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David Lifson and Sidney Kess Honored with Prestigious AICPA Awards

Ruth Singleton
Published Date:
Jun 13, 2022

David Lifson at Evening of Celebration of 100th President-240
David Lifson speaking at "An Evening of Celebration with the 100th President" in 2019.
Sid Kess at his TCJA event-240
Sidney Kess speaking at a 2018 workshop he presented on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

NYSSCPA Past President David Lifson and Sidney Kess, a long-time Society member and prolific author and lecturer, both received awards at the AICPA & CIMA ENGAGE 2022 conference last week.  

Lifson, a partner with Crowe LLP, received the Sidney Kess Award for Excellence in Continuing Education, which Kess presented to him at the conference, held in Las Vegas. This award recognizes “CPAs who have made significant and outstanding contributions in tax and financial planning and whose public service exemplifies the CPA profession’s values and ethics,” according to the AICPA press release. “It recognizes commitment to strategic CPA education, valuable mentoring and unwavering integrity and public service—characteristics personified by its namesake, Sidney Kess. Nominations for the Kess Award are solicited by the Tax Strategies for the High-Income Individual Conference Steering Committee, which determines award recipients. Recipients of this award epitomize the standard set by Kess and are deserving of it recognition.” 

“David Lifson’s career truly embodies the spirit of the Sidney Kess Award for Excellence in Continuing Education,” said Kess. “David’s exceptional ability to identify pertinent topics based on legislation, his knowledge of the profession’s needs and his ability to guide the committee’s selection of outstanding speakers are vital to the success of AICPA’s annual National Tax Conference. His contributions to the AICPA and to the profession have been instrumental in advancing the education and careers of CPAs around the country.” 

Lifson, who was honored this year with the NYSSCPA Distinguished Service Award, was also the 2009 recipient of the AICPA’s Arthur J. Dixon Memorial Award, the accounting profession's highest award in the area of taxation. He served as president of the NYSSCPA in 2007-2008, as well as on the Society’s Board of Directors from 1995 through 1998, and as a vice president from 1998 through 1999. 

Lifson has been a speaker and panel member for Society conferences, panel discussions and presentations. He has authored articles that have been published in The CPA Journal and the Tax Stringer, and he is a member of The CPA Journal's Editorial Advisory Board.  

Lifson has also served on the Moynihan Scholarship Fund Board of Trustees. On two  occasions, he provided challenge grants in order to multiply the donations of others and thereby support students interested in the accounting profession. In addition, he has chaired the Society’s Real Estate, Finance, Quality Enhancement Policy ,Nominating, and  Awards Committees. He also chaired the Committee on Practical Reform for the Tax System, which developed an alternative federal income tax structure. He has also been actively involved in the Society's Legislative Task Force.  

At the AICPA & CIMA ENGAGE 2022 conference, Kess was himself the recipient of  the AICPA’s Stanley H. Breitbard Personal Financial Planning Division Lifetime Achievement Award, which recognizes "an individual who exemplifies a lifetime of significant contribution to the profession of personal financial planning, the accounting profession, and an ongoing commitment to volunteerism, the hallmark of a true professional."

Kess is of counsel to Kostelanetz & Fink in New York. According to the AICPA press release, he was" a pioneer in estate, tax, and retirement planning long before these topics came under the umbrella of personal financial planning and was among the first professionals to provide these services to his clients. Throughout his career, he has worked hard to elevate financial planning within the CPA profession and ensure its inclusion in AICPA and state CPA society conferences and publications. He has also worked tirelessly for the recognition of financial planning by universities nationwide. He has also encouraged many CPA firms to embrace financial planning and has championed why this is critical to the profession’s future. He has written several books and articles and has been at the helm of bringing financial planning into many prominent publications."  

Kess was honored with the NYSSCPA Distinguished Service Award in 2020. His award profile in the May/June 2020 issue of The Trusted Professional (page 11) stated, “One can be confident in saying that the number of CPAs who know his name and his work far outnumber those who do not. This is because he has spent more than half a century making his mark on the profession through education and instruction.” The Trusted Professional reported that Kess’ involvement with the NYSSCPA goes back to the 1950s. Shortly after becoming a member, he was asked to speak at the annual summer institute that the Society used to run at Briarcliff College. Every year, he’d hold forth on his specialty, tax research. By 1964, Kess had taken the content of these talks and developed them into a formal professional education course for the AICPA, the first of many he would come to create over the decades. He was honored with the NYSSCPA’s Dr. Emanuel Saxe Outstanding CPA in Education Award in 2015.

The Trusted Professional quoted long-time member Elliot L. Hendler, who said that Kess was “one of the outstanding accountants of this century and the last half of the 20th century,” adding that “there was never a time in my professional career, which has been going on for 63 years, when I didn’t know who Sid Kess was and is. .. Sid Kess has been, and remains, an example and inspiration to generations of accountants.” 

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