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U.S. Supreme Court Hearing on DOMA Could Open the Door to Equal Federal Tax Treatment, Marcum Says



New York City, NY  – Tax experts in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) practice group at Marcum LLP, a top national  accounting and advisory firm, said today that the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to hear a bellwether case challenging a key section of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) could open the door to equal tax treatment for same-sex married couples under federal law. If the court overturns the act’s definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman, same-sex married couples will be entitled to the same income and estate tax deductions and many other federal benefits available to traditional families, which are currently denied to them.

“In addition to achieving future tax parity, a favorable ruling would entitle nontraditional couples who are legally married for state purposes to file amended federal tax returns retroactively. Therefore, we are strongly urging our LGBT clients to immediately file protective claims for refunds of any overpayments, pending the court’s ruling. Since there is a three-year statute of limitations on tax refund claims, it is imperative that claims be filed as soon as possible to protect any potential refunds for returns dating back as far as 2009,” Nanette Lee Miller, national leader of Marcum’s LGBT practice group and Partner-in-Charge of Assurance Services for the firm’s California offices.

“An affirmative ruling by the court will also allow same-sex married couples to benefit from tax-advantaged estate planning,” said Janis Cowhey, a partner in the firm’s New York City office and a member of its Trusts and Estates Practice group, who frequently lectures on LGBT estate and income tax issues. Ms. McDonagh is the author of Top 10 Estate Planning Tips for LGBT & Non-Traditional Families.

Marcum LLP is the thought leader in the specialty area of tax compliance and consulting services within the LGBT community. The firm's professionals have more than 20 years of experience in dealing with the complex tax and financial rules faced by LGBT couples and families, state-by-state and around the country.

LEA 2012 Edge Awards

LEA Global / Leading Edge Alliance— St. Charles, IL —The 2012 LEA Global Conference in Dublin, Ireland was the setting for the presentation of LEA’s prestigious Edge awards. Each of the award areas illustrates LEA’s core belief that continuing success is grounded in being accomplished in all areas of practice development and firm management.  In addition to eight firm awards, including a new award recognizing the high level of innovation and entrepreneurship characteristic of LEA member firms, two awards were conferred acknowledging the contributions of leading individuals in the profession.  

Each of LEA’s highly competitive awards is inspired by the cutting edge innovations and best practices that differentiate LEA members from their competitors.  Firms across the country and around the globe use LEA’s winning programs as models for their own programs.

This year, the INNOVATIVE FIRM OF THE YEAR award went to Dezan Shira & Associates (India, Italy, China, Vietnam, Singapore, Charlotte, NC), whose 180 employees guide foreign companies through Asia’s complex regulatory environment and assist them with all aspects of establishing and maintaining their business operations in specific regions of Asia. The firm has a successful publishing arm that reaches across pan-Asia to increase the transparency of doing business in the region by providing business news, regulatory updates, topical magazines and technical guidebooks. The publications are issued in five languages and cover each region where the firm has a presence. The firm takes an innovative approach with its pan-Asian publications through cross-disciplinary service expertise, top-down content direction, robust digital presence, international multilingual channels, a strong distribution network, and personal interaction across the globe.

Marcum LLP (New York, NY), which initiated its own Microcap Conference this year, received the INNOVATIVE FIRM INITIATIVE OF THE YEAR award. The firm’s Microcap Conference, believed to be the first large-scale investor conference of its kind among CPA firms, focused on introducing investors to the best undiscovered public companies under $500 million in market capitalization. The conference featured presentations by CEOs and CFOs of promising high-growth, public companies, as well as top picks by astute analysts who follow the microcap market and who provided thoughtful commentary on successful investment strategies and sectors. The conference attracted leadership teams of more than 60 publicly held companies, as well as top fund managers, institutional investors and high net worth individuals. With the support of 40 sponsoring companies, the conference drew nearly 800 attendees and resulted in the potential for almost $2 million in new business.

Passionate about his firm and LEA, Frans Tijssen of Bol International (Amsterdam) achieved the title of INNOVATIVE FIRM LEADER.  His understanding of the effect of the impact of globalization, specialty expertise and talented teams as an asset to our firms and to the profession inspired him to engineer of LEA’s exclusive staff exchange program. The program rewards high performers, helps with staff retention, provides relief to firms with staff shortages during peak work cycles, and provides learning experiences for both the visiting professional and the host firm.

The 2012 award for OUTSTANDING MARKETING INITIATIVE went to PKF Texas (Houston, TX), which developed a way to differentiate itself from its competitors by taking a holistic, inside-out approach to demonstrate its knowledge about international business and brand itself as the middle-market international firm in its market.  First, each of the components within the firm that brings unique qualities and expertise for international business clients were inventoried.  Assets such as a diverse staff from 10 countries who speak 18 languages as well as its policy of appointing a champion for each of its relationships and alliances were included in the inventory. Next, the firm showed how their exceptional qualities mirror those of the firm’s local marketplace, including PKF’s alliances, relationships with international organizations, and association with local dignitaries. The firm also elicited data to support its brand: Approximately 70% of its client base does some type of international work, and that proportion is expected to increase annually. 

LEA firms have a long history of remarkable and extraordinary contributions to their communities and philanthropic organizations.  Alpern Rosenthal (Pittsburgh, PA), the recipient of the 2012 OUTSTANDING COMMUNITY SERVICE award, celebrated its 50th anniversary by launching a Charity of the Month program with the goal of helping as many people as possible. Education, promotion of financial stability, and health are the backbone of this firm’s effort to assist philanthropic organizations in its community, and its efforts include not only financial support, but personal involvement of its staff as volunteers. Projects, including book drives for libraries, donating seedlings to plant in local parks, food drives for military families, and fundraising for animal rescue, cancer research, and United Way, exemplify the firm’s commitment to its community.

LEA’s Cultural and HR Innovation award honors the most creative and productive initiative or campaign focusing on an organization’s cultural and human resources development. In the past, this award has been presented to single firm, but this year the judges decided that it was best to break out the category into two awards: one for cultural innovation and one for HR innovation.

The recipient of the HR INNOVATION award was Clark Nuber PS (Bellevue, WA), which implemented an executive coaching program that has had stellar results. Built on the concept of coaching as a supportive and confidential partnership, the firm matched individuals with a professional coach for the purpose of reaching a specific business objective or leadership development goal. So far, the firm has seen an estimated $2.2 million return on a $117,000 investment.  Other benefits have been realized as well, including the advancement of high-potential team members and the reorganization of key departments resulting in significantly higher performance, new business, increased in billable hours, increased realization, increased job satisfaction, improved management capabilities, increased expertise, and the fostering of development talent in others.

Wiss & Co., LLP (Livingston, NJ) received the CULTURAL INNOVATION award for its initiative to record its own history for future generations. Realizing that much firm history and folklore was being lost as team members retired, passed away or moved on, the firm decided to revamp its way of honoring these team members and strengthen the link between them, alumni and the community. It implemented a Hall of Fame that includes an induction ceremony at a special public event which is documented with a booklet containing interviews with the inductees, as well as a physical Hall of Fame at the headquarters office which contains photos, personal stories and billing numbers.

The firm also received LEA’s INTERNAL TECHNOLOGY INNOVATION award for its efforts to unify its communications platform so team members have a richer connection wherever they are, thus bringing benefit to team culture, efficiency and enhancing client service capability.  Another impressive IT initiative at Wiss & Co. is the firm’s effort to implement a more efficient automated system to meet the PCAOB’s rules for completing documentation by external auditors after completion of finalized financial reports.

LEA firms are quite progressive when it comes to innovations for nurturing and developing young professionals.  This was evidenced by the two firm’s sharing the 2012 award for OUTSTANDING YOUNG PROFESSIONALS PROGRAM. Gifford, Hillegass & Ingwerson, LLP (Atlanta, GA) has invested significantly in an impressive, multi-faceted program that concentrates on developing young professionals using an approach based on emotional intelligence and self-awareness. Brown Schultz Sheridan & Fritz, PC (Camp Hill, PA) developed a program to help young professionals understand how to progress up the career ladder. The program was designed using research of other LEA firms’ programs along with in-house input from young leaders specializing in various disciplines.

Sandra Wiley of Boomer Consulting (Kansas City, MO) was the recipient of this year’s prestigious ON THE EDGE INNOVATION award, which recognizes someone’s major/ongoing contribution to the industry.  Known for her prominent role as an industry expert on human resources and training, she has profound influence as a management and planning consultant and is a founding member of The CPA Consultant’s Alliance. She is a certified Kolbe™ trainer who advises firms on building balanced teams, managing employee conflict, and hiring top talent. A visionary leader who is gifted with the ability to tackle emerging and future challenges, she works with a sense of adventure and prefers to take a "big picture" view of important situations. She understands the importance of original thinking, creativity and inspiration to cut through complex problems. In addition, she is a naturally gifted public speaker, team-builder, networker, multi-tasker and nurturer of talent. Her warmth and expertise have brought practical and refreshing new approaches to the human side of the profession.

LEA member firms are renowned for their entrepreneurial spirit.  In recognition of the value this brings to the profession, LEA initiated the NEW FRONTIERS INNOVATION award, which will be presented to firms that affect profound change for their clients, the business world, and their own firms by innovating services and leveraging unique opportunities.  HW Fisher & Company (London), the inaugural recipient of this award, has embraced sustainability as a way to improve cost-effectiveness, monetize an emerging high-growth service, and differentiate itself as a thought leader. This innovation is giving the firm opportunities to engage with new businesses, reconnect with existing clients, and add value to its services – all the while expanding the skills sets of its team and establishing expertise in the field of environmental sustainability. It’s practicing what it preaches by running the firm with a higher consciousness about the value of natural resources and conservation – and reaping the resulting cost-savings – but it also is teaching its clients how to do the same. Not only is this innovation saving money, providing a high-value long-term service, and generating new streams of revenue, but it is also having a positive impact on recruiting efforts and improving interdepartmental integration.

About LEA: The Leading Edge Alliance is ranked as the 2nd largest international professional association of independently-owned accounting and consulting firms. The Leading Edge Alliance, which has over 190 member firms and 450 offices across the globe, enables member firms to access the resources of a multibillion dollar global professional services organization, providing business development, professional training and education, and peer-to-peer networking opportunities nationally and globally, around the corner and around the world.

About Marcum LLP
Marcum LLP is one of the largest independent public accounting and advisory services firms in the nation, with offices in major business markets throughout the U.S., as well as Grand Cayman, China and Ireland. Headquartered in New York City, Marcum provides a full spectrum of traditional tax, accounting and assurance services; advisory, valuation and litigation support; and an extensive range of specialty and niche industry practices. The Firm serves both privately held and publicly traded companies, as well as high net worth individuals, private equity funds and hedge funds, with a focus on middle-market companies and closely held family businesses. Marcum is a member of the Marcum Group, an organization providing a comprehensive array of professional services.

Nanette Lee Miller

San Francisco, CA
Janis L. Cowhey

Tax & Business
New York, NY



Marcum LLP is one of the largest independent public accounting and advisory services firms in the nation, with offices in major business markets throughout the U.S., as well as Grand Cayman, China and Ireland.

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