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BLOG | Muse Tax: Bridging the Knowledge Gap in Taxation – An Interview with Colin Horsford & Busayo Ogunsanya

Tax season is a time many Americans dread. The complexities of the tax code, the fear of missing out on potential deductions, and the uncertainty of whether you're maximizing your refund can be overwhelming.

But what if there was a better way?

That is where  Colin Horsford, a practicing Certified Public Accountant (CPA) with over two decades of experience, and Busayo Ogunsanya, a CPA licensed with 14 years of experience, came together to guide us through the company that became a game-changing solution that addresses a common problem taxpayers face: Muse Tax.

What inspired you to start Muse Tax?

Currently, most taxpayers use tax preparation software like TurboTax or contact their accountant for tax preparation. They trust that both avenues will ensure their tax returns are accurately filed and return the largest refund owed to them.

Unfortunately, that is not the case. Software like TurboTax is backward-looking. It only focuses on what happened and operates on rails to calculate your tax return. It never thinks about other deductions you can take based on your unique circumstances.

Accountants and CPAs depend on their knowledge of the ever-changing tax code to prepare tax returns. The flaw in this process is that knowledge varies significantly across tax preparers. A tax preparer may not know of a certain deduction or how to apply the deduction to your tax return, causing you to pay taxes on a higher income number.

Both co-founders, Colin Horsford and Busayo Ogunsanya, are practicing CPAs and have dealt with this issue firsthand for over 35 years combined. Muse Tax came about because we kept getting new clients who would come to us asking two questions: 

1) Did I miss any deductions?

2) How can I get a larger refund?

“YES!” was the answer an overwhelming majority of the time. These new clients used different tax software that didn’t take lesser-known deductions. We were fortunate enough to be aware of said deductions and dozens more because we did the research and had access through other means. 

Busayo wrote several Amazon best-selling tax books highlighting strategies for every tax deduction. He also built a repository of all tax deductions and credits for a tax chatbot called Ask My Uncle Sam, which he developed years ago. Think ChatGPT before ChatGPT.

What problem or pain point does your startup aim to solve?

According to IRS reporting statistics, over $266 billion in taxes were overpaid to the IRS last year. That means American taxpayers are leaving money on the table during economic uncertainty.

Taxpayers miss several deductions on their returns out of a lack of knowledge of either the tax law or the implementation of it. This leads to overpaying taxes by hundreds of dollars annually. We want to put more money in taxpayers’ pockets.

What are the biggest challenges you anticipate in building and scaling your startup?

Working in tax is always tough as it’s not the most enjoyable thing most people do yearly. It’s like going to the dentist, but we’re changing that. We want people to be excited about the opportunity to save and invest through tax and financial strategies.

What key experiences or moments in your career led you to pursue entrepreneurship and start your own company?

I’ve always been driven by achievement and the process. Aside from that, I like having a say in my career, and running a business is akin to that. It’s similar to why I learned to code. Knowing that I can build an idea I came up with is empowering. 

How has your background and expertise prepared you for the challenges of leading a startup in this particular industry?

I’ve been in tax and finance for over two decades. I’ve worked at Big 4 public accounting firms and large banks and ran my own CPA practice.

How do you handle failure, and what have you learned from past entrepreneurial experiences, if any?

I view failure as a separate event, not a part of me. It’s a learning experience and will guide me in my decision-making in the future.

What skills or qualities do you believe are essential for a successful founder, and how have you cultivated them?

Grit and resilience. I’ll even go further and say antifragility, a term from my favorite author, Nassim Taleb. Fragility is being broken under pressure. Resilience is bouncing back after being under pressure. Antifragility, as the name suggests, is the opposite of fragility, which means you improve after being under pressure, not just bounce back. That’s key because entrepreneurship will test you.

What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs based on your own experiences?

You’ve made a decision, so don’t bargain or negotiate with yourself. You knew it wouldn’t be easy, or everyone else would be doing it.

Can you describe your fundraising strategy, including the types of investors you target and why?

I was fortunate enough to be part of Techstars, so they laid out a great fundraising strategy and helped us with investor outreach. I created a spreadsheet and put as many notes as possible so I could remember everything while talking to prospective investors.

What mentors, role models, or advisors have influenced your approach to entrepreneurship, and how have they shaped your thinking?

I like listening to different podcasts on how people built their startups. I have tremendous respect for Shaquille O’Neal and others like Pinky Cole from Slutty Vegan (I’m vegan, but that’s not why).

What motivates you?

Success. Knowing that our idea impacted the lives of many others.

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