Taxed but undaunted, this CPA loves the challenge

OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS: Jacquelyn Tracy, partner at Mandel and Tracy, founded her firm after KPMG divested much of its portfolio for individual tax returns in 2005.
Posted 7/11/11

Many people dread completing tax returns. Jacquelyn Tracy savors it. The partner at Mandel and Tracy handles about 200 returns a year for high net-worth individuals and enjoys every minute of it.

“I like the challenge of it,” she said. “I like being able to solve problems.”

Perhaps that’s why Tracy, 45, has had success moving from a paraprofessional in KPMG’s tax office to a partner at her own accounting firm in Providence. Along the way, she became a certified public accountant, picked up a master’s in taxation and served as president of the Rhode Island Society of Certified Public Accountants.

She’s been quoted on tax issues in newspapers, appeared on television newscasts and recently returned from presenting at a national conference of accountants. In October, she will serve, for the second time, as the Rhode Island representative on the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants governing council.

Not bad for a woman who found herself in the taxation field almost by accident. After graduating Stonehill College with a business degree, Tracy interviewed for sales and management jobs. When a note came from the college’s career office that a job at KPMG matched her profile, she applied, attracted by the opportunity to work at a big firm, earn a good salary and participate in a rigorous training program.

KPMG would hire her and place her at its Boston office preparing tax returns. At the time, she would become one of few women in the accounting field. Even the female partners at KPMG tended to be relegated to fields stereotypical of women, such as health care and education.

For Tracy, being one of a few mattered little. She was hooked on taxation.

Her boss promised her a promotion if she became a CPA, so she did, putting in 1,000 hours in the audit division before securing her certification in 1992. In 1997, she headed to the Montvale, N.J., office to help KPMG redesign its tax process and then train its employees worldwide on the new process.

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