Go Figure!

Like auditors, skating judges have created their fair share of scandals

Just last weekend, I went home to Dallas in order to judge at a local figure skating competition. When I was at the rink, I had the opportunity to talk to my old skating coaches and friends. The question that always came up was, “What are you studying at school?” When I told them I was an MPA tax track student, many of them gave me a very puzzled look and asked how I ended up choosing that as my career. I thought it was very interesting that many of my friends in the skating world didn’t see what was so attractive about accounting, just because I feel the skills I have developed as a skating judge have helped better me for my career in accounting.

Being knowledgeable about the rules and being able to apply them in snap decisions- The first thing a skating judge must do before taking the panel to judge an event is to familiarize themselves with the rules and requirements of a well-balanced program for the level of the event they are going to judge. If a skater doesn’t do enough elements a well-balanced program requires, or if skaters do elements that are not allowed in a particular level, judges must be able to immediately recognize this in order to make the best possible decision in determining the score the skater’s performance deserves. Judges have to have to determine the skater’s score almost instantly, as they only have a few moments in between each skater in order to award their marks. Like judges, accountants have to be aware of all the standards when they go to work for a client. They also need to be able to apply these rules in quick, stressful situations. Continue reading Go Figure!

CPA Exam Update + More

As the semester is quickly coming to a close, I thought I would give another CPA exam update and describe the end of the semester.

So I took my first section of the CPA exam, and I won’t sugar coat it – it went pretty badly.  It was my first section and it definitely helped me learn what I did well and what I didn’t do well.  I definitely need to change my study method for the next one.  Doing more practice questions is key, as I concentrated more on learning the material than practicing questions.  I also need to realize that the tests are pretty hard and requires probably more studying than I put into it.  For the next section, I plan on doing more practice questions throughout my studying to make sure I am on track and that I don’t feel as unprepared on the day of the test as I did for this one. Continue reading CPA Exam Update + More

Sacrificed communication

Before Facebook chat and text messaging, AIM was my technology-based communication of choice

Technology has always been something I have been really passionate about- hence, when I became an MPA, I kept MIS as my minor here at McCombs. I look at websites, read blogs, etc. and just love to hear the fascinating stories about how technology is shaping and improving the world we live in. However, something else very crucial to the changing world is communication. I am a strong believer in the importance of honest communication and believe that communicating, itself, also shapes and improves the world we live in.

That being said, I was intrigued when I came across a NYTimes article this morning that contrasts ‘communication’ with ‘connection,’ and discusses the role that technology has in the “sacrificing of communication.”

The article goes on to explain the notion of being “alone together.” In a world where we are attached to our smart phones and computers, we feel constantly connected to all of the people in our lives. Sherry Turkle, the author, goes on to explain how we expect more from technology and less from each other. We feel like, because we could send an email or text message at any time, we are all connected. Of course, this is important in a world that is getting smaller and I am not trying to downplay any of the amazing technologies that help business communication today. I just think it is important to remember that there is a difference in what you get out of a face-to-face conversation vs. one online or via email. Continue reading Sacrificed communication

“An Inconvenient Tax”

On Monday, April 16, MPA Council screened “An Inconvenient Tax” to celebrate the end of tax season. For those of you who have not seen the video, I highly encourage you watch it. The film did a great job capturing the complexity of the US tax code, and explaining the most popular theories of ways to reform it. I feel this video is important to everyone, not just those interested in accounting and tax, because tax reform is going to be a major point of debate in the upcoming presidential election. Many of these theories of reform come up often in current events, and I now understand them better thanks to the documentary.

After the film was screened, the MPA Program Director Jim Franklin led a discussion amongst the council members present. Jim brought up many questions that sparked a healthy debate, the most memorable one being “What do you think will happen regarding the tax code in the future?”

There were many good and valid answers to this question, and this question continues to make me think.  Here is my very personal opinion about the future of the tax code, based on my current knowledge:

I hear many people talking about simplifying the tax code and implementing a flat or fair tax to replace our current complicated system. I completely agree the code needs to be simplified, and here are some facts to back up that opinion:

  • The current tax code is four times the length of Shakespeare’s complete volume of works
  • Over 16,000 changes have been made to the tax code in the past 20 years
  • American taxpayers spend $200 billion and 5.4 billion hours working to comply with federal taxes each year, more than it takes to produce every car, truck, and van in the United States.
  • The IRS sends out 8 billion pages of forms and instructions each year. Laid end to end, they would stretch 28 times around the earth. Nearly 300,000 trees are cut down yearly to produce the paper for all the IRS forms and instructions. (there are many more facts not included here that will blow your mind!)

The code in my mind has gotten out of hand. One of the reasons why is because congressmen continually use the tax code to please constituents and donors.  They soften the blow of their poor performance by creating loopholes for their major donors or try to create tax credits and deductions their constituents can use. If we replace our current system with a simpler tax policy, I don’t see why congressmen won’t continue to try to create tax breaks and changing the code until it eventually becomes as complicated as it is today. Continue reading “An Inconvenient Tax”

Morality in Business and Politics

Calypso entices Odysseus, who stays with her for seven years before returning to his wife, Penelope.

The topic arose with a handful of acquaintances this year; otherwise, I probably would not have felt it necessary to write about it. Given the way I feel the

zeitgeist is flowing and the situation where the U.S. Secret Service has found itself in the past several days, this is something that needs to be addressed.

Most people that know me know that I feel that President Obama is very hit-or-miss with his policies; however, I think his administration’s recent actions hit the nail right on the head. Over a dozen officers created a stir from possible activity with prostitution, and they were all sent home immediately. One officer, General Fraser, commented that it was behavior “not in keeping with the professional standards expected.”

More poignant, though, was a comment by a street vendor named Edwin Yepes, who said in a CBS article, “They are supposed to come here and set the example….it’s better if they don’t come than if they damage our image of them.”

What a stain on the United States!

And yet, recent conversations I have had seem to indicate that many people don’t see a connection between personal judgment and professional performance. The classic examples are Kennedy and Clinton; one acquaintance told me it was okay for these men to X-Y-Z as long as they were doing their job. While there is no denying that these men performed superbly on the job, their judgment has to be questioned. Continue reading Morality in Business and Politics

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