Our Spotlight series sheds light on the careers and lives of tax professionals around the world. This week’s focus is on Kristine Butterbaugh, subject matter expert and head of strategy for the Tax & Regulatory business line at tax software company Sovos.
As a Solutions Manager, Butterbaugh specializes in unclaimed property and insurance regulatory reporting, and helps others learn about this aspect of regulatory compliance. She works across sales, marketing, product, regulatory analysis, professional services and support to develop strategy and deliver compliance solutions to clients.
When she’s not working, you might find Butterbaugh reading dystopian or historical fiction, brewing a cup of gourmet coffee, or daydreaming about traveling the world.
What is your official title and what does it mean? My official title is Principal Solution. My role is fascinating, as I am heavily involved in the strategy of our statutory reporting sectors for dormant property and insurance. I work closely with many areas of the business including sales, marketing, product, regulatory analysis, professional services and support to review our products and solutions to make decisions on the current and future performance. The goal is to ensure the delivery of high quality, compliant solutions that meet and exceed our customers’ expectations, while constantly monitoring the industry for changes and emerging opportunities.
Free time: book, audiobook or podcast? Hands down, book. Reading has been part of my life since I was little. I like the feeling of holding a book, turning the pages, and having the ability to highlight text or write notes near the topics I want to remember. I also like to exchange books with friends or share with people I meet while traveling. I like most genres, but I tend to be drawn to dystopian or historical fiction.
Taxation is a big subject. What is your particular area of interest? Unclaimed property and insurance regulatory reporting are my two areas of particular interest. I started working in these areas in one of my first jobs out of college many years ago. Funny enough, I find that people who end up in these segments often don’t leave. There is an opportunity to get involved in a niche that many people don’t know about or understand. I enjoy the teaching aspects and helping others learn about this important aspect of regulatory compliance. Although unclaimed property is not a tax in itself, it feels and acts like a tax in many ways. I am drawn to the technology side of regulatory compliance and have always found it amazing how technology can enable an organization to maintain compliance while allowing individuals to focus less on the details and more on the strategic aspect of their work.
What is the last movie or show you watched and liked (DVD, Netflix or at the cinema)? I’m not a big movie buff, as I prefer to watch them at home, in the comfort of my surroundings. However, on my last two business trips, “CODA” was one of the entertainment options played on the plane. The first time I watched it, I was sobbing on the plane, as was the person next to me. I saw him again on my next trip and I sobbed again. What a great story about family ties, chasing your dreams, and overcoming the fear of change and the fear of disappointing those you love. I would definitely recommend it.
What college did you attend and what did you study? I attended the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, Iowa, a public university established in 1876. I graduated with a BA in Accounting and it has consistently been ranked among the top schools for pass rate in CPA. Go Panthers! I took graduate courses in Computer Science to further my knowledge in this area and recently went back to school and earned my Masters in Management Communication from the University of Dubuque, a private university in Dubuque , Iowa, founded 1852. Go Spartans!
Pick up: Coffee or tea? Half and half coffee. How not to like that?! I’m a bit of a coffee snob. I grind my own beans and prefer my coffee strong, yet mild, and enjoy it brewed in a French press. However, a delicious cappuccino with a nice foam decoration is just the thing.
What is the best tax or financial advice someone has ever given you? One of my favorite people once said, “Taking risks can take you places you can’t go by being risk averse.” Whenever I’m faced with a financial decision, these words stick in my mind and guide my decision-making.
If you weren’t in the tax field, what would your dream job be? Travel journalist/blogger. I love to travel and explore, I love to write, and I take a ridiculous amount of photos. Traveling the world, meeting new people and exploring new places would be a perfect way for me to spend my time. The idea of inspiring and encouraging others to find their own inner wanderlust sounds like a dream job!
If you had the option of making one change in the tax world – an extra credit, a disallowed deduction, whatever – what would it be? Can I name two? We recently released the State of Unclaimed Property Report. In it, we explain how states use unclaimed property as a source of revenue and why it’s important for businesses to comply. If I could make a change, I would make all American companies comply with the law so that they no longer put their businesses at risk. Second, at this particular time, I would impose detailed clarity by states on their handling of cryptocurrency for unclaimed property purposes. There is too much at stake for owners, holders and states for states to be so vague in their legislation and guidelines regarding the escheat of virtual currency.
Favorite food, snack or treat during tax time or another busy time? Fruit. Give me papaya, guava, strawberries, bananas, apples, etc. I haven’t come across any fruit that I don’t like.
What tax news or ruling has had the most impact on your practice or clients in the past year? The past year has been a very active regulatory year in the area of unclaimed property. Nearly 20 different sets of laws have been enacted in 2021 alone, and 2022 looks to bring a similar level of activity. Understanding the legislative impacts of your business is hard enough, coupled with the enforcement requirements to stay compliant. States pass the revised Uniform Unclaimed Property Act, and each incorporates its own unique twist to the law. We are constantly answering questions of interpretation as individuals struggle to understand how these changes affect them. I am proud of our team’s depth of knowledge and our ability to help the industry navigate the complex waters of compliance.
If you got a big tax refund check right now, what would you do with it? Invest it. You can never prepare too much for retirement.
You can find Butterbaugh on LinkedIn.
You can read more about Butterbaugh’s company, Sovos, on its website.
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