Attention FAE Customers:
Please be aware that NASBA credits are awarded based on whether the events are webcast or in-person, as well as on the number of CPE credits.
Please check the event registration page to see if NASBA credits are being awarded for the programs you select.

Bharti Gupta Honored for Her Service As Chair of the Relations with the IRS Committee

S.J. Steinhardt
Published Date:
Aug 24, 2023

Statewide Committee  Chair Award

This award recognizes a statewide committee chair who has shown exemplary service and performance in leading his or her committee.

As chair of the NYSSCPA’s Relations with the Internal Revenue Service Committee, Bharti Gupta has actively recruited, retained and involved members. From organizing and promoting committee events that feature specific industry topics—including a “Meet the IRS” panel with National Taxpayer Advocate Erin M. Collins—to initiating an “IRS Discussion and FAQ Community” homepage on the NYSSCPA’s Exchange discussion board, to collaborating with the AICPA, Gupta has made a notable impact on the Society. For these efforts and other accomplishments, Gupta has been recognized as the winner of the Statewide Committee Chair Award.

A professional career was not a consideration for girls in Gupta’s hometown of Jagadhri, India, population 110,000. It was for her, though; she was determined to be independent, despite the existing cultural restrictions.

She had originally planned to become a doctor, obtaining her undergraduate degree in biology from Kurukshetra University, but was not admitted to medical school. Instead, she became the first woman in her town to become a chartered accountant.

“Initially, I did not know that I could do accounting,” she said. She started working in her father’s utensils factory, where he told her, “If you really want to do chartered accountancy, you have to answer these questions. So, he had me do his books and asked me questions to prove that I can do accounting.”

Having proven herself, and with her family’s encouragement, she underwent the rigorous training that it took to become a chartered accountant (certificate to practice) in India, which is equivalent to a CPA license, followed by an “articleship”—a three-year apprenticeship during which an aspiring accountant gains work experience while preparing for examinations and licensure—then sitting for four levels of exams, each with four sections, for a total of 16 different exams, which covered such subjects as calculus, statistics, organizational management and business law. “You name the subject, it was there,” she said.

Having operated her own tax, audit and accounting practice in Delhi, Gupta moved to the United States in 1992, earning her B.S. in accounting from Hunter College in 1997, then passing the CPA exam on her first try and becoming licensed in 2002. A chance encounter with a fellow Metro-North commuter from Tuckahoe, a director at KPMG, led her to join the firm as a liaison with General Electric’s real estate investment division. She went on to work at a succession of firms, including D’Arcangelo & Co. LLP, PKF O’Connor Davies and Maier Markey & Justic LLP (MMJ) before striking out on her own—all while insisting on working flexible hours to enable her to raise her two young children.

She joined the NYSSCPA in 2004, soon after becoming a CPA. “I always wanted to be active, but I was not big on networking because I wanted to spend time with family and kids, so I never did networking when the kids were home. It was known—don’t even ask her for evening dinners,” she said with a laugh. She remained active in the Westchester Chapter’s tax committee because the meetings, which she enjoyed, were held in the daytime.

It was at these committee meetings where she met Catherine M. Censullo, a sole proprietor in White Plains, N.Y., who specialized in retirement and estate planning, with particular expertise in complex IRA distribution rules.

“Bharti used to ask me questions that had to do with retirement distributions and retirement plans, and I would ask her about partnerships and real estate because she has a lot of experience,” Censullo said.

In 2018, the pair co-founded Censullo, Gupta & Associates, CPA, LLP, which specializes in tax compliance, planning and accounting. The firm offers what Gupta termed a “holistic approach platform model” by reaching out to other subject matter experts such as CPAs, advisers and attorneys to meet each client’s needs. 

“At that time, I found it was difficult to be a sole proprietor, and she was looking to do something different,” said Censullo. “We were both like-minded CPAs. We wanted to be more comprehensive, while putting the clients’ interests first. We wanted to work with like-minded people. and we were both interested in doing more than their tax returns, [such as] coordinating with [clients’] financial planners, and we both decided to develop this boutique firm.”

“We are able to help the clients the best possible way without charging them too much because we are all sitting at the same table brainstorming [about] what’s best for that particular situation, and it’s very fulfilling this way,” Gupta said. Her practice and expertise in representation and negotiating techniques—she enjoyed resolving complex situations—led her to join the Relations with the IRS Committee about a dozen years ago. “I felt that I could help my clients by being on the committee and talking to the IRS people,” she said. She already had proven experience with the tax authorities; one of her proudest achievements is once having obtained a half-million-dollar refund for GE, while she was at KPMG.

In 2019, Gupta was “voluntold” by her former MMJ colleague, then-committee chair Bernadette M. Schopfer, to become vice chair. “She is talented and she is passionate, and I know that she would take on the challenges and do well to lead the committee,” Schopfer said. “She is incredibly smart, she has an incredibly strong work ethic, she is a very responsive individual, and is able to multitask and take on things other than just work.”

Gupta seized the challenge, most prominently by organizing the October 2020 “Meet the IRS” seminar with National Taxpayer Advocate Erin Collins in fewer than three weeks. Held via Zoom due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event was attended by about 100 people.

“It was a standout event,” said current committee chair Karen J. Tenenbaum, managing partner of her own law firm, who was chosen by Gupta to be vice chair in 2021. “As moderator, she always asked excellent questions of speakers and guests to elicit information that our members wanted, so they got the most out of the program.”

Gupta helped to arrange a session with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) four days after organizing another “Meet the IRS” event in 2023.

“Bharti was a pleasure to work with,” said Tenenbaum. “She ran an organized and focused committee, ensuring that subcommittee chairs gave updates at each meeting. She also planned ahead by asking me a year ago to be her vice chair, so that the committee would have continuity.”

While Gupta was chair, the committee also set a up a subcommittee (NYSSCPA and AICPA Collaboration on IRS Issues) and held quarterly meetings with Edward S. Karl, vice president of taxation at the AICPA, to spearhead IRS issues of mutual concern.

Gupta also doubled the number of active members from 25 to 51, a feat of which she is most proud.

“I meet members, especially new members, in person or on Zoom and ask them how they can help,” she said. “I spend time understanding them and their ideas, and implementing them.”

One person on the receiving end of such an ask is Andrew Peters of Reid CPAs, LLP. “I joined the IRS Relations group about a year and a half ago,” Peters said. “Bharti asked me, ‘What can you do to help?’” before making him chair of a new IRS FAQ Subcommittee. “I had no choice!”

Gupta asked Keith Lazarus, NYSSCPA manager of committees and technical resources, and committees coordinator Dayana Jean-Marie to create a dedicated space on the Exchange discussion board for practitioners to go to discuss mutual issues of concern. After a month and a half in operation, the IRS Discussion and FAQ group boasts 28 members and is still growing.

“She’s a real leader,” Peters said. “The whole subcommittee would not have existed without her. She’s on top of everyone. I don’t know how she gets any actual accounting work done.”

“During the time I was chair, COVID was making it very challenging and difficult for everyone to deal with the IRS. We wanted to help our community to the extent possible by letting people know through marketing our committee meetings and events,” Gupta said. “I am very passionate about helping people and did not mind getting help from others. Yes, I was able to reach out to the right talent to help our NYSSCPA community. I was fortunate to have very active and accomplished committee members. It takes a team effort to make the most impact and be successful.”


Click here to see more of the latest news from the NYSSCPA.