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Tax Pro Spotlight: Michael Braun

Tax Pro Spotlight: Michael Braun

From time to time, we like to shine a spotlight on a tax professional who is active in the Tax School community. Meet Michael!

Hi, I’m Michael Braun. I received my CPA license in 2003 and started my career at a large firm in St. Louis, then went to work in the tax department of a Fortune 500 company before quitting to support my wife’s career and become a stay-at-home dad. The opportunity to take over for a tax practitioner whose health no longer allowed him to practice came along just a few months after I quit my job. My practice, Braun Accounting & Tax Service, is located in Waterloo, IL (about 20 miles from St. Louis).

Q. What does a typical day look like for you?

Obviously tax season days are different than the rest of the year. During tax season, the days start early but I still make it a point to take my girls to school most days. During tax season I like to meet with every client face to face when possible. I try to make the client feel comfortable enough to ask the questions they may otherwise be afraid to. I pride myself in being available to all my clients. I never want to become the firm where the client never gets a chance to sit down with the tax professional to review the tax return.

Q. Why did you get into the tax/accounting field? 

I won an accounting competition when in high school and decided to major in accounting in college. I actually used the savings bond I won in that competition to buy the first printer for my office. I have had my own office for four tax seasons and I feel like I am where I am supposed to be — why else did the opportunity to have my own office present itself right after leaving my previous employer??

Q. Do you have an area of expertise or a niche you especially enjoy?

I enjoy looking beyond the current year tax return to help clients plan for the future. For instance, those retiring today often have sizeable IRA and 401k balances. Without planning, these tax deferred accounts are ticking tax time bombs. Proactive planning with either early distributions or a Roth conversion can save the client significant money. I also like to look beyond income tax and consider Medicare IRMAA costs, real estate tax costs, etc.

Q. What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

You cannot use logic and your perception of fairness when dealing with difficult tax situations. Rather you need to have the substantial authority to back up your position.

Q. What do you like about Tax School seminars/webinars/workbook?

I enjoy the opportunity to network at the seminars and build relationships with other tax professionals. I need those connections so that I have a sounding board to discuss unique issues when they come arise.

Q. Has Tax School helped you in your job and/or to serve your clients in any way?

The Tax School Facebook group is a great way to get another professional opinion. There are some members of the group that take the time to write a detailed response and those are always greatly appreciated.

Q. What are your favorite ways to get tax information?

I prefer to attend in person seminars. I am easily distracted when I am in the office. Getting out for the day to attend a seminar is a great way for me to focus on learning for the day. Clients all understand and appreciate it when they find out you are staying on top of the changing tax laws.

Interview edited for content and clarity.

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University of Illinois Tax School is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. All information in this site is provided “as is”, with no guarantee of completeness, accuracy, timeliness or of the results obtained from the use of this information. This blog and the information contained herein does not constitute tax client advice.