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The “dancing liberties” have made driving in Shallotte a little more interesting since the year started, but as of April 15, wavers are no longer putting on free “shows” to entice taxpayers to visit Liberty Tax Service.
It’s been a busy year for local tax preparers, and Liberty’s signature attention-getter has served as a visible reminder of the looming tax deadline during the company’s first year in Shallotte.
“We have 10 wavers. That’s the way we advertise,” Liberty Tax’s Shallotte office manager Elise Wetzel said recently. “We also go business to business doing personal marketing.”
Each waver works a four-hour shift.
“That’s a long time to be constantly moving,” Wetzel said, but she added, “We take good care of them. When it’s cold, we bring them hot soup, coffee, hot chocolate. We give them hand warmers and foot warmers. If it gets too cold, we bring them in.”
Cassandra Bolden of Holden Beach is one of the wavers who put her all into the job. She said she’s looking forward to doing it all over again come next tax season.
“I’ve been doing it since it started. It’s a fun job. It’s interesting,” Bolden said. “I’ve been on Youtube with it. We went out to a restaurant and danced. It’s a lot of fun.”
She’s received a lot of feedback from passersby, most of whom were complimentary asked her how she enjoyed the job.
The “dancing liberties” concept is the company’s unique way of getting the public’s attention, and apparently, it worked.
“Customers love the wavers,” Wetzel said. “They say, ‘They always put a smile on my face.’”
She said 95 percent of customers said the wavers brought them in.
Wetzel herself started out with Liberty as a waver 11 years ago, and she has been committed to the company ever since, she said.
Wetzel said she likes the company’s commitment to the community, which it demonstrates by having “roadside parties” every year to help raise money for local and national charities and to bring the community together.
Brunswick County Relay for Life volunteer Susan Sturgill attended one of the roadside parties this year and sold raffle tickets to raise money for the event, which benefits the American Cancer Society.
“They had a lot of enthusiasm,” Sturgill said. “We really enjoyed it.”
“We like a lot of community involvement,” Wetzel noted.
As far as tax preparation goes, Liberty’s first year in Shallotte has been a busy one. The large number of self-employed people in the area has resulted in a lot of questions and counseling for taxpayers, and that won’t stop now that the season has ended.
The company offers a free tax school beginning in the fall.
Like the Liberty preparers, Diana White, owner of The Tax Ladies on Holden Beach Road, said it’s been a busy year.
Although it seems more people are filing online, White, who’s been preparing tax returns since 1961, said can always rely on her regular customers to show up every year like clock work..
White recommends people have professionals prepare their returns because “There [are] so many little things we can look for—tax credits they may not know about.”
White said she’s also receiving a lot of extension requests, but “We try to encourage them to go ahead and file, even if you can’t pay. They’ll send you a bill.”