This interview is part of Meet Our Tax Experts, a series where we’ll hear from Ardius CPAs about how they discovered Ardius and why they’re passionate about R&D tax credits for small businesses.
Last year, we were lucky to have Christina Ahn bring her fifteen years of experience working on R&D tax credits to Ardius. After a decade at Deloitte and KPMG, Christina struck out to found her own firm that helped startups and small companies with R&D tax credits, then joined us here. Read on to learn why she is energized by providing small businesses the same service and expertise that large companies get.
Let’s start at the beginning: did you always know you wanted to be an accountant?
I’ve always been detail oriented and liked working with numbers, so this is the right field for me! I also really enjoy being a consultant and advisor – communicating with clients closely and offering advice that will have a direct impact on their business. It’s rewarding to know that my work helps them get a cash benefit and potentially make long-term financial strategy changes.
Tell us a bit about your background and how you discovered Ardius.
My whole career has been focused on R&D credits, starting with five years at Deloitte, then five at KPMG. When the tax law changed in 2017, the R&D credit became available to all startups – but no one was there to help them apply. I decided to open a small firm called Pinecone41 to support some friends who owned a startup. I grew my business and spent four and a half years there.
Joshua Lee, Ardius’ founder, and I met through mutual friends in January 2021 and quickly discovered that we have a common philosophy around the R&D credit. Because of our experience, we’re able to streamline the entire process, making it easy for busy startup founders to claim the credit and get the right amount with the right documentation. Big accounting firms have huge teams to offer clients this kind of support. Small companies need that expertise too!
I joined Ardius in August 2021 as a CPA and R&D credit expert, knowing that Joshua and I brought everything we learned working at large accounting firms with us here.
What made Ardius stand out to you from other firms or opportunities?
I chose Ardius for two reasons: the foundational values that Joshua and I share, and the Ardius team. Everyone here is cheerful, smart, easy to work with and supportive. I knew we could survive multiple tax seasons together!
Why is the work Ardius is doing important?
What stands out about Ardius is that we genuinely care about our clients and the benefits they receive. We don’t give clients simple guidance and send them off to figure out the application process on their own. Instead, our technology makes the application process much faster and easier than it typically is and we stay connected to them through the end – when they receive a tax credit from the IRS. This is an uncommon approach in the industry.
We truly believe the R&D tax credit is the most powerful tax benefit for small companies. It matters to give clients the best service and help them with the details, like ensuring they have the right documentation and receive the highest credit they’re eligible for.
What does that look like in practice for Ardius customers?
Cash benefits are extremely valuable for startups’ and small companies’ daily operations. We want all of our clients to get them the accurate benefit they deserve. Our approach is based on that goal, customized to each client and focused on supporting them throughout the entire process.
Our team’s expertise and technology are the secret sauce that make this easy and fast for clients. We have a combined 100+ years of experience working at the Big Four tax firms, and our automated software reduces the traditionally labor intensive work that goes into calculating credits.
What interests or passions do you pursue outside of work?
I’m a working mom, so I value time with my kids and family. We used to love traveling all over the world, but we’re limiting that for now. Movies are also a big part of my free time, and I’m watching a lot these days! Before each Academy Awards, I watch every Best Picture nominee, predict which ones will win and grade my predictions afterward
Are you looking for a partner to navigate the R&D tax credit process with? Get in touch with us!