As I mention on my site, I have started interviewing state tax professionals across the country and will be posting them on this blog to help each of us build connections and get to know each other better.
To be interviewed, all you have to do is answer the 14 questions (found here) and send them to email@example.com to be published on the blog.
As I have been receiving answers from multiple professionals, I have really enjoyed reading them. I have also received feedback from professionals that answering the questions is a great exercise. Looking back is a good way to help you move forward.
My first guest was David Brunori.
My second guest was Mike Dillon.
Today's guest is Adam Koelsch. Adam is an experienced state and local tax controversy and planning attorney, representing clients in administrative appeals, collection actions in trial-level courts, and appeals in the state courts. Adam advises clients on minimizing their exposure during audits, negotiates fair settlements when there is a delinquency, and helps to structure payment plans that are feasible and advantageous to both parties.
In addition, Adam counsels clients on real estate assessment matters and has contributed a new chapter to the 2018 ALM Pennsylvania Tax Handbook titled, “Collection of Delinquent Real Estate Taxes,” and has revised the Handbook’s chapter titled, “Taxes on Real Estate.”
Without further ado, here are his answers to the 14 questions:
Birthplace: Southeastern Massachusetts
Education: B.A. History, University of Massachusetts, Amherst; J.D., Brooklyn Law School
Career: 7 years combined as a line Assistant District Attorney and Senior Appellate Attorney, at the Brooklyn N.Y. District Attorney's Office; about 1 1/2 years as a Deputy City Solicitor in the Philadelphia Law Department's Tax Unit; about 1 and 1/2 years as SALT attorney at a private law firm, Chamberlain Hrdlicka, in its Philadelphia office
Best Career Move: getting out of government and into the private sector
Career Goals: to the extent possible, make state and local tax understandable to the average small business owner. If they thrive, everyone else follows.
Best advice ever received: If you think that you should probably being doing something, but you aren't sure, then do it.
Most difficult situation faced on the job: telling the victim of a crime that there is nothing I can do
Career tip for students: "Follow your passion" is generally bad advice. If you are the typical college-aged student, you might think you know what you are passionate about, but, in realty, you have no idea. Live a little before you peg you future on a single idea.
Role models: As far as work goes, it would probably be my old bureau chief when I was at the Appeals Bureau at the DA's Office. He was (is) brilliant, meticulous, and a truly nice person. He always had time for anyone and was a fantastic teacher. He also was a living example of the idea that, if you are the boss, you work harder and stay later than anyone else. While I think that people don't have enough family time and that they are devoting too much of their lives to their job (including always being "on" via email), being the boss demands a little more.
Family: wife, 1 daughter, and 1 son
Pastimes: carving out time to read a book is probably the only thing I truly desire in the world
Most memorable book: So Good They Can't Ignore You, by Cal Newport. I think it represents the first time that anyone clearly set out for me why the advice "follow your passion" is generally bad advice. Like many, I had personally suffered the ill-effects of the implication that you have one, innate passion in life and that, if you aren't doing it, any happiness you might experience is only a pale refection of what you could really have. That's a depressive thought. I find it much more empowering to believe that you create a passion (after a period of learning skills and exploring your career space), and that, whatever that passion is, it's really only one of a number of passions you could have created.
Favorite restaurant: I don't really have one. With two young kids, going out to eat is such a rarity that any restaurant is my favorite restaurant.
Ideal vacation: Again, with two young kids, any vacation would be a good vacation. That said, I've always fantasized about a National Parks road trip. . . maybe not with the kids in the car.
I hope you enjoyed meeting Adam.
Thank you Adam for sharing.