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getting to know you tuesday

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Not all U.S. tax work happens on U.S. soil. Just ask Virginia La Torre Jeker, a US tax consultant who has been living and working in Asia and the Middle East for the past 35 years. A native New Yorker, Virginia provides U.S. tax advice and planning for expatriates, foreign persons and international families having any U.S. connections.

Virginia has worked for international law firms, major banks (including HSBC), international accounting firms (Deloitte), and trust companies. Early in her career, she worked in the tax department of the New York law firm, Willkie Farr & Gallagher. Now, she runs her own tax practice in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Here’s what Virginia had to say:

1. Where are you now?
It’s Friday, our day off here in the Middle East. I’ve just had a lovely morning swim in our community’s swimming pool and now am back at my desk in my home office. I have a conference call with a colleague in Hong Kong.

2. What’s your official title and what does it mean?
Owner and Manager of VLJ US Tax Advisory, FZE. This is a “free zone company” in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), wholly-owned by me.  A free zone company is a special kind of corporation in the UAE which can be wholly-owned by non-Emirati nationals. Not all business entities here can be so owned.

3. Freetime: book, audiobook or podcast?
Book!

4. Tax is a huge subject. What’s your area of special interest?
The foreign/international provisions of US tax law – including Subpart F, PFIC, expatriation, offshore assets and accounts, and the Income, Gift and Estate tax issues that arise for US / NRA couples.  I particularly enjoy solving cross-border and multi-jurisdictional tax matters and have developed a unique and sought-after specialty in analyzing the US tax consequences of transactions involving Sharia law.

5. What’s the last movie you saw?
The biographical film, Florence Foster Jenkins, with my all-time favorite actress, Meryl Streep. I am not a TV fan but my husband convinced me to watch this with him on Orbit Showtime Network, or OSN. OSN is one of the premium pay TV networks across the Middle East and northern Africa.

6. What college did you attend and what did you study?
I attended Hunter College, City University of New York on the Upper East side of Manhattan. I graduated as a member of the Thomas Hunter Honors Colloquium with a BA in Psychology.  I loved attending college in Manhattan and I was very lucky to land a part-time job as a “Building Engineer” (AKA “janitor”) of a 5-story townhouse office building on East 73rdStreet between Lexington and Park Avenues. A big perk to my job was that it provided me with a little room to live in just a few blocks away from Hunter College!

7.  Go to pick-me-up: Coffee or tea?
Coffee – Arabic of course! (and here is why this might be so https://www.livescience.com/64100-coffee-bitter-genetic-makeup.html?utm_source=notification)

8. What’s the best tax or financial advice that anyone ever gave you?
“The best deal is a bad deal not done!”

9. What’s the best thing on TV right now?
I don’t watch TV, but can refer you to many youtube videos with great yoga music and poses. I start my day with 40 minutes of yoga.

10. If you weren’t working in the tax profession, what would your dream job be?
Surely, it would be in the fashion and modelling industry. I consider myself somewhat of a Fashionista – a person who is not afraid to think of and wear my own fashion styles and who doesn’t nod to the latest fashion trends.  When I was in my 50’s I was chosen to model for Harper’s Bazaar and, while I had always been bitten by the fashion bug, the work with Harper’s sealed the deal.

11. If you had the opportunity to make one change in the tax code – an extra credit, a disallowed deduction, whatever – what would it be?
I think it is high time to eliminate citizenship-based taxation!

12. Favorite food, snack or candy during tax season (or other busy time)?
I’m a big salad fan – I love raw carrots, cucumbers, peppers, radishes….. as boring as that may sound to many, I love eating healthily.

13. What was the biggest surprise in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act?
IRC Section 965 Deemed Repatriation or Transition Tax. No one saw that coming! GILTI…. Turned the offshore tax world on its head.

14. What’s one way that the tax profession has changed since you’ve begun practicing?
I’m sad to say that I find the quality of written work to be declining.

15. If Uncle Sam handed you a big tax refund check right now, what would you do with it?
I think I might go to a retreat and health spa somewhere in Europe or Asia.

16. What would I be surprised to know about you?
I’ve published 3 bilingual (English and Chinese) children’s books that are now all over the world. I wrote them for my son, Marc, when he was little.  Marc was born in Hong Kong and all of the books have a Hong Kong / Chinese theme so he could have tangible memories of his years growing up there.  I have incorporated the books into various charitable work with which I am involved. You can read about one such endeavor here.

17. When it comes to IRS, what’s the bigger compliance challenge: pass-through entities, cryptocurrency or offshore?
Offshore for sure!

18. And, other than Taxgirl, what’s your favorite tax-related resource? 
BNA materials are great and many good tax articles are found on Mondaq as well as in the various tax professional groups on LinkedIn.


Thanks, Virginia!

You can find out more about Virginia from her website here.

Here’s how to connect with her on social:


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 line: Getting To Know You Tuesday. Self-nominations are totally okay and, in fact, encouraged. For more details, check out this post.

“A career in public accounting, and particularly tax, is nothing like you think or what people imagine,” explains Blake Crow. “I honestly still think people envision calculators and green eyeshades, and dark corner cubicles, and no interpersonal skills.”

Crow, a Tax Partner in Eide Bailly’s Sioux Falls, SD office, practices in the firm’s Financial Institutions Services Group. In addition to tax planning and tax compliance services for community and regional banks, he also provides regulatory consulting, M&A assistance, and strategic planning services for our FI clients. He has, he writes, “been extremely fortunate to have been able to make a career that suits exactly what it is that I enjoy doing (and that’s not putting numbers on forms or doing math).” Instead, he explains, he “gets to have extremely close personal relationships with my clients and help them achieve their goals and objectives. I can’t do this without good communication skills.”

Here’s what else Blake had to say:

1. Where are you now?
Mentally? Emotionally? Oh, physically… As previously mentioned, I currently work and live in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. However, my wife and I are both originally from Windom, MN (yes, high school sweethearts), and went to school in Mankato, MN, where I began working for the firm and spent the first half (5 years) of my career.

(Author’s note: Blake is married to Amber, who he describes as “extremely understanding.” They have an 11 month old daughter, Izzie.)

2. What’s your official title and what does it mean?
Partner, Financial Institutions Services Group. The title “Partner” is one I wear with great pride as it is the culmination of a lifetime (to date) worth of work. Especially as one of the younger partners in our firm (I turn the ripe old age of 31 next month), to have my firm vote me into the coveted group of partnership validated all of the hard work, extra hours, and additional learning opportunities that I’ve sought out and completed over the last decade. To know that I practice in an environment where effort and talent can overcome age, years of service and tenure (which can be fairly common in a typically old-school industry like public accounting) has been very rewarding and motivating for me. As for the “FISG” portion of my title, it means that I work just as closely with my other partners in the industry group regardless of geographical locations as I do with my partners located right here in the same office as me. It’s great to have an internal network of experts that I can reach out to for insight or assistance at any time, regardless of where they’re located throughout the country.

3. Freetime: book, audiobook or podcast?
I have recently become addicted to non-fiction murder mystery podcasts, and would probably be disgusted if I knew how many hours I’ve spent listening to them over the last few months. Like probably everyone else, I started with Serial and have just been on an endless search for the next great mystery ever since. The fact that some of these podcasts are even leading to some of these cold cases being solved is just so fascinating to me! I spend quite a bit of time driving for work, and I’ve learned that for me, a good story makes the time go by way faster than the radio ever did.

4. Tax is a huge subject. What’s your area of special interest?
The taxation of community and regional banks, which I truly love. I think from the outside, when people hear banks, they think mega banks and mega money, but the reality is that the majority of my bank clients are 3 and 4 generation family-owned businesses, not much unlike many other small businesses. As such, it’s very rewarding to get to be a part of their team and help them achieve their goals and objectives. I always say that my practice isn’t about simply putting numbers on forms, if it were I would have quit years ago. Instead, it’s about understanding where people are, what they want to achieve, and what they need to do to achieve those things. It’s then our job to identify opportunities to assist in that process and provide that opportunity to them.

5. What’s the last movie you saw?
I honestly don’t even know. Ever since Izzie was born, it seems like time for much more than anything other than podcasts in the car and the occasional Baby Shark YouTube video just doesn’t exist! The extent of my movie seeing these days is limited to catching the occasional preview and thinking I’d like to see that… and then never seeing it.

6. What college did you attend and what did you study?
I received my Bachelors in Accounting from Minnesota State University Mankato in 2008. About a year ago, I completed my Masters in Business Taxation from the University of Southern California. (Yes, it was online… but we did go to sunny SoCal once for commencement.)

7.  Go to pick-me-up: Coffee or tea?
Definitively coffee!

8. What’s the best tax or financial advice that anyone ever gave you?
I once had a wealthy high net worth client tell me “There’s no nobility in paying more than you owe.” It struck me as being profound that day and has always stuck with me. It really gets to the essence of what we do for our clients. Also, one of my professors in grad school always said, “Rarely affirm, seldom deny, always distinguish.” I don’t think it was original to him, but it’s great advice whenever giving tax advice.

9. What’s the best thing on TV right now?
Similar to movies, I don’t catch much on actual TV these days. However, my wife does make time to watch This is Us and knowing that she probably won’t end up seeing this, I’ll go ahead and admit that when I am able to catch it with her, that one hits you right in the feels.

10. If you weren’t working in the tax profession, what would your dream job be?
I’ve always said I would have loved to have been a college professor. I love talking, debating, discussing, teaching and I really enjoy getting to develop people in my current role. I’ve always thought that being a college professor was the perfect mix of those things without the busy season hours… and 3 months a year to travel wouldn’t be too bad either.

11. If you had the opportunity to make one change in the tax code – an extra credit, a disallowed deduction, whatever – what would it be?
I would change 199A to specify that any activity performed by a bank as defined in IRC 581 is not an SSTB and thus all of the taxable income of any Sub S bank is eligible for the 20% QBI deduction. Ok, so that one may be cheating a bit since its really recent and current, and hopefully the industry lobbying efforts will actually get it changed, but that’s the change I’d make!

12. Favorite food, snack or candy during tax season (or other busy time)?
Is coffee a food? I try my best to avoid all the junk food that finds its way into the office during the busy season as it can be a bit hard on the waistline when combined with the hours in front of the computer, but a really good coffee will always make your day a little better. And, when I do cave to temptation, a local gas station makes amazing breakfast pizza (crust, gravy, cheese, sausage, mmmmmm) that gets brought in fairly frequently on Saturday mornings.

13. What was the biggest surprise in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act?
Similar to my one change to the tax code, the fact that while the regulations went specifically out of their way to clarify that banking is not a financial service (and thus not an SSTB), but that certain activities that some banks perform such and making and then selling mortgages into the secondary marking and providing wealth management services could still be SSTB inside the bank. It sure seems odd that making and holding a loan gets the 20% deduction, but if you sell too many of those loans to Fannie or Freddie for a myriad of business reasons, you can lose your 20% deduction on that activity!

14. What’s one way that the tax profession has changed since you’ve begun practicing?
I would have to say it is our acknowledgment and acceptance of the fact that the world is changing at a rapid pace, and that we have to keep up in order to remain relevant. With discussions about blockchain, artificial intelligence, and automation, we can’t simply just pretend they won’t impact us and I think that today we’ve accepted that fact whereas a decade ago I think it was much more common to just believe those things were fads that wouldn’t actually have a significant impact on what it I that we do. Our firm now, in the last year or so, actually has a Chief Innovation Officer whose sole role is to evaluate and learn about these things and determine their impact on us and what we need to be doing to stay ahead of the curve. That was certainly not our mindset a decade ago.

15. If Uncle Sam handed you a big tax refund check right now, what would you do with it?
Pick a place on the globe I haven’t been to yet and go. For me, there is no greater return on investment in terms of happiness than going to new places, discovering new things, and collecting new experiences. I absolutely love experiencing difference customs, foods, and cultures.

16. What would I be surprised to know about you?
One thing most people are surprised to learn is that I really enjoy doing hands-on projects as an escape from the desk and spreadsheet work of my day-to-day. I’ve finished the basements in three houses (two of my own and one for a friend), tore a couple motorcycles down to the frame and rebuilt them, and am currently building some cabinets for my wife to go in our laundry room. I love the process of not knowing how to do something, and just researching, experimenting, and learning until I’m able to create a tangible product that most people wouldn’t expect me to be able to create.

17. When it comes to IRS, what’s the bigger compliance challenge: pass-through entities, cryptocurrency or offshore?
For me personally, it’s definitely pass-through entities as that makes up a bulk of my practice today with the majority of my bank clients being taxed under Subchapter S. The Trade or Business definition (or lack thereof) to IRC 162 as well as the de minimis cliff are going to produce many situations where we simply won’t have clear definitive answers until these things start getting audited and we get some case law (which as it stands today, will be after the law is set to expire).

18. And, other than Taxgirl, what’s your favorite tax-related resource? 
I’m a big Tony Nitti fan. He has a way of taking the most complex business tax issues and making them both easy to understand and enjoyable to read about. I love his style and wish my tax writing was half as entertaining as his. I also really like Richard Rubin as the WSJ. His coverage of the tax reform process and continued emerging issues provides extremely timely insight into a process that a tax professional in South Dakota just otherwise wouldn’t have the ability to see into. I also just really enjoy the #TaxTwitter community on Twitter. I think it’s a huge benefit of today’s world that not many people take advantage of but to have a community of other proactive professionals to bounce ideas and thoughts and interpretations off of as we all work through the tax law changes in real time just has helped my learning and understanding more than I can state. At work people always ask how I’ve managed to stay to up to date with tax reform throughout the entire process, and it’s honestly just the combination of these three things.


Thanks, Blake!

You can find out more about Blake from his website here.

Here’s how to connect with him on social:


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 line: Getting To Know You Tuesday. Self-nominations are totally okay and, in fact, encouraged. For more details, check out this post.

What’s it like to be a lawyer married to another lawyer? I get asked that a lot. I suspect Ashley L. Case does, too. Ashley is a shareholder at Tiffany & Bosco, P.A. in Phoenix and focuses her practice on the areas of estate planning, tax, probate, and trust administration. While my husband’s practice focuses on a different area of law, Ashley’s husband, Darren Case, is also a trusts and estates attorney like her. I have to think that makes for interesting dinner conversations.

Here’s what Ashley had to say:

1. Where are you now?
Sitting in my office preparing for the looooong night ahead of me!

2. What’s your official title and what does it mean?
I am a Shareholder Attorney.  I am the “professional association” equivalent of a “Partner”, since that is how T&B (Tiffany & Bosco) is structured.

3. Freetime: book, audiobook or podcast?
Book, without a doubt!  I get enough screen time as it is.

4. Tax is a huge subject. What’s your area of special interest?
Trusts and estates.

5. What’s the last movie you saw?
Love, Simon on an airplane (where I sobbed like a baby, much to the chagrin of the stranger sitting next to me).

6. What college did you attend and what did you study?
I attended Arizona State University (GO SUNDEVILS!!!)   I studied Marketing with a minor in Mass Communication.

(Author’s note: Ashley also attended Chapman University School of Law for law school, and is currently attending Boston University’s Graduate Tax LL.M. program, graduating in May of 2019.)

7.  Go to pick-me-up: Coffee or tea?
Chocolate, please.  🙂

8. What’s the best tax or financial advice that anyone ever gave you?
“Anyone may arrange his affairs so that his taxes shall be as low as possible; he is not bound to choose that pattern which best pays the treasury. There is not even a patriotic duty to increase one’s taxes. public duty to pay more than the law demands.” – Learned Hand (although regrettably, he did not give me this advice personally, we missed each other by about 20 years)

9. What’s the best thing on TV right now?
I don’t watch much TV.  The last show I really got into was the Office…in law school.

10. If you weren’t working in the tax profession, what would your dream job be?
Ballerina/cheerleader/author

11. If you had the opportunity to make one change in the tax code – an extra credit, a disallowed deduction, whatever – what would it be?
It would be quite the undertaking, but it would be great to see a Rule that required the IRC to be restyled for easier understanding.  This was recently completed for the Arizona Rules of Civil Procedure in which they cleaned up archaic provisions, fixed formatting (so there weren’t so many giant blocks of text), updated unintended inconsistencies with language/definitions, etc.  The new Rules are much easier to read.

12. Favorite food, snack or candy during tax season (or other busy time)?
“Go Raw” Organic Chocolate.  Delicious, but it still allows me to pretend I am being healthy.

13. What was the biggest surprise in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act?
The elimination of the personal exemption/increase of the standard deduction.

14. What’s one way that the tax profession has changed since you’ve begun practicing?
The estate tax exemption just keeps creeping up!

15. If Uncle Sam handed you a big tax refund check right now, what would you do with it?
Travel!  I currently have my eyes on France, Belize, and Switzerland.

16. What would I be surprised to know about you?
I’m a thrill-seeker!  Just this year I have gone bungee jumping, skydiving, I made partner at my law firm (yes, this was a thrill-seeking endeavor), learned to throw an ax, and hiked the tallest mountain in Arizona by myself.

17. When it comes to IRS, what’s the bigger compliance challenge: pass-through entities, cryptocurrency or offshore?
Cryptocurrency.  Technology is incredible and I don’t think we’ve even scratched the surface of what it’s capable of or how it can be abused.

18. And, other than Taxgirl, what’s your favorite tax-related resource? 
TaxProf Blog.


Thanks, Ashley!

You can find out more about Ashley from her website here.

Here’s how to connect with her on social:


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 line: Getting To Know You Tuesday. Self-nominations are totally okay and, in fact, encouraged. For more details, check out this post.

Being a tax professional doesn’t necessarily mean that you prepare tax returns. Justin T. Miller, J.D., LL.M., TEP, AEP®, CFP®, is a national wealth strategist at BNY Mellon, an adjunct professor at Golden Gate University School of Law, and a Fellow of The American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC). He speaks regularly on tax, estate planning and family governance topics for major conferences throughout the country and has published numerous articles. Here’s what Justin had to say:

1. Where are you now?
I currently work at BNY Mellon, and have been with the firm since 2011. I primarily work out of the firm’s San Francisco and Menlo Park offices, but I also frequently travel to assist regional teams throughout the country.

2. What’s your official title and what does it mean?
My official title at BNY Mellon is National Wealth Strategist. I serve as a national thought leader for the firm, and I work collaboratively with other advisors to provide comprehensive wealth planning advice to clients and their families.

3. Freetime: book, audiobook or podcast?
I prefer reading books, especially if I am lucky enough to get a seat on the BART train in San Francisco. I just finished “Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup” by John Carreyrou, which I would highly recommend.

4. Tax is a huge subject. What’s your area of special interest?
My primary focus is on trust and estate planning, and I have a special dedication to fiduciary income taxation. I teach a course on the income taxation of trusts and estates at Golden Gate University School of Law, and I am an active member of the ACTEC Fiduciary Income Tax Committee.

5. What’s the last movie you saw?
I don’t even think my kids know what a DVD is at this point. I recently saw Crazy Rich Asians in the theater with my wife and kids, and I thought the movie was even better than the book.

6. What college did you attend and what did you study?
I attended the University of California at Berkeley, where I majored in Political Science and minored in Music (and also where I met my wife). In addition, I received a J.D. and LL.M. in Taxation from NYU School of Law.

7.  Go to pick-me-up: Coffee or tea?
Coffee! The only thing better than coffee is another cup of coffee.

8. What’s the best tax or financial advice that anyone ever gave you?
The best financial advice is to save early and often.

9. What’s the best thing on TV right now?
I’ve seen the first few episodes of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on Amazon, which I think is marvelous.

10. If you weren’t working in the tax profession, what would your dream job be?
I guess I would consider a professional basketball career with the NBA, but my lack of height and speed has really hampered my athletic career options.

11. If you had the opportunity to make one change in the tax code – an extra credit, a disallowed deduction, whatever – what would it be?
Given that I live in California with the highest state income tax rates in the country, I wouldn’t mind getting rid of the new $10,000 limitation on state and local tax (SALT) deductions.

12. Favorite food, snack or candy during tax season (or other busy time)?
I have a serious weakness for ice cream. I also am lactose intolerant, but sometimes you just can’t let that stop you from enjoying the finer things that life has to offer.

13. What was the biggest surprise in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act?
Section 199A was not just the biggest surprise in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, it might be the biggest surprise in the entire history of our tax code. To borrow a quote from Winston Churchill: “It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.” I know that our representatives spent dozens of minutes working on the tax legislation at the end of 2017, but 199A really set the standard for poor drafting by including limitations, exceptions to limitations, exceptions to exceptions, phase-ins, phase-outs, and poorly defined terms.

14. What’s one way that the tax profession has changed since you’ve begun practicing?
When I started practicing, estate and gift tax planning was a priority for a substantially greater number of families. The federal estate tax exemption amount was $625,000 per person in 1998, but the exemption amount has somehow skyrocketed 1,789% to $11,180,000 in 2018. Due to that change, income tax planning has become a much more important issue for many clients.

15. If Uncle Sam handed you a big tax refund check right now, what would you do with it?
I would ask my wife if we could buy a bigger TV. I also would question where I went wrong with my tax planning in order to determine what caused me to overpay my taxes and provide an interest-free loan to our government.

16. What would I be surprised to know about you?
I’ve written a children’s book, “The Super Secret Special Power’s Club,” which I can almost guarantee that kids would enjoy more than any of my tax articles.

17. When it comes to IRS, what’s the bigger compliance challenge: pass-through entities, cryptocurrency or offshore?
Thanks to new section 199A, planning for pass-through entities has become a much greater challenge. However, I am seeing a growing need for international tax planning as many wealthy families are becoming increasingly global.

18. And, other than Taxgirl, what’s your favorite tax-related resource? 
It is hard to find the time to keep up with all of the excellent tax-related resources. In addition to Taxgirl, of course, I also am a fan of BNA, CCH, and Leimberg. I also enjoy learning from programs provided by a number of terrific professional organizations, including the ABA, ACTEC, CalCPA, the California Taxation Section and Trusts and Estates Section, and STEP.


Thanks, Justin!
You can find out more about Justin from his website here.
Here’s how to connect with him on social:


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 line: Getting To Know You Tuesday. Self-nominations are totally okay and, in fact, encouraged. For more details, check out this post.

Today’s tax pro is Manasa Nadig. Manasa is an Enrolled Agent (more on Enrolled Agents, also called EAs, here) with her own practice. She had been in the tax consulting field for almost 15 years before taking a leap of faith in 2012 to start MN Tax & Business Services with encouragement from clients, friends, family and her then mentor and now business partner at Harris Nadig, LLC, Kay Harris. Manasa says, “Being in practice is challenging and exciting, I like what I do and I look forward to many more years practicing tax.” Here’s what else Manasa had to say:

1. Where are you now?
At my desk, front of my dual monitors in my home office in Michigan, warm fall afternoon sun on my back, trying to read through GILTI calculations and wrap my head around it. Need my coffee, see #7 below!

2. What’s your official title and what does it mean?
My official title is “Owner” at MN Tax and “Partner” at Harris Nadig but I really like to call myself CFO or Chief Follow-up Officer at both entities!

3. Freetime: book, audiobook or podcast?
A good old-fashioned book in print of course–no kindle or nook for me. I just finished reading Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche and am trying to finish Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari. I listen to podcasts a lot so I think that is my “all-time” activity these days.

4. Tax is a huge subject. What’s your area of special interest?
Yes, of course, tax is a huge subject, mind-boggling and complicated. We have clients from all walks of life both at MN Tax & Business and Harris Nadig. My niche is in all areas of foreign tax, US citizens living abroad and cross-border operations.

5. What’s the last movie you saw?
The Grand Budapest Hotel on an airplane, I think I need to watch this again on a larger screen–the cinematography is so fantastic!

6. What college did you attend and what did you study?
I went to St. Agnes College, a women’s college (like you did) based in Mangalore, India and soon to celebrate their centennial year. I have my Bachelor’s degree in “Commerce” which included Accounting, Economics, Business Law and Business Organization.
(Author’s note: Manasa is referring to my alma mater, women’s college, Meredith College.)

7.  Go to pick-me-up: Coffee or tea?
I am originally a south Indian who grew up in north India, so I start my day with Chai much to my very south-Indian husband’s chagrin. True to my south Indian genes though, I like my pick-me-up coffee with a mix in of about 20% chicory and made with hot milk and intensely aerated the typical south Indian way! 🙂

(Author’s note: Manasa sent along this cool video.)

8. What’s the best tax or financial advice that anyone ever gave you?
No one ever sat me down and gave me tax or financial advice. But my best friend’s father once told me that you should always invest your money and not leave it sitting in a savings account which in retrospect seems like great advice. My tax advice to others is that “Cash flow is more important than tax deductions”.

9. What’s the best thing on TV right now?
I do not watch TV at all, this could also be my answer to #16. I could give you a slew of podcasts to listen to though!

10. If you weren’t working in the tax profession, what would your dream job be?
I love hand-looms and textiles, I would have done something in that area. My dream of being a writer is somewhat being realized through my tax blog.

11. If you had the opportunity to make one change in the tax code – an extra credit, a disallowed deduction, whatever – what would it be?
If I am allowed to pick only one I would say, “Repeal the Sec 965 Transition Tax for individuals and small businesses”. I am not sure if this tax is doing what it was intended to do, which is to make the big companies bring off-shored money back into the US, but it is definitely hurting individuals with investments in foreign companies and also making it harder (if that is possible) for US citizens who have been living abroad to conduct business in their countries of residence.

12. Favorite food, snack or candy during tax season (or other busy time)?
Am trying my best to have a healthy diet, so I am trying hard to lay off snacking randomly. Every time a craving hits I walk it off..and add steps to my Fitbit! An uphill task but am getting there.

13. What was the biggest surprise in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act?
The very haphazard way in which the Section 199A has been put together. I think the fall-out will be far-reaching.

14. What’s one way that the tax profession has changed since you’ve begun practicing?
No paper! I am still trying to get some die-hards to move away from paper. But this is great, I simply love the idea of a digital firm!

15. If Uncle Sam handed you a big tax refund check right now, what would you do with it?
Pay off debt and invest the rest would be the responsible thing but I might just take a nice holiday with my husband.

16. What would I be surprised to know about you?
I love Indian classical music and I sing!

17. When it comes to IRS, what’s the bigger compliance challenge: pass-through entities, cryptocurrency or offshore?
My guess is, it will be pass-through entities. With the IRS at skeletal staff and unclear guidance, there is no knowing how this will go.

18. And, other than Taxgirl, what’s your favorite tax-related resource? 
I love Taxgirl, Tony Nitti and Peter Reilly both also from Forbes are very knowledgeable. I also keep up with Kay Bell’s blog, Don’t Mess With Taxes.


Thanks, Manasa!

You can find out more about Manasa from her website here. You can find her tax blog here.

Here’s how to connect with her on social:


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 line: Getting To Know You Tuesday. Self-nominations are totally okay and, in fact, encouraged. For more details, check out this post.

I’m thrilled to announce the return of Getting To Know You Tuesday.

Getting To Know You Tuesday began as a response to my own curiosity. When I started practicing, folks would tell me that I didn’t seem like someone who would like tax. I started thinking about who that might be exactly and it dawned on me: Nobody really knows.

Tax professionals come from all different walks of life. Some are tax preparers, while others are tax planners. Some may focus on offshore while others practice criminal tax defense. There are those who dig tax policy while others are content to flip through pages of tax statutes. Some are solos and some are in-house at large companies. Some teach, some blog, some audit. And some do a little bit of everything.

That’s one of the things that I love so much about the tax community. It’s also why I started the series, and it’s why I’m doing a reboot.

Here’s how it works. Each week or so, I’ll feature a tax pro. I’ll ask a set of questions, some silly and some serious. The questions remain the same from tax pro to tax pro with a few concessions for current events and tax policy changes.

(You can read the first ever Getting To Know You Tuesday here. You can find a longer list from the series here.)

I’m currently soliciting nominations for the series. 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. Self-nominations are totally okay, and are even encouraged!

If you’ve previously submitted a nomination, please feel free to send it again. I’ll consider all submissions, even those that were selected, so long as they were more than three years ago.

If you think you know everything there is to know about tax havens, you might be surprised to hear what John Pantekidis has to to say: Pantekidis has written a paper that examines how wealthy foreign families are beginning to favor the U.S. over locations like Switzerland and Hong Kong as a tax haven. It’s a subject Pantekidis knows a lot about since he focuses on wealth and families in his role at TwinFocus Capital Partners. Here’s what John had to say:
1. Where are you now?
I am at TwinFocus Capital Partners. We are a multi-family office and investment boutique in Boston, Massachusetts, catering to ultra-high net worth families situated around the world.
2. What’s your official title and what does it mean?
I am the General Counsel and Chief Investment Officer. My job description is intentionally broad because I am responsible for overseeing the firm’s investment team as well as the client advisory group, where we focus our attention on complex estate, tax and financial planning. I am fortunate enough to work in close coordination with some of the nation’s top tax attorneys on the one side, and some of the best and brightest money managers on the other.
3. What books are on your night stand?
Lords of Finance by Liaquat Ahamed and Global Capitalism: Its Fall and Rise in the Twentieth Century by Jeffry Frieden.

4. If you weren’t working in the tax profession, what would your dream job be?
The only other job I would like to have would be the United States Secretary of State.
5. What’s the last movie that you saw (DVD or in the theatre)?
The Great Gatsby
6. Tax is a huge subject. What’s your area of special interest?
Taxation of Investments as well as international taxation as it applies to wealth management for ultra-high net worth families are of great interest to me.
7. What’s the best tax or financial advice that anyone ever gave you?
“Dumb money is only dumb when it listens to smart money.”
8. Coffee or tea?
Coffee for sure, make that a house blend.
9. Name five artists on your iPod or digital player.
Sting, Barbra Streisand, John Ploutarhos, Boney James, Lionel Richie
10. What would I be surprised to know about you?
In my next life, I would like to be a men’s clothing designer.
11. What college did you attend (in what subject)?
Boston University, BA in Economics; Boston University School of Law, Juris Doctor & LL.M. in Taxation.
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 change the gift tax laws to allow for larger amounts of non-taxable gifts. The marginal propensity to consume for an ultra-high net worth person is negligible. However, if larger gifts were allowed to younger generations with new families, their consumption appetite is much larger. I would also allow for larger charitable deductions of appreciated securities by removing limits based on AGI.
13. What’s the best thing on TV right now?
Documentaries, because I have an insatiable desire to learn new things, even when I am watching TV.
14. What do you think Congress will repeal first: estate tax or AMT?
Probably AMT because they will get a bigger bang, as the AMT applies to a far larger universe of taxpayers. I believe, contrary to public opinion, that we may not see a repeal of the estate tax when the dust settles because President Trump may need to use it as a bargaining chip.
15. If Uncle Sam handed you a huge refund check right now, what would you do with it?
Partially invest and partially pay off a home loan.
16. Biggest tax newsmaker: Trump, Ryan, identity thieves or the EU?
I would say Trump based on his rhetoric to date. We stand to have monumental shifts in tax policies not seen in decades. This has been spurred by Trump, although others will play very influential roles as well.
17. And, other than taxgirl for Forbes, what’s your favorite tax-related web site?
Bloomberg BNA; Tax Adviser.

Thanks, John! You can find out more about John on his website 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!

Unclaimed property laws are increasingly in the news these days as states tighten up their rules in the search for more revenue – and sorting out those rules is right up Kimberly DeCarrera’s alley. A tax attorney who enjoys a little (?) football, Kimberly focuses on tax compliance. Here’s what Kimberly had to say:

1. Where are you now?
I’m in Atlanta, Georgia – home of collapsing interstates and snow-jams.

2. What’s your official title and what does it mean?
My official title is General Counsel for Barganier and Associates, LLC. Our clients are corporations looking to comply with unclaimed property laws. In addition to general lawyerly things for the company, I’m second in command and manage our clients’ unclaimed property audits and special projects as well as oversee the annual compliance team.

3. What books are on your night stand?
Next up for me on the Kindle is The 10X Rule by Grant Cardone and then Outliers by Malcom Gladwell. And I usually have at least one general fiction novel in the queue to keep things mixed up and light but that’s TBD right now.

4. If you weren’t working in the tax profession, what would your dream job be?
Travel blogger sounds like a great idea! Even better would be to be paid to do the great American roadtrip of visiting of all the MLB stadiums! Once I’m done with that, I can go onto the minor league baseball stadiums, NFL and college football stadiums, and all the other sports bucket list places and events.

5. What’s the last movie that you saw (DVD or in the theatre)?
Fast and Furious 6, on my iPad during a flight to Ireland for Georgia Tech football.

6. Tax is a huge subject. What’s your area of special interest?
Unclaimed property. While not technically a tax, it is generally administered by tax professionals because it is so similar in nature. Companies have to file annual returns based on accounting records and audits look a lot like tax audits, reviewing a company’s financial records.

7. What’s the best tax or financial advice that anyone ever gave you?
If you are paying taxes, it means you are making money. Just don’t spend it all before you have to pay the taxes.

8. Coffee or tea?
Tea. Iced. Sweet. I’m a Southern girl after all and that’s the only way to drink it!

9. Name five artists on your iPod or digital player.
Chris Stapleton, Eric Clapton, Ed Sheeran, Zac Brown Band, Imagine Dragons.

10. What would I be surprised to know about you?
I have an RV for football tailgating and vacations. It has a close resemblance to Walter White’s RV although no drugs are produced therein!

11. What college did you attend (in what subject)?
Georgia Tech for my undergrad in Management (aka Business) as well as Georgia State Law for my JD and Georgia State College of Business for my Masters in Tax.

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?
Capital gains and passive income would be taxed the same way as earned income. All income should be treated the same, including for FICA purposes.

13. What’s the best thing on TV right now?
There’s stuff on TV? Seriously, I cut the cable and rarely watch TV except for sporting events. So right now, it would be hockey playoffs.

14. What do you think Congress will repeal first: estate tax or AMT?
I think the estate tax will go first. I think AMT should be the priority though. Treat all income the same, regardless of amount and reduce the overall complexity of returns and financial planning. But that’s part of a large tax overhaul that I don’t know will work politically right now.

15. If Uncle Sam handed you a huge refund check right now, what would you do with it?
I’d probably upgrade my RV! Get one of those modern ones with all the amenities like cruise control and working radios. (What? You expected the responsible answer of paying off a mortgage or student loans?)

16. Biggest tax newsmaker: Trump, Ryan, identity thieves or the EU?
Most of my business and personal issues are domestic, so I focus on that more than the EU. So Trump and Ryan together, with their budget proposals and other tax related ideas.

17. And, other than taxgirl for Forbes, what’s your favorite tax related web site?
Rockstar Finance – the feed of personal finance blogs is a great resource to keep up on a lot of what is going on in tax and finances and their forums are a great community to talk finances!

Thanks, Kimberly! You can find out more about Kimberly from her website here. You can also follow her on Twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn.

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!

Louis T. Wierenga
Louis T. Wierenga

The purpose behind the Getting To Know You Tuesday series is to emphasize that there all kinds of tax professionals. Not all tax pros prepare returns and not all tax pros go to court. Some are Certified Public Accountants (CPAs), some are Enrolled Agents (EAs), some work for Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or state and local tax agencies while some run companies and advise individuals. And, of course, some are tax attorneys. This week, I interviewed Louis Wierenga who is a tax attorney like me. Here’s what Louis had to say:
1. Where are you now?
Chicago Loop with about 14 other lawyers/CPAs, a few who I’ve heard are also former IRS agents.
2. What’s your official title and what does it mean?
Plain old lawyer, which may be useful if we end up in court?
3. What books are on your night stand?

  • Farmers and Fishermen Two Centuries of Work in Essex County, Massachusetts, 1630-1850 by Daniel Vickers.
  • Working my way through a Harvard degree via the Will Hunting reading list. (Author’s note: That sounds crazy fun!)
  • Also rereading How to get rich by Felix Dennis.

4. If you weren’t working in the tax profession, what would your dream job be?
Working with entrepreneurs in some capacity. Similar to what I am doing, but maybe more hands on.
5. What’s the last movie that you saw (DVD or in the theatre)?
The Devil Wears Prada, my fiancee calls it one of her nightly sleepers.
6. Tax is a huge subject. What’s your area of special interest?
I currently think a lot about the various retirement account options and what the best investment risk tolerances are for each.
7. What’s the best tax or financial advice that anyone ever gave you?
Identify people that have succeeded in accomplishing what you want and then work on replicating what they did to achieve it.
8. Coffee or tea?
Both.

9. Name five artists on your iPod or digital player.
I listen to Pandora, my fav. five channels; Eric Thomas, Eminem, Jay-Z, Florida Georgia Line, and Jason Aldean
10. What would I be surprised to know about you?
I originally planned to be an architect.
11. What college did you attend (in what subject)?
University of Illinois – Economics
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’d raise passive and long-term capital gain rates and lower earned income tax rates. The person who can make money in their sleep should not pay lower tax rates than the person who needs to be awake to earn money.
13. What’s the best thing on TV right now?
Catching a little Nature Cat and Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood with my three-month old daughter these days.
14. What do you think Congress will repeal first: estate tax or AMT?
My money would be on both seeing higher initial dollar thresholds moving forward.
15. If Uncle Sam handed you a huge refund check right now, what would you do with it?
Apply the overpayment to 2017?
16. Biggest tax newsmaker: Trump, Ryan, identity thieves or the EU?
Where are those tax returns!?! Media and the masses love a nice easy story to follow.

17. And, other than taxgirl for Forbes, what’s your favorite tax related web site?
Twitter! Following so many great accounts.

Thanks, Louis! You can find out more about Louis from his website here. You can also follow him on Twitter or on Facebook (warning: adorable baby pictures on this page).

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!

It’s always fun when I get to meet other tax pros in person. Earlier this month, while at Avalara CRUSH held in Austin, Texas, I was able to talk with a number of folks in the business including Scott Peterson. Scott is the Vice President of U.S. Tax Policy and Government Relations for Avalara, Inc. I had the opportunity to speak with Scott on the “Changes Afoot for U.S. Tax Policy” panel at CRUSH: we chatted about border tax, tax reform, and how all of these changes might affect state tax systems.

A few weeks earlier, Scott tackled my Getting To Know You Tuesday questions. Here’s what Scott had to say:

1. Where are you now?
Avalara

2. What’s your official title and what does it mean?
Vice President of U.S. Tax Policy and Government Relations. It means that I advise senior management on how state and Federal tax policy impact the company and our customers and I build and maintain relationships with state and local government officials across the country.

3. What books are on your night stand?

  • The Complete and Personal Memories of Ulysses S. Grant
  • Vietnam’s High Ground – Armed Struggle for the Central Highlands, 1954-1965
  • The New Single Malt Whiskey

4. If you weren’t working in the tax profession, what would your dream job be?

Managing Custer State Park in western South Dakota or a like place in Africa.

5. What’s the last movie that you saw (DVD or in the theatre)?
Manchester by the Sea. What a tear jerker.

6. Tax is a huge subject. What’s your area of special interest?
I have spent most of my career studying, writing about and implementing state and local transaction taxes, but I also spent a fair amount of time with property taxes.

7. What’s the best tax or financial advice that anyone ever gave you?
Debt is a last resort.

8. Coffee or tea?
Coffee.

9. Name five artists on your iPod or digital player.
Led Zeppelin, Alison Krause, Adele, Simon and Garfunkel, and The Who

10. What would I be surprised to know about you?
I never studied tax in college. All I know I learned on the job.

11. What college did you attend (in what subject)?
Black Hills State University for political science and the University of South Dakota for a master’s degree in public administration. I studied to be city manager, but there weren’t any jobs when I graduated, so I went to work for the South Dakota Legislature.

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?
Tax carried interest at the same rates as earned income.

13. What’s the best thing on TV right now?
Madam Secretary, NCIS, Game of Thrones

14. What do you think Congress will repeal first: estate tax or AMT?
The estate tax.

15. If Uncle Sam handed you a huge refund check right now, what would you do with it?
Apply it toward my daughter’s graduate school tuition.

16. Biggest tax newsmaker: Trump, Ryan, identity thieves or the EU?
Ryan and the border adjusted tax.

17. And, other than taxgirl for Forbes, what’s your favorite tax related web site?
Tax Foundation

Thanks, Scott! You can find out more about Scott from Avalara’s website here. You can also check out his blog 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!