Busy Season Prioritization & Tax Practice Team Success

February 26, 2016

Busy Season Prioritization
For me, busy season always means far too little time to do the little things. I find myself simply piling up things to do in my life’s inbox rather than making any progress on solving and accomplishing any of these lesser tasks. Things like technical journals, non-critical updates, and newsletters go unread for several weeks while I focus on the “day job.”  It’s only right that way I suppose. Now is the time that I can make the most difference for my clients and the time where my services are needed the most. So I manage my peaks and valleys of work by prioritizing.

Yet, this demand on my time doesn’t excuse the fact that I still have to be competent and technically up to date. I have yet to work a busy season that there is not some change or some condition that requires me to adjust in some way. In short, in order for me to be successful I have to rely upon others who focus exclusively on these items that I have to know now to serve my clients. My clients can ill-afford to have me saying “I’ll get to figuring out that problem in 8 weeks when things are less busy” when that knowledge is needed now. Thus for me to be successful I have to find a balance and maintain my small list of resources to help me prioritize.

The AICPA focuses on serving its membership. Tax is no exception. During my service as the Chair of the Tax Executive Committee I have been struck by the amazing competence and professionalism that our tax practice team has shown in this area. To be clear, the AICPA can’t and shouldn’t do everything for me as a small practitioner that I need to be successful; however, what they have done in terms of education, training, updates, support materials and checklists has been amazing.

For me, the AICPA Tax Practice Team is simply an extension of my practice office. I rely upon them to help me prioritize my in-box during this busy time and to help me understand current trends that should influence how I manage my practice. I relied upon them for information about ACA this past year as well as sifting through key topics on the Busy Season Resource page. The AICPA does the things for me that I would do if this were May instead of February.

Each of these team members is well accomplished in their own right. I have been impressed by each of them. I thought for this month’s article it might be helpful to introduce them to you so you could have a deeper appreciation for the men and women that help support this vital function for all of us.

Meet the Tax Practice, Ethics and Professional Standards Team

Cari Weston, CGMA, CPA, Director
Cari leads the team responsible for non-advocacy related tax activities for the AICPA. Her primary focus is to ensure that CPA tax practitioners have the resources necessary to truly be the premier providers of tax services. This includes communicating on new or trending issues and developing materials to assist with technical, practice management and ethical tax matters.

Cari has a deep passion for her role and the responsibility her team has in serving AICPA members who work in all areas of tax. She also ensures that other teams within the Institute have the support they need by serving as a subject matter expert on tax topics. And she has direct responsibility for creating and maintaining the value of membership in the Tax Section.

As a long time tax practitioner, Cari understands the needs of the members and is constantly seeking to improve the experience, the resources, the engagement and the support Tax Section members receive. Chances are good that you have heard her speak on an AICPA webcast or at a tax conference and if so her love of the profession is evident. 

April Walker, CPA, Lead Technical Manager
April is the newest person on the team, but has wasted no time in getting up to speed on serving the AICPA’s members in tax practice. If you contact the Institute with a tax related question such as how to locate a resource, or to inquire about the standards applicable to tax services, she is the person who ensures that your request is directed to the right person and addressed in a timely manner.

She has taken ownership of the development of the highly popular Annual Compliance Kit, which contains various checklists, engagement letters, organizers, and other practice guides. She is also working to automate the tax resource development process which will allow for member resources to be created and released sooner than ever before. Additionally, she assists in the development of articles, technical and practice management resources, webcasts, and website content.

April brings over 14 years of public accounting experience to her role, where she specialized in individual tax, small business flow through entities, and non-profit taxation.

Heather Murphy-Walker, Manager
Heather oversees our Tax Section membership marketing efforts, website strategy, and member communications. She is responsible for the development of the recently updated monthly newsletter and manages the content, review and production of each issue. She also coordinates the Tax Section booth at AICPA conferences, and is usually behind the table greeting both new and existing members.

She is the staff liaison to the Tax Practice Management Committee, and works with the group to develop timely resources on topics such as starting a tax practice, client communications, and firm best practices. She is also the internal liaison with teams such as member value and communications to ensure that Tax Section membership benefits are communicated to current and potential members to maintain member engagement.

Heather has been with the AICPA in various roles for the past eight years and brings her wealth of knowledge on the inner workings of the organization to the team.

Henry Grzes, CPA, Lead Technical Manager
Henry joined the AICPA tax division this past November, but is no stranger to the organization. He is a long time member and served as a volunteer assisting with tax related advocacy and resource development efforts. Henry utilizes this experience in his current role as the staff liaison to the Tax Practice Responsibilities Committee, which is responsible for tax ethics and standards and the Statements on Standards for Tax Services.

In addition, he works with the team to develop timely resources such as articles, technical guides, webcasts, and website content on topics including ethics, ACA, tangible property, and international tax.

Henry’s career in public accounting spans several decades where he worked for a range of public accounting firms in both the U.S. and Canada. He has extensive experience in working with closely held businesses, their owners and related entities on domestic and international tax planning and compliance issues.

Susan C. Allen, CPA, CITP, CGMA, Lead Technical Manager
Susan oversees all AICPA tax division-sponsored webcasts by monitoring the tax environment for key topics and reviewing feedback from members, in order to develop our webcast calendar. She assists in locating and training speakers, developing content, ensuring quality control standards are met, and making sure that each step undertaken “behind the scenes” to run an event are handled properly.

She is the staff liaison for the Tax Practice and Procedures Committee where she manages the development of resources to aid members in working with the IRS. Susan also serves as the liaison for the Tax Information and Operations Management Task Force where she uses her passion to help members focus on the importance of tax technology. In addition, she works with the team to develop timely resources such as articles, technical guides, and website content on a variety of topics including our newly updated ID theft dedicated website and corresponding resources.

Susan spent seven years in public accounting performing a wide range of tax planning, compliance, and financial analysis work. Immediately before joining the AICPA, she worked with a tax product startup company developing tools and resources for tax practitioners.

Much Success
I hope like me, each of you will continue to find success in your practice this busy season and I hope you will continue to find value in your membership as a result of these talented individuals.

Again I thank each of you for your continued support of the AICPA as we together work towards improving our ability to serve clients, our employers, our own business interests and other business pursuits where the tax discipline can add meaningful value.