How one single mother turned a $1,800 CPA error into a new career

July 25, 2018 : Lisa Patterson

In 2003, Roshelle Fetzer was a single mother working three jobs and struggling to make ends meet. So when she felt her CPA made a mistake on her tax return, she took matters into her own hands and signed up for H&R Block’s Income Tax Course (ITC). The ITC is a 60-hour tax preparation course designed to teach taxpayers how to prepare taxes like a professional.

During the course, Fetzer learned not only had the CPA made a mistake, but that it was a $1,800 one. She also learned how to fix her own return.

But the class ended up doing more than just empowering her to do her own taxes.

“I learned so much more about my financial life in general. I learned what a mortgage was. And I realized I could buy a house for less than what I was paying in rent.”

Not only that, but she started saving for retirement and went back to school. Now, she has her bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

While the ITC is not a financial planning class, the tax code touches on nearly every aspect of life – from marriage, homeownership and health insurance status to moving for a job, starting a small business or saving for retirement.

“Taxes are a big part of a taxpayer’s larger financial picture,” said Jason Mann, a regional director at H&R Block and Fetzer’s former supervisor. “And because it is connected to many important life events and milestones, I’m not surprised that Roshelle was able to take what she learned during the course to help improve her own financial situation beyond the tax event.”

But the surprises for Fetzer didn’t end there.

“I’ll never forget. The instructor came to me and said, ‘You’re really good at this. You should consider coming to work for us.’ I said, I already work three jobs. I don’t have the time to work another job,” said Fetzer.

As in any love story, Fetzer’s initial rejection soon wavered.

“Of course over the series of weeks and months as the course went on, I started to fall more and more in love with what I was learning and I couldn’t picture my life after class ending, just ending and not learning this anymore,” Fetzer said. “So I took on a fourth job working [at H&R Block] one night a week and Sundays.”

By her third year working for H&R Block, Fetzer was an office leader managing a tax office in Ohio with about five other tax professionals. That’s when she decided she no longer needed four jobs and went down to three.

“By my fourth tax season, I was able to go down to two jobs because I loved it so much here,” said Fetzer.

Fetzer says her best recruiting pitch for ITC is her own story.

“I was a single mom struggling to get by. I couldn’t make ends meet. I was struggling from paycheck to paycheck. And I just tell them the story how I took the Income Tax Course,” said Fetzer. “I can’t even tell you how much more value I got from the course.”

From ITC student to leading more than 3,400 tax office professionals

In the last two years, Fetzer became a regional director responsible for nearly 300 H&R Block offices across three states and more than 3,400 tax office professionals. This step in her 16-year career continues her move up the ladder from a student in the Income Tax Course, to a tax professional, office manager overseeing her fellow tax professionals, district general manager responsible for seven offices and now as a regional director.

Across 16 years and eight states with H&R Block, Fetzer said the myth that great people just happen to work in any one spot was dispelled.

“The kindheartedness and client-obsession I see in tax pros across the country show that passion for helping clients is part of the company’s DNA and it is brought to life by our tax pros,” said Fetzer.

The passion comes from some of the stunning success stories she sees her tax professionals work for on their clients’ behalf.

“Each time I hear a story of changing the life of a client by finding missed deductions or credits or helping the client understand the connections between their actions and choices and the financial impact, I think that can’t be topped. I am always wrong because the next week or the next month, I’ll hear another story where a client is left in a better position because of our tax professional’s help,” Fetzer said.

A typical day for Fetzer includes one-on-one meetings with her team members. She listens to their needs, offers advice and counsel and helps them grow their skills. During tax season, Fetzer travels five to six days a week visiting as many as 25 tax professionals a day. One of her favorite stories to tell is still about how one Income Tax Course set her on a career path that has lasted more than 16 years.

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Lisa Patterson

Lisa Patterson

Contributor and Producer

Lisa Patterson has been a member of the H&R Block newsroom since 2012. She supports efforts to educate consumers and members of the media about taxes and company happenings. Before helping tax professionals talk taxes with the media, Patterson was a consultant for small companies running social media efforts, blogs, events and product marketing. She spent more than 10 years in local government managing communications for city operations, fire and the city manager. Patterson holds two degrees from University of Kansas: a Bachelor's in Business with an emphasis in marketing and a Master’s in Integrated Marketing Communications.

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