VALDOSTA -- Terry and Cathy Conley are looking forward to this tax season.

While it may be difficult to imagine anyone being excited about taxes, the Conleys are as this is their first tax season in business as ExpressTax.

The couple have compiled more than 3,000 returns for the last six years working for another tax preparation company and decided to go out on their own, purchasing the ExpressTax franchise for Valdosta in 2003.

"We were looking for something we both enjoyed doing," said Cathy Conley.

Although they each had years of experience in tax preparation, they realized the need to brush up on their skills and returned to school last year to take accounting and computer courses.

"It was hard going back after being out of school for 25 years, but we took two quarters of computerized accounting classes at Val Tech. It's an excellent program and our instructors were great," said Terry Conley.

Retired for 20 years from the Air Force following a 25-year career, Conley said he is very familiar with the challenges presented by filing tax returns for those on active duty, as most are still registered residents of other states. "If they're on active duty and come to us for their federal returns, we'll do their out of state returns for free," he said.

Located at 436 Northside Drive, ExpressTax will be open year round, not just during tax season. "We want to be here to take care of our customers if they have problems with their returns or with the IRS," he said.

In addition to electronic filing and a full array of tax services, the Conleys also offer small business bookkeeping services.

Fees for the tax preparation services vary according to the type of form and how complicated the return is, starting at $45 for a simple 1040.

The Conleys prepare returns themselves and have a private office available for those who want to discuss sensitive information.

The couple incorporated their company under the name Great Expectations Inc. "because we have really high hopes for our new business," Conley said.

To contact Business Editor Kay Harris, please call 244-3400, ext. 280.

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