2020 Conference (virtual) – Register today!

44 CPE and 33 CLE credits – including 4 in Ethics – over five weeks, exceptional networking and professional development, virtual coffee with celebs, industry and subject matter meeting rooms, books, and more. Free for members. Register today. View schedule here.

Jack McCullough, a Profile of Excellence

What makes a person a leader among leaders? We explore this in our series, Profiles of Excellence. We’re excited to premier this series by featuring Jack McCullough, author, keynote speaker, Forbes contributor, and a founder of two world-class organizations transforming the way CFOs network – thereby influencing how tax and other professionals will network – critical in our new all-digital environment.

Jack is continuously innovating and delivering high caliber products and services. Earlier career highlights include being a CFO and helping launch KPMG’s Global Technology Innovation Center in Boston, Massachusetts. In 2002, Jack cofounded MIT Sloan CFO Summit, a preeminent conference for CFOs. Four years later, Jack launched CFO Leadership Council (CFO LC) to provide nonpareil professional development and networking to financial executives. Last year, he parlayed insights collected from conversations with over 40 of the world’s foremost CFOs into Secrets of Rockstar CFOs.

With the economy spinning and conventional avenues for connecting upside-down, leaders are seeking solutions for guiding their company safely through the morass. CFO LC has been a beacon for singular networking and wisdom.

Why does this matter to a tax professional? What impacts a business often impacts its taxes. To competently advise our companies, we (tax professionals) must understand the financial and operational aspects of the business as these flow into the tax results. So, the concerns of a CFO will often be the concerns of tax executives. CFO LC has raised the bar on and set the trend for how networking and knowledge in finance, an overarching field, is delivered.

Take, for example, CFO LC’s Masterclass Keynote Series (MKS), five 90-minute courses held over a five-week period in May and June. When the pandemic closed the doors on in-person events, CFO LC masterfully pivoted from its in-person CFO Week to offering the virtual MKS, delivering in a scientific framework expertise on managing through catastrophic events from finance and research luminaries such as Elaine Paul, CFO of Amazon Studios, Christine Komola, former CFO of Staples, Steve Priest, CFO of JetBlue, Court Chilton, Senior Lecturer, Work and Organization Studies at MIT Sloan School of Management, and Renee Richardson Gosline, Senior Lecturer, Management Science Group at MIT Sloan School of Management.

More TED-like than standard webinars, MKS elevated subjects of surviving and thriving during an economic downturn by combining the science behind cultivating success with real life examples, conveying meaningful, actionable information to leaders. Addressing work styles, John Carrier, Senior Lecturer, System Dynamics Group at MIT Sloan School of Management and Managing Director of 532 Partners, opened the second episode by framing the discussion around behavior being a function of the people and system in which they find themselves, sharing keys to monitoring and measuring success, and from recent experiences of dignitaries in finance such as Amrita Ahuja, CFO of Square, and Elis Costa, CFO North America of Marsh & McLennan Companies to fill out the discussion. All the while, the audience of over 800 were participating in a live discussion through chat.

Professional organizations are more crucial when people are disconnected and unable to network through traditional methods. Leadership and volunteer positions in CFO LC are gateways to casually connect with executives, venture capitalists, and subject matter experts. This may explain why, even though financial executives are notoriously busy, more than 250 have scheduled time to volunteer on a committee or in programming at CFO LC.

In addition to leading and inventing, Jack finds time to speak, contribute to Forbes, and mentor.

Hear Jack’s insights on cultivating excellence in leadership and receive a free digital copy of his book at our upcoming five-week conference opening October 19, 2020.


Experience unrivaled networking and professional development at TaxForward (tax professionals) or Future Tax Leaders (tax students) by joining its leadership, volunteering, or becoming a member. Contact Info@TaxForward.org to learn more.

Ashby Walters is Executive Director and cofounder of TaxForward and Future Tax Leaders. She has served as head of or leader in tax for Peet’s Coffee, Inc., Quizno’s, Staples, Dish Network, and other companies. Over her 20-plus year career, Ashby has helped organizations from Fortune 200 companies to start-ups, save more than $200 million in cash taxes, millions in G&A, and thousands of production hours collectively.

Tax Department Heroes: Cash Saving Opportunities

It’s official; the U.S. economy, if not the world economy, is in a recession.

As usually happens during economic downturns, companies turn to the Tax Department for cash. No, it’s not because we are hoarding cash in barrels out back. Often, it’s because the newly enacted stimulus law involves taxes. Plus, savvy companies know Tax Departments can be a source of strategic opportunities to recover and save cash. In this article, we provide a list of places to explore as you’re turning over stones to help save cash for your company.

We have indicated the stones to look under by name or high-level description only. They might not apply to all companies and situations. Additional research or consultation with your advisors should be performed to confirm your business qualifies.

Recent stimulus:

  • EIDL (Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program) grants and loans (CARES Act)
  • PPPL (Paycheck Protection Program loans) (CARES Act)
  • Other business loan programs under the CARES Act
  • Deferral of payments on pre-existing SBA loans (CARES Act)
  • Delayed tax filings and payments (IRS)
  • Delayed payroll tax payments (CARES Act)
  • COVID-19 related sick leave (FFCRA)
  • NOL carrybacks (CARES Act)
  • AMT credit (CARES Act)
  • Increase in the cap on IRC Sec. 163(j) interest deductions (CARES Act)
  • Qualified improvement property (e.g. subject to 15 years depreciation) (CARES Act)
  • Payroll tax credits on retained employees (exclusion applies with the PPPL) (CARES Act)
  • Increase in the cap on charitable contribution deductions (CARES Act)

Preexisting laws:

  • Accounting methods
  • Capitalization policies
  • Treatment of customized or internally developed software
  • Enhanced charitable deductions for food donations
  • Research and development – have conversations with heads of different teams to learn about new activities
  • Tips credit for restaurants and other industries with tipped staff
  • Tax incentives such as work opportunity credits
  • Legal entity structure
  • Revenue recognition – take another look at large contracts and accounting’s policies
  • Analyze entries in select GL accounts
  • Evaluate fixed assets for:
    • Items that can be re-categorized or split into shorter-lived assets
    • Items that can be written off or down
    • Items that can be expensed
    • Items that can begin depreciating
  • Acquisitions:
    • Payroll taxes
    • Workers compensation rates
    • Goodwill – basis and release
    • Basis in liabilities (some liabilities do not follow GAAP, such as deferred revenue, which is based on anticipated cost of generating revenue)
  • Federal and state items subject to carryforward limitations to ensure proper treatment – if the rules are unclear, do not make assumptions, there may be resources to help you determine proper treatment such as Congressional intent, jurisdiction manuals, and instructions for returns from the year the law went into effect
    • NOLs
    • AMT credits
    • R&D credits
    • Excess charitable contribution deductions
    • Nonrefundable incentives
  • Foreign taxes, direct and indirect
  • Evaluate sales tax for:
    • Machinery and equipment used in manufacturing
    • Rate adjustments if you use a blended sales tax rate based on “to go” sales
    • Exempt or zero-rated items
  • Property tax:
    • Assessed values
    • Special rules and rates for specific assets, such as machinery and equipment
    • Property no longer in the company’s possession
    • Payment deferrals
  • Excise taxes – state and federal
  • Unclaimed property
  • Timing of tax prepayments – penalties and interest may be outweighed by the company’s need for or return on/cost of cash

G&A driven:

  • Renegotiate rates with external service providers
  • Opportunities for automation
  • Reevaluate the in house to outsourced work mix
  • Seek experts working on contingency to find opportunities to recover cash or capture future savings, such as through credits
  • Reevaluate capital spending plans
  • Reevaluate tools and the department’s use of them
  • Reassess priorities
  • Implement KPIs for performance optimization and ROIs to control costs and focus efforts
  • Implement project management processes and tools
  • Implement policies, procedures, and protocols to standardize processes and increase efficiency

Let us know how it goes. You can share your recommendations with us by sending an email to Info@TaxForward.org.

Happy hunting!


Ashby Walters is Executive Director and cofounder of TaxForward and Future Tax Leaders. She has served as head of or leader in tax for Peet’s Coffee, Inc., Quizno’s, Staples, Dish Network, and other companies. Over her 20-plus year career, Ashby has helped organizations from Fortune 200 companies to start-ups, save more than $200 million in cash taxes, millions in G&A, and thousands of production hours collectively.

The Wisdom of Greg Anton, Accounting Cultural Icon

Greg Anton, a CEO with a long list of accomplishments, has been influencing accounting culture for decades. While Greg may make success look easy, it was achieved through innovation, grit, and by embracing what he loves. We’ve captured some of the insights on building success he’ll share at TaxForward’s 2020 conference on October 25 through 27th here.

Before launching ACM LLP, a regional powerhouse CPA firm with 26 partners and four offices across two states, with two colleagues in 2002, Greg was a Partner at BDO. In 1999, he began six years of service on the Board of Directors for Colorado Society of Certified Public Accountants (COCPA), one of those years as its Chair. His influence expanded to the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), when he joined its Board of Directors, serving as its Chair, a liaison to Congress, and on several technical committees. In 2015, AICPA recognized Greg’s contributions by bestowing its highest honor, the Gold Medal Award for Distinguished Service, on him.

How does Greg cultivate success? By doing things that are generally within all our capacities to do.

He Integrates What He Loves with His Work

Greg says he has had only two careers his whole life: camp counselor and accountant. As a camp counselor, Greg learned the value of integrating what one loves – then, being a camper – into one’s work. According to Greg, focusing on the things he enjoys and does well helps him set his compass and decide where to invest his time, freeing him to do more of what he loves. He attributes communicating what he’s passionate about to helping people identify opportunities to partner with or learn from him. Acknowledging what he doesn’t do well enables Greg to find people with complementary skills.

Unable to think of ways in which to integrate what you love with work? Bringing to mind Mary Poppins teaching Jane and Michael Banks to find the “element of fun” in a job (turning chores into a game in the movie named after the titular character), Greg recommends looking at other ways to integrate your passions and work, such as exercising during breaks.

He Differentiates Himself and His Company

Differentiation sets us apart from our peers and competitors, making it easier for our target audience to select us. Sharing and pursuing what he enjoys doing is a way Greg differentiates himself from his peers.

He has done the same with ACM. When launching ACM, Greg wasn’t creating something new; as he points out, the tools and laws are the same, it’s the people that are different. His goal was “building a better mouse trap” by delivering a superior experience and product than other firms. Today, ACM is renowned for quality.

He Sets the Tone

As a camp counselor, Greg had the advantage in size and strength over the younger campers in races to the swimming hole. Yet, he purposefully led the races from behind rather than in front. This gave Greg better line of sight to coach campers on how to improve and enabled campers to learn from their decisions and experiences. It was an opportunity for him to learn from the campers, as well. “My way isn’t the best way,” Greg says, “it is a way.”

To build a professional and highly competent team at ACM, Greg created an environment that fosters growth and opportunity, where others can lead and contribute. “People want to be around opportunities to succeed, grow, and advance,” he says. He’s eliminated common barriers to growth by cultivating a culture that rewards teaming with people having complementary skills and encourages its professionals to welcome questions and opportunities to collaborate.

He is Continuously Learning

When Greg entered college, he knew he wanted to be an entrepreneur – but he didn’t know how to become one. He pursued accounting in part for the job security associated with the field. Now, he draws on what he learned as an accountant to be a successful entrepreneur.

He is Comfortable with Change

Having to innovate to overcome the hurdles of severe dyslexia, Greg learned early in life a person could have “major failures” but still be successful. A lifetime of seeking tools and techniques to succeed has put Greg in the forefront of adapting to the evolution undergoing the accounting field. For example, he uses dictation software, which can transcribe words three times faster than the average person, freeing up time.

Greg is excited about the technological changes occurring in his field. He believes artificial intelligence and virtual robots will assume unexciting work, enabling accountants to operate at a higher level and pursue more enjoyable consultative, observational, and value-added work.

Greg adds, doing what one enjoys will differentiate companies and individuals as technology displaces human capital.

He is Involved

Greg actively participates in what he calls the “enrichment cycle” – he is engaged in organizations within his field, which enriches his knowledge of the field, improving his ability to serve his company, employees, and clients, which creates opportunities for him, his team, and his company.

Lastly, He Tries

Greg says willingness to try and risk failure provides opportunities to succeed. Failing contributes to success by providing opportunities to learn and grow.

Learn more at this year’s conference, October 25 through 27. Register HERE.


Ashby Walters is Executive Director and cofounder of TaxForward and Future Tax Leaders. She has served as head of or leader in tax for Peet’s Coffee, Inc., Quizno’s, Staples, Dish Network, and other companies. Over her 20-plus year career, Ashby has helped organizations from Fortune 200 companies to start-ups, save more than $200 million in cash taxes, millions in G&A, and thousands of production hours collectively.

Doing the Math on Unemployment Benefits

With nearly 10 million people registering for unemployment in a two-week period, we decided to look at unemployment benefits and how much they’ll cover in the upcoming weeks.

Unemployment benefits vary by state. Generally, they are a percentage of a person’s wages and limited to a certain number of weeks – usually 26 – and do not start until seven days after a person files for benefits. Once a recipient’s allotted benefits run out (i.e. are paid out over the maximum number of weeks), they might not be eligible to receive unemployment benefits for a while.

Excluding expanded benefits under the stimulus package, Massachusetts offers the highest weekly unemployment benefits at $823 for up to 30 weeks; Mississippi offers the lowest weekly benefits at $235 for up to 26 weeks – not enough to keep a single adult over the U.S. poverty guideline of $12,490 ($25,750 for a family of four according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services). Georgia offers the shortest benefit period at 20 weeks.

Using, as an example, Colorado, whose weekly maximum unemployment benefit of $561 exceeds even California’s weekly maximum, unemployment pays no more than 60% of a recipient’s earnings. A person must earn $4,000 monthly, or $48,000 annually, to receive an average monthly benefit of $2,431 – the maximum benefit in Colorado – a $1,569 hole. (We’re comparing gross numbers because both amounts are subject to income tax.) Add on the monthly cost of COBRA – which averaged $610 per month for individual plans in 2019 according to the Kaiser Family Foundation ($1,749 for families, both figures include 2% administrative fees) – and, in a state where half the population earned more than $68,811 in 2018, $5,734 monthly, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, an additional $1,200 might not be sufficient to keep the unemployed in their homes if this continues over a protracted period.

Increasing weekly unemployment benefits by $600 will raise the maximum monthly benefit to $5,031. Anyone earning less than $60,000 annually – less than half Colorado’s working population in 2018 – will receive more in benefits through July 31, 2020, than they had been earning monthly. All others will receive less than they earned.


Ashby Walters is Executive Director and cofounder of TaxForward and Future Tax Leaders. She has served as head of or leader in tax for Peet’s Coffee, Inc., Quizno’s, Staples, Dish Network, and other companies. Over her 20-plus year career, Ashby has helped organizations from Fortune 200 companies to start-ups, save more than $200 million in cash taxes, millions in G&A, and thousands of production hours collectively.

Pro Bono Help for Companies

A message from Lew Visscher of Lew’s List:

All,

COVID-19 has changed everything.

In the business world – professionals everywhere – bankers, lawyers, accountants are publishing volumes of information on how to adjust to these changes.

Lew’s List is taking this to the next level by partnering with High Plains Advisors to assemble a group of CFO’s – Controllers and other senior Finance professionals to actually dig in and help businesses execute on the various stimulus programs, incentives and changes. 

One immediate need we see is to help companies apply for the PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) loans.  In addition, we will focus on the immediate assessment and execution of short and mid-term strategies to extend/improve businesses cash flows  which may include navigating possible execution of The CARES Act, the Families First Act and others.  We can also assist with human capital and tax planning issues and design and implement other business strategies where needed.   

The above assistance could be as simple as helping companies fill out the right forms or help you gather the necessary information to complete the forms.  It might be helping them  find a loan source to bridge the time between now and receiving certain stimulus funds, if applicable.  We are ready to roll up our sleeves and dig in.

These services will be provided pro bono – our commitment is helping businesses in our communities stay in our communities.

If you are a business that could use this type of assistance or know of some companies that can – please reach out to me or have them do it at lew@lewslist.com

We are here to help!

Lew

Time to Lead

We, as tax professionals, must not only respond to protect ourselves personally, but to lead in rebuilding and then strengthening the infrastructure of our businesses and, through them, our economy.

TaxForward.org

COVID-19 has significantly altered our lives – including stay at home rules that, in some states, extend into June. The view of our altered landscape extends far into the future. 9/11 permanently moved us to remote servers, cloud computing, and advanced physical and virtual security. The Great Depression changed the way people viewed and used money and their relationship with government.

Our new normal will be shaped by this virus, even when we are allowed out of our homes and back to recognizable routines. Seemingly invincible titans and industries may fall; new hegemons and industries will rise. Our expectations of and the way we interact with the government, the ways in which we do business, and how we engage socially have all been impacted. Due to the size of the financial impact, it is predicted our government will need to invest many trillions of dollars to bring us out of this financial crisis. Our interactions with foreign governments (markets for both selling and purchasing) will change. Something as simple as how we look at shopping has already changed.

Every crisis we have ever suffered has had the benefit of educating us and helping us to become better at our response and our practices. Wars (as this current crisis has been referred to time and again) bring us medical advancements and prove to us we can martial our resources and people to accomplish great things. Natural disasters (as COVID-19 is) make us aware of our shortcomings in planning and preparedness. Financial disasters make us realize what we lack in skills and security and we adjust. Well, we’re in the penultimate of learning experiences now – financial and natural disasters coming together in a war that we must win.

We, as tax professionals, must not only respond to protect ourselves personally, but to lead in rebuilding and then strengthening the infrastructure of our businesses and, through them, our economy. This crisis has forced us to ask a lot of questions about safety nets, preparedness, leadership and how we want to build our future. It is not a matter of getting back to normal. Normal is gone. We need to build our new normal and what that is…is up to us. In a way that is exciting, just as it is daunting. You will notice we’re exploring subjects that are not clearly connected to tax. Our goal in exploring these subjects is to provide you with information that will help you navigate uncharted waters that are changing at a rapid clip.

Solutions to COVID-19 tax and financial concerns

COVID-19 related tax news

Relief from COVID-19


Ashby Walters is Executive Director and cofounder of TaxForward and Future Tax Leaders. She has served as head of or leader in tax for Peet’s Coffee, Inc., Quizno’s, Staples, Dish Network, and other companies. Over her 20-plus year career, Ashby has helped organizations from Fortune 200 companies to start-ups, save more than $200 million in cash taxes, millions in G&A, and thousands of production hours collectively.