If you've been paying attention, which I'm sure you have, I am constantly changing my website and thinking of ways to market, re-market, re-package or change the way I present my services and myself. This is the life of a solo state tax consultant. I am always thinking. Always learning. AND I can implement changes whenever I want - maybe sometimes hastily, but I would rather be innovative and try things, then to be stuck in the trap of 'that's the way we have always done it,' or changes take time to get approved by layers of bureaucracy and by the time they get approved all momentum and enthusiasm about the change is long gone.

Life is too short to be the same as everybody else, and that is exactly what we have in the public accounting and law firm world. Everybody is the same. The same boring websites. The same descriptions. The same strategic visions. The same services. The same message. The same hot topics. Every firm is trying to be the first to write about a hot topic, or the first to go in-depth about a topic. I should know. I spend my days daily reviewing state tax developments and writing about them. I also conduct research for clients and attempt to provide insight and actionable, innovative, intelligence (I just made that term up, you can feel free to use it). 

There is so much 'noise' in the world. So much knowledge and information being spewed on the internet and social media, while you are just trying to do your job. The question is - what do you need to know to do your job? How can you best help your company or your client? Are you going deep enough into the details of the law, cases, etc. to find true value? Or are you just scratching the surface, going from meeting to meeting, running around with your head cut-off, waiting for lightning to strike? 

Life is too short to be boring. Too short to not take the risk to be creative. 


What is your firm good at? What are you good at? How can you be different? How ARE you different? 

Be different. Be creative. Provide REAL VALUE, NOT NOISE.

13 Books You Should Read & Saturday Musings (INNOVATION)

Good morning. It's Saturday. I have multiple 'land chores' on the schedule for today. If you don't know, we bought 16 acres near Nashville last year. Totally gutted the house and completed a 6 month renovation last December. It's awesome having no one around us. First time I have lived in the country. The only challenge is the land. Getting it and keeping it the way you want it. 12 acres are trees, so I have approximately 4 acres or so of mowing, weed killing, tree cutting, etc., etc., etc. 

In any case, back to state taxes.

If you have noticed, over the past couple of weeks I have started to curate state tax AND business developments into the LEVERAGE SALT LinkedIn group. I think this is a good way to put multiple pieces of important information into one place. I hope you are liking the format. 

In regards to my practice, I am constantly looking for new ways, new services, changing my website, changing my marketing, contacting new people, developing new relationships - trying to change the state tax world for the better. I don't want to just do what everyone else is doing. I want to create and innovate. Do something new. Develop a new angle. A fresh approach. A better way.

Contact me with your ideas. Your passions.

How would you change the state tax profession?

How can you better serve your clients?

What does your tax department really need from your state tax consultant and why aren't you getting it?

I am a state tax partner and writer. In addition to the 40+ articles with my name on it, I have ghost-written several articles for firms. Let me know if you are interested in learning more to help your firm grow its practice.

Some of my favorite books I have read are:

  1. Tribes by Seth Godin
  2. 10X Rule by Grant Cardone
  3. Be Obsessed or Be Average by Grant Cardone
  4. Essentialism by Greg McKeown
  5. One Thing by Gary Keller
  6. Crush IT! by Gary Vaynerchuk
  7. Start with Why by Simon Sinek
  8. REWORK by Jason Fried
  9. The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy
  10. Make Ideas Happen by Scott Belsky
  11. Deep Work by Cal Newport
  12. So Good They Can't Ignore You by Cal Newport
  13. The Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth by Chris Brogan 

Have a great weekend!

Tax Legislation: Are We Asking The Right Questions?

State tax developments are everywhere. They happen daily. The question is - are we just reporting them or are we challenging them?

This legislative season has seen crazy proposals to raise revenue, balance budgets - all influenced by political pressures and confusion. We have policy organizations submitting reports and studies asserting that certain proposals are ridiculous or would either be unfair or detrimental to the state and specific taxpayers. This complexity not only applies to state tax legislatures, but also the federal government - as we know. The problem is that states generally have to balance their budgets every year to operate (although apparently that doesn't apply to Illinois).

One thing I noticed is that state legislative sessions are focused on raising revenue. Always asking what can or should be taxed? What new forms of business do we need to tax? What tax revenue are we missing out on?

I think those are the wrong questions. The questions we should be asking are:

  • What services should the state or federal government provide?
  • To what extent ($$) should the government provide those services?
  • How do we prioritize those services?
  • What is the cost/benefit of providing those services?
  • At what point does the provision of those services cause detriment to citizens and our economy? 
  • What oversight will each service have to avoid waste and efficient use of taxpayer dollars?

We don't always need more revenue. We need to rethink and revamp the purpose of government. Our governments should be lean and efficient. They should provide us with what we need most - not more or less. It's not about tax revenue, it's about efficient government. It's about the health and wealth of our country - financially, physically and spiritually. 

If we never ask the right questions, we won't get the right answers.


I am a state tax consultant and I hate state taxes. Why? Because state taxes are a burden to every company doing business. The registration to do business, the business licenses, the sales AND use tax, franchise taxes, income taxes, property taxes (personal and real property), local income or gross receipts taxes, etc.

Companies are in business to make money and use it to grow their business, not pay the government. I am not a state tax consultant because I love the complexity of state taxes and the fact that it changes daily. I am a state tax consultant because companies need help navigating the complexity of state taxation or they can end up in some big financial trouble that impacts cash flow. 

Now, your Fortune 500 companies may not care as much - meaning, their federal tax liability is usually relatively much larger than their state tax liability, so state taxes usually take a back-seat. However, your growing middle market companies and smaller companies must pay attention or face material liabilities that impact their ability to do business. 

The problem for a state tax consultant is that the correlation between the size of a company and importance of state taxation, is sometimes in contrast to how much a state tax consultant can charge for his or her work. Fortune 500 companies can afford to pay more for state tax consulting services and usually the project or issue has more zeros behind the dollar amount involved. So it makes sense that the fee is larger. 

For middle market companies and smaller companies, even though the dollar amount at issue may not be as large as it is for a Fortune 500 company, the issue is just as valuable or more so because of the relative effect it could have on the cash flow of the company. 

As a result, state tax consultants often have a hard time deciding which type or size of companies they should focus their services on. Each group (large and small) have a need with different means to pay or priorities. 

Regardless of size, companies are not in business to pay taxes. CFOs, Controllers and privately held company business owners are not in business to learn and study state taxes. They don't want to know the technical complexities, they just want solutions. They want to do business with as little tax burden as possible (in dollar amount and compliance). Our job as a state tax consultant is not to explain the technical difficulties and show how smart we are. Our objective should be to resolve state tax issues in practical and cost-effective ways, with as little technical jargon and difficulty as possible. If the client wants to know more, provide it. But otherwise, just do it without explaining the technical theories and potential 'greyness' of the issues involved. Clients don't want to know how difficult it is, they want to know you are on top of it and can resolve it with as little pain as possible.

As a state tax professional, don't fall so in love with the complexity of state taxation that you forget why you are studying it in the first place. That's why I like to keep my perception as one that hates state taxes, because every business does. This ensures that we are on the same page.


I have put together a web page of sites that offer FREE updates on state tax developments. I have also included some of my favorite business and practice management sites, magazines and blogs. 

Please take a look - ONE-STOP SHOP.

Please let me know which sites you find most useful and if you have a site I should add. 

Thank you and enjoy.

SALT and STRUCTURE: Keep it Simple Sxxxxx?

Does your company or client operate its business within a simple organizational or entity structure?  Does it operate all of its business activities through one entity or several entities?  

Whether or not your company or client should operate its business through one entity or several entities depends on several factors, such as:

  1. Does the company have more than one business line, product or service?
  2. Does the company manufacture products and provide services as well?
  3. Is the company profitable in general?  Are certain business lines profitable and others are losing money?
  4. Does the company sell wholesale and retail? 
  5. Does the company sell its products and/or services over the Internet?
  6. Does the company have operations in foreign countries?
  7. Does the company have valuable trademarks, patents, copyrights, or other intangibles?
  8. Does the company want to decentralize or centralize certain functions such as, accounting, legal, tax, purchasing, etc.? 
  9. Should the company have separate entities for legal reasons?  Liability reasons?
  10. Does the company want to streamline its supply-chain, obtain economies of scale?

The list could go on and on.  Each case is different, but the goal should be the same - create and utilize a legal and organizational structure that helps the company achieve its business, legal and financial objectives.

Tax purposes or ramifications, whether it is federal tax, international tax, and of course, state and local tax, should attempt to be in alignment with the company's business, legal and financial objectives.  

Therefore, when it comes for a company to decide as to if they should keep a relatively simple structure or create multiple entities, the "keep it simple stupid" mantra may or may not come into play.  The key is to complete the cost/benefit analysis of doing so.  This means weighing the business, legal and financial objectives.  It also means evaluating the tax ramifications.

Note: if you are a long-time subscriber to the LEVERAGE SALT blog, this post may seem familiar. Yes, I originally wrote this post a couple of years ago, but it still applies today. I am in the middle of a big move from Virginia to Tennessee, so please bear with me as I still attempt to provide you with meaningful content. Sometimes a reminder is just as good as something new. Another way to put it is, we don't always need new laws if we would simply enforce our current laws.