Meet the Difference Makers: Terry Stephens

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Even while seeking to build his tax practice into a full-time occupation, Terry Stephens found time to help a fledgling animal rescue group comply with IRS requirements and get on its feet.

Terry’s description of how he went above and beyond for a client close to his heart was selected as a grand-prize winning entry in our Meet the Difference Makers Contest this fall.

“My wife and I are active in the animal rescue world when I am not studying or working,” he wrote in his winning submission. “One of our associates started her own rescue organization but had difficulty understanding the IRS rules and forms to be recognized as a non-profit.”

Knowing that this type of IRS compliance can be daunting, Terry drew upon his experience working with non-profits to guide the client through the initial paperwork.

“Later that year, when she discovered what a 990 tax filing would cost, she reached out to me again,” he added. The rescue organization had yet to grow significantly and “hadn’t even received the average cost of a 990 filing in donations.”

“After researching the situation they were in, I helped her file the postcard 990 short for herself. After that, I offered limited services for free until her rescue was fully funded.”

A tax professional since 2003, Terry has an even longer history of association with animal rescues. “Anyone who helps animals is a good person in my books,” he said of his motivation to lend a hand and to showcase the non-profit in his contest entry.

Determined to see the rescue group up and running, Terry is happy to report that “I’ve got them to that point now. I believe my assistance made a real difference for the client. She could have lost her non-profit.”

Based in Mesa, Terry began working as a tax professional more than a decade ago to generate a second income; now, he wants the practice to be his sole income. He’s finding a niche by working with small businesses and non-profit organizations, many of whom are intimidated by tax requirements and “are not likely to touch a basic tax return.”

“I enjoy taking something complex and demystifying it, making it understandable for the average person,” he explained. In addition to tax preparation, he offers accounting, bookkeeping and payroll services.

Terry was pleasantly surprised to come across the Meet the Difference Makers Contest and saw it as a great opportunity to help grow his practice. On being selected as one of the winners, he said, “It’s awesome. I’m really excited, especially about the free advertising for my business.”

An enthusiastic Intuit® Tax Online and QuickBooks® customer, Terry most appreciates the easy accessibility that he gets with Intuit products: “I can access them from anywhere. I can prepare taxes at a client’s site, if necessary,” he said.

That willingness to go the extra yard for clients made a critical difference for the animal rescue group – and it bodes well for the future of Terry’s growing tax practice.

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