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Tax season keeps CPA Cortez on his toes

Thu, Feb 14, 2013

One on One

yp_brian_cortezBrian Cortez was an Air Force kid whose family moved around quite a bit. He attended a lot of different schools but he was always pretty good at numbers. In college he realized he liked them — a lot.

He earned a bachelor’s in business administration and a master’s degree in accounting from Texas Tech University. And even now, at 35, he never tires of accountant jokes like: “What’s the definition of an accountant? Someone who solves a problem you didn’t know you had in a way you don’t understand.”

It was love that brought him to the Springs last year. He is engaged to be married, and he also found a position with Rohn CPA Group. Now he’s in the throes of tax season and he gets asked some pretty strange tax questions such as, “Can I list my dog as a dependent?”

Brian, where did you grow up?

My dad was in the Air Force, so we jumped around. I spent most of my childhood through elementary school in a small town called Wintersville, Ohio. Then we lived in San Antonio, Texas during my middle school years and Arlington, Texas when I was in high school.

Where did you attend college? What did you study?

I received both a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and a master’s degree in Accounting from Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas.

When did you decide you wanted to become an accountant? What is it about the profession that attracted you?

I probably decided around my junior year in college. I was always pretty good with numbers, and as I started to take the introductory accounting courses, I realized I liked them a lot. I enjoy working in a dynamic industry that keeps me on my toes and constantly learning.

When did you move to Colorado Springs? What brought you out here?

I moved to Colorado Springs in June of 2012. I’m engaged to be married, and Allison was the reason I moved here. I love the city and being able to see mountains every day is just a bonus.

Do you love or hate tax season?

A little bit of both. There is always anticipation leading to tax season that starts in late December/early January. I know it’s going to be fast paced and the work hours will be long, but it’s exciting at the same time. I think there is always a little bit of dread going into every tax season, but once things start to get really busy, you just roll with it. Before you know it, you’ve made it through the end of another tax season and can finally catch your breath.

What is the weirdest tax question you’ve ever received?

I have received a few questions regarding the deductibility of certain items that are clearly more personal in nature and not tax deductible. I wasn’t actually asked this question, but I have heard of people asking if they can include a pet as a dependent on a tax return. Unfortunately, the answer is still no, even if the pet lives with you for the entire year and you provide greater than 50 percent of their financial support.

How long have you been with Rohn CPA Group? What does the firm specialize in?

I started working here in November 2012. We specialize in closely-held businesses, individuals and trusts. We offer a full range of accounting, tax and small business consulting services across a number of industries.

Do you get tired of “bean counter” jokes? Do you have a favorite accountant joke?

No, I don’t really mind the jokes. A lot of them are actually kind of funny. One of my favorites would be, “What’s the definition of an accountant? Someone who solves a problem you didn’t know you had in a way you don’t understand.”

Do you have any great last-minute tax advice for a typical tax filer this year?

The end of 2012 had quite a few changes, as Congress and the President finally agreed to the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012. Among other things, this legislation extends the reduced Bush-era income tax rates for lower and middle-income taxpayers, but it also allows the top rates on earned income and investment income to rise for wealthier households. In addition, it extended certain provisions such as the research and experimentation credit, 50 percent bonus depreciation and the deduction for state and local general sales tax. Every tax situation is unique, so I would recommend you talk to your tax adviser to determine the best tax planning and compliance strategies for your situation.

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