Jay Benson Reaps The Rewards of RISCPA Membership

Being an active member of RISCPA has been a good fit with Gerald "Jay" Benson’s philosophy of giving back. “I am just a strong believer that you participate and contribute to your profession,” says Jay in a no-nonsense manner. “As a professional, it’s your responsibility.”

In June, Jay became the Tax Director of Ocean State Job Lot.  As a member of the Society since 2008 and one of the newest board members, he was heartened to see the company's commitment to both his own professional development and the community.  The privately held company, a landmark in Rhode Island with headquarters in North Kingstown, has 122 stores and is undertaking a major expansion in its warehouse facility. 

As a company known for its food drives, Jay points out that Ocean State Job Lot recently delivered seventeen tractor trailer loads of food to food banks in the region. What’s more, they used the $450K raised from their golf tournament to actually purchase food to donate, leveraging their immense purchasing power. 

Helping the profession. Helping the community.

In fact, his participation on the Society’s Federal and State Tax Committee has gone beyond taking a seat at the table. He recalls one of his most rewarding accomplishments as that committee’s chair. It all began when the Rhode Island Division of Taxation promulgated regulations – with penalties for tax preparers – when dealing with earned income credits and real estate credits. Basically, the regulations were written in a way that was unclear, leaving CPAs open to penalties. 

“The tax committee members undertook an extensive review and redevelopment of the regulations, removing the ambiguities,” explains Jay. “I testified before the Division of Taxation, outlining what needed to be changed and why. They were very receptive and adopted almost all of the modifications the committee proposed. It was a win-win all around. “

Jay has also been instrumental in the Society’s outreach to the public, finding great satisfaction in his behind-the-scenes role in the PBS Tax Forum television show that airs each April. Even with the enormous pressure facing tax accountants at year-end, Jay was gratified to find willing CPA volunteers to generate tax tips for the public which are often the centerpiece of the segments. 

Give more. Get more.

The firm of Otrando Porcaro & Associates set a good example. “They were extremely supportive of the Society and of my participation; both name partners were very involved and served as past presidents. They believed in passing it on.”

Jay become increasingly more involved, too. He served as a member of the tax committee for many years. He even stepped in after the committee suffered a sudden loss of its chair, and was able to reinvigorate the group.

“I always got a lot from participation in the tax committee, interacting with like-minded CPAs,” declares Jay. “Taxes are so complex that no one person is an expert in every aspect. I enjoy having several colleagues I can call upon for unique questions.”

Beyond the tax committee.

Jay is a steadfast advocate of taking full advantage of the Society’s CPE offerings. “CPE is not just putting in your time; continuing education includes the interaction, face-to-face dialogue and discussion. I have sat through many webinars and it doesn’t replace being together with colleagues.” 

He always attends the twice-a-year networking receptions and shares that “you can’t be a good advisor if you are insulated. If people don’t see you, they are not thinking of you when something comes up.”

Jay has worked in the public and private sectors for over three decades, has a Master’s degree in taxation from Bryant University, and has chaired the RISCPA Federal and State Tax Committee since 2014.  He is a stellar example of reaping the rewards of participation in the Society.