Business profile: Stephanie Allison

Posted: Thursday, March 13, 2003

Title: Certified Public Accountant

Biographical information: Allison grew up in Eagle River and graduated from Chugiak High School. She attended the University of Alaska Fairbanks and earned her first bachelor's degree, in business administration, in 1989.

"When I finished my first degree in business management, it's kind of like getting a fine arts degree," she said. "You're a jack of all trades, master of none. I was doing a job that I really enjoyed, but I found I really enjoyed the numbers part.

"When I was in college the first time I didn't think I could do an accounting degree, because it was a lot of work," Allison said.

She eventually returned to UAF to take the 30 additional credit hours necessary for her to earn a second undergraduate business degree in accounting in 1993.

Even with the two degrees, Allison wasn't qualified to work as an accountant in Alaska.

"You have to have a certain degree, fill specific experience requirements, and you have to pass the CPA (certified public accountant) exam," Allison said. So she moved to Juneau in 1994 to work for the state Division of Legislative Audit.

In 1997, she earned her certification and started her own business.

Services: Though she is qualified to work in all areas of accounting, including audits and financial reviews, Allison specializes in tax work.

"Accounting is a really broad field, and it's taken me a little while to decide where I want to specialize," she said. "There's so much you can do, and at first I wanted to do all of it, but you just can't."

She chose tax work because of a volunteer experience she had as an undergraduate.

"I started in college volunteering for ... what is now called Tax-Aide," she said. Tax-Aide, a program administered by AARP, formerly known as the American Association of Retired Persons, provides free tax counseling to elderly and low-income people.

She prepares tax documents mostly for individuals, but has several business and nonprofit clients as well.

"I personally don't like to do extensions," she said. "I try to avoid them. I'll do them if a client really wants to, or if they're not ready ... so after April 15, I rarely have a client who is still waiting for their tax return to be done."

During May to December, Allison helps with the bookkeeping for some local nonprofit agencies and businesses, and raises two sons.

Preparing taxes has given Allison some perspective on the differences in people's financial views, she said.

"Everybody just has a different feeling about how they want to do it," she said. "I have clients who get large amounts of money back, and when I talk to them about adjusting their withholdings, they don't want to do that because they want that big check. ... It's kind of like a forced savings."

Family: Allison lives in Juneau with her husband, Kerry Lear, and their two sons, Jared, 5, and Ian, 2. Her parents and brother live in Anchorage.

Quotable: "I file 90 percent of my returns electronically. I really encourage e-filing, and I would hope that at some point the IRS gives a credit of some sort for e-filing."

Contact info: Allison can be reached by e-mail at jareda@gci.net, or by phone at 790-3092 or 723-3092.



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