insight magazine

IN Play: Q&A With Edward K. Zollars, CPA

Zollars, a partner with Thomas, Zollars & Lynch Ltd., shares how he uses online platforms as a way to connect with other CPAs and stay ahead of developments within the profession. By Derrick Lilly | Winter 2020

in play 310Donning a rancher’s hat and shearling-lined jacket in his profile picture, Edward K. Zollars, CPA (he prefers Ed) is hard to miss in ICPAS Connect, the Illinois CPA Society’s online community. But it’s not just the Western look of this Phoenix native that makes him stand out—ICPAS Connect members consider Zollars a “superstar” of the community for his contributions and insights into all things tax for businesses and individuals. Here’s how this CPA since 1984 is using today’s tech tools to expand his reach well beyond the Valley of the Sun.

From blogs to podcasts to online CPA forums—and even Twitter—you’ve developed a far-reaching digital network. Why should more CPAs be using these tools, and which ones do you enjoy most?

Given the rapid changes we face in the field of taxes, it’s important to engage with others who bring their own expertise to these issues—and these avenues provide that very sort of connection. I go back the furthest with online forums and still find them the most useful, as they allow a true two-way conversation on a topic where any reader can add their input.

You’re a successful partner in a Phoenix CPA firm and an instructor with Kaplan Financial Education, yet you dedicate a lot of time to online communities and state CPA societies all across the country—even in Hawaii! Why?

Experts in various fields are found on different platforms, so being involved in multiple platforms increases the chance that you’ll have a relationship with someone who has special insight into whatever issue you might run into and that you’ll be able to take advantage of that expertise. For me, it’s also helpful to get a feel for what CPAs are talking about in different parts of the country for my own continuing education programs. You produce a weekly podcast for Current Federal Tax Developments.

How do you keep up with all the changing regulations and determine what’s most important?

I scan developments as they come out each day, looking for those that are likely to impact my clients or the clients of CPAs I will be presenting to. The more a CPA interacts with these source documents as they are published, the easier it is to quickly recognize the key items and gain insight in those areas.

Given the complexities of 2020, what’s your economic and tax outlook for the year ahead?

I suspect the economic outlook ultimately depends on how well we get the COVID-19 pandemic under control. As far as the impact of the election on tax, I suspect we’ll see more ambitious tax programs enacted. At the very least, I think the SALT $10,000 cap will go away and higher rates for corporations and individuals in higher brackets will be enacted.

Any last insights for our readers?

Given that change is a constant, it’s important for CPAs to build both their formal and informal sources of information for developments impacting the profession. Properly used as a tool to obtain information, social media can be an incredibly useful resource for CPAs to improve service to their clients.

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