Larry Stone has been a fixture in Summit County since 1996 when he opened Stone CPA in Frisco. Over the years he’s seen his business and his professional interests evolve by co-writing two best-selling books and becoming a certified tax coach.
In May, Stone added another accolade to his list of distinctions when he was honored as the 2014 Certified Tax Coach Member of the Year by the American Institute of Certified Tax Coaches. Founded in 2009, the nonprofit organization trains and certifies tax professionals in the philosophy of proactive tax planning.
Stone beat out four other nominees to win the third-annual award, which was bestowed during the organization’s annual banquet in San Diego.
Last week, Stone said the award was unexpected considering he thought the contributions made by the other nominees to the tax coach program exceeded his own.
One of those nominees developed a strategy to allow businesses to develop in-house employee health insurance programs, as allowed under the Affordable Care Act. The strategy is being used by nearly all of the more than 200 members of the American Institute of Certified Tax Coaches, Stone said.
“I was very surprised by the award because everyone was so deserving,” he said. “The whole point of the certified tax coach program is to look at taxes as an avenue for saving your clients money, and I think the self-insurance strategies certainly provide for a lot of benefits and cost savings for businesses.”
What set Stone apart from the competition, however, was his development of a mentor program to help new certified tax coaches put the strategies they learn into practice. Stone is working with five certified tax coaches located throughout the country.
Lindsey Stapay, coordinator of the Northwest Colorado Small Business Development Center at Colorado Mountain College in Dillon, has seen Stone in action, saying she uses the local CPA as one of her go-to tax consultants and often calls on his assistance with business start-up workshops. Despite Stone’s modesty, Stapay said if he brings the same energy to his mentor program as he does to helping budding small-business owners, then he would have been a natural choice for the award.
“I think Larry is one of the hardest working accountants in the county,” Stapay said. “It’s great to have someone who stays up on the latest and greatest in the tax world, but he also brings a lot of energy, entertainment and creativity to the tax consulting process.”
Next on the horizon for this year’s preeminent tax coach is the release of his third book, “Top 10 Tax Mistakes that Costs Small Businesses Thousands,” and a revised version of “The Pocket Guide to Obamacare.”
Unlike Stone’s two previous literary ventures — “The Secrets to a Tax Free Life” and “Tax Breaks of the Rich and Famous,” which made Amazon.com’s best-seller list in 2012 and 2013, respectively — Stone’s new book is self-published.
As the title implies, the book focuses on mistakes people make when launching a new business.
The most common of those, Stone said, is choosing the wrong business structure. Sole proprietorships, LLCs and S-Corps, to name a few, all have different incentives, Stone said, but business owners don’t always choose the structure that best suits their goals.
“The No. 1 reason why people say they are starting a business is to make money,” Stone said.
“In reality, people go into business to satisfy personal objectives, like sending children to college, increasing retirement income, reducing debt, increasing cash flow or simply just having more money to enjoy life. A lot more goes into it than just making a profit.”
The new book is due in stores by the end of the month.