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New in 2017, learn the tax, legal and accounting information relevant to the cannabis industry. Following the passage of Proposition 64, a significant increase in cannabis industry activity is likely, and, as a result, an increase in the demand for professional services.
Hezekiah Allen was born and raised off-the-grid in Humboldt County. A lifelong cannabis grower, Allen moved to Sacramento in 2014 to lead efforts to organize and advocate for policy reform. As the executive director of the California Growers Association, Allen has helped grow the organization to more than 1,100 members. Cal Growers is now the largest cannabis trade association in California and the second largest in the United States/globally.
Gregory M. Burke, CPA has served Northern California’s business community for the past 33 years, providing business planning, tax planning, and tax compliance services. His firm, Gregory M. Burke, CPA, A Professional Accountancy Corporation, is located in Sacramento. Prior to its founding, Burke was a shareholder at John Waddell & Co., CPA, A Professional Corporation.
Burke has been involved with CalCPA in a variety of volunteer capacities for over 25 years. He is a past CalCPA Education Foundation president and trustee, and a past CalCPA chair. He serves as a trustee of the CalCPA Health Group Insurance Trust and a member of the CalCPA Council and Government Relations Committee.
Before entering public accounting, Burke worked for the Internal Revenue Service in Oakland and Sacramento as a tax auditor and revenue agent. He is a graduate of the University of California, Davis where he earned his bachelor’s degree in 1977, and he received his master of science in taxation from Golden Gate University in 1990. He and his wife reside in Carmichael.
Robert Cohen is a partner at the Encino accounting firm Lodgen Lacher Golditch Sardi Saunders & Howard CPAs LLP. He has been a partner there since January 1995. Cohen is a graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles where he received a bachelor’s degree in economics in 1974. He began his public accounting career working in the audit department of Kenneth Leventhal and Company, a national accounting firm based in Los Angeles that specialized in representing clients in the real estate industry. After working at several smaller-sized accounting firms in the Los Angeles area, he decided to open up his own practice in the early 1980s. In addition to real estate, Cohen learned to provide accounting and tax services to various businesses over the years. His mantra is that he “helps clients make, keep and eventually give away their wealth.”
In 2015, a fateful lunch with a healthcare attorney in Los Angeles led to his decision to learn all that he could about representing clients in the cannabis industry. Similar to the reasons Kenneth Leventhal decided to represent clients in the real estate industry, Cohen felt the cannabis industry has been underserved by the public accounting community. Part of the reason for this is because CPAs have been hesitant to jump into this growing industry because of regulatory and legal roadblocks. Today, Cohen serves clients in the cannabis industry including growers, manufacturers and dispensaries. In connection with representing these clients, he has taught them the importance of having adequate internal control systems as well as the importance of preparing and filing accurate income tax returns. Cohen has helped them make decisions about how to structure their businesses from a business and tax perspective, and works with their other professional advisors to help them grow their businesses.
In addition to running his accountancy practice, Cohen is also a group leader in a Southern California-based professional networking group named Provisors. As a group leader of a Century City-based group, he leads 35 professionals on a monthly basis to help them know, trust and eventually refer business to one another. As part of his membership in Provisors, Cohen is also a member of a Provisors-specific industry cannabis group. He has given presentations on accounting and tax issues of the cannabis industry to various Provisors and other networking groups in Southern California.
Gina L. DeRosa, CPA, CFP is the president of Gina L. DeRosa, CPA, PC, an accounting and financial planning firm specializing in tax preparation and representation of small businesses and high net worth individuals. DeRosa has 26 years of experience in representation before the Internal Revenue Service, Franchise Tax Board, Employment Development Department, and Board of Equalization. She is active in CalCPA, and serves as chair of the Committee on Taxation and as a member of the board of directors for the Los Angeles Chapter.
David R. Flamer, CPA is the principal in the Agoura Hills firm of David R. Flamer, An Accountancy Corporation, where he emphasizes tax and small business consulting. Prior to his association with that firm, Flamer worked within the tax division of Arthur Andersen & Company in its Los Angeles Office. Flamer received his bachelor’s degree in business from the University of Southern California in December 1984, and has been a California CPA licensee since 1989.
Flamer is a past-chair of the CalCPA Los Angeles Chapter’s Taxation Committee, and is a member and past-chair of CalCPA’s Statewide Committee on Taxation (COT). During his tenure on the COT, Flamer initiated liaisons with the California State Board of Equalization, as well as furthering the reach of the COT by enabling its meetings to be streamed online. Additionally, during the period from 1997 to 2000, Flamer was an appointed member to the Enforcement Advisory Committee of the California State Board of Accountancy.
Flamer regularly addresses the tax compliance and tax planning needs of his diversified clientele. Further, his vast experience working with the various taxing agencies in his non-confrontational role has resulted in his having excellent contacts in the representation area. Flamer has authored several articles and appears before live and radio audiences on a regular basis.
Ani Galyan is an attorney and a Certified Public Accountant admitted to practice in California. She focuses her practice at Millar Law in the area of tax law for federal, state and local tax compliance, tax disputes and tax crimes. Additional, she provides tax planning for international or domestic transactions. Typical clients include U.S. taxpayer disputes with the IRS and state taxing authorities, dual nationals with U.S. income tax exposure and voluntary disclosure (known as “tax amnesty”) for both offshore and domestic assets and income. She frequently publishes and speaks on issues relating to international tax compliance, taxation of cannabis industry and virtual currency reporting. Galyan has represented taxpayers in tax civil examinations with indication of fraud and criminal exposure, bringing the cases to a closure without fraud penalties or criminal investigation referral. In addition, Galyan has co-counseled with criminal attorneys representing clients facing white collar crime indictments. She has successfully advised clients through domestic and offshore voluntary disclosure procedures.
Galyan serves on the board of directors of the CalCPA Los Angeles Chapter, and as co-chair of the CalCPA Beverly Hills/Hollywood Discussion Group. She is a member of the Beverly Hills Bar Association and other organizations relating to the field of taxation and banking. Galyan was recognized as a Southern California Super Lawyers “Rising Star” in 2016 and 2017, and was a CalCPA Women-to-Watch nominee finalist in 2015 and 2017. Galyan obtained a bachelor’s degree in 2005 from USC in accounting; a juris doctor degree, cum laude, from Loyola Law School in 2012; and a master of laws, with highest distinction, from Loyola Law School in 2012.
Trista Gonzalez has worked for the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (formerly the Board of Equalization) for over 24 years. She was appointed chief of the Department’s Tax Policy Division in November 2016. In this role, Gonzalez oversees the development of policies and procedures for audit and collection functions as well as online services and taxpayer education.
Previous to this role, Gonzalez held various staff and supervisory positions within the agency. She started her career as a sales and use tax auditor in the CDTFA’s Oakland office. She has a bachelor’s degree in business administration (accounting) from California State University, Chico.
Annette Kunze is a bureau director in the audit division at the Franchise Tax Board (FTB). She began her career with FTB in 1996. Her roles include overseeing implementation of policies and procedures for major compliance and enforcement programs, training and development, and implementation of tax legislation impacting the Department. Kunze has led several initiatives, including FTB’s implementation of two key credit programs added by the Governor’s Economic Development Initiative (New Employment Credit and California Competes Tax Credit), various knowledge transfer efforts, and Voluntary Compliance Initiative 2, and is one of the Department’s primary contacts for cannabis-related activities.
Kunze has a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concentration in accounting and a minor in economics from California State University, Sacramento (CSUS). She also graduated from CSUS’s Leadership for the Government Executive program, and was recently invited to sponsor Leadership for the Government Supervisor. Kunze is a licensed Certified Public Accountant.
Aaron Lachant has been at the forefront of the marijuana industry since 2009. By solving novel and complex regulatory, compliance and licensing issues, Lachant has kept his clients, including approximately 45 of the 135 originally-legalized dispensaries in Los Angeles under Proposition D, in business and flourishing. Coupling his pioneering experience getting marijuana businesses permitted with his adroit navigation of a regulatory landscape in flux has made him the go-to attorney for legal cannabis advice. Lachant frequently acts as outside general counsel for clients in the industry and is active in the Greater Los Angeles Collective Alliance (GLACA), an association of medical cannabis cooperative and collective operators whose mission is to provide safe access to patients with adherence to a strict code of operational guidelines.
Well ahead of the curve on the issues facing the marijuana business, Lachant’s work has grown with the maturing of the industry. He advises clients on M&A deals, partnership disputes, and litigation involving regulatory violations, complemented by years of experience representing other healthcare providers in all aspects of healthcare law. He has worked on many sophisticated corporate transactions. With the legal marijuana market expanding at a rapid pace, Lachant’s practice is devoted to keeping marijuana businesses open and consults with regulators in various jurisdictions to keep laws favorable. When he is not helping to keep (legal and permitted) drugs on the streets, Lachant spends his time rooting for the Syracuse Orange and exercising with the Los Angeles Rowing Club. He enjoys writing, traveling, playing the piano, building guitars, and sous vide cooking. He earned his juris doctor degree from the Syracuse University College of Law in 2008, and is a member of the State Bar of California Health Law Section and the Health Care Compliance Association.
Hank Levy was recently appointed to fill the term of the Alameda County Treasurer-Tax Collector, and plans to run for election in June 2018 in order to keep the job. Prior to that, he had become a partner in ELLO, LLC, an accounting and consulting firm dedicated to the cannabis industry. ELLO is affiliated with MGO CPAs, a leading California accounting firm and a top 100 firm in the United States. Prior to that, Levy founded The Henry Levy Group (HLG) in 1990 in the Rockridge section of Oakland. HLG grew to six offices and 35 employees. He also helped to found Bridge West, CPAs, a national network of accounting firms dedicated to the cannabis industry, in 2013. HLG obtained its first medical cannabis client in 1998. HLG and now ELLO have over 600 clients in this industry in California, Arizona, Colorado, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Washington, Nevada, DC, and Michigan.
Levy is a nationally-known speaker on accounting for cannabis clients, speaking on the 280E Reform Team with Steve DeAngelo (Harborside Health Center, Oakland) and Henry Wykowski, attorney in the Champ and Olive tax court cases).Levy was an expert witness in the Olive case in 2012, the Harborside tax court case in 2016, among others. He has also been a speaker at other cannabis-based conferences, and is often quoted in national news and cannabis trade publications. Levy has held faculty positions at various colleges and universities in the San Francisco Bay Area; he is regularly appointed by the Superior Courts of California as a forensic expert, business appraiser and referee in family law, civil litigation and tax matters; and he holds credentials in business valuation and fraud examination. He also serves as a forensic and expert witness in litigation matters involving the cannabis industry.
Levy has been continually involved in professional and community service, and is a member of the Alameda County Assessment Appeals Board and director on numerous various non-profit boards; he is also a past president of the East Bay Chapter of CalCPA, past chair of the local advisory board of the local Pacifica radio station, and past member of the City of Oakland Business Budget Advisory Committee. Levy is trained as a professional mediator and is a baseball umpire at the youth, high school, college and adult men’s levels.
Elected to the California State Board of Equalization (BOE) in November 2014, Fiona Ma is uniquely qualified to represent nearly 10 million Californians in the 23 counties that run from the Oregon border to Santa Barbara in the Second Equalization District. As one of the few Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) to serve on the BOE, Ma is a strong voice for businesses and taxpayers – taking the lead in clearing the haze around the cannabis industry by holding informative stakeholder meetings discussing key issues – transportation, track and trace of cannabis products, and the lack of banking services. She served as the chair of the BOE in 2016 and is the current chair of the BOE’s Legislative Committee.
Ma has supported a variety of legislation geared towards helping business owners, including – AB 821 (Gipson) which enabled cannabis dispensaries to pay their tax liability using cash and AB 2149 (Bonilla) which enabled BOE to collect cash payments from medical cannabis-related businesses for other state agencies. She is instrumental in BOE discussions about helping industry business owners pay their taxes safely and efficiently, generating innovative ideas for an industry lacking banking services. She has written extensively about her research into the industry, focused on creating helpful educational tools to assist the industry navigate California’s complicated laws; spoken on many industry panels; and has visited areas such as the “Emerald Triangle” in California, Canada, Colorado, and the State of Washington to learn from their implementation efforts. Ma has been featured in MG Magazine highlighting her determination to “fix the woeful state of banking for the industry,” is a member of the San Francisco Cannabis Task Force, and lends her expertise to California Treasurer Chiang’s Cannabis Banking Working Group meetings.
Ma represented District 4 on the San Francisco County Board of Supervisors from 2002-2006. During her tenure in the Legislature, she represented the 12th Assembly District from 2006-2012, served as Majority Whip, and was the first Asian-American female Assembly Speaker pro tempore in California history. She also served on the Assembly Agriculture Committee and had taken 70 tours around California to learn more about the agricultural industry. She is a member of the California Film Commission and Aspen Institute’s 2009 Class of Aspen-Rodel Fellows. Ma received her bachelor’s degree in accounting from the Rochester Institute of Technology, her master of science in taxation from Golden Gate University, and her master of business administration in business taxation from Pepperdine University. She has been licensed in California as a CPA since 1992.
Casey O’Neill co-operates Happy Day Farms, a micro-diversified farm in northern Mendocino County. His family raises two acres of Clean Green Certified vegetables, poultry and medical cannabis in a small-farm setting while working towards sustainability.
O’Neill is a stoked about sharing food, medicine and cultivation techniques with others. He is passionate about representing small farmers as vice-chair for California Growers Association and as a voice in the legalization and functional regulation movement. He works extensively with Mendocino County policymakers in support of sensible regulations.
Richard Parrott has worked for the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (formerly the Board of Equalization) for 30 years. He was appointed chief of the Business Tax and Fee Department’s Program and Compliance Division in April 2016. In this role, Parrott oversees the administration of 30 different tax and fee programs, which include the new cannabis taxes. Prior to this role, he held various staff and supervisor positions within the agency. He started his career as a student assistant in the Sacramento Headquarters location. Parrott is a graduate of the Leadership for the Government Executive program at California State University Sacramento.
Laureen Philipp has worked for the Franchise Tax Board (FTB) since 1989. She began her career as a tax compliance representative and has held a variety of positions in the accounts receivable management division and taxpayer rights advocate office. She serves as director of the field and complex account collection bureau, where she is responsible for public service and collection program policy and operations for six field offices and one central office location.
Philipp and her team provide excellent service to more than 100,000 taxpayers and process over $115 million in payments at field office public counters. In addition, she manages large dollar receivables, collecting proactive revenue owed by both business entity and personal income taxpayers, including administration of the Top 500 list of delinquent taxpayers. Philipp has led and managed public service, proactive collection, and special procedures teams, and actively supports enterprise governance through department action committees, teams, and projects.
Philipp holds a bachelor’s degree in finance from California State University, Sacramento, and is a graduate of the Leadership for Government Executives program.
Chuck Rettig is managing partner of Hochman, Salkin, Rettig, Toscher & Perez, PC in Beverly Hills. He specializes in civil and criminal tax controversies as well as tax, business and estate planning, and family wealth transfers. His representation includes federal and state civil and criminal tax controversy matters and tax litigation, including sensitive tax-related examinations and investigations for high-wealth individuals and their closely held entities. Rettig is internationally recognized for his expertise in the representation of U.S. persons having undeclared interests in foreign financial accounts and assets, including sensitive civil examinations, IRS voluntary disclosure programs and procedures as well as criminal tax investigations. He is a frequent lecturer before national, state and local professional organizations and has authored numerous articles in many national, state and local publications.
Rettig is a past chair of the IRS Advisory Council (IRSAC); a member of the advisory board of the California Franchise Tax Board; a past member of the advisory council of the California State Board of Equalization; institute chair for the UCLA Extension 34th Annual Tax Controversy Institute; co-chair of the 4th Annual NYU Tax Controversy Forum; planning committee member for the USC School of Law, Annual Institute on Federal Taxation (institute chair, Subcommittee on Ethics, Compliance and Enforcement); planning committee member and the “tax controversies” chair for the 76th NYU Institute on Federal Taxation; institute co-chair of the ABA 34th Annual National Institute on Criminal Tax Fraud and Tax Controversy; past member of the board of trustees for the CalCPA Education Foundation; and a past chair of the Taxation Section of the State Bar of California.
Rettig is an officer, regent (past chair, Nominating Committee) and a fellow of the American College of Tax Counsel (ACTC); on the national board of advisors for the Graduate Tax Program (master of laws in taxation) at New York University School of Law; is on the board of advisors for the CCH Journal of Tax Practice and Procedure; chair of the Legal Tax Advisory Board for Wolters Kluwer Law & Business (CCH); an officer of the ABA Taxation Section; past chair of the Committee on Civil and Criminal Tax Penalties; and member of the Committee on Appointments to the U.S. Tax Court for the ABA Taxation Section. He authors the “Practice Column” for the CCH Journal of Tax Practice and Procedure; a co-author of “Tax Crimes,” BNA-Tax Management, Publication 636; and recently co- authored the “Tax Practice & Procedure” treatise for the CCH Expert Treatise Library. Rettig is a Certified Specialist both in Taxation Law and in Estate Planning, Trust & Probate Law by the State Bar of California, Board of Legal Specialization.
As a tax partner at MGO LLP, Jan Rosati has over 40 years of experience helping clients across a broad range of business and tax issues. He brings expertise in serving closely-held middle market businesses as well as pass-through entities in industries including manufacturing, real estate, and the rapidly changing cannabis industry. He is proactive in the identification and implementation of unique strategies tailored to the client’s tax situation.
With over 400 cannabis industry clients, the MGO | ELLO alliance has led the effort to bring scalable, responsible business practices to the emerging cannabis industry. One of the top 100 CPA firms in the country, MGO has a 30-year history providing trusted accounting and advisory services to some of the largest government agencies and corporations in the country. The MGO team has developed a suite of proven solutions to help government agencies and institutional investors navigate the complexities of medical and recreational cannabis markets.
ELLO is a full-service professional services firm, providing consulting, financial advisory, accounting, risk advisory and tax consulting services to the cannabis industry and companies around the U.S. and internationally. The team is comprised of experienced accounting and advisory professionals who have helped shape the systems, processes and best practices of the cannabis industry.
Jeffrey Rosen practiced law for over 10 years in San Francisco, Silicon Valley and Taipei, Taiwan. Thereafter, he created a Tailored Benefits, an insurance brokerage company which has been operating for 18 years. Tailored Benefits has had cannabis clients for over 11 years, including dispensaries, manufacturers, distributors and growers, among others. Over the last three years, Tailored Benefits has shifted its focus to be 100% in the cannabis industry. Rosen’s strategic partner has decades of property casualty experience, and they are engrossed in the cannabis industry and actively building products solely for the cannabis industry to provide better and more enhanced protections at a steep discount. Rosen is a member of both CCIA’s and NCIA’s insurance subcommittees. He speaks nationally on issues attendant to cannabis insurance. Tailored Benefits has cannabis clients in many states throughout the country.
In June 2014, Jennifer Stuhr was appointed the northern region audit program manager for the Employment Development Department (EDD), Tax Branch, Field Audit and Compliance Division (FACD), where she is responsible for the field audit program from Bakersfield to the Oregon border. From April 2011 until June 2014, she was the chief of the Taxpayer Advocate Bureau (TAB) in the Tax Support Division (TSD), overseeing the Office of the Taxpayer Rights Advocate (OTRA) and the Management Analysis and Project Section (MAPS). Collectively, these organizations ensure equitable administration of the payroll tax program, protection of taxpayer rights, and facilitation in resolving payroll tax problems.
Stuhr started her career with EDD in 1986 as a tax auditor in the Santa Cruz office, and spent many years conducting audits, training new auditors, and developing audit leads for the statewide audit program. She supervised staff in the Redding Branch audit office before moving on to FACD central operations, where she spent time as both the chief of Technical Support Section and Chief of Audit Section. Stuhr graduated from Santa Clara University with a bachelor’s degree in accounting in 1985, and completed the Leadership for the Government Executive certificate program at California State University Sacramento in April 2012.
Bill Taggart has engaged in the private practice of law in the San Francisco Bay area since 1967. He first engaged principally in transactional work involving business and real estate matters although he regularly handled federal and California tax controversies. The principal focus of his personal work over his career gradually evolved into principally representing individuals and small businesses in disputes with the Internal Revenue Service, the Franchise Tax Board and the Board of Equalization.
Taggart became interested in California’s medical marijuana industry in 2012 when he was retained by a prominent figure in the Oakland marijuana community following the execution of a coordinated (eight locations) search and seizure by CID and DEA. As a consequence the location of his office and that engagement, he began a serious study of California law relating to marijuana. Shortly thereafter, he was introduced to a group of thoughtful California marijuana growers who asked for his assistance in cautiously coming into the light. This challenge was irresistible. Taggart began studying California’s medical marijuana industry from a tax compliance perspective in 2013 based on a background of 40-plus years of experience in civil and criminal controversies involving tax and financial issues. The additions of four massive modifications of California law relating to cannabis (MMRSA, MCRSA, Proposition 64, and 2017 Integration) in the past two years have added volume and complexity to an already byzantine collection of laws.
Taggart earned his bachelor’s degree from Reed College, his juris doctor degree from Hastings College of the Law, and his master of laws in Taxation from NYU School of Law. He developed the original curriculum for the MBA Taxation Program at Golden Gate University, and was an administrator and a lecturer in this program for 15 years. He developed the Master of Laws in Taxation Program for the Golden Gate University School of Law beginning in 1976. Taggart was an associate dean of the Golden Gate University School of Law and the director of the master of laws in taxation program until he retired from academia. He retired in 1984 as the dean emeritus of Golden Gate University School of Law.
Randy Werner responds to CAMICO loss prevention hotline inquiries and speaks to CPA groups on various topics. Werner has Big Four public accounting experience in federal and state tax as well as regional accounting firm experience. She has practiced as a sole practitioner in estate planning since 1984.
Werner has been a member of the California State Bar since 1983 and is a member of its Taxation Section as well as the Taxation Section’s Procedure and Litigation Committee. She earned a bachelor’s degree in commerce, majoring in finance with an emphasis in marketing, from the Santa Clara University School of Business. She also earned a juris doctor degree from the Santa Clara University School of Law in 1983, a master of laws in taxation from Golden Gate University, and a master of science in accounting from San Jose State University.
Susan Woo is a native of the Bay Area, and has been with the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (formally the State Board of Equalization) since June 1981, where she is a supervisor. She is assigned to the Oakland Office, but has worked in San Jose, San Francisco, and the Out of State Offices.
Woo was a tax auditor for over 30 years prior. As an auditor, her assignments specialized in Fortune 500 corporations, including software companies and hospitals. She also enjoys conducting training classes for employees. She is a Certified Public Accountant, earned her master of business administration in taxation from Golden Gate University, and her bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of San Francisco.
Chris Wood, a senior associate at Wykowski Law, is at the forefront of taxation and corporate law matters facing the cannabis industry. He has assisted as co-counsel in some of the industry’s most important cases, including the forfeiture actions filed by the federal government against Harborside Health Center and Berkeley Patients Group.
Wood has served as counsel in many of the most prominent cases litigated before the United States Tax Court surrounding IRC Section 280E, and represents many dispensaries, cultivators, and manufacturers in tax controversies before the IRS, the Board of Equalization, and the Franchise Tax Board. He additionally advises clients on a broad array of corporate matters, including corporate structuring and governance issues. Wood earned his bachelor’s degree from U.C. Berkeley, Phi Beta Kappa, and his juris doctor degree, with honors, from U.C. Hastings.