College job leads to H&R Block career across two states and in the virtual world
In college, Kristy Brown-Maldonado had a job working as a receptionist for H&R Block. But it wasn’t long before she set her sights on the tax desk.
“Something sparked, there was a lightbulb and I was like, ‘oh what they’re [H&R Block tax professionals] talking about is really interesting,’” said Brown-Maldonado. “I decided that the next year I was going to do taxes.”
Before next tax season rolled around, though, she had moved from Texas to Wichita, Kansas. Once in her new home, she enrolled in H&R Block’s Income Tax Course, a 60-hour course designed to teach taxpayers how to prepare taxes like a professional.
“I signed up sight unseen, didn’t know my instructor, didn’t know anybody else in the city and I signed up to take my tax course.”
Drive to learn – and serve
Brown-Maldonado, who had “always been the kid that loved math” saw her new tax career as an opportunity to use her math skills and continue learning. H&R Block tax professionals have to take 18 hours of continuing education each year to keep doing tax returns for clients. But Brown-Maldonado says she has never taken fewer than 30 hours annually.
“I just find personal gain, personal knowledge, development just to be a drive of mine. I choose to just enhance my tax knowledge and try to make myself better in that realm,” said Brown-Maldonado.
She began teaching the Income Tax Course in the fall of 2015. She leads students through the 60-hour course teaching tax code and has students apply the knowledge in practice returns.
In the summer of 2017, Brown-Maldonado became an enrolled agent, the highest certification from the IRS. An enrolled agent is a federally-authorized tax practitioner who has technical expertise in the field of taxation. Tax professionals must complete a three-part comprehensive examination.
She’s also enjoyed being able to help taxpayers change their lives. Taxes touch on virtually every aspect of a person’s life – from marriage, homeownership and health insurance status to moving for a job, starting a small business or saving for retirement.
“It seems so miniscule with the taxes, but it really is someone’s financial health. It’s the first step towards that,” Brown-Maldonado says of the tax planning and preparation experience.
Flexibility a perfect match for young professionals on the move
Since working at H&R Block during college, Brown-Maldonado has seen some significant life changes that have influenced her professional needs.
“It has been kind of a whirlwind. When I started at H&R Block, I was not married, I did not have any kids. I had two dogs and that was it,” said Brown-Maldonado. “Then I got married, bought a house, had a kid.”
Her career at H&R Block “let me adapt from being an office manager to an office manager who did taxes, to when I had my son, I pedaled back and did just taxes so I could spend more time with my son at home during his first year which was very important to me.”
Additionally, she has moved three times. But with an H&R Block office located within five miles of most Americans, whenever Brown-Maldonado moved, she found a local office where she could pick up her tax career.
The flexibility her career at H&R Block offered “was just a perfect match” for her and her family. “I fell in love,” she added.
Stepping into virtual tax prep
Last spring Brown-Maldonado ventured into the virtual world by helping DIY taxpayers through Tax Pro Review. DIY taxpayers who want additional help can have an H&R Block tax professional review and file their return – without going to a tax office. Not only did she review DIY returns and help DIY taxpayers through the new virtual method, but she also helped build the virtual method itself. She recently received a “Best of Block” award, a new company recognition award that recognized 23 top performers from across the company.
She still loves the flexibility of her tax professional role, but for new reasons.
“I know that I want to be a mom, an enrolled agent, a wife and a contributor to the Tax Pro Review team,” said Brown- Maldonado. “H&R Block is still the place that gives me all that flexibility and all those opportunities and allows me to find a balance.”
She works in a local tax office on evenings and weekends. She will continue to see clients in the office because she said it helps her serve virtual clients too.
“The nonverbals during a face-to-face help me understand what clients are feeling and what they are thinking through,” said Brown-Maldonado. “Those client conversations in the office help me connect to my clients who work with me virtually. And the tax professionals in the office are like my family. We have been together for all the milestones in life.”
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