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Old Virginia-Pilot Article

IN TAX TIME’S FINAL STRETCH, 1 EXPERT HEADS FOR HOMES

Published: April 14, 1991    Section: FRONT, page A1

Source: Staff report

© 1991- Landmark Communications Inc.

CHESAPEAKE – Have 1040, will travel.

It might be Len Boush’s motto. Armed with the same tax knowledge of his office-bound competitors, he has taken his tax service on the road, doing with a laptop computer what doctors once did with medicine: making house calls. William P. Burnell Sr., a custodian and Baptist pastor, was glad Boush’s services were available. Boush arrived at Burnell’s Cavalier Boulevard home about 7:30 p.m. Friday and quickly set up shop on the dining room table. Within an hour, he was done.

For Burnell and his wife, that meant there was no need to leave home for hours, fight traffic, sit in a noisy, smoke-clogged waiting room and wonder all the while whether they had forgotten something. Instead, Ferne Burnell checked out her Publisher’s Clearinghouse form and watched a TV game show while her husband sat nearby answering Burnell’s questions.

“It’s much better,” Burnell said as Boush waded through receipts and forms, dutifully punching away on his keyboard. “At home, you feel a little more in control.”

It was just one of many in a rush of stops this weekend for Boush and his two other traveling tax preparers. He’ll even work today to help his clients ante up with the IRS.

The Norfolk-based Boush said that the biggest advantages of his system are that he doesn’t need a large – read that expensive – office and that clients’ records are easily accessible.

“When I had an office . . . at least 50 percent of the time, people had to make a second trip because they had forgotten something,” Boush said. “Some made three or four.”

Boush said that he handles an average of eight appointments daily and that his rates – which vary depending on the complexity of a return – are competitive with larger, office-based services. He started making house calls about three years ago. His laptop computer with its blue, multihued, liquid-crystal screen is new this year, however. Before, it was pencil, paper and adding machine.

“Anyone who wants to remain competitive has to use computers,” he said. A representative with H & R Block said it was not unusual for tax preparers to go to people’s homes, although he did not know how many carried laptop computers. If taxpayers like the service, children love the machines. “In some places, the kids will gather around,” Boush said with a smile. “They think it’s a computer game.”

The job is not done when Boush leaves a client’s home. His computer work is checked in the office.

Having your taxes done at home doesn’t mean the burden is any lighter, though, if you have to pay. That’s the way it was for Burnell, who owed $436. He smiled anyway. Technology may change, but the tax man always cometh.

Procrastinators can get their tax returns postmarked on time. Postal clerks will be taking returns all evening Monday, up to midnight, at the Hampton Roads General Mail Facility, 600 Church St., in Norfolk.


© 1991- Virginian-Pilot

I’m very sorry folks, but we are no longer able to make house calls!

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