Not this tax season: Russell retires
Mar 03, 2013 (The Arizona Daily Sun - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Robert Russell talked for years about retiring and closing up his small accounting practice.
The 75-year-old remembers saying he would do it for one more tax season, helping his loyal customers file their forms with the Internal Revenue Service.
"I am going to be 76 years old in two weeks and for the last five years I've been saying 'I've got to get out of this business one of these days,'" Russell said.
With more than 20 years in the industry, Russell needed a push to finally retire and spend time with his wife traveling the country on his Harley-Davidson motorcycle.
Russell had planned to continue at least through this tax season.
"I was going to do another year and was all set up for it," Russell said.
Or at least that was what he thought.
The impetus to retire was virtual, as the accounting software he had been using for years suddenly become more of foe than an ally.
"My software was just not cooperative," he remembers.
With an abacus nearly as helpful as his computers, Russell turned to his friend and frequent tax seminar buddy, Trevor Ainardi.
Ainardi had offices just down the street from Russell's Fourth Street office and had expressed an interest in buying his practice.
"We first started talking about this five years ago at a seminar in Phoenix," Russell said.
The young accountant picked up on the fact Russell eventually wanted to retire, telling him to give him a call when he was ready to hang up his hat and climb on his Harley instead.
Ainardi branched out on his own in 2009 after spending a few years working for other local accounting firms.
The marriage of the two accounting practices happened quickly, with Russell and Ainardi penning a letter to Russell's clients explaining that Russell was finally retired.
"We kind of did it in a hurry," Russell said.
He estimated he sent more than 150 letters to previous clients.
Ainardi said he has heard from many of Russell's former clients, who already miss him.
"A lot of them ... have been working with Bob for 20 and 25 years," Ainardi said.
Russell said the clients he has talked to have mixed emotions about the change.
"They recognize it is time for me to go, but at the same time they don't want me to go," Russell said.
With his workload nearly tripling with the influx of new clients, the young accountant is optimistic.
"It is going to be a hectic year," Ainardi said, looking at his calendar. "I am pretty excited about it."
Ainardi said he is still taking new clients, although he does have a small backlog he is working through.
The retiring accountant did concede he will continue to do at least one more tax return every year for the foreseeable future.
"With the name of Robert Russell," he says with a smile.
Joe Ferguson can be reached at 556-2253 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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