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Spotlight on Tax Firm Founder and EA Arianna Carrington-Hooker

May 27, 2022, 1:00 PM

Our Spotlight series highlights the careers and lives of tax professionals across the globe. This week’s Spotlight is on Arianna Carrington-Hooker, an enrolled agent and president of Innovative Tax Solutions of Central Florida in Ocoee, Fla.

Innovative Tax Solutions was founded in 2020, but Carrington-Hooker had been preparing taxes far earlier. Her husband encouraged her to step out on her own after working for a big firm. Their company moved into a retail space last year and now has a total of eight employees, with each tax preparer having more than 15 years of experience.

In her free time, she and her husband—"the love of my life"—enjoy traveling, watching Miami Dolphins football, and spending time with their grandchildren. On weekends, you’ll find them going out to breakfast and browsing around the farmers market, and on Monday nights playing bingo with our friends. “It may not seem exciting, but it is a life we both enjoy it thoroughly,” she says.

What’s your official title and what does it mean? I’m an enrolled agent and, for me, that means that I can help people that find themselves in tax situations that they don’t understand and need help with. Whether it’s getting my client tax compliant or helping them with tax issues, I am proud to be able to assist them.

Free time: book, audiobook, or podcast? Book! I have about eight on my desk now waiting to be read, all tax-related.

Tax is a huge subject. What’s your area of special interest? Tax resolution is my passion! Every day we have new clients come to our office who do not understand tax laws or were taken advantage of by unscrupulous tax preparers. We are able to assist them, and they are no longer in fear of the IRS.

What’s the last movie or show that you watched and loved (DVD, Netflix, or in the theater)? My husband and I recently watched “Rumor Has It” on Netflix. We enjoyed an ice cream and a nice movie together. Good times!

What college did you attend and what did you study? University of Central Florida, business administration.

Go to pick-me-up: Coffee or tea? Coffee in the cooler weather.

What’s the best tax or financial advice that anyone ever gave you? That honor goes to my mother, who said, “Save 20% of everything you earn,” something I still do to this day.

If you weren’t working in the tax profession, what would your dream job be? Travel agent. I worked as an agent and absolutely loved it, but the job took time away from my children, so I left the workforce to be a stay-at-home mom. When the children were older, and I was ready to move back into the workforce, I received a call from H&R Block. They had seen my management experience and wanted to know if I would be interested in managing one of their stores. I fell in love with helping people who didn’t understand their taxes or were caught in a bad situation due to a “ghost preparer” taking advantage of them. I started working in tax resolution, which remains a passion for me and why we started our firm to specialize in helping people with tax issues.

If you had the opportunity to make one change in the tax world - an extra credit, a disallowed deduction, whatever - what would it be? Reviving Form 2106. I understand why the 2106 and other similar forms were eliminated with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act—they were effectively trying to eliminate forms that were used so much for tax fraud. This also hurt the people who were using the forms because they did have unreimbursed employee business expenses. Think of the W2 truck driver who hauls over the road. The person would have so many out-of-pocket expenses that previously he could have written off of his taxes that he could no longer claim, causing him to pay more in taxes. Even though that expired to the general public years ago, clients still ask today for that credit.

Favorite food, snack, or candy during tax season or other busy time? Chocolate, chocolate, and more chocolate!

What tax news or move made the most impact on your practice or clients this past year? I think the confusion over Child Tax Credit. Many clients are looking for guidance on this new change. I encouraged my clients to opt out, but I can see a lot of problems are going to surface during tax season.

If you received a big tax refund check right now, what would you do with it? Travel. We have one more small trip planned for this year with family, but we have a dream vacation scheduled for next year to the South Pacific with friends for 12 days.

You can find Carrington-Hooker on LinkedIn.

You can find out more about Caruso’s firm, Innovative Tax Solutions of Central Florida, on its website or on Facebook.

If you’d like to recommend a tax pro to be featured, send your suggestion to rbaker@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: Rebecca Baker in Washington at rbaker@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kelly Phillips Erb at kerb@bloombergindustry.com