Mike April’s senior yearbook predicted that he would become an accountant. While that didn’t exactly come true, he pursued a lot of different avenues that led him to working in accounting every day. More than 10 years ago, April entered the field by guiding small businesses so they don’t pay too much in taxes. April Tax Solutions officially launched in 2015 and since then has reduced clients’ tax burdens to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars.
Mike April started out working in a completely different area. As an electronics technician for the Canadian Air Force, he was stationed across Canada and in Germany working on CF104s, CF18s, Dash 8s, Hercules and Sea King helicopters. It was rewarding work but as he and his wife started a family, the work took him away from home too much. The Aprils decided that he would retire from the military and transition to the private sector. They chose Calgary as their Canadian base and April began working for NORTEL Networks.
“I decided on Calgary in 1996 because it seemed like a big hub. It had a global feel, even more than Toronto, Montreal, or Vancouver,” says Mike April, owner and president of April Tax Solutions.
In 2001 he was ready for a change outside of electronics and started working in something completely different: the housing industry. Along with renovating and flipping houses for resale, April also dealt in foreclosures.
“I helped people out of foreclosures and that’s where I found the passion for helping people. In foreclosures, bad things happen to good people. You have two incomes supporting a mortgage and something happens to take one of them out of the workplace, and it was a matter of what can I do to help them survive this without having to move out of the house and uprooting the family?” April says.
Mike April’s motivation to establish April Tax Solutions was born both from this desire to help people and his frustration with the tax resources available. As an entrepreneur he experienced firsthand the detrimental effects of trusting in mediocre accountants.
“I paid good money for accountants to give me guidance, and they really fell down on that,” he says. “I deconstructed what had happened and I could see that I could have done this or that, and I probably overpaid the government $20,000.”
April didn’t want that for any other business owner. And the more he talked with people, the more he realized that many others also blindly trusted what their accountants said and paid whatever the return told them to. They looked to April for advice and information, and the next chapter of his life began.
He started looking at people’s businesses along with the personal factors that play into someone’s tax situation to help reduce their taxes. Life events, such as buying a first home, the birth of a child, a marriage, and the addition of an investment or recreational property, can affect how an accountant structures a tax filing. Also, if a client is planning one of these events, April Tax Solution’s tax specialists can ensure the client is doing all that is required ahead of time so there are no surprises later.
April would also provide a second look at previous filings from other firms that saw clients paying thousands of dollars. He often found missed opportunities for claims and deductions that resulted in refunds. April Tax Solutions once discovered that a client didn’t owe the $130,000 tax bill and appealed to the CRA to amend the filing.
Mike April found his calling, and with April Tax Solutions he brought together his desire to help people with his love of numbers. His firm is a forward-looking all-inclusive tax service that offers everything from annual corporate tax filing preparation to bookkeeping to legal structuring of a company. While the firm does not offer personal tax return services, the team will bundle a corporate client’s personal and business taxes to ensure they have a complete picture when determining the best path to lessening their tax liability.
April has a stable of talented, knowledgeable tax professionals and bookkeepers working from their home offices who are managed by the three full-time staff in the office. Their success comes from focusing on the client’s timelines and using accountants who can accommodate quick turnarounds. At April Tax Solutions, customers’ needs are the priority and April will never have a file sit on someone’s desk as deadlines loom. He keeps abreast of government deadlines to prevent clients from unnecessarily paying late penalties and interest.
“Other firms see numbers. I see people,” says April.
And he strives to ensure these people understand their individual tax situation to have their deductions, credits and contributions lessen the taxes they owe, all within the often-confusing legal framework of provincial and federal tax law. April’s team can counsel on everything from not wasting RRSP credits to structuring dividends to income splitting. Most of the firm’s clients own small businesses earning up to $10 million in service-based companies, and include consultants and coaches as well as ecommerce companies.
“I’m pleased to service all areas, but I still have a soft spot for the business owner that is getting started. I want them to start right,” he says.
The Calgary Chamber of Commerce named Mike April the 2012 Volunteer of the Year for his contribution to small business development, and he plans to continue in that pursuit with his latest endeavour. To help companies get started right, Mike April is looking at ways to expand to reach more business people than his rolodex of local clients. He is developing an online video series that will provide a wide range of information for new and inexperienced business owners. For a flat fee, business owners will be able to access a collection of concise videos on a variety of topics including how to understand financial statements, reasons to incorporate, ways to best structure GST, income splitting and leveraging leasing versus buying. Each video will give current, straightforward information in digestible servings to prevent users from getting overwhelmed. The series launches at the end of February and Mike April hopes that it will give business owners coast-to-coast the same advantages as the local businesspeople who walk through his door for help.
“People in Nova Scotia or Manitoba or Ontario can buy it and have all that knowledge at their fingertips,” he says. “At the end of the day I want business owners not to learn accounting or bookkeeping. I want them to know they have my support so they can go out and focus on what they do—their craft.”
April Tax Solutions has helped Calgary business owners navigate the world of taxes with the expertise of its team of accountants, bookkeepers, and consultants. Mike April and his team strive to live up to the firm’s tag line. They tell clients, both in person and through online video resources, to “Stop Overpaying Your Taxes” and they work hard to ensure clients do just that.