Ed Jenkins leads a bipolar life -- at least, that's how he describes it.
Jenkins is an instructor of accounting at Penn State and a tax consultant at State College firm Boyer amp; Ritter.
"I enjoy getting to know students and it's rewarding to teach," he said. "I also like to practice taxation. I'm focused on federal and international taxation. I can't walk away from that, and it influences what I do in the classroom."
He discussed what people and businesses are facing this tax season, his specialty in foreign bank accounts and how a wife learned her husband was a millionaire.
Q: Why'd you get into accounting?
A: I've always done things backward. I wanted to be a veterinarian. I went to Penn State to study animal sciences and realized I had no idea how to study for that, and then I got into international economics. That sounded really good to try to get a job. I ended up at Dun amp; Bradstreet writing business reports, and then I needed to get a job I could eat with. I went back to Penn State to get my MBA, got the credits I needed to be a CPA (certified public accountant) and took the CPA exam.
Q: What are some common questions people want answers to this tax season?
A: I specialize in international taxation, so I have clients that have international investments, real estate holdings and foreign accounts. There is a very big issue right now with foreign bank accounts. A lot of people are getting caught up in (the merger of) UBS Warburg and Swiss Bank. A whole regime that went into effect in 2010 is causing intergovernmental agreements to kick in and trade information. If you have an account abroad you're going to get caught in it. I've spent 80 to 90 percent of my time working on foreign bank accounts and keeping people out of jail.
In terms of the general public, most people are just worried and feeling pinched. If you look at income statistics, income has been flat for years. People feel pinched and anxious. There's talk about changing tax law. Congress for the last few years has passed extender legislation in December, so businesses and people come to me asking, "What do I do, Ed?" And the answer is that I don't know what the law is going to be. They should have passed it before, but they waited until the end of the year. If we were supposed to spend half a million dollars on capital investments to spur the economy, why are they passing it in the second week of December? There's a general anxiety, because people don't know what the rules are.