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Leadership today is being redefined by the forces present in a fast-paced market. Changes brought on by unexpected economic trends, rapid technological adaptions, increased security threats, and a global pandemic have made us all rethink modern leadership models. This is especially true for leaders catalyzing rapid growth.

We (the authors) have had extensive opportunities to observe successful start-up leaders for many years. We have helped advise technology start-ups through fast paced funding cycles, complex exit events, and assisted them in navigating through periods of rapid growth.

Naturally, we have observed a broad range of leadership styles and habits. To be sure,

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For most of my adult life, I’ve committed myself to continuous improvement, whether that is personally, professionally, or in my relationships. I believe there is always an opportunity for growth or learning. And, I’m fortunate that I work in a supportive environment and have a strong social network where I can be myself and try new things. Part of this confidence comes from developing a healthy understanding of failure. I know my mistakes are part of the learning process and not punitive by leadership or my colleagues.

How do continuous improvement and growth relate to leading with purpose? For me, they are the central principles that empower me to lead with confidence and focus,

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Leading with Data

Things were simpler in times of old. Back in the pre-industrial era, the only data you needed for a profitable harvest was a ledger of your past sales and maybe a farmer’s almanac.

Today, data is everywhere. The problem isn’t how we get the information we need to make decisions, it’s how we get the right information we need, in the right format, and how to see through the clutter and white noise that surrounds everything we do.

Every day, our systems accumulate vast amounts of data without any intentional action by us. As I write this article,

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Washington cities and counties are permitted to establish parking and business improvement areas (PBIAs) and levy assessments on the businesses that are benefitted by PBIA activities. Seattle has one such PBIA known as the Seattle Tourism Improvement Area. Lodging businesses within the PBIA collect a charge from guests to fund improvement area assessments.

In 2019, the Department of Revenue audited a Seattle hotel and concluded that the assessments billed to guests should be included in the amount subject to sales and business and occupation (B&O) taxes. In response, members of the Washington Hospitality Association approached legislators seeking a legislative fix to make clear that the amounts charged by lodging businesses for the assessments are not subject to sales or B&O tax.

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More so than any time in recent history, the COVID-19 pandemic has enabled company leaders to reflect on the notion of becoming compassionate leaders.

Sara Elizabeth Hyre, head of Clark Nuber’s Tax Department, and Tom Sulewski, head of our Audit Department, are two leaders who have overseen their service groups during a time of unprecedented change in the industry – walking a tightrope of meeting client expectations and ensuring their employees are cared for.

Here’s what these shareholders had to say about the enduring strength of compassionate leadership:

Thank you both for sitting down to talk with us today.  » Read more

Last year, following the passage of the federal CARES Act, the Washington State Department of Revenue (DOR) published guidance regarding its view on whether federal COVID-19 related financial assistance is subject to the Business & Occupation (B&O) tax (including loan forgiveness under the Paycheck Protection Program [PPP]).

At that time, the DOR indicated its belief that the financial assistance should not be reportable for B&O tax purposes. Since then, the Legislature has enacted a specific exemption from the B&O tax for qualifying grants received on or after February 29, 2020 (the date the Governor issued a COVID-19 emergency proclamation).

The new law (SHB 1095),

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The chances of an IRS examination of a tax-exempt entity is one in 742, reported the Treasury Inspector General For Tax Administration (TIGTA) in February. For-profit businesses are five times as likely to be examined (one in 156) and individuals are three times as likely to be examined (one in 226). The rate for churches is about one in 5,000.

To better show you how many this is, during FY 2019, there were almost 1.5 million Form 990 series returns and notices filed; however, the EO function examined approximately 2,000 (0.13 percent) Form 990 series returns during the same year.

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3/29/2021 Update: The Internal Revenue Service and the Treasury Department have provided additional details around the tax deadline extension.

As reported earlier, the April 15 deadline for filing and paying individual income tax has been extended until May 17, 2021. This week, the IRS announced they are also automatically extending the deadline for individuals to make 2020 contributions to their individual retirement accounts and health savings accounts. The deadline for doing so is automatically postponed until May 17.

In the press release, the IRS also doubled down on the condition that 2021 Q1 payments are still due on April 15,

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Creating an environment for solving difficult challenges is a prerequisite for effective leadership. Occasionally, the challenges may be positive and fun to address, such as how to best take advantage of a new market opportunity.

However, anyone in a position of leadership will face adversity sooner or later. While I would not characterize problem-solving in the face of adversity as “fun,” it is nevertheless rewarding, perhaps even more so, as the stakes are often very high.

The challenges of 2020 have taught me a great deal about leading through adversity. When faced with a major challenge, there is typically no playbook for responding to the issues that spring up with little notice.

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As 2019 came to a close, Clark Nuber promoted a record five principals into the ranks of shareholder. Little did these new shareholders know what was waiting for them on the other side of the new year. We recently met with them to discuss the challenges of 2020, the unexpected opportunities of working remote, and what it was like coming into a leadership role during a once-in-a-lifetime crisis.

Interviewer: You’ve been shareholders at Clark Nuber for over a year now. Did you see yourself here when you first began?

Jennifer Mace (JM): I would say it felt like a natural progression.

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Clark Nuber
Phone: 425-454-4919
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