Gregory J. Cook
Greg Cook was born in Cullman, Alabama and graduated from Hanceville High School in 1978. Before going to college, he served a six year term with the Army (two years active duty and four years inactive duty) during the Lebanon and Grenada conflicts. Following his discharge from the service, he worked in the insurance industry and pursued his education in accounting. After graduating from Wallace State Community College, Greg came to BARA in 1986. While working at BARA as a Co-op student, Greg received a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Alabama in Huntsville.
My personal version of "Frequently Asked Questions"
Believe it or not, we prepare tax returns year-round. Many businesses are on a "Fiscal Year" that ends at a time other than December 31. Many individuals file extensions on their personal taxes due to various complications and delays. And there seems to be a steady stream of people who have several back years to file for one reason or another or come to us for representation in an audit of their "self-prepared" returns. In addition to preparing tax returns though, we prepare financial statements and loan packages, do tax projections and planning, prepare General Contractor License applications and renewals, assist in "Section 1031 Like-Exchanges" of properties, advise new start-up businesses and much more.
My I.T. Department designs, creates and hosts web sites for our clients. We created and host this web site.
My parents are both retired now, but when I was a teenager, my father was a truck driver and mother was a nurse. My father carried the U.S. Mail from Louisville, Kentucky to Montgomery, Alabama five days per week. He worked for an independent contractor (not the federal government or U. S. Postal Service). As a non-employee, his employer did not withhold taxes from his pay. My father was treated as though he were self-employed back then.
A mistake was made with the tax filings. The IRS caught the mistake two years after the return was filed (the IRS is still that far behind in their work today). Because of the time-lapse, the problem was compounded (multiple years). The interest and penalties that were assessed more than doubled the liability.
The IRS caused my parents a lot of grief over that honest mistake. I was determined that something like that would not happen to me or to my parents again and that I would fight to see that such an injustice didn't happen to anyone else. Mr. Harold Farmer, my ninth grade Pre-Algebra teacher taught my class about filing tax returns, and the rest is history.
That's exactly what all of my friends asked back in 1994 when I sold everything I had accumulated in life, to pay down on the purchase of a tax preparation firm.
In the years leading up to the Presidential Election at that time, the hottest topic was "Doing Away With Our Tax System". "A Flat Tax", "A National Sales Tax" and many other proposals, mostly led by Republican Party members. My friends all thought I was crazy. What will you do when they do away with all these complicated tax laws? Our Senator Shelby, from Alabama, actually proposes a law every year, to do away with the tax system we have. Well, that's a question I haven't had to answer yet.
A while back I was asked to speak to a Sixth Grade School Class on Career Day. I agreed and asked the teacher how many students were in the class. I was told that there were 35, so I went to my bank and got 35 two dollar bills and 35 one dollar coins.
When I arrived at the classroom I asked the teacher how much time I had. She said 30 minutes would be good, but take all the time I needed. I told the students that I was going to put them all on my payroll during my presentation. That I would pay them $6 per hour, but the teacher had limited my presentation to only thirty minutes. I asked them to tell me how much pay they should receive. A lot of hands went up and after a few responses, I got the correct $3.
I asked them to be thinking about what they would spend their $3 on and asked for three volunteers to assist me. I had two of them go around the room and distribute the two dollar bills. My third assistant stood by me holding the bag with the silver dollars.
After all of the two dollar bills had been distributed, I asked the class what they planned to do with their three dollars. A lot of enthusiastic hands went up and I got all kinds of responses. Many of them said they intended to save their money rather than spend it (surprise).
Finally, one young man said "you only gave us two dollars!" I congratulated him and offered him a real job when he finished school. I then instructed my third assistant to empty the contents of the bag on the table in front of the class.
Eyes widened as they saw all those silver dollars. I then proceeded to tell them that this represented the taxes I was required to withhold from their pay and remit to the government.
After explaining that "taxes are the price we pay to live in a civilized society", I attempted to give them examples of the things our tax dollars pay for. I then had my assistant hand out all of the silver dollars.
Those young students were a joy to talk to and with. When I asked if they could name any of the things that our tax dollars pay for, I was amazed at their ability to correctly identify so many of the good things that are provided by government.