Off the Books

Off the Books with Robert McGaghran

Sloan Group Tax Manager Robert McGaghran brings a real desire to help clients meet their life’s goals to his work with his Toronto clients and uses his specialty in U.S. and Canadian tax to help corporate clients navigate business dealings down south.

You have experience in corporate tax accounting and tax provision work. What drew you to this accounting focus?

Corporate tax accounting and provision work involve getting very in-depth in the operations of a business. I had done a lot of work previously with public companies and in that work you have to be very accurate. You are reporting to security regulators, the public, and financial people, and I really enjoyed that. It’s a detailed process, but there is also some estimation involved in it. The tax provision work I did was for mining companies – people actually looking for gold and silver whose operations took place in many foreign countries. There are many more intricacies with corporate tax accounting, and I find the research and information gathering interesting and challenging.

I’m fortunate to have a great mix of individual and corporate tax clients at Sloan.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

I feel good about meeting people and discussing their situations. I enjoy getting to know each client and their personal and financial goals. Whether they are looking to save for their child’s education, purchase a second home, plan their retirement, or have charitable aspirations, I find a lot of reward in helping people achieve those goals. I also work with people every day who find themselves in difficult situations, people who may have made a mistake and are trying to mitigate the damage. It is hard when people find themselves in these difficult spots and it is rewarding to be able to help them through it.

I also very much enjoy the research process. Every accounting situation is unique and usually involves some research. The Income Tax Act has many rules, but those rules need to be interpreted for every situation. It’s never a non-exciting day.

You specialize in U.S. and Canadian tax law. How does that dual specialization help your clients?

I had the opportunity in a previous job to get involved in U.S. tax preparation for individual and corporate clients. It was a great opportunity to learn something new. U.S. tax is entirely different – with not only federal, but state and local taxes – than Canadian tax accounting. For U.S. citizens that live outside of the country, there is so much more reporting. If you own a non-U.S. corporation, it is a very detailed and involved reporting process. There are many ways things can be set up and reported. Some tax planning in Canada doesn’t translate in the U.S and the U.S. doesn’t recognize things in the same way. People like to be able to deal with one person that can handle all of the work involved and streamline the whole process. It is best to have someone who can change or mitigate tax systems.

What should a Canadian business owner watch out for tax-wise before considering expansion to the U.S.?

There are so many different ways to structure a business in the U.S. — partnership, corporation, limited liability corporation, S Corp., etc. There are also rules about how much money you can borrow to fund your operations. It is wise to talk about all these issues with a tax accountant before taking those steps. Talk about how to finance it, run calculations to find ways to reduce the amount of interest that you can deduct, discuss payroll and withholdings. Always plan with a tax adviser to find out the way to structure the business and the logistical details and tax implications for those decisions.

Everyone is talking about the low Canadian dollar and how it is affecting the economy. How is this affecting your Canadian clients, especially those who do business in the U.S.? “

The low Canadian dollars is affecting businesses in different ways. Companies that export are enjoying some prosperity recently after having to deal with the high dollar for several years. For people that import goods, now is a real challenging time be profitable. Clients now are dealing with how to finance their U.S. operations, and if they have the money from U.S. sales, determining if this money can be kept in U.S. funds if it is not needed. It is really a cash flow issue and cost of exchanging money.

Tell us a bit about your background before joining Sloan Partners?

When I first started out I worked for a firm for eight years. I started as a junior and worked my way up to a manager doing accounting and audit work and personal and corporate taxes. In 2007, I decided I wanted to focus on tax. I worked at a few firms, gaining experience in Canadian tax and then some U.S. tax. I was exposed to a lot of different situations and tax theories that help me in my work today. Knowing where we’ve been successful in the past, I can relate that experience to clients in a helpful way.

What made you decide to become a tax professional?

As early as grade seven or eight I knew I wanted to be an accountant, and I took accounting and math classes throughout high school. I fell off the trail a bit in university and worked in the insurance industry for a while after university. That wasn’t working for me, and I went back to get my accounting degree. It was the best thing I ever did, the accounting profession fits my personality the best.

Do you have any hobbies or special interests outside of the office that you’d like to share?

Although my job takes up a lot of my time, I try to stay active when I can. I enjoy downhill skiing, hockey and tennis. I also enjoy lots of different animals. We feed the squirrels and birds in our backyard every day, and I enjoy taking care of pets of family members and friends. I am to go-to person when my sister needs someone to watch her dog and rabbit!

Robert McGaghran is Tax Manager at Sloan Partners. You can contact Robert at

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