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Lokvani Talk To Asha Dixit

Ranjani Saigal

Asha Dixit, CPA, MBA, MS is a partner with Shah, Dixit & Associates P.C. in Burlington, MA. Asha has over 19 years of experience in public accounting serving clients in manufacturing, biotech, hi-tech, construction, health services, real estate, retail, food & hospitality, non-profits, and professional service firms. Asha advises corporations and individuals on issues related to international taxation, new ventures, acquisitions, and growth strategies. She frequently represents clients during IRS and state government audits. Prior to joining Shah, Dixit & Associates in 2004, Asha worked for several years with regional and national accounting firms including LitmanGerson Associates and Reznick Group.

Asha holds an MBA and MS in Computer Information Systems from the University of Southern New Hampshire and B.Com.(Honors) from Osmania University, India.

What motivated you to take up a career as a CPA?

Several members in my extended family -- uncles and cousins -- were successful chartered accountants in India. They inspired me to study accounting in college.  I have always enjoyed working with people and public accounting provided me the ideal opportunity for combining my analytical and inter-personal skills.  

What differentiates Shah Dixit & Associates?

We take pride in our dedication and commitment to our clients. Through our day-to-day interactions, we make a determined effort to understand each client’s business or personal needs. What differentiates us is our ability to offer solutions and services tailored to their individual situations.

Your firm is focused on supporting small and medium scale businesses. What is the state of the small business in the current economy?

Most small and medium sized businesses have been affected by the economic downturn. The resulting decrease in consumer spending has impacted many of our clients in the personal service, retail, restaurant, and hospitality industries.  The technology sector, specifically the IT and high-tech industries, is just beginning to rebound from a significant reduction in revenues during the past few years. Looking forward, the improved economic outlook provides optimism.

There is a lot of discussion on increased pressure to identify and tax income generated outside the country. What impact have you seen this having on South Asians?

Due to a high propensity to save and our willingness to take investment risks, these increased regulatory measures are impacting South Asians especially hard. Many South Asians retain strong ties to their native countries and take advantage of the lucrative investment opportunities generated by recent economic growth. However, the increased enforcement has alerted many South Asians to the tax implications of such investments.

What criteria should one use while picking an accountant?

Your accountant is a valuable advisor.  Whether for your business or individual tax return preparation, your accountant must be someone you are comfortable with. It must be someone whose knowledge inspires your confidence and with whom you should be able to establish a good working relationship.

What are few points one should remember when one has large investments and holdings in India?

1.    Determine if there is any income for the tax year? If yes, then the amount of income, type of income and foreign tax payments related to the income are all required for US tax return purposes.
2.    Reporting requirements vary depending on the type of investment. For example, ownership of private foreign company stock requires substantially different reporting than ownership of publicly traded foreign stock held through Demat accounts.
3.    Investments in mutual funds are very different. These investments are deemed Passive foreign investments and therefore follow the PFIC tax regime.
4.    With foreign investments and holdings, it is important to comply with both the foreign bank and financial accounts reporting (FBAR) requirements and with the newer specified foreign financial assets reporting requirements.

Is there a threshold value below which one does not need to worry tax implications?

When talking about foreign taxes and thresholds, it is imperative to distinguish between income tax requirements and reporting requirements.

For income tax purposes, there is no threshold. All foreign income, regardless of amount, must be included in the US tax return.

Reporting requirements depend on the type of investment and the size of holdings.  There may be multiple reporting requirements for the same asset. The FBAR reporting has a threshold of $10,000. The specified foreign financial assets reporting is more complicated starting with a threshold of $50,000 for unmarried taxpayers living in the US. Certain other reporting requirements have no monetary thresholds.

Are there community and philanthropic activities that you support? Would you like to highlight any of them?

The Indian Circle of Caring, Jain Sangh of New England, Jain Center of New England, and TiE Women’s Initiative are some of the organizations and activities that I support by volunteering my time, making monetary contributions or providing accounting services.

What advice do you have for youngsters considering a career as a CPA?

Public accounting is much more than financial statements and tax return preparation.  Most individuals and businesses consider a CPA to be an important consultant, one who guides them to financial success. On a daily basis, the profession gives you an opportunity to interact with a diverse group of clientele and form valuable personal relationships. Working closely with astute and driven people makes the work both interesting and satisfying.

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