Tax season is upon us (“Tax Day” is Monday, April 15), and with the new tax laws that have created more questions than ever before, it might be time to call in some experienced experts.
The father-and-son team of Tom Murtha, CPA, and Patrick Murtha of Murtha & Murtha, LLC, is ready to answer that call.
Partners and owners of their own firm in the Seven Oaks Professional Park off S.R. 56 (across from Sam’s Club), the Murthas have more than 50 years of combined experience in tax law, and they recently added three more employees, following a merger with another office in Zephyrhills, which is now called Henson & Murtha, CPAs.
“It was a good opportunity to grow the business and take our brand and implement that in Zephyrhills,” Patrick says.
With the addition of longtime CPA John Henson and three other employees in the Zephyrhills office, anyone signing up with the Murthas now has access to more than 100 years of combined experience in everything from accounting to tax preparations to mergers and acquisitions.
“Where we definitely shine with is handling complex issues you don’t see every day,” Patrick says. “Between all of us, we’ve seen everything.”
The Curious Case Of The Shrinking Tax Return
The current tax season promises to be an interesting one for Murtha & Murtha and other accounting firms, as clients are feeling the effects, good and bad, of last year’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
Things like the doubling of the child tax credit, higher standard deductions and new limits on itemized tax breaks could create some thorny issues for those doing their taxes on their own and those using computer software.
So far, Patrick says that some people are finding out that their usual tax refund has been replaced by a new tax bill.
While there are still a lot of tax breaks in the new bill, “W-2 employees are finding their withholdings weren’t enough,” Patrick says, “so, when they’re used to getting a tax refund, we have clients who are getting a much smaller tax refund, and some that actually owe.”
How did that happen? Well, when the new tax law went into effect, Patrick says the IRS overestimated the tax savings that your average taxpayer was going to have. In other words, the IRS was less aggressive on the withholding than it should have been.
“So, what happened is people got bigger paychecks during the year, but that was in the form of withholding less tax for their tax bill for the end of the year,” Patrick says.
The Murthas say they are not completely surprised by this development. They say they started noticing while doing tax returns in 2018, just after the bill passed, that many of their clients said they were receiving bigger paychecks. As anyone on social media can attest, there were many posts from people praising the new tax law because it meant an extra $100 every week or two on their paychecks.
One of Patrick’s clients, a married couple, say they have never owed taxes before and usually get a refund of around $3,000. This year, they owe $2,500.
On the other hand, says Tom, Murtha & Murtha has another client, a business owner making more than half a million dollars annually, who they saved $30,000-40,000 in taxes.
“He made out like a fat rabbit,” Tom says, “and he was able to put the savings into retirement planning.”
While everyone is paying a little less tax, Patrick says the sweet spot this year seems to be those making between $150,000 and $400,000, due to the child credit being doubled and available to those who make up to $400,000, a generous qualified business income (QBI) deduction of 20 percent for business owners and “softer” tax brackets.
If using a firm like Murtha & Murtha sounds daunting and exorbitantly-priced, the Murthas promise that it’s not.
“Pricewise, were competitive with companies like H&R Block, we really are,” Patrick says. “I have clients who come in and I quote them a price and they say, ‘Wow, I paid $100 more at H&R Block and they messed up my return.’ We are able to provide a high level of service without pricing people out.”
That service, provided by Patrick, Tom and the firm’s senior accountant Kyle Flischel, CPA, is what they call the “Murtha & Murtha Difference.” They don’t have someone meet with you, pass off your return to someone different in a back office, and then deliver your results to you without explaining everything and rushing you out the door.
At Murtha & Murtha, the person you talk to is the person who does your tax return. Whether you’re a filer from a lower income tax bracket, a business bringing in $100,000 a year or someone with an $80-million stock portfolio, you get personalized treatment.
“We want our clients to view us as advisers,” says Patrick, “not just the guys who do their tax returns.”
Murtha & Murtha will go over your return, explain how the final result was achieved and offer advice on how to proceed in the future. If you’re unhappy with your refund or lack thereof, they can offer suggestions to avoid a repeat.
“We want to make them aware of what the new landscape is and how to deal with it,” Patrick says. “Retail companies train employees how to use the software, they don’t train them on tax law. We’re not just a tax return mill, we want long-term relationships with our clients.”
More Than Just Tax Returns
Murtha & Murtha can and does handle much more than just tax returns.
Tom, who earned his B.S. degree in Management from Long Island University in Brooklyn, NY, in 1976, and his M.B.A. (Master of Business Administration) degree in Accounting from St. John’s University in Queens, NY, in 1981, has been doing mergers, acquisitions and business valuations since the 1990s.
Along with various accounting services, business valuations are another perk of being a Murtha & Murtha client. A good and accurate estimate of the worth of someone’s business is as important to a business owner as the appraisal of one’s home. Tom specializes in this field, “and not just the back of an envelope type of thing.”
In the long run, he adds, everyone wants (or has) to sell his or her business one day.
Murtha & Murtha also offers a “CFO Retainer Package,”which is designed to help businesses and those who are self-employed whose company may need a Chief Financial Officer but don’t have the budget to hire a full-time manager or accountant for that job.
For a fraction of the cost of a full-time CFO, the Murthas operate in an advisory position and can handle everything from accounting and book bookkeeping, setting up payroll and ensuring that all the income and expenses are classified correctly.
They also will put together a budget, which Patrick says hardly any other companies do but is needed, as it provides a “compass” to let you know if your business is headed in the right direction.
And of course, they will take care of all the tax preparation and planning.
If you follow Murtha & Murtha on Facebook, you also can find advice in the form of short videos that will help answer a number of common tax questions, from simple ones to those that are more complex.
“We offer the complete package,” Tom says. “When you are with us, you really do get a lot.”
Murtha & Murtha, LLC, is located at 2236 Ashley Oaks Cir., Suite 101, in Wesley Chapel. For more info, visit TampaTaxFirm.com or to schedule a free consultation, call (813) 991-1120. Henson & Murtha, CPAs is located at 5315 8th Ave. in Zephyrhills. For more information, call (813) 782-0580.