My first exposure to taxes came when I was 16, working my first job at a dry cleaner’s. I never thought this would lead to a career as a Santa Rosa accountant! I enjoyed working and thought I’d skip the rest of high school and go straight to supporting myself. I was eagerly anticipating my first paycheck, that wonderful proof of adulthood. By my careful calculations, it was going to be a big, fat $80 check. Imagine my shock when all I received was $63. No one had told me about withholding taxes. It occurred to me that maybe I’d better stay in school and acquire some skills that would enable me to earn a bit more than $63 a week.
I studied math and music in college and then enlisted in the Army, auditioning for the Army band. I spent the next three years playing guitar in the Army band, learning discipline and growing up. I enjoyed touring with the band, playing on recruiting tours.
My Journey from Army Guitarist to Santa Rosa Accountant
While in the Army, I also worked at a pizza shop, delivering pizza in my prized Mustang and working my way up to manager. After my discharge, I opened my own pizza shop, then another, until I had three successful stores in Santa Rosa. It was hard work, which, fortunately, I never minded. Every day was different and I had a good time dealing with the people, solving the problems, and perfecting the pizza dough. After 20 years, though, I found myself drawn to be more religiously observant. This meant not working on Friday night or Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath, which was a problem because the bulk of my business came in during that time. I solved that problem by selling the stores and going back to school for my Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration, with a concentration in finance and accounting from SSU. Math was always my favorite subject in school, with numbers coming naturally to me, so this seemed a logical move.
People who aren’t natural numbers folks wonder what I love about my field. It’s the detail. They say the devil’s in the detail, but for me, the delight is in the detail. Which is a good thing, because accountancy work, and especially tax advocacy, requires tremendous attention to detail.
What I love even more is helping people solve problems, first identifying the underlying issues and figuring out what the real problem is, then coming up with a solution. Every client has different needs, different goals, different ways of running a business. I get more satisfaction out of my personal relationships with my clients than from the production end. When everything reconciles, it’s very satisfying, but if endless clients just slid their papers under the door with a check, I wouldn’t love my work nearly as much.
All my life I’ve had a strong sense of justice, and my love for helping people with tax resolution has its origins there. It’s a great feeling to help the underdog, often a very frightened underdog, resolve a problem with the IRS in the most client-favorable way possible.
Documents and Pianos
I remember representing one client, a music store, in an audit. Many small business owners are not too organized about record keeping. But for an audit you have to show meticulous records. I organized their records carefully for the eight quarters in question, then realized that there was no office to speak of, in which to receive the auditor. So I spread out the documentation for each quarter on a different piano. Luckily there were eight pianos in the store. The auditor carefully looked over the first quarter. Everything checked out. He went to the next piano and found everything in order there. At that point he said to me, okay, we’re good, and walked out the door.
If you show that you’re following the rules and doing everything correctly, they’ll see it’s accurate and won’t waste time. That’s one way I help clients facing an audit. As your Santa Rosa accountant, I’ll work tirelessly on your behalf to resolve your tax issues.