Our Spotlight series highlights the careers and lives of tax professionals across the globe. This week’s Spotlight is on Wendy Walker, solution principal, and resident crypto expert at Sovos. Walker uses her market expertise to create and implement product and solution strategies that help customers meet the demands of a constantly changing regulatory environment. Since joining Sovos, Wendy has helped lead the go-to-market strategy focused on growing the Tax & Regulatory Reporting line of business.
Walker is also the Chair of the Information Reporting Subgroup of the Internal Revenue Service Advisory Council—IRSAC and advises the IRS on a variety of withholding and information reporting issues impacting the industry.
What’s your official title, and what does it mean? My official title is Solution Principal, which means I am a subject matter expert in tax withholding and information reporting. Unofficially, I am a jack of all trades, and as such, I wear a lot of hats in my organization. I leverage my industry expertise to work with Sovos clients to help them solve complex tax compliance issues for their organizations. I interact with government agencies like the IRS, the state tax agencies, the Government Accountability Office, and others—to help shape tax policy and keep ahead of compliance changes. And of course, I work around our business with our Regulatory Analysis, Product, Services, Sales, and Marketing teams to ensure that our solutions are up to date and exceeding our clients’ expectations.
Free time: book, audiobook, or podcast? Book first, then audiobook. I have been an avid reader my whole life and love the feeling of turning the pages in a book. However, I started listening to audiobooks when I was traveling a lot—before the COVID-19 pandemic. I really enjoy listening to books that I have already read—it is super interesting how your imagination can come to life in a different way when you hear the voices in an audiobook versus the way you imagine it when you are reading it in paperback.
Tax is a huge subject. What’s your area of special interest? Information Reporting & Withholding (IRW). I started working in this area of tax early in my career as more of a ‘once a year’ concept as part of my role in accounting. More than anything—I love the flurry of activity in tax season—the rush to get data out of the systems and transformed into tax statements that must be mailed to customers and filed with tax agencies— and the pressure to get it all right in such a short period of time! As my career grew, I became focused on IRW year-round, managing tax operations and tax compliance teams producing millions of information returns. Who knew back then that what many view as a ‘necessary evil’ in the organization would become the primary focus of my career year-round!
What’s the last movie or show that you watched and loved (DVD, Netflix, or in the theater)? I’ve been watching a new series called “The Wheel of Time” based on the books by Robert Jordan. I am a big fan of fantasy stories, and we own all of the books in the series, so of course, we wanted to check it out. Spoiler alert: The show is nothing like the books. . . but I am still hooked!
What college did you attend, and what did you study? I attended Franklin University, a 100-year old business school founded in Columbus, Ohio. I graduated with a B.S. in process engineering, and I minored in accounting. I went on to complete my postgraduate work at another 100-year old institution, Ohio Dominican University, where I earned an M.B.A.
Go to pick-me-up: Coffee or tea? Coffee with cream is my vice! To the angst of my husband, who is always sure I am going to spill it everywhere. . . I rarely leave the house without a to-go cup of coffee!
What’s the best tax or financial advice that anyone ever gave you? The best financial advice I ever got was from my husband back in 2009 during the last economic downturn. Citibank stock had dropped to as low as $1.20/share, and he shouted from the rooftops that we should all buy it, that they would never let that bank fail, and today, Citibank stock is trading for $61/share.
If you weren’t working in the tax profession, what would your dream job be? I would own my own quilting shop! In my spare time, I love to sew so, if I could be surrounded by quilt fabrics, sewing machines, and die-hard quilters, it sounds like an awesome way to spend my days.
If you had the opportunity to make one change in the tax code—an extra credit, a disallowed deduction, whatever—what would it be? I would reverse the unnecessary reductions to the corporate income tax rates made in the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act of 2018. While corporate income tax revenue has fallen by more than 50% since the passage of the TCJA, data shows that revenue earned by corporations during that same time period has skyrocketed. It is my opinion that prudent tax policy does not include rewarding businesses with tax cuts that result in virtually $0 income taxes paid while middle-class workers pay an average 15-25% tax rate in this country.
Favorite food, snack, or candy during tax season (or other busy time)? I love cookies almost as much as I love coffee—my favorite is chocolate chip. I love this time of year because we receive holiday packages full of varieties of cookies—biscotti, shortbreads, macarons, you name it!
What tax news or move made the most impact on your practice or clients this past year? 2021 was a pivotal year of information reporting changes for clients in all industries! The CARES Act, the appropriations bill, the American Rescue Plan Act, and the infrastructure bill all contained impactful changes for various segments of our clients. Whether it was payroll tax compliance impacts due to the Employee Retention Credit, or ERC, or new retirement account rules for withholding and reporting on Covid-related distributions, or new information reporting requirements for virtual currency exchanges—businesses across the industry are reeling from a year of changes.
If Uncle Sam handed you a big tax refund check right now, what would you do with it? Invest it in crypto!
You can find Walker on LinkedIn.
You can find out more about Sovos on their website.
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