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Reston's Needy Have Own Accountants

To help the region’s underprivileged residents avoid onerous fees for tax preparation, Reston accounting and financial planning firm MillerMusmar has provided free tax preparation services through Reston Interfaith, a local non-profit service organization.

By helping the low-income residents with their taxes, MillerMusmar helped return higher refunds for the clients, many of whom did not know they were eligible for special tax refunds.

“We all want to do something to help out and you do what you do best,” said Joey Musmar, a partner with the firm. “We’re accountants so we helped them with their taxes.”

For providing their expertise to the area’s impoverished residents, and for contributing their time and energy in an array of other service projects, MillerMusmar has been named a recipient of the 2004 Best of Reston awards, a fund-raiser for Reston Interfaith.

Donna Miller, also a partner with MillerMusmar, said community service is central to the firm’s business model, which assumes that good corporate citizens will help make the world a better place, and also enjoy more business by being seen in a positive light.

“Our clients really appreciate the fact that we are a firm that is involved in the community,” Miller said. “People do care that the professionals they work with are involved. It’s smart business.”

That dedication to community service extends throughout all of MillerMusmar’s employees, who are offered paid time to become involved in the charity of their choice.

For MillerMusmar employee Alexia Grozner, that charity is the American Cancer Society. Grozner, whose daughter had a brain tumor, serves on the ACS planning committee and has helped raise thousands of dollars to help fight cancer.

“I want to bring more awareness about children with cancer,” Grozner said. “It affects the whole family.”

Grozner and other employees have participated in numerous ACS fundraisers, including Relay for Life, Walking for Hope, and Relay University.

ANOTHER COMPANY policy that underscores MillerMusmar’s commitment to helping the community requires that no non-profit seeking funds will be turned away. If a community service organization comes knocking, Musmar said, they will walk away with a check in their hand.

“Our company isn't just here to take our clients’ money,” he said. “We here to give back and help benefit society.”

This can mean MillerMusmar contributes to everyone from a teenager taking part in an AIDS walk to major organizations like Reston Interfaith.

“We’re judging them all as having value to the community,” Miller said. “We have an opportunity to put into practice those principles that we all had when we were naive undergraduates — by doing your part, you help make the world a better place.”

AFTER THE TERRORIST attacks of Sept. 11, MillerMusmar did their part to help better the lives of several families affected by the attack on the Pentagon.

Following the attacks, Congress passed legislation granting the victims and their families special tax benefits. To help wade through the new tax considerations, MillerMusmar CPAs provided more than $20,000 of in-kind tax preparation services and financial planning.

“The best thing was for us to walk them through it so they could get the returns,” Musmar said.

More recently, after Hurricane Isabel ravaged parts of Virginia, a MillerMusmar CPA offered free tax assistance to victims.

In the future, MillerMusmar would like to start teaching bookkeeping skills to working class Reston residents to give them a chance to move up from low-paying jobs.

“We could actually see people get better jobs eventually,” Miller said. “That would be wonderful. It’s a tight job market and this could help elevate them.”