I was born into a musical family and grew up on the banks of the Detroit River. My parents dreamed of seeing me perform in musical theater on Broadway. To be truthful, I was more of an entertainer than a musician. The class clown, I was usually the emcee for skit night at my high school. You know the type, the guy who puts his tie on inside-out just to get a laugh. I loved music, but it didn’t feel right for me as a career, so I gave up the stage to follow my true dream – to become an accountant. This is kind of the opposite from the way the story usually goes, but it is my story.
After receiving some great corporate experience at McKesson and Ross Stores, and a little CPA time with Deloitte and Touche, I opened my own accounting practice. That was back in 1985. I had 7 clients that year. By 2004, my practice had grown to over 1,000 clients and I was doing workshops, teaching at UC Berkeley, writing newspaper columns, and publishing my own newsletter. I think my success was at least partially due to my ability to make the tax preparation process entertaining. Would that be called Taxtainment?
In 2004, I decided to leave my practice and go back to Michigan to be near my elderly mother. It was an honor and a privilege to be a part of the last five years of her life. During that period, I worked for a CPA firm in Michigan, and then, later, another one in Santa Rosa when I moved back in 2010 after mom passed away. Now, I am fully settled and have started the practice-building process over again.
During my career, I’ve prepared about 15,000 tax returns and been to over 200 IRS audits, and I have all the education and credentials to handle the most complicated tax issues. I consider it the highest, sacred responsibility to prepare a tax return and to defend it before the IRS – this is my true calling. I also have the ability to explain the tax law in simple terms and apply common sense in its application. I don’t just prepare tax returns, I strive to provide tax and accounting guidance and illumination while providing a feeling of comfort and safety.
I have one very important standard for accepting new clients: you must be a nice person.
Here are some highlights from my chronology:
1964-1966 Clarinetist, Interlochen Arts Academy – played in Carnegie Hall at age 15.
1966-1971 Music History/Journalism major at University of Michigan
1971-1973 FirstClarinetist, US Army Band, Chicago and Indianapolis
1975 – BA in Psychology from University of Illinois
1977 – Passed the CPA exam, scored 2nd place in California
1978 – MBA in Accounting from Golden Gate University
1985 – Founded Kirby Financial Group
1987 – Became a Certified Management Accountant, scored 3rd Place nationwide
1988 – Became an Enrolled Agent and Certified Financial Planner
2005-2009 Tax Manager at Renaissance Financial Group in Ann Arbor, MI
2010-2013 Tax Manager at Montgomery Taylor CPA in Santa Rosa, CA
2014 – Founder of Rob Kirby, CPA in Santa Rosa, CA