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Margaret Lip

You may think you’ve got a pretty good idea of what a career in tax accounting would look like. But, according to tax specialist Margaret Lip, it might be just the opposite of what you imagine.

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Margaret Lip


San Francisco, CA

You may think you’ve got a pretty good idea of what a career in tax accounting would look like. But, according to tax specialist Margaret Lip, it might be just the opposite of what you imagine.

“Tax accounting isn’t about pushing paper, keeping your nose in the books, or counting beans,” says Margaret. “My job is incredibly social, interesting, and fun.”

Margaret spends most of her days working with people, whether she’s advising a client on the tax implications of a financial decision, teaming up with financial advisors, or networking. “I do prepare tax returns, but my main job is helping my clients fulfill their goals.”

Those goals can be anything from estate planning to considering future tax implications of current decisions, since Margaret specializes in tax planning and pre-divorce forensic accounting for ultra high net worth individuals. “I have to be a good listener and a good business advisor, so I feel like my job is just as social as it is technical. It’s also very rewarding because I get to work on projects that are very personal to my clients.” Check out Margaret’s day planner to see more of what she does on a daily basis.

It’s obvious that the notion of the typical tax accountant is as off-base as the stereotypical tax career. “Sometimes there is an expectation that tax specialists are stiff and stern, but all the ones I’ve worked with are nice and well-rounded.” Margaret really enjoys disproving the tax accountant stereotype. “I love going to meetings and proving how useful and fun we can be as tax accountants.”

Margaret discovered quickly how fun tax accounting could be. At a young age, Margaret knew that she and tax were a perfect match. “I found tax policy fascinating and knew early on that that’s where my passion was.” So she got a degree in economics and took a job in audit with a Big 4 (then Big 5) firm while she was working on her CPA.

After testing the waters of audit, Margaret was sure of her love for tax. She enjoyed her first job, but realized that tax would also have been a great place to start. “A career in tax opens a lot of doors; it’s not limiting in any sense. It’s a great field to be in.”

Margaret loves tax so much that she went back to school and got her Master’s of Science in Taxation (MST). And she’s a big advocate of other kinds of continuing education. “Anything you can do to improve your technical skills is great. Learning more can only make you better at what you do.”

Margaret has also honed her technical and social skills through participating in professional organizations, including CalCPA and AICPA’s Technical Research Panel for Trust, Estate, and Gift Tax. “Professional organizations are a great resource for training. They also provide a great way to be social and network with other professionals.”

So, do you think you’re the kind of person who would make a good tax accountant? Margaret says, “If you like numbers, the law, and business – you’d be great at tax. You’ve got to be good at a lot of different things. It’s a challenging, interesting, and rewarding career.”

If your personality fits the bill, learn more about the awesomeness of tax specialization.

  • 6am: On the Road!

    I take advantage of my morning commute by listening to the radio and catching up on the news. 

  • 7am: Getting Ready for the New Day

    Arriving at work early is nice because I can have some quiet time to prepare for my busy day. I eat breakfast at my desk while I catch up on emails, write my daily to do list, and brush up on current events. Then, I do a quick overview of my projects to make sure that everything is running smoothly.

  • 8am: Business Development Meeting

    Every morning, our team meets to discuss marketing, networking, and other strategies to help us grow our business. We also take time to discuss the status of our initiatives and talk about market trends.

  • 9am: Client Matters

    I spend most of my time working on various tasks for my clients. This morning, I have a quick conference call with a client’s team of advisors, and then I review their tax return and email them about some time-sensitive issues. 

  • 10am: AICPA Panel Conference Call

    As a member of AICPA’s Technical Research Panel for Trust, Estate, and Gift Tax, I regularly meet with other professionals all over the country to legislative initiatives and submission of comments to government officials for review. This is a great way to be involved in my specialty and interact with seasoned specialists.

  • 11am: Mid-Day Check In

    After a morning full of meetings, I need to take some time to respond to emails from clients, attorneys or investment advisors, manage my work schedule and evaluate progress from morning, and check in with staff regarding status and questions.

  • 12pm: Meet to Eat and Chat

    Today, my team is going out to eat at a local restaurant. We’ll talk a little about workloads and project statuses, and then we’ll spend the rest of our time talking about not work-related topics.

  • 1pm: More Client Matters

    Back to work!  This afternoon, I’m researching IRS statutes and rulings for specific client situations and preparing a memo for them based on my findings.  After I check to see where the financial markets closed, I’ll respond to tax notices on behalf of my clients. If I have time after that, I can work on income tax projections to determine tax payment requirements.

  • 3pm: Mentor Meeting

  • 4pm: Networking

    I often attend networking events, like meet and greet events with investment advisors or attorneys, professional organization meetings, or alumni gatherings. Today, I’m meeting with other local CPAs before my CalCPA Board Meeting.

  • 5pm: CalCPA Board Meeting

    This month, the San Francisco Board of Directors of CalCPA is meeting to discuss membership, scholarships and event planning. I really enjoy being able to be so involved with my professional organization!

  • 6pm: On the Road Again!

    On the way home, I enjoy some quiet time to think and mentally debrief.

  • 7pm: Home Sweet Home

    Once I’m home, I walk my dog, cook and eat dinner, and have dessert…Yum! I’ll also spend time chatting with my family and reading.

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