Tax Preparers (experienced OR newbie!) in the Castro

Are you sick of minimum wage at H&R Block and similar sweat shops? Trust me, I know. I got paid a whoppin $11/hr while I grossed $250 to $500 of revenue per hour for Block’s cash register, even with a law degree AND finishing an advanced law degree in Taxation. Wow, did that SUCK or what?!?

If you enjoy out-of-the-ordinary tax situations where you get to use your BRAIN more than your fingers, then I have just the spot for you. Think smarter instead of working harder. Use your knowledge and your experience to create solutions and proactive advice for our clients instead of being merely a reactionary paper pusher.

Clients absolutely adore a smart, well-educated, literate, well-spoken professional that teaches them how to do it better, smarter, and with less money out of their pocket. In fact, I insist that I save my clients twice as much as I cost them, and my personal goal is three times. If I can’t improve their situation more than what they pay me, they might as well purchase TurboTax, right?!?

My clientele consists of these major categories:

1. Same-sex married or Registered Domestic Partners are often overwhelmed by the new procedures for federal returns. Many CPA’s and other tax pros don’t even do it right, let alone the average taxpayer. I often save my clients $5,000 or $10,000 or even $25,000 per year, depending on their specific circumstances, of course. We often go back three years to amend prior returns so it’s typical to prepare four years of these returns for new clients. Four years of three returns each year is 12 returns for the one couple. That’s anything BUT mundane, I assure you.

2. Members of the gay community in the Castro and Bay Area in general choose to support independent, gay-owned, small businesses that give back to their community. They’d rather patronize our community members as a part of the 99% than the 1% Block-heads across the street (literally across the street!) You can be straight or gay as long as you’re gay-friendly and supportive. We’re straight-friendly so no worries. 

3. Distressed homeowners facing the dreaded short sale versus foreclosure decision find themselves in one of the very most challenging situations that might ever happen in their lifetime. I know because I’ve been there, done that. (The real estate and mortgage industries were brutal on us commissioned folks. Oh well, time to move on.) Now my passion is supporting and educating others, bringing power through knowledge of the truth. Most clients are either scared half out of their wits with fear of the unknown, or their oblivious to the fact that they may have a HUGE tax problem, even if they don’t owe the lender after the auctioneer yells “going, going, gone!” It’s all about education, empathy, support, and communication. If you share a passion for helping others in their time of need, then this is the right job for you.

4. Small business owners are better suited for implementing strategic tax planning measures during the year than the W2 wage earner. I love teaching business owners about all the nuances of tax law that they’ve never learned from their CPA or other tax preparer. Some clients are afraid to ask their CPA questions for fear it will increase the bill, just like it does with attorneys. I’m not like that. The more I can teach them how to save on their overall tax liabilities, the better friend and loyal client I have earned. And I do mean “earned.” There’s nothing like the joy you see on your client’s face when you save them over $100,000 in taxes. Yep, you read that right. You can imagine I got to enjoy the nicest Thanksgiving dinner with my client recently that I’ve ever experienced. When you work hard for others, they reward you with their kindness and loyalty. That’s my kind of client. The real question is whether you are the right kind of charismatic and caring professional to make that happen.

5. Did you know that not everyone pays their taxes? GASP! Many come to me embarrassed as all get out that they haven’t filed in five or seven or even 10 years. They are scared to death the IRS or FTB cops are about to haul them off to jail and steal every last penny they have. There’s not a more motivated and dedicated client than one who just got their wages garnished by the IRS. They create the problems, but we solve them, and do it without judgment while preserving their dignity. You talk trash about a client even one time and you’re gone, period. Without their trust, we have nothing. It’s all about trust, loyalty, dignity, and compassion.

Would you like to work in the heart of the Castro, just three doors down from Gold’s Gym? Our space will be welcoming of the community for way more than just doing taxes. That’s just what pays the bills. We’ll have the wireless Internet on, easy chairs to sit in, and good coffee brewing with the welcome mat out on the sidewalk encouraging others to enjoy our space. We’ll host networking events, educational seminars, pizza parties, art gallery exhibitions, and throw on a good movie now and then to say “Welcome” to our neighbors in the Castro.

If you like the stuffiness of the boys over at Block, they’re right across the street. I can introduce you to Joel, the manager there. You’ll fit in much better there, unless you enjoy being friendly, extremely courteous, professional, and know how to laugh with our clients. Taxes are boring, right? Well, my clients that saved multi-thousands of dollars might just take exception to that. I know, still kinda boring even at that.

There’s a fresh new game in town, boys and girls. Top notch education, the best credentials you can find, integrity that puts the client’s needs above all else, and you’ve got a winning combination.

If you’re not an experienced tax pro with 5 years experience like all the other ads require, then I hope you’ll consider my firm. I’ll gladly teach you all you want to learn (and then some.) Pay me back with loyalty, commitment, good work ethic, and always put the client first… win-win-win for all of us. For the right candidate, some tele-commuting is possible, if you prefer.

No matter what your level of experience, everyone at my firm will eventually become an Enrolled Agent (or CPA or attorney) with my help. Block hires the unmotivated. I do exactly the opposite. You’ll be rewarded handsomely for your growth in education, professionalism, commitment, client reviews, and loyalty. This is far from “just a job.” That’s across the street where you see the green sign. Be my guest, if that’s what you want.

I’ll pay you way more than the other guys, and expect you to live up to your part of the bargain in return. That’s not easy so be prepared to be a superstar. I only hire those that are capable of being superstars. Are you?

Obviously, compensation depends on your knowledge and experience to some degree, but it also depends on what my clients tell me about you. That’s the real gauge of success. You impress our clients and you’ll impress me. I’ll take great care of you, IF you take great care of our clients. You won’t like me if you don’t so save us both all the drama.

If selected and you don’t already have CTEC registration or are not a Circular 230 qualified preparer, you are required by law to take a 60 hour course, which is available online, self-paced. In either case, you are required by law to obtain a PTIN, which is a unique preparer number placed on tax returns that identifies you as the preparer of that return. Not to worry, both are relatively minor in the scope of things. I’ll help you.

I strongly prefer a long-term commitment that doesn’t end on April 16th. If that’s all you want, H&R Block would love to have you for $10.25/hr. You can even get $40/week in unemployment after that, if that sets your ass on fire. Let me give you directions to the green sign across the street and I’ll even make an appointment for you with Joel. You’ll fit right in. 

But if you like the more challenging returns on extension, solving crisis issues with frightened homeowners, bringing relief to those with garnished wages or levied bank accounts, working tirelessly on behalf of our same-sex couples, and being a permanent part of the friendly Castro community, then we should talk. You’ve got a place here.

When would you like to get started? Yesterday is just fine. 

Follow these directions exactly, if you have hopes of being a successful candidate:

1. Send an email to with the subject line of “interested” acknowledging that you read this post.

2. Later, submit a cover letter of at least one full page, but not more than two, via email with your last name, colon, and the word resume as the subject line, describing in your own words why you above all others are the superstar destined for this position.

3. Attach to that email note your resume demonstrating how your prior employment has prepared you for this position. Include your dates of employment, compensation history, supervisor’s name, phone, and email address, and what they will say about you when I call or write them inquiring about you. If you lie to your current boss to get time off to come to an interview, don’t bother. Everyone respects honesty and forthright communication. I recommend that you always send a PDF file on any job application rather than a Word document so that you know it formats properly for the reader.

4. Subsequently, ask at least two, but not more than four, references to write a meaningful but concise letter of recommendation addressed to me personally that describes the traits you’re attempting to demonstrate makes you the right fit. Glowing generalities don’t get very far because we can all boast about something. But, examples of how you overcame a problem or saved the day for your client while wearing your superhero costume demonstrates how you put those attributes to work for the betterment of your client. Email notes or attachments are just fine. It’s all about content and not about formalities when it comes to asking your references to support you.

If you made it this far, congratulations. I usually send fairly long emails, although this one is necessarily lengthy considering the amount of content you needed to know before acting on this opportunity. Only responses via email will be considered, and only those that accurately follow these instructions will have the opportunity for an interview. Attention to detail is extremely important in this line of work, of course.

Other positions, such as administrative assistants, are available as well. Please inquire if you or another you know are interested in that regard.

I look forward to hearing from you, if you’re interested in a far different experience than the Block boys across the street. 

Warmest regards,

Jeff Johnston, EA, JD, LL.M. (Tax)
Johnston Tax Group, Inc.
Federal and state tax matters

2327 Market Street
San Francisco, CA 94114


415-294-1040 office
815-642-4117 e-fax

Mr. Johnston earned his J.D. from John F. Kennedy University, passed the California bar exam, and earned an LL.M. (advanced law degree) in Taxation from Golden Gate University advanced graduate law programs. Mr. Johnston is admitted to practice before the IRS in audits, appeals, and collections, and is a commercial real estate broker licensed by the California Bureau of Real Estate, license #01300481.  Mr. Johnston’s core business focus includes advising small business owners on the tax benefits of incorporating; advising Registered Domestic Partners and same-sex married couples on new tax law; and advising distressed property owners on the tax consequences of foreclosures, short sales, and loan modifications. He currently represents taxpayers before the California Board of Equalization appealing from decisions by the Franchise Tax Board on income tax issues and decisions by the Board of Equalization on state sales tax issues.

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Beyond Just Tax • 2327 Market St • San Francisco, CA 94114