Voices

Art of Accounting: Sid Kess, tax educator extraordinaire

There are few constants in taxes, but one of them is Sidney Kess. Sidney just completed two 50-year milestones: This year is the 50th anniversary of his regular New York Law Journal column, Tax Tips, and the 50th anniversary of his annual UJA-Federation Sid Kess New York Estate, Tax and Financial Planning Conference. These are pretty impressive, but those are not his only milestones.

I first found out about Sidney when I attended one of his early income tax workshops in 1966. I was a staff accountant and my boss sent me to get me ready for tax season. I did not meet Sidney — there were hundreds of attendees — but I became enamored with his skill in teaching and making the complicated understandable and usable. You might say I became a fan then and there. In 1976, I was fortunate to meet Sidney when Martin Edelston, publisher of Boardroom Reports, introduced us. When I joined the panel of experts for taxes which Sidney headed, we worked together. We have been friends ever since.

Sidney is as active as he ever was. He still writes and edits a considerable number of technical articles, organizes conferences particularly for the New York State Society of CPAs and the AICPA, and is a go-to person for anyone wanting to organize an innovative tax conference. It seems he comes up with new programs almost annually while still maintaining the momentum of those he previously established. His many books are on sale at numerous publishers, including Wolters Kluwer and the AICPA, and are perpetually updated. He is also heavily involved in the profession as a senior consultant to the Top 100 Firm Citrin Cooperman & Co. and of counsel to Kostelanetz & Fink, one of the nation’s leading tax controversy law firms.

Sidney Kess
Sidney Kess

Last May, I wrote a column here about a lunch I had with Sidney and Chaya Siegfried and how he was able to assist her in getting speaking engagements at a couple of AICPA conferences (Chaya will become a Withum partner later this year on July 1). Included in that article was a request that anyone seeking assistance to get an article published or to give a speech can contact either Sid or myself. That offer still stands, and you can reach me at emendlowitz@withum.com. Either Sid or I will contact you to get you going.

Sidney is a World War II veteran, having served in France and Germany. He completed his college education after the war, graduating from Baruch College (where he organizes its annual financial planning conference) and then from Harvard Law School and New York University’s Graduate School of Law, both of which he was able to attend under the GI Bill.

Sidney has received almost every honor our profession offers and to list them would take too much space, but Sid deserved and earned every single one of the recognitions conferred upon him. Additionally, the AICPA published a book in 2012 celebrating him and his contributions to the profession during the “first part” of his career: The Sid Kess Approach: 60 Years of Best Practices in Tax, Education, Career and Life. The next part of it is being written every day with his ongoing accomplishments and help to many professionals at various stages of their careers. Knowing Sid is a life enrichment. Thank you, Sid, for being a great role model, a great mentor and teacher, a great guy and a great mensch.

Edward Mendlowitz, CPA, is partner at WithumSmith+Brown, PC, CPAs. He is on the Accounting Today Top 100 Influential People List. He is the author of 24 books, including “How to Review Tax Returns,” co-written with Andrew D. Mendlowitz, and “Managing Your Tax Season, Third Edition.” Ed also writes a twice-a-week blog addressing issues that clients have at www.partners-network.com along with the Pay-Less-Tax Man blog for Bottom Line. Ed is an adjunct professor in the MBA program at Fairleigh Dickinson University teaching end user applications of financial statements. Art of Accounting is a continuing series where Ed shares autobiographical experiences with tips that he hopes can be adopted by his colleagues. Ed welcomes practice management questions and can be reached at (732) 964-9329 or emendlowitz@withum.com.