Shauna A. Wekherlien, CPA, MTax, CTC, CTS, Tax Goddess is a highly sought-after Certified Public Accountant and founder of Tax Goddess Business Services, PC, established in 2004.
Tax Goddess is a global team of 76+ specialists that uses plain language (not tax code) to help business owners, investors, and entrepreneurs create plans of action to increase the business owner’s bottom line, reduce costs, significantly reduce taxes, increase cash flow, and perform what-if scenario options so that owners know what decisions to make and which paths are best suited to their particular situation.
Shauna is a Certified Public Accountant (AZ) with a master’s degree in Taxation. She is ranked in the top 1% of Tax Strategists in the entire country (per AICTC). Before starting her own company, Shauna had garnered experience and sharpened her skills working with different leading corporations such as KPMG and American Express.
With over 24+ years of experience in implementing innovative tax solutions, Shauna has continued to actively create tax strategies that, so far, have saved businesses and individuals to the tune of over $740 million.
Her resourcefulness and mastery in her field have led her to be featured by numerous top broadcast media platforms such as Forbes, CNN, Money, Daily Herald, Big News Network, Entrepreneur, Today’s Practitioner, Stitcher, Advisor Magazine, WorldClassPerformer, Journal, The American Reporter, Entrepreneurs Break, Influencive, many more!
Shauna’s passion and enthusiasm for helping business owners is tangible. Her clients rave about working with “The Goddess” in a wide variety of areas including, but not limited to, tax strategy creation, planning, coaching, IRS representation, tax preparation, bookkeeping, payroll processing, C-Suite consulting, enterprise digitization & remote models, and entity formation.
She is a recipient of several awards for ingenuity, business intelligence, and leadership in her professional community.
This transcript is machine transcribed by Sonix
Intro: Broadcasting live from the Business RadioX studios in Atlanta, Georgia. It’s time for High Velocity Radio.
Stone Payton: Welcome to the High Velocity Radio show, where we celebrate top performers producing better results in less time. Stone Payton here with you. Please join me in welcoming to the broadcast with Tax Goddess Business Services, the tax goddess herself, Shauna Wekherlien, how are you?
Shauna Wekherlien: Fantastic. Thank you so much for asking. How are you?
Stone Payton: I am doing well and really been looking forward to this conversation. I’ve got a ton of questions. I know we’re not going to get to them all, but I think a great place to start is if you could share with me and our listening audience. Mission purpose. What are you what are you really out there trying to do for folks?
Shauna Wekherlien: Seana You got it. So specifically for business owners and entrepreneurs, reduce their taxes to the bare legal minimum, and our current average is 6.92%. So if you’re paying more in taxes than 6.92%, that’s what we do.
Stone Payton: Well, it sounds like a noble pursuit to me and certainly close enough to my heart as an entrepreneur. I got to know, how did you get started? What’s the what’s the back story? How did you find yourself in this line of work you are?
Shauna Wekherlien: I love this story. So great question. So I actually started off in astrophysics of all things. Yeah. Not a tax goddess, not even close, completely separate industry. Very long story short, I was at the breakfast table with my mother and she is my goddess, Right? And she was open in the mail and she pushed back from the table, kind of jolted back. And normally she’s a very stoic and a woman pushed back, pulled back from the table through the mail down on the table. This is unacceptable. This is absolutely insane. If she’d gotten a letter from the IRS and they wanted more money. And when your goddess is a daughter of a mother, right, when your goddess is upset, what do you do? You try to help. So, very long story short, ended up completely changing what I do. I found out that taxes is very much a game of chess, so still problem solving with numbers so very close to astrophysics from that standpoint and ended up going down the path of becoming a tax status. So taxes, specialty accounting, finance under major master’s degree in taxation, then certified tax coach, certified tax strategist. So specialty specialty, specialty specialty. And now I get to do what I absolutely love. And yes, my mother is also part of the 6.92% club. So.
Stone Payton: Well, and it’s my understanding that you’re getting to do this all over the planet. You have cracked the code apparently on expanding your team digitally. Can can you speak to that a little bit?
Shauna Wekherlien: Absolutely. Well, I don’t know how long of a story you want, but yeah, the very long story short is we are now at 89 people in 20 different countries around the globe, all specializing in US tax strategy. So it should be clear about that. We definitely focus on the US tax system. But yeah, going digital was one of the best things we ever did. Started going digital about eight years ago now, so long before the big push, COVID and everything else. It’s definitely been a journey trying to manage cultures from 20 different countries, holiday schedules, management, all all of these things is definitely something new and not something a lot of CPAs even look at, to be honest.
Stone Payton: So now that you’ve been at this a while, what what are you finding the most rewarding? What’s the most fun about it for you?
Shauna Wekherlien: Oh, you know, absolutely My favorite bit. I get to feel like a superhero basically every day when we deliver a tax plan, right? When we finally get to deliver the results to a client, I have helped a single mother pay 50,000 for her son’s cancer surgery, which was huge for me. It almost makes me tear up even just thinking about it, you know, getting getting to help families That way I’ve been able to help a couple husband and wife put their kids through college when they thought they would have zero money from that standpoint, been able to help turn around businesses, cash flow reviews. And of course, when you’re not paying 37 or 50 or 63% tax, which is the highest tax rate in the country right now in California, and you’re not paying 63 and you’re only paying six, what can you do with that kind of money? Right. I’ve helped people meet their dreams. I helped one guy buy a $1.8 million yacht. That’s what he wanted since he was five. So I’m basically a dream weaver from that standpoint. And it makes me really, really, really happy that I get to get people what they want. So.
Stone Payton: So you strike me as someone who may very well keep count. Do you have any idea? You know how.
Shauna Wekherlien: Much? Really, I do. Really? Yeah. Our last. Our last count was about two months ago. We’re a little over 740 million in savings for our clients. Wow. Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. So, yes, very happy with what we get to do for people.
Stone Payton: So what do you think is the differentiator? And maybe it’s more than one that sort of sets you apart from from other people in your domain?
Shauna Wekherlien: Absolutely. Yeah. Two, two primary things. The first one is I don’t think a lot of people realize that there’s a big difference between a regular tax CPA, you know, somebody that you gather your paperwork and you bring them their documents and they prepare a tax return for you based on what you did and a tax strategist. So I am both. I am a CPA. We do prepare taxes, but my specialty obviously, is strategy. So the way that we look at the world, we look at what you can do before the end of the year, Right. Because once the year is over, whatever you’ve done is what you’ve done according to the eyes of the IRS. Right. So we look at things before the year is over. What kind of changes can you make? What are your goals? What changes are going to work within your goals? Right. Because, for example, some people have kids. Putting their kids through college is really important. Some people don’t. Some people have charities. Some people building their business to go global is important. It’s a very, very, very specific focusing on what strategies are going to work for you and your goals particularly. So it’s a big mindset shift for a lot of people because they don’t even know that somebody like me exists. There’s only 607 certified tax coaches Etsy in the entire US. Where are the people? That’s like the first rank of people that are specialized in tax strategy. There’s according to Google, 660,000 CPAs. So I’m never shocked when somebody says, Yeah, I didn’t even know that you existed, right? There’s not that many. And then the second oh, I’m so sorry. The second piece, besides the passion and being able to go towards people’s goals. The second piece, to be honest with you, is I have a personality. I’m a crazy redhead. If you can’t see me, if this is audio, you know, I am an absolute crazy redhead. And love, love, love. Very passion, right? This is for a lot of people. Taxes is something they do. And for me, this is this is my life. This is my love, baby. So I’ll look at this.
Stone Payton: So I know part of the answer to this next question is going to be mom goddess, who you mentioned earlier in the conversation. But I always like to ask and I really am curious, in your situation, have you had the benefit of of one or more mentors that sort of helped you navigate this terrain of either running the business or expanding globally or any other aspect of this?
Shauna Wekherlien: Absolutely. I’m a firm believer that you get a lot further if you listen to people smarter than you. Right. And I’m very blessed to be surrounded by many of those people. So I had a very good friend that I met in my master’s program, and he opened his firm, his CPA firm, ten years before me. So I was very lucky to be able to kind of dodge some potholes with his advice. One of my favorite business coaches. Absolutely. Of all time. The one phrase that he said to me that absolutely I now use in everything and every piece of my life is hope is not a strategy. And that just makes such a difference. Because when you every time you say, well, I hope it’s going to work out, I hope this plan is going to go, Yeah. Hope is not a strategy. So how are you going to fix it? Right. That’s that’s huge for me. And yeah, of course, of course. My mom, you know, actually, very long story short, she was a CPA when she was in her twenties, so I am definitely following along the family footsteps there. So.
Stone Payton: So how does the whole sales and marketing thing work for a firm like yours? How do you get the get the new clients?
Shauna Wekherlien: Well, you know, the easy. That is right. It’s such a good question because when you look at sales, right, there’s really three components to getting a sale trust, credibility and interest. So interest who is not interested in reducing their tax to 6%? Pretty much no way. So that one’s really easy from that standpoint. And then you have trust and credibility. So credibility. I’ve been lucky enough. I’ve been featured in Forbes, in Entrepreneur, I’ve podcast television. I mean, I’ve written a book and I’m working on book number two. So I’m definitely known in my field. I’m known for what I do. So there’s your credibility and and so trust. I’ll be honest with you, this is kind of the hardest piece because when we meet, when we speak with somebody and we tell them, listen, we know that right now you’re paying 150,000 in tax, we can reduce that. I 130. Right. You’re going to only pay 20,000, whatever that number is, to be honest with you. People think we’re not telling the truth, right? So that’s the third piece. And really, that’s where. Referrals of referrals of referrals come in. Because if I say to you down to 6.92%, you’re not going to tell your friends that they can also get from 63 to 6. Of course you are. So a lot of our stuff is word of mouth from that standpoint.
Stone Payton: Okay. You got to tell me about this book. Let’s start with the title, but I want to hear more about the structure of it and and actually what it was like to sit down and commit your ideas to paper and the experience of authoring a book.
Shauna Wekherlien: Oh, you were so sweet. All right, Well, so one book is in progress. So working title, I suppose the other book is done. Done. So the first book I wrote was 2014 The Tax Goddess Guide to Starting a Small Business. Of course, for a lot of our clients, they I’m ex KPMG, right? So which is one of the four remaining big accounting firms we used to work on Coca Cola and Pfizer like huge type companies because of my mother, right? I’ve always kind of had more of a pension for the little guy, right? I really like helping out the little guy. So businesses that are making 50 million and less, right? So for a lot of little tiny business owners when they very first start, they have no idea. I mean, I remember when I very first started, I didn’t know how to run a fax machine. I had no idea how to get the paper in the fax machine. It was, you know, little tiny things cause big problems. So especially when you have to start dealing with taxes and accounting and finance, if that’s not your field, it can be very, very scary. So that’s the first book. And then now we have the second book coming out, which is called The 6% Life. And that one, it’s about five chapters in out of eight. So I’m hoping it’ll come out early next year. And that one is very specifically now looking at tax strategy for people that are paying more than 100,000 a year in taxes. So you’ve got your small business now, you’re successful, you’re paying out through the nose. Now what now what can you do to reduce your tax burden?
Stone Payton: So so in either case, did you find that some parts of the book came together pretty quickly and easily and others you struggled with a little bit and had to really think it through and approach it from different angles.
Shauna Wekherlien: Oh, that’s a great question. Good or bad, the crazy redhead likes to talk. So it was it was very easy for me to to get everything down. But you bring up a very good point. It was easy for me to get it down. There were definitely sections where I thought it was clear, but when a good friend or mentor somebody read it, they’re like, We have no idea what you’re talking about. So there were definitely pieces that needed to be tweaked and loved on and kind of massaged to make it, because this is a big thing for me. Making things human English, not tax code, right? So yeah, that, that definitely took a little bit of love because unfortunately, I’ve got so much tax code swimming around in this redhead head of mine that sometimes it comes out as tax code and not English. So.
Stone Payton: Well, I’m sure they’ll both be wildly successful. But even if they weren’t, I wonder if just going through that process of finding a way to articulate principles and beliefs and experience, I bet it’s had some impact on on maybe crystallizing your own thinking and preparing you to communicate to lay people like me in a way that we can really hear. Did you find it that it really helped you in your practice?
Shauna Wekherlien: Absolutely. Absolutely. Because especially with what we do, people are terrified. They’re terrified of the IRS. They don’t want to make a mistake. They want to make sure that everything is right, crossing the T’s, dotting the I’s, and by getting it down on paper and by discussing it over and over and over. Right. When you become a teacher, you learn how to say things in a way that somebody else understands what it is that you’re saying. So absolutely it helps solidify and clarify. And it gave me a lot of really good examples. Let’s phrase it this way. So, for example, crossing t’s and dotting I’s, everybody knows what that means. So when you’re saying that in the context of using tax strategy and complex tax rules, most people understand, crossing your T’s and dotting your eyes means doing everything legal, but you’re still taking the full letter of the law, right? So, yeah, those those kinds of things, those kind of analogies really popped out. So.
Stone Payton: So I want to swing back to to your days with well, I’m old enough to remember the big eight. I think maybe it was announced, the big four, whatever.
Shauna Wekherlien: Now it’s the big four. Yeah. Yeah.
Stone Payton: But making that transition, I mean, that had to be at least a little bit daunting, right? I mean that was what was making that shift to now you’re, you know, you’re hanging out your shingle, you’re doing your own thing. What was that?
Shauna Wekherlien: Like I’m smiling. It does come back to being a redhead. I have real problems with authority. So, you know, working in the big firm was great. Don’t get me wrong, KPMG was definitely an experience, learned a ton, learned some of the big politics, that kind of thing. But I’m a very direct person to person. I’m going to tell you the truth. I don’t really do politics. I don’t play games. I don’t I don’t do any of that stuff. And so what ended up happening, education was great, but what ended up happening, I call it the Goldilocks effect, right? I went with the big bear firm to learn. Learn some amazing things, went down to a medium size firm, learned an entirely different set of amazing things, and in structuring and trust formation went down to a small firm. Big medium small, went down to a small firm, really learned the human face to face, personal relationship type aspect of what we do in tax. Because again, it can be very scary. And then when I went out on my own, you know, for me it was the perfect world because the authority was me saying, No, you can’t go home right now. I know it’s 10:00, but guess what? You got stuff to do, get on it, you know? So, yeah, it worked out really, really well for me.
Stone Payton: So I’m trying to envision you running out of gas, getting a little bit low on energy. I got to believe that it happened. I can’t see it right now.
Shauna Wekherlien: It does happen. Okay, But it does happen.
Stone Payton: I’ll take your word for when it does. Where do you go? And I don’t necessarily mean a place, but like, how do you recharge and get ready to jump back in there and serve? What does the trick for you?
Shauna Wekherlien: Absolutely. I’m going to say three pieces to it. The first one is I have three dogs and I absolutely love my dogs. So I go outside, I play fetch, I rub tummies, I do some training, like whatever it is for me that gives me away time. So my brain gets a break and I get to love on fluffy fuzzies, which is really hard to German Shepherds and a boxer bug of all things. And so that’s that’s really nice. I love gardening, so I like being out, hands in the soil, planting tomatoes, whatever it is that helps me a ton. Just kind of, again, kind of get reconnected with my self versus I talk to people a lot, right? So I’m a little bit more of an internal list, I guess, from that standpoint. And the third one is when we really, really, really do a good job for somebody like really, really, really. I do those, those cases come up in my mind and I go, Yeah, you know, Shauna, you got to put in those extra 2 hours. You have to because this is really important for this person or that family or whatever it is. I’m very much tied to helping people from that standpoint.
Stone Payton: Well, I suspect you find I know I do personally that it’s important to build in that space the time to do that. And I feel like when we don’t we’re not we’re not serving ourselves and we’re not serving our clients as well as we could. We we got to we got to build that in. And I would like. But before we wrap, if we could, I’d love to leave our listeners with a couple of I’ll call them Pro Tips, a couple of actionable items, things to be thinking about, reading, doing, not doing, just some things that they can begin to act on and saying, look, the the best pro tip is reach out and have a conversation with Shauna, the tax goddess. But between now and that step, maybe there’s some things that they can be thinking about to kind of going down this down this path.
Shauna Wekherlien: Absolutely. You know, to two big things come to mind, Right? Education is key. Absolutely. And you named it right. What can you read? What can you watch? What can you do in the tax world? Learning about as many strategies as you can and then figuring out what you think might work for you? Okay. So for example, do you really want to move to Puerto Rico? Do you really want to have a trust that owns all your stuff? Right. There’s there’s not only tax benefits to some of these things, but there’s also human psychology, right? If all of your family is in Texas and you move to Puerto Rico, are you going to be happy? You know, so learning about the different strategies which, to be honest, books these days go out of out of knowledge so quickly. To be very honest with you, YouTube is amazing from that standpoint because you’re always getting the newest strategy. The newest thing. However, don’t just jump on something because you just heard about it, right? Make sure you’re working with a professional, somebody who knows what they’re doing, who can warn you about the pitfalls, Right? The potholes in whatever argument that somebody is producing on YouTube. So definitely learning and reading and watching those kinds of things. Podcasts are amazing for things like that. Same thing. And number two, I think the next best thing is to actually put aside I’m a big fan of. Cash is king. So with a lot of tax strategies, you need to have cash to actually be able to move money, right? So I’m moving money from this pocket to this pocket.
Shauna Wekherlien: They’re both still in my pockets. I still own them. Right. But you need to be able to move money. And so often what happens is we get telephone calls at the end of the year saying, okay, I want to do a strategy. What can I do? Well, you’ve got two things working against you, right? One is time, right? The more time you have to implement strategies, the better. And the second one is cash. So if I tell you, yes, we can do that for you. This strategy, you need 2000 with cash. For this strategy, you need to $100,000 worth cash for. If you don’t have the cash, there are things we can still do. But right. Cash is king. So I am a big fan. If your listeners have heard of something called Profit First, I am a huge fan of taking 30%, three zero, 30% of your gross income. So not not after expenses, not after you’ve paid your bills. 30% of gross every dollar that hits your bank account and putting that in a side account, that money is meant for you, in my opinion, to invest, to be able to do tax strategies, to move money around, to do whatever it is you need to do. And if you can build that habit, especially when you’re young, 30% of gross is just normal. Now. It’s just money that you don’t even look at, that you don’t even touch. It’s just there specifically for investing your strategy or whatever else it is that you want to do. You can build that habit. That’s that’s how I see millionaires, billionaires made at this point.
Stone Payton: I am so glad that I asked. We we ought to probably carve out just that question and answer and get that out there for folks to for folks to hear. Quick side note, incidentally, although I still to this day cannot properly pronounce his last name, we interviewed the gentleman who wrote that book and and we run our business accordingly here at the Business Radio X Network. So we yeah, we’re huge fans.
Shauna Wekherlien: Oh, I love it. It’s a great model and I do really enjoy especially that you can tweak it for yourself, right? That it’s very customizable to again, what are your goals, your dreams? What is it that you are trying to reach that fits in with my world really, really well? So I love it. That’s so cool.
Stone Payton: All right. What’s the best way for our listeners to connect with you and tap into your work?
Shauna Wekherlien: Oh, absolutely. The easiest place to find us is tax goddess dot com. That’s our website. And you’ll see me crazy red head right Right on the home page I think but yeah ex got us dot com. We do have Tik tok and Instagram and Facebook and all the other things but the website’s probably the easiest. You can reach out if you want to chat. Of course you can book an appointment with my team and I and we’d love to chat with you so.
Stone Payton: Well, Seana, it has been an absolute delight having you on the program today. Thank you for investing the time and energy to share your insight and your perspective. This has been an informative, inspiring conversation. I love your enthusiasm. I love your passion for the work. Keep up the good work. And again, thank you so much.
Shauna Wekherlien: Thank you so much for having me. It’s been an absolute joy.
Stone Payton: My pleasure. All right. Until next time, this is Stone Payton for our guest today, Seana, the tax goddess and everyone here at the Business RadioX family saying we’ll see you in the fast lane.