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Behind the List with Marty Levin of Regan, Levin, Bloss, Brown & Savchak PC'Committed to supporting local businesses'

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Tax season is the busiest time of year for Certified Public Accountants, and accounting firms throughout the region and beyond are already starting to take on the workload.

The Greater Lehigh Valley has many reputable accounting and tax preparation firms that work to ensure clients get the best returns each year. With thousands of businesses throughout the region, companies such as Regan, Levin, Bloss, Brown and Savchak PC in downtown Allentown are prepared to take on the workload that will last for months.

Here to answer this week's “Behind the List” questions and shed light onto the world of tax preparation is Marty Levin, shareholder and managing director of Regan, Levin, Bloss, Brown and Savchak PC.

Lehigh Valley Business: How long has Regan, Levin, Bloss, Brown & Savchak PC been operating in the region and what are its primary services?

Marty Levin: Regan Levin Bloss Brown & Savchak PC, or as more commonly referred to in the Lehigh Valley business community as RLB Accountants, resulted from the merger of four regional certified public accounting firms in late 2009. However, the founding partners have individually and collectively been practicing public accounting here since the 1980s.

The firm provides both traditional public accounting firm services such as financial statement audit, review and compilation, as well as corporate and individual income tax compliance in addition to a host of specialty services. These specialty services include business valuations, forensic accounting, litigation support, merger and acquisition consulting, personal financial planning, outsourced controllership and bookkeeping.

We have encouraged our team members to specialize and support their efforts to do so. While many of our staff members hold the proud distinction of being licensed Certified Public Accountants in multiple states, there are a number of other certifications that are held and/or being currently pursued by our staff.

These include both the certified valuation analyst and the certified fraud examiner credentials issued by third parties, as well as the certified information technology credential offered by the AICPA [American Institute of Certified Public Accountants]. Several of our partners also hold financial planning related licenses, as well.

Finally, having the critical mass of a medium-sized certified public accounting firm enables us to enjoy the benefit of staff members who have become experts in such areas as medical practice accounting and consulting, construction accounting, nonprofit accounting, international tax issues, manufacturing and distribution and a host of other industry specialties.

LVB: What have been some of the biggest challenges and opportunities that Regan, Levin, Bloss, Brown & Savchak PC has encountered throughout its years in business?

Levin: Not long after the initial firm merger took place, we became aware of the pending legislation that would ultimately lead to the founding of the Allentown Neighborhood Improvement Zone. Based on our early analysis, we believed that this was the missing component to the economic stimulus that would revitalize the core downtown area of the third-largest city in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Similar to financial and business districts found in the larger cities of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, the partners at RLB discussed the unique opportunity that being at the forefront of this redevelopment would offer our firm and our clients. We envisioned a thriving community which would foster a collaborative environment among local business leaders.

The challenge to us was communicating this vision to our employees as well as our existing clientele. The recent decline of the inner city had left a negative impression on many individuals that needed to be overcome in order to make our transition from a suburban firm to a city-based firm a reality.

We spent a great deal of time and effort discussing our decision with both employee groups as well as key client representatives. The result was to achieve overwhelming support for our eventual relocation to center city Allentown in the summer of 2014.

Today, our firm headquarters is proudly located at the heart of the downtown, and we enjoy all of the amenities and business opportunities that life in the city has to offer.

LVB: Do you expect it to be a busy tax season for Regan, Levin, Bloss, Brown & Savchak PC?

Levin: Nearly all certified public accounting firms experience a spike in business during the peak business and individual income tax filing season. Our firm is no different, except that we tend to begin our season earlier than many firms.

Having been the first certified public accounting firm to commit to, and relocate to the downtown area, we became the de facto experts in tax reporting and filing requirements for those businesses in the Neighborhood Improvement Zone. Given the Jan. 31 filing deadline for those reports, our staff begins to accelerate their hours worked immediately after the New Year's holiday.

Once that work is completed, we have a substantial corporate and partnership tax practice with a mandated March 15 filing deadline and, of course, the period to April 15 is consumed by a large individual income tax preparation practice. Our firm has experienced year-over-year growth every year, and the outlook for this tax season appears to be no different for us.

Our employees will spend a great deal of time working together during this busy period. We appreciate all of their dedication and recognize the sacrifice their families make in order to support their career efforts.

Despite the added pressure of the busy season on our employees we do all that we can to promote a family atmosphere and a pleasant work environment that has resulted in tremendous retention of our talent over the years. There is a certain camaraderie that occurs that can only be experienced by those of us working together through a busy tax season.

LVB: How does Regan, Levin, Bloss, Brown & Savchak PC directly stimulate the local economy?

Levin: Our commitment in relocating to downtown Allentown goes beyond the mere geography of being closer to the banks and other financial professionals with whom we associate. Our firm is committed to supporting local businesses by prioritizing the use of local merchants wherever possible.

Our staff frequents local restaurants on a daily basis, and all of our firm-sponsored activities requiring catering are sourced to downtown establishments. Several times per year we entertain our staff, and this always occurs at a downtown location, whether it be one of the fine upscale restaurants or a luxury suite at the PPL Center.

Our firm is a charter season ticket holder of both the Lehigh Valley Phantoms and the IronPigs. We have frequently purchased downtown gift certificates for a variety of occasions and always encourage our contacts to frequent the downtown merchants.

A number of firm partners and staff are actively involved in various committee activities of the local chamber of commerce, including health care issues, legislative initiatives, etc. in support of local businesses.

Our work also goes beyond that of the local business economy. We feel very strongly about supporting local charities, as well. Our employees have chosen to adopt the Allentown Rescue Mission as a key benefactor of our charitable initiatives.

We have created a fun dress-down Friday in the office whereby everyone contributes cash as a fee for wearing casual clothing to work. The fund is matched by the firm, and all proceeds are forwarded to the Rescue Mission. … Our employees have also volunteered their valuable time to this worthy organization.

Our firm also recognizes the importance of the men and women in blue who serve to protect us downtown every day. As such, the firm donated a brand new, fully equipped police bicycle to the Allentown Police Department.

LVB: What does the future look like for Regan, Levin, Bloss, Brown & Savchak PC? Does it have plans for growth?

Levin: Our firm is committed to the development of our employees. We have many long-tenured staff members who we have trained in our firm culture and we believe represent the future of our organization.

We continue to grow organically every year through the addition of new clients as well as providing additional services to our existing clientele.

Our partners have also expressed the interest in growing through acquisition. Just recently, we completed the acquisition of Stroudsburg-based Ruch and McCoy PC and merged their staff into our existing Stroudsburg location.

The nature of our business is becoming more complex with each passing year. New tax laws and government regulations of business enterprises combined with continued growth in the sheer quantity of financial accounting and reporting standards have made it extremely difficult for a small practitioner to remain compliant today.

Thus, we have seen significant consolidation in our industry as smaller firms are merging into larger organizations. We are always interested in looking at opportunities to expand through acquisition and hope to continue to do so in the coming years.

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Christopher Holland

Christopher Holland

Christopher Holland is a researcher for Lehigh Valley Business and blogs on arts and entertainment in the region.

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