One-on-One with Patricia Thompson

Patricia Thompson is the tax partner at Piccerelli, Gilstein & Company, where she has worked since 1978. She offers advice and counsel to many closely held businesses in the manufacturing, service and real estate industries.

Thompson is a familiar face on regional television, as she is often the authority called by local TV programs to speak on a wide variety of tax issues. Thompson was selected by the Junior League of RI in 2007 as one of The Rhode Island 85, which recognized 85 women in the area who showed professional and personal commitment to the community. Recently, Providence Business News awarded her the Industry Leader Award for Financial Services. She is a current member of the AICPA Tax Executive Committee, a former member of the AICPA Tax Legislation and Policy Committee, a Past President of RISCPA, and recently completed her appointment as a member of the R.I. Governor's Tax Policy Workgroup.

WHAT COUNTS: Describe your current job. What is a typical day like?

Patricia Thompson: Typical day? The days vary based on the time of year. The day starts with reading current tax developments and evaluating if the developments will help our clients. Providing advice to clients and staff on complex tax issues makes up the majority of the day. During tax season, I am responsible for reviewing mostly partnership, S-Corporation and individual returns. Many of these clients are located across the country. During the last part of the year, I do a lot of tax planning with clients. In the slower times, part of my day may also include preparing for the many tax presentations I give to various groups to include the AICPA, Rhode Island Society of Certified Financial Planners, and basically anyone who wants to hear about taxes. (OK, maybe that's an exaggeration.)

WC: Tell us about your recent work with the AICPA Tax Executive Committee (TEC)

PT: The TEC's objective is to plan, initiate, supervise and coordinate all of the activities of the Tax Division. The responsibilities include oversight of the Tax Division committee activity and being the arbiter of AICPA tax policy positions. I am heading up the review of the Strategic Plan of the AICPA Tax Section, to help make sure it stays ahead of the curve and is pro-active in identifying issues that will be affecting the Profession within the next three to five years. Being pro-active is much better than being reactionary. You have the ability to put yourself in a better position to meet the changing profession.

WC: What is the most rewarding part of your work?

PT: The most rewarding part of my career is finding solutions to challenges. Our firm has a diverse client base, so the challenges are varied. Making contributions in the tax area is also rewarding. Being involved in the AICPA Tax Executive Committee and the Rhode Island Society of Certified Public Accountants Tax Committee allows me to be pro-active in identifying and finding solutions for tax issues that are unfair, inequitable and complicated. It is amazing how many opportunities there are for a tax professional to contribute.   

WC: What are your career goals?

PT: This is an interesting question. Early in my career it was easy to set the goal of becoming a Partner in a CPA firm. Since I have met that goal, the next goal is not as concrete. My goal is to make a difference.  I'm not sure I will know if and when I meet that goal. How do you measure if you made a difference, when will you know it, who decides?   

WC: What do you enjoy when you're not working?

PT: At one point, I joked that I read the tax code and related materials in my spare time. Actually, in my precious spare time, I enjoy hiking, swimming, visiting interesting places, mowing the lawn, raking leaves, shoveling snow, working around the house and visiting family. My husband and I just finished painting the outside of our house.   

WC: Any fun summer plans?

PT: After my business trips for speaking engagements and Committee work, I plan to spend time with my family. My mother-in-law and I may be heading off to North Carolina to visit her grandchildren. Their family rescues horses, retrains them and finds them a good home. I enjoy physical as well as mental challenges, so my sister, her family and I are planning a trip to Catamount Adventure Park, which is an aerial forest rope course with platforms that have been installed in the trees with ropes and cables connecting them to form "bridges" or "canopy tours." The Park also has some small scale zip lines. The brochure promises thrills, chills but no spills. I hope the brochure is right.