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My Story

As a kid, I was really interested in money. Spending it was the best part and I always had a wish list ready. But I wasn’t a lemonade stand kind of kid.

I wanted to understand how money worked.My dad was always talking about making money work for you. That sounded a lot more fun than trying to afford my wish list on babysitting money!

Although I didn’t understand how investments, taxes, or insurance worked or what powerful tools they could be, I got that they were a very important part of having real money.

My dad, has been a Wealth Creation and Preservation Advisor serving individuals and businesses for 43 years. He really knows how to make money work for people. I wanted to be one of those people!

My Mom, is a Ph.D. and  a freelance Management Consultant serving small businesses owners (and our Business Manager here at TTSNW.)  All my life I’ve heard her talk about making a living doing what you love to do.

But finding out exactly what I love to do has been a journey. In addition to understanding money, I’ve always been drawn to understanding and helping people resolve complex life problems. Here’s how those passions played out over several different careers:

The Corporate Years

Early in my finance career, I was a teller at the main Bank of America branch in San Francisco. We served the multi-layered population of the city: wealthy elites, professionals, civil service employees, blue collar workers, artists, welfare recipients and homeless folks. 

Instead of keeping professional distance, I talked with each customer as one real person to another. I tried to get each of them exactly what they came to the bank for. I believe every customer deserves that. My conversations were always interesting and customers waited in my line even when other windows were open. I was quickly promoted to Teller Trainer.

I carried my personal customer service and try-it-my-way approach into Quality Control and Loss Mitigation in the restricted stock department (think IPOs), as a manager of 40+ stock brokers at Charles Schwab headquarters. 

I upped my learning curve in diplomacy and negotiation as I resolved regulatory issues and “lost-opportunity” lawsuits while satisfying three kinds of customers: holders of restricted stocks, managers & executives, and Schwab corporate attorneys. Real person to real person conversation, quick thinking, and seeking the simplest solution to a complex problem worked most of the time.

While serving as part of a team of three to plan the design, implementation and launch of a new Charles Schwab Asian- Pacific Division located in China, I discovered that I am more entrepreneur than corporate.                                                                     

I took my people and accounting skills to Portland to work as a freelance financial analyst for a major tech company. As the interim International Finance Analyst I was responsible for coordinating intercompany accounting transactions, including intercompany billings, cross-charges and transfers, currency conversions for over 39 countries and audit support.

I got to fully express my natural talent for creating processes and systems as I designed and implemented quality assurance processes that yielded a 25% efficiency in audit compliance. After a few years in this role I realized I could make a bigger difference working with small businesses and individuals who didn’t have access to a large team of tax and accounting professionals at their daily disposal.

The Small Business Years

A family real estate investment and remodeling business in Portland Oregon desperately needed help with accounting and wanted someone willing to take on big messy jobs. I learned that keeping track of costs for remodeling multiple houses in 9 different business entities was really, really complex and way over my head.

Unfortunately it was also beyond the abilities of their tax advisors and the bookkeepers they sent to help. After trying several other “experts” we found someone who actually understood accounting and bookkeeping for our kind of business operation.

Again, I climbed a steep learning curve as I was taught how to use QuickBooks to keep all the messy accounts straight.  I developed a sense of humor to say the least!

I decided to get my Mortgage Broker license so I could process loan requests. Looking at things from both the borrower’s and the lender’s points of view, I was up to my eyeballs in the complex requirements for financial transactions.

I discovered that most small businesses don't like thinking about taxes, have a hard time find finding someone who can explain their tax situation, and therefore don't do much proactive tax planning. What a fascinating challenge!

I joined the tax industry. I am proud that I was licensed in Oregon because it is the only state that requires someone be licensed to work with your taxes if one is not a CPA. Yay Oregon! 

In a determined pursuit to become more proficient and more educated, I went on to get my Enrolled Agent license. (See what is an Enrolled Agent in the Resources section.) I passed the test the first time.

I am very passionate about understanding the ins and outs of tax law and practice. I had the incredible opportunity to work for a very talented EA at a small tax office in Gladstone OR. Under her guidance, I learned more than I could have imagined and had the pleasure of interacting with many different people, businesses and situations.

The Big Leap: My Own Businesses

I decided that the best way to truly understand accounting in the real world was to jump in and work with as many different small businesses as I was able. I created template-based file and organization systems that could be easily customized for each client. I also initiated regular monthly meetings to address problematic issues, reviewed current projects and unresolved errors on prior projects.

Eventually Above the Line Accounting and Consulting NW, LLC was formed to serve work with small to medium size businesses.  We specialize in personal service businesses, cannabis operations, and small non-profits.

My partner is a CPA candidate with a Masters in Accounting. Together, along with a small staff of employees, we create customized approaches to the specific accounting problems our clients face.

We consult on entity structuring and strategic growth through a thorough understanding of what is happening in the company financially. Because of licensing requirements and insurance limitations, Above the Line does not focus on the tax arena. The natural extension of this need and my passion for tax planning inspired me to create The Tax Strategist NW.

I love what I do and the people I work with! I am very fortunate to share an office with another talented EA with many, many more years of experience and a small talented support staff.

People think I ‘m crazy when I say I love doing taxes. Yes, taxes are often a physically, legally and emotionally messy part of life.  What a great opportunity to make a big difference! I love helping people create strategies that reduce their tax bite while also improve their businesses and quality of life. This is my passion!