"What Do You Do?"

"What do you do?" is a common question you often receive, but how do you answer it? I know there have been countless articles on "elevator speeches," etc. But how do you explain what you do to people who are not familiar with your field so they can actually understand what it is you do?

Well, my mom recently asked me (again) to tell her what it is I do. After all these years, she still doesn't quite understand what I do. Therefore, I tried to explain it to her (verbally) in non-technical terms, but I thought I would try to put it in writing as well; so here it goes. Oh, before I start, remember, there is a difference between "who you are" and "what you do."Who I AmI am a national state and local tax consultant. What does that mean? I have many years of experience working with federal and state taxing authorities in regards to income tax, gross receipts tax, franchise tax, and sales and use taxes. I have dealt with almost every state.

My mom asked, "how do you keep up with all of those states and tax laws?" Well, I subscribe to daily updates from several different tax research sources, and scour the internet for other news sources that may address state tax law changes and/or court cases. I also frequently visit state department of revenue websites, CPA society websites, chamber of commerce websites, state and local tax foundation or organization websites, etc.

What I DoI serve any business or company operating in any state with significant state and local tax issues in the tax areas mentioned above. What do I mean by "serve"?

I help companies comply or stay in compliance in a complex, ever changing area of tax law which lacks uniformity. I review state tax returns prior to being filed or after being filed to identify compliance errors and refund opportunities. I help companies make informed and supportable state and local tax decisions/positions by taking questions, conducting research, analyzing the facts and law, and providing conclusions and recommendations. I also help companies by confirming (or not confirming) a state and local tax decision/position a company may be thinking of implementing.

I help companies prepare for an audit by maintaining adequate records and documentation at the time of a transaction. I also represent companies during an audit by being the point of contact for the auditor and working with the company to obtain the appropriate documentation, and prepare the necessary response to be provided to the auditor. I also review audit assessments to determine if the company should agree or disagree with the audit assessment. If the company should disagree with the assessment, I work with the auditor to see if an agreement can be reached within the audit. If an agreement cannot be reached within the audit, I also prepare written protests to audit assessments and represent the client in appeals.

Other services I provide would include simply keeping abreast of state and local tax developments (court cases, law changes, etc.) and advising companies of those changes that may have a significant impact on their business. I also try to understand my client's business operations and industry as much as I understand state and local tax. This makes my conclusions and recommendations more valuable to a company.

Overall, I work to improve a company's cash-flow and profit margin, by reducing their cost of doing business through state and local tax compliance management, research and planning, and audit and appeals representation. I seek to provide peace of mind, assuring companies that their issue is under control by a state and local tax expert.

In a nutshell, I specialize in state and local tax research, writing and representation solutions for companies operating in any state with income tax, gross receipts tax, franchise tax or sales and use tax issues.Make Sense?Not sure if my mom will understand what I do by reading the above, but it's a start. What do you think?

This blog

Brian Strahle is the owner of LEVERAGE SALT, LLC where he provides state and local tax technical services to accounting firms, law firms and tax research organizations across the United States.  He also writes a weekly column in Tax Analysts State Tax Notes entitled, "The SALT Effect."  For more info, visit his website: www.leveragestateandlocaltax.com

You can reach Brian at strahle@leveragesalt.com.

Connect with Brian on LinkedIn. Follow Brian on Twitter. Join the Leverage | SALT LinkedIn Group, connect and contribute with your colleagues!  

Because state and local taxes are deceptively simple and endlessly complicated.

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