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Intern Insight – July 26th, 2013

This Friday marks the end of another interesting week at Stephano Slack.  This has been another quiet week, with much of the staff out of the office visiting clients.

My projects this week covered everything from accounting to tax to business consultation. Math Checks made up most of the accounting work; we have a number of financial statements due to clients soon, so I was happy to be able to help out with moving them along.

I worked on two tax projects this week; one was the “simple” preparation of a couple’s tax return while the other was a tax basis calculation.  I put emphasis on “simple” because there is a huge spectrum of ease and difficulty when it comes to tax returns.  If the client is diligent about saving important documents and filing them away for us for when tax season rolls around, tax returns are basically boiled down to two steps: find the right box, and key in the right number.  In other cases, where the client is not as diligent – or is just downright unhelpful – tax returns can turn into quite the bear.  Luckily, the couple whose return I worked on is retired, so that let me skip anything related to wages/salaries.  My main job was entering their interest income, their Social Security benefit income, and their many medical expenses.  It was interesting and informative to see which of their expenses were deductible for taxes and which weren’t.

My next tax project involved helping calculate the tax basis for a partnership’s partners.  This required scouring through the partners’ Schedule K-1 forms for data pertinent to their tax bases.  Schedule K-1 is an important form in business tax returns because it shows how both income and expenses on a partnership’s accounts pass through to its partners.  I had to check every partner’s K-1 for a number of different data points: ordinary income passed on through the business, interest income, dividend income, depreciation expenses, and more.  Everything that indicated a gain by the partner (through the partnership) adds into their tax basis; many of the expenses, like the one for depreciation of fixed assets, reduce their tax basis (the IRS calls this a Section 179 deduction).

This week I had my first experience with business consultation.  ProfitCents is the internet-based program I described in my first blog that helps us to explore and interpret trends in a client’s past years.  I learned this week that ProfitCents has a product that takes those same trends, and – instead of analyzing them in the past – projects them into the future.  These projections help us provide specific advice to a client in determining a business plan for the coming years.  Though I was only involved in the data entry and report-producing side of consultation, it was definitely an interesting experience.

During a conversation with the Managing Member of the firm, Mike Stephano, I gained yet another insight into the business world.  One of the most important things that being an intern in the business world can teach you is that there are thousands of ways to earn a living.  Our clients’ industries cover almost anything you can think of.  They aren’t necessarily doing anything special or completely unique, but some of them do a better job of it than others – and that reflects in their numbers.  Being an accounting intern for Stephano Slack has taught me that the industry you’re in doesn’t necessarily matter as much as your level of dedication and willingness to work hard to succeed.

For the last three weeks of my time here, I will continue to write a weekly blog post with a description of day-to-day life at the Firm, life as an accounting intern, and the acclimations that are required when switching from classroom culture to a 9-5 culture.  Hopefully, this will help to enlighten college students or aspiring accountants to understand what it might be like to work in an accounting firm.  Feel free to contact me at kpollack@stephanoslack.com if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions for these blog posts. If I cannot answer any of your questions, I will make sure they are directed to the appropriate person.

Thanks for reading.

Kurt Pollack

 

July 26, 2013