By Camille Gillies
When starting a new business, perhaps nothing is more important than establishing accurate and efficient financial systems and controls. Unless you have a strong financial background, the task can be daunting and extremely time-consuming. That’s when you should consider seeking professional advice from a Certified Public Accountant like John S. Wood.
John S. Wood, CPA, P.A., located in the Palm Lake at Tampa Palms office building on Amberly Dr. in Tampa Palms (minutes south of the Pasco County line), specializes in small-business tax and accounting, as well as personal income tax preparation and tax planning.
“If you’re starting a new business, you want to concentrate on the specialty you offer and spend your time marketing your business to new clients and customers,” he explains. “You don’t want to be bogged down with everyday accounting and things like figuring out payroll taxes.”
Many small businesses rely on accounting software programs like QuickBooks to tackle their accounting needs, but according to John, do-it-yourself accounting still has drawbacks.
“If a new business owner wants to learn QuickBooks, I can get them started on it,” he says, “but I don’t advise it because it’s a system that requires constant attention.”
The services Wood provides frees business owners from accounting hassles, enabling them to focus on other aspects of their respective businesses. He compiles his clients’ monthly financial statements and stays current with their tax deadlines and payroll forms, charging a monthly fee, so clients aren’t surprised with an unexpected bill. The fee also includes free consultations throughout the month.
“I am readily available to my clients,” he explains. “If something comes up that they have a question about, they can reach me directly any time by phone or e-mail.”
Most of his practice involves new or relatively new businesses that require monthly accounting and tax services, such as Star’s Organic Spa in the Seven Oaks Professional Park off S.R. 56. Owner Star Ryan opened her salon approximately 18 months ago and was not satisfied with her first accountant.
“Within 10 minutes,” she says, “I knew John was the guy. He is calm, knows what needs to be done and gets right to it. He is very honest and doesn’t try to cut any corners.”
Star also has been impressed with Wood’s level of service, stating, “He even comes by and picks up all my stuff. He is excellent.”
Income Tax Services
With TurboTax and other tax software, you might wonder why you would need to go to an accountant to file your personal income tax return. Wood says you should hire a professional because it is too easy to overlook many legitimate deductions and credits. “Tax laws are always changing and the average person isn’t able to keep up with these changes,” he says, adding that the whole process is destined to become more complex with the enforcement of Obamacare.
Since Wood is a CPA, you would think his expertise would cost quite a bit more than a tax preparation service such as H&R Block, but he says that simply isn’t so.
“My services are very competitive with H&R Block and mine are more thorough,” he says. “I offer more services and a better product, conduct more in-depth and thorough initial client interviews and offer better experience and education than those preparers who may have barely passed a short tax course.”
Local resident Dan Brott has been trusting Wood to prepare his taxes for more than a decade. “John is extremely knowledgeable and gives you great service,” Dan says. “He goes to your house, takes all the paperwork and gets everything back to you on time. I appreciate that he has gotten to know me personally and knows my situation.”
He also offers accounting services to corporations, partnerships, estates and trusts.
Wood opened his Tampa Palms-based practice five years ago, after spending more than 10 years as an accountant and assistant controller with OSI Restaurant Partners, Inc., the parent company of Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba’s and other restaurants. He recently expanded his practice to include an office in Palm Harbor.
A graduate of USF, Wood has lived in Tampa since 1987. He decided to pursue an accounting degree at USF after a career in food service brought him to Tampa to run the food-service program at a dorm on the USF campus. He says his food-service background came in handy during his tenure at Outback.
“It definitely gave me some insight into what was happening when I talked to the guys out in the field.”
Restaurants are still among John’s broad range of business clients today. “I enjoy passing along some of the lessons I learned at Outback to my small-business clients,” he says.
E-Filing & Other Tax Tips
If you’re filing your own taxes this year, here are some things you should consider:
“E-filing is the way to go,” Wood stresses. “It is convenient; you will have fewer errors and you will get your refund quicker, especially if you have direct deposit.”
He adds, “Make sure you know which deductions you qualify for and claim them. On too many occasions, I have seen clients fail to claim a deduction or take a credit that would have exceeded the fee to have the return professionally prepared. The average taxpayer can save not only time, but potentially some money, by having their tax return professionally prepared. They also can avoid a great deal of stress and gain some peace of mind knowing that they are paying the minimum legal amount in taxes.”
A West Virginia native, Wood currently lives in New Tampa.
For consultations and more information, visit JWoodCPA.com or call 514-2920. John S. Wood, CPA, P.A., is located at 15310 Amberly Dr., Suite, 250, in the Palm Lake at Tampa Palms office building, just off Bruce B. Downs Blvd., behind the Bank of Tampa.