Homeward had a chat with Laura Hanlon, CPA and owner of Payroll Vault in Conway. She is a great friend of ours and an even more amazing local businesswoman.
She was recently awarded the Hometown Hero Award by Modern Woodmen. Here’s what she had to say about work, taxes, payroll and her love of Conway, Arkansas.
Homeward: You just wrapped up tax season- how are you holding up?
Laura: I am doing great! My brother, sister-in-law and 1 year old nephew came to visit me right after tax season. We hiked to Cedar Falls at Petit Jean and had a fun few days just hanging out. Obviously, sleep was high on my priority list since sleep is limited during tax season. I also just enjoy being at home with my 3 dogs and cat for the first few weeks after tax season. When I am working so much, I often leave before sunrise and return home after sunset so I don’t really get to see my home!
Homeward: What’s the most common mistake you see people make on their taxes?
Laura: Most people do their best to keep up with information for their taxes. Common mistakes or omissions are not deducting items such as mileage or a home office that are “non-cash” type deductions. These are easy to forget about at year-end when people go back through their bank accounts to add up expenses. Another common mistake, especially for self-employed people, is using 1 bank account for their business and personal lives. This creates a nightmare at tax time! Definitely use a separate business bank account from your personal account and life will be much easier. Plus, people will find they have more deductions to claim on their taxes just by having separation of their business and personal money because it is easier to track tax deductible expenses.
Homeward: How do you help people save time and money on their taxes?
Laura: Based on the client and their needs, I offer various ideas on how they can streamline and automate tracking income and expenses. This can be something as simple as 2 separate bank accounts for business and personal monies. Or, using an app to track business, charitable, and medical miles driven during the year. We also offer accounting services and payroll year round that helps many small business owners. For individual taxpayers, we can help with tax planning during the year that makes filing their taxes at year end a lot less hectic and painful, especially if they have had a life event that caused them to owe tax. Knowing ahead of time how much tax they will owe and being able to plan for writing that check at tax time, alleviates a lot of undue stress.
Homeward: Not only are you a CPA, but you also own a payroll company called Payroll Vault. How does Payroll Vault help small business owners who want to out source their payroll?
Laura: Payroll Vault is a full-service payroll company. Unlike some of the big name payroll companies, Payroll Vault is local owned 100% by me and operated in my office. I have employees dedicated completely to the payroll business. Stephanie Teague has worked with me for 8 years and runs the Operations side of the Payroll Vault business. We have a student worker who helps us with marketing and sales, and Marshall Hall and myself handle new client meetings to bring on a payroll client. Payroll Vault offers a complete payroll service to small & medium sized businesses, including payroll processing, all tax payments and filings, HR solutions, time-keeping options, pay as you go workers comp insurance, background checks, drug testing, and much more! Many small business owners try payroll on their own but don’t truly know if they are doing it right when they trust popular software options. We take this uncertainty out of the equation for small businesses. And, payroll is one of the easiest and least expensive services to outsource for your small business!
Homeward: What do you love about being in Conway and what are your go-to spots in town?
Laura: I absolutely love Conway! I moved here in 1996 to attend Hendrix College and have been here 21 years now. I have seen Conway grow over these years and it just keeps getting better. The population is well-rounded and I love to meet new people who have moved to Conway. Knowing many of the folks who are Conway born and raised is also great. It connects me to the roots of Conway and Faulkner County. My go-to spots…I’m a bit of a creature of habit so I have to make myself deviate from the norm sometimes. I love that I can get a cold beer at a restaurant in Conway now! This wasn’t the case when I first moved here and for many years afterwards. Old Chicago, Outback, Stoby’s, Bob’s Grill, El Patron, and Cracker Barrel are a few of my favorite restaurants. Of course, I love my Kroger!! I love taking a break or meeting with a business associate at Round Mountain Coffee. For fun, I enjoy everything outdoors. Fishing at Lake Conway or the Little Red River in Heber Springs are two of my favorite spots. And, I enjoy the outdoor activities in Conway like the Tucker Creek trail. Last, but not least, I often attend Hendrix sporting events to cheer on my alma mater and the students. There is so much to love about Conway!
If you are looking for someone to help with your payroll or taxes, who really cares about their clients, look no further than Laura Hanlon.