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interviews/people

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I’ve mentioned before that one of my favorite bits about the GTKYT series is that it runs the gamut from attorneys to accountants to enrolled agents from all over the world and all stages of career life. This week is no different. I’m happy to introduce Dr. Casey Carder who is the Deputy Director for Arkansas Tobacco Control in Little Rock. Her email is signed with a badge of which I have to confess, I am extremely envious (note to my design guy, Mike Meulstee: must get a taxgirl badge).

Here’s what Casey had to say:

1. Where are you now?

Sitting in my office watching the sunrise over the Little Rock, AR skyline.

2. What’s your official title and what does it mean?

I am the Deputy Director of Arkansas Tobacco Control. It means that I oversee all of the federal compliance as it relates to tobacco regulation in the state.

3. What books are on your night stand?

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

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

A college professor

5. What’s the last movie that you saw (DVD or in the theatre)?

I haven’t had time. The Olympics have been on, and they were great!

6. Tax is a huge subject. What’s your area of special interest?

Tobacco Tax Stamps

7. What’s the best tax or financial advice that anyone ever gave you?

Invest while you are young and pretend that it is not there.

8. Coffee or tea?

Neither

9. Name five artists on your iPod (or mp3 player).

The Temptations, the musical Wicked, Jason Aldean, Pachelbel, and Matthew West

10. What would I be surprised to know about you?

That I graduated law school at 21 after having been a college student of my mother and stepfather (professors) and a law school classmate of my father.

11. What college did you attend (in what subject)?

Hendrix College: Education Policy
Clinton School of Public Service: Masters in Public Service
University of Arkansas at Little Rock: JD and Doctorate in Education

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?

Give more deductions to teachers.

13. What’s the best thing on TV right now?

Shark Tank because this the next generation of entrepreneurs and job creators. I think that they might need tax advice.

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?

Buy investment property while the market is still recovering.

16. Biggest tax newsmaker: Obama, Bloomberg or Buffett?

Buffett

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

Forbes … of course

Thanks, Casey!

If you’d like to recommend a tax pro to be featured send your suggestions to inquiry (at) taxgirl (dot) com. Self-nominations are totally okay and, in fact, encouraged!

In Lubbock County, Texas, there’s talk of a tax increase. The increase is to be 1.7 cents per $100 for the next fiscal year, boosting the rate to 34.6 cents from the current rate of 32.9458 cents.

The increases have been touted for a number of reasons. This week, on Fox TV, Lubbock County Judge Tom Head explained why he favors an increase. He wants additional funding to retain attorneys at the county level, expand the sheriff’s deputy staffing to decrease call times and minimize officer fatigue, prevent a civil war…

Oh wait. What?

Yeah.

In an interview about the potential tax increases, Judge Tom Head explained how he feared that if President Obama were re-elected, he would cede the country to the UN, creating havoc:

He’s going to try to hand over the sovereignty of the United States to the UN, and what is going to happen when that happens? I’m thinking the worst case scenario. Civil unrest, civil disobedience, civil war maybe. And we’re not just talking a few riots here and demonstrations, we’re talking Lexington, Concord, take up arms and get rid of the guy. Okay. Now what’s going to happen if we do that? If the public decides to do that? He’s going to send in UN troops. I don’t want ’em in Lubbock County. OK. So I’m going to stand in front of their armored personnel carrier and say ‘You’re not coming in here’. And the sheriff, I’ve already asked him, I said, ‘You gonna back me?’ He said, ‘Yeah, I’ll back you.’ Well, I don’t want a bunch of rookies back there. I want trained, equipped, seasoned veteran officers to back me.”

You can watch Fox’ replay of that portion of the interview here.

After the collective “say what?” from around the country, Judge Head later, er, clarified:

I’m not saying we’re going to take [newly hired law enforcement officers] and stand in front of the UN. I have to think of, as emergency management director I have to think of worst case scenario, and I used that as an example yesterday. Okay, in my opinion, the worst case scenario politically and financially right now is if Obama and the Senate Democrats stay in power. Okay, because I have some opinions what they’re doing and what they’re trying to do if they stay in power. And I have to prepare for that, okay.

Does that mean I think the UN’s going to come rolling into Lubbock? No. That probably isn’t going to happen. An F-5 tornado probably is not going to come into Lubbock. I’ve got to prepare for it, though.

Apparently you get a lot for your dollar in Lubbock, Texas. In Philadelphia, our Mayor was hoping to raise property taxes to pay for more teachers. We don’t have nearly the budget to pay to defend ourselves from… the UN? I’m not really sure where Judge Head was going with that whole civil war terminology since – having grown up in the South and toured nearly every battlefield that my dad could locate on a map near our “vacation” spots – I’m pretty sure that civil war pits two groups within the same state or country against each other and not, say, an international organization with no real powers. But hey, to each his or her own.

Civil war or not, the vote for the property tax increase for Lubbock, Texas, is scheduled for September 10.

One of the things that I love about being able to do this series is that it runs the gamut from attorneys to accountants to enrolled agents from all over the world and all stages of career life. This week, I get to focus on a relative “newbie”, Jennifer L. Lamb, CPA. Jennifer got her CPA license in 2010 which means that she’s been around the block enough to know her stuff but is still young enough to make those of us who have been practicing a little longer feel old.

Jennifer works for Neal, Scouten, & McConnell in Chattanooga, Tennessee where the view from her office is pretty amazing. Here’s what Jennifer had to say:

 

1. Where are you now?

In my office checking out the view. I hate the elevator rides but I love the 14th floor.

2. What’s your official title and what does it mean?

Staff Accountant, which means I’m young and fresh.

3. What books are on your night stand?

Freakonomics and Grimm’s Fairy Tales

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

Making and selling crafts.

5. What’s the last movie that you saw (DVD or in the theatre)?

Cabin in the Woods

6. Tax is a huge subject. What’s your area of special interest?

It’s too hard to pick one! I like doing a little bit of everything.

7. What’s the best tax or financial advice that anyone ever gave you?

More than one financial advisor has told me it’s best to live on as little debt as possible.

8. Coffee or tea?

Both!

9. Name five artists on your iPod (or mp3 player).

Tori Amos, Fiona Apple, Ben Folds, Green Day, Adele

10. What would I be surprised to know about you?

I do yoga and I can almost get my feet behind my head. I could when I was a kid.

11. What college did you attend (in what subject)?

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga College of Business and I majored 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 get rid of the 7.5% (soon to be 10%!) of AGI limit on the medical deduction.

13. What’s the best thing on TV right now?

South Park

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

The estate tax because they’ve practically eliminated it already with the $5M+ exemption. I don’t think they’ll let it go back to $1M in 2013. (Author’s note: me either!)

15. If Uncle Sam handed you a huge refund check right now, what would you do with it?

Get a new car. I’ve had my current one for 10 years!

16. Biggest tax newsmaker: Obama, Bloomberg or Buffett?

Obama

17. And, other than taxgirl, what’s your favorite tax-related web site?

http://taxfoundation.org/ It’s like an encyclopedia of tax.

Thanks, Jennifer! You can contact Jennifer at her firm by heading over to the website.

If you’d like to recommend a tax pro to be featured send your suggestions to inquiry (at) taxgirl (dot) com. Self-nominations are totally okay and, in fact, encouraged!

I hate to fly. I hate the whole waiting in lines and getting jostled about like cattle and being treated fairly poorly by folks who sometimes make me wonder how they actually managed to land a job with that particular set of social skills (yes, I’m talking to you, cranky TSA woman at the Chicago airport). With that information, suffice it to say that I am not at my best at the airport… Which brings me to today’s Getting To Know You Tuesday tax pro.

A few weeks ago, I was standing in line, agitated, waiting to board a flight in Philly when a gentleman wandered over and asked me if I might be Taxgirl. I said that I was and he introduced himself, all while I was nervously fidgeting. Later, I worried that my craziness over the flight might have been interpreted as being rude (a Southern girl’s biggest nightmare) so I waited around after the flight to apologize. We ended up chatting – and sharing a cab – and found out that we had quite a bit in common. Like me, Scott has three kids, lives in the Philly metropolitan area and loves coffee. We gabbed about the Phillies (a moment of silence, please) and tax all of the way to the hotel at our convention. He’s a super interesting guy and I realized that he would make a great candidate for the series. Here’s what Scott had to say:

1. Where are you now?

Early on a Sunday morning at my kitchen table with my favorite cup of coffee

2. What’s your official title and what does it mean?

Husband and dad… that means an amazing woman was crazy enough to marry me and ensure that our three kids eat and live well each day. Oh, and I am a CPA and Founder at Kregel & Company CPA where I work to keep our entire team focused on customer experience and giving opportunity, peace of mind and inspiration to our small business customers.

3. What books are on your night stand?

Just finished The Accidental Creative (Todd Henry), Drive (Daniel Pink) and Traction (Gino Wickman)

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

Can I answer this question and say that I love what I am doing… building something that is bigger than myself. Although being that weatherman who stands on the beach in a hurricane and tells everyone that the weather is really bad does seem exciting!

5. What’s the last movie that you saw (DVD or in the theatre)?

I don’t know… yes that is lame, but I honestly fall asleep whenever I try to watch a movie

6. Tax is a huge subject. What’s your area of special interest?

Flow-through entities for small businesses

7. What’s the best tax or financial advice that anyone ever gave you?

Best financial advice is to live within your needs, plan for your wants, and prioritize your saving and giving

8. Coffee or tea?

Coffee, dark roast

9. Name five artists on your iPod (or mp3 player).

Coldplay, The Decemberists, Sam Styke, George Winston

10. What would I be surprised to know about you?

I worked on a dude ranch in CO during a summer in college

11. What college did you attend (in what subject)?

Taylor University, 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?

Refundable credits… just don’t like ’em, any of them

13. What’s the best thing on TV right now?

I would like to say The Phillies but they kind of stink right now… oh, and see Q5 above

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

AMT because I don’t think anyone understands it

15. If Uncle Sam handed you a huge refund check right now, what would you do with it?

College Savings Plan… I can’t believe what our kids education will cost (Author’s note: Me either, Scott!)

16. Biggest tax newsmaker: Obama, Bloomberg or Buffett?

I believe Obama has the most influence, but Buffet’s Millionaire tax keeps showing up in the media

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

Hat’s off to you Kelly on this one, but I do occasionally peruse taxfoundation.org

Thanks, Scott! You can follow Scott on twitter @scottkregelcpa.

If you’d like to recommend a tax pro to be featured send your suggestions to inquiry (at) taxgirl (dot) com. Self-nominations are totally okay and, in fact, encouraged!

I’m not the only tax professional hooked on the Olympics this year. The next tax pro in my Getting to Know You Tuesday series, Bree G. Vopelak, has copped to watching the trials earlier in the season. When not cheering on Team USA, she works at a law firm, Hamilton | Vopelak P.C., in Grapevine, Texas. Here’s what Bree had to say:

1. Where are you now?

In my office (Grapevine, Texas) with the A/C on, trying to stay out of the 100+ degree heat outside.

2. What’s your official title and what does it mean?

My official title is “Shareholder.” My law partner and I don’t take titles very seriously; in this vein, we generally refer to me as the “Manager of the Managing Shareholder.”

3. What books are on your night stand?

Decision Points, The Help, and Eat, Pray, Love

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

A wedding/event planner for sure! Needless to say, I was the only one in my tax LL.M. program who did not plan on being a tax professional in college.

5. What’s the last movie that you saw (DVD or in the theatre)?

Rock of Ages

6. Tax is a huge subject. What’s your area of special interest?

The majority of my practice is tax compliance and controversy work for tax-exempt organizations (including, churches, religious organizations, public charities, private foundations, and company sponsored private foundations). The remaining portion of my practice is estate planning work.

7. What’s the best tax or financial advice that anyone ever gave you?

Start contributing to your retirement plan early and contribute as much as you can.

8. Coffee or tea?

Hot tea please!

9. Name five artists on your iPod (or mp3 player).

Zac Brown Band, Kristin Chenoweth (from the Broadway show “Wicked”), Wilson Phillips, Rascal Flatts, and Vanilla Ice (yes, I have Vanilla Ice on my iPod).

10. What would I be surprised to know about you?

I am addicted to couponing! I desperately needed something to break up all the tax code sections swirling in my head, so I coupon and put together “beauty buckets” for a local nonprofit that helps individuals with transitional housing.

11. What college did you attend (in what subject)?

Texas A&M University, Speech Communications with a minor in Business and English

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?

From someone who has calculated AMT by hand, I would quickly abolish AMT. If that was not an option, then I would want to increase the maximum educator expense deduction (currently at $250 per person) to allow teachers to deduct more of what they actually spend.

13. What’s the best thing on TV right now?

Royal Pains and the Olympic Trials

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

I think they will repeal the estate tax because I’m not sure many understand AMT.

15. If Uncle Sam handed you a huge refund check right now, what would you do with it?

Start my own nonprofit!

16. Biggest tax newsmaker: Obama, Bloomberg or Buffett?

Right now, I think Obama is the biggest tax newsmaker because of election and health care media coverage.

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

Tax Notes Today and TaxProf Blog

One of the interesting things about tax is that it touches everything – and nearly everyone. You can work in the tax field and be an auditor, a tax agent, an attorney or an accountant – or you can write about tax as a copywriter, journalist or blogger. While I’ve traditionally featured tax attorneys and tax accountants, today’s tax pro for Getting to Know You Tuesday is a writer. Specifically, she’s a copywriter for JG Tax Group, a tax resolution firm. Her name is Karen Neicy and here’s what she had to say:

1. Where are you now?

Sitting in my home office, overlooking a sky full of typical, unpredictable Florida weather.

2. What’s your official title and what does it mean?

I work for a “horizontal company”. That’s a fancy way of saying that my boss does not assign titles. I’m a copywriter, designer, and SEO specialist. I create content and read a lot about taxes.

3. What books are on your night stand?

Let’s see…The Divine Comedy, The Evolution of Jazz, and Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys.

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

Famous Screenwriter and Director.

5. What’s the last movie that you saw (DVD or in the theatre)?

Moonrise Kingdom, in the theatre.

6. Tax is a huge subject. What’s your area of special interest?

Tax Resolution. Helping people who owe money to the IRS. Specifically, writing about it.

7. What’s the best tax or financial advice that anyone ever gave you?

C.R.E.A.M. (Cash Rules Everything Around Me. Wu-Tang). Save, save, save. I pay one bill a month and everything else goes in the bank. I grow my own vegetables, use public transportation, and live with my parents. I think the most important thing for people my age to do is save as much as possible. The future is uncertain and having to pay for things isn’t.

8. Coffee or tea?

Loose leaf mint tea. Caffeine free.

9. Name five artists on your iPod (or mp3 player).

Aesop Rock, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros, Bob Dylan…

10. What would I be surprised to know about you?

Facebook is not my only means of communication.

11. What college did you attend (in what subject)?

The University of Central Florida. I double majored in English Literature and Philosophy with a minor in African American Studies

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?

Get rid of the estate tax.

13. What’s the best thing on TV right now?

“Girls” on HBO. The first season just ended. I traded my television for an easel in 2006 and haven’t looked back, but I downloaded each episode after hearing how great it was, and it is.

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

Estate tax. It’s ridiculous.

15. If Uncle Sam handed you a huge refund check right now, what would you do with it?

Put it in my savings account.

16. Biggest tax newsmaker: Obama, Bloomberg or Buffett?

Right now, Obama. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is getting a lot of coverage, especially this month. The House is trying quite hard to ensure it does not receive the funding it requires.

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

Taxgirl is by far my favorite and it’s hard to find anything that comes close, but I guess I’d go with the IRS website (IRS.gov). There’s a ton of information on there that can help people with just about any tax related issue.

Thanks, Karen!

If you’d like to recommend a tax pro to be featured send your suggestions to inquiry (at) taxgirl (dot) com. Self-nominations are totally okay and, in fact, encouraged!

So you know how you’ll read about someone in real life who sounds really cool and then you meet them and you’re so disappointed because that’s not at all how you imagined they were like? That’s not at all what happened when I met the next person in our Getting To Know You Tuesday series.

I’ve been following Jody Padar on Twitter for a bit now. She comes across online as smart and funny and committed to changing the accounting profession (for the better). In real life, she’s exactly the same way. I met up with her in Vegas this summer (I’ll just say that there were blue drinks, feather boas and the delightful Kasey Bayne involved) and really enjoyed chatting with her about tax, accounting and running a business. I’ve learned even more from her interview responses. It turns out that we have a lot in common: we both attended women’s colleges, opened our own businesses and drink more coffee than the law should allow (though, Jody, cream, really?). Here’s what Jody had to say:

1. Where are you now?

At this moment, I’m on a plane bound for Maryland where I will take part in the CCH Listening Tour hosted by the Maryland Association of CPAs. Immediately after the close of the Listening Tour, my family will be joining me in Maryland for a week of relaxation and fun in Ocean City. I will experience a two-day interruption in my vacation to facilitate a session on New-age Tax Firms at a Maryland-based seminar. I often have to integrate my personal and work lives—create balance as best that I can. It’s part of the job.

2. What’s your official title and what does it mean?

Officially, I am CEO and principal of New Vision CPA Group. These titles are straightforward, indicating executive oversight and ownership. However, I feel I am more to my firm than these perfunctory titles represent. Over the past few years, I’ve emerged as a thought leader in my profession—armed with a clear vision on operating a highly efficient and profitable firm via application of advanced technology and best practices. Equally as important, I also fill the role as “feeling” leader—always in tune with the culture of my firm and working to ensure a positive, healthy work environment through education, training, praise, and keeping staff challenged and engaged. I understand the positive ripple effect: a healthy culture means happier employees, which means happier clients. “CEO” and “principal” encompass all of this.

In regards to credentials, I am a CPA (Certified Public Accountant) and have earned my MST (Masters degree in Taxation).

3. What books are on your nightstand?

“50 Shades of Grey” by E.L. James and “Healing Leadership” by Howard Hansen and Steven Geske.

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

My dream job would be serving as a full-time professor at Saint Mary’s College (my Alma Mater). I would love to teach on the subject of tax and spend my days on campus where learning is constant. I also love the idea of teaching at a women’s college. The ability to lead and help develop young women into the next generation of accounting professionals would be awesome.

And if this dream job fell through, I would settle for just making people happy. And there is no better way to accomplish that than to operate a chocolate covered strawberry cart.

5. What’s the last movie that you saw (DVD or in the theatre)?
“Man of Valor”

6. Tax is a huge subject. What’s your area of special interest?

I love working with flow-thru entities—S corps and Partnerships. I have a passion for helping clients see the big picture and providing sound financial direction for entities with multiple individuals with multiple flow-thru entities. Throw in some multi-state returns and I’m in heaven. The opportunities for tax planning are endless. Call me crazy, but this is where the fun is.

7. What’s the best tax or financial advice that anyone ever gave you?

The best advice I ever received was simple and straightforward: Tax planning doesn’t cost, it pays.

8. Coffee or tea?

Coffee, always! And don’t bother me with a small cup either. I need the extra-large from Dunkin Donuts—cream only…I’m sweet enough.

9. Name five artists on your iPod (or mp3 player).

I’m honestly not that into music. In fact, my iPod music library is governed by my twelve-year-old daughter—and that means lots of Taylor Swift and other Top 40 artists.

10. What would I be surprised to know about you?

I’m a Masters swimmer. I’m not that fast yet, so I try to make it to practice a few times a week. 
I love to swim Individual Medley (I.M.) and distance freestyle.

11. What college did you attend (in what subject)?

Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, Indiana. I earned a BBA with a concentration 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 give a credit for private school education. I think people should have a choice and that there should be a credit for those who elect to send their children to private schools.

13. What’s the best thing on TV right now?

HBO’s, “Dexter”; I love shows about serial killers.
(Editor’s note: Don’t get on Jody’s bad side.)

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

The Estate Tax. AMT is too confusing. I don’t think Congress would know how to repeal it.

15. If Uncle Sam handed you a huge refund check right now, what would you do with it?

No question: I would invest it back into my firm. There is so much more I want to do in order to grow my business. I also want to be integral in revolutionizing the CPA profession…lead by example… and that takes funding.

16. Biggest tax newsmaker:  Obama, Bloomberg, or Buffett?

The answer is secret choice “D”: The Supreme Court. Healthcare tax is where it’s at!

17. And, other than taxgirl, what’s your favorite tax-related web site?

AccountingToday.com. Okay, so that’s a bit of a plug for my own blog that runs every other Monday as part of Accounting Tomorrow, but it’s also a fabulous resource.

There are a couple of exceptional tax-related sites out there that offer timely and helpful information to the profession, including:

IRS Inside Blog on CPA Practice Advisor website—The author is Jim Buttonow, CPA, 20-year veteran of the IRS, and an expert in IRS practice and procedure. He is now the co-founder of Beyond415 (an IRS response solution vendor) and writes a regular Tax Update newsletter, which was recently picked back up in CPA Practice Advisor.

Avalara.com—As State and Local tax are becoming bigger issues, I find this site helpful in making sense of all the crazy filings.

Freshbooks.com and Xero – From an accounting perspective, these sites are hot with my clients…helping them move away from the shoebox and get organized for tax season.

Thanks, Jody! You can follow Jody on twitter @jodypadarcpa.

If you’d like to recommend a tax pro to be featured send your suggestions to inquiry (at) taxgirl (dot) com. Self-nominations are totally okay and, in fact, encouraged!

Today’s Getting To Know You Tuesday post features Brian Borawski, CPA. Brian offers tax, accounting and financial management tips on his web site at Brian Borawski, CPA, PC. Here’s what Brian had to say:

1. Where are you now?
In my office, which is in the basement of my house.

2. What’s your official title and what does it mean?
Principal which means I’m the owner

3. What books are on your night stand?
The Six Pillars of Self Esteem by Nathaniel Branden and The Innocents by David Baldacci

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

5. What’s the last movie that you saw (DVD or in the theatre)?
Amazing Spiderman

6. Tax is a huge subject. What’s your area of special interest?
Taxation for real estate investors

7. What’s the best tax or financial advice that anyone ever gave you?
Buy assets, not liabilities (Robert Kiyosaki)

8. Coffee or tea?
Neither

9. Name five artists on your iPod (or mp3 player).
Metallica, Green Day, Big Time Rush (my son listened to them for a while), John Williams and Linkin Park

10. What would I be surprised to know about you?
For a while I started a network of baseball websites that I sold advertising on and my work is in over a dozen baseball books.

11. What college did you attend (in what subject)?
Michigan State University, B.A in Accounting and MBA in Professional Accounting with an emphasis 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?
Make charitable contributions a credit instead of a deduction.

13. What’s the best thing on TV right now?
I don’t watch much television but the one show I enjoy the most is Star Wars: The Clone Wars when it’s on.

14. What do you think Congress will repeal first: estate tax or AMT?
The AMT although they’ll probably replace it with something with something just as complicated and non-sensical.

15. If Uncle Sam handed you a huge refund check right now, what would you do with it?
Invest the money

16. Biggest tax newsmaker: Obama, Bloomberg or Buffett?
Obama

17. And, other than taxgirl, what’s your favorite tax related web site?
I get most of my information from the tax page on the Wall Street Journals’ website.

Thanks, Brian! You can follow Brian on twitter @briancpaMI.

If you’d like to recommend a tax pro to be featured send your suggestions to inquiry (at) taxgirl (dot) com. Self-nominations are totally okay and, in fact, encouraged!

Next in line for Getting To Know You Tuesdays is Shayna B. Chapman, CPA CITP CGMA, of Chapman & Burris CPAs LLC in Gallipolis, Ohio. Here’s what Shayna had to say:

1. Where are you now?
In my home office overlooking the beautiful Ohio River where there is some peace and quiet.

2. What’s your official title and what does it mean?
Member Manager — I have no idea…. I’m going to change it to CCC, Chief Chick in Charge. Accounting Ninja and Accounting Rockstar are already taken.

3. What books are on your night stand?
These are truly on my nightstand: 1) Janet Evanovich’s Twelve Sharp 2) Ron Baker’s Implementing Value Pricing: A Radical Business Model for Professional Firms, and 3) James Patterson’s Don’t Blink. Depends on my anxiety level as to which I pickup.

4. If you weren’t working in the tax profession, what would your dream job be?
Since I was a little girl I wanted to run a major sports team. Baseball, Hockey, or Football.

5. What’s the last movie that you saw (DVD or in the theatre)?
Adam Sandler’s Click – It’s a good reminder on work/life balance. Something that hits home when your 7 year-old child asks every day when tax season will be over.

6. Tax is a huge subject. What’s your area of special interest?
I’m mostly a small business tax girl dealing with all kinds of small tax issues and planning. Because these are small businesses, this also involves the owner’s personal returns and planning.

7. What’s the best tax or financial advice that anyone ever gave you?
Don’t do it.

8. Coffee or tea?
Cheap black coffee – preferably from a gas station with a pretty cup and a nice lid. Expensive coffee shops are overrated, unless I need the WiFi. Besides, have you ever tried to order a “medium black coffee” at a Starbucks? It takes them awhile to figure out what to do with such simplicity. (Author’s note: Agreed on all points except the gas station part since I don’t drive unless I absolutely have to.)

9. Name five artists on your iPod (or mp3 player).
My most played list on my iPhone: Train, Seether, Avril, Buffett, Linkin Park

10. What would I be surprised to know about you?
I bake to relieve stress. I’m well-known for chocolate chip cookies.

11. What college did you attend (in what subject)?
You would think this to be a simple question, but I grew up in a CPA household, so I denied my true CPA calling for as long as I could. Attended the best basketball school in the Nation, University of Kentucky, took some time to check out Temple University Japan in Tokyo, and graduated from Marshall University, with an Accounting Degree and a lot of Japanese studies. We are… MARSHALL!

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 abolish the EITC. So much fraud and waste.

13. What’s the best thing on TV right now?
the off button

14. What do you think Congress will repeal first: estate tax or AMT?
Oh…. neither…. But I think they’ll make the Estate Tax minimum more appropriate before they take care of AMT. I don’t think Congress, nor anyone else, understands AMT so they just keep dodging it.

15. If Uncle Sam handed you a huge refund check right now, what would you do with it?
Use it to help restore my old 1860s house.

16. Biggest tax newsmaker: Obama, Bloomberg or Buffett?
Buffett’s Secretary

17. And, other than taxgirl, what’s your favorite tax related web site?
Does Twitter count? It’s like an entire newspaper of tax stories. Each tweet is a headline and then I click on the link if I want to open the story. It really is my go to.

Thanks, Shayna! You can follow Shayna on twitter at @shaynacpa.

If you’d like to recommend a tax pro to be featured send your suggestions to inquiry (at) taxgirl (dot) com. Self-nominations are totally okay and, in fact, encouraged!

On the first season of CBS’ Survivor, Richard Hatch was quickly painted as the villain. He was, to many viewers, too cocky and too focused on winning. Despite his less than favorable reputation, Hatch went on to become the first ever Survivor winner.

More than ten years later, Hatch has found out what it means to be the victim of a “win at all costs” strategy. Since 2005, he’s been battling with the IRS over charges of tax evasion; he would eventually spend 51 months in federal prison after being convicted on two of those charges. His very public fight became fodder for cocktail parties and water cooler conversations – and provided page after page of snarky commentary for bloggers like me.

Last week, after I posted a piece on Hatch’s appearance in an ad for IRSTaxSurvivor.com, Hatch called me out in the comments, advising that I didn’t have all the facts. Shortly thereafter, I asked him to tell me what I was missing. He agreed to chat. What’s more, he didn’t have any conditions or “off limits” questions.

I was surprised at his candor and said as much.

“I want to talk about it,” he said. “I won’t stop talking about it.”

That was a good start. I asked Hatch how he found out he was under investigation from IRS. He explained that after he won on Survivor, he deposited the entire $1,000,000 in his local bank – no offshore accounts, no attempt to hide the money. There had been no withholding from his check from US or Malaysian tax authorities despite the fact that he understood, per his contract, that taxes were required to be paid when he left the island in 2000.

Hatch admitted that he didn’t file on Tax Day. His accountant filed for an extension while they took some time to figure out the next steps. He was, he said, in communication with IRS during this time. Eventually, he received a notice from the IRS but the million was not mentioned.

Two years later, he was indicted for willful evasion and was advised to take a plea. He didn’t. The charges were dropped. Eight months later, Hatch was charged with ten criminal counts, including tax evasion. If convicted on all charges, Hatch faced up to 47 years in prison. Still, Hatch refused to take a plea. Instead, he rolled the dice and went to trial.

Unlike his stint on Survivor, this move didn’t prove to be a strategic one. At trial, Hatch was acquitted of eight counts and found guilty of two counts of “attempting to evade taxes” and one count of “filing a false tax return” relating to his 2000 and 2001 returns.

He appealed the sentence in 2006, claiming, as part of his appeal, that CBS agreed to pay the tax. CBS has denied those claims through the press but those charges were never aired in court. The judge didn’t allow them on procedural grounds.

I asked why Hatch didn’t sue CBS for the tax directly. He reminded me that he had representation this whole time, as did CBS. And, he pointed out, he still had a good relationship with the network: he had been invited back for Survivor All Stars in 2004 (he participated) and Survivor‘s 20th reunion in 2009 (he wasn’t allowed to travel because of his house arrest).

Hatch spent several years in federal prison before being released in 2009. He was sent back to prison at that time for not amending his 2000 and 2001 tax returns, as ordered by the judge. Hatch said that he was told that he could not amend them because of the ongoing investigation. He’s right. Once a criminal investigation has begun, a taxpayer may not attempt to fix the problem by filing old or amended returns or by paying the tax due. After he served additional time, the requirement that he file an amended return was eventually dropped.

Shortly after his release, he granted a media interview to NBC and was arrested for violating prison media-access rules. Hatch says that his attorney got permission in writing, as did NBC. Nonetheless, the next day, he was shackled and sent back to prison, this time serving solitary confinement. The reason? The Bureau of Prisons has argued that the permission was for one interviewer, not three. Hatch served the time but has challenged the ruling, alleging that the permission allowed him to be interviewed by NBC, not a specific interviewer. It’s a distinction that matters to him after all that he has been through.

Hatch has another attorney now and is trying to figure out his next steps. He says that he still doesn’t have a fixed amount due from IRS. That two million dollars that I referred to in my last post? Hatch says there’s no assessment for that amount. He claims that number was part of a court discussion between the judge and the prosecutors. The IRS, however, has sent him no final bill. They have, however, liened his sister’s properties. They’ve also held onto his passport, which they’ve had since 2005, even though Hatch has not been declared a flight risk.

He knows that he owes something but he doesn’t know how much – or even how to figure it. For now, he’s been ordered to pay 25% of any income for the next 26 months towards his tax obligation. That’s been a struggle since his notoriety has not necessarily been for the right reasons. He says he just wants to put all of this behind him.

I wondered whether his reputation as a villain had influenced both how he was treated by IRS and by the press. Hatch said there was no question. He says, about the IRS and the prosecutors:

It was a game. Win at all costs.

That’s something that Hatch knows a little bit about.

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