By Caitlin Cook

Charleston, W.Va. — Smart Tax has acquired Eagle Tax, expanding its business into the Mountain State for the first time.

“We were friendly for a few years now and we talked about possibly merging somehow,” said Smart Tax CEO Nick Rizzi. “Toward the end of the year we made it happen.”

Rizzi founded Smart Tax in 2005. Smart Tax now owns the Charleston Eagle Tax office, as well as 14 other locations throughout the East Coast acquired in the deal.

Eagle Tax will keep its name until after tax season, said Barry Shilling, who operates the Charleston Eagle Tax office with his wife Brenda Shilling.

“Our base customers know us as Eagle Tax,” Barry said. “We sent a letter to our customers telling them we’ve been bought.”

Smart Tax now has 54 locations in its tax preparation business.

The Shillings and other Eagle Tax franchises will have to learn and switch to the tax software used by Smart Tax.

“We are learning [the software],” Brenda said. “Overall, our business will be the same. Same customer service and same price.”

Rizzi said most of Smart Tax’s customers are middle class or low income. The firm does have some businesses as clients, but Rizzi noted that 80 percent of Smart Tax’s clients are earning less than $80,000.

“The main thing is the ability to provide services year round,” Rizzi said.

Brenda Shilling said Smart Tax has a great customer service center. If they have any problems, they are just a phone call away, she said.

“They have a good marketing program, too,” Brenda said. “We are expecting to get more customers.”