Tax Strategy Advisor
Sara has worked in tax consulting and preparation for 10 years: at a national consulting and accounting firm, as a tax examiner for the state of Colorado, and in her own private practice.
Sara is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). She also holds a Masters of Science in Taxation from the University of Colorado at Denver. There, she researched, developed, and co-created the M.S. Taxation program, in addition to being the first student to graduate from the newly designed program.
Outside of MARGIN, she enjoys spending time with her dog Buddy, watching shoot-em-up action movies like John Wick, reading philosophy and cookbooks, and exploring new places to find donuts, ice cream, and a properly brewed cup of coffee.
Originally from Wisconsin, Sara misses Friday Fish Frys, the emerald color of green trees in the summer, and solitude where you can go hours without seeing a soul in certain places.
“Non-traditional” baptism into taxes
My first exposure to taxes was when I was 15 years old.
I’m not sure how many parents encourage their kids to sit down and do their own taxes. Mine did. At a time in the mid-90s, when computers were not common, my return was completed and ticked-and-tied by hand-selected forms from the library. Filled out with paper and pencil, with a final copy recorded in pen by my dad as the final reviewer.
My dad went through it with me, line by line, to ensure I understood why each number mattered. It would be many years before I saw taxes as a way to help people, but those experiences solidified the importance of this skill in my mind.
Fast forward to college
Early in my college years, I was asked to volunteer at an IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance site (free tax preparation for low income families). Three years later, I was still volunteering my time at the same site.
This was my first realization of how much of an impact taxes can have on the life of a family, both positive and negative. I also learned how to manage 20 to 30 weekend volunteers, and build better processes to ensure all sites in the Denver Regional area could serve more families.
Building the Masters in Tax Program at Colorado University
Shortly after, I went to graduate school.
At the time, the only option for going deeper into my field was a Master of Accountancy program, instead of a Master’s of Tax, where you actually learn to read “the code” (over 67,000 pages long).
So, I decided to leave college for a while, build the program myself, and get it approved so I could graduate with a Master’s of Tax. While I was helping the course get off the ground, I applied for a job with the State of Colorado – Department of Revenue.
I spent a year learning the ins and outs of sales tax and how the state handles income taxes.
Then, as soon as I received the news that the Master’s of Tax had been approved, I left the Department of Revenue and went back to school. It wasn’t an easy process putting the finishing touches on the program, but we got it done. I was the first graduate of the program, and the only one who walked down the aisle to receive the degree that semester.
Over the next couple of years I worked in public accounting and studied for the CPA exams
I wanted to be part of a team that worked closely with their clients, so I started working with a regional firm, RubinBrown LLP.
Personal, trust, corporate, pass-through, and non-profit taxation were my focus. Despite claims we worked closely with our clients, I never got to spend time hearing about their struggles, dreams, or goals. Something was missing.
Maybe I’ll buy a tax practice
After leaving RubinBrown, I ended up buying two tax practices. Practically overnight, I went from ground zero to serving close to 200 clients. As I learned about their experiences, two topics kept coming up over and over again: a wish for more proactive tax planning opportunities, and a desire for someone to help with retirement planning. I knew I needed to team up with a great financial advisor. After meeting with 30 financial advisors, I finally met Eric.
The rest, as they say, is history.