Controller, Gray Plant Mooty
For the last 15 years, Kurt Williams has been the controller for Gray Plant Mooty in Minneapolis. Before that he was the accounting manager for now-defunct Doherty Rumble & Butler in St. Paul. So it’s safe to say he’s got a solid grounding in how finances affect law firms.
With six people in the finance department reporting to him, Williams oversees all things accounting at Gray Plant Mooty, including financial statements and general ledger work.
But it’s in tax compliance that Williams stands out. Colleagues praise his ability to keep abreast of changes in tax law and to make sure that policies and procedures get updated so the firm is ready when the changes go into effect.
Williams does a lot of continuing education, attending local courses and seminars and participating in webinars at least once a week, in an effort to keep up on those changes.
He also works closely with Gray Plant Mooty’s CPA firm and, as he puts it, “reads a lot of boring tax stuff.” The result is a firm that doesn’t have to scramble or do refilings to comply with changes in tax law.
Yet Williams won’t take credit for the compliance-oriented nature of the firm. Changing policies to conform to new regulations is easy, he said, because the firm’s managing partner is a tax attorney. “It’s easy when the guy at the top is behind [tax compliance] 100 percent,” Williams said.
When Gray Plant Mooty had a sales tax audit last year, Williams was in charge of it, and two people on his team found a way to convince the auditor that certain software programs shouldn’t be taxed, resulting in an unusual refund.
“All I did was tell them to go for it,” Williams said. “If I deserve any credit, it’s because I’m smart enough to recognize a good thing when I see it and don’t put up roadblocks for people who want to improve things.”