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Published February 23, 2014, 03:22 PM

It's My Job: PrimeNumbers CEO plans year-round for successful, not harried tax season

FARGO - Joseph T. Braun is not working 80 to 90 hours a week during tax season.

By: Angie Wieck, INFORUM

FARGO - Joseph T. Braun is not working 80 to 90 hours a week during tax season.

The CPA and CEO of PrimeNumbers is all about year-round planning. His philosophy is to work with business and individual clients to be proactive rather than reactive to tax laws and financial planning.

While his company provides a number of services, including bookkeeping, payroll, and financial statement preparation and analysis, Braun recently spoke specifically about income tax preparation.

Who is your typical client?

We are not the type of provider who wants to see clients once a year. We understand there will be some out there, but if you just walk in the door one time a year for income taxes, how can we ever cultivate that relationship? We’re looking for people who want to develop a relationship and want to learn about how to better themselves and their family when it relates to taxes.

We have a philosophy called a “no-charge conversation” because we want our clients to reach out to us. If it’s a few questions here and there, we’re not going to charge for it because we’ve developed that relationship.

In my experience in dealing with businesses and individuals, one of the biggest mistakes people make is not seeking expert advice from day one.

What are the benefits of doing so?

One, taxes may seem very easy on paper, but in theory they aren’t. To know the ins and outs of whether or not there are other credits or deductions available for a particular family, if you’re not well-versed in the tax code, you’re going at it blindfolded.

Second, one of the key principles of our business involves asking every client what are their expectations in working with us. One of the most common areas we address with individuals is how can we maximize the money sitting in their back pocket throughout the year. What I mean is there are a lot of individuals, when they file their tax return, they get a $3,000 to $5,000 refund. Could they have used that money throughout the year to help cover expenses or have fun?

Some people like to file the tax return and get a big refund because it acts as a bonus, but there are a ton of people that prefer to have it now so they have control of it, not the government. We help guide people at how to arrive as close to that end result as possible.

Thirdly, as things change in your family – whether investing money in different retirement opportunities, having more children, moving houses, looking at buying an investment property – all of those things you can plan for. If you walk in educated, you’re making the best possible decision you can. You will get that in working with an expert adviser.

What are a few new tax changes this year?

There is a new top tax bracket of 39.6 percent. Higher-income earners are subject to higher income tax.

There is a new simplified version of a home office deduction that says you can take up to $5 per square foot or a maximum $1,500 deduction.

The estate tax rate goes up to 40 percent in some cases in 2013.

For many of our clients, there is a new thing called a net investment tax. Without going into too many details because there are a lot of exceptions, a 3.8 percent tax will apply to all passive related income such as interest income, dividend income and rental property income.

Do you do anything special to celebrate the end of tax season?

Last year I was working on my own, so my way of celebrating was going into the office bright and early with a cup of coffee and scanning in all the supporting documents I’d compiled on my floor.

This year I’m going to come up with some creative way to appreciate the team we have at PrimeNumbers to help celebrate a successful season and to think about what we can do for next year.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Angie Wieck at (701) 241-5501


• Address: 3175 Sienna Drive S., Fargo

• Phone: (701) 356-7531

To submit an idea for “It’s My Job,” e-mail businessnews@forumcomm.com.