Tax preparer calls work 'fun and scary'

Staff writer

Maggie Meisinger of Marion has been preparing income tax returns for 42 years.

The work has changed considerably since she started at Wheeler, Westerhaus, and Wheeler as a legal secretary in 1972.

“Everything was done by hand,” she said. “Each return was calculated, typed, proofed, and copied.” A lawyer signed the return.

After working for the Wheeler office and then Dan Baldwin for many years, she joined Karstetter and Klenda, now Karstetter and Bina.

She has her own business, Meisinger Tax Service. She uses an Intuit computerized program that automatically rolls over information from one year to the next, making it much less time-consuming to complete a return. Almost every return is e-filed. Intuit also provides resources for answers to questions.

“It’s been a life saver,” she said.

Meisinger grew up at Kensington and took business and accounting classes at Fort Hays State University.

While working in Salina, she met her husband, Marvin. They were married in 1968.

During her time as secretary at the Wheeler office, she had more than 300 tax clients. They included small businesses, partnerships, individuals, and estate work.

In 1994, she and her husband began operating Butch’s Diner in Tampa, which they did for five years. She continued to do tax work but cut down on the number of clients. The couple ran the restaurant again from 2001-2004.

Meisinger worked for lawyer Dan Baldwin after he purchased the Wheeler offices in 2001.

Now she works part-time for Karstetter and Bina while running her own business out of their office at 426 E. Main St. in Marion. She continues to build her clientele, which currently number about 160 farmers and individuals.

She spends two days every year taking continuing education classes provided by Kansas State University. She is a registered tax preparer and renews her pin every year with the state.

“They tell me I’m not supposed to give tax advice,” she said, “but it’s hard not to provide some guidance.”

In case of an audit, Meisinger cannot represent a client before the Internal Revenue Service. She can make minor corrections, if needed, she said. Otherwise, the client is referred to a certified public accountant.

“I’m very careful who I take as a client,” she said. “I have to know them.”

She said she enjoys meeting with people. In her work as a tax preparer, she is made aware of the sadness in some people’s lives, and she feels for them. She bases her fees on people’s ability to pay. She occasionally provides free tax service to economically stressed individuals.

Meisinger will turn 70 in August. She has no plans to quit her work as a tax preparer. She believes it’s important for her well-being.

“You have to have some purpose in life or else your physical and mental health deteriorates and you become a negative person,” she said.

“It’s still kind of fun, but it’s kind of scary. At my age, there’s no way I can grasp everything. The only thing that would make me quit is if things get more complex and I have to do more legal work for the lawyers. The tax laws are changing so fast. 2014 is going to be a challenge.”

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