Sometimes, your taxes can be a snap. Buy a computer program, plug in some numbers, and voila! Tax return!
But oftentimes, it’s not that simple.
In fact, for many, it can be a long, painful, costly and needlessly confusing experience. It doesn’t have to be, though.
The father-and-son team of Tom and Patrick Murtha, of Murtha & Murtha, LLC, specialize in making tax season a smoother ride for individual filers and businesses. Stop by, meet the Murthas, hear what they have to offer and experience what the duo refers to as the “Murtha & Murtha Difference.”
“It’s true,’’ says Tom Murtha, CPA (Certified Public Accountant). “We really are different.”
The Murthas, partners and owners of their firm in the Seven Oaks Professional Park off S.R. 56 (across from Sam’s Club), have decades of combined experience. Along with sharing a friendly and an affable nature, they pride themselves on building relationships with clients as much as they do their skill in detangling financial numbers that can mire even the most diligent filer or business person in a maze of numbers, forms and laws.
“We’re very approachable,” Tom says, “and that makes a big difference. People are sometimes afraid of going to professionals with all these licenses. They wonder, ‘Will I be able to talk to them?’ But, we are approachable, and we return phone calls.”
Returning calls may not sound like that big of a deal, but when it comes to tax season, it is. A lot of the customers the Murthas will see this tax season are those looking for an accountant because theirs have gone missing.
“I’ve been getting a ton of people saying “I don’t know where my CPA is,” Patrick says. “It’s kind of unbelievable.”
Patrick grew up around tax codes, spending lots of time at his father’s business. He also became friends with the firm’s senior accountant, Kyle Flischel, the son of one of Tom’s former business partners, while they were both in high school and helping their dads with tax returns.
Patrick and Kyle both attended the University of South Florida. Patrick now holds a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in Finance and a B.S. in Accounting, while Kyle holds a B.S. in Accounting and a Master of Science (M.S.) degree in Accounting with a tax concentration.
They say this tax season will be the busiest yet, but unlike others who get bogged down and are slow to reply, the team at Murtha & Murtha is ready. The firm added marketing manager Heather Harris to the squad last summer.
“She was a big addition,” Tom says. “We’re really excited about that as we get ready for tax season, because it’s going to get really crazy.”
The Murthas offer free consultations — and often, peace of mind for those whose tax questions are keeping them up at night — but prefer to do those consults in person. They ask potential clients to bring in their last 2-3 years of tax returns, which Murtha & Murtha will examine and, in quite a few cases, find errors that lead to amending those returns and earning a larger refund (or paying less tax) for their clients. And, the Murthas promise they will always be honest with their clients, whether the news is good or bad.
“We ask people to come in; let’s meet eyeball to eyeball and make sure we want to work together,” Tom says. “I don’t want you to commit to me unless we like each other and can work together. That’s so important.”
Tom 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.
While he was working on his MBA, Tom also worked as assistant controller in the non-bank financial segment of a major New York City bank.
He moved to Brandon in 1987 and opened Accutax Services, Inc., a non-CPA public accounting business. One day, his wife told him it was time to leave behind the fire ants and cow patties of Brandon for the surf. Around the same time, he received an offer to sell Accutax Services, which he did in 1997.
The Murthas moved to Gasparilla Island, and it wasn’t long before Tom joined another CPA firm in nearby Englewood, FL, that he eventually bought into — Flischel, Murtha & Associates.
An Educated Educator
When Tom passed his Florida CPA test in 2000, he says it was with the fourth highest score in the state. He’s also taught accounting courses at both Hillsborough Community College (HCC) in Tampa and at the American Institute of Banking in New York City.
Tom says that gives him an edge over others when it comes to his ability to easily explain complicated tax situations in plain language to his clients.
“I kind of consider myself to be an educator,” Tom says. “I make sure when clients walk out of here that, after a complex situation, they understand what’s going on. I’ll ask them to repeat things back to me. We go over everything again and again and again. I don’t want people walking out of here if they don’t understand what’s going on. That doesn’t help anyone.”
Patrick graduated in 2009, and joined his father in opening a firm in Tampa in 2010 focusing on mergers and acquisitions. One of Patrick’s first tasks was to sell Tom’s Englewood accounting firm.
“Within a month, a contract was on my desk,” Tom says. “That was his first success.”
In 2013, the Murthas expanded to full service, and in 2015 moved to their current location in Wesley Chapel.
CFO Retainer Packages
At their new location, Patrick conceived of another success — a “CFO Retainer Package” 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 a fraction of the cost of a full-time CFO, the Murthas will provide monthly financial reports — “valuable for getting loans and bringing on investors,” Patrick says — and create a budget for the business.
“It’s a big deal, because it really makes a business look at numbers and compare it to expectations,” Tom says. “A lot of business owners go day to day, thinking it is what it is and the economy is what it is. But, there’s so much a business can do to bring in more business.”
While most accountants focus on the previous year as they file returns, the Murthas also choose to look forward. Because they do valuations as part of their CFO Retainer Package, businesses can find out what they need to do to raise their value and sell at the price they desire.
The CFO package also offers unlimited consulting time with the Murthas.
“It’s really intended for business owners in growth mode, who are excited about it and want it to grow,” Patrick says.
And, for those wondering how the new Republican-backed tax bill might affect their returns, now is as good a time as any to find a trustworthy and reputable CPA firm, like Murtha & Murtha, to prepare. Patrick says that deductions, exemptions and tax rates are all changing, as he plopped a 200-plus page “summary” of some of the new changes coming in 2018 on the table.
“I’ve learned it,” Tom says. “I got it.”
The Murthas handle a wide spectrum of filers, from individuals to businesses that bring in from $100,000 a year to those with $80-million stock portfolios.
Patrick says Murtha & Murtha specializes in big issues, like helping those with rental properties, those who are self-employed, have complicated investments and especially those coming off big life changes like a divorce or an inheritance.
“But we help anyone who needs it,” Tom says.
With tax season ready to kick into high gear, the Murthas are excited for another busy few months.
“The tax season is the best time of the year,” Tom says. “We really enjoy helping people, making a difference with businesses who see their businesses is growing because of us. That keeps me excited. Why do it if it doesn’t make a difference and if you can’t take the worry away?”
Murtha & Murtha, LLC, is located at 2236 Ashley Oaks Cir., Suite 101, in Wesley Chapel. For more information, visit TampaTaxFirm.com or to schedule a free consultation, call (813) 991-1120.