Our Spotlight series highlights the careers and lives of tax professionals across the globe. This week’s spotlight is on Enrolled Agent Taylor Keitt.
Keitt works as an Enrolled Agent—or EA—at a small tax and accounting firm, Cavanaughs Tax Services, LLC, located in the Mayfair section of Northeast Philadelphia in Pennsylvania.
Keitt is proud of his EA credential, noting that, unlike tax attorneys and CPAs, the credential is bestowed directly from what he calls “the adversary itself, the Internal Revenue Service.” It also, he explains, happens to have a lower cost of entry into the profession compared to a tax attorney or CPA, and does not demand or require pricey academic credentials. For those who can test well, have excellent reading comprehension skills, and are a stickler for details, he says, this position could be the key to a fulfilling career as an advocate for others.
As an EA, Keitt says that you can stand beside and provide guidance to individuals “who may otherwise be smothered by a massive bureaucracy whose methods are opaque, sometimes difficult to decipher, and often too hard to negotiate without help.” It’s a chance to be heroic, he explains, adding, “Or as heroic as a person who likes to read the Tax Code could be in this universe.”
Keitt is also a Licensed Social Worker in the SSI Unit at Community Legal Services of Philadelphia. There, he supports attorneys with advocating for clients with the Social Security Administration. It has a tax component, too: He helps spearhead critical work in connecting clients—the majority of whom qualify for public assistance—with the expanded Child Tax Credit, as well as working with social service and public policy advocates to expand and keep these critical benefits, which could potentially cut child poverty in half.
What’s your official title and what does it mean? I’m an LSW, or Licensed Social Worker, meaning I’m licensed by the state to practice the profession, and also an EA, or Enrolled Agent, meaning I am credentialed under U.S. Circular 230 to represent taxpayers in front of the IRS.
Free time: book, audiobook, or podcast? I’m almost ashamed to admit none of the three. I watch a ton of Law & Order reruns, however. Legit my favorite pastime!
Tax is a huge subject. What’s your area of special interest? Right now I’m very much focused on the growth of refundable credits and the expansion of the Child Tax Credit. It’s incredible and gratifying to watch the tax system be reconfigured purposefully into a tool of poverty reduction and redistribution of wealth to the majority of its people, instead of it just being an almost incidental incubator of the wealthiest 1%.
What’s the last movie or show that you watched and loved (DVD, Netflix, or in the theater)? I recently accidentally watched the second half of a movie called “The Kid Detective,” and it was so surprisingly and shockingly good!
What college did you attend and what did you study? I went to Dartmouth College, where I double-majored in Psychology & Brain Sciences, and American Government & Jurisprudence. I earned my Master’s degree in Clinical/Medical Social Work at Bryn Mawr College.
Go to pick-me-up: Coffee or tea? Again, neither: I’m (sadly) a huge fan of energy drinks, though.
What’s the best tax or financial advice that anyone ever gave you? “Buy land, A.J., cuz God ain’t making anymore of it."—Anthony Soprano, Sr., from “The Sopranos.”
If you weren’t working in the tax profession, what would your dream job be? The other one I currently have: being a social worker!
If you had the opportunity to make one change in the tax world—an extra credit, a disallowed deduction, whatever—what would it be? In lieu of forgiving all or most of student loan debt, I’d massively increase the deductibility of student loan interest, and I’d legitimately think of tinkering somehow with IRC sections 163 (mortgage interest) and 164 (property taxes) in order to do it.
Favorite food, snack, or candy during tax season or other busy time? Man, nothing can beat a Philly soft pretzel and some cranberry juice for me.
What tax news or move made the most impact on your practice or clients this past year? Far and away, the exclusion of the first $10,200 of unemployment benefits under the American Rescue Plan Act was extremely impactful, followed by the retirement distribution provisions that were in the CARES Act. Lots of folks had to utilize systems that had never been available to them before, or dip into retirement benefits to be able to make ends meet. These provisions really helped a lot of people in our practice area stay afloat.
If you received a big tax refund check right now, what would you do with it? PS5, anyone? Actually no, I’d probably pay off some of my student loan debt. Then maybe do some renovations around my old South Philly row home.
You can find Keitt on Linked In.
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