When I left the Carlson School and the MBT program in 2010, it felt less like retirement and more like graduation, because I could not resist jumping back into public accounting. I had left public accounting 30 years earlier as a burned out tax accountant with one of the Big Four offices in Denver. After four years at the University of Texas at Austin obtaining a PhD in Accounting and Taxation, I was fortunate to be asked to join the Department of Accounting at the Carlson School, where I remained for the next 25 years. I became a Minnesotan, didn’t need to look far to find a terrific Minnesota wife (Deanna was the MBT Administrator at the time) and we have a great Minnesota kid (Ben) who just graduated from the Carlson School. I relished teaching in the undergraduate and MBT programs, doing research and counseling students.
But while I enjoyed academia, I witnessed the evolution of the accounting profession, from paper forms and ledgers, pencils and ten-keys, to what now can be a totally paperless environment. A small error that might have taken hours of frustrating and painstaking work to correct in my earlier public accounting days, now takes a mere click of the mouse. Integrated cloud-based systems continue to increase efficiency and limit data entry. The work changed from laborious and tedious to - dare I say - fun!
So I formed GW Carter, Ltd. in the fall of 2010. My niche tax clientele is foreign national individuals. I got a head start in this area by coordinating an annual VITA workshop for nonresident alien students and faculty for 15 years while at the U. Recruiting and training student-preparers, and overseeing the preparation of thousands of nonresident returns was great experience. With an efficient and easy to use online system, and an experienced tax staff (including MBT graduate Karl Disney) we have a rapidly growing global client base. Our clients are mainly visiting foreign national scientists, doctors and academics, and foreign real estate investors. Several prominent foreign entertainers and athletes add color to the mix. U.S. expatriates are also a growing component of our client base, as well as U.S. residents needing guidance with FBAR (foreign bank account) compliance.
To diversify, I recruited a first-rate bookkeeping staff, and we have an expanding small business department utilizing online applications. Our system removes geography as a barrier, and we have acquired bookkeeping clients as far away as Paris, Madrid, Baton Rouge and Boise. Also, very recently I launched an online directory for accountants, bookkeepers and tax practitioners at www.taxandbookkeepinghelp.com.
Since I’m old, I guess I should think about retirement eventually. But first I need to find something I enjoy doing more than what I am doing right now, and that might take me awhile.