By Chris Bishop Staff Writer
As Nick Rizzi, a former financial planner sees it, the tax preparation industry can entertain more competition.
Rizzi, 41, a Brooklyn native, saw the demand for tax preparation services several years ago, so he decided to go around big players such as H&R Block and Jackson Hewitt and launch his own business, Smart Tax, which he started in 2006 and has been franchising since 2009.
In his latest move, Rizzi, whose company is still based in Brooklyn, acquired Eagle Tax in Philadelphia.
There are five locations in New Jersey, including one in Burlington Township.
Financial terms of the takeover were not disclosed.
By buying these locales, Rizzi feels he can increase the Smart Tax footprint and spark new growth in what has been called the “recession-resistant” tax preparation industry.
It turns out the takeover occurred at the appropriate season, as residents receive their W-2 forms in January.
All Eagle Tax owners are being retained, but now the Burlington County location will have the strong backing of a proven brand with Smart Tax, Rizzi said.
Neel Amin, owner of the former Eagle Tax, was happy to join the Smart Tax franchise. His office is at 1005 Sunset Road near the Lourdes Hospital of Burlington County.
“The benefits of joining Smart Tax are that we have a bigger support group, more franchises, more locations,” said Amin, a resident of Monroe, Middlesex County. “It’s a more familiar brand, and they are doing a good job by expanding so people become more familiar with it. It’s a better service that we offer here.”
Rizzi said that’s music to his ears as he expands his franchise into the region. He said he could make a career out of opening new offices in New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
Unlike national brands, Rizzi said he knows his community well and has succeeded in taking market share from his rivals, who tend to be big but possibly clumsy in looking at the region’s needs.
In addition to expanding its footprint, Smart Tax intends to increase its client base, develop a broader marketing plan, and provide more extensive support.
Eagle Tax will give Smart Tax the ability to offer tax preparation kiosks in addition to traditional office locations, officials said.
Rizzi said he continues to seek new tax professionals to join his system, and is devoting more resources to attract independent preparers.
Smart Tax is offering tax preparers, accountants and enrolled agents free conversion into a franchise, eliminating the franchise fee required by most tax preparation chains
Normally, to become a franchisee, the total investment, according to Smart Tax, starts at $36,000. The fee is $20,000, unless the tax preparer is an established business, such as the Eagle franchisee.
Rizzi said his company now has 50 offices in the region, including kiosks.
“We want to make the process as smooth as possible to produce successful franchisee relationships and build upon our growth,” he said.