Pro Spotlight: Luke Tingey on Having the Outdoors as an Escape, Transitioning Careers, and the Benefits of Taxfyle’s Platform
Meet Luke, a devoted family man and passionate outdoorsman from Arizona. His priority is his wife and two young boys, aged three and one, who bring joy to every moment. Luke finds solace and clarity in the great outdoors, especially in the mountains of northern Arizona, where his family has a cherished property. This love for nature and hunting has been passed down through generations, making it a cherished heritage.
Luke's professional journey is a unique blend of accounting and law. Inspired by his father, a partner at a big-four accounting firm, Luke became a CPA. Taxfyle's platform played a pivotal role in Luke's life. Introduced to it three years ago during law school, it provided him with flexible opportunities to balance work, education, and family. Now, as a practicing attorney and CPA, Taxfyle continues to be a valuable resource, offering diverse tax issues that enhance Luke's expertise and flexibility, aligning with his goal of achieving financial success while maintaining a fulfilling family life.
Q: What is is that you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Luke: I think first and foremost, I love my family. I'm married and have two little boys. They're three years old and one year old. And they kind of are the center of everything that I do. I love being able to get home and spend time with them, wrestle them, and rough them up a little bit they're just so fun to play with, and so any anytime I get to spend with them is time well spent.
Outside of that, I'm an outdoorsman, I like hunting and fishing, and riding horses. So I spend a lot of time out in the mountains hiking around any chance I get I can I'm trying to leave town and get up into cooler weather it gets really hot here in Arizona in the summers and so I like to spend a lot of time in the mountains where it's a little bit cooler.
Q: How did you develop that love of being in the outdoors?
Luke: My family owns some property in northern Arizona and so I remember growing up we would spend almost all summer up there and as little kids with a whole bunch of cousins we would just play there all summer. So I think that's where it all started my love for being up there and then as I got older and I started to drive, and I got my own truck I started to realize that I could venture out even farther than the within where the cabin was and go into the national forests and look for animals and look for streams and lakes to fish at and so I think it all started from there and as I've gotten older I've got into it even more and look forward to someday being able to share that with my kids.
Q: What one of those memories from when you were young and experiencing the outdoors with your family that you hold dear and you want to want your songs to be able to experience as well?
Luke: Yeah, I remember my first Big Game Hunt. I was 10 years old. That's the first age that you're legally allowed to hunt here in Arizona and I went out with my mom and dad surprised my mom even came out with us she's not a big outdoorsman. But she came with us and I was able to be successful on a hunt I remember it not even the I remember the the hug that I gave my dad after I realized that I had been successful. It wasn't a hug of “Oh, I'm so excited to have gotten this cow elk” but “I'm so excited that I got to do it with my mom and dad” with him being right there next to me and so as I look forward to my kids growing up, I'm not so much as excited as being successful on a hunt as I am about sharing those memories with my kids and getting that same hug from my sons.
Q: How did your family start getting into the outdoors and even before you were walked running around, you know establishing that foundation of wanting to be out in nature?
Luke: It comes from my great, great, great grandpa, I believe he homesteaded that property. And so it's just kind of filtered down through each one of the generations where there's a tradition of going up there and spending time away from the city and getting away from everything that I think has been passed down through each of the generations in our family. And it's got to me and it continues to spread even bigger and and wider amongst all the cousins and an extended family that I have It's just, I think it's our heritage that that makes it special for us.
Q: When you're out in nature what emotions does that evoke?
Luke: I think it brings a sense of clarity, there's so much distraction and so many, so many different things competing for our attention when we're at work. And here in the city, we have our phones, we have computers, we have TV, just so many things competing for our attention. And when you go up there, a lot of times you won't have service, you don't have the luxuries of life. You're dirty, you're tired, you don't have everything at your disposal, but I think it brings because of that, you get to focus a little bit more on yourself, on your relationships, and the things that you have in front of you versus what you could potentially go out and occupy yourself with when you're here in the city. And so I enjoy that aspect where I get to feel peace and kind of clarity and be grateful for the things that I do have when I'm out there.
Q: How does it feel to be able to share that experience with your sons?
Luke: It's fantastic. And granted, they're three years old and one year old, they don't really know the difference yet, I'm sure they will eventually. But yeah, just getting to play with them and spend time with them without the distraction of my phone in my pocket or my laptop at my desk just competing for my attention, I get to devote 100% of that attention to them.
Q: Because they're younger What do you do to be able to get them to experience the outdoors while accommodating you know better than being you know three and one years old?
Luke: Yeah, it's hard to go out and do the major big game hunting that I have to go out and do by myself. I'm not gonna go take him on a five-mile hike, or I'm not going to take him overnight for a couple of days at a time. It's in little spurts. But luckily, the property that we have up there, there's there's animals everywhere, there's lakes everywhere that we can go fish at. And so it doesn't take much to get them out there. I try to bring them along with me as we go on. rides on the side by side and on quads. I try to bring them with me as we go feel feed the horses and all the animals that are up there. So just a little spurts of involvement that they get in what I get to do hopefully plants the seed and helps them develop a love for it. The same love for it that I have.
Q: What do you like to fish for?
Luke: You know, here in Arizona, there's not a ton of fishing to do. up in northern Arizona, there's a lot of stocked lakes with trout that they grow at the fisheries. Some of my favorite fishing is to fly fishing on the Black River. It's an eastern Arizona. But it's not a huge stream. But and the fish aren't very big either. But it's really fun to get in there and fly fish for those, those trout that they plant in there.
Q: what's your favorite fly to use and what weight rod do you use?
Luke: You know, I'm going to I'm going to admit that I'm more of a hunter than I am a fisher. So I don't even know outside of the very basics of fly fishing. I wouldn't be able to even tell you what wait Rob I have now if we got into the hunting stuff, I'd be able to go down to the very minut details of that kind of stuff. But fishing I don't really know.
Q: What do you usually have to do to prepare for a Big Game Hunt?
Luke: Cool so there's a lot of scouting involved. Usually, well, let me back up even farther than that, at the beginning of the year, at least here. Out West, there's not a huge number of game as compared to Midwest and back East. And so we actually have to apply in kind of a lottery type system, which with each State Department. And so, starting in February and March, we have To start thinking about where we want to apply, and which species we want to hunt, and when, just in the hopes that we get drawn. And then once you actually do get a tag, if you're lucky enough to get drawn out of the lottery system, then you know what date and time and location you'll be hunting. And then that's when you start to make plans to go out there a couple months before, figured out the road systems, figure out where the animals might be, how to get access. And so you're just looking and especially here in Arizona, one of the things you're looking for is where's all the water because we're so limited in water, you go find which tanks are filled in which tanks are dry. Where's the feed, where's it been raining, and where is there some better feed and other places. So just things like that I go on long hikes to kind of figure all of that out. And that's all done before the hunt even starts. And then once the hunt comes around, then you're in a better position, you know exactly where to start. Start your hunt.
Q: When did you first feel comfortable being able to take on a hunt on your own without the help of your father or grandfather?
Luke: Know it's pretty early on, as soon as I got my own truck when I was 16 years old, I got my first little, little truck and I spent all summer and all fall just driving these little back roads trying to figure it out. It wasn't long after that, that I felt comfortable going out probably when I was 17 or 18, I would feel comfortable going on a weekend camping by myself and taking on a hunt by myself.
Q: How did you feel on your first successful trip on your own when you're able to kind of come home and be like I did this you know it's all Luke's game?
Luke: Oh, that was a great feeling. I remember what it was it was it was actually not in northern Arizona. So I actually got a tag to hunt have Alina. And here in Arizona, I'm not sure if people across the country are familiar with what a have a Lena is it's kind of like a desert pig. And I got one of those tags for down here in the desert. And went out all by myself took the quad and got way back in there and eventually was successful on the first evening of the hunt all by myself. And I and I remember thinking this is it, I did it myself, it was the greatest feeling I had no one to share it with. But I was okay with that. Because I know I had some personal satisfaction with with with being successful by myself. So that was the start of it all and then it just snowballed from there and haven't looked back since.
Q: Besides the obvious difference being by yourself and having companions with you, what are some differences when you go out hunting on your own versus when you bring along someone else?
Luke: Yeah, there's a lot of camaraderie that you miss. When you're by yourself for sure. I think when I'm by myself, I treat it as kind of a personal goal that I set. And it's more of work than it is a vacation or something fun to do. It's almost like I I treated as an I'm going to put in the work to accomplish this goal. And it's not going to be fun, I'm going to be by myself, physically, it's going to be more demanding because I have to do but do it by myself. So there's a different mentality there. Whereas when you go with your friends, you're having a great time you're joking along the way. There's some additional tactics that you can use when you hunt with a party that you wouldn't be able to use just hunting by yourself and so you can be a little bit more successful or increase your chances for success in that regard. So yeah, there's a little bit difference in mentality but I enjoy both of them though.
Q: So to pivot to your career, what was it that encouraged you to get into accounting in the first place?
Luke: So my dad is a partner at one of the big four accounting firms. He he doesn't really have any family members that that put him on that career path. But watching him as I grew up, kind of led me in that direction. I think him and I have a lot of similar qualities and characteristics and strengths that eventually led me to go into accounting I originally wanted to go to medical school. That didn't really work out because I, when my first day on the job in the ER, I passed out when I got the first sight of blood. And so I quickly pivoted to accounting, and realized that was a better path for me. But yeah, my dad was definitely kind of pushing me in that direction.
Q: All right what are some of those qualities that you shared with your dad?
Luke: I think the ability, and this goes back a little bit to hunting as well, the ability to just work by yourself, and figure things out by yourself is one of the qualities that I have, I don't going through school, I never went to the group study sessions, I like to just do it myself. And I think he saw that in me, and my ability to go figure out problems without having to ask a whole bunch of questions to other people as a good quality to have when when you're trying to figure out accounting and tax issues.
Q: What are some of the qualities of accounting that you felt comfortable making a career out of?
Luke: One of the things that I that brought me towards accounting is, and especially tax preparation, is the ability to scale a tax firm. I enjoy tax and I enjoy the conceptual problems that often need to be solved when you're working through tax issues. But I'm also unapologetically financially motivated, and I want to make money and I want to eventually be able to make a lot of money without doing as much work as I did in the beginning of my career. And so the ability to scale tax preparation, being able to hire somebody to do the groundwork, and then to be a supervisor or manager was attractive to me. And I see a great opportunity to do that in the tax and accounting field.
Q: How does the Taxfyle’s platform help you reach your desired financial goals?
Luke: You know, it offers me I'm still in that initial stage, relatively of doing the groundwork myself to learn and have enough experience to eventually get to be a manager and a supervisor. And so Taxfyle has been really helpful in exposing me to a lot of different tax issues and different scenarios that taxpayers may have. In other CPA firms that I've worked at, you get kind of pigeonholed into one specific type of taxpayer, and you only see a limited number of issues. Whereas Taxfyle, every client is different. And I get exposed to all the different problems that different taxpayers run into. And so I think it's helped me build that foundation that's going to allow me to be a better supervisor and manager.
Q: When did you first hear of Taxfyle’s platform?
Luke: I first heard of Taxfyle about three years ago. I actually left public accounting after a year and decided I wanted to go back to law school. And during my first year of law school, I made a friend who was also a CPA and we were trying to figure out how we were going to make enough money to get by as students and he found Taxfyle and introduced it to me. And we ran with it that spring. And it's been heaven-sent for both of us. So that introduction to Taxfyle really allowed me to support me and myself and my family throughout school it's been it's been an awesome blessing.
Q: How did Taxfyle help you out while you were at law school?
Luke: It was fantastic simply because I could do it at my own time. I could do returns in the morning, in between classes, and in the evenings and not have to cater my schedule my school schedule in any way to my work schedule. I got to take all the classes that I needed to in school because I wasn't worried about planning around work Taxfyle allowed me to do it at my own pace.
Q: And now that you're out of law school, how does the flexibility that Taxfyle’s platform allows help you out with your current goals?
Luke: In a lot in a very similar ways to how it helped me through law school at home is helps me here at work because I can do my legal work during the day and your normal nine to five. And then before work after work and on the weekends, I can pick up Taxfyle jobs, and still continue to make money that way. And so I'm the same, the same benefit of scheduling that I had during law school is applicable now.
Q: And how does having that flexibility help when it comes to being able to maintain that balance of earning money but spending quality time with your family?
Luke: Yeah, I mean, it provides me all the flexibility in the world I, I can be working on a return with my kids right there. And if I need to, I can pick up in and play with them for a little bit. It's been, it absolutely facilitates that in the same way that it facilitates me spending time with my family. It allows me to run up to the cabin and spend time in the outdoors. without being tied to any sort of schedule, that I need to clock in and clock out. It allows me the flexibility to do that as well.
Q: What was your career in public accounting like before you decided to go to law school?
Luke: I was only there for a year. And it was it wasn't the same. It wasn't what I really was really expecting. I was hoping to, to get a lot of exposure with different groups in public accounting, and get some experience and decide which which route I wanted to go. That wasn't really the case. Like I mentioned before, I got pigeonholed into one specific group that did a lot of REITs. And so that's all I learned in the year that I was there. And I learned about that pretty well. But I wasn't able to get exposed to the variety of of different tax issues that might come up. And so it was great. But I definitely wanted to get out of there and get more exposure to a variety of different things.
Q: What was it about becoming a lawyer that you thought was the best transition for where you want your career to go?
Luke: So I'll back up. And when I did my master's in tax program, there was one class that we took that was about succession planning, and it was about how to help business owners transition from owning a company to either selling it to a third-party buyer or transitioning to their family, and doing so in a tax efficient way. And the whole goal of the class was to teach us how to use how to do that and how to use tax-efficient vehicles and a lot of them with trust. And so I walked out of that class thinking, “Hey, I like doing that type of tax work much more than I enjoy being behind an Excel spreadsheet.” And so after being in public accounting for a year and being behind an Excel spreadsheet for so long, I eventually made the choice to go back to law school so that I could do more of that work that I had experienced. And in that last class of up my master's in tax program. And now that's exactly what I do for my job. We do succession planning, a lot of business sales, and I get to advise on all the tax implications of those transactions without having to be behind an Excel spreadsheet all the time.
Q: What is it like being able to leverage the knowledge that you got through earning your CPA license and a realm that is outside of public accounting?
Luke: It absolutely made a world of difference. I don't consider myself smarter than the next guy. I'm pretty average. But it just seems like everybody gravitates towards me and needs my help for one thing or another regardless of what area of law they're working in our firm does is a garden variety firm. All the attorneys do different types of work from family law to probate to estate planning. And it seems like every single one of the attorneys needs me at some point or another. It's And again, it's not because I'm overly smart, it's more so because I speak the language. And I have the ability to communicate with the financial advisors of each one of our clients, whether that be financial advisors or their CPAs, or in a variety of different financial advisors, I can speak to them in a way that other attorneys and their clients can't do. And so I find myself to be very, very valuable in that regard.
Q: From your perspective, what was it like to decide to go back to school and get another degree and start a career from the ground up?
Luke: I wouldn't say that I made a 180-switch. I think, ever since I started down the path of being a CPA, I think that was always in the back of my mind, I go back to the reason I became a CPA in the first place, my dad being a CPA, he's actually attorney as well. And so in the same way that some of the qualities that made him a good CPA, I found in myself, some of the same qualities that make him a good attorney, I found in myself as well, especially the ability to think big picture, think conceptually about what's happening, and not get too bogged down in the details. And so even going through my undergrad and master's program, there was always a hint that I might go to law school. So when I decided to go to law school after being in public accounting, it wasn't a total 180-shift. It was kind of a natural. It was just, I had two potential career routes, I could go down and I eventually picked, pick this one.
Q: How does having your CPA license help you out with your law career?
Luke: One of the big things that I found was really helpful, especially in law school, was the ability to research. I think as CPAs we do more legal research than we think we do. And even in, in public accounting, and in different jobs that I had, I was researching, and trying to figure out how to how to treat a certain transaction or whatever it might be. And we do a lot of research. And that translated very well. When I ended up at law school, I was able to research more effectively, or I guess I should say. I found that research came more naturally to me than it did for other students. So that was a great kind of gave me a leg up as I started school over other students.
Q: How common is it for there to be lawyers that have another kind of specialty license like your CPA license?
Luke: There's not very many, definitely a minority of attorneys have some type of other specialization. I think, in my law school of around 300 students, I can think of maybe four or five, that were CPAs, I can think of another four or five that that were doctors or had other type of medical or natural science background. There's not a lot of them. And I think that actually is really, really valuable as an attorney, because you have a whole different perspective and experience that you can leverage versus most students who go through their undergrad and get a pretty basic undergraduate degree. That is a natural funnel to law school, but I think being able to leverage my experience in something totally separate is really valuable.
Q: How does Taxfyle’s platform help you be able to still use your tax knowledge but at a broader scope?
Luke: Yeah, again, Taxfyle has an interesting setup to where you're gonna get taxpayers from all different with a whole bunch of different issues. There's not one steady stream, not one steady referral source that clients are coming from. They're coming from all over the place. And so I think what I was able to take away from public accounting was that I think I think having worked in public, I think having worked in public accounting was helpful because it, it showed me that it's okay not to know everything, there's no possible way that I was going to know as much as the seniors and the managers and the partners. And I just got comfortable knowing that I didn't know everything, and they were always encouraging to go figure it out. And that's what I ended up doing for the year that I was in public accounting. In the same way, when I transitioned over to Taxfyle, I wasn't overly concerned with not knowing everything. I was by myself, a sole practitioner, helping those clients that I picked up from Taxfyle. But it didn't bother me too much. Because I knew that I didn't know everything, and I ended I could go figure it out. And so that was helpful to have learned from public accounting, and it makes it a lot less stressful.
Q: What aspects of tax falls platform Do you appreciate the most?
Luke: I think one of the things I really enjoy is the outsourcing acts aspect of it. There's the workspace where you can pick up clients who are just by themselves, but there's also the ability to to get on certain platforms with one single CPA firm. And I think that has been a really cool opportunity just because everything is streamlined. And I can sit down and knock out a couple returns at a time with the same system, the same work papers, and the same kind of set of checklists that the CPA firms looking for. So that has been really helpful. I like both. I like picking up individual clients, helping them through their issues. But I also like sitting down and just knocking out a couple returns at a time. So that's one of my favorite aspects of Taxfyle.
Q: For people who transitioned away from public accounting, how can Taxfyle’s platform still help them?
Luke: Yeah, in the same way that I was kind of pigeon holed for a little bit. My guess is there's other CPAs in public accounting, who are in that same boat. Taxfyle can absolutely help you get exposed to, to new issues. I've definitely found new things that I had to go figure out by myself. But it presented me those issues and those research opportunities in a way that wasn't overly stressful. They're a little bit smaller clients, that there wasn't so many moving parts. There was just one specific issue that I had to go research. So I think it can absolutely provide CPAs the opportunity to start to develop that skill of researching and figuring things out for themselves.