Houston-native Cynthia Smith launched her tax service and bookkeeping company, C & J Tax Services, right from her neighborhood Starbucks. Before Cynthia acquired proficiency in bookkeeping through a series of classes, her cousin charged her exorbitantly for tax services. Being a single mother raising two boys, she couldn’t justify paying someone $1,000 to handle her taxes. Smith decided to take matters into her own hands, delving into different books, taking classes, and simply attempting to navigate the complexities independently. In November of 2023, she released her debut book, Untangling the Ledger: Inside Secrets of Tax and Bookkeeping.
Prior to discovering her newfound passion, she worked in the oil and gas industry for 20 years doing information management. Before dedicating all her time to tax services, she maintained her regular job and pursued tax work during her free hours as a side hustle. Swiftly, her side hustle expanded from handling her taxes to assisting her mom and a handful of close friends. With no social media outlets available during that period, she relied solely on word of mouth, building her clientele through referrals. After navigating through the challenges of COVID-19, she decided to resign from her job and channel her undivided attention towards her business and tax software.
Smith shared with ESSENCE, “I was either doing taxes at work, using my work laptop, and doing it when I went home every evening, and that’s how I got going. When the peak of COVID hit, I kept my job through the full 2021. And then I started praying, and I felt that God told me to come off my job and give full focus to my business, my software company, and the tax software.”
Smith not only runs her tax services business but also teaches a class for individuals aiming to become tax preparers. She shares, “When teaching students or classes, I want to see how they operate. I want to see how they work so I can gauge my teaching. And in that, I found that so many preparers were taught the incorrect way. So many taxpayers and tax preparers were taught to be workers, not business owners. So many new tax preparers trying to get in the business to do things the right way honestly don’t know they’re doing things incorrectly. And they’re putting their PTI and their lives in jeopardy.” This inspired her to write a book to share best practices and foster transparency within the industry.
“All they know is to plug these numbers in, and this right here can raise a refund, not understanding that they can be putting their freedom at risk. I wanted to teach my Black brothers and sisters how to properly run a business, how to properly prepare, how to properly not have to work for somebody.”
Untangling the Ledger: Inside Secrets of Tax and Bookkeeping is a comprehensive guide that equips readers with the knowledge and skills to handle tax preparation and bookkeeping their business effectively. The book highlights insider secrets, principles, best practices, and empowering the community.
Smith shares that her most significant advice is, “Take your time and read. That is the biggest thing I would want to tell my people. Read the fine print. I guarantee it will save you a couple of dollars; if not, it will surely bring some education to you.”
Untangling the Ledger: Inside Secrets of Tax and Bookkeeping by Cynthia Smith can be purchased for $30.99 through this provided link.