Category Archives: Karen

Karen Favorito’s posts

Sentiments of a Fifth-Year MPA Student

Karen celebrates birthday with MPA friends.

Wow! I never thought I would get this far. Being a fifth-year Integrated MPA student still feels surreal to me. My years of hardwork as a college student will finally come to a close. It surely feels bittersweet.

What does a fifth-year student’s schedule look like?  After going through my recruiting and internship semesters, I have just been focusing on my remaining courses and enjoying Austin as much as I can.

I have a couple of undergraduate classes left to satisfy my BBA degree and three remaining graduate courses. Group projects, midterms, and deadlines are still the main highlights of my semester.

Even though this is my last year here at UT, I still strive to maintain my grades. while also making room to take fun classes that are non-accounting related, such as theatre and music.

I have also been preparing for the CPA Exam, which I am taking in April 2012. Testing under out-of-state requirements can be challenging, but I am very fortunate to have very helpful academic advisors that walk me through the process. I have also looked at Becker CPA Review courses to prepare for the exams. The AICPA website provides a good overview of the exam components and requirements for candidates. Continue reading Sentiments of a Fifth-Year MPA Student

Ten-Weeks of the Life of a Tax Accountant

After 10 weeks of waking up at 5:30 a.m., driving for an hour in rush-hour traffic, and staring at spreadsheets in a conference room with no windows for eight hours or more everyday, my internship has come to a close. And I would have to say that I will miss it!

The internship definitely gave me a good overview of what tax accountants do on a daily basis. Surely, most days were repetitive, some were a bit dry, but there was always a new tax law to analyze or a new type of expense to capitalize. My biggest takeaways from this experience were:

1) There was always something to learn.

Having had no prior knowledge in international tax made my tasks a little challenging. There were several things that I was trying to grasp all at once: teaching myself international tax accounting, understanding how prior years’ transactions affect this year’s tax liability, and navigating the tax accounting software. Passing my accounting classes was no guarantee that I was fully prepared for work. Getting my feet wet in the real world was like going to pre-school for the first time. Be ready to learn, and by that I meant be very ready to learn – A LOT!

2) Technology could be disappointing sometimes.

I had three different laptops issued to me during the internship. The first two did not cooperate long enough with me. I realized that having the e-mail application, instant messaging software, and seven workbooks open at the same time would take a toll on one’s computer. I had to drive back and forth from the client site to the office to resolve my technology issues. Although I like visiting the office from time to time, having technology problems close to your deadline and not being able to accomplish anything could be a little frustrating.

3) There was always something to work on or help with.

My team engagement seniors from India mostly reviewed the returns I prepared. Due to time differences, I did not receive reviews from them until the next day. Instead of sitting in the room, doing nothing after finishing my assigned entities, I would constantly ask my team members if they have anything I can help them with. Also, after my managers have reviewed the workbooks and returns my seniors and I have prepared, instead of waiting for my seniors to tell me what to do, I took the initiative to clear the review comments my managers had.

In case you are not familiar with how the review process works in public accounting, the staff prepares the workbooks and the returns, which will then be reviewed by the senior. Continue reading Ten-Weeks of the Life of a Tax Accountant

Life in the real world begins…

So, where have I been all this time? Well, after that fall semester roller coaster ride, the spring semester has been an outer space kind of journey.

It began with my early and short spring semester that actually started on January 4. I was in an accelerated six-week program, where I took two three-hour graduate classes before I went out for my public accounting internship in the middle of February. Oh boy, it was intense! There was never a day that I did not think about Corporate Tax. I only had classes every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., but I did not feel I had a weekend off, at all. From group projects, homework assignments, essays, and readings, the accelerated semester would constantly keep me on my toes. Nonetheless, even though it was not an easy semester, I am glad to say that everything I learned from it will stick with me. It gave me confidence that I have some knowledge to take with me during my internship.

And so my life in the real world has begun. The first week was training, where I met interns from other universities, as well as other students interning in different locations within the southwest region. The first week gave me reassurance that even though I don’t know everything I possibly can about accounting, the MPA program has transformed me into a determined knowledge-seeker. I never thought I would say this, but when the firm’s senior managers talked about doing tax research effectively, I got so excited about it because the MPA program has prepared me for it well. Also, seeing Form 1120, Schedules M-1 and M-3 didn’t daunt me as much either. I may not be an expert in filing tax returns yet, but I’ve seen them before and filled them out in my classes.

The second week was my first real work week. As a tax intern, I was told by many that I would just stay in my cubicle every day and would not have the chance to travel or interact with the client. My experience, however, has proven this wrong, because I do not go to the office now. I’ve been out working with my team at the client site, and it has been a great learning opportunity. So far, I’ve been learning how to navigate the software and workbooks the firm uses, and familiarizing myself with several international tax forms and how information flows through them. To be honest, it was an information overload, and I never thought that there is still so much to learn in the accounting field, even though I’ve taken several accounting classes already.

Everything is happening very quickly, and I am ready for the future weeks to come. Work will start coming in and I am looking forward to it. Who knew doing taxes can be exciting?! Well, my life in the real world has truly taken off…

Tax Research and Texas Rangers: What’s the Connection?

Josh Hamilton
Josh Hamilton (Keith Allison photo)

If you want to become an instant millionaire, try catching Josh Hamilton’s homerun baseball. It seems that easy, right? Well, not until you consider the tax consequences of catching such.  It took me a total of maybe 40 hours, 8 cups of caffeine, and a hundred surges of migraine to look for and analyze these consequences and to write a six-page, single-spaced memo on my analysis.

Welcome to Tax Research.

Tax Research teaches students how to identify and use relevant tax laws and sources in answering tax questions and how to communicate these research analyses and conclusions effectively.  The course is comprised of two exams and case assignments derived from real-world situations. It has been one of the most challenging courses I’ve taken, and ironically enough, I’ve been enjoying the class.

 What makes it so challenging?

Professor Zvinakis has taught the course for six years, ever since she began teaching at UT.

She said that what makes the class difficult is that “a clear-cut answer doesn’t always exist [in tax] and the tax law is more often gray than black and white…There could be more than one answer to a particular question, depending on how the relevant tax law is interpreted.”

While I was working on the baseball case, I thought I had the answers to the questions already. However, after continuing with my reseasrch, I found more relevant tax laws and cases that could seriously refute my previous arguments. What was I to do? Work like a recharged research machine! Continue reading Tax Research and Texas Rangers: What’s the Connection?

Class Spotlight: Intermediate Accounting

Intermediate Accounting–every time I hear these words, I can feel a chill going down my spine. It is probably the most challenging class I have taken in my life; yet, even though I spend some sleepless nights trying to unravel the concepts of Intermediate Accounting, I still find myself enjoying the class. So what is it about this class that makes it intimidating yet enthralling at the same time?

Professor Lisa Koonce
Professor Lisa Koonce

ACC 380K.1 is the Intermediate Accounting class that every MPA student takes. Some MBA students also take the class under a different course number, ACC 380D, but the content is basically the same. The course focuses mainly on examining issues in financial reporting and how these issues affect investor’s and creditor’s decision-making. We learn how to form conclusions about the company’s operations based on the information they provided on their financial statements. Furthermore, this class teaches you how to use basic accounting concepts and principles on a larger scale and in a real-world perspective, which makes the course more complex and challenging. As the accounting industry shifts to the adoption of IFRS, we also learn how these accounting applications would differ upon the official implementation of IFRS.

Students are evaluated based on three exams that are very challenging, homework assignments, and team cases, which engage students in using concepts we learn in class and accounting standards to solve issues that have no conclusive answers.

Professor Lisa Koonce makes class discussion interesting by providing us with examples derived from an actual company’s financial statements. She has taught the course almost every year that she has been at UT. According to Professor Koonce, “The real challenge [in teaching the course] is that we go quickly, so [my] goal is to give the essence of the topic in a short time period, enough so that students can work problems on their own and come to really ‘appreciate’ the topic.”

Professor Koonce thinks that the hardest topic in the course is “Deferred Taxes–it’s the difference between two sets of rules (GAAP and tax) over multiple time periods.  So differences of differences.” Continue reading Class Spotlight: Intermediate Accounting