Elizabeth Dixon Chalaire of Dixon & Dixon, Certified Public Accountants is an enrolled agent.
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“I don’t do financial audits like a CPA,” said Chalaire. “I prepare individual and partnership tax returns and represent my clients before the government. I’m certified by the Internal Revenue Service, not by the state.”
She and her father, Richard Dixon, are partners in the firm in Pollock Pines. “I didn’t plan to do this. I was always around it with my dad and I worked in his office when I was in high school. Then I went to Heald Business College and found that I’m good with numbers and I got straight A’s in all the accounting courses.”
The Dixons moved to El Dorado County in 1978 and Chalaire, 43, grew up in Pollock Pines, attending Pinewood School and graduating from El Dorado High School.
Chalaire went to work for a CPA in a Sacramento firm after graduation from Heald. Her boss told her about becoming an enrolled agent and Chalaire decided to go for it.
“I liked the idea of interacting with clients without having to go back for years of schooling,” she said. “I always thought I wasn’t outgoing in high school, but I’m good at this.”
For three-and-a-half months Chalaire works seven days a week, 10 hours a day. It’s a far cry from the outdoors world she and her husband love to explore, but she looks forward to meeting with clients she hasn’t seen for a year.
“I have clients who moved to Florida, but they still want me to do their taxes, so I do them by mail. That’s a good feeling,” she said. “And we have clients that have been with my dad for years and watched me grow up. They come in and update me about their grandchildren and great-grandchildren and that’s what I enjoy.
“I think I’m most successful at treating the individuals who are clients like part of my family,” Chalaire added. “People find it difficult to open up about their finances and I try to understand their concerns. I have clients who have lost homes in this economy and they need a good ear to talk to.”
It’s a part of the tax industry that Chalaire didn’t realize as she went into the field. “Interaction with clients and customer service is a big part of the business and it’s important to me.”
Despite the economy, Dixon & Dixon has continued to be successful. “People try to cut back on expenses in the best ways they can, but most of them realize that this is an area they probably don’t want to cut back on in order to get the most money back and pay the least amount of tax.”
Since 1996 Chalaire has been working as an enrolled agent and she became her father’s partner in 1999. “I really like the client interaction and helping people get the most money back from their taxes.” Most of her clients are individuals, some with their own businesses or in business partnerships.
She said she finds that things have changed with the way women regard talking about finances and taxes. “Often, especially with older couples, the husband comes in and the wife doesn’t. Sometimes the wife will come in by herself later and tell me that she doesn’t know what she is doing and I do a lot of hand holding. But younger women seem to be more involved and more willing to take charge.”
There are a lot of deadlines in tax preparation and the work can be stressful, said Chalaire. In addition, tax laws change every year, sometimes even during the tax season, and CPAs and enrolled agents must pick up 30 hours of continuing education each year to stay on top of them.
Her advice for people who are thinking of becoming CPAs is to look at what you like to do. “If you like tax preparation, but you don’t want to go through a lot of schooling, maybe becoming an enrolled agent is the way to go.”
To contact Elizabeth Dixon Chalaire at Dixon & Dixon call 530-644-2055.