Friday May 3, 2019

"Taxes are Fun?"

Margie Burnett

CPA (Retired)

Scribe: Bob Holert Introduced by: Margie Burnett

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After President Chris Boland opened the meeting, Fred Barkman led the invocation and pledge and Martin Clavijo introduced guests.

Erik Strom was inducted as the newest member of Bellevue Breakfast Rotary. Accompanying Erik were his wife Jessica and their two children, daughter River age 2 and son Dan age 7 months. Erik is a UW graduate and a Principal with IronRidge Capital (Real Estate investing and Property Management) here on the Eastside. Welcome Erik!

Next Vince McDonough, one of BBRC’s newest members gave an entertaining talk on his life from growing up as part of an Irish family in Boston and later heading west. Anyone who heard it had to be impressed with Vince’s sense of humor and delivery!

 Bob Holert then spoke on programs reminding everyone that “We are all part of the Program Committee!” if you have a program idea, email Bob at or call him. He then briefly discussed upcoming programs thru mid-June.

Girish Bhatia said an update on the Walk/Run will come next week. Dennis Newell reminded us that May 3 to 4 is retreat weekend  at Port Ludlow and members attending should check the ferry schedule. Golfers were leaving right after the meeting.

Margie Burnett, retired IRS agent and CPA, then introduced our panel (all BBRC members) to discuss why “Taxes are Fun!?” Besides Margie, the other panelists (all CPAs) were Ann Norman (Partner with Hutchinson & Walter PLLC), Steve Peters (Principal at Peters & Company Inc. PS) and John Smolke, a Partner with Peterson Sullivan LLP. And did you know Margie’s classification is “Exotic Figures”?

John Smolke gave a quick history of income tax in the US. Our income tax in the early 1900s was 1% for anyone making less than $500,000 per years. That amount has obviously changed over the years, getting as high as 70%.

Ann Norman had a meeting with a couple who were clients to go over their finances. At the end of the meeting, as they were walking out the door, they mentioned “By the way, we are getting a divorce”. Ann had them come back in as that information changed their tax situation completely. The moral – be honest and upfront with your tax accountant!

Steve Peters shared that he had once worked as an IRS agent. Steve, as well as the others, said most audits today are by mail, not in person. The stories were fun and the short video Margie played on the image of tax accountants was funny.

One of our CPA members, Neil Bretvick. a Shareholder at Hellam Varon could not make the meeting as he was on a wine tasting weekend to Walla Walla and Red Mountain. He did however share a couple of stories via email.

“One of the funnier taxes I’ve heard of is the “Cow Flatulence Tax” imposed on farmers in Ireland and other parts of Europe.  I guess you’d call it a kind of Gas Tax.

I spoke at CWU with a fellow CPA friend, who at one time was an auditor for the IRS and he told this “funny” story.  While conducting his interview as an IRS agent with a rancher in eastern Washington, the rancher was growing annoyed.  At the same time, there was a loud disturbance of dogs barking outside his office.  The rancher said “excuse me for a minute”, grabbed a rifle, opened a window and shot at whatever was outside (apparently coyotes).  Then they resumed the interview.  “Now, where were we?”

About the Speaker

BBRC's resident CPA's are our speakers for today's program.