Travels with the Tax Preparer

by Avril McInally

It’s summer and April 15 is well behind us. It’s a blip on the deadline radar, a distant memory (the more distant, the better). So, why am I talking about  taxes and my tax preparer in a transracial adoption newsletter? Read on to find out.

Once upon a time, I needed an expert to help me navigate a tricky situation with my local tax authority. After asking my friends for CPA and tax professional referrals, I ended up in Mr. D’s office on the near East Side. There, I was greeted by Mr. D’s second-in-command, Ms. B. While waiting for my appointment, I soon came to see Ms. B’s management of the office. For all she did, it seemed to me that she must have had eyes in the back of her head, two brains and perhaps, three hearts! She sat at the helm of a smoothly run, busy operation. In awe of Ms. B, I soon forgot the trouble that had landed me in her domain.

After a while, I was seen by Mr. D. He promptly took care of my tricky situation and earned not only my undying appreciation but my eternal patronage. For the next several years close to tax time, I spent a few hours in his office. It was really supposed to be a one hour appointment, but I didn’t just get my taxes prepared on these visits. At these annual appointments, I listened to Michael (for Mr. D soon became Michael) relay his experiences as a Black man, husband, father, businessman and community member. I listened intently to Michael, not just for me but also for my Black daughter. He straight up told me that it was important I knew how to raise a Black child and I was thankful for his honesty and in sharing parts of his community and culture experience with me.

One day, while sitting in his office, he asked if me and my daughters had any vacations planned that year. I said yes. We were planning on driving to Chincoteague Island to see the wild ponies. He then went on to talk about what it had been like for him driving to the South as a Black man and as a Black father with his wife and children in the car. He taught me to be more careful and alert driving (sometimes rurally) through Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia.

Every year I had my appointment with Michael, he offered something significant to me as a parent of a Black daughter. He reminded me often that I had a member of his community and extended family in my care, and that it was my privilege to take good care of her. But he didn’t just leave the conversation there, he went on and “filled me in” with personal stories from his own parenting journey.

After several years of working with Michael, he became gravely ill and passed on. I visited him in his decline and often thought of all of the Going Home pamphlets he had lovingly shared with me of his former clients. Soon, Michael had his own Going Home.

Ms. B ended up obtaining the credentials needed to run her own tax preparer business and now, my daughters and I visit her to have our taxes done every year. She’s got a framed picture of Michael in her office. We always talk about him and his legacy. Sometimes, we sit in her office waiting for our appointments rubbing elbows with women construction workers, salon workers and more. Now, my children have grown to cultivate their own relationships with Ms. B. They know that not only will they have their taxes prepared, but while doing so, they’ll get to support someone who is not only part of their community of Blackness and womanhood but also of humanity.

Happy trails, safe travels, take help where you can get it and be alert on your journey!

This post is from our July, 2023, newsletter. If you would like to get our newsletter in your inbox each month, as well as information about our annual Transracial Journeys Family Camp and our monthly Zoom call to provide support for our transracial adoption parents please subscribe.