Wednesday, September 11, 2013
TAX BLOGOSPHERE BUDDIES – TRACY SHANNON LEVEY
Today’s tax person is more of a “Twitter Buddy” than a “Tax Blogosphere Buddy”. I first came across Tracy Shannon Levey of Parker Tax Publishing located in Bethesda MD when she began to follow and “RT” me on Twitter.
Tracy’s Twitter “handle” is “TaxAddict. I erroneously thought her to be a tax professional – but was corrected after sending her my interview questionnaire. And Parker Tax Publishing does not actually “blog”, although they do publish regular articles, often in depth, on tax issues online.
I have adjusted my standard questionnaire slightly to accommodate Tracy's situation.
(1) How did you become interested/involved in the world of taxes?
I became involved in the tax world through my husband James Levey. He originally founded Kleinrock Publishing which eventually was acquired by CCH and was folded into their “Taxwise” product. We launched a new company in 2011 “Parker Tax Publishing.” Parker Tax Pro Library is a tax research product for tax practitioners that is comprehensive, easy to use and highly affordable. I am the co-founder and the VP of Communications. A big part of my job consists of posting our articles, client letters and bulletins across as many social platforms as possible. They include LinkedIn, FaceBook, Twitter, Slideshare, Tumblr, and Google+. Another important part of my job is the acquisition of authors/writers for our product.
Since starting Parker, I have interacted with many tax professionals through discussion groups, phone calls and meetings. Including our staff of editors and writers. I also network with others that provide services to the accounting profession.
Posting and interacting with tax professionals is very rewarding. They are dedicated and I am very impressed with the vast amount of knowledge that tax professionals have and their ability to keep up with the constant changes. They are always thankful for “free” information and so many love to discuss the issues/changes on a daily basis.
I am not completely without writing/editing experience in regards to our articles that we offer to the public. I give ideas as to what is hot, I read and help edit many article to enhance their readability.
(2) What is your educational background?
My background is in social services (MA in Nonprofit Management from The Sawyer School of Business) I am also a Certified Web Developer/Designer.
(3) How has posting articles helped your business?
Posting has helped build our brand recognition in so many ways. Potential customers are able to read valuable content and it helps them get to know Parker and the quality of our product. So many potential customers call and refer to an article they have read and want to know more about us. They also have a face and name that they recognize (me.) Our best social media avenues thus far are LinkedIn and Twitter.
(4) What do you consider the “best tax advice” you can give anyone?
My lay advice would be to keep great records.
(5) Do you support the decision in Loving v IRS, or do you support mandatory regulation?
I personally support mandatory regulation of tax preparers. I feel the public is unaware of the difference and doesn’t understand that the preparer must sign their tax forms. Many “lay” individuals are using tax software meant for individual use (TurboTax for example.) This leaves many vulnerable to IRS penalties. I do know that there is a cost element for licensure, however I believe it is well below $500. CPAs, Enrolled Agents, etc. also pay fees (for example: CPE requirements.) To protect the public, I feel it is necessary.
(6) How would you reform/rewrite the Tax Code? Under the “clean slate” method of tax reform what tax expenditures (deductions, credits, exclusions) would you keep and why?
My undergrad degree is in political science so I have strong feelings about the way our government spends internationally. I think we need to rethink our expenditures in the military and in military aid to countries that don’t really need it. I feel we need to add even more money into job programs such as the rebuilding of our infrastructure and educating/reeducating those who are out of work. I believe in a strong military, however, the overall system is too intertwined with lobbyists, bureaucrats trying to hold on to their territory and politician trying to keep the pork barrel wheeling in.
As my background is in social services, you can probably figure out that I feel our tax system should be used in a way that redistributes wealth from the extreme haves to the have nots. I would also keep the child tax credit, “green” credits for homeowners and businesses, and especially the ability to write off donations to charity. I think our tax system should reward those that are helping our environment, our vulnerable and our families.
I have recently been studying estate issues and tax haven issues. I do not feel well read enough to write with authority. But in general, I am all for finding those who abuse tax havens. And, given the huge amount of wealth transfer that is occurring from one generation to the next, I do believe a substantial amount of the top 5% wealth should be taxed to help our current economic situation.
(7) Do you think the Tax Code should be used to deliver social welfare benefits?
I absolutely do think that our tax code should be used to redistribute wealth. I am aware that there are those that “abuse” social benefits, but I think is our moral duty of our nation to take care of those who are in need. I support programs that help those who are unable to work for health (mental or physical) reasons. Training programs to help put others to work is a win – win situation.
(8) What is your favorite Broadway musical – and why?
This is a hard question! I have 5 favorites. I pick Man of La Mancha. Its glorious. The music, the songs, the hope, the love! “To dream the impossible dream.” Words to live by.
A good choice for musical. As I mentioned to Tracy when hearing her choice I, too, dream an impossible dream – that the idiots in Congress pass substantive tax reform this year.
Unfortunately it appears Tracy and I disagree on the issues addressed in the interview – required government regulation of tax preparers and using the 1040 to redistribute wealth and deliver social benefits.
While the various social benefits Tracy refers to in her answer to #7 may be legitimate and necessary – I truly believe that they do not belong in the Tax Code. If the government wants to provide these benefits it should be done in a more conventional manner through the various budgets of the appropriate cabinet departments.
Thanks to Tracy for participating.