In 2016, after spending 11 years working in the local business nonprofit arena, Paul Montague said he began to explore the ways he could use his Chamber and other experiences to build a business that could provide a valuable service for individuals, families and small businesses.
Building upon his experience working at other local tax firms in 2002-2004, Montague sought out tax education in order to bring himself up to date with Federal and Oregon tax laws, and opened the doors of Paul Montague Tax Preparation, LLC, on Jan. 1, 2017.
“I initially focused my efforts on professionally preparing tax returns for individuals, couples, small-business owners and rental property owners,” Montague said. “As time has passed, I have begun taking on small S-Corporations and small nonprofit groups as clients.”
As an Enrolled Agent, Montague said he is also able to represent clients in their individual dealings with the IRS. In this role, he said he has assisted clients in responding to inquires from the IRS, and assisted clients in researching past years’ tax returns and getting them properly amended. Although he said he hasn’t yet gone through audit and appeal processes with clients, the Enrolled Agent designation allows him to do so if the need should ever arise.
“While I defer to organizations like SCORE and the WSU Small Business Development Center for their skill in business development coaching and education, I do enjoy using my business startup and development experience gained while working at the Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce and the Battle Ground Chamber of Commerce to help my small-business clients make smart decisions regarding their business startups and growth,” Montague said.
As he begins his fifth year of tax preparation services, Montague said he has maintained solid and consistent growth over each year of his business and experienced a year-over-year revenue growth of 158% in 2020. He said he also experienced a customer growth of 119%. Although he has maintained the business’ growth over the past four years as a sole proprietorship with one employee (himself), Montague said he is considering adding a part-time, seasonal admin as this year’s tax season progresses.
“My goal is to achieve another year of 100-150% growth and then maintain my business at that level,” he said. “This will let me be large enough to meet my revenue goals, but still provide a level of personal and responsive service for my clients.”
Montague said that deciding to base his business in Clark County was a “no-brainer” for him, as he has called Vancouver and Clark County home since 1993, and has been actively involved in the business community since 2004. After a 20-year career in the telecommunications industry that was ended by the dotcom/telecom industries meltdown of the early 2000s, Montague said he had the good fortune to join the Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce as a member in 2004 and as an employee in 2005, first as membership services director and then as membership services development director.
“My six-year work with the Vancouver Chamber, and subsequent roles as executive director of Identity Clark County and the Battle Ground Chamber of Commerce provided me with the wonderful opportunity to build relationships with untold numbers of small and large business owners around Clark County, and have taught me many of the unique challenges of successfully starting and growing small businesses in Clark County,” Montague said. “In short, my relationships with everyone I have worked with over the past 16 years make choosing Clark County for my business a no-brainer. This is a great community and I have enjoyed living here since 1993 and working locally since 2004.”
While tax preparation itself has been primarily computer-based and electronically filed for years, Montague said the challenge he faced with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic was finding ways to work with his clients virtually. He said he moved to using videoconferencing for client meetings, secure file exchanges to manage document transfers with his clients and digital signing where needed.
“When COVID-19 hit, I adapted and found new ways to go virtual,” he said.
Montague acknowledged that there are a lot of good tax preparation and accounting businesses here in Clark County. He said he offers his clients a focus on individual and small-business tax preparation, representation and advocacy, a commitment to ongoing tax education and the knowledge that his clients are going to have an experienced tax professional working on their behalf.
“I provide good value for my clients and don’t try to sell them additional services they don’t need,” he said.
When asked what piece of advice he might give to people in regards to filing taxes this year, Montague said: “File early! If that’s not possible because you are waiting on documentation, meet with your tax professional early and provide them with the information and documentation you have on hand when you meet. The closer we get to April 15, the busier every tax pro gets. You will help them out by meeting as early as possible.”
Paul Montague Tax Preparation is located at 101 E. Eighth St., Suite 330-G, in Vancouver. Montague can be reached at 360-910-1218.