ByBlacks.com connected with one of the partners of the new Accounting firm, Celia Meikle to get more details about the new firm, and what people should look forward to at the clinic.
You are one of the 3 partners in the Accounting Firm Green Meikle, Smith, when did you determine you wanted to do this?
Just as you are a salesman, I am an accountant at heart. It has always been my dream to open my own Public Accounting firm. What you find is most Black accountants work in corporate organizations, or you may have a one person shop here and there.
I connected with 2 people that shared the same dream of opening a CA firm within the Black community. One partner was in the same Master's program as I was, in Jamaica, and the other I worked with at PricewaterhouseCoopers in Canada.
In addition to us all wanting to have our own firm, we shared the vision of offering quality accounting service to the community.
What has been some of the main challenges since you started?
People bear their soul to accountants and lawyers, so typically it’s hard to break into communities out of your own social ethnic groups. However, once we get over that hurdle, it’s not that great of a challenge to gain clients outside of the Black community.
Within our community, they need this service, but some people are a bit reluctant to pay for it... Truth is, some of them have been bitten badly from past accountants, offering lower levels of service and demanding high fees, so it is understandable in some cases.
We have to explain to them that we are licensed by the Chartered Professional Accountants of Ontario (CPA Ontario) ) so we can’t just up and disappear; there is a lot of oversight and accountability for us. We don’t want people to think we are just another “accountant”.
For example, one of our mandates as a firm is to educate the public on various accounting issues within Canada.
This Friday we are hosting a seminar for one of the largest Remax offices in Mississauga, where we will be discussing current and future tax and accounting issues that affect Realtors.
We are also planning a huge education campaign for non-profit organizations, where we will discuss the current and requirements and obligations for non-profit and charitable organizations around reporting to the government, whether you are (or plan to be) registered Federally or Provincially. GMS will partner with a lawyer, Cory Mills from Lexon Law Professional Corporation to provide insights into the legal issues affecting non-profit organizations as well on these seminars.
How did you get involved with this tax clinic being offered by the JCA?
The clinics are not something new, though it is to our community, the CPA Ontario and other accounting bodies, offer free Income Tax preparation for low-income individuals, especially seniors and students, from various communities.
Because our community, to the best of our knowledge, had no noticeable presence of a Chartered Accounting firm, once we formed, we wanted, to offer the same services that other ethnic groups provide within their own communities. So we touched base with the CPA Ontario and got the blueprint of what they do, the screening criteria, etc.
We discussed the idea with the JCA and they were on board immediately. This is the first time that the JCA has offered this service to the Black community, and fits in with their mandate of services.
Last year we did something on a smaller scale at my church, Kingdom Life Ministries. One thing we found was that some members of our community were reluctant to do the Tax Clinics, because they didn’t want people to know what their family income was.
Is there any way of conducting confidential clinics to get around this concern?
Now that we are doing this in partnership with the JCA, the process allows for more privacy for individuals that need to get their taxes done, and it’s by appointment only.
What does an individual get?
Simply put, they get their Income Tax return prepared for free, and e-filed. Five people from our firm review their information, which includes the 3 partners and 2 team members.
When/where is the event happening?
Saturday, March 22, from 10:00am to 4:00pm at the JCA
How can people get in touch with you, or register for the clinic?
For the tax clinic, you can call the JCA at 416.746.5772 to register. To get in touch with our office please phone 905.919.3543, or visit our website at www.greenmeiklesmith.com.