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2012 IRS Tax Forum Wrap-up


 Another incoming message from Refundo, this time delivered airborne from an old-timey biplane


This summer’s round of IRS Nationwide Tax Forums came to a close last week at the Hilton on 52nd Street and 6th Avenue in Manhattan, New York.  Back in mid-June, we announced the forums and the dates and locations where they were scheduled.  At around the midway point, after the trade show in San Diego, we did an update on how things were moving along.  Now that the annual series of conferences is at an end, it’s useful to look back and take stock of everything that happened.

In the weeks leading up to the final venue in New York, Tax Forums took place in Chicago and Las Vegas.  Sadly, I wasn’t able to attend, but from the pictures I’ve seen and what people have told me, both events were huge.  With Vegas this didn’t come as so much of a surprise, however; the yearly gathering at Caesars Palace along the Strip always draws big crowds.  But the attendance in Chicago caught nearly everyone off guard.  Numbers were much higher than expected.  This was a pleasant surprise for the Refundo team, coming as we did fresh off the heels of Las Vegas, with all the atmosphere of buzz and excitement we’d generated there.  No one really thought that Chicago would come anywhere close.  We were wrong, though.  The turnout was great.

Up to this point, of course, I’d largely viewed the proceedings from afar.  Sure, I’d kept in close contact with my colleagues while they were busy touring the country, spreading the good news of Refundo — abolishing the tyranny of “junk fees” everywhere.  As a lowly blogger, however, there was little need for me to be actively on-site while all this was going on.  Most of my information, then, came only second-hand.

All this changed when the IRS Tax Forum came to New York, however.  Like many of our members, I’m from Queens.  This meant I’d finally get to see one of these events in person and watch my co-workers in the sales team in action.  Needless to say, with all the coverage I’d done of these Tax Forums so far, I was excited to actually experience one for myself.

Laptop tucked safely under my arm, I thus set forth to see what it was all about.  Arriving at the Hilton off the subway stop at 53rd Street, I have to admit that I was pretty blown away.  It’s a gigantic, palatial structure.  Crowds of people were milling all about, but there was room to spare.  Refundo’s demo room immediately leapt out at me, and I stopped downstairs briefly to say hi to the crew.  It was really busy, however, so I decided to skip ahead to the trade show itself.

Two flights of escalators carried me to the convention hall, where tax preparers and EROs drifted from station to station.  They chatted with sales reps from the various companies who had booths there, picking up pamphlets or interacting with some of the screens that had been set up.  Though it was no fault of the companies themselves, the way the floor was set up was somewhat ill-conceived.  Narrow avenues and major thoroughfares crisscrossed haphazardly between the different stands, congested with traffic.  “Got Refundo?” shirts appeared here and there on the convention floor, but I didn’t know any of the people wearing them.  How odd, I thought to myself.  More on this later.

Eventually, I found my way to our pavilion, which was split between Refundo and RushTax.  The twin companies were set up side-by-side, sharing the same space.  Despite all the people filtering in and out, it didn’t feel too cramped, though.  There was plenty of open space, flanked on either side by tables with information booklets, laptops, and computer screens for demonstration.  The banner displays stood at the back, with Refundo on the left, RushTax on the right.  The banners were top-lit, with wide swathes of negative space, conveying a sense of openness and simplicity.

Our sales team was out in front, talking to interested customers and random passersby.  Everyone in our group was decked out in a green polo shirt with black pants.  Nothing too flashy, just neat and clean.  Whenever they got a spare minute (this didn’t happen too often), they never missed an opportunity to joke around with each other and have a fun time.  They’d hand out the “Got Refundo?” shirts I’d seen earlier, which helped clear up my confusion.  Devra showed me around, and I got to see Roger speaking to a bunch of curious and enthusiastic onlookers in Spanish.  I’d hear words in English scattered intermittently, but couldn’t really follow, otherwise.  Whatever he was telling them, however, they seemed eager and attentive, nodding their heads in approval.

As the convention gradually wound down, our team reconvened in the Demo Room, where I was able to interview some of our members on how things had gone, their impressions, etc.

Asking my co-workers what they thought worked best in explaining the Refundo model, I got a number of different responses.  One common theme was the online calculator feature, which allowed customers to see how much money they could save by switching to Refundo almost instantaneously.  We also received great feedback from customers about the way that it visually itemized all the various fees and needless expenses, which they could remove just by getting rid of their current software.  Roger put it this way:

The calculator worked really well, a real eye-opener to customers about how much money they could save.  Seeing the hidden fees they were paying that Refundo could then eliminate, all captured in a single snapshot, made it much more real for them.

For Carroll, however, one of our veteran salesmen, the real takeaway wasn’t simply the revolutionary technology Refundo was introducing.  In his view, the Tax Forums were really all about building “the camaraderie of the [Refundo] group, the way we were able to work collectively to educate EROs about the processes involved.”

All in all, the Tax Forums were a really big success for Refundo, and hopefully they were for all the EROs and tax preparers who attended them as well.  We hope everyone learned a lot from the trade shows and beyond, and that everything went smoothly for those who went to the scheduled seminars for recertification.  We hope to see you again next year!

What could we do differently next year? Bill from sales was excited about how things went, but realistic about necessary changes for the future.  “In terms of what we needed to do this year, I think we did everything we needed to do.  Next year we might need to do things a bit differently, but this will be because things will have expanded.”  Wise words: it’s always important to be attentive to new needs.

Apart from Bill’s answer, however, one answer was ubiquitous as to what Refundo should do differently at future Tax Forums: Bring more t-shirts! For whatever reason, people couldn’t get enough of them.  Have you “Got Refundo?”

Topics: Tax Updates, ERO, tax preparer, IRS, IRS Tax Forums


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