Approximately one year ago I attended the Financial Planning Association of Long Island’s annual symposium as a volunteer for my professional association the National Conference of CPA Practitioners (NCCPAP). I noticed two young men, (approximately 18 years old) standing around not far from the NCCPAP booth I was “manning”. I asked them if they were here with their mother or father who were attending the conference. One of the young men pulled himself up to attention, strode over to me and shook my hand introducing himself as Josh, a student at the local high school and participant in the Virtual Enterprises International (VEI) program. I immediately thought of Tom Cruise introducing himself as Joel Goodson, future enterpriser of America in the 1983 movie Risky Business.

I spoke with the students and then met Iris Blanc, the founder and executive director of VEI. I soon joined the VEI NYC advisory board, as I was impressed with the great work the organization was doing through their outreach to high school students (now expanding to middle schools), their teachers and advisors.

I serve on the education committee of the Intuit Tax Council and immediately saw wonderful partnership potential between the two. How great would it be for high school students to be trained in an accounting software used by thousands of small businesses across the country? The students might be able to secure meaningful summer jobs and obtain first-hand experience working in an office while attending high school and college. The businesses would have a valuable member of their business right from the start.

Fast forward to a recent email from Nick Chapman, the President and National Program Director of VEI:

“The Intuit partnership has been absolutely amazing. We have now rolled out QBO to all of our VE programs around the country. They participated in our National Teachers Conference in July to train teachers in QBO. They have also developed a curriculum around Design Thinking using their Design For Delight methodology to be used in VE classrooms as students are ideating their business. Additionally, we have been involved with numerous partner events and Brad Smith, the CEO, will be speaking to our students at a business plan competition for our northern California schools being hosted at Intuit’s headquarters in Mountain View in a few weeks.”

My volunteer work did not require a large outlay of money. This minor out-of-pocket expense will yield a small charitable deduction on my 2018 personal income tax return, but look at the impact of that introduction!

During this holiday season, I remind you about the importance of giving back even though we see that the new tax law, the Tax Cuts, and Jobs Act, may have taken the tax savings incentive away from financial giving.  We see that our value is not necessarily in our checkbook or our financial statement, but rather from the impact we have on others.  The accountant in me must remind you that for 2018, even if you have paid off your mortgage, you can only take $10,000 in SALT (State and Local Tax and Real Estate Tax), (hopefully) have minimal medical and dental expenses and have not donated enough charity to push you over the new standard deduction of $24,000 (married or $12,000 single), you can donate something more valuable than money – your time, your heart and your passion.

Best wishes for a meaningful holiday season.

Andrea M. Parness, CPA, CTC is owner of A. Parness Company, a niche market CPA firm based in Belle Harbor, Queens, NY.  Her firm offers cloud accounting software conversions, integrations and support, virtual CFO services, business coaching, and advisory services, tax planning for high-income taxpayers, and casualty loss consulting. – 718-318-2677