Taxation: School of Taxation

Golden Gate University's Bruce F. Braden School of Taxation alumni and instructors are an illustrious group; They include partners of Big 4 accounting firms, international, regional and local firms, as well as industry, corporate and private-practice attorneys and CPAs. Read what they have to say about the MS tax degree from Golden Gate University.

"It is hard to imagine tax practice in the Bay Area without the ubiquitous presence of the Golden Gate University tax program. Since completing my program 23 years ago, it has been a part of my practice and experience faithfully providing relevant and resource-laden continuing education while supplying my practice with a regular supply of students, law clerks and employees.

Without Golden Gate University, I would not have entered the tax field after having practiced law for 10 years. The ability to continue my practice while returning to school was only possible because of Golden Gate's excellent program. It combined academic rigor and practical knowledge to give me the kind of tools I needed to successfully create a tax practice. The superb faculty, all of whom have worked with the practice as well as the academic side of tax law, took the mystery out of tax and turned it into a puzzle that needed solving.

I am pleased to see that the program continues to improve and to engage technology while still maintaining its high academic standards. For as many years as it has been in existence, the Golden Gate University tax program has raised the standards of tax practice throughout the United States. I am proud to have been associated with it for much of my career.

-- Dewey Watson, partner and tax attorney with an emphasis on estate planning at Tierney Watson & Healy

"Where you start can make a tremendous difference as to where you go and where you end up. I was very fortunate to start my career as a graduate of GGU in accounting with a master's in taxation. The education I received from practicing professionals in the field of accounting and taxation allowed me to 'hit the ground running' at my first job at Coopers & Lybrand."

-- Curtis Burr, principal at Burr, Pilger & Mayer, LLP

"At about the midpoint of my career, I went through the MST program to get a 'better' form of continuing professional education. The experience was outstanding. In fact, I recommend this educational investment to any serious tax practitioner."

-- Stephen L. Nelson, CPA and best-selling author of Quicken for Dummies, QuickBooks for Dummies and more than 100 other books

"The MST program not only prepares students for great careers, but connects them to a vibrant, professional tax community. Last year's graduates are this year's professional colleagues, working with their former instructors as peers."

-- Fred Sroka, partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP

"I have been in public practice since graduating from the master's in tax program 20 years ago. In the last six years I have written three treatises on taxation for Thomson/RIA. Also, I have been teaching in the graduate program for the last four years. All of this was made possible by the solid grounding in tax law I received at Golden Gate. What I took away from the program was an ability to think in a highly disciplined way and to analyze and plan for any tax situation."

-- David Hardesty, vice president at Wilson, Markle, Stuckey, Hardesty & Bott

"I would NOT have been hired as a tax manager at Price Waterhouse in 1987 without [GGU's MS in taxation] It gave me a strong technical background and the confidence that I could compete with the best in public accounting. What advice would I give to a person just entering the master's in tax program? Give it 100 percent; make sure you understand every topic; and keep your course materials!"

-- Jerry Barbo, tax partner, State and Local Tax Consulting at PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP

"Golden Gate's master's in tax program provides a unique opportunity to gain in-depth tax technical knowledge. Students are able to apply that knowledge immediately to real-world examples that they see at the current job. With the current complexity of the US tax law, a master's in taxation degree is critical for tax professionals to have a long term success in the field of taxation."

-- Eric Lee, senior manager, Client Assignments & Professional Development at Deloitte Tax LLP

"The MS in taxation program is a powerful blend of tax theory and practice, supported by a teaching staff with an incredible wealth of experience both as academics and practitioners. With that as a base, I most enjoyed the interplay among students and with the professors, sharing ideas, opinions and outlooks. The program was a challenging and highly rewarding experience!"

-- Linda Bizzarri

"I am the managing partner of one of the larger CPA firms in Marin County and many of my staff and colleagues have their master's in tax from Golden Gate University. Our firm has a solid, well-known reputation in taxation due to our education from Golden Gate and our on-going affiliation with the university.

My own attendance in the MS in tax program at Golden Gate ended up being one of the most pivotal stages in my CPA career. The specialty added to my technical knowledge, which has assisted me in all aspects of tax compliance. But most importantly, it gave me the background for strategic tax planning, which has added a dynamic global business and individual management consulting aspect to my practice. This aspect, which sets me apart from my peers who have not earned an MS in tax, has exponentially added to the growth of my 30-year-old practice.

One of the best aspects of the program was that many of the instructors were working in business on a daily basis and therefore had pragmatic insights to their instruction. Aside from the education, I have stayed in contact with many of my instructors and colleagues from Golden Gate, which has helped provide phenomenal technical backup in many specialized areas of taxation like partnership, estate, real estate and tax procedure."

--Norm Capper, CPA, partner at Friedlander Cherwon Capper LLP

"I chose to pursue a master's in tax because I felt that to be a tax practitioner, one had to be technically as strong as possible. To undertake a body of knowledge as large as the Internal Revenue Code and related regulations, rulings, court cases on your own is foolhardy. The smart approach, in my opinion, was to go where experts could guide me through the miasma and teach me to decipher the practical information necessary to assist my clients.

I remember the camaraderie of being with my fellow students, many of whom brought really practical experience with them. Hence their questions and the context were much more meaningful. I have made friendships and professional connections that have become very valuable to me and my career.

I finished my master's program in 1985. Within a year the tax act of 1986 wiped out most of the "facts" I had learned in my classes. Nevertheless, my classes really taught me tax law and concepts. The core of the classes taught me how to absorb, apply and adapt to the changes. Ironically, most of what I learned has resurfaced in the subsequent tax law changes.

The academic world demands that you constantly expose yourself to new knowledge. The people that are successful in the business world have, in my observation, taken that environment of intellectual challenge and incorporated it in the way they operate. They embrace new ideas. Also, the things you learn about putting together a good answer in class or for an exam are the attributes that allow you to answer questions from clients. The pressure of the exam doesn't go away when you're in practice. Instead of a grade, your answers mean a repeat client or you've come up with a good suggestion to save real tax dollars.

What advice would I give to new students? Enjoy the whole experience. The person sitting next to you may someday be a tax court judge or a partner in a big firm or a client. Learn from all the personalities you encounter because you will encounter them again as clients and coworkers. Learn to learn. This is a constantly changing industry. Factors like technology, Congress, jobs going offshore, economic conditions will impose pressures on you. Keep a balance. Remember, it is important to be able to relate to a person as a person, not just a technical expert. Go to a movie, watch a basketball or football or baseball game, take up a musical instrument. For heavens sake, however, give up on skiing. Unless there's spring snow, you'll never see the slopes because of tax season."

--Loella Haskew, CPA at Buckley Patchen Riemann & Hall