Singing Tax Lady Brings Soul to Your Form 1040 Blues
byMar 6th 2012 7:00AM
Majors, a tax consultant in Louisville, Ky., incorporates her love of R&B into her business. She has hosted a financial advice show on her local TV station, WMYO, since 2009, and her YouTube channel spreads her musical accounting advice far and wide.
Though most of her tax advice comes in spoken-word form with a thumping background beat, The Tax Lady is her most fully-realized tax tune. She belts in her sultry voice, splicing in tax-form rhymes with high-pitched electronic laughter.
"Do you need some money?
I can get it for you. (hee-hee-hee)
You need your refund fast?
Just bring me your W-2.
I'm the tax lady..."
In the video, she jives and shimmies in front of a psychedelic orange background as she professes confidence in her ability to deliver for her clients.
"Won't even get a fine...
Just bring me your 10-99.
Make your wallet evolve,
And the IRS won't call..."
In her other videos, Majors provides such practical advice as how to file an amended return -- noting the importance of using Form 1040X to file amendments to Forms 1040, 1040A, 1040EZ and any electronically filed return. She also lets listeners know that an amendment can be filed retroactively, but only three years to the date after you filed the form originally, or two years to the date you paid the tax.
Majors also addresses more nuanced subjects such as gambling winnings and losses. Even prizes like cars and vacations are taxable on their fair market value, she notes, directing her fans to Form W-2G for reporting winnings and Publication 505, which details tax withholding and estimated taxes. If Lady Luck treated you well this year, you'll be paying close attention to Line 21 on your Form 1040. If she was less than kind, Majors notes, those who itemize their deductions can deduct gambling losses -- but only to the amount of their winnings. Losses are not subject to the 2% of adjusted gross income limitation.
From Choir Girl to Deductions Diva
Life wasn't always deductions, dependents and vocal dynamics for the 54-year-old alto -- but the syncopated backbeat showed up pretty early on. She grew up in a middle-class family, singing in her Baptist church in Louisville. One of seven children, she and five of her siblings formed a singing group.
"We had family groups back then," she said. "Instead of the Jackson Five, it was the Majors Six. We always had music at home. It's in my bones. It's in my blood."
Today, her idols are Gladys Knight, India.Arie, Natalie Cole and Whitney Houston -- all royalty in the world of soulful, gospel-influenced R&B. For decades, though, she had to let her musical interests languish in the background.
The Therapy of Taxes: An Epiphany
Majors was born with a dislocated hip and spent her much of her youth in the Kosair Crippled Children's Hospital. She dreamed of being a nurse, but later, the corporate world and financial independence beckoned. Analytical and detail-oriented, she worked a number of jobs.
A single parent with a son to support, she learned all too well the hardships of providing for a family while also finding ways to save. But she was scrappy, and knew that a bit of intelligent effort could net her significant savings. However, she found herself tapping out of working a standard day job after her third surgery for a hip replacement in 1995.
"It prompted me to go into the tax business," she said.
Her "A-ha!" moment came when she went to get her own tax return filed. "In the days before [the] earned income credit and rapid refunds, you basically had to go to H&R Block," she said. "I found the wait was long and the service was rude. By the time this was done, I felt I could do this myself."
And just as she didn't want to let her physical handicap stymie her mobility, she didn't want others to be financially stifled by a lack of proper advice.
So do it herself she did. In the beginning, she did everything by hand, with family and friends as her clients, and slowly expanded her customer base by word of mouth. "It's a one-woman show, a one-woman operation," she said of her tax clinic. Reasonable rates won her more clients; now, as a registered IRS e-file provider, she's approved to transmit electronic tax returns and has hundreds of clients.
But that wasn't enough.
Singing Tax Lady Is Born: You Gotta Have A Gimmick
R&B music may seem like an incongruous partner for mundane tax tips, but Majors has made the pairing work. In 2006, she applied for a public access television show. She did two shows every six weeks, and was a guest on Bernson's Corner, a show on the local FOX affiliate broadcast throughout Kentucky featuring interviews with unusual people. She produced a hip-hop influenced pop album, "My Purposefull Life," which she describes as uplifting and inspirational -- "in contrast to the economy ... and a lot of other music out there."
"It's a marketing gimmick that attracts people online, not necessarily to my home office," Majors said of the singing. "I guess I'm still working out the attracting clients. The singing component allows me to expand."
And over time, she began to gain a following and local recognition.
Growing the Business
But public-access television wasn't enough for her either. In fact, it has restrictions that she resented: For example, hosts are only allowed to give out email addresses, not phone numbers, and Majors wanted to give people important IRS phone numbers to help them take control of their financial lives.
In 2009, she got $1,000 grant from the Kentucky Foundation for Women to do her own music for the show. In 2010, she got $2,000 to help with the show's fees. In 2011, she got $2,345 for the airtime on the show.
"It's just me combining my two loves, the love of singing and promoting financial literacy," she said.
Financial autonomy and control are cardinal virtues for Majors. "Being that I am single and I've never been married, I've had to govern my own finical life," she said. "There are people out there who have questions. The show for me is giving people the information they need so they can save money on their taxes."
Majors realizes there are people out there who don't even have access to the Internet -- she aims her program to reach them in their own living rooms. "I've always wanted to help people, and this is a way of using what I know to help people," she said. "I have a creative spark within me, when I see it all come together, I would call it empowering. It feels good to do it."
The Singing Tax Lady's Top 5 Pieces of Tax Advice
1. Have the knowledge that you need to save money on your taxes.
2. Single mothers should always claim their own dependents.
3. Keeping good records will help you get all the deductions you're entitled to.
4. If you're not sure, have a professional look at your tax returns.
5. When you choose a tax preparer, make sure it's someone who's going to be there when necessary throughout the year.