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Spotlight on Tax Controversy Practitioner Kristin Balding Gutting

March 4, 2022, 2:00 PM

Our Spotlight series highlights the careers and lives of tax professionals across the globe. This week’s Spotlight is on Kristin Balding Gutting, a principal in Dixon Hughes Goodman’s Federal Tax Specialty Services practice, focusing on tax controversy and tax planning matters. Gutting serves clients across the firm from the Charleston, South Carolina, office. She has more than 20 years of experience in tax planning, tax controversy, partnership taxation, and other tax areas.

Gutting keeps some tax work in the family—she coauthored a BNA tax portfolio with her husband.

Her favorite travel destination is Spain, and in 2018 she taught at the University of Granada there, giving her a chance to immerse in Spanish culture.

What’s your official title and what does it mean? I am a principal at Dixon Hughes Goodman LLP, where I lead the firm’s Tax Controversy and Procedure group, which focuses on defending clients in IRS audits, penalty abatement requests, and navigating the process and procedures before the IRS. As the leader of the group, I not only get to assist our clients, but I also get to help build valuable careers for our team members through mentoring and training.

Free time: book, audiobook, or podcast? Definitely books! There is nothing better than holding a book and physically turning the pages. Currently, I have been reading various books on leadership and mindfulness. I just finished rereading—and highly recommend—"Rethinking Success” by J. Douglas Holladay.

Tax is a huge subject. What’s your area of special interest? My area of special interest is tax controversy and procedure. I also enjoy partnership tax and, as a former professor of professional responsibility, I am very interested in the interaction between tax and ethics.

What’s the last movie or show that you watched and loved (DVD, Netflix, or in the theater)? I absolutely love “Ted Lasso.” Soccer is a big part of my life. I played growing up, and coached after college. Now, I have the pleasure of spending most of my weekends cheering on one of my three boys playing the beautiful game of soccer. Thus, “Ted Lasso” is a show my family and I can enjoy together. Plus, who doesn’t like a show that spreads so much positivity? “I believe in hope. I believe in believe.”

What college did you attend and what did you study? I attended Valparaiso University, where I studied accounting. I then attended the Saint Louis University School of Law, where I solidified my passion for tax law. Finally, I went on for one more year of law school to obtain my LL.M. in Taxation at the University of Florida Levin College of Law.

Go to pick-me-up: Coffee or tea? Both. I recently discovered loose leaf teas and enjoy flavored tea, which I mix with my coffee every morning. My favorite tea flavors so far are crème brûlée, warm bread pudding, and emperor’s chai. At night, I make a cup of herbal tea to help calm my mind before I fall asleep.

What’s the best tax or financial advice that anyone ever gave you? The best financial advice I received was when I was in college. I remember going to a student loan presentation and the person told us to “live within our means and not like a rockstar.” I listened to that advice and was able to finish seven years of higher education with minimal student loan debt.

If you weren’t working in the tax profession, what would your dream job be? I feel extremely blessed as I have my dream job now. I get the opportunity every day to collaborate with an amazing team and help our clients navigate through various tax issues with the IRS. I also have a passion for teaching as I was a law school professor for 13 years prior to joining DHG. In my current role, I get the opportunity to continue my passion for teaching by mentoring others, within and outside of my group, as well as presenting on assorted topics to various tax professional groups. With that said, if I were not working in the tax profession, then I would want to work with animals. Currently, my family includes three rescued dogs, and I am a true believer that dogs bring joy. Thus, I could see myself running a non-profit ranch for elderly and disabled dogs.

If you had the opportunity to make one change in the tax world—an extra credit, a disallowed deduction, whatever—what would it be? I would revise the new BBA partnership audit regime. While I understand the policy behind the BBA partnership audit regime, the regime can be an administrative burden on the taxpayer and the IRS.

Favorite food, snack, or candy during tax season or other busy time? My favorite snack—and sometimes meal—is popcorn.

What tax news or move made the most impact on your practice or clients this past year? Covid has had a significant impact on our practice and clients this past year. Specifically, it has caused the IRS backlog to increase, and it temporarily shut down many IRS locations, including call centers, resulting in delays in processing refunds, penalty abatement packages, and causing numerous other issues. On the upside, Covid did help the IRS accelerate the modernization of its technology, which has made delivering audit responses and having virtual meetings a lot easier.

If you received a big tax refund check right now, what would you do with it? I would use the refund to spend some more time traveling with my family. I would love to go on a family vacation to Australia and New Zealand.

You can find Gutting on LinkedIn.

You can find out more about Gutting’s firm, DHG, on its website.

If you’d like to recommend a tax pro to be featured, send your suggestion to kerb@bloombergindustry.com with the subject: Spotlight. Please include the following information: tax professional’s name, title, email address, and geographic area (city/state/country).

To contact the reporter on this story: Kelly Phillips Erb in Washington at kerb@bloombergindustry.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rachael Daigle at rdaigle@bloombergindustry.com; David Jolly at djolly@bloombergindustry.com