With over 25 years of accounting and tax experience, Tom Cook knows his way around an accounting firm. But his interests don’t stop there: he is also an active supporter of the Arroyo Grande Community Hospital Foundation, where he sits on the Board of Directors.
Here’s what Tom had to say:
1. Where are you now?
Arroyo Grande, California
2. What’s your official title and what does it mean?
I am a CPA licensed in the state of California. I run a small firm and we don’t really use titles beyond CPA. I am the owner and am sometimes referred to as the Boss.
3. What books are on your nightstand?

I only have one book on my nightstand at the moment. It is “Eat that Frog!” by Brian Tracey.
4. If you weren’t working in the tax profession, what would your dream job be?
Sadly, it would still involve sitting at a desk. I have a knack with computers and believe I would excel in programming or IT support. Who knows, if “Tax Simplification” actually happens I may find myself in that field sooner rather than later.
5. What’s the last movie that you saw (DVD or in the theatre)?
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. I’m a sucker for the brand.
6. Tax is a huge subject. What’s your area of special interest?
As a practice, we thrive on helping small businesses. Our ideal client owns a small business with fewer than 25 employees. They seek out and value our assistance with their accounting systems, payroll & sales tax compliance, and income tax planning and preparation.
7. What’s the best tax or financial advice that anyone ever gave you?
The best tax advice I received was early in my career. The advice had to do with the fact that very few of us can memorize the entire tax code, regulations, etc. So the advice was that in order to remember and apply tax law, you often have to get to the root of the issue. Meaning, most tax law is designed to encourage or discourage a behavior. If you can understand that, it will help you remember the law and advise clients.
8. Coffee or tea?
Coffee. Lots of it!
9. Name five artists on your iPod or digital player.
Chris Stapleton, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Milky Chance, The Chainsmokers, Adele.
10. What would I be surprised to know about you?
My wife and I played baseball together when we were 9 & 10 years old. And neither one of us remembers the other!! My mother in law was looking through an old photo album of mine and spotted my wife in a team photo. We couldn’t believe it. We were in the front row, right next to each other.
11. What college did you attend (in what subject)?

I started my college career at University of California at Riverside. My dad was a OBGYN but died when I was 10 years old. I thought I wanted to follow in his footsteps, so I enrolled at UC Riverside with that goal in mind. Lucky for me, UC Riverside had “Undeclared” as a major and I was able to switch to “Undeclared” upon learning that the sciences and I don’t get along.
As “Undeclared”, I was able to sample various classes. I enrolled in accounting and loved it. It was easy. It clicked. And I enjoyed the homework. But UC Riverside did not have an accounting degree. So, I transferred to and graduated from California State Polytechnic University at San Luis Obispo with a degree in Business Administration, with an emphasis in accounting.
12. If you had the opportunity to make one change in the tax code tomorrow – an extra credit, a disallowed deduction, whatever – what would it be?
I would index the income limits for using the $25,000 of rental losses.
13. What’s the best thing on TV right now?
TV? You mean streaming? How quickly times change. We were thoroughly enjoying “Jane the Virgin” but it has come to an end. So we switched to “Suits” and are currently up to Season 4. I find myself identifying the characters with some of the people I worked for at one of the Big 4. Including myself.
14. What do you think Congress will repeal first: estate tax or AMT?
Estate tax.

15. If Uncle Sam handed you a huge refund check right now, what would you do with it?
Fund my retirement account for next year.
16. Biggest tax newsmaker: Trump, Ryan, identity thieves or the EU?
As of January 2017, Trump. Followed closely by identity thieves.
17. And, other than taxgirl for Forbes, what’s your favorite tax-related web site?
Cal Tax at www.caltax.com A great source for California focused news and updates.

Thanks, Tom! You can find out more about Tom from his firm’s website here. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn and follow his firm’s Facebook page here.

If you’d like to recommend a tax pro to be featured send your suggestions to kelly (dot) erb (at) taxgirl (dot) com with the subject: Getting To Know You Tuesday (it’s tax season: use anything else and it could get lost, you’ve been warned). Self-nominations are totally okay and, in fact, encouraged!

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Kelly Erb is a tax attorney, tax writer and podcaster.

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