Mark LaPlace: Special Report on Accounting

Mark LaPlace, Director of Tax Services, GBQ Partners LLC

An accountant can serve many types of roles for CEOs, from hands-off keeper of the books to proactive, fully engaged adviser. It’s up to executives to decide how heavily they want to rely on their accountants. But in general, the more interaction they have, the fewer financial surprises they’ll run into.

“If you think about just the tax piece of it, the tax law changes so fast and it’s so politically charged that it’s a bit of a lightning rod for an awful lot of what’s going on,” says Mark LaPlace, director of tax services with GBQ Partners LLC. “The speed with which some of these law changes take place significantly impacts the way executives operate their businesses. So that makes having regular dialogue with your financial team paramount.”

With the upcoming election and with several federal tax provisions set to end this year, tax rates are going to change dramatically next year.

“The query then becomes what decisions that CEOs are contemplating making might have a very different tax result if the decision is made in 2012 versus 2013,” LaPlace says. “You want to try to avoid some of the rate changes that are already on the books that are going to take place next year. You could do this by accelerating income, accelerating stock options or — even though this is a bit of a counterintuitive position — you might want to defer certain tax deductions because next year’s going to be a higher-rate year.”

LaPlace says his firm has begun factoring regularly scheduled meetings into its proposal process when taking on new clients.

“We’re proposing that we meet at least quarterly and, ofttimes, more often than that, depending on the size of the company,” he says. “We’ve gotten very systematic in our shop in saying that’s part of our process of accepting a new client. We lay it out there up front. And we’ve been amazed at how this creates great dialogue, which then avoids some of the negative circumstances you can run into. We’re finding this to be a very effective technique.”

Mark LaPlace, director of tax services with GBQ Partners LLC, specializes in tax planning and consulting for middle market and entrepreneurial companies, and tax and financial planning for professional athletes and other high-net-worth individuals.

HOW TO REACH: GBQ Partners LLC, or (614) 221-1120