"In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes." -- Benjamin Franklin

It's April again!

As a youngster I could hardly wait until April because it meant Easter and spring break and April showers and blossoms everywhere. Easter was when everyone dressed up and went to church.

I enjoyed the rain -- especially when it poured. I loved wearing my galoshes and jumping in puddles and not getting my shoes wet. Life was carefree.

As Alfred E. Neuman exclaimed, "What, Me worry?"

When I turned 24, April put a damper on my self-indulging ways.

I got a full-time job within two weeks of my discharge from the Army. It was satisfying to know I'd be earning a starting salary more than twice what I was paid as a corporal.

I looked forward to my first paycheck at the end of the month only to realize the amount I netted was much less than I expected because of a myriad deductions, with most of that money going to the Internal Revenue Service.

April 15 was no longer an ordinary April day.

Filling out an income tax form was a snap, particularly for people like me with only a couple of deductions to report.

A fifth-grader could've completed that form. Not to be outshined by any youngster, I prepared my own taxes!

But by the time I settled down and had kids, what was at one time a simple one-page tax form morphed into something like a multi-page midterm exam. I decided enough was enough. Working with figures was never my forte anyway.


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I turned over our entire collection of W-2s and receipts to an accountant to figure out.

Our first tax accountant came to the house to do our taxes -- reminiscent of the old-time family doctor! But that lasted only a couple of years.

For the past 10 years we've had Colleen Kreins do our taxes.

I first met Colleen when she was hired as a community specialist for the Concord Police Department. I already knew her husband Joe, then a police officer with the same agency. Joe eventually left the force to accept a position as Chief of Police in Sausalito, and Colleen quit to open a tax accounting office above the Golden Willow Restaurant in Concord.

My family and I regularly patronize Golden Willow and it was on one of those occasions that I went upstairs to chat with her.

As the saying goes: "You learn something new everyday!"

For all the time I'd known Colleen, I was unaware of her extensive tax background.

Colleen got her start while in high school working for her parents, both of whom were tax accountants.

She later worked for H&R Block before opening up her own business, C&J Kreins Tax Service, in 1988. Among her exceptional accomplishments included having earned the title Enrolled Agent, which is a significant achievement in her field.

In basketball parlance it was a "slam-dunk." Colleen gained my instant trust and has been our tax person ever since.

I'm sure there are many folks who believe tax preparers are all alike. So what makes Colleen so special?

Besides her many years' experience as a tax professional, she works exclusively doing individual income tax returns, and she's available to answer questions year-round. Not all tax preparers can make that claim!

And her fees have remained very reasonable considering our shaky economy.

You want additional proof?

Talk to the client who started with her parents and is still doing business with her 40 years later!

Whether we do our own taxes or have them done, one thing is for sure: we don't want to pay one cent more than we have to.

And selecting the person who can do that by the 15th of April deserves to take the rest of the month off.

If you haven't filed your tax papers yet, you've got 11 days left!

Eizo Kobayashi is a Concord resident and a member of the Concord Senior Citizens Club. Contact him at transcript@bayareanewsgroup.com.