuals and
businesses, in addition to being warm and easy going. Just don't
be imtimidated by the piles of paperwork on her desk - she
really is very well organized! Her helpers are good too, but if
you're concerned, I'd start with Lil herself.
1307 Solano (at Key Route)
- anon (for the sake of my friend!)
We need a tax preparer to do both our 2004 and 2005 taxes. We're pretty sure
that we are owed money for 2004, or at least don't owe, but never filed and
now need someone to help us deal with the consequences. Any
recommendations for a tax preparer who will help us back on track.
ready to clean up this mess
I have used and referred many a soul to Christine Harkinson in Oakland. She is reasonable, takes time to explains things and goes the extra mile. And if your busy like me, she even points out with stickies where to sign things. Silly but really helpful. She has been recommended here as well.
Her # is 510 482-9729
Tax preparer in for late filing or just filing. I highly recommond Mel Lee 510-763-1145. He has saved my family thousands of dollars. He knows the IRS Laws inside and out. He is not the cheapest, but I think he is the best tax person I have every dealt with. Best of luck,
If you want more information feel free to email me
I would recommend Diane Tyler of D.L. Tyler and Associates in
Oakland. She has been in the business for many years and is
committed to getting you the deductions that you are entitled to
and doing a professional return. Her website:
If you're looking for a tax preparer I recommend John Paul Cross, very reasonable rates. He will spend a lot of time with you and help you figure out what works best for you.
James Reiglehaupt Oakland Ca 510-893-0921
I've looked in the archives, but didn't find what I was looking
for. I'd like to find someone to prepare my tax return - and
ideally he or she would work near my home in Albany. Does
anyone have someone they love in the area? Thanks,
I used to work for myself and my taxes were too complicated for me to handle. I
went to Peter Morfin, in Kensington. He is fantastic! He is a wonderful person, and,
more to the point, saved me a lot of money. His number is 525-4205.
My husband and I used John Stephenson who co owns Just Taxes on
Fairmont Ave. just east of the intersection of San Pablo, on the
border between Albany and El Cerrito. He is excellent -- very
easy to work with and charges fair prices. We have had quite
complex taxes and he did well on them. He also helped me through
two audits when I owned my own company.
I love my tax preparer. She is in Albany right across from
Sweet Potatoes on Solano. Her name is Susan Kopman. Her
number is (510) 526-8255. She has been doing my taxes for
years and is very knowledable and very reasonable.
Happy Tax Payer
I know a great tax preparer in Albany (or perhaps Berkeley) on
Solano Avenue near the New Pieces/Liu's Kitchen/Barney's
intersection. Whe've been using her for about 10 years and she
is wonderful! I don't know if she is taking on new clients, but
giver her a call and see (if not, I bet she could recommend
someone). Her name is April McMahon. She is at 510-528-2312.
- Very satisfied customer.
My wonderful tax preparer - Val Waltz - is not in Albany but is
in Pinole which is about 15 minutes away. She has gotten me
through tax season for about 20 years. She is knowledgeable
and has reasonable rates. I highly recommend her.
Val Waltz - 741-1737
For the person lookong for a Tax CPA in the Albany area, try
Ruth Rubalcava, CPA. She has been great to work with and has
clarified some difficult, sticky tax and planning issues for
me. Her tel # is 510/910-3222.
I'm looking for a tax preparer, it's that time of year again and my husband is a great procrastinator! Nothing too complex, but someone with experience with stock options would be useful. Previous postings are a bit dated.
I've been using Diane Sheilds in Oakland and think she's
amazing. She's honest, but we still manage to get a refund
every year. She's also a delight to work with. Her number is:
510-451-1926. Good luck!
We are currently working with James Rigelhaupt 510-893-0921 and
he is helping us settle an estate. He si doing the accounting and
the tax paper work. He has been very helpful explaining what we
can do for ourselves and save money or what he can do for us.
He has answered my questions promptly and even made copies extra
large so that my legally blind mother can see them
I recommend Creighton Lee. email: cleecpa AT pacbell.net phone: 510-
531-6873 We have used him for the past three years. My husband
has his own business. He works with a variety of different types
of clients (ranging all sectors). He is affordable and fair with
his prices (we never ask him what he will charge and never felt
that we got the short end of the stick).
Ruth Rubalcava, CPA, has given me really terrific tax advice on a
whole range of issues including real estate transactions, rentals,
retirement and how my tax status has been affected as a result of
having kids and cutting back on work. I recommend her highly. She
also has great communication skills. She works independently and
does not take on that many clients because she has 1 year old
twins. Her tel # is 510/910-3222. She is great if you can get her.
My husband & I are self employed musicians/artists/technicians
with a complex tax return, & we're looking for a good tax
preparer. We're in Berkeley, but we'll travel to meet with
someone you've had a good experience with. (We've been working
with Tax Plus, in Berkeley, for several years now, & while
they're very competent, they're pricey, & don't seem to be up on
the latest/best info regarding musicians, etc.)
I can highly recommend tax accountant Ron Yee in Berkeley (843-
6511). We have been using him for many, many years to prepare
our tax returns and he is great at helping you finds ways to
save money, makes the whole process as pleasant as possible, is
the nicest person ever, and is very reasonable to boot. He is a
CPA that used to work for Bechtel and now has his own business
out of his home. We have referred many friends to him and they
all love him.
Dennis Roberts at CheckMate behind Andronico's on University has
been doing my taxes for close to 20 years. I have recommended
Dennis to MANY of my friends and they ALL have had nothing but
praise for him. He's at 1405 Addison in Berkeley, 510-849-1555.
I highly recommend my accountant/tax preparer Aaron Nakahara in
Emeryville (510)653-3757. My husband and I are self-employed
in a partnership and Aaron has helped us with our taxes for the
past four years. He's extremely knowledgeable (although I
don't know how much he knows about musicians specifically),
always gives us advice on ways to reduce taxes, and is
available by phone to answer questions throughout the year.
His fees are reasonable for the excellent value he delivers but
he's not cheap.
I've read the few recs on tax preparers on the site and find I
need add'l ones from a self-emplyed persons perspective (most
were for 'simple' returns not for self-employed/complex).
I am looking for additional ones -- a a preparer
who has enough breadth to handle complex personal returns,
organize household employees quarterly filings, and be very
proactive on advice about deductions and ways to optimize a self-
employed consulting business. I would like someone who has well-
developed methods and systems for collecting data, so that I can
learn to feed info in to him/her better each year and improve my
organization methods. Excellent verbal skills and ability to
explain are critical.
Richard Seiden (510-547-0331) is an accountant with a lot of
experience and knowledge in dealing with tax returns for
self-employed people. He will help you figure out every possible
deduction and, being an ex-professor, is an intelligent guy, We
have used him for years. It is also handy that he will come to
your house to do your returns - and he has a very fast turn
around time - usually gets them in the mail the next day. Not
sure what his going rate is these da
We use Mark Schisler in Oakland (Pleasant Valley Avenue)
Call him at 510-658-5600.
He does a great job with our return which this year includes
employment, self-employment, household employees,
K-1's, adoption, investments and rental properties. Yuck!
Plus, he helped me set up my bookkeeping system so that
it jibes with tax planning.
We have a complicated return - because we have a mix of standard
employment, various consulting contracts on the side, outside
expenses, estimated taxes quarterly etc... This year, I gave up doing it
myself and going to HRBlock because I felt that I needed to be more
proactive/comprehensive/thorough about what I could do this year and
what I needed to think about better for next year. Through another
mom's group that I belong to, I found a CPA in Orinda who has been
really really wonderful. She once worked at a big firm in the city, but has
since hung out her own shingle. She is great and I would highly
recommend her. She has suggested things, corrected things, and just
been a pleasure to deal with. Her name is Marina Wright, and her
phone is 925/253-1445, and her email is MarinaWrightCPA at attbi.com.
Does anyone have a recommedation for an East Bay tax preparer?
The recommendations on the site are several years old.
Someone who can handle preparing personal tax returns, who
understands child-related deductions, is honest and reliable.
Also, any idea of the going rate for these services?
Mcgee's Tax Service in Lafayette was really great for us. We
previously had a less than stellar experience with a CPA, and
were therefore hesitant to let someone help us, but tax law is so
complicated, we needed expertise. A friend with a small business
referred us to Jeff McGee. He really, really helped and was
quite reasonable in cost. We're going back for more if you need
further endorsement. His number is (925) 299-1442
Try Michael Alef on Vine Street in Berkeley. He's a CPA and has
helped us for several years. He's honest and reliable.
We've used Peter Abel, on College Ave., the past three or four
years. He seems to be quite competent and knows personal income
tax laws well. He has typically charged us about $250 depending
on how complicated things are. His number is 510-420-8188.
I highly recommend Maria Ku, C.P.A. (a Haas School High-Honors
grad! and my spouse)to assist you with any tax-related matters.
She has been doing taxes for many years, and opened her own
private practice 2.5 years ago.
Maria is very professional and reliable, has many local East
Bay clients with various child- and investments-related issues
that she's been successfully advising through the changing
tides in the economy. She has a lot of happy clients, and you
could talk to them if you wish.
Because Maria's own business still has some openings, her
professional rates are very reasonable ($55/hr) for her
extensive tax expertise. She is a licensed C.P.A. and a
community activist providing her pro bono professional services
to her public school and other local organizations. You can
visit her web site at www.geocities.com/Maria_Ku_CPA to learn
more about her background, services and local client base.
Please call her at (510) 531-6614 or e-mail her at
maria.ku AT sbcglobal DOT net
I have recommended several friends to my tax preparer and we all
can't say enough about him. I have known him for several years.
He is very nice, accomodating, up on the changing tax laws, will
explain things to you in a clear manner without making you feel
ignorant, and will work hard to make sure you get the most from
your return. He will meet with you in person, or in some cases
you can just send/fax him all your info and he can prepare your
taxes for you without even having to go to his office. Here's
Jim Sparkman, C.P.A
1155 Meridian Ave., Suite 204
San Jose, CA 95125
phone: (408) 265-8400
fax (408) 265-7191
email: sparkmanco AT sbcglobal DOT net
We're looking for an independent advisor/CPA/tax expert, and
nothing on the website seems to quite fit what we need -- or
perhaps we simply don't understand what it is that we need... We
have several long- and short-term financial goals, including all
the usual retirement/school fund/kid #2/travel issues (that is,
we have retirement and school funds, but they are likely not the
most elegant solutions). We don't necessarily want someone to
help us build a portfolio but more to tell us the tax
implications of particular investment vehicles. In addition, we
need tax advice for various kinds of activity -- *especially*
real estate investing (both home and rental property), as well as
small business activity. Lastly, we'd like this person to partner
with someone who can then take care of all our tax filing -- or
if the same person does all of this, then great!
So Many Choices, So Few Brain Cells Left
I would highly recommend Ken Rosen in Walnut Creek (with
Brockstein and Rosen 925-930-8108) who has been my tax advisor for
almost 10 years and my husbands for longer than that.
I feel he is quite knowledgeable on a broad base of financial
matters and that he has really championed my goals.
He is more than capable of doing all that you require.
I would highly recommend California Accounting Center, Jay R.
Shah CPA and Principal for financial advice and tax preperation,
he sends out a quarterly newsletter with great tax tips. You
can e-mail www.calaccountingcenter.com or call him at Phone #
We've been going to Peggy Hall for our taxes for a number of
years. She works out of her house in Moraga and can be
reached at halloftaxes at yahoo.com. Feel free to tell her that
I recommended her.
I heartily recommend Jan Zobel for tax preparation. She is efficient and
organized. Her rates are reasonable and she is very flexible given our tax
status as "unmarried" parents of two dependents, all in the same household.
She works with our individual circumstances to get us the possible outcome.
Jan has an office in Montclair and in San Francisco.
[Sept 2014 Editor Note: Jan Zobel is no longer accepting new clients]
I wanted to give you the name of my tax preparer, whom I have been using
since 1992. Her business, called "Just Taxes," is located at 6327 Fairmont
Avenue, across from the El Cerrito Post Office. Her name is Janet
Blackburn. Her telephone number is: 528-8299 or 528-8328.
She has always provided me with fast, accurate, and reliable services.
Try her out! I've only had good experiences with her.
To the person looking for a financial services person in the Albany
area, I would like to recommend John Stephenson. He is an excellent tax
accountant, although I don't know if he does any financial planning.
His number is 528-8299. His office is located on Fairmount Avenue, just
down from the El Cerrito BART station (almost at San Pablo).
(he's at Just Taxes as
I can highly recommend Ron Yee, CPA. He lives in Berkeley and makes house
calls! I no longer dread tax time. He comes over, and does everything right
there on his computer. He is proactive in helping to figure out if there are
ways to save money, and he is super nice, and patiently answers questions. I
don't know if has any particular expertise in dealing with gay/lesbian
but you could ask him. His phone # is 510 843-6511. You can tell him that
(I also think he's very reasonably priced although I don't have a lot to
Sheila Khalov in Oakland is recommended for tax returns. Her business is
Many Happy Returns and is on College Ave. Maggie
I highly second the recommendation of Sheila Khalov in
Oakland, near the Safeway on College & Claremont.
Our tax preparer is great! She's very efficient, and nice besides. My husband
used to work with her and can vouch for her high professional standards. Her
name is Maria Sohnlein and can be reached at (510) 799-3304 (her home phone, so
call at a reasonable hour) or sohnlein at pacbell.net.
My husband and I have gone to Feiner Tax Service in Berkeley (on 6th Street
near Dwight) for years, working with Gary Feiner. He's good. Phone
I highly recommend a tax preparer that I have used for years: Peter Morfin,
in Kensington, ph: 525-0814.
Peter also provides financial consulting. He has been a therapist for
years, is intelligent, knowledgeable and funny. My husband and I met with
him to plan our financial future and found his unique blend of skills
We have a great tax accountant, Valerie Schieber, in Emeryville who
also came to us highly recommended. 510-644-1236
Kelvin Brown & Associates/Brown's Tax Service in Pinole is great! They are a
family run buisness and are very friendly, professional and helpful. They are
at 1279 San Pablo Ave in Pinole. Their phone number is 724-8787. They also
have an office in Concord - 2291 Pacheco Street. phone 685-8500.
My Uncle, a self employed person, received a notice from the
tax people that they want to audit him and come to his
place of work, which is his house. The items are minor but
he is quite puzzled. Can anyone recommend a CPA or lawyer?
Has anyone gone through this?
My husband and I were also audited and the IRS agent came to our
house. She told us what documents she needed before she came. I
had everything prepared and ready for her. She was actually very
nice and it was not difficult at all. We were coached by our tax
preparer to just be cordial and not engage the agent in anything
unnecessary. She sat at our dining room table for probably an
hour and went through all the documents and then told us what
more she needed. It all turned out fine.
I owe back taxes
My husband and I have not filed taxes since 2003. I need to
resolve this. I had an attorney that did not work out. We
have a relatively low income (Less than $70K). We have been
having tax deductions so if we filed would probably would
have been eligible for a refund. Any recommendations for a
way of fixing this situation will be greatly appreciated.
Before you hire an attorney, I suggest you contact the
Taxpayer Advocate Service (http://www.irs.gov/advocate/).
This is an independent arm of the IRS created by Congress to
help taxpayers cut through the non-responsive IRS
bureaucracy. We had a minor disagreement with the IRS (I
estimated we owed $350, the IRS said $1200) and all of our
efforts to contact them as requested by phone, mail, fax and
even in person went nowhere for 8 months. Only when the IRS
threatened us for inaction did they inform us of the
Taxpayer Advocate Service. I then contacted the Taxpayer
Advocate -- who responded within 24, called back on the days
when she said she would, did what she promised and got the
case resolved -- with us paying $325! Best of all, this
service is free -- your tax dollars at work! Before you
shell out hundreds or thousands of dollars for an attorney,
try this approach.
Taxpayer Advocate Fan
I highly recommend you talk to Deborah Bell Fisher first
before work with an attorney. Deborah is the Director of
Tax for Williams, Adley and Co., a CPA firm. She has been
a CPA for 25 years, and worked at IRS in charge of
auditing for 18 of those years. So, she knows the tax law
inside and out. Because of her IRS background, she is
really good at helping taxpayers get compliant with their
back taxes due and in working with IRS and other
government authorities to slow down their collection
process while she is working on getting you compliant.
Once she gets you compliant, she can be of even greater
value by helping you with tax planning and strategies, not
just filing a tax return. Quite a few of my clients work
with Deborah and speak highly about her. She is thorough,
takes initiative and always stays on top of the game. She
is very easy to work with and is always there when you
have any questions. Her fees are very reasonable and
competitive. She is a wonderful person, and she offers
free consultation upfront. You should give her a call and
find out for yourself. Deborah's phone # is 510-893-8114,
ext. 16 or email: email@example.com
I owe taxes to the IRS Since 2004 if some one have been in this situation
before, I have heard that there are Lawyers that can help to reduce your
debts, can some one recommend me what to do or were to go
You may not like this answer, but, having been there and my partner
having been there, bite the bullet and pay it off before you are socked
with more penalties. It took several years of negotitation for my partner
to work on his last snafu with the IRS and 9 months for me. It totally
was not worth the effort. We saved almost nothing in his case, nothing in
mine, and it was a mental energy drain. You will pay the attorney in
addition, and who will win...the attorney. After you pay it off, breathe
a big sigh of relief!!
been there, done that
I'm a former health policy professional who has been out of the
work force for almost 8 years. I'm looking for a way to go back
to work that will allow me to work part time, without the
level of stress and responsibilty I had in my former work
world. I like working with numbers and am thinking about taking
the H& R Block tax course as a way to get into the tax prep
Has anyone taken this class? If so what was your experience in
terms of being able to get work/ pay rates, etc after the
Curious about tax prep
I read a very enlightening (and scary) article about what it's REALLY like
to work as an H&R Block tax preparer in the East Bay Express.
You can search for the article on their web site, or follow this link.
Lisa in Oakland
I did the class three years ago. My sister is a CPA in Iowa and she has
worked part time for H&R Block for years. For her, it has been a nice
supplement to her regular salary and she has built up a regular client
If you're just starting out, however, my experience is that you will make
VERY little money your first year. I ended up just earning minimum wage.
If you can do that for a few years, you might build up enough of a client
base to do better, but I couldn't afford to do that. After deducting child
care expenses, I lost money.
I had a good teacher, and I thought the class itself was good and prepared
me well, but I'd want to be sure I could find work someplace else before
taking the class again.
I enjoyed the work, I just can't afford to work there again!
--Former tax preparer
I didn't see what your exact question was in the original post, but
can tell you about my dad's experience with H&R Block. He never
worked in tax but is one of those people who ''likes'' doing tax
returns, so when he retired he decided to work there. He went
through the training and a week or two of work... but he could not
stand the way the company operates. In particular he disliked the
way they nickel and dime customers so that a very straightforward
return can end up costing $300. Anyway he quit and now is a
volunteer with AARP, doing returns for seniors and low-income
individuals, and is much happier!
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