FIU Business Now Magazine
Knowing Numbers and Technology

Knowing Numbers and Technology

By Karen-Janine Cohen

Though starting a company means taking a chance, Richard Lavina (MAcc ’12), founder of Taxfyle, says he is not a risk-taker. Instead, he saw a need and an opportunity. Having done the legwork, and with his expertise and background, he knew it was the right time to bring tax preparation into the 21st century internet-based economy.

That was how he conceived of Taxfyle, which does for income tax filers and certified public accounts (CPAs) what other cloud-based companies have done for transportation and grocery delivery. Taxfyle connects filers – individuals, LLCs and small businesses – with CPAs, many of whom may work daily for other firms but are interested in making extra money during tax season. It removes the need for businesses to have in-house accountants, and filers can find offerings of various complexity, and at competitive pricing compared with large tax preparers.

"As someone who runs a tech company, you have to create value in whatever you do – you can't create fluff, stuff not aligned with your objectives."

– Richard Lavina

Lavina said starting the company just made sense. “To me, it wasn't a roll of the dice. When an opportunity presents itself, it isn't a major risk.”

A few things came together after the 2015 founding of Taxfyle, he said. The COVID-19 pandemic had more people working remotely, accelerating Taxfyle's growth. “It was just a sequence of logical jumps for me in an industry I know like the back of my hand.”

Thoughtful and strategic moves are key to how Lavina runs his career. The grandchild of Cuban immigrants, he grew up in Miami, and knew from a young age he wanted to go into business. After earning his accounting degree, he signed on with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). While there, he noticed how, even pre-pandemic, the worker profile was transforming, as the emergence of Uber and grocery delivery services ushered in the age of the gig workforce. “I saw an opportunity to refresh, rebrand and reimagine [tax filing] through the lens of the 21st century,” he said.

It was also while at PwC that Lavina decided to pursue his Master of Accounting degree at FIU. “As someone who runs a tech company, you have to create value in whatever you do – you can't create fluff, stuff not aligned with your objectives,” he said.

That attitude aligned with the FIU Business accounting program, he said, which was long on substance and a help in establishing Taxfyle. He now serves on the School of Accounting advisory board.

Since its founding, Taxfyle has performed hundreds of thousands of jobs associated with tax returns and has more than 5,000 CPAs and EAs registered on the network. The firm is now in growth mode and expects the next few years will see significant expansion.