Business Administration/Accounting, 2005
president, Rachel Christoferson CPA PC
In her accounting business, Rachel Christoferson files returns for individuals, small businesses and a variety of nonprofit organizations.
“Working with the nonprofits is the most fun by far,” said Christoferson, owner of Rachel Christoferson CPA PC. “You can see exactly how Billings and Yellowstone County benefit from an organization.”
Like other CPAs, Christoferson spends quite a bit of time preparing for the inevitable changes in the nation’s vast, complicated tax laws. She regularly participates in continuing professional education training.
“If you had all the time in the world you could spend it learning about the laws,” Christoferson said, noting that Congress made big changes to the tax code at the end of 2014.
Christoferson showed an interest in numbers at an early age. She remembers being fascinated with the concept of depreciation.
“I got exposed to a lot when I was young,” she said. “I watched my parents spend weeks working on their personal tax return.”
Most professionals describe the tax preparation season as a marathon. Some accounting firms are known to throw big parties when the last return has been filed. Christoferson said she enjoys taking a little time off.
“I’ll just go fishing,” she said. “It’s always a little too soon to go camping.”
Describe how you got where you are in your work today: My first true career was as a licensed U.S. Customs Broker in Sweetgrass. When it became time to return to college and finish up my degree, I knew that I needed to choose a career that had opportunities in any town in Montana. My clearest options were either a teacher or an accountant. I had always loved numbers and calculations and I doubt I would make a good teacher. I completed two internships for a small CPA firm while completing my degree and after a short stint with a local CPA firm. I ended up working at Eide Bailly for several years. Eide Bailly was a phenomenal CPA firm to work for, but the need for balance between my family and work was difficult although they did go above and beyond to accommodate working parents. I incorporated my own firm late in 2011 and it has been steadily growing ever since.
What’s the biggest challenge you face in your job? Finding staff that are qualified and have an interest in working.
What’s the best business advice you have received? If you do what you love, you will succeed.
Who gave you that advice? Nick Cladis
Here’s what I’d like to do to improve my community: Currently there is not a public playground nor a community center in Shepherd. The Shepherd Senior Citizens, Shepherd Lions Club, and Shepherd Community Center are all working very hard to make one a reality. I would like to continue to help as much as I am able to as needed to have this available to the Shepherd community as a whole. In the last few years, the land set aside by the Shepherd Community Center has gotten grass, trees, sprinklers, a volleyball area, a horseshoe pit, and a picnic pavilion. Amazing progress has been made, but much more community involvement and volunteer time is needed to make the complete plan a reality.
Aside from profit and loss, how do you measure success in your job? When I know that I have helped someone, be it as simple as calculating the tax savings available for setting up a Health Savings Account that has been available to someone for years but they have never taken advantage of it, or a more in-depth discussion of best practices and policies for a board of directors for a small nonprofit.
Which living person do you most admire? My parents. They managed to raise six children in a healthy, happy home while starting and operating a cattle ranch and eventually starting and operating an agricultural supply store as well. They still operate the ranch and the store.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? Raising two happy, healthy little boys to be active participants in their community. It is of course still a work in progress.
I’m happiest when I’m… camping. Anything outside is fabulous, but camping, fishing, hunting, and gardening are my favorites. Fishing would be my very favorite activity if I had better luck catching the little buggers.
Article credit: Billings Gazette
Photo credit: James Woodcock, Billings Gazette