Diamond Certified Company Report

Russell Barnett, EA

Diamond Certified Company Report

Russell Barnett, EA

Diamond certified ratings dashboard
CUSTOMER SATISFACTION i
Customer LOYALTY i
Helpful Expertise i
Company Credentials i
  • Workers Compensation
  • Liability Insurance
  • License Verification
  • Business Practices
  • Current Complaint File
Phone SURVEY RESPONSES FROM 265 VERIFIED CUSTOMERS i

Jackson K.

VERIFIED Russell Barnett, EA CUSTOMER

1 of 265

Quality 10
10 10
Loyalty Yes
CRITIQUE

He is professional and he does the job properly. He manages to go through your tax situation in great depth and detail. He knows how to dig deep.

He's professional and friendly. I've been using him for 10 years.

Alex H.

VERIFIED Russell Barnett, EA CUSTOMER

2 of 265

Quality 10
10 10
Loyalty Yes
CRITIQUE

Russell is professional, intelligent, knowledgeable, and accurate.

I like that he's available to answer my questions, and I like that he's always very timely.

Christina T.

VERIFIED Russell Barnett, EA CUSTOMER

3 of 265

Quality 10
10 10
Loyalty Yes
CRITIQUE

Even though the news we received wasn't what we wanted to hear, at least he was honest with us.

He was efficient, honest, and fair.

Read All 265 Survey Responses at Ratings View
Diamond certified VIDEO PROFILE
Diamond certified company PROFILE

Russell Barnett, EA, Owner

Since 2003, Russell Barnett, EA has helped resolve tax matters for Northern California clients. A member of the National, California and Mission Associations of Enrolled Agents, Mr. Barnett is licensed by the IRS and specializes in taxation for individuals, businesses, and entities with tax-reporting requirements.

With an increasingly complex tax code that undergoes dozens of changes each year, it’s no wonder the mere mention of the word “taxes” makes people anxious, says Mr. Barnett. “I’m the person to call when someone is tired of punching numbers into the computer and hoping they’re doing it right.”

Mr. Barnett assists individuals and owners of small businesses, C Corporations, S Corporations, and LLCs with everything from bookkeeping and payroll to tax planning and representation before taxing agencies. His goal is to make the tax process as simple as possible, help clients understand their tax obligations and make sure they pay no more than what they owe. He says the long-term relationships he forges enable him to thoroughly understand his clients’ needs and deliver the best long-term results. 

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COMPANY REPORT NAVIGATION

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DIAMOND CERTIFIED RESEARCHED CAPABILITIES ON Russell Barnett, EA

Locations

Santa Clara County
Santa Cruz County
Mountain View
San Jose
Sunnyvale
Morgan Hill
Palo Alto
Watsonville
Capitola

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SERVICES PERFORMED

Personal
Corporate
Partnership
Trust
Income Taxes
Estate Excise Taxes
Bookkeeping
Full Service Payroll
Tax Planning and Preparation
Small and New Business Consulting
Collections and Audit Representation
 

DIAMOND CERTIFIED RESEARCHED ARTICLES ON Russell Barnett, EA

Company Profile

Since 2003, Russell Barnett, EA has helped resolve tax matters for Northern California clients. A member of the National, California and Mission Associations of Enrolled Agents, Mr. Barnett is licensed by the IRS and specializes in taxation for individuals, businesses, and entities with tax-reporting requirements.

With an increasingly complex tax code that undergoes dozens of changes each year, it’s no wonder the mere mention of the word “taxes” makes people anxious, says Mr. Barnett. “I’m the person to call when someone is tired of punching numbers into the computer and hoping they’re doing it right.”

Mr. Barnett assists individuals and owners of small businesses, C Corporations, S Corporations, and LLCs with everything from bookkeeping and payroll to tax planning and representation before taxing agencies. His goal is to make the tax process as simple as possible, help clients understand their tax obligations and make sure they pay no more than what they owe. He says the long-term relationships he forges enable him to thoroughly understand his clients’ needs and deliver the best long-term results. 

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Company Philosophy

"I try to maintain strong relationships with my clients throughout the year, not just at tax time. I want them to feel comfortable calling me with a question at any time–and not be worried that I'm going to send them a bill. I'd like them to regard me as their personal tax expert, someone who always has their best interests in mind and treats them like human beings, not social security numbers."

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Comparative Summary

San Jose-based Russell Barnett, EA works with clients throughout the United States to navigate the U.S. Tax Code, which is more than 6,000 pages long and contains more than 6 million words. Mr. Barnett says most people don’t have the time or inclination to read something that big and complex, and with dozens of changes implemented each year, the government doesn’t make it easy to understand.

As an enrolled agent–the only designation that’s granted straight from the IRS rather than a state-appointed board–Mr. Barnett says he has the knowledge and experience to ensure clients’ tax returns are prepared correctly and the legal authority to represent them during an audit.

Beyond preparing all tax returns himself, Mr. Barnett can advise clients on withholding rates and minimizing their tax burden if they sell a house, receive an inheritance, or experience another event that affects their financial situation. “I try to keep my clients involved and engaged throughout the year,” he says, “to minimize the likelihood of an unpleasant surprise when we file their return the following year.”

Mr. Barnett is available year-round to talk with clients, and even during the hectic tax-preparation season, he says he’ll promptly respond to questions and concerns. “You can get a tax return prepared at a number of different places,” he says, “so I try to make people enjoy the process as much as possible.”

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Industry Info

There are four types of tax preparers in California, so it’s beneficial to know their specific areas of expertise before hiring one. First are the California Tax Education Council (CTEC) preparers, who are licensed by the state to prepare tax returns for money. CTEC preparers can only provide audit representation for returns that they have prepared themselves, and cannot represent clients in collection matters. While some CTEC preparers can handle ordinary returns without incident, their licensing requirements are the easiest to meet, and they generally have less expertise than other types of professional preparers.

The next two types of tax preparers licensed by California are lawyers and certified public accountants (CPAs). Unlike CTEC preparers, lawyers and CPA’s are able to provide audit representation for any tax return and have the ability to represent taxpayers in collection matters. Additionally, lawyers can represent their clients in tax court. While tax lawyers and CPAs often become experts in tax law and IRS regulations, their education is more generalized, and they often perform services unrelated to tax return preparation.

The final type of professional preparer is enrolled agents. This is the only class of preparer that’s licensed by the U.S. Treasury, as opposed to being licensed by the State of California. Enrolled agents are either former IRS employees or have passed a rigorous exam and must meet annual continuing education requirements. Like lawyers and CPAs, they can represent anyone before the IRS. But unlike lawyers and CPAs, the training enrolled agents undergo is exclusively related to the tax code.

Regardless of what type of tax professional you choose to hire, avoid any preparer who attempts to charge you a percentage of your refund on an original return—that’s illegal. Additionally, the IRS recommends you choose a preparer whom you’ll be able to contact and who’ll be responsive to your needs. Ask who’ll actually prepare the return before engaging their services. Avoid firms that might delegate your work to someone with less training. You should know exactly who works with your tax matters at all times and how to contact him or her. Determine if the preparer is exporting your tax return to a foreign country for preparation. Foreign countries don’t have the same security and privacy laws as the United States, nor is there any recourse should your information be compromised as a result of lax or nonexistent privacy procedures.

Remember, regardless of who prepares your tax return, it’s the taxpayer who’s ultimately responsible for its accuracy and will incur any penalties or interest resulting from errors.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What’s an enrolled agent?

A: Unlike lawyers or accountants, enrolled agents specialize in taxation. Throughout the year they advise, represent and prepare returns for individuals, partnerships, corporations, estates, trusts, and any entities with tax-reporting requirements. In California, for example, more than 4,000 members of the California Society of Enrolled Agents prepare almost 2 million tax returns each year. An enrolled agent’s expertise in the constantly changing field of tax law enables them to be an effective representative when the IRS audits taxpayers.

Q: How does one become an enrolled agent?

A: Enrolled agents are the only taxpayer representatives who receive that license from the U.S. government (accountants and attorneys are licensed by the state). An individual can become an enrolled agent in one of two ways: • Pass an IRS approved comprehensive exam on the taxation of individuals, corporations, partnerships, estates, trusts, procedures, and ethics. • Be an employee of the IRS for five years, regularly applying and interpreting the provisions of the Internal Revenue Code and regulations.Of all the individuals who take the examination, only one-third receive a passing mark. Then, they can apply for enrollment and subject themselves to a background investigation. In addition to the stringent testing and application process, enrolled agents are required to earn 72 hours of continuing professional education, reported every three years, to maintain their status. Because of the difficulty in becoming enrolled and maintaining enrollment, there are fewer than 40,000 enrolled agents in the United States. In contrast, there are about 375,000 certified public accountants nationwide.

Q: Do I need to hire a professional tax preparer?

A: If you’re confident that you can prepare an accurate tax return on your own and can devote the time needed to prepare an accurate return, then no. But if your tax situation is sufficiently complex that you’re not confident of your ability, or if you don’t have the time, then you should hire a professional.

Q: What’s your fee?

A: It depends on the complexity of the return and the amount of time I need to spend on it. I don’t have specific hourly or by-form rates. Each return is an individual case.

Q: How long will it take to prepare my return?

A: That depends on my workload. During tax season, my general commitment is to have the return prepared within two weeks of the date I receive all the information. If it’s a return complex, it might take longer.

Q: What’s your background?

A: I have a BS in accounting from Golden Gate University and have been an enrolled agent since 2004. I’ve prepared thousands of tax returns, and I work on them year-round.

Q: Are you available for consultations about changing tax laws?

A: Yes. I encourage my clients to call me if they ever have questions about their tax situation. I rarely charge for such calls from my existing clients, unless the question is so complex that it requires extensive research on my part. In those cases, I’ll tell you in advance.

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SELECTED PHOTOS FROM Russell Barnett, EA

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DIAMOND CERTIFIED EXPERT CONTRIBUTOR ADVICE & TIPS FROM Russell Barnett

Expert CONTRIBUTOR PROFILE
  • Russell Barnett is a veteran of the tax preparation industry and owner of Russell Barnett, EA, a Diamond Certified company. He can be reached at (408) 341-9924 or by email.

Russell Barnett: The Accountable Accountant

By Suzanne Carroll, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

SAN JOSE — Russell Barnett started college as a music major, but eventually, he realized that his true talent was in arranging accounts rather than compositions. Perhaps the clearest sign of this was when he passed his qualifying exam to be an enrolled agent—a specialist in tax preparation for individuals, corporations, trusts or any entity required to report taxes. This test usually requires years of study and several attempts to pass, but Russell did so not only on his first try, but while he was still in school working toward his accounting degree. When he passed, he was astonished, but he also knew he was finally on the right career path. “Being an enrolled agent is just my calling,” he explains. “I’ve finally ended up where I’m supposed to be. I like my work, especially the people I get to meet and the opportunity to help my clients.”

After working for other firms for a couple of years, Russell decided to strike out on his own in 2007. He says being his own boss has allowed him a level of flexibility that has come in handy for balancing work and life. “Obviously, during the tax season the time commitments are intense, but the rest of the year I have a lot more discretion as to when I’m in the office or when I’m working from home, which allows me to spend time with my wife, Jolene, and our two kids.”

A California native, Russell has lived in the San Jose area since he was six years old and loves that all his family lives in the region, too. When asked what he likes most about the Bay Area, he points to the region’s vibrancy and embrace of technology, describing himself as a bit of a techie. Russell also appreciates that most residents care first and foremost about results. “If you can do the work, it doesn’t matter where you come from, what you look like or what degree you have on the wall,” he says. “It’s just about the results.”

Outside of work, Russell’s life centers around activities with his young children, but he still makes time for music and enjoys playing the ukulele. When asked how he might spend his retirement, he says he hasn’t considered it much since it’s still decades away, but he imagines he’ll spend more time playing the ukulele, enjoying his family, volunteering and helping out around the house.

In his life and career, Russell acknowledges the importance of accountability. “The buck stops at my desk, for good or bad,” he affirms. “I’m accountable to each of my clients, which means making sure all their accounts are handled with accuracy and honesty. Overall, I think simply being true to your word is at the heart of treating people well, and that’s what I always try to do.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: Coffee or tea?
A: Neither. I get my caffeine from Diet Coke.

Q: Do you prefer to read fiction or non-fiction?
A: Fiction. I tend to skew toward the fantasy genre.

Q: What’s your favorite local restaurant?
A: Kubota in San Jose.

Q: What’s your favorite movie?
A: “Big Fish.”

Q: Do you speak any foreign languages?
A: I was a foreign exchange student in Japan for six months in high school. By the time I left, I could speak Japanese pretty well, but I’ve definitely fallen out of practice.

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Expert articles
  • How to Avoid Tax-Season Headaches

    SAN JOSE — Many people dread doing their taxes because they suddenly discover they owe more money than they expected or feel rushed to file all the paperwork on time. To avoid situations like these, it’s important to make sure taxes are being withheld from your income at the appropriate level and keep track of your financial records throughout the year. By taking these steps, you won’t find yourself owing more money than you anticipated, and you can reduce the time you spend on your return come tax season.

    It’s important for taxpayers to monitor their withholdings throughout the year and be certain that neither too much nor too little is being withheld. If you receive a payment in the form of a bonus, commission or stock grant, be aware that these items are withheld federally at 25 percent. Depending on your tax rate, that may not be enough to cover the amount due. Thankfully, there are numerous online tools that taxpayers can use to monitor their withholdings and calculate how much money they may owe at the end of the year.

    For both small business owners and individuals, I recommend finding a record-keeping system that works for you and sticking with it. You’ll want to review your finances and gather any necessary documentation about once a month. Doing a little bit of regular financial organization throughout the year reduces the likelihood of making mistakes and eliminates the stress of getting everything together at the last minute.

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Expert video tip
  • Video: Assessing Your Tax Withholdings

    Complete Video Transcription:

    SAN JOSE — Host, Sarah Rutan: When it comes to income taxes, many taxpayers overlook their yearly withholdings. Today we’re in San Jose with Diamond Certified Expert Contributor Russell Barnett, EA to learn how you can avoid this.

    Diamond Certified Expert Contributor, Russell Barnett: I wanted to talk about withholding. To pay attention to it throughout the year; make sure that you’re not having too much or too little withheld. Nobody like a big surprise at the end of the year in terms of a tax bill. People should be aware that, oftentimes, lump-sum payment or payroll items such as bonuses, commissions, stock grants, etc. are only within federally at 25 percent. Depending on where your tax rate is, that may not be enough withholding to cover the actual tax due on the income. So, it’s important to plan ahead and make sure that you have enough set aside to either make an estimated payment or pay what’s due when you file your tax return so that you don’t end up in a crisis at the end of the tax season.

    The other thing I wanted to mention was record keeping. Especially for small businesses but also for individuals. I recommend finding a system – whatever kind works for you – that you’ll actually use and just stick to it and do it once a month or a couple times throughout the year, rather than waiting until the end of the year to try and jam everything together. I believe that that, in my experience, cuts down on mistakes and it also is easier to come up with a smaller chunk of time to do things throughout the year than it generally is to do everything all at once, which can take several hours.

    Taxpayers should be always aware of their withholding and make sure that they’re having enough withheld but not too much. There are tools online that you can use to evaluate that. Also, for record keeping, I always recommend that you find a system, make it work for yourself and do it throughout the year, whether you’re a business or an individual. That way, you’re able to keep things fresh in your mind and also be able to do things in a smaller chunk so it’s a little easier to come up with the time to do it.

    Host, Sarah Rutan: To learn more from local, top rated companies, visit our Diamond Certified Expert Reports at experts.diamondcertified.org.

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Russell Barnett, EA WEBSITE AND EXTERNAL FEED
Diamond Certified RATINGS ON Russell Barnett, EA
Diamond certified ratings dashboard
CUSTOMER SATISFACTION i
Customer LOYALTY i
Helpful Expertise i

Each surveyed customer was asked, “If you needed any helpful expertise, did this company provide that expertise?” To calculate this score, total “Yes” responses were divided by total responses (excluding those that stated they hadn’t needed any expertise).

Company Credentials i
  • Workers Compensation
  • Liability Insurance
  • License Verification
  • Business Practices
  • Current Complaint File
Phone SURVEY RESPONSES FROM 265 VERIFIED CUSTOMERS i
Russell Barnett, EA : Average 9.4 out of 10 based on 265 unique customer surveys of customer satisfaction.

Jackson K.

VERIFIED Russell Barnett, EA CUSTOMER

1 of 265

Quality 10
10 10
Loyalty Yes
CRITIQUE

He is professional and he does the job properly. He manages to go through your tax situation in great depth and detail. He knows how to dig deep.

He's professional and friendly. I've been using him for 10 years.

Alex H.

VERIFIED Russell Barnett, EA CUSTOMER

2 of 265

Quality 10
10 10
Loyalty Yes
CRITIQUE

Russell is professional, intelligent, knowledgeable, and accurate.

I like that he's available to answer my questions, and I like that he's always very timely.

Christina T.

VERIFIED Russell Barnett, EA CUSTOMER

3 of 265

Quality 10
10 10
Loyalty Yes
CRITIQUE

Even though the news we received wasn't what we wanted to hear, at least he was honest with us.

He was efficient, honest, and fair.

David D.

VERIFIED Russell Barnett, EA CUSTOMER

4 of 265

Quality 10
10 10
Loyalty Yes
CRITIQUE

He knows his stuff and he is very easy to work with.

He is very focused on your needs and questions you may have.

Lauren W.

VERIFIED Russell Barnett, EA CUSTOMER

5 of 265

Quality 10
10 10
Loyalty Yes
CRITIQUE

He is responsive and knowledgeable.

Just the fact everything was electronic, it made it so easy.

Masi A.

VERIFIED Russell Barnett, EA CUSTOMER

6 of 265

Quality 10
10 10
Loyalty Yes
CRITIQUE

He's good, very knowledgeable.

Everything really

Dean A.

VERIFIED Russell Barnett, EA CUSTOMER

7 of 265

Quality 10
10 10
Loyalty Yes
CRITIQUE

Russ is a very nice guy who cares about his customers. He can either do an in person or everything online, which I loved.

His professionalism

Wendy M.

VERIFIED Russell Barnett, EA CUSTOMER

8 of 265

Quality 10
10 10
Loyalty Yes
CRITIQUE

He is an overall great tax guy. I would tell people about him.

He is very accurate.

Dan T.

VERIFIED Russell Barnett, EA CUSTOMER

9 of 265

Quality 10
10 10
Loyalty Yes
CRITIQUE

He is very knowledgeable and presentable, very relatable.

His demeanor mostly, also the fact that he is very accessible and responsive to email and phone calls. You can always get a hold of him.

Marilyn F.

VERIFIED Russell Barnett, EA CUSTOMER

10 of 265

Quality 10
10 10
Loyalty Yes
CRITIQUE

That he specializes in taxes, so it was nice to have someone unlike a CPA who does only tax stuff. His few staff were friendly whenever I had a question. He has a good attitude towards problems.

The fact that he is a specialist in tax items

Kishore G.

VERIFIED Russell Barnett, EA CUSTOMER

11 of 265

Quality 10
10 10
Loyalty Yes
CRITIQUE

I would say, they are very helpful and responsive. I have used them over the last couple years.

They are close to where I live, so I was able to get an appointment pretty quickly.

Glenn A.

VERIFIED Russell Barnett, EA CUSTOMER

12 of 265

Quality 10
10 10
Loyalty Yes
CRITIQUE

They are easy to work with and very experienced.

The appointment was quick. He has a great knowledge base.

Nicolas W.

VERIFIED Russell Barnett, EA CUSTOMER

13 of 265

Quality 10
10 10
Loyalty Yes
CRITIQUE

Go to them. They are personable, and he has been there a long time and they are very experienced. I am sure he will fix all of their problems.

It was very easy to get an appointment and it is affordable. It is very easy to talk to Russell.

Jody D.

VERIFIED Russell Barnett, EA CUSTOMER

14 of 265

Quality 10
10 10
Loyalty Yes
CRITIQUE

I'm 100% satisfied. They are upfront and knowledgeable.

Basically, they did everything we agreed they would do. Russ is friendly and has a lot of experience in terms of IRS conflict resolution.

Ian W.

VERIFIED Russell Barnett, EA CUSTOMER

15 of 265

Quality 10
10 10
Loyalty Yes
CRITIQUE

They have integrity. They are very friendly and honest, even if it's something you wouldn't want to hear.

Their organization as a whole, I liked everything, I guess.

Ryan B.

VERIFIED Russell Barnett, EA CUSTOMER

16 of 265

Quality 10
10 10
Loyalty Yes
CRITIQUE

They are extremely friendly, fast, and helpful.

They are responsive, have a good value, and are overall good business people.

Brendan O.

VERIFIED Russell Barnett, EA CUSTOMER

17 of 265

Quality 10
10 10
Loyalty Yes
CRITIQUE

They actually respond very quickly to any request. They gave me additional advice that I may not have considered.

The friendliness of everyone

Greg W.

VERIFIED Russell Barnett, EA CUSTOMER

18 of 265

Quality 10
10 10
Loyalty Yes
CRITIQUE

Trustworthy

Convenience

Shirley C.

VERIFIED Russell Barnett, EA CUSTOMER

19 of 265

Quality 10
10 10
Loyalty Yes
CRITIQUE

Russ is knowledgeable and professional.

Efficiency and accuracy

Lily W.

VERIFIED Russell Barnett, EA CUSTOMER

20 of 265

Quality 10
10 10
Loyalty Yes
CRITIQUE

I would recommend them. In fact, I've recommended them already many times.

There are never any surprises and they are honest. Honestly, I don't think I've ever had any issues with them. I'm totally satisfied.

Read All 265 Survey Responses at Ratings View