By Conrad Dudderar
With 36 years as a certified public accountant, Rhonda Howard CPA works hard at providing personal service.
Howard says opening a business in Yukon 17 years ago has proven to be a very wise decision.
“I know a lot of people in Yukon,” she said. “I hardly walk in anywhere and not see people who I know. I like that.
“I do virtually all my shopping in Yukon city limits. I think that’s important to do.”
Howard became a certified public accountant (CPA) in 1986 and started her own business in 2005.
“I have been entirely in public accounting and have not worked for an ‘industry’ business,” she said.
Rhonda Howard CPA’s emphasis is working with small businesses, helping with tax planning throughout the year and preparing compilation financial statements that her clients need to secure bank loans.
She ordinarily doesn’t prepare “basic” tax returns. Most clients have rental income, stock investments, oil and gas income, and often own multiple businesses.
Howard prepares returns for partnerships, S corporations, C corporations, and individuals.
This Yukon-owned CPA practice is well respected in the industry and community. Many satisfied clients turn to her for their tax and accounting needs.
“I get lots and lots of referrals from my existing client base,” Howard said. “I’ve stayed smaller on purpose to try and be a ‘face’ to clients, which has been challenging the last two years.
“I try to answer my own phone calls and give personal service.”
Rhonda Howard CPA has had three offices in Yukon. The first was in the Yukon Executive Suites at 1605 Professional Circle from 2005-08, then The Review Professional Building at 110 S 5th from 2008-19.
Since Feb. 1, 2019, her office has been at 11219 W Reno – conveniently located east of Mustang Road just south of Interstate 40.
Howard works especially hard to serve people who face unusual circumstances that create complex issues on their tax returns.
“I try to be fair with them, especially if they’ve been long-term clients,” she said. “I don’t hand them a $2,000 bill, even though I may have spent a whole lot of time on something unusual for them.”
Howard’s CPA firm even has a fixed number of tax returns she prepares annually at no charge. These clients typically are older and don’t have family members who are able or willing to assist.
“They just need someone to help them,” Howard said. “Right now, I’m at my maximum on those.”
The longtime Yukon CPA also works hard letting people know if they no longer need to file a return every year. She isn’t going to give someone a bill if they don’t really need her services.
It is important to Howard to be a business owner with integrity.
Rhonda Howard CPA is well aware of the challenges now facing small businesses – that both she and her clients are experiencing:
- Staffing issues – It is difficult to hire people interested in working a full, 40-hour week. Employees often want off work more than employers like. So, employers must find ways to be more flexible to keep good employees.
- Constantly evolving technology – Small business operators learn the latest technology, then are often faced with updates that “break a connection” to something else.
- The “instantaneous” society – People struggle to be patient, making it difficult for a small business – whether it’s an attorney, electrician or accountant – to provide satisfactory results for some customers.
- Inflation – In fact, Rhonda Howard CPA has seen some costs literally double in the last year. It seems every small business is facing this issue.
- Dealing with large companies – If something is not working right, a small business owner may spend hours trying to get a large company to address the problem. That can mean a software provider, telephone or Internet system, or even the postal service.
Howard reminds the general public that filing extensions for tax returns is not bad.
In fact, it’s often a very good thing.
That’s because of one challenge that all tax preparers are now facing.
“We often move into a new year and don’t know, for sure, what the previous year’s tax laws are,” Howard noted. “Often, since the tax laws change after the year ends, the software is not ready to go.
“Even if it is all ready to go by Feb. 15 and if you have an April 15th due date, no firm is set up to do all of their work in that eight-week period.”
More and more, her clients will receive multiple amended or corrected copies of brokerage statements.
So sometimes, “slowing down” a tax return makes more sense.
“Rushing to do a return is not necessarily a good thing,” Howard added. “There are reasons people need their returns early, especially if they need to have those ‘real numbers’ to get a loan or they’re filling out paperwork to get student aid for college.”
Offering one final piece of advice, Rhonda Howard CPA advises all taxpayers to keep copies of their bank statements – whether in an electronic or paper form.
However, many individuals and business owners are simply pulling them up and looking at them online.
“Those need to be stored, even on a flash drive,” Howard emphasized. “If they are audited, they’re most likely going to have to pay the bank to get how-ever-many years of statements they need.”
But banks often keep just 1-1/2 years of online account statements.
TWO YUKON HOUSES
Born in Cordell, Howard’s parents are Robert and Ramona Williams. Her father is a retired minister.
Rhonda lived in several places growing up and graduated from high school in Pampa, Texas.
During her sophomore year, she marched in the 1979 Tournament of Roses Parade playing her flute.
Rhonda attended college at what is now Southern Nazarene University in Bethany; then married Lonnie Howard.
After a year in Oklahoma City, the couple moved to Yukon in 1989. They’ve only lived in two houses since coming to Yukon.
The Howards’ children are both Yukon High School graduates after attending all 12 years in Yukon Public Schools.
Son Chase works in the finance industry in Maine. Daughter Summer is an 8th grade English Language Arts teacher at Mustang North Middle School.
Rhonda’s parents moved to Oklahoma City about three years ago from Midland, Texas.
Rhonda Howard CPA has two, part-time office assistants. For help with tax and accounting needs, call (405) 265-2307.