Our Spotlight series highlights the careers and lives of tax professionals across the globe. This week’s Spotlight is on Brandi Caruso, who lives in Switzerland and leads
Caruso has more than 20 years of experience with Deloitte and has spent the last 13 of them in Zurich, after early stops in San Diego and London. She and her team focus on banking, insurance, and investment management sectors.
In her spare time, she watches—and relates to—the Canadian sitcom “Workin’ Moms” on Netflix, dreams about owning a B&B, and wishes there were tax credits for students to travel internationally.
What’s your official title and what does it mean? I lead a 20-person team composed of experts in Swiss, international, and U.S. tax matters. My team and I serve domestic and international Swiss-based banks, insurance companies, fund managers, and trust companies as they seek to comply with complex tax regulations and remain competitive.
Free time: book, audiobook, or podcast? Podcast, short and informative and a great way to keep current on the latest news while commuting or in between meetings.
Tax is a huge subject. What’s your area of special interest? Approximately 10 years ago, I began to specialize in the financial services sector when the U.S. Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act became law, supporting the Swiss financial services sector to understand and operationalize these U.S. extraterritorial rules. The introduction of the FATCA rules resulted in a revision to the U.S. Qualified Intermediary regime, which Swiss banks utilize to offer access to the U.S. capital markets for their non-U.S. clients. Both the FATCA and QI regimes are legislatively and operationally complex, the IRS continuously enhances and expands these rules, and non-U.S. financial institutions are required to periodically certify compliance with the IRS.
What’s the last movie or show that you watched and loved (DVD, Netflix, or in the theater)? “Workin’ Moms.” I watched this shortly after I returned to work from maternity leave. Some of the challenges were painfully relatable, and laughing about them was cathartic.
What college did you attend and what did you study? University of California, Los Angeles, Spanish Literature and Accounting. I thought that I would work in international business in Mexico—now I’m married to an Italian and work in a German-speaking city!
Go to pick-me-up: Coffee or tea? Coffee—short and strong.
What’s the best tax or financial advice that anyone ever gave you? As a tax adviser, it’s not possible to know every bit of law and regulations. It’s best to surround yourself with good people, and collectively the team’s knowledge is much greater than the individual. I have the best team in the world and we lift each other up.
If you weren’t working in the tax profession, what would your dream job be? Having a bed-and-breakfast with a fabulous wine bar.
If you had the opportunity to make one change in the tax world—an extra credit, a disallowed deduction, whatever—what would it be? Tax credits for students that travel and learn internationally. The experience of going outside of your cultural comfort zone is personally fulfilling and contributes to a more empathetic working environment.
Favorite food, snack, or candy during tax season or other busy time? Peanut M&Ms—a bit sweet, a bit of protein energy, and the colors are fun.
What tax news or move made the most impact on your practice or clients this past year? The IRS has increased its scrutiny with respect to compliance in the FATCA and QI area, which ups the ante. My team works hard to keep our clients in front of these changes and in good standing with the IRS.
If you received a big tax refund check right now, what would you do with it? Pay down my mortgage! And, maybe, splash out on a nice bottle of bubbles.
You can find Caruso on LinkedIn.
You can find out more about Caruso and her firm, Deloitte, on its website.
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