Our Spotlight series highlights the careers and lives of tax professionals across the globe. This week’s focus is on Kristine Butterbaugh, a subject matter expert and strategy leader for the Tax and Regulatory line of business at the tax software company Sovos.
As a solution principal, Butterbaugh specializes in unclaimed property and insurance regulatory reporting, and helping others learn about this aspect of regulatory compliance. She works on sales, marketing, product, regulatory analysis, professional services, and support to develop strategy and deliver compliance solutions to clients.
When she’s not working, you might find Butterbaugh reading dystopian or historical fiction, making a gourmet cup of coffee, or dreaming about traveling the world.
What’s your official title and what does it mean? My official title is solution principal. My role is exciting, as I am heavily involved in the strategy for our unclaimed property and insurance statutory reporting segments. I work closely with many areas of the business, including sales, marketing, product, regulatory analysis, professional services, and support to review our products and solutions to make decisions on current and future execution. The goal is to ensure delivery of high-quality, compliant solutions that meet and exceed our customers’ expectations, while constantly monitoring the industry for change and emerging opportunities.
Free time: book, audiobook, or podcast? Hands down, book. Reading has been part of my life since I was a young girl. I love the feel of holding a book, turning the pages, and having the ability to highlight text or write notes near the topics I want to remember. I also enjoy swapping books with friends or sharing with people I meet while traveling. I enjoy most genres but tend to be drawn toward dystopian or historical fiction.
Tax is a huge subject. What’s your area of special interest? Unclaimed property and insurance regulatory reporting are my two areas of special interest. I started working in these areas in one of my first jobs out of college many years ago. Funny enough, I find that people who end up in these segments often don’t leave. There is an opportunity to get involved in a niche that many people don’t know or understand. I love the aspects of teaching and helping others learn about this important aspect of regulatory compliance. While unclaimed property is not a tax, per se, it feels and acts like a tax in many ways. I am drawn to the technology aspect of regulatory compliance and have always found it amazing how technology can allow an organization to maintain compliance while allowing individuals to focus less on the details and more on the strategic aspect of their work.
What’s the last movie or show that you watched and loved (DVD, Netflix, or in the theater)? I am not much of a moviegoer, as I prefer to watch them at home, in the comfort of my environment. However, on my last two business trips, “CODA” was one of the entertainment options playing on the airplane. The first time I watched it, I was sobbing on the plane, as was the person next to me. I watched it again on my next trip and sobbed again. What a beautiful story about the bonds of family, the pursuit of your dreams, and overcoming the fear of change and fear of disappointing those you love. I would definitely recommend it.
What college did you attend and what did you study? I attended the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, Iowa, a public university established in 1876. I earned a B.A. in accounting, and it’s been consistently ranked as one of the top schools for CPA pass rate. Go Panthers! I took post-graduate classes in computer science to build my knowledge in that area and recently went back to school and received my master’s in management communication from the University of Dubuque, a private university in Dubuque, Iowa, founded in 1852. Go Spartans!
Go to pick-me-up: Coffee or tea? Coffee with half and half. How can you not love that?! I am a bit of a coffee snob. I grind my own beans and prefer my coffee strong, yet smooth, and enjoy it brewed in a french press. Although, a delicious cappuccino with a pretty foam decoration ranks right up there.
What’s the best tax or financial advice that anyone ever gave you? One of my favorite people once said, “Taking risks can take you places you can’t go by being risk-averse.” Whenever I’m faced with a financial decision, those words stick in my mind and guide my decision making.
If you weren’t working in the tax profession, what would your dream job be? A travel journalist/blogger. I love to travel and explore, I love to write, and I take a ridiculous amount of photos. Traveling the world, meeting new people, and exploring new places would be an ideal way for me to spend my time. The thought of inspiring and encouraging others to find their own inner wanderlust sounds like a dream job!
If you had the opportunity to make one change in the tax world – an extra credit, a disallowed deduction, whatever – what would it be? Can I name two? We recently released the State of Unclaimed Property report. In it, we discuss how states are using unclaimed property as a revenue driver and why it is important for companies to be compliant. If I could make a change, I would have all US companies come into compliance with the law so they are no longer putting their business at risk. Secondly, at this particular moment in time, I would enforce detailed clarity by the states on their handling of cryptocurrency for unclaimed property purposes. There is too much at stake for owners, holders and states alike for states to be so vague in their legislation and guidance around the escheatment of virtual currency.
Favorite food, snack, or candy during tax season or other busy time? Fruit. Give me papaya, guava, strawberries, bananas, apples—you name it! I haven’t met a fruit I don’t like.
What tax news or move made the most impact on your practice or clients this past year? The past year has been a very active regulatory year in the unclaimed property space. Nearly 20 different sets of legislation were enacted in 2021 alone, and 2022 is looking to bring a similar level of activity. Understanding the legislative impacts of your business is difficult enough, coupled with the demands of executing to remain compliant. States are adopting the Revised Uniform Unclaimed Property Act, and each are incorporating their own unique spin on the law. We are constantly responding to interpretation questions as individuals are grappling with understanding how these changes impact them. I am proud of the depth of knowledge of our team and our ability to help the industry navigate the complex waters of compliance.
If you received a big tax refund check right now, what would you do with it? Invest it. You can never prepare too much for retirement.
You can find Butterbaugh on LinkedIn.
You can learn more about Butterbaugh’s firm, Sovos, on its website.
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