Al Daigle was a senior at Bishop Guertin High School when he was introduced to the world of tax returns.
This was 1980, so things were somewhat simple. As the oldest of seven children, he was expected to learn the family trade, started by his father, Albert Daigle Sr., in 1957.
“We were doing taxes with pen and paper back then,” says Al Jr. “There were no computers.”
As such, a lot of people figured they could handle their own tax returns. What a difference 43 years makes.
“Now there’s complicated software. Some stuff now is almost impossible to do by yourself. It’s amazing how complicated it’s gotten. There’s always a new program every year. If you do it over and over, you know what to expect,” says Al, who graduated from the University of Lowell in 1984.
Because March is the month many people finally get around to getting their tax returns prepared, Dracut Economic Development is spotlighting Daigle Tax Service – the town’s longest-running tax firm – as its March Business of the Month.
Though Al Sr. started Daigle Tax Service in 1957, the Daigles had been kicking around for a couple of decades before that. In 1939, Al Sr.’s father, Albert L. Daigle, bought the property at 313 Willard Street and opened an ice-cream stand. During the Depression, he also sold chickens. At the back of the property, Albert L. showed movies, and his son, Albert A. Sr., sold popcorn.
That popcorn vendor would go on to become a CPA, start his own tax business, add an insurance agency a few years later, and then open Almo’s Flower & Garden Center with his brother, Maurice (hence the name Almo’s), all on the same plot of land where they still stand. Al Jr.’s sisters, Diane Kwiecinski and Nicole Dion, handle most of the insurance end of the business, while brother Andre runs Almo’s. Other businesses run on the site under Al Sr.’s watch over the years included a variety store and fruit stand, a trucking company and a small-engine repair shop.
Al Sr. died on March 30, 2020, at age 83, having passed all three businesses on to his children, all of whom learned their respective skills primarily from their dad.
For Al Jr., this time of year is, obviously, the busiest. He gets to the office most days between 6 and 7 a.m. and stays till 9 or 10 p.m., except for Saturdays, when he gets home between 5 and 6 p.m. Even on Sundays, he’s “back at it.”
“I actually get a lot of work done on Sundays,” he says. “The phones don’t ring, I’m not answering emails.”
The long hours, days and weeks leading up to April 15 (or, in the case of this year, April 18) are just part of the job, Al Jr. says.
“It makes the summer that much better,” he says.
The work doesn’t all come to a halt in April, though.
“April 15 is the deadline for 1040s, March 15 is the deadline for corporate entities, September 15 is the extended deadline for entities, October 15 is the extended deadline for 1040s, May 15 is the deadline for nonprofits, November 15 is the extended deadline for nonprofits,” Al says. “There’s always something to do. There’s no lack of work. We’re real busy this time of year, but we’re busy the rest of the year, too.”
And that doesn’t take into account the workshops and seminars a tax preparer has to take to keep up with the near-constant changes to the tax code. Al puts in over 40 hours a year in seminars, many of which are online, in addition to a 4-hour monthly webinar and a two-day workshop. It’s no wonder he and his wife, Stacy Gletzakos, take time off every August to visit her relatives in Greece.
But Al wonders what will happen when he and those of his generation retire.
“We’re a dying breed,” he says. “Nobody wants to work these hours. We can’t find help. People want that work-life balance.”
His advice for those who are looking to break into the tax business? “Work with somebody else first. Get experience with someone who’s experienced, a mentor. You have to understand how to work with people. You need a mentor for two to three years before you go out on your own.”
You can reach Daigle Tax Service at 978-452-4725 or visit www.daigletax.com.
DAIGLE TAX SERVICE’S HINTS & TIPS FOR 2022 RETURNS
- The child tax credit has been reduced to $2,000 for 2022 and is generally nonrefundable. That’s down from $3,000 and $3,600 if the child is under age 6 for 2021, which was refundable for most taxpayers.
- The additional child tax credit for 2022 is up to $1,500 per child for taxpayers who don’t claim the full $2,000 tax credit for each child and:
- Have one or more qualifying children and over $2,500 in earned income.
- Have three or more qualifying children.
- Are bona-fide residents of Puerto Rico.
The 2022 additional child tax credit is partially refundable.
In 2021, the additional child tax credit was $1,400 per child for taxpayers who:
- Have a principal place of abode in the U.S. for more than half of 2021.
- Are bona-fide residents of Puerto Rico.
The 2021 additional child tax credit is partially refundable.
- File early and electronically.
- Pay and receive funds electronically. “Don’t mail a check to the IRS anymore,” says Al Daigle Jr. “Send it electronically, and you’ll receive a receipt immediately. If you send them a check, it might take six months to get posted to your account.”
- If you are unable to itemize, check to see if a strategy of bunching items works.
- Do not use your Health Savings Account while you are working; save it for retirement.
- Always contribute to your employer retirement plan at least to the company match.
- If you have capital gains, consider selling equities to the extent of your gains plus $3,000. (You cannot rebuy anything you have sold for 30 days.)
- Pay your estimates by their due dates and balance due by April 15. The IRS has increased the interest rate to 7% for the second quarter of 2023, up from 4% in 2022, for late payments.
- Starting in 2023, the required minimum distributions (RMD) age has been increased to 73.
- Organize and make sure you have all of your tax documents before you begin preparing your tax return. “Otherwise,” Al says, “you’re wasting your time and your preparer’s time.”