Cape Girardeau CPA enjoys the tax season

Tuesday, January 13, 2009
CPA Cathy White at her Cape Girardeau office with Begley, Young, Unterreiner & White, LLC.

Cathy White faces the tax season with a smile.

"I like the numbers and quantities part," says White, a certified public accountant and partner at Begley, Young Unterreiner & White, LLC, in Cape Girardeau. "I like that there's a debit and credit, and everything balances." White says tax season is the busiest and most challenging time of the year, but it is also one of the best parts of her job.

"I think this stems from the relationships I develop with clients," she says. Accounting is based on numbers, but White feels that it is also very much a people business. "I value my clients. I'm privy to their sensitive financial information, and that forms bonds of trust. I get to know their friends and family, their life situation. I'm in a good position to advise them because I know everything about them."

White prepares for the "sheer volume of work" during this time by lining up all her duties at home and at work and participating in the firm's tax season kick-off event. Throughout the season, she tries to come in early, be home by 6 p.m., and then work some more from home from 8 to 10 p.m.

"Every day is different. I just do so many things," says White. "Some people who come in are so stressed over all the numbers. I am very organized, and I like to make sense of it and explain it to them and ease some of that frustration."

White, a St. Louis native, received her degree in business management from Southeast Missouri State University and later returned to her alma mater for CPA classes.

"I loved Cape Girardeau and was determined to stay here," she says. "I came here for college and never left. Cape Girardeau just sucks you in." She married, started a family and stayed at home until the youngest of her four daughters was in school. She began working at her current firm as a staff accountant, then advanced her way from audit manager to senior manager to partner. Today, she is one of only a few female accounting partners in Cape Girardeau, and the only female partner in the 60-year history of her firm.

"I love being a partner," says White, adding that accounting is an "excellent job for women." While it does require a lot of time and devotion, she says that it's flexible enough for CPAs to adjust their schedule to fit their needs, just as she did when her children were still at home.

"I tell my CPAs as long as they get their work done, I don't care if it's at midnight," says White. "I'd tell a stay-at-home mom, during tax season, any firm would love to have you! It's relatively easy to get in and out of the workforce."

In addition to tax work, Begley, Young Unterreiner & White does audits and small business consulting. White focuses on audits and personnel and is also certified as an Advanced QuickBooks ProAdvisor. Helping clients use QuickBooks to set up a new business or move from a manual to a QuickBooks system is her other favorite part of the job. "I like working with new businesses, planning and helping them get things going," she says, noting that "People are very grateful when I help with that."

Her best advice during tax season is to organize all of your papers and receipts and keep them in the same place. Begin in January, as soon as your W2 and 1099 forms start coming in, she says, and don't forget about deduction information, including receipts from charities, real estate and property taxes.

It's also helpful to look at your tax return from last year to remind yourself of any extra incomes and deductions. "The more organized clients are with their information, the easier the process will be," says White.

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