By Rebecca Baker
Our Spotlight series highlights the careers and lives of tax professionals all over the world. This week’s Spotlight is on Orumé Hays, the founder and CEO of Hays CPA LLC in New York City.
Hays said she found her passion for numbers after working as a model and actress, and she spent more than a decade in corporations and their employees solve accounting and tax issues. She started her own firm in 2016 and now serves startups, small businesses, entrepreneurs, independent contractors, and individuals with accounting, finance, and tax needs.
Hays teaches accounting classes at the Lucille and Jay Chazanoff School of Business at the College of Staten Island, part of the City University of New York. She is also vice president of the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants and chair of the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants’ private companies practice section executive committee.
Outside of work, Hays loves to travel. She said she recently visited Kakum National Park in Ghana, crossing its canopy walkway with seven suspension bridges about 98 feet above the forest floor.
What’s your official title and what does it mean? I’m the founder and CEO of Hays CPA LLC, a growing CPA firm based in New York City. As an entrepreneur, I utilize an entrepreneurial mindset to help clients to solve their tax and accounting issues.
Free time: book, audiobook, or podcast? I love physical books. I’m in the middle of rereading “The Magic of Thinking Big” by David Schwartz. While I was out jogging recently, I listened to a podcast, which is something I do frequently. I’ve also listened to the AICPA PCPS’ Small Firm Philosophy podcast; one discussion was about how to effectively use the National Management of Accounting Practice (MAP) survey to improve firm management.
Tax is a huge subject. What’s your area of special interest? My focus is on helping entrepreneurs and growing companies overcome tax compliance issues while assisting with tax planning, advisory, and outsourced CFO services.
What’s the last movie or show that you watched and loved (DVD, Netflix, or in the theater)? On a recent long flight, I saw “West Side Story” directed by Steven Spielberg, and it was just as exciting as the version I saw on Broadway. I also saw “Respect,” the Aretha Franklin movie starring Jennifer Hudson. Another good movie was a Nigerian (Nollywood) movie called “Coming From Insanity.” A fellow CPA recommended it; it is about the highs and lows of producing and using counterfeit money. Now I’m tuned into Nollywood movies on Netflix.
What college did you attend and what did you study? I got my first bachelor’s degree in sociology and anthropology from the University of Benin in Nigeria. For my second bachelor’s degree, I majored in accounting with a minor in finance and graduated magna cum laude from the College of Staten Island, City University of New York. I also earned a master’s in taxation from Northeastern University.
Go to pick-me-up: Coffee or tea? I recently gave up coffee. It was torture to give it up; however, I overcame that hurdle and I have not looked back since then. Now I enjoy drinking tea all the time—both herbal and black tea.
What’s the best tax or financial advice that anyone ever gave you? Invest in a master’s degree. It was a huge investment of time and money, but it was well worth it, and it has paid off 1,000-fold. It gave me valuable foundational knowledge into the world of taxation, which I needed to succeed in my business, and it also enabled me to become an adjunct lecturer at the college.
If you weren’t working in the tax profession, what would your dream job be? It’s difficult to choose. First, I enjoy teaching, so that would be on my list. Second, from my brief career as an actor, I still dream of retiring to a small community and acting in community plays. And last, I love to write, and so my final dream job would be to become a professional author.
If you had the opportunity to make one change in the tax world—an extra credit, a disallowed deduction, whatever—what would it be? It would be to make changes to the deductibility of charitable contributions. First, taxpayers would be allowed to make charitable donations up until April 15. Second, I would implement the Tax Policy Center’s recommendation for a universal deduction for all taxpayers, including taxpayers who use the standard deduction. Their proposal found a sweet spot where the government breaks even and charitable contributions increase.
Favorite food, snack, or candy during tax season or other busy time? Chocolate milk. I find that it gives me extra energy to get through the day, regardless of whether I have a meal or not.
What tax news or move made the most impact on your practice or clients this past year? All the Covid-19 relief bills were impactful on my practice, particularly processing Paycheck Protection Program loans for many of my clients and, subsequently, the Employee Retention Tax Credit. These programs have been instrumental to the continued viability for some of my clients.
If you received a big tax refund check right now, what would you do with it? Have a complete home renovation. I keep thinking of going on one of those home makeover shows, I always find them fascinating. Most likely, I would still proceed with a renovation regardless of whether I get a huge tax refund or not.
You can find out more about Hays on Twitter and LinkedIn.
You can learn more about Hays’ firm on its website and on Facebook.
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