Mark Henley took some time away from a career helping deliver goods and products to determine his next course in life. When he was ready to jump back into a career, Henley discovered the next turn in his professional life’s journey would be help deliver to people answers to their “taxing” questions.

Today, Henley oversees the area offices of H&R Block out of the tax preparation service’s location of 975 Goodman Road East, in the Southaven Commons center.

“My area runs down to Clarksdale, Batesville, Water Valley, Oxford, Holly Springs and Byhalia,” Henley said. “I have all of the nine counties of North Mississippi, along with Collierville, a few offices in Memphis and then Crittenden County, Ark.”

Henley’s move into the tax preparation world came after he stepped away from another career to spend time with his son.

“I spent many years with FedEx, but I took a year off to reassess and determine what would be right for me,” said Henley. “I was a single father with a teenage son who had a rare heart condition and required some heart surgery that made me stop and reevaluate everything. Not knowing what the long term was going to be, I took a year off, he and I did some traveling together and we decided to relocate back to the Memphis area, where we were from originally.”

Henley’s move into H&R Block has been a good one for him, with Henley adding he is especially impressed with the people he works with.

“I’ve never worked with this many people who are genuinely worried, concerned and who care for their customers,” Henley said. “They have relationships with them that go back 10-15-20 years and they care. They genuinely care about the well being of their clients and I love being around that.”

Each year brings new credits and deductions along with other tax law changes. It is likely several changes will be facing taxpayers when it is time to file next year.

Henley said a professional is best qualified to navigate a taxpayer through all of the complexities and get the best result when it is time to settle with the Internal Revenue Service, or IRS. He added gathering basic information together ahead of a visit will help the process.

“You want to gather up any and all sources of income, your W-2s, 1099s, any credits that you have gotten in years past, such as the Mississippi Homestead Exemption for your real estate taxes,” Henley said. “Those documents will be the standard documents you'd want to come in with. The best thing to do is schedule some time with a tax professional that has been trained.”

Henley said his H&R Block professionals offer consultation services beyond the tax season and beyond the four walls of the local office. One of the services provided involves meeting with employees at their place of work.

“We started doing this pretty heavily last year,” he said. “One of the things that we offer is consultation on the W-4 form, which is your withholdings. Most employers are not capable or educated enough to be able to provide proper direction and that leaves employees guessing at what to put in for withholding. You want to find that 'sweet spot' for you and your paycheck, if you need more taxes to be taken out or less taxes taken out.”

The services provided also go beyond the filing deadline date, Henley said, such as any potential communication from the IRS or in filing an amended return.

“If they receive a letter from the IRS, we can come in and consult with them on what they need to do,” said Henley. “Most of the time those letters are what we call substantiation letters. The IRS is just saying, 'show us proof of what you claimed,' and it's simple.”

Bob Bakken is Staff Writer and may be reached at 662-429-6397 ext. 240.

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