GGU Seminar Series Addresses Cryptocurrency, Business Analytics, Sexual Harassment, and Other Timely Subjects

The Ageno School of Business is offering Innovation in Practice, a seminar series that covers timely, interdisciplinary, and applied topics. All currently registered Ageno School of Business graduate students who take at least one in-person class are required to register for, and participate in, one of these seminars. Seminars are also available via ZOOM online conferencing. The sessions are open to GGU undergraduates and alumni as well. Graduate students have priority for registrations, but space is limited for each seminar.

Innovation in Practice Seminars

Speechless: “Improv” Your Way to Great Presentations!

Thursday, April 19, 2-4pm

Speechless, San Francisco’s renowned improv performance group, offers interactive, on-your-feet training combines improv, stand-up comedy, and storytelling to fuel its PowerPoint show. The Speechless mission is to make public speaking more fun and less scary for everyone — and also train corporate presenters to be more creative and persuasive in delivering presentations. The Presenter-as-Performer Philosophy and improvisation techniques encourage participants to find their voice, tell their story, and go public! This seminar will conclude with Speechless’ hilarious signature PowerPoint contest that will leave you laughing and thinking about your newly acquired skills. Speechless has trained some of the biggest and brightest companies in the world including Google, Adobe, LinkedIn, eBay, Microsoft, Salesforce, Zynga, and Twitter.

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Intellectual Property in Marketing: Overview and Recent Controversies

Thursday, April 19, 4:00-5:30 pm

GGU Law Professor Bill Gallagher will present an overview of intellectual property principles — including trademarks, patents, copyrights, and trade secrets — with an emphasis on those of interest to marketing and new product development. The session will include a discussion of recent issues and controversies. Hosted by Blodwen Tarter, Professor and Chair of GGU’s Marketing and Public Relations Department.

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Storytelling Techniques for Interviews and Networking with Dave Collins

Thursday, April 19 6:30-8:30 pm

Award-winning coach, improviser, and strategist Dave Collins will guide you in how to apply the art of storytelling techniques to create lasting, positive impressions for interviews and networking. This interactive workshop will use improv and experiential skill-building to develop best practices for talking about yourself, your skills, and engage any audience in any circumstance.

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Returns with a Conscience: How Social Responsibility Impacts Investment

Monday, April 23, 12-1:30 pm

In a world of climate change, diversity, and gun control controversies, investing with an eye for social responsibility is becoming a higher priority for many people. While some believe that limiting a portfolio to “ethical” investments results in lower returns, others argue that strong ethics enhance value for companies and their investors. Explore how you might earn returns without sacrificing your moral compass from Sonya Hetrick (pictured), Sector Analyst at the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB), and Billy Hwan, Portfolio Manager at Parnassus Investments. The event will be moderated by David Kaczorowski, Academic Program Manager and Professor of Finance at GGU.

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Strategic Play with LEGO® Bricks: Building Corporate Social Responsibility

Monday, April 23, 4-6 pm

Did you create your own world when playing with LEGOs? Then you must join this hands-on workshop with artist and GGU professor Walt Stevenson! Participants will explore major contemporary practices of corporate social responsibility while building a model of society with LEGOs. Using state-of-the-art LEGO SERIOUS PLAY® methods for critical thinking, this session will explore the complex and dynamic relationships created by a pluralism-based society and government in our free market economy. LEGO SERIOUS PLAY methods are based on hand-brain connection research done by the LEGO Group.  Presenter Walt Stevenson is a Professor of Management and Communications at GGU, emphasizing critical thinking, business context, and interactive learning. He holds an AB in English from UC Berkeley and MBA and DBA degrees from GGU. He is a qualified MBTI facilitator and an approved LEGO SERIOUS PLAY facilitator. He is a Colleague and Distinguished Leader of the Creative Education Foundation.

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Protecting San Francisco’s Future: The Seawall Fortification Bond

Monday, April 23, 4-6:30 pm

This is a fascinating case study evolving in real-time for all student and professional PMI and ITMs. Tyrone Navarro, the Principal Administrative Analyst for the Port of San Francisco (and President of the Board of Directors of Project Management Institute, San Francisco Chapter) will discuss the facts and challenge of the Seawall Fortification Bond. Did you know that the Port of San Francisco is responsible for maintaining more than seven miles of City of San Francisco waterfront, including the three-mile-long seawall that protects it? The Seawall, from Fisherman’s Wharf to Mission Creek, will require billions of dollars over the next three decades to make it resilient to a major earthquake and combat sea level rise. This is a major planning and public outreach effort, as voters will need to be convinced to pass the initial $350 million bond measure this fall.

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Blockchain and Initial Coin Offerings: An Introduction

Monday, April 23, 6-7:30 pm

FinTech, cryptocurrencies, initial coin offerings (ICO), and digital wallets have been hot topics in the popular press. These terms are associated with “digital assets” that are disrupting financial services in the 21st century and changing the way the world does business. Blockchain is the software technology underlying these changes. This seminar is an opportunity to learn from industry expert, Patrick Baron, CEO of Ambisafe Financial Services and a Member of the Board of Directors of Among his many activities, Patrick is an Adjunct Instructor of Blockchain at the FinTech School, an advisor to UC Berkeley’s student-led blockchain group, and a frequent presenter of blockchain workshops for corporate executives.

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Creating a Culture of Respect in the Workplace

Tuesday, April 24, 12-1:30 pm

No doubt you have been following #Metoo and #Timesup movement. Dr. Marianne Koch, Associate Dean and Director of GGU’s Human Resource Management Department, has been interviewing HR managers about challenges and best practices concerning sexual harassment at work and how to end it. She will discuss the preliminary findings of her research into how to end sexual harassment and create a culture of respect in our workplaces. Attendees will have the opportunity to participate in small-group discussions focusing on questions and scenarios of workplace interactions. Short case studies will also be presented followed by debate as to the best ways to approach various situations. This is an important discussion for all employees, regardless of gender identity, who want to work in a shared culture of dignity and mutual respect.

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A Broad View of Cybersecurity

Tuesday, April 24, 4-6pm

According to Homeland Security: “Our daily life, economic vitality, and national security depend on a stable, safe, and resilient cyberspace. Cyberspace and its underlying infrastructure are vulnerable to a wide range of risk stemming from both physical and cyber threats and hazards.” Cybersecurity expert Thomas Overman will provide a review of the development of modern information system security frameworks and implementation guidelines. The framework will be used as a base for group discussions of specific security case studies. Overman has an extensive security background serving in military and civilian areas of cybersecurity, information assurance, system security architectures, and security management. He has taught at the National Security Agency National Cryptology School.

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Running a For-Profit Business as a Force for Social and Environmental Sustainability

Tuesday, April 24, 4-6pm

B CorpJoin Veena Harbaugh and leaders from three local, certified B Corporations® to learn about B Corps and the 170 Bay Area firms that have become certified B Corps. Harbaugh is a Development Associate at B Lab, where she helps aspiring and certified B Corporations become extraordinarily successful and aligned with the principles of a running a sustainable business. A nonprofit organization, B Lab is devoted to driving a global movement that rethinks how businesses are measured.  Through a unique and rigorous assessment process, B Lab audits companies that strive to be both the best in the world and the best for the world — so that they have positive social and environmental impact, organizational transparency, and legal accountability.

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Gig Economy: What is it? What’s It Mean to Me, and What’s Ahead?

Tuesday, April 24, 6:30-8:30 pm

The Gig Economy is here to stay. But what does it mean for workers and organizations? Where did it come from, and why? How are workers best ‘classified’ and managed, and what are the consequences of employee mismanagement? Does the current legal system serve the interests of stakeholders and commerce well? What changes might be ahead? Whether you work for a Bay Area company or you are busy dreaming up the next big thing to replace Uber, this session will inform important choices in your working life. The seminar is presented by Tom Cushing, JD/MBA, a Senior Adjunct Professor at the Ageno School of Business, who teaches employment law, negotiation, and CSR-related courses. As an attorney, corporate executive, legal recruiter, freelancer (“an Adjunct Professor, after all”), he has operated within the evolving structural environment of work throughout his careers.

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Analytics in Sports

Wednesday, April 25, 4-6 pm

Sports Predictive Analytics is used to improve the winning records of athletes and teams, assess their strengths and weaknesses, and build a winning strategy. In this seminar of interest to business students and sports fans, Dr. Ash Pahwa, Ph.D. (pictured) will focus on team rankings and how to predict the winner of a specific game. Pahwa is an educator, author, entrepreneur, and technology visionary with three decades of industry and academic experience. He has founded several successful technology companies during his career, the most recent of which is A+ Web Services. Dr. Pahwa earned his doctorate in Computer Science from the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago. He is listed in Who’s Who in the Frontiers of Science and Technology. He is also a Google Certified Analytics Consultant. His expertise includes search engine optimization, Web analytics, Web programming, digital image processing, database management, digital video, and data storage technologies. The seminar will be hosted by Dr. Siamak Zadeh, GGU Visiting Assistant Professor & Data Scientist.

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Introduction to Ketamine with Dr. Raquel Bennett

Thursday, April 26, 6-8 pm

In a rare opportunity for psychology students and professionals, Dr. Raquel Bennett will be discussing ketamine: a medicine that is primarily used as a surgical anesthetic, but which also has rapid-acting antidepressant properties. Dr. Bennett has been studying the therapeutic effects of ketamine for over 15 years and lectures frequently on this topic. The presentation will describe ways of working with therapeutic ketamine: low-dose infusions, ketamine-facilitated psychotherapy, and psychedelic ketamine journeys. Dr. Bennett will also talk about which patients should or should not have ketamine treatment, and provide resources for finding clinicians who work with this unique medicine. She is the founder of KRIYA Institute and the organizer of the KRIYA Conferences, which is an annual and international event devoted to understanding the use of ketamine in psychiatry and psychotherapy.

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Women Lead at GGU

To honor Women’s History Month, we would like to acknowledge the accomplished women who make a large contribution at GGU. Women are represented at the VP and Dean level — and are well over half of the degree program chairs and directors.

Vice President and Deans

Barbara Karlin
Vice President, Academic Affairs 

Mary Ellen McGillan
VP of Development and Alumni Relations

Kayla Krupnick Walsh
Dean, Student Services

Associate & Assistant Deans

Jessica Bride
Associate Dean, Law Student Support, School of Law

Benedetta Faedi Duramy
Associate Dean for Faculty Scholarship, School of Law

Corey Farris
Associate Dean for Law Career Development, School of Law

Marianne Koch
Associate Dean, Ageno School of Business – Chair, Human Resources Program

Chairs & Directors

Ageno School of Business

Andrea Anthony, Chair, Financial & Economics Department
Jelena Ristic Kelleher, Director of the Undergraduate Experience
Judith Lee, Chair of Business Analytics, Operations, & IT Management
Marcia Ruben
, Chair, Graduate Management Program
Marie Spark, Director, Project Management Program
Blodwen Tarter, Chair, Marketing and Public Relations
Kendra Calvert, Director of Admissions and Recruitment
Cassandra Dilosa, Director of Administration, Graduate Programs
Karen McRobie, Director of Foundations for Academic & Professional Excellence and Director of Academic Integrity
S. Jamila Buckner, Head of Human Resources Department (Administration)

School of Law

Rana Boujaoude, Director, Bar Services Program
Teresa Wal Cyb, Director, Externship Program
Olivera Jovanovic, Director, Graduate Law Programs
Helen Kang, Director, Environmental Law and Justice Clinic
Reichi Lee, Director, Academic Development Program
Fiona McKenna, Director, Legal Writing and Research Program
Kaelyn Romey, Director, Litigation Program
Leslie Rose, Director, Advanced Legal Writing Program
Kimberly Staley, Director, LL.M. Tax and Estate Programs
Hina Shah, Director, Women’s Employment Rights Clinic

Braden School of Taxation

Kathleen Wright, Director of State and Local Tax

Undergraduate Programs

Nabanita Talukdar, Director of Math Programs

Associate & Assistant Directors

Academic Affairs, Student Life, and Wellness Services

Jennifer Carri,  Director, Student Life and Wellness Services
Regina Guerrero, Associate Director for Academic Affairs
Lori Granger, Assistant Director, Wellness Services
Neepa Parikh, Associate Director, Office of Career Services
Sandra Jimenez, Assistant Director, Student Life

GGU also supports the success of its female students with its annual Women in Leadership event. You can watch a video of the 2017 panel discussion, which was hosted by Ageno School of Business Associate Dean Marianne Koch.

Deadline for EMBA Corporate Fellows Scholarship Is Approaching

GGU’s Executive MBA is a demanding, transformative experience. Unlike many other “executive” programs, it is not a spin-off from a traditional MBA for full-time students. The Executive MBA is geared specifically for real-world success.

We’re pleased to announce a Corporate Fellows Scholarship of 50%.
  • Covers 50% EMBA tuition
  • Limited to 15 recipients
  • Cannot be combined with any other grant or scholarship offered by GGU.
To be considered, applicants must:
  • Be employed by a company operating in the United States.
  • Have at least 5 years’ experience managing people, projects, or businesses.
  • Apply to the EMBA program by April 2, 2018.

About the Executive MBA

The EMBA program at GGU is based on more than 115-years of proven success developing and delivering programs for working professionals, and it was designed to leverage the real-world professional experience and knowledge of the EMBA participants with GGU’s renowned active and practice-based learning methods.

As you complete GGU’s 16-month Executive MBA program, you will gain confidence not only from advancing your knowledge of business and leadership concepts, but also from mastering and applying what you learn to boost your professional performance. From day one, you will have the opportunity to connect with a peer group of accomplished, high-energy professionals, in the heart of San Francisco’s thriving business district. You will join an active alumni community that is 68,000-strong, and you will benefit from a network of corporate partnerships and entrepreneurs that GGU has forged for over a century in the center of this world-changing business hub.

More than 80% of EMBA faculty members
are scholar-practitioners.

As a participant in the EMBA program, you will collaborate with and learn from executive coaches and instructors who are influential business leaders and who transform GGU classes into dynamic learning laboratories. More than 80% of EMBA faculty members are scholar-practitioners, and they will constantly challenge you to enhance your business knowledge and hone your leadership skills by solving real, meaningful and practical business problems.

Remember, the deadline to apply to the EMBA program and be considered for the scholarship is April 2, 2018.

GGU Students Reach Finals of Regional CFA Institute Research Challenge

A student team representing Golden Gate University reached the finals of the regional CFA Institute Research Challenge, which attracted undergraduate and graduate schools from across Northern California.  The competition required teams to create a written report and deliver a group presentation to a panel of financial services professionals. Using fundamental analysis of Salesforce, the team offered a recommendation of sell.

GGU’s team was comprised of (pictured above): Quyen Le (MBA, Finance, ’19)  [far left], I-Chang (Tony) Lai (MS Finance, ’18) [second from left], Junjie (Stan) Liu (MS Finance, ’18) [second from right], and Gurpreet Singh (MS Finance, ’18) [far right]. The team was sponsored and led by David Kaczorowski [center], Professor of Finance & Program Manager at GGU, who has experience in the finance industry that spans both academic and industry practice–in both equity research and portfolio management.

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§199A Qualified Business Income Deduction: A Quick Primer

By Fred Sroka, Dean of the GGU School of Accounting & Bruce F. Braden School of Taxation

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) was signed into law on December 22, 2017. It dramatically reduced corporate tax rates, from 35% to 21%. The small business lobby fought this change because it shifted the competitive balance from local businesses (that tend to be sole proprietorships, partnerships or limited liability companies) to big corporations.

To address this, new §199A reduces the tax rate for individuals or trusts on “qualified business income” (QBI). The law was drafted hastily without the usual public hearings. As a result, we all need guidance from IRS or technical corrections from Congress before we can be confident in how this new law will be applied.

  1. §199A Tax Benefit: The new law is designed to reduce tax rates on business income. Rather than create a different tax rate chart, Congress instead created a 20% “QBI deduction.” This approach gives a very favorable result, since it reduces tax at the highest tax bracket. For individuals in the top tax bracket of 37%, a full QBI deduction will reduce tax on business income to 37% * 80% = 29.6%!


As pointed out in the above slide, tax deductions generally impact many tax attributes other than tax calculations. To avoid this, the law specifies that the QBI deduction does NOT affect other tax attributes like the net operating loss (NOL), tax basis or Adjusted Gross Income (AGI). The law also specifies that the QBI deduction can be claimed regardless of whether the taxpayer itemizes deductions, claims the standard deduction, or is subject to the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT). In short, the deduction just lowers your tax!

  1. How does the QBI deduction work? Calculating the QBI deduction is complex. Let’s begin with a “road map” of the calculation.


  • Business Activity: The first step is to determine whether income comes from a business activity, as opposed to an investment activity. The law also excludes foreign business income from the calculation.
  • Compensation for Services: The second step is to determine whether the income represents compensation for the taxpayer’s services.
  • Taxable Income Test: If your taxable income (before any QBI deduction) is under $315,000 (for a joint tax return) or $157,500 (for an individual tax return), you’re done! Simply deduct 20% of the QBI that isn’t treated as compensation. If your taxable income is above these amounts, you must pass through two more hurdles.
  • Specified Service Business Income: The new law denies some or all of the QBI deduction for doctors, lawyers, accountants, and many other professional service providers if their income is above the taxable income test.
  • Wage Limit: The new law limits the QBI deduction for all businesses if the business doesn’t employ enough people (or, as we’ll see, buy enough depreciable property). Again, this limit only applies if you exceed the taxable income test.
  • QBI Deduction: If you make it through the above tests and limits, you are entitled to deduct 20% of your QBI in computing your federal tax!
  1. Business Income: Let’s begin with an exploration of the business income test. Happily, QBI can come from a sole proprietorship, a partnership, LLC or even S corporation. The only business entity which prevents this flow-through is a corporation which pays its own tax under Subchapter C (fittingly called a C corporation).

QBI has some immediate limits on the types of income that qualify. First, the income must come from a domestic business. If a business has operations in a foreign country, the income attributable to foreign operations must be separated and disallowed. Second, the income must be ordinary business income. This means that capital gain, dividend income, interest income (except for business interest paid by customers), and a few other exotic types of income (net of related expense) are disallowed.


Perhaps the greatest challenge in defining QBI is determining whether income constitutes a business. For many years, taxpayers have been afraid of calling an activity a business. Business income is subject to self-employment tax and it generally exposes us to tax in other states or even other countries. TCJA has shifted this balance dramatically. First, investment expenses incurred by individuals (previously deductible under §212) will no longer be deductible starting in 2018. Second, only business income qualifies for the 20% QBI deduction.

What does it take to be a business? In general, the amount of income isn’t important. Instead, the Courts tend to focus on the level of involvement of the owner. If the activity is substantial, systematic and continuous, Courts have considered the activity to be a business. Under this standard, merely renting your house to a relative, or renting a warehouse to an unrelated tenant under a triple-net lease do not rise to the level of a business.

Do we want all our activities to be treated as businesses? Maybe not. First, TCJA has also introduced very liberal cost recovery rules, allowing for immediate write-offs of many purchases of new and used property. If you expect your activity to run at a loss, you might prefer to limit your activities to prevent the loss from offsetting other business income in the computation of the QBI deduction.

  1. Compensation: Compensation for services is also ineligible for the QBI deduction. Thus, any wages that are reported to you on a form W-2 do not qualify. A number of blogs have suggested that employees should simply quit their jobs and ask their boss for a form 1099. Please beware of any advice that sounds too good to be true. To be in your own business, you must control the “manner and mode” in which you do your work. The IRS applies 20 common law factors to decide whether the taxpayer’s classification as an independent contractor makes sense.


Even if you are in your own business, a portion of your income may be treated as compensation for services. §199A(c)(4) excludes any W-2 wages paid to the owner by an S corporation. The statute also disallows QBI deductions for compensation paid by a partnership to a partner if the amount is determined without regard to partnership income. The law does NOT specify other types of income that will be treated as “reasonable compensation”, raising significant questions about the choice of entity in running our businesses.

  • Sole Proprietorships: Curiously, the statute does not explicitly include any portion of income from a sole proprietorship as compensation for services. This seems odd, particularly where the business is itself a service business. Absent future technical corrections or guidance from IRS, most sole proprietors will qualify for the QBI deduction.
  • Partnerships: Partnerships can pay partners a “guaranteed payment” under §707(c), or make very similar payments under §707(a). Both of these are ineligible for QBI. As a result, many partnerships may change their economic terms, reducing any partner’s right to fixed compensation, instead increasing the partners’ share of “bottom line” income. Like sole proprietorships, the statute does not state that these allocations of net profit will be treated as compensation, even if the partnership provides services.
  • S Corporations: Prior law has firmly established that S corporations must pay “reasonable compensation” to shareholders, or else any distributions to the shareholder will be recharacterized as salary. This salary is not eligible for the QBI deduction. As a result, many S corporations may feel that they are at a disadvantage compared to other forms of business entities. Before precipitously changing away from S corp status, taxpayers should consider other factors:
    • IRS only forces S corp shareholders to recognize compensation income if they actually take money out of the business. As a result, if the profits of an S corp are retained within the business for growth, the statute appears to allow for full QBI deduction.
    • Before changing from an S corporation to any non-corporate form of business entity, owners should be VERY concerned about the tax impact of liquidating the corporation. Liquidation of any corporation (C or S) triggers gain on the appreciation in all corporate assets. Even a small service business likely has substantial value in its trade name and goodwill. The tax cost of liquidating a small service S corporation can be devastating.
    • Finally, shareholders in an S corporation benefit from a glitch in the “Net Investment Income” (NII) rules of §1411. If the shareholder “materially participates” in the business (meaning works over 500 hours per year) and receives reasonable compensation for services, then any residual income allocated to the shareholder on the form K-1 likely escapes both the 3.8% SE tax and the 3.8% NII tax. TCJA failed to close this obvious gap between the SE and NII taxes. As a result, S corp shareholders may prefer to give up the 7% QBI benefit on their salary if the 3.8% benefit on distributions is substantially larger.
  1. Taxable Income Test: We now know what income meets the definition of QBI. The next step is to determine whether any limits apply to the QBI deduction. This is based on the taxable income (including income from all sources, not merely the one business) excluding only the QBI deduction itself.


If your taxable income (before the QBI deduction) does not exceed $157,500 on a single return, or $315,000 on a joint return, then you are not subject to any further limits. You simply multiply your QBI by 20%, and that’s your QBI deduction.

Conversely, if your taxable income is over $207,500 on a single return, or $415,000 on a joint return, you are fully subject to the “Specified Service” and “Wages” limitations. As explained below, this wipes out any QBI benefit for Specified Services, and limits the benefit if the business does not pay sufficient W-2 wages.

The taxable income limits phase in gradually between the above floor and ceiling. For a joint return, every $1,000 of taxable income over the $315,000 floor results in an additional 1% of the limits being applied, so that fully 100% of the limits apply once your income hits $415,000. Single taxpayers increasingly are limited by 1% for every $500 their income exceeds the $157,500 floor.

  1. Specified Service Business Test: If your taxable income is below the above limits, then it doesn’t matter what business or profession you are in. However, if you are over the limit, then a portion of your QBI from certain service businesses will be limited.


Which businesses are specified? To begin with, most licensed professionals (doctors, lawyers, accountants, etc.) are specified. Curiously engineers and architects were removed from the list of specified businesses shortly before enactment. In addition to licensed professionals, artists, consultants, and athletes are considered “specified.”

A separate category of specified business involves financial services. Bankers, stock brokers, investment advisers, and dealers are all treated as specified.

One final category of specified service is any business where “the principal asset of such trade or business is the reputation or skill of 1 or more of its employees.” This category comes from the “Qualified Small Business Stock” rules contained in §1202. Sadly, there is little case law to interpret how reputation or skill of an individual is measured as an asset of the business.

  1. Wages Test: If your taxable income is below the taxable income limits discussed above, then it doesn’t matter how much you pay in W-2 wages. However, if you are over the limit, then your QBI deduction may be limited. The purpose of the limit is to restrict the §199A benefit to those businesses who create jobs. However, pressure from the real estate industry created a secondary test, which measures a combination of wages paid and depreciable property used in the business.


  • Wages: The basic limit is 50% of the amount of wages paid and reported on form W-2 for the current tax year. The statute does not exclude wages paid to the owner, though as explained above these wages will not themselves be eligible for the QBI deduction.
  • Wages and Property: The alternate test includes 25% of wages, plus 2.5% of the “unadjusted basis” of tangible depreciable property used in the business. The property must be held in the business at the end of the year, must have been used in the business during the year, and cannot be fully depreciated AND more than 10 years old. The term “unadjusted basis” is unclear. IRS Pub 946 states that unadjusted basis of property is the purchase price reduced by any “bonus depreciation” under §168(k) or expensed under §179. §199A(b)(2)(B)(ii) uses the term “unadjusted basis immediately after the acquisition of all qualified property.” It is possible (but not certain) that the QBI deduction will face greater limits if §168(k) bonus depreciation or §179 expensing is elected.

The impact of the wages limit is complex. Let’s assume that Ann’s QBI is $100,000, but she only paid $10,000 in W-2 wages and doesn’t have depreciable property.  If her taxable income is under $315,000 (mfj), Ann escapes any limit and her QBI deduction is 20% * $100,000 = $20,000. If Ann’s taxable income is over $415,000, then her QBI deduction is limited to the LESSER of 20% of $100,000 QBI or the $10,000 wages. As a result, Ann’s QBI deduction is only $10,000. Finally, if Ann’s taxable income is $365,000, then she is subject to half the limit—so she gets $15,000 of QBI deduction.

Finally, it is worth noting that a specified business may be subject to a second limitation if taxable income falls between the floor and ceiling amounts. The calculation first disallows a percentage of the specified QBI, and then separately applies the wage limit to QBI and wages reduced by the same percentage.

  1. Special Rules for Losses: What if Ann makes money in one business but loses money in another business? The law requires that she reduce the income from the first business by the amount of loss in the second. If the result is an overall business loss, that loss carries forward to reduce Ann’s QBI deduction in the following year.

Two additional special rules regarding losses have been introduced. First, if a taxpayer has an overall business loss that exceeds $250,000 on a single return ($500,000 on a joint return), that loss is disallowed and carried forward to future years. This prevents large business losses from being offset by large investment income.  Finally, the passive loss limitations of §469 are applied before the computation of QBI, so any net passive losses do not offset income from active businesses.

CONCLUSION: §199A provides a substantial tax benefit for non-corporate businesses and businesses operating through S corporations. However, uncertainty remains on the definitions of business, compensation, and specified businesses. Along with this uncertainty, the new law imposes a complex series of limitations which may reduce the benefit. Finally, taxpayers will not know how to compute their benefit until their taxable income is finally determined, which may not occur until after the end of the tax year.

About Fred Sroka

Fred Sroka, JD is the Dean of the GGU School of Accounting & Bruce F. Braden School of Taxation. Fred Sroka received his JD from UCLA, practiced as a tax lawyer for 18 years, worked as a tax accountant for 18 years, and managed a couple of years as a management consultant! He has been a member of the GGU adjunct tax faculty since 1983, and a member of the tax advisory board. Fred retired from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in 2014 and has served as the Dean of the Bruce F. Braden School of Tax since October 2014.

He holds an active CPA license in California and Colorado and is an inactive member of the California State Bar. Fred and his wife Ronda have two kids (both off in grad school), who provide constant coaching on the world from a millennial student’s perspective. Fred loves to play tennis and golf and is constantly puttering around the house with his tools.

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Acknowledging Women Students for Women’s History Month

Over half of GGU’s undergraduate and graduate students are women. At the GGU School of Law, 64% of first-year law students are women. In honor of Women’s History Month, we’d like to share the stories of a few outstanding students and recent graduates of GGU’s Ageno School of Business.

Tsovinar Yenokyan (MS, Marketing ’18)


Tsovinar started to work at age 16, which was not common in her native country of Armenia, and began what she calls her, “long-lasting relationship with marketing.” Two years later, she took a Brand Manager position at Starcom Mediavest in Armenia.

Each student has an advisor and mine has been helpful in answering questions about student Visas and my curriculum.

More about Tsovinar >>

Quyen Le  (MBA, Finance ‘19) 

student-quyen-sqQuyen Le decided that she wanted to go to business school in San Francisco to get access to the open-minded culture and business opportunities only it can provide. Her participation in the Financial Women of San Francisco (FWSF) organization resulted in her winning its annual scholarship. Quyen now works at GGU where she helps students from overseas apply for a business degree.

I act as tour guide for students from overseas, among other things. Many international students come here alone and so GGU understands that they need help applying and adjusting in the U.S.

More about Quyen >

Zhaoqian (Anna) Zeng (MBA, Supply Chain ’17)

Anna is from China where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Law from Shanghai’s Customs College. After working in import and export operations, she wanted to expand her career. Golden Gate University provided a very comprehensive program in Supply Chain that covered the aspects of operations she found the most interesting: strategy and tactical operations.

San Francisco is a very welcoming place and people from different cultures feel comfortable here. There are young, energetic people here who are absorbing new information every day.

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Amina Kasumov (MBA ’16, Management)

Amina Kasumov wrote about the GGU experience and how it deepened her knowledge of leadership.


“.. the courses are developed to provide valuable knowledge that can be applied to the real-world by evaluating real-world examples such as Uber and Amazon. “

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Significant leadership roles at GGU are occupied by women. More about that in a blog post later this month.


Podcast Interview: Psychology Chair and Eating Disorder Expert Tom Wooldridge

eating-disorders-san-francisco-therapistDr. Tom Wooldridge, Chair of the Department of Psychology at GGU was recently interviewed for the ED Matters Podcast about the psychoanalytic treatment of eating disorders. Wooldridge recently published an edited volume, Psychoanalytic Treatment of Eating Disorders: When Words Fail and Bodies Speak, that brings together contributions from top theorists, researchers, and clinicians. In this discussion, Kathy and Tom discuss some of the fears, stereotypes, and myths about psychoanalysis and tie everything back to the treatment of eating disorders.

Listen to the Podcast >>

In addition to his role at GGU, Wooldridge has a practice in Berkeley where he works with a wide variety of patients using a psychoanalytic approach. “About half of his patients come in with eating disorders or some struggle with body weight and shape,” he says. “I think my professional practice is really important because it gives me real-world experience that I can then fold back into my teaching in the classroom.

The first article Wooldridge wrote was on anorexia nervosa in male populations, published in the journal Eating Disorders: The Journal of Treatment & Prevention. The article – recently chosen as the “Top 25” articles it published over the past 25 years –  became the basis of his first book, Understanding Anorexia Nervosa in Males: An Integrative Approach (published by Routledge).

Related blog post: Teacher, Clinician, and Writer: An Interview with Psychology Chair Dr. Tom Wooldridge.

Be the Fitbit for a Company (and Keep It Healthy!)

The Fitbit is among the over 300 million “wearables” that were sold in 2017 worldwide. This technology provides people with a slew of personal data such as heart rate, number of hours slept, or steps taken. Fitbit’s “Manifesto” states that they are about health, not just extending tech’s obsession with data:

“… fitness is the sum of your life… How you spend your day determines when you reach your goals. And seeing your progress helps you see what’s possible.”

Often I explain accounting services as a “Fitbit for your company.” By this, I mean that you can understand the general health of an enterprise and where it is (or should be going). It’s not a data read-out. If accountants can deliver a Fitbit experience to clients, they will improve the overall health of the company and be a business asset for the future.

Let’s try to extend this analogy a little further and look at some of the Fitbit features and their accounting counterparts:

Fitbit provides a stream of timely information. 

A balance sheet tells you, your company, even your non-profit where you are right now. Traditionally, accounting has measured performance solely in financial terms, but over the past decade, accountants have used the same tools to measure customer satisfaction, employee retention, website performance, security, and national happiness. Think of the balance sheet as the GPS position. It shows you precisely where you are right now, in any dimension.

The number of steps taken. 

Fitbit measures flows, such as the number of steps you’ve taken today. In much the same way, the income statement measures the flows into and out of any organization. The flows can be in dollars, customer loyalty, employee morale, or any number of other dimensions. The income statement provides dynamic information on where an organization is headed, much like a GPS does.

…the art of accounting…lies in helping people and organizations measure performance, plan for success and adapt to an ever-changing world.

Map of Route Taken

Combining the balance sheet and income statement gives us the ability to see where we’ve been, where we are, and how fast we’re moving. It gives us the information we need to set realistic goals and devote the resources needed to get there.

Progress Toward Goals

My wife loves her Fitbit. Last night, she was a little short of her daily goal (10,000 steps). That timely information changed her behavior, added one more walk to our evening, and gave her the satisfaction of another great day. In much the same way, financial budgeting helps us stay “on track” to achieve our goals and make small corrections when we stray from the path.

Visualized information

Fitbit has a way of telling a story about my health using whimsical charts and graphs. Just looking at the charts helps me gauge my performance and health. Accounting requires some storytelling too. Using charts and graphs makes the story come alive and helps clients make decisions about their overall financial health, customer satisfaction, market trends and much more.

Communicating with Friends on Your Progress

Okay, here’s the downside of the Fitbit. My wife is simply better than me at achieving her goals. It’s a little frustrating when I see the comparisons, and downright embarrassing knowing she sees them too. That said, it’s this easy access to benchmarking data that motivates me (and in accounting motivates a business) to change behaviors, become more customer-centric, listen to and reward their employees, and improve quality.

There is data all around us. The value of the Fitbit is how it measures, organizes, summarizes and displays the data. In much the same way, the art of accounting does not lie in debits and credits. It lies in helping people and organizations measure performance, plan for success and adapt to an ever-changing world.

About Fred Sroka

Fred Sroka, JD is the Dean of the GGU School of Accounting & Bruce F. Braden School of Taxation. Fred Sroka received his JD from UCLA, practiced as a tax lawyer for 18 years, worked as a tax accountant for 18 years, and managed a couple of years as a management consultant! He has been a member of the GGU adjunct tax faculty since 1983, and a member of the tax advisory board. Fred retired from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in 2014 and has served as the Dean of the Bruce F. Braden School of Tax since October 2014.

He holds an active CPA license in California and Colorado and is an inactive member of the California State Bar. Fred and his wife Ronda have two kids (both off in grad school), who provide constant coaching on the world from a millennial student’s perspective. Fred loves to play tennis and golf and is constantly puttering around the house with his tools.

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Diversity & Inclusion at Golden Gate University Law School in San Francisco

By Justin McNealy
Director of Diversity, Inclusion, and Student Affairs
Golden Gate University School of Law

At GGU School of Law, we want to make sure we continue to forge a path as one of the most diverse law schools in the nation. As Director of Diversity, Inclusion (D&I) and Student Affairs, as part of the Office of D&I, my role from one day to the next can be wildly varied. Ultimately, my role is to provide a framework for how each department can do more to foster D&I. This can mean Law Student Support providing more learning and development opportunities for students or Career Development providing more networking and mentoring opportunities for first-generation law school students who can be frustrated by a lack of guidance and resources. It is my job to identify the D&I need for each department in the law school and facilitate conversation about those needs, provide solutions about how those needs can be addressed, and move toward solutions.

The biggest impact that all of our departments hope to have is to ensure students from diverse backgrounds feel included in the law school environment. We also want to make sure they leave the GGU School of Law with a network of diverse attorneys who can help guide them through their first years in the legal profession and ultimately become lifelong mentors. Additionally, we want to identify and improve student retention, create programming geared toward student inclusivity and belonging, identify mentorship and job opportunities for students of diverse backgrounds, and work with admissions on student recruitment and matriculation efforts.

Fact: 62% of GGU School of Law students identify
as a racial minority, 64% are women,
and 11% identify as LGBTQ.

Why I became a Diversity and Inclusion Professional

As a gay man of color, I often see the inequity that exists for my community and other communities of historically underrepresented people. My own experiences in law school and the legal field helped build a basis for empathy for students who do not feel included or feel as though their concerns will not be taken seriously. Inclusion, especially in an environment as challenging as law school, is the essence of surviving those challenges. People naturally build communities as a means of support, and I always want to connect people to those inherent support systems. Also, I want to see the legal profession become as diverse as the communities in which they serve.

During my first year of law school, I was surprised that two of the professors teaching 1L courses were black. While it did not seem like much of a big deal to many of the students, which is in itself a mark of progress, it was a big deal to the other black students in the course. Those professors became de facto mentors to many of us — not just because they were black, but because they understood what it was like to be “the only one.”

We also want to make sure [students] leave the GGU School of Law with a network of diverse attorneys who can help guide them through their first years in the legal profession and ultimately become lifelong mentors.

Diversity and Law Schools

Law is one of the least diverse professions in the country. If we talk about barriers to access of legal education, whether it is the LSAT, or cost (or even self-confidence), those who have been historically underrepresented have the hardest time breaking through institutional obstacles. From the perspective of many law schools, D&I bridges the gaps and the destroys some of those barriers. A diverse legal education environment creates an opportunity for dialogue among people who may not understand one another. In the end, this dialogue and exchange of ideas foster not only tolerance but also a deeper level of understanding that makes for a more empathetic attorney.

There are many reasons D&I is important at law schools. It creates a classroom environment feels more welcoming because people see a representation of their group. Diverse faculty members are also more likely to approach a student of a similar background and can offer nuanced advice, from having gone through similar experiences as the student that they are trying to reach. For instance, Dean Niedwiecki of GGU School of Law is a first-generation law school graduate (and a gay man) so he can speak to many of our students who are also first-generation in a way that someone else could not. Similar background and experience makes finding common ground and creating relationships much easier, whether it is financial stress or the discomfort many students feel when they enter a room full of attorneys.

The ability of a faculty member from a diverse background to connect with students on a granular level cannot be understated. Having faculty from diverse backgrounds creates a sense of belonging in the law school environment. Even among students who may not be of that same background, it is powerful when faculty members understand what it is like to be in a field where they are historically underrepresented. The feeling of belonging is valuable because it goes a long way toward students graduating and becoming successful professionals.

The ability of a faculty member from a diverse background to connect with students on a granular level cannot be understated.

D&I in the Business & Legal Professions

The legal profession is built on relationships and is customer driven. Similarly, the business world has taken D&I very seriously ever since the argument for the practice moved from one about moral failings to one that was about “what is good for business.” Law firms have taken note of this shift and are now being pressured by their corporate clients to follow suit. In the past year, HP has threatened to withhold legal fees from firms who do not match or exceed their business expectations for D&I. Facebook has begun instituting a hard quota requiring 33% of an outside counsel’s legal team to be composed of gender and ethnic minorities. Even for a smaller firm, which is typically serving clients who do not have the economic power of HP or Facebook, it still makes business sense to put D&I initiatives in the forefront — both from a human resources standpoint and from a marketplace-viability standpoint.

A number of D&I studies have proven that more diverse and inclusive work environments reduce turnover, increase retention of employees, foster better decision-making among senior leadership, improve client relationships, and foster better talent.

From a law firm’s perspective, D&I programs boast many benefits to their bottom lines. Aside from the economic incentive, D&I build a stronger, more resilient, and happier workforce. This impacts everything from turnover to productivity. Moreover, areas as sensitive as client management are positively impacted when a more diverse workforce is recruited.

How to Get Involved in Diversity and Inclusion in the San Francisco Bay Area

There are so many organizations in the bay area that promote inclusion. Whether we are talking about La Raza, the Charles Houston Bar Association, Queen’s Bench, or BALIF, the organizations are numerous and represent many diverse communities. Many students are connecting to these organizations through the GGU Law Student Bar Association’s organizations. We are also actively reaching out to each of these organizations to provide mentorship opportunities for our students.

You can read Dean Niedwiecki’s related article in the Advocate, A Gay College Dean Takes on Betsy DeVos’s Transphobia, or check out Diversity Managers: 10 Key Job Skills, Salary, and Required Education on this blog.

More about the GGU School of Law >>

7 Skills That Will Help Advance Your Career & The Characteristics of a Winner

 By Terry Connelly, former GGU Ageno School of Business Dean

In my last blog post, I talked about running your career strategy like a business. Here I get down to skills you need in a finance or other business job – and how to be a true winner and leader.

The Skills


Learn to think in non-US currencies. While business “language” is most predominantly English, globalization has made far more than one currency relevant to business strategy and financial practice. Regional currencies have survived, and trade in pairs, to some extent in a zero-sum game. Public perceptions of the US dollar’s purchasing power change with tides of global central bank policies and national trade policies, which are currently a preoccupation of every US taxpaying business with foreign operations and profits and intellectual property. Do this exercise: spend a week translating all your expenses and investments into Euros or yen.


In meetings, if you are not chairing, always be ready (and even volunteer) to be the note-taker! It’s not demeaning; it’s empowering. Making the record of discussion flow can become a very important role. It often yields access to more senior executives and follow-up responsibilities. If there is a document under discussion, be happy to be the “mark-up master.” You will remember the important decision points in the meeting better and be a “go-to” person for the next draft. If you have ideas to contribute, train yourself to “draft in the air” (i.e., gather precise language in your thoughts before you even write them down on the shared document), so you are immediately prepared to defend them. Don’t rely on your “stream of consciousness” – get good and conscious before you stream!


Read people acutely; don’t jump to conclusions. Always challenge your assumptions about others’ motivations. Truly keep an open mind, listen, and read critically before you respond (particularly in terms of texts or e-mail; the latter have solved the problem of immortality as well as ultimate transparency!) Don’t underestimate the usefulness of walking down the hall to chat, because you can’t read body language in print or even optimally in a video conference. Admit when you don’t know an answer without giving up the chance to go get the answer.

Know your authentic business ‘personality’ and stay true to it.


Thinking outside the box can be learned. Try to focus on facts or nuances that others are missing or dismissing. Avoid the “not invented here” syndrome affecting many bureaucracies and entrenched lines of business. Pick your spots, however, when mounting a challenge to conventional wisdom – don’t become easily branded as a “contrarian.”


Pay close attention to internal politics – then rise above it. Do not become trapped in other peoples’ disputes unnecessarily. When you are a party to a disagreement, always show respect for your adversaries. There are seldom permanent work enemies. If you are in charge of a working group or committee, be flexible enough to include, rather than exclude, those whom you expect will disagree with the group direction, or your own – unless it’s clear they would participate only to disrupt.


Build others’ trust in your ethics and your judgment. Get known for fair and measured assessments of situations. Be the “sane one” in a room or workspace full of rancor. And never disparage your own proven abilities – it confuses people and makes them wary of your intentions. Don’t surprise colleagues too often; let them have a good general sense of “where you are coming from.” Let the surprise be the special insight –  not that it’s coming from you. Be neither “predictable” nor “unpredictable.”


Treat any workplace relationship or interpersonal conduct not relating to business as though its essence could be disclosed on a major social media or another news site at any time – and act accordingly. When in doubt, disclose; if you can’t disclose, don’t act.

Those are the skills, but here are the personal qualities you want to develop to be a winner and a leader.

  • Know your authentic business “personality” and stay true to it. Play within your competence; and if that’s not enough to succeed, seek to expand your competence.
  • Be committed to getting to the bottom of things. Don’t settle for superficial agreement or avoidance because the issue is “too hard.” Do not keep a permanent “too hard” file, if at all possible.
  • Be sure of your facts. Be truly well-informed. Take care in all things – including the “little” things.
  • Be objective: Don’t fear to admit the strengths of another person’s position or argument. Remember the argument based on your authority is the weakest.
  • Be discrete in what to say, and when to say it. Keep legitimate confidences. Never agree “not to tell the boss” if the boss has the need to know, even as a favor to a close friend or mentor.
  • Be the first to define reality and the first to say thank you. Intelligence, integrity, and charm will take you a long way – integrity is the essential one, and the hardest one to fake in the long run.

About Terry Connelly

terry-connellyTerry Connelly is an economic expert and Dean Emeritus of the Ageno School of Business at Golden Gate University. With more than 30 years of experience in investment banking, law and corporate strategy on Wall Street and abroad, Connelly analyses the impact of government politics and policies on local, national and international economies, examining the interaction of global financial markets, the U.S. banking industry (and all of its regulatory agencies), the Federal Reserve, domestic employment levels and consumer reactions to the changing economic tides. He holds a law degree from NYU School of Law and his professional history includes positions with Ernst & Young Australia, the Queensland University of Technology Graduate School of Business, New York law firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore (corporate, securities and litigation practice in New York and London), global chief of staff at Salomon Brothers investment banking firm and Cowen & Company’s investments, where he served as CEO. In conjunction with past Golden Gate University President Dan Angel, Connelly co-authored Riptide: The New Normal In Higher Education (2011). Riptide deconstructs the changing landscape of higher education in the face of the for-profit debacle, graduation gridlock, and staggering student debt, and asserts a new, sustainable model for progress. He is a board member of the Public Religion Research Institute, a Washington, DC think tank and polling organization, and the Cardiac Therapy Foundation in Palo Alto, California. Connelly lives in Palo Alto with his wife.

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