He actually started out as a financial planner at a bank, but people were often asking him how certain decisions were going to affect their taxes, so he decided to take some basic tax preparation classes.
It turned out to be something he really liked, and Rizzi realized he could actually make a living doing it.
“Although it might seem boring doing a tax return, you see all the changes going on in your clients’ lives. You celebrate things like people buying a house or having a child,” he said.
He promptly left the bank and made strides to found Smart Tax, a tax preparation service that began in Red Hook when there was only one bank in the neighborhood.
Rizzi emphasized the enduring need for good tax preparers, making mention of a common saying about three professionals that people don’t like to switch: their doctor, their dentist, and their accountant.
“If taxes aren’t done right, you could be leaving thousands of dollars on the table,” said Rizzi. “We make sure we’re getting our clients every dime they’re entitled to.”
As for Rizzi, he’s still immensely enjoying his decision. He admitted to feeling a little awkward when he’s sitting at a dinner table and his friends are complaining about their bosses or having to work overtime.
“Sometimes it’s a little hard to sit at that table,” said Rizzi with a chuckle, “but they’ve since gotten over it.”
After he left his old job, his former bank supervisor and two investment advisors joined him at Smart Tax as franchisees. Now five years old, Smart Tax has seven locations in New York, two in New Jersey, and even one in Texas.
“We took this from an idea into something that works and we’re all happy,” said Rizzi.