The February GM: Taxes, Awards, and Elections

By Raffaella Buschiazzo

A particularly eclectic lineup of events greeted attendees at the February General Meeting. From discussions of amendments to praise (and requests!) for volunteers to the appearance of a special guest—and these were not even our main subjects—the meeting provided information and inspiration to all.

The NCTA General Meeting that took place on February 10 at The Center was particularly rich in events and information. We also had a special guest attending, ATA President Marian Greenfield. NCTA President Tuomas Kostiainen opened the meeting at 1:45 pm with an announcement of the association’s upcoming events and workshops. He then called for volunteers, stressing the importance of their role in an association that currently counts over 600 corporate and individual members.

Because NCTA is the most active ATA chapter, with more workshops and events than any other, it needs more volunteers to help the board organize these activities. This year, NCTA will have an even busier slate of activities than usual because the ATA annual conference will be held in San Francisco from October 31 to November 3. As the local chapter we will provide ATA with our support in organizing what we are sure will be another great conference. This requires, though, even more volunteers to gather information in advance and to help with shifts at the NCTA table during the conference.

Tuomas and NCTA Vice President Yves Avérous continued the presentation by thanking a long list of volunteers whose contribution to the Association and Translorial was extremely important in 2006. Marian Greenfield underlined the importance of serving as a volunteer. She said that doing work for the association allows volunteers to receive a bit of well-deserved recognition. She is a good example herself, having been on the ATA board for 10 years and a freelancer since 2001. She said that the extent of her marketing is the Association.

Recognized members
NCTA gave awards to three members who distinguished themselves by their zeal and good work for the association: Barbara Guggemos received a lifetime honorary membership for her four years as Treasurer and several years as a very active volunteer; Brigitte Reich received a one-year honorary membership for her great contributions as Webmaster and her willingness to help out over the years; and Afaf Steiert was awarded Volunteer of the Year for her personal initiative in organizing a monthly NCTA lunch for all of 2006, and also received a one-year honorary membership.

The Board proposed an amendment to the NCTA bylaws which was approved by a majority of the audience (37 votes for and two votes against). The amendment will modify the length of the grace period, if a member’s dues are not paid, from three months to one. This will make it easier to administer our new membership system, which switches from a calender year to rolling renewals.

After the amendment discussion, the final vote count for the annual board election was ready, and Tuomas introduced newly elected board members Alison Dent (85 votes), Michael Schubert (109 votes), Raffaella Buschiazzo (118 votes), Yves Avérous (123 votes), and himself (131 votes). Afaf Steiert, the sixth candidate, got 53 votes. The five elected members will serve on the Board for two years.

Tax Presentation
The highlight of the meeting was a presentation on an excruciating topic: taxes. Elizabeth Shwiff, a CPA in the firm of Shwiff, Levy & Polo, LLP, has been in the public accounting business for over sixteen years. Now, as Senior Partner in the firm, she focuses mainly on the company’s business development aspects. Among her many talents, Elizabeth speaks fluent Russian and German. She has years of experience in due diligence and fraud investigation.

Elizabeth started her presentation by gathering some information from the audience. Along with information that our members provided in a pre-meeting survey, she was able to offer many practical examples of what translators can deduct on their tax returns (from gasoline to an office space in their home), how they can keep their books efficiently, and how they can be prepared in case they get audited.

She explaned how to do taxes in today’s environment, and how to deal with very complicated terminology. Elizabeth provided important tips such as keeping tax-related papers for three years and having a calendar on which to write down all expenses. After the meeting she stayed around to individually answer questions from members. Thanks to her enthusiasm, the presentation on this painful subject was extremely lively and full of humor. Thank you, Elizabeth!

Winners all around
Before concluding another successful general meeting, there was a drawing for a $150 gift certificate for services at Shwiff, Levy & Polo, LLP, won by Stacey Ramirez. We ended with a delicious buffet of refreshments, organized for the first time with the help of new member and new volunteer Paula Dieli, who is supporting me in this task.3