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Tuesday, Aug 9, 2022
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Nicholas Sanchez

Nicholas Sanchez, 37, is a taxation attorney working at an accounting firm. He settles tax matters for clients, including distributions, information reporting and attorney’s fee awards. During his career, he has authored several articles about taxation issues and saved his clients millions of dollars in reduced or eliminated penalties from the Internal Revenue Service. TITLE: Tax Attorney FIRM: Miller Kaplan Arase, North Hollywood SPECIALTY: Tax law cases with the IRS HOBBIES: Family time Question: Why accounting? Answer: It is more accurate to say that I chose a career in an accounting firm, rather than a career in accounting. I am actually not an accountant, nor do I have a traditional accounting background. Rather, I attended law school where I earned a law degree and then went on to pursue a master of law degree in taxation (LL.M.). My interest in tax began when I took an introductory federal income taxation course in law school with a very dynamic and engaging professor, Joshua Rosenberg, who is well known in tax law academia. He was kind enough to mentor me and to eventually put me in touch with Julia Damasco, formerly of Damasco & Associates and now a partner at Miller Kaplan Arase, with whom I have worked ever since. Your role in the firm? My practice includes advising clients with respect to the tax aspects of settlements and judgments, whether arising out of class action litigation, administrative enforcement actions or proceedings. I also provide tax controversy services at the administrative agency level as well as in the U.S. Tax Court, information return and withholding compliance services, ruling requests, tax opinions and general tax consulting services. Relationship with CPAs: I have a synergistic relationship with my colleagues who are CPAs, accountants and paraprofessionals. I rely on them and their distinct skills to better serve our clients and, likewise, I support them primarily in research, analysis and planning of complex matters. What defines “star accountants”? Professionals in this field need to be willing to step outside their comfort zone and tackle a variety of client engagements. Gaining experience in a wide variety of substantive issues is invaluable to colleagues and clients. Time management: I spend much of my day reviewing and responding to emails and attending conference calls with clients. Frequent internal status and planning meetings with colleagues, keeping abreast of pertinent developments in tax, research and drafting of correspondence round out a typical week. Best part of your job? The varying interplay of facts, issues and clients in any particular engagement is unique, which is challenging, stimulating and fascinating. Biggest misconception about accounting? If you take me as an example, there’s a misconception that pursuing a traditional accounting background is the only route to becoming an integral member of an accounting firm. Your personality at work: This profession is demanding of time and diligence. A good dose of stubborn perseverance has proven helpful. New generation of accountants: It’s a disservice to stereotype generations. I believe the greatest value to the profession comes from the commingling of individuals with varying experience, ideas and ideals to better serve our clients who span a wide generational gamut. Memorable experience? Instead of joining my law school classmates to be sworn in with them as an attorney after passing the California Bar Exam, I was sworn in earlier by a notary public colleague so that I could immediately join in seeking 19 private letter rulings from the Office of the Chief Counsel of the Internal Revenue Service in Washington, D.C. It was an extraordinary opportunity early in my career and a very memorable experience. Favorite out-of-the-office activities? I enjoy spending time with my amazing wife and three young children, the latter of whom fill my days with joy and chaos. Career advice: Find a great mentor who can invest time in your development and professional well-being. It makes all the difference. Biggest mistake by clients: Unfortunately, I spend quite a bit of time addressing and correcting avoidable compliance mistakes, such as seeking penalty abatements via administrative appeals. Developing a close relationship with a competent accounting and tax professional to remove barriers to ongoing advice and planning is very worthwhile. Life during tax season: While I try to support my colleagues as much as possible during this hectic time, my workload is not directly correlated to tax season. There are days that are so chaotic I have to remind myself to get out of my chair and take a break, while there are others that are more orderly and methodical. I unavoidably ruminate on client issues even when I leave the office, but tax season is generally like any other season for me. Accounting mentor? I had many wonderful professors who have contributed so much to my development. However, I owe a great deal to two very talented tax partners who have mentored me over the last 13 years, Jude and Julia Damasco. They have taught me a great deal substantively, but have also been examples with respect to the things that are less tangible, like how to earn the trust of clients, maintain one’s integrity and continuously strive to be a respected advisor and professional. – Stephanie Henkel

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