Accounting isn’t about only numbers, Nicholas Harrison says. It’s about problem-solving for his clients, and understanding “what they’re struggling with, what’s keeping them up at night, what their challenges are.”
Harrison, who became a partner at 35, provides tax consulting and compliance services for large and midsized companies in industries such as manufacturing and distribution, financial services and retail.
He also puts his problem-solving mind to work for the public good. As a member of the Virginia Society of Certified Public Accountants’ Tax Advisory Committee, Harrison meets with legislators to advocate for tax law reforms that benefit businesses and people. “Nobody enjoys paying taxes too much,” Harrison says, “but we try to make it less painful.”
In 2015, Harrison and other society staff lobbied to repeal the debit card mandate: a law passed in 2012 that replaced income-tax refund checks with debit cards. The law had good intentions, Harrison says, but “there were just some unforeseen hiccups in the execution.” Some recipients, particularly elderly and low-income Virginians, were unable to use the cards, or had to pay unnecessary fees. Harrison and his team succeeded in getting a bill passed to once again allow paper refund checks.
Harrison serves on the board of the society’s education foundation, which gives scholarships to deserving students who are pursuing accounting degrees. One recent recipient was a veteran who was injured while serving overseas and was struggling with both post-traumatic stress disorder and mounting student debt.
“He was almost ready to give up on the program,” Harrison says, “until he found out he had been awarded one of our scholarships.”
Harrison also serves on the board of the Community Tax Law Project, a nonprofit that assists low-income Virginians with payment negotiations and tax appeals. He’s active with Hope Church, and he sits on the development committee for the Children’s Museum of Richmond. Even as his three daughters have grown older, he says of the museum, “we knew that it would keep being part of our family.”