"I own a house, I have my masters, I have my dream job. What do I do for the next 50 years? It's a great problem to have," Beth Franklin said.
A Certified Public Accountant, Franklin works for Fox Tax LLC, a company that specializes in writers, artists and musicians.
At Augsburg College, Franklin took a double major in Music Business and Accounting. "I thought I'd work in international business or for Sony in New York. The first day of class, the professor said, 'Accounting is the most fun you could have with a pencil.' I took my first test and aced it. I decided, 'I like this," she said.
After graduation, she spent two years at local certified public accounting firms doing audit work for nonprofits. Along the way, she got a master's degree in business taxation and passed the exams for her CPA. "Fox Tax started their courtship in summer 2011," Franklin said. "They had to freeze taking clients because they couldn't hire. It's difficult to find someone who can convert the difficult language of tax code so that you know that what you're giving us is accurate, and we're putting together as accurate a tax return as possible. My first year here was very difficult. I work with a client from start to finish. I communicate, send e-mails, do taxes, do administrative work. In a CPA firm, that's all done for you.
"I put in 40 percent of my hours in three months of the year. I worked 85 hours a week last tax season. I work four days a week the rest of the year, and we're more liberal with time off." Although she has no plans to leave her dream job, Franklin wants to "keep it exciting and new in the off season. I'd love to teach accounting in a fine arts program.'"
Is accounting all about being good with numbers?
The data part is what's on your W2. It's compiling that into this scheme of how all the numbers fit together. Taxes incorporate logic and reason and that type A "gotta make everything fit" — it feeds that part of my nature. When I was I high school I did not excel at math.
Do you have a combative relationship with the IRS?
I think we're all pro-tax here. We're also pro-paying your fair share. If you pay a lot of taxes, it makes you really successful. Keeping my client's tax bill as low as possible is about a quarter of what I'm thinking about.
Do you see yourself as a role model for women?
As far as tax practitioners go, there are a lot more women. But when you look at CPAs, that's a different mix of gender leadership. I don't see myself championing women in accounting. I'm interested in making it more accessible to people my own age. A lot of people of my generation think of it at the bottom of their list.
Are your clients' taxes more fun than other people's?
When we say we specialize working with writers and artists and musicians, it's not like there's a separate tax code. The types of expenses you deduct could be the same as someone in manufacturing. But it's more fun because of the people. I love having conversations with clients and finding out what they're doing. I'm in awe. You build the relationships, you get the passion they are deriving from their own work. I wouldn't have as much fun doing taxes anywhere else. □