I help accounting firms, law firms, corporate tax departments, state tax ‘think tanks,’ tax policy organizations and tax research publishers complete state tax consulting, research or writing projects.
I also work with accounting and law firm marketing departments to ghost-write tax thought leadership, promote their firm through social media, and consult on web design. The objective is to increase firm revenue through effective knowledge development, collaboration and distribution.
I am an independent, freelance state tax consultant and writer with 20+ years of experience working in a variety of firms and corporations (large and small). I have handled issues in just about any state related to income tax, sales and use tax, gross receipts taxes and franchise tax. My clients have included large C corporation affiliated groups, S corporations, limited liability companies, single-member limited liability companies, Q-subs, and partnerships. I have also helped individual taxpayers with residency audits. In one of my roles, I managed state taxation for a large group (over 500 entities) of pass-through entities, so I know the pain of entity-level taxes, non-resident withholding and composite reporting for pass-through entities.
At one point in my career, I worked in the national tax office of a large accounting firm. That’s when I started doing webinars and seminars. I later started writing my blog, which led to more article writing and my column in Tax Analysts State Tax Notes. As a result, I have a great deal of experience analyzing current developments and transforming them into alerts, articles, whitepapers, presentations and blog posts. To date, I have written 900+ blog posts, 40+ articles, and delivered 50+ presentations.
HELPING CLIENTS COMPLETE PROJECTS
Corporate Tax Departments
Corporate tax departments are generally as ‘lean’ as possible and personnel often feel overwhelmed or have too much work. Corporate tax departments also have difficulty filling open positions with the ‘right-fit’ person either from a personality standpoint, experience level, or the difference between the position and the hiring prospect’s compensation or long-term goals. That’s where I come in.
I serve as an independent contractor to corporate tax departments to help them complete a variety of projects related to state and local tax compliance, controversy and planning. I help tax departments get things done by providing them with a partner-level resource without making a permanent employee investment or dealing with the bureaucracy of a larger firm.
Client Results Include:
- Obtained $550,000 sales tax refund related to client's intercompany management fee involving several different types of services in Pennsylvania
- Provided practical insight to client as to what positions they should take regarding the sales taxation of cloud computing by conducting 40-state research project and preparing custom matrix
- Technical support for client's creation/implementation of a custom sales ‘tax and fee’ engine (40 states)
- Multi-year review and analysis of client's sales tax exemption review process (20 states) to determine best practices and provide recommendations whether the client should continue, change or eliminate the current process
- Identified over $1,000,000 in state income tax refund opportunities and $300,000 in prospective annual state income tax savings while conducting a state income tax FIN 48 reserve analysis for a large middle-market company. These refund opportunities were identified in conjunction with the opportunity to utilize Voluntary Disclosure Agreements (VDAs) in multiple states to not only minimize the company's state income tax liability, but also reduce or eliminate the state income tax FIN 48 reserve.
- Identified $350,000 in refund opportunities and $100,000 in prospective annual state income tax savings while performing a state income tax nexus look-back review for a middle-market company.
- Eliminated $1,200,000 sales tax audit assessment by preparing and filing a written protest with the Minnesota appeals office regarding a "mixed-transaction" or "bundled transaction.”
- Obtained $500,000 reduction in sales tax audit assessment after client received a jeopardy assessment from Washington D.C.
- Reduced $1 million individual income tax assessment to $20,000 for an individual taxpayer in a Minnesota income tax residency audit
- Reduced client's income tax liability by 60% by petitioning and obtaining apportionment relief with Minnesota appeals after audit assessment
- Mitigated risk and improved compliance for medical device manufacturer operating in 11 states by researching and providing guidance regarding the sales and use tax taxability of the company’s device
- Provided peace of mind to company regarding the sales tax consequences of its Internet/client portal, (“cloud computing”) etc. used to facilitate the delivery of their service
- Eliminated $1,300,000 in Washington B&O tax and $1,000,000 in sales tax on 9 real estate projects
- Obtained $3,000,000 in Florida Enterprise Zone sales tax refunds on 4 real estate projects
- Obtained $1,000,000 in Arizona Transaction Privilege Tax refunds after performing reverse audits on Arizona real estate sales
- Obtained $300,000 in California LLC Fee refunds
- Reduced annual state income taxes by $500,000 for a $200 million Illinois manufacturer by developing restructuring plan for S corporations and pass-through entities
- Identified and obtained a $700,000 refund and annual state tax savings of $150,000 for a $150 million Illinois manufacturer by applying P.L. 86-272
- Reduced sales tax audit assessment by $75,000 related to ‘canned vs. custom software’ in Minnesota
Accounting Firms | Law Firms
Accounting firms and law firms are under pressure to meet profitability goals continually. State tax practices within these firms are under even more pressure because most of their work is not annuity work; meaning, they have to recreate the work every year. This makes firms hesitant to hire employees before they actually have the work.
Consequently, I serve as a subcontractor to accounting and law firms to provide state tax consulting services to their clients. I review files and returns to identify opportunities or areas of risk. I answer questions on-demand. I provide firms with a partner-level resource without making a partner-level investment.
Publishers, Policy Organizations and Software Developers
I work with tax research publishers to write or review technical material to expand or build out their libraries, collaborate with tax policy organizations on policy statements, studies, articles, reports, comments and testimony, and partner with tax software companies to enhance or build new software tools for state tax compliance or planning.
Research Projects Include:
- Developing and writing new California income tax and sales tax library (includes all sections, issues, topics)
- 50-state research project to update sections on "Consent to Be Taxed" related to composite returns and withholding for non-resident owners of partnerships
- 50-state research project to update sections on Net Operating Losses
- 50-state research project to provide additional clarification and analysis regarding the sourcing of services and intangible property; specifically, the application of market-based sourcing, and utilization of market sourcing methodology within costs-of-performance statutes and regulations
- 23-state research project to add additional insights and commentary on related party expense add-back provisions
- 50-state research project to analyze and document each state's treatment of Interest Charge Domestic International Sales Corporations (IC-DISCs)
- 50-state research project to identify and explain each state's throwback and throwout rules
- 50-state research project to clarify whether each state follows Joyce or Finnigan rule
- 50-state research project to provide technical instruction on each state's law regarding the taxpayer's ability to request, and the state's ability to impose, alternative apportionment
- 32-state research project to provide the technical details of each state's franchise tax regime
- 49-state plus NYC research project regarding each state's conformity with the Internal Revenue Code as it relates to mergers and acquisitions, changes in ownership, etc.
I currently serve as a subject matter expert for Bloomberg BNA Software's new state income tax modeling tool (BNA State Tax Analyzer) by performing research, providing state-by-state tax rules and technical review, comments, and suggestions for improvements. The project involves 50-state research to provide tax law support and guidance regarding the following for multiple tax years (1998 to current):
- Separate / Combined / Consolidated filing methods
- Pre or Post Combination
- Apportionment methods and formula
- Federal income tax deduction
- State income tax deduction / addback
- Bonus depreciation adjustments
- Estimated payment safe-harbors
- Tax rates
- Minimum taxes
- Net Operating Loss tracking and utilization
- Foreign Source Dividends
- Industry apportionment formulas (manufacturing, retail, financial organizations, insurance, transportation, oil/gas, telecommunications, etc.
- Mixed-industry combined reporting
- Franchise Tax
- IRC Sec. 382 Limitations on NOLs
Helping Firms Grow State Tax Practices
The marketing departments of accounting firms are always looking for more content to promote the firm. More alerts, articles, whitepapers, etc. The problem is that firm professionals are so busy with client work that they don’t have time to dedicate to thought leadership. Yet, partners and clients are looking for alerts and tips from their accounting firms when developments happen. The Big 4 accounting firms are able to produce large volumes of timely developments because of their dedicated resources.
Consequently, I help non-big 4 accounting firms meet this need by working with the firm's marketing and tax departments to ghost-write tax thought leadership, promote their firm through social media, and consult on web design. The objective is to increase firm revenue through effective knowledge development, collaboration and distribution.
National Tax Office
In addition to ghost-writing, I also partner with a firm's tax department to facilitate knowledge transfer, creation, innovation and collaboration between firm professionals by serving as a facilitator, communicator, trainer and marketer of state and local tax technical matters.
Services May Include:
- Providing technical analysis of changing state tax laws which leads to the reporting of SALT developments to your firm, clients and the general public.
- Regularly monitor SALT news and developments, and assist in determining which news should be reported.
- Regularly drafting and editing SALT Alerts designed for external distribution that discuss and analyze tax developments, such as recent legislation, regulations and rulings, as well as SALT Alerts identifying refund and service opportunities for internal distribution.
- Maintaining and developing a variety of SALT tools for your firm that cover such topics as apportionment, filing methods, FIN 48 developments and nexus.
- Provide support for internal and external training programs, including webcasts, as well as special projects.
- Assist local office practitioners in conducting research and drafting memorandums or audit protests for clients.
- Specific services may include:
- Daily Tweets
- Daily blog posts
- Weekly Alerts to clients
- Monthly Articles in Tax Analysts State Tax Notes
- Creating E-books / guides
- Collaborating with practice / office leaders to discuss client issues / insights / perspectives
- External speaking engagements
- Written comments on proposed legislation
- Customized legislation, court case, issue monitoring / interpretation / application for specific clients
- Customized technical Alerts for specific clients
- Help-Desk / calls / e-mails, confirmation of research, common questions
- Traveling ‘think-tank’ road shows (integration / interaction / collaboration)
Helping Clients Know What They Need to Know
One of the main reasons I enjoy the field of multistate taxation is the daily, continual change caused by new legislation, rulings and court cases multiplied by 50 states and thousands of local jurisdictions.
I realized early in my career that keeping up to date with changes would be integral to my career success and ability to provide applicable insights to my company or clients.
The major tax publishers provide daily updates of which most tax professionals subscribe. The Big 4 accounting firms and other CPA/law firms publish their own tax update summaries either daily, weekly or quarterly. There are also other free resources published by tax think-tanks such as the Tax Foundation, Council on State Taxation (COST), etc. In addition, state tax department of revenue websites also publish rulings and other informal guidance. Consequently, there is a vast amount of information and resources tax professionals can access to help their company or clients conduct business in a tax-efficient manner.
PROBLEM: Despite the need for state tax professionals to stay up to date, and the vast amount of information available, tax professionals still struggle to have the right information at the right time.
WHY: There are too many resources and too much information making it difficult to look through it all to find what is applicable to their company or clients.
SOLUTION: Curation. “Curation” is the process of finding, filtering, and sharing great content that is relevant and useful to your target audience.
I provide custom curation to clients. Meaning, clients hire LS to daily curate state tax developments relating to a specific industry, state(s), tax type and issue. The client can make it as granular as they preferred. Clients hire LS to curate information for multiple specific items on a daily basis. Unlike getting updates on a publisher's research platform, LS custom curation will provide updates from multiple sources including accounting firms, law firms and state websites. This service is provided on a subscription basis.
I also provide the following custom research and writing services on a fixed-fee or subscription basis:
- Research – any question, any state. Tax types include income tax, sales/use tax, gross receipts tax and franchise tax.
- Writing – memos, protests, taxability matrices, alerts, whitepapers, blog posts, etc.
- Strategic Research and Analysis to provide custom answers and strategies around:
- Specific hot topics
- Specific rulings/cases
- Proposed legislation
- Practice and procedure, voluntary disclosure agreements, private letter ruling requests
- Audits and Appeals
- Prospective M&A
Join The LEVERAGE SALT LinkedIn Group
I started the LEVERAGE SALT LinkedIn group in 2012.
Join with me in building a state tax community that builds real relationships and works together to help each other resolve complex state tax problems, influence state tax policy and further our careers and profession.
I Have Experience With All of The Following Issues:
- Sourcing of Services
- Establishing the right to apportion
- Inclusion of gross proceeds v. net gain in sales factor
- Joyce v. Finnigan
- Throwback / Throwout rules
- Alternative apportionment (relief)
- Composition of Unitary business group
- Tax Base
- Tax Attributes
- Pass-Through Entities
- Entity v. Aggregate theory
- Unitary (tax base / factor flow-up) v. nonunitary (allocation)
- Sale of partnership interest
- Non-resident withholding compliance
- Composite return filing options
- Sourcing of guaranteed payments
- Single-Member LLC obligations and liability
- Multi-tiered entities (compliance and controversy)
- Sales and Use Tax
- Amazon / affiliate nexus
- Reporting requirements
- Situs of services
- Transactions with governmental entities
- Resale exemptions
- Bundled transactions (mixed-transactions)
- Cloud computing (SaaS)
- Software (custom v.canned)
- Construction contractors (prime contractor, subcontractor, real estate owner)
- Sale / leaseback transactions