Referral Friday: Money honies


Referral Friday is part of an ongoing series inspired by John Jantsch's Make-a-Referral Week. For more about that, and loads more referrals for everything from cobblers to coaches to gee-tar teachers, start here. Pass it on, baby!

While I am reasonably good at putting one letter next to another, I am the suckmeister of all suckitude when those letters are replaced by digits.

Seriously, I've had more than one romantic partner shake his head when he saw the inside of my checkbook, and then never, ever bring up the subject again.

Fortunately, I have found fine, kind people who make things balance and suchlike with the utmost professionalism while never, ever casting any sort of aspersions on my complete and utter inability, thus far (we live in hope!), to do the same.

These people will be most easily employed by you if you live in the Los Angeles area, although theoretically, you can use them from anywhere via the magic of FedEx and/or cheap photo scanners. I know for a fact my tax dudes file everything electronically, and I could just as easily mail them my 1099s as anything; thing is, I like them so damned much, I feel cheated if I don't get a little sugar once or twice a year in person.

Gods of Taxes

For taxes, I've been using Actors Tax Prep for years now. Nine of them, to be precise, though I can hardly believe it. Co-founded by two actors who had previous lives in big business, Actors Tax Prep specializes in tax preparation for the performing artist and other related fields: basically, anything to do with show biz in any of its forms. They have grown by leaps and bounds since I began using them because they are thorough, reasonably priced, and "get" show biz types. (You know who you are and you also know what I mean by that.)

I've stayed with them even as I moved out of acting because they also "get" small business. Think about it: most actors don't just act; they do a ton of other crazy stuff, much of it taxable in nature.

My original contact and co-founder, Sid Wilner (who also played my father in a fine production of a Clifford Odets play), has retired from the business; his co-founder, David Rogers (who, in a weird stroke of coincidence worked with my real father in advertising), heads up a team of the nicest, thorough-est, patient-est tax preparers in the world...who also happen to be actors. Go figger.

Oh, and full disclosure: if you say you were referred by me, they knock $20 off my next year's bill. So if you have issues with that, just say you found them through the magic of the Internet. Really, I just like them and would totally refer them anyway. Which I just did!

  • Actors Tax Prep
    210 N. Pass Avenue - Suite 205
    Burbank, CA  91505
    (818) 557-3355

Prior to that, I used Ruzicka & Associates, a Chicago-based firm, for the rest of my tax-filing life. Which started three years later than it should have done (long story), which mess they unsnarled and got me back on good footing with the IRS.

Anne Ruzicka, who shares a first name with my dear, departed mother, but who was much, much better at finances, is a dream: another one of those thorough, get-it-done types who is also NICE. With no jumbrage, ever. And her husband, Tony, is lovely, too.

Ruzicka & Associates is a more costly proposition than Actors Tax Prep for those at the sole proprietor level; most of their clients are dealing with more complex tax issues, as I was when I was a homeowner and earning income in two states (CA and IL). But they're an excellent value for the right client, and a dream to deal with.

Day-to-day Money Magicians

You know what saves you money? A bookkeeper, that's what! Liz Davies has been mine for two years now. She's another fellow actor, so she gets the creative mindset. But she works with all kinds of clients, and all different sized businesses. She works on site, and has a minimum fee for her visits (which, because of my colossal suckitude at this stuff, I always meet). She helped me set up my books, and she has patiently taught me new things to do as I've been ready to grasp them. Everyone should have a Liz; it's too bad you can't all experience it.

  • Liz Davies
    blizzful-AT-mailcan-DOT-com (take out the "-AT-" and "-DOT-" when you mail)

If I hadn't met Liz, I would be using Alexandra Ward as my bookkeeper. She's The BF's, and he loves her.

Alex has a design background and is "French-from-France" French, which means she has better taste than you or I can ever hope to have, and yet she never lords it over you! And if you speak French, you can handle all your telephonic transactions en Francais. Woo-hoo!

Alex works locally, out of her house, although she agreed that theoretically, if you were into it, you could do it all via FedEx/etc. She is mom to the cutest baby in the world, so she does not do onsite visits. Seriously, if you saw this kid, you wouldn't want to leave her, either. A-dor-able.

  • Alexandra Ward
    alexandracreative-AT-gmail-DOT-com (take out the "-AT-" and "-DOT-" when you mail)
    (323) 316-4400

Happy tax season, everyone!


Image by kevin dooley via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.