Local accountants manned the phones and monitored the internet on Tuesday night at the Times Union to provide tax help as the April 17 filing deadline nears.
It was the second consecutive year that the newspaper partnered with the Northeast Chapter of the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants on the event, with included a team of seven CPAs who staffed a hot line and gave advice during an online chat session at timesunion.com.
Roughly 60 phone calls were received over a three-hour period and Maggi Royle, an accountant with LCS&Z LLP in Latham, answered about 20 questions online, many of them about complex situations such as the tax implications of inherited property.
“Most people don’t have to deal with that very often,” Royle said.
Even though this is the busiest time of the year for CPAs, those who volunteered for Tuesday’s event said it was a fulfilling use of their time — and a welcome change of pace from working on tax returns all day.
“It was definitely worthwhile,” Royle said. “I was able to provide information to people who needed it.”
Patrick Hughes, a managing director of UHY Advisors NY in Albany and president of the Northeast Chapter of the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants, said information about deductions — and which can be taken — was a recurring topic.
“That was a common one that came up,” said Hughes, who enlisted volunteers for the event and pitched in to answer questions.
Hughes believes that most of the people who called the phone bank and participated online are doing their own taxes and had one or two particularly difficult questions they couldn’t figure out.
“It always makes sense to contact a professional about it,” Hughes said. “There’s a lot that you might not know.”
The CPA volunteers who participated Tuesday included Kevin O’Leary of Marvin and Co.; Angela Colvin of Wojeski and Co.; Jack Dwyer and John Sutphin, both with UHY Advisors, and Jeremy Noble, who is the chief financial officer at the Tully Rinckey law firm.
“I think it went really well,” Hughes said about the event. “It really provides a nice community service.”