Tax Preparer, Senior Tax Advisor Level V
Field: State and Business Tax Preparation
Jean R. Musselman has been doing her own taxes since she graduated college, so becoming a full-time tax preparer fit perfectly as her career choice. Although she earned a bachelor’s degree in botany and a master’s degree in plant pathology from Utah State University, after years as a stay-at-home mom, she was in need of a job and went through a 13-week training program with H&R Block. She has served as a tax preparer for the past 28 years, and as a senior tax advisor level V for H&R Block for the past 10 years.
Over the years, Ms. Musselman has become proficient in state and business tax preparation, and Canadian taxes. In her current role, she assists new and prospective clients, and teaches advanced programs in business schedules, farm schedules, schedules C’s, and international schedules at the company. She herself attends annual CBT computer classes, as well as advanced instructor training courses. She enjoys the variety in her job as there is always something new or different. “You never get the same return twice in a row,” she says. Named the Most Valuable Professional by H&R Block, she credits her successful career to her ability to listen and work well with her clients.
Ms. Musselman originally planned to pursue a career in botany, and in 1961, she discovered a new species called the penstemon flowersii. Looking ahead, she hopes continue in the same profession and become more involved with the Utah Plant Society.
Conversation with Jean R. Musselman
Worldwide Publishing: On what topics do you consider yourself to be an expert?
Jean R. Musselman: Tax preparation and Net Operating Loss (NOL).
What motivates you?
My job has allowed me to meet lots of new people. It’s interesting because you never get the same return twice in a row and I like that. I enjoy helping people with tax problems.
What lessons have you learned as a professional in your field?
I have learned to expect changes all the time; nothing stays the same.
What is the most difficult obstacle or challenge you have faced in pursuit of your goals?
Keeping myself motivated and on track.
What is the most significant issue facing your profession today?
Keeping up with IRS regulations.
Did you ever consider pursuing a different career path or another profession?
Yes, I have a Master of Science in Pathology and wanted to work with plants in some way, but when I needed to go to work, there were no positions in that field where I lived. So I took H&R Block’s tax preparation class and found that I really enjoyed preparing taxes.
What do you find to be the most rewarding aspect of your profession?
Helping people do their tax returns and making sure that they are done properly and that they feel good about it.
What advice can you offer fellow members or others aspiring to work in your industry?
I think they need to know that it’s not nearly as easy to get into the field as much as it used to be. They will need to be prepared to study hard and gain the necessary knowledge and skills to do a good job.
Who have been your mentors or people who have greatly influenced you?
My dad had a great influence on my life; from him I learned at a young age that I could do whatever I wanted to do. Bernel Petersen, the owner of the H&R Block franchise when I first began preparing taxes was very knowledgeable and willing to share his tax knowledge with all who asked for help.
What changes have you observed in your industry/field since you started?
I began preparing taxes when they were done on paper. It took a week to get a return from start to finish and ready for the client. With the advent of the personal computers and tax programs, we began doing taxes on the computer. Now we can do a return and the client takes it with them when they leave the desk.
How do you see these changes affecting the future of your industry?
I think we will see more people using tax programs instead of coming into the tax office. Tax preparers are going to have to learn to be mentors or consultants for tax program users.
What characteristics help to separate you from your competitors?
H&R Block is a nationally known tax preparation company with a good reputation for quality tax preparation. Specific to me, I have 28 years of tax education and an excellent work ethic.
What short-term and long-term career goals are you currently pursuing?
My short-term career goals are to finish out this season and then pass the IRS tax preparer exam. Long term is to work for H&R Block for more than 30 years, as long as I am able to do a good job of tax preparation for my clients.
How do you plan to achieve these goals?
By keeping active and studying for exams and tax classes, and then applying my knowledge to work hard to achieve my goals.
What is your favorite or least favorite work-related task to do and why?
My least favorite work-related task to do is inform a client that he owes a large sum for taxes because most of them have no clue they owe anything or even think they have a refund coming.