Our Spotlight series highlights the careers and lives of tax professionals across the globe. This week’s spotlight is on Eric Santa Maria, a partner at the Miami CPA firm Verdeja De Armas Trujillo LLP, where he works closely with entrepreneurs and international tax clients. He started his public accounting career at PwC as an associate in the financial services department.
Santa Maria also assists businesses in mergers and acquisitions, due diligence, and business valuation services. He provides expert witness testimony and has been qualified as an expert witness in both Miami-Dade and Broward County civil court.
What’s your official title, and what does it mean? I’m a tax and litigation support partner at Verdeja De Armas Trujillo LLP. This means I am responsible for delivering tax and advisory services to firm clients in various industries. In addition to providing tax services as a Florida CPA, I also hold both the Accredited in Business Valuation and Certified in Financial Forensics Professional Credentials from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.
Free time: book, audiobook, or podcast? Podcast. I enjoy hearing podcasts during my morning run. Some favorites include Simply Tax, Taxgirl, and The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz.
Tax is a huge subject. What’s your area of special interest? I enjoy working with tech startups and also spend a great deal of time in international tax. The tech industry in Miami has been evolving over the last few years, and I have been able to work with many interesting early-stage tech companies. I’ve worked with two businesses that received offers in the TV show “Shark Tank.” Miami is a melting pot of so many cultures: I really love working with international clients and providing tax planning and guidance. I work with clients from more than 25 different countries.
What’s the last movie or show that you watched and loved (DVD, Netflix, or in the theater)? “Blacklist” on NBC and Netflix. I’ve watched all eight seasons—and counting.
What college did you attend, and what did you study? I received my Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Accounting and my Master of Science degree in Taxation from Florida International University in Miami, Florida.
Go to pick-me-up: Coffee or tea? Coffee. A Cuban cafecito is a daily necessity.
What’s the best tax or financial advice that anyone ever gave you? “It depends.” As one of my first tax professors in graduate school at FIU taught us, if you don’t know the answer to a client’s question, you can always answer a tax question with “it depends.”
If you weren’t working in the tax profession, what would your dream job be? A sports agent.
If you had the opportunity to make one change in the tax code—an extra credit, a disallowed deduction, whatever—what would it be? I would allow a home office deduction for all taxpayers. Under current law, employees who, in theory, may have worked nearly an entire year from home as a result of the pandemic are not entitled to any home office deduction. I would propose a home office deduction be allowed based on employee hours worked, utilizing both a variation of the current simple and standard methods available now for self-employed individuals.
Favorite food, snack, or candy during tax season (or other busy time)? Dark chocolate.
What tax news or move made the most impact on your practice or clients this past year? President Biden’s proposed tax changes to the step-up in basis, as well as the likely sunset of the estate tax exemption, have resulted in more estate tax planning and tax advisory services for my tax practice.
If Uncle Sam handed you a big tax refund check right now, what would you do with it? I would invest in more Bitcoin or other cryptocurrency. I believe the use of crypto and digital cash will continue into the foreseeable future. The influence of blockchain tech within our traditional financial systems has only just begun.
Learn more about Santa Maria’s firm, Verdeja, De Armas & Trujillo LLP, at vdtcpa.com.
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