By Emily G. Peters
It was the early 1990s, and Mary Wong was a bright-eyed computer science graduate from Cal Poly Pomona. “I realized I didn’t want to spend my life stuck behind a computer,” said Wong. So when she had the chance to pursue a career in banking, Wong thought she was staring into her future—not down the barrel of a gun.
“In December 1992, my bank was robbed by two masked gunmen,” said Wong. Then only 25 years old, Wong was the manager of the bank and the one forced to hand over the cash. Less than two weeks later, on Christmas Eve, she and her staff were held at gunpoint a second time.
“That was enough for me,” said Wong, now able to laugh over the absurdity of the situation. “It wasn’t exactly what I signed up for.”
Bright and ambitious, Wong soon met an accountant at a networking event, who offered her the opportunity to join his small firm and learn the business from the ground up. By 2006, she was ready to launched her own firm—and Exact Tax, Inc. has been serving Monterey Park and surrounding areas for the last ten years.
Since then, Wong’s staff has grown from 1 to 8–13 (depending on the season), including senior associate Vic Morel, a former IRS resolutions agent with 34 years of experience in the field. Together, her team has helped more than 1700 clients with payroll, bookkeeping, tax planning, tax resolutions and audits; even helping clients with deep financial crises like blacklisting or losing their homes.
“Recently, we helped an innocent client win a $7.5 million Franchise Tax Board abatement,” said Wong. “Other tax attorneys and CPAs told him there was nothing they could do, but with strong support from Exact Tax and California Assemblyman Ed Chau, justice prevailed.”
As Exact Tax, Inc. has grown, so has their outreach. Last September they launched free seminars, helping attendees understand everything from navigating audits to filing taxes while waiting for a green card. In 2014, senator Ed Hernandez awarded Wong a Women of the Year Award for her work with her nonprofit, Project NEO (recently merged with the Asian Youth Center), which provides free tutoring and mentoring services for local schoolchildren.
Although Wong is active in her community, her knowledge expands beyond California. Unlike CPAs who can only work in states where they’re licensed, Wong is a federally-certified Enrolled Agent, able to help people anywhere in the US—expertise that’s become especially relevant as the nation adapts a new president.
“There are many unknowns, and a lot of pressure involved in understanding how the new administration will impact taxes,” said Wong, “but we’re constantly training our staff and making sure we’re passing along the right information to the public.” And with decades of experience on her side, it’s the kind of wisdom that’s sure to help many as we venture into a new season.
Exact Tax, Inc. is located at 1025 E. Garvey Ave. in Monterey Park. Learn more about their business at www.exacttacinc.com and sign up for their March seminar by contacting them at (626) 573-0788 or via Facebook @ExactTaxMPK.