By Doug Sheppard, Tax Notes State commentary editor
Being the primary American rock band of maybe hundreds to cowl a reggae track must be thought-about a significant milestone — if not one thing to brag about.
If one knew that they had been breaking new floor, that’s. Knowledgeable years later that Brownsville Station’s 1973 model of Jimmy Cliff’s “Let Your Yeah Be Yeah” was the primary rock model of a reggae track, guitarist/vocalist Cub Koda responded, “I received’t dispute that assertion, but when I had identified we had been making historical past, I’d-a paid extra consideration.”
So went Carol Calkins’s 40-year profession in state and native tax: She was the one lady in her accounting class at Louisiana State College, the one lady in her sorority in enterprise faculty, one of many first girls employed as a income agent by the Louisiana Division of Income, the primary lady in a number of organizations of which she was a member, and, maybe most notably, the primary lady to earn SALT associate standing at a significant accounting agency, with Worth Waterhouse in 1991. And all of the whereas, it not often occurred to her that she was additionally blazing a path for extra girls to observe.
“I began occupied with all of the issues I did, and I assumed to myself: ‘How on the earth did I try this?’ Significantly, I used to be a single mother and I had two younger youngsters, and I’m climbing the associate monitor, and I’ve all these duties,” Calkins stated.
“It actually made me cease and assume: ‘That was an accomplishment that perhaps I didn’t acknowledge on the time.’”
Although her past love was performing, which manifested in her roles in lots of faculty performs, Calkins knew she must discover a extra sensible profession path — and commenced planning as early as highschool, when the overall supervisor for the phone firm she labored for suggested her to get a enterprise diploma.
“I didn’t actually need to be in enterprise; I needed to be an actress,” Calkins recalled. “I loved performing and I beloved the performing arts, however I spotted that performing didn’t actually pay. I assumed that getting a level in enterprise can be a great way to have the ability to handle myself, and that performing could possibly be an avocation.”
A household transfer from Spencer, Iowa, to Bossier Metropolis, Louisiana, for her senior yr in highschool in 1965-1966 hastened Calkins’s path towards the non-public sector. The transfer not solely ensured a hotter local weather (which appealed to a household raised in frigid Nebraska, South Dakota, and Iowa), however maybe was one cause Calkins enrolled at LSU on a scholarship after commencement from Airline Excessive College.
Highlights of Calkins’s years at LSU embody dancing to John Fred and His Playboy Band, having a administration class with basketball legend “Pistol Pete” Maravich, tutoring members of the basketball staff on which Maravich performed, working at Metropolis Nationwide Financial institution to complement her schooling funding, and attending numerous Pi Beta Phi sorority features. However by way of affect, maybe nothing was extra pivotal than an auditing class she had her sophomore yr.
Calkins, the one lady within the class moreover an older lady who sat behind the lecture corridor (extra on her in a second), was requested sooner or later by Dr. Guerra (whose first identify is misplaced to historical past) — a visiting professor from Washington College — to remain after class.
“Carol, I’ve observed that you just’re getting a level typically enterprise,” Guerra informed Calkins. “I actually assume there’s a spot for girls in accounting. Why don’t you take into account altering your main to accounting?”
Thus impressed, Calkins did simply that shortly after the dialog. “I have a look at that as God placing an angel in my path, as a result of little did I understand how switching my main was going to affect my whole life,” she stated.
“So after I graduated [in 1970], I signed up for the civil service examination in Louisiana, as a result of when you would bear in mind again then, there have been only a few girls in accounting — and it was very tough to discover a job,” Calkins recalled. “I imply, I actually had one place inform me that I used to be essentially the most certified, however the boss desires a person for the job. That simply occurred rather a lot again then, so I signed up for civil service.”
That led to Calkins touchdown an interview for a income agent opening on the Louisiana Division of Income. To the brand new LSU grad’s shock, the lady who interviewed her was the identical one who’d been behind the room for that fateful auditing class: Shirley McNamara, the DOR’s technical director for audit. “She basically employed me on the spot,” Calkins recalled.
Baptism by Hearth
4 years of collegiate research left Calkins well-prepared for the technical elements of her new income agent place. She had rather a lot to study in regards to the rigors of the job, nonetheless.
“My first project was to audit all of the pinball machine operators in east and west Baton Rouge Parish for occupational license tax,” Calkins stated.
The project wasn’t something like, say, the idyllic imaginative and prescient of pinball introduced in Tommy — as lots of the machines had been managed by organized crime.
In yet one more memorable audit, Calkins went to an institution with no home windows penetrating its cinderblock partitions. After ringing the doorbell required for entry, the younger agent was struck by the newborn blue submitting cupboards (just about all others had been grey) as a lady dressed to the nines (with alligator sneakers and matching bag) greeted her.
In accordance with Calkins, the lady’s data had been as impeccable as her style sense. However the perfect — or because it had been, worst — was but to come back as Calkins drove away in her white 1964 Plymouth Valiant.
“After I left there, someone began following me, and it scared me to dying,” Calkins recalled, emphasizing her fright. “I imply, I zigged and zagged throughout city and went a technique and went one other approach — and eventually, I didn’t see that automobile following me. And I don’t know who it was following me, however I also can let you know that two weeks later, that firm was indicted for interstate transportation of playing units.”
Calkins’s subsequent project was auditing vegetation alongside the Mississippi River out of the DOR’s Baton Rouge workplace. “I additionally had an curiosity in chemistry, so it was actually attention-grabbing for me to attempt to perceive the method, as a result of that impacts the taxability for gross sales and use tax functions of what’s used, what’s uncooked supplies, and what’s not a part half,” she stated.
“And I really labored with a few of the chemists at LSU to have them assist me perceive the method in what they had been manufacturing — and what had been the uncooked supplies and what had been the catalysts.”
“I additionally realized the exhausting approach that you must be actually cautious opening submitting cupboards, as a result of when you pull the highest drawer open, the entire thing will fall over on prime of you,” Calkins added. “So there have been plenty of classes realized within the very starting.”
After two years in Baton Rouge and 4 within the DOR’s Shreveport workplace, Calkins made an excellent greater transfer in 1976 to the division’s Dallas outpost.
As soon as once more, the transfer was prompted by McNamara, who had returned to Louisiana to turn into the secretary of income and taxation, asking Calkins if she needed to maneuver to Dallas. Moreover spurred by her husband, Don Bordelon, who was in banking and enthusiastic in regards to the alternative, Calkins made the transfer.
“One of many causes that Louisiana had folks dwelling there was as a result of so many oil and gasoline corporations did enterprise in Louisiana — like Mobil Oil,” Calkins stated. The brand new place as an out-of-state auditor noticed her jet-setting throughout the nation on now-defunct airways like Pan Am, Allegheny, Jap, TWA, and Ozark, along with still-extant names like United and American, conducting audits and constructing her status and contacts within the non-public sector.
Calkins additionally continued her membership within the Nationwide Affiliation of Accountants, ultimately turning into its Dallas chapter president in 1980 and 1981. And round this time, she and Bordelon welcomed two youngsters into the household, although the couple would divorce in 1983.
Into the Non-public Sector
The associations and enterprise contacts paid off in June 1981, when Calkins was recruited to be the state earnings tax supervisor for Solar Oil’s Dallas subsidiary, Solar Exploration and Manufacturing. But when she thought she’d seen all the things in 11 years in state and native tax, she shortly realized in any other case.
“I used to be simply auditing for Louisiana, and I assumed: ‘Nicely, if I can audit for 40-plus taxes for Louisiana, how exhausting might or not it’s for me to study 50 state earnings tax legal guidelines and the native jurisdictions?’ As a result of I simply assumed they had been all simply the identical,” Calkins stated.
“However shock, shock: They had been all very totally different and lots of of them didn’t use separate accounting, which is what the oil and gasoline trade used, so it was a little bit of a shock to me, but in addition one other studying alternative.”
By 1983, Calkins had handed the licensed public accountant examination. Her stint at Solar additionally noticed her get entangled in numerous organizations that may form her future, together with the American Petroleum Institute, the Committee (now Council) On State Taxation, and the American Institute of Licensed Public Accountants, for which she chaired each state taxation committees.
Amongst many different acquaintances made by means of these organizations had been Jim Buresh and Paul Frankel, with whom Calkins virtually turned synonymous due to talking on many panels with them within the ensuing years.
“They acknowledged my love of state and native tax and inspired me,” Calkins recalled. “We used to present speeches collectively all around the nation, they usually referred to as us Goldilocks and the Two Bears, as a result of they had been nice large, big, tall guys — and I’m 5’2”.”
Undoubtedly, the general public talking helped Calkins when she registered as a lobbyist in 1983, as she efficiently spearheaded the reversal of legal guidelines in Oklahoma and Louisiana.
The Oklahoma regulation charged companies $25 an hour for an audit until they introduced their books to the state (an unrealistic proposition), whereas Louisiana tried to scale back the depletion allowance — which “was actually necessary to the oil and gasoline corporations,” based on Calkins.
Likewise, whereas chairing the American Petroleum Institute’s vitality trade committee, Calkins testified on rolling again from worldwide mixture to water’s-edge mixed reporting in California. However even with these successes, it quickly turned obvious to Calkins that lobbying was not a long-term proposition.
“They are saying nothing is for certain however dying and taxes, and I made a decision that taxes can be — as a result of I had two younger children, I wanted to be within the tax realm — versus the lobbying realm,” she stated.
“And when the oil and gasoline trade began to go down round that point, they lower that lobbying employees down to 1 particular person, they usually had sooner or later in all probability 40 folks in that group. So I made a clever selection there going again into tax.”
And in 1986, the transfer by her good friend Ron Fulks from Phillips Petroleum to Worth Waterhouse quickly impressed her to observe: “He informed me he was having a ball and that I wanted to consider becoming a member of them. So he put that little bug in my ear.”
The Ascension to Companion
Impressed by her information of grasp restricted partnerships, which she had helped Solar arrange, Worth Waterhouse (now PwC) employed Calkins as a supervisor at its Dallas workplace in 1986. But when she thought this may be easy in contrast along with her experiences on the DOR and Solar, she was mistaken.
Shortly after being employed, Calkins answered an after-hours telephone name from SEDCO, which was looking for tax recommendation. “I’ve the captain of the boat on the road with me, and we have to know the place to park the drilling rig,” stated the voice on the opposite finish.
“This was at 5 o’clock at night time, and I used to be nonetheless on the workplace — and everyone had gone, as a result of it was April 15,” Calkins recalled. “I stated, ‘Nicely, the one factor I can assume to do is pull it into Cellular Bay and throw a tarp over it.’ I completely winged it, however that truly was the place it wanted to go, as a result of they’d very favorable property tax legal guidelines there.”
Remoted incident? Not fairly.
“Two weeks later, I get an identical name, they usually’ve received a rig that’s off the West Coast,” Calkins stated. “Once more, that is after hours after I answered the telephone, they usually’re asking me the identical factor. So I stated, ‘Pull it into Oregon.’ Similar deal — good gross sales tax legal guidelines there.”
Later analysis confirmed that Calkins had gone two for 2 in her boating recommendation, however the third time by no means got here: “I didn’t reply the telephone after hours after that.”
Equally, Calkins discovered the agency’s archives missing as she helped construct the multistate follow: There was just one CCH state tax information — for Texas — and nothing for another states. Finally, she can be chargeable for the central area of the US, which prolonged from New Mexico to Canada, over to Cleveland, Ohio, then right down to Mississippi.
“It was an enormous space,” Calkins stated. “And also you speak about administration by strolling round? Nicely, it was extra like administration by flying round. And over time, I constructed an ideal employees in Dallas, after which ultimately employed folks in Houston, employed folks in St. Louis. We already had some folks in Chicago, we received folks in Cleveland and Columbus; we had workplaces wherever Worth Waterhouse on the time had an workplace. We tried to get folks on web site there.
“Invoice Essay was an enormous a part of my success,” Calkins added. “He was my right-hand man. He had a really profitable profession in SALT at PwC after I took on the nationwide roles.”
Calkins additionally constructed up a formidable listing of purchasers, together with Frankel (then with W.R. Grace & Co.), Digital Information Methods (which she helped with its spinoff from GM), Exxon, Shell, ARCO, Hunt, Kerr-McGee Corp., Devon Power Corp., Mary Kay Inc., and Halliburton. She even dealt with a grasp restricted partnership for the Nationwide Basketball Affiliation’s Boston Celtics.
Alongside the way in which, Calkins was promoted to senior supervisor in 1987, then made associate in 1991. This time, she knew she was making historical past as the primary lady to turn into a SALT associate at an accounting agency:
“I acknowledged that, and I used to be very appreciative of it. And it was an enormous deal. I wasn’t the primary feminine associate within the Dallas workplace; there have been a number of of us.”
The promotion introduced new challenges, together with a reminder of the variations between how women and men behave in enterprise settings.
“It simply appeared like I wanted to speak louder,” Calkins stated. “Like after I would go into associate conferences, the blokes would simply be very loud and boisterous. So I simply realized that if I needed to be heard, I wanted to talk a lot louder.
“However once more, I used to be very fortunate in that the companions had been very accepting. And Luther Campbell, who was the tax associate in cost, simply made it clear to everyone: ‘She will get handled the identical approach, and I’m treating her the identical approach as I’m treating the remainder of you guys. It’s worthwhile to present her respect.’”
In her new position as associate, Calkins had further oversight of the credit and incentives and property tax practices along with the central area. Her standing as the primary feminine associate additionally dovetailed properly with being named the co-chair of range and work-life high quality for all the agency in 1994.
“I stayed in that position in all probability till 2000, and we actually drew a line within the sand and stated: ‘Listed below are our targets and listed below are our metrics, and right here’s how we’re going to perform that.’ And we constructed that into the associate plan, so that individuals had been being evaluated — and these had been senior leaders — they usually had been being evaluated on making a pipeline of various companions. In order that was my night time job.”
“While you cease and give it some thought,” she added, “that was rather a lot. After which got here the merger with Coopers in 1998, and I retained the co-chair of range position for the agency, and I additionally retained my regional duties. After which I used to be requested to run the nationwide gross sales and use tax follow, so I took that on — giving up the regional duties.”
By the point Calkins was flourishing as a associate, the state and native tax panorama had undergone a dramatic transformation. What was as soon as a backwater — or no less than an afterthought — to federal and worldwide follow was now rising exponentially, and she or he had witnessed all the transformation.
“It’s way more refined, and since there have been so many modifications, I additionally assume it’s way more revered on this day and time,” Calkins stated. “After I first began, whenever you’re doing the tax provision, folks weren’t even actually wanting on the state tax piece of the tax provision. And now that’s simply in-built. It’s all a part of the method from a Massive 4 standpoint.”
What’s extra, as accounting corporations established SALT practices, so did regulation corporations — giving companions like Calkins yet one more alternative: “The Massive Eight actually received on the market creating the follow [in the 1980s], however then shortly following, the regulation corporations then began constructing state and native practices. As a result of accountants can’t litigate, I partnered with plenty of totally different regulation corporations that had been constructing state and native practices. We might work with them on technical litigation points — so I started working once more with Paul Frankel.”
In flip, the expansion of SALT at accounting and regulation corporations led to an enormous inflow of ladies — one thing Calkins had made a private mission: “Throughout my profession, I all the time appeared for alternatives to advance girls in accounting. Actually, I also have a scholarship for girls in accounting at LSU in my will.”
Among the many girls Calkins has mentored are Janet Krueger (KPMG), Valli Perera (Deloitte), Melanie McDaniel (PwC), and Maureen Pechacek (PwC).
“You simply don’t understand how you’re influencing folks’s lives by encouraging them to excel,” Calkins stated. “Valli ended up being a world audit associate, Janet remains to be practising, and Melanie and Maureen simply retired.”
In flip, these mentored by Calkins acknowledge her affect.
Pechacek, who credit Calkins with convincing her to hitch public accounting to concentrate on state taxes, describes her as “an exquisite position mannequin for all of us. Carol was nice with purchasers, a assured and inspirational chief and a superb and artistic technician.”
Calkins has additionally been energetic at her alma mater, first because the lead associate for LSU recruiting and spending 100 hours on campus yearly, and extra lately on the manager committee of the LSU Dean’s Advisory Council at E.J. Ourso School of Enterprise and the nationwide board of the LSU Basis.
“It’s actually about giving again,” she stated. “We’re in a marketing campaign at LSU to boost $1.5 billion by 2025, and I lead the North Texas geographic space for that.”
Retirement and Past
Calkins and Bordelon remarried in 2001. Sadly, Bordelon developed colon most cancers in 2004 and was gone a yr later.
That very same yr PricewaterhouseCoopers requested Calkins to maneuver to New York to be in its high quality and threat administration group, the place she stayed till her retirement in 2008 — racking up frequent flyer miles quicker than Grand Funk Railroad earned gold document awards within the early ’70s.
“That was actually attention-grabbing, as a result of I used to be flying all around the United States doing high quality assessment audits,” Calkins stated. “However along with that, they requested me to be the lead associate on the conversion of work-paper bundles to TMS, which is digital work papers. And attempting to persuade folks to go from paper to electronics again in that point interval was a problem. But it surely was plenty of enjoyable, and I made 2 million miles on American Airways in Might 2008, the month earlier than I retired, so I’m platinum for all times. And that doesn’t depend all of the miles on all the opposite airways.”
Along with her work with LSU and doting over her 5 grandchildren, Calkins has served on PwC’s nationwide Retired Companion Committee for 5 years. And in what she calls “steady studying,” she’s additionally mentored folks each inside and outdoors PwC. Extra lately, she joined the board of administrators of b1BANK.
“Within the roles that I had at Solar and PricewaterhouseCoopers, I had the chance to present speeches all around the United States — really, even internationally, as a result of I spoke in Canada and Germany,” Calkins stated. “I additionally was very concerned in instructing on the state and native tax faculties and actually loved that. So regardless that I didn’t turn into an actress, I did have a stage. So I received the perfect of each worlds.”
To Calkins, all of it goes again to the LSU auditing class a half-century in the past.
“It was an ideal trip,” she stated. “I had a superb profession, and I actually owe it rather a lot to LSU, as a result of it was there that Dr. Guerra and Shirley McNamara put me on a monitor. So it wasn’t a matter of me being drawn to it; it was a matter of serendipity.”