Sterling Bookkeeping and Tax Service partners give back through volunteer work at AIDS Interfaith

DAVID TAFFET | Staff Writer

Sterling Tax Services
COMMUNITY PARTNERS | Sterling Bookkeeping partners Kevin Gardner, Jon Chester and Gilbert Castillo at the opening of their new Hurst office.

Jon Chester and Gilbert Castillo, partners in Sterling’s Bookkeeping and Tax Service, keep quite busy.

They said their firm files 400 corporate and partnership tax returns and 2,200 personal returns annually. Marc Sterling, who founded the company in 1985, is still with the company. Castillo and Chester became partners in 2005. This summer, they opened a second office in Hurst.

Because part of their corporate philosophy is giving back to the community, the two have become volunteers with AIDS Interfaith Network, one of the AIDS service agencies hardest hit by budget cuts over the past few years.

“They’re just great guys,” Steven Pace, executive director of AIN, said of Chester and Castillo.

Recently, AIN officials realized that some of their Daire Center clients were eating meals at the center during the week and coming in hungry on Mondays. Pace asked volunteers to fill the need by forming a weekend dinner club.

The Sterling company answered that call last weekend, serving Saturday night dinner, Pace said.

But Chester said that’s only where their commitment begins. They are also the sponsors of the Leo Party that will be held at the Hidden Door on July 24. The Leo Party benefits the Daire Center and all money raised that night will go to the AIN thanks to Sterling’s underwriting.

Last year, Chester said, the party raised somewhere between $16,000 and $20,000. This year, he said his goal was to raise more for AIN than they receive from the Black Tie Dinner.

Their commitment to raise money and care for AIN clients then continues with the Great Gatsby Party, which the two men are chairing. The Roaring ’20s-themed affair takes place at Union Station on Sept. 26.

“It’s a fun event,” Chester said. “Drinking, dancing, an auction, flappers, a 14-member orchestra in one room, a lounge singer in another, gambling, vintage photos and food by Wolfgang Puck.”

To get into the speakeasy, he said, partygoers will need to know the password.

To raise even more money than last year for AIN at the agency’s signature event, he said they’re running mixers every month at an art gallery or wine bar that’s already bringing in needed funds.

But Chester does get back to business. He said most of Sterling’s clients were referrals and the large number of those in northern Tarrant County prompted opening their new Hurst office.

While the company does a variety of back-office bookkeeping functions such as payroll preparation and record keeping, taxes are always a major concern for his clients. He offered some tax tips he thought many would find handy.

“This is a special year for Roth IRA conversions,” he said. With a Roth, taxes are paid now and the money is tax-free when withdrawn after retirement or by a beneficiary. He said that a special provision allows taxes to be paid out over two years for conversions done in 2010. Chester suggested that if you are taking a deduction for auto expenses and you haven’t begun keeping your log, do it now, rather than waiting until the end of the year to create one. If audited, it’s necessary, difficult to recreate realistically and, he said, many people forget many small trips that are deductible.

For same-sex couples, he said to take a look at mortgage interest. If two names are on the loan, the bank will send the statement to the first name listed. But two people who jointly own a home can divide the interest any way that benefits them. All of it can go to either person or it can be divided equally or unequally. Maximize this deduction by looking at where to apply it.

But for the biggest tax benefit, a donation to Great Gatsby or the Leo Party any time before the end of the year is fully deductible, the two men said.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 23, 2010.