Wanda Meier of Meier Tax Service in Marion, 73, figures about 1,000 income tax returns each year. If she was considering retirement, which she is not, it is likely her friends and customers would not let her have a break, even after 51 years in the business.
“Wanda is regular, like me,” longtime customer Bobbi Jo Linder said. “She listens to me and gives me advice on more than just taxes. But she understands if I need this back in a week, she will get it ready for me.”
Meier first hung her Meier Tax Service shingle out Jan. 1, 1961, on Santa Fe Street in Marion. She and her husband Robert Meier left their home town of Burrton and moved to Marion in 1960, following an oil and gas field job for him.
“He got a job at the gas plant here — Rounds and Stevens,” she said. “The gas plant brought us here and we stayed until the reservoir came in. They closed the gas wells then.”
Even though Meier lived in several different places across the state after that, she always kept an office open in Marion, making time for her many friends, family, and customers who depended on her tax service.
“At first, I did taxes mainly for people who worked with my husband, for those from our church and from our Girl Scout club,” she said. “It seems like I am connected to many of my customers in some way through those areas.”
Meier’s customers now spread across the county, the state, and even the world.
“Oh let’s see. I figure taxes for friends, or relatives of friends, who have moved away from here to as far away as Alaska, Texas, and Oklahoma,” she said. “I even have a customer who now lives in Africa and still has me figure her taxes.”
Meier became interested in income tax work after one good and one bad experience with having someone else figure her own taxes.
“The first year Bob and I were married, we hired someone else to do them,” she said. “That was a good experience and we got $800 back — which was a lot of money at that time!”
The second year, Meier and her husband took their taxes to a well-known company for preparation, and their experience was not at all positive. It was that second experience that propelled her into the income tax business for herself.
“From that time on, I did our own taxes,” she said. “It wasn’t hard and I had been going to tax schools for about four years before, so I could do this.”
Meier, who started regular school as a 4-year-old and graduated from high school at age 15, enjoyed attending tax classes and still keeps up on current regulations by taking refresher courses each year.
“My daughter Melody Ann works with me now, and we go to at least four classes each year with the National Association of Tax Preparers,” she said. “We also attend a symposium put on by the Internal Revenue Service every fall to see what ideas we can offer to make tax preparation better for people.”
Through the years, there have been many changes in the tax field, but for Meier, changes in technology made more an impact on her work.
“When I started, we did all the forms by hand, and then typed two copies with carbon paper,” she said. “During those days I sometimes had my husband and daughter typing those copies in the evenings with me. It took a lot of time.”
In 1983, Meier got her first computer and learned to use it from her daughter.
“I had to hide it at first,” she said. “Many of my customers just didn’t trust a computer and didn’t like to know that I was using one to figure their taxes. I could see it better; review it … just very helpful for all the double checking.”
There have been times when Meier had trouble deciphering bad writing or sorting through unorganized records, but she said her mission has always been to be helpful to her customers.
“I like my people,” she said. “I feel like every one of my customers is my friend, and I want to keep it that way.”
In addition to figuring straight- forward tax reports, Meier said she helped a person who was seven years behind in filing. She can also help customers find lost records, or find options to reduce payments.
“I know the state and federal officials by name,” she said. “I know who to call and how to ask the right questions. After all these years, I have developed a good rapport with them. I know how to keep a level head and get the answers we need.”
In the past, Meier sold computer software to other preparers going into the tax business, traveling all over the United States to explain how the system works and get them up and running. Though her main office is in her home at Burrton, she still enjoys coming to Marion once a week to meet, visit, and help her friends at tax time.
“Taxes have been good to me,” she said. “The main thing is that I like to take care of my customers. I’ve been through a lot in my years and I understand what they go through. I try to do my best with each one just like they were my own. It’s the little things that make a difference.”