BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Berkeley Heights CPA Ben Goldin has been practicing accounting for 40 years. “In 1973, when I graduated from Boston University with a degree in business, I was accepted into Temple University’s law program,” Goldin said. “I decided against going into law, and I’m glad because I have been very successful and enjoy practicing accounting.”
No doubt his many individual and small-business clients are, too.
His first job after graduation was with Haskins and Sells, a predecessor of the Big Four CPA firm Deloitte; and Goldin later served in various senior financial positions in private industry before opening his own practice in 1992.
“I do a lot of tax planning, estate planning and other work with high-net-worth individuals,” he said.
“I’ve also focused on small businesses,” he adds, referring to family owned and other companies that gross up to about $5 million a year. “Most of my new business comes from client referrals.”
Unlike some franchised tax services that see clients only once a year around April 15, Goldin has close contact with his clients throughout the year; and a business relationship that can stretch for decades, even when clients move out of New Jersey.
“I’m currently handling tax return filings in about 22 states,” he said. “There are many qualified people who can ‘prepare’ tax returns or financial statements, but the real service begins prior to and after the preparation. Helping clients to prepare, plan and understand options is the real service.”
These days, business owners and individuals can use a lot of help, he adds.
“There are a variety of ‘hot button’ issues,” Goldin said. “One, of course, involves the new healthcare regulations. But another, perhaps less noticed by the general public, is the way that more states are looking to expand their income and sales tax collection activities as a way to get more revenue.”
He stays on top of new tax and other developments by reading extensively and by more than meeting continuing professional education requirements that are required to maintain his license with the State of New Jersey and his membership in good standing with the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and New Jersey State Society of Certified Public Accountants (NJSCPA). Additionally, Goldin has successfully passed peer reviews under the AICPA Peer Review program since 1993.
Goldin’s knowledge is broad and his advice is paramount to his clients. “A client of mine has a company which is based in Westchester County, N.Y., but also does some business in Connecticut”, Goldin says “We’ve got to be aware of nexus, or tax-presence, issues that could subject the business to Connecticut sales tax and, possibly, income tax. It’s getting more complex each year, especially for companies that have online sales.”
Goldin’s elderly clients need advice on tax efficient structures for wills and trusts, taking advantage of current law while ensuring that their desires for inheritance and charity are met.
Residency issues are always an area of scrutiny when it comes to personal income taxes. “One big concern is taxation issues for people who maintain a place of abode in their resident state as well as the non-resident state they work in,” Goldin explains. “New York City and New York State are aggressively pursuing potential residency issues causing the potential of increased tax obligations against New Jersey and Connecticut residents who maintain vacation homes or second residences in New York State or City.”
Goldin often finds himself being called on by clients to assist with unique matters.
“One recent project involved helping my client of 25 years with a large, New Jersey-based HVAC company negotiate the sale of his business,” according to Goldin. “There were also some interesting tax matters that arose because of the company’s corporate structure; but we resolved them in a way that was favorable to my client.”
Individual tax compliance work, along with trust and estate planning, make up about 65 percent of Goldin’s practice. Financial statement compilations and reviews account for another 20 percent, with business succession and other matters taking up the balance of his time.
“When I started out, we still did tax returns by hand,” Goldin, 62, recalled. “I enjoy what I do, I enjoy helping clients, and I have no plans to retire anytime soon. I know accountants who are in their 70s and 80s and are still working, so I’ve got a long way to go, and I look forward to it.”