Our Spotlight series highlights the careers and lives of tax professionals across the globe. This week’s Spotlight is on Amanda Pedvin Varma, a partner at Steptoe & Johnson LLP in Washington, D.C.
When she isn’t working with clients, Varma works as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University Law Center, where she teaches U.S. International Inbound Tax. She also serves as chair of the International Tax Committee of the D.C. Bar, and of the American Bar Association Women in Tax Forum.
Outside of tax, she spends her time trying to keep up with her two daughters, taking on athletic challenges like running and weightlifting, and playing the violin.
What’s your official title and what does it mean? I am a partner at Steptoe & Johnson LLP, which means I am an owner of the firm and am responsible for helping clients navigate complex U.S. federal income tax issues, particularly in international tax.
Free time: book, audiobook, or podcast? I am usually reading at least one book. I also listen to podcasts in the car or when I’m running.
Tax is a huge subject. What’s your area of special interest? My specialty is international tax, both outbound and inbound. I advise clients across a variety of industries on planning, controversy, and policy issues.
What’s the last movie or show that you watched and loved (DVD, Netflix, or in the theater)? My daughters have been singing songs from “Encanto” nonstop over the last few months, and we recently saw it at the movie theater. I loved the music, the animation, and the story. With respect to entertainment not directed at families, I am working on finishing Season 2 of “Ted Lasso” and am looking forward to the upcoming final season of “Better Call Saul.”
What college did you attend and what did you study? I attended the University of California, Berkeley, where I majored in political science and history. I went to the University of Michigan for law school.
Go to pick-me-up: Coffee or tea? I like both, but I more regularly consume coffee.
What’s the best tax or financial advice that anyone ever gave you? If you have the means, save and invest early. You never know when life will throw you a curve ball.
If you weren’t working in the tax profession, what would your dream job be? I would be in education in some capacity. I have a number of elementary school teachers in my family, had many inspirational teachers growing up, and, now that I have two children myself, have an even greater appreciation of the critical role that teachers have in our society.
If you had the opportunity to make one change in the tax world—an extra credit, a disallowed deduction, whatever—what would it be? It is difficult to pick just one! On the international tax side, I would address the hurdles complicating the Senate’s ratification of tax treaties. On the domestic side, I would reverse the currently effective amortization of R&E expenses and return to permitting a current deduction.
Favorite food, snack, or candy during tax season or other busy time? I enjoy chocolate and ice cream (mostly in moderation!) year-round.
What tax news or move made the most impact on your practice or clients this past year? The final foreign tax credit regulations released at the end of 2021 significantly changed longstanding rules for determining the creditability of foreign taxes. The new rules require certain conformity with the U.S. tax system, such as with respect to sourcing rules, application of the arm’s-length principle, and cost recovery, in order for a foreign tax to be creditable. Our clients have been analyzing how the new rules will affect the various foreign taxes that they pay, and many are facing the prospect of double taxation, including with respect to routine business transactions giving rise to foreign taxes that have long been creditable.
If you received a big tax refund check right now, what would you do with it? I would immediately take a look at my estimated taxes to see why my calculations were so off! If I decided to spend the money, I would take a family vacation.
You can find out more about Varma on LinkedIn.
You can find out more about Varma’s firm on Steptoe & Johnson’s website.
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