By the time Isiah Morgan had been in the tax field for more than a decade, he realized he needed to brush up on his technical skills. No matter where he worked, be it BDO, Deloitte Tax, or The Home Depot, a significant number of colleagues had earned Master of Taxation degrees from Robinson. Enrolling in the program seemed logical.
“I reached the point of wanting to understand the ‘why’ behind the way we do things in the industry,” Morgan said. “That’s exactly what the program offered me. For example, we took a deep dive into the Internal Revenue Code. We discovered why different journal entries are made on tax returns, and learned what situations certain sections of the code do and don’t apply to.”
Morgan’s instructors were actual practicing professionals, like Aaron Konnick, director of tax accounting and reporting at UPS. In Accounting for Income Taxes, Konnick provided students with raw data from a mock company’s balance sheet. The assignment involved reconciling book-to-tax differences and estimating the company’s deferred tax expense.
“He wanted to challenge us and gave us a project a senior-level manager at a public accounting firm would handle,” Morgan said. “It gave me a true hands-on experience of taking a client’s trial balance all the way from creating the loads and deferred templates, to setting an effective tax rate.”
Another instructor, Veronica Caputo, serves as managing director at Grant Thornton. In State and Local Taxation, Caputo gave students a fictitious company’s apportionment detail, tasking them with filing its state tax return.
“She handed us a project she would expect her staff to complete,” Morgan said. “You can only learn so much from a textbook. I got a first-hand look at what public accounting firms really do.”
Then there’s Lucia Smeal, a current attorney and legislative analyst for the Congressional Research Service who taught Morgan’s Issues in Individual Taxation class. Morgan used analytics tools to examine prior court rulings related to the “hobby loss rule,” which limits deductions that can be taken from nonprofit activities; however, a common form of tax fraud is to file a hobby as a business, especially horse racing. Based on insights he drew from the data, Morgan wrote a research paper on whether he would advise a client to start a horse business.
When Morgan graduated in May, he worked as a federal and state income tax specialist for Mercedes-Benz USA. The skills he built in the program paid off. He just accepted a position as a tax reporting and advisory senior associate at Grant Thornton.
“Since my instructors hail from industry, I picked up relevant knowledge that will make the transition to my new role really smooth,” Morgan said.