Debra S. Henry, CPA

For as long as I can remember, my dream has been to live in this beautiful paradise known as Sandestin.  My dream became a reality in June 2013.  I am blessed and eternally thankful to be a permanent resident of the Deerwood neighborhood. You have probably seen me out and about late in the afternoon or early evening walking my two rescue dogs, Stella and Fairley.

In addition to walking my dogs, I enjoy any outside activity because I love fresh air and warm sunny weather.  I am currently recovering from an injury and hope to resume running in the near future.  I also enjoy biking, gardening and relaxing on the beach with a cold beverage. Wine tasting, great music, travel and new adventures are some of my favorite activities. Watching SEC football, especially when the Auburn Tigers are playing, is definitely on the top of my list during football season in the fall.

Before moving to Sandestin in June 2013, I was a native Alabamian. After my graduation from Auburn University, I moved to Montgomery and worked with a handful of local and regional CPA firms for a number of years.   In 2002, I left a regional CPA firm to work with a client who operated a regional petroleum distributor, owned various commercial rental real estate ventures and conducted an annual celebrity golf tournament benefiting various 501 (c)(3) charitable organizations in the Southeast.   

In 2003, a couple of my former regional firm co-workers opened their own CPA firm.  In 2006, they asked me to join them so I returned to public accounting and began working with the firm to manage the tax division.  In 2013, a decision was made to expand to the Florida Panhandle and a local CPA firm in Fort Walton Beach/Mary Esther was purchased.  In June 2013, I transferred from Montgomery to manage the new office and expand the practice to South Walton County.

In March 2015, my entrepreneurial spirt surfaced and I made the decision to leave the firm to launch my own CPA practice, Debra S. Henry, LLC.  Throughout my professional career in public accounting, it became apparent many individuals, small businesses and nonprofits could not find the affordable, professional service they needed and deserved. My experience and academic credentials allow me to provide the expertise of a larger firm with commitment to superior client service by establishing working relationships, allowing me to become significantly involved with clients.

I have been a practicing CPA since 1982.  The majority of my professional career has been working in public accounting with an emphasis in tax strategies, planning, compliance and IRS representation for individual, small businesses and nonprofit organizations.  In 2001, I attained the CVA (Certified Valuation Analyst) designation which allows me to value businesses to determine fair market value for selling price, owner exit strategies and estate planning. I enjoy helping small business owners with their accounting, sales tax and payroll tax needs and am currently working on becoming a QuickBooks Pro Advisor for small businesses. I am a member of the American Institute of CPA’s, Florida Institute of CPA’s, Alabama Society of CPA’s and National Association of CVA’s.

I am a passionate believer in philanthropy and giving back to the community through sponsorships and volunteer work with various charitable and educational organizations.  Currently, I serve on the Board of Directors as the Treasurer of Sinfonia Gulf Coast which provides with quality music to our community and musical education to local youth.  I serve on the Executive Committee of the Emerald Coast Cattle Baron’s Ball benefiting the American Cancer Society. I am significantly involved with the Walton County Chamber of Commerce and work on various committees. I am a graduate of Leadership Walton, serve on the Chamber’s BUILD Council and currently serve as the committee chairperson of SOAR which is an entrepreneurial leadership series. I am currently the Vice President of the Deerwood HOA.  Recently, I became a member of Impact 100 which awards grants each year to various charities and work with one of the grant application review committees later this year. Of course, I am involved with Alaqua because I love animals. I also support Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation, Children in Crisis and Taylor Haugen Foundation.

Please consult a tax professional regarding all tax matters. Tax law is very complicated.  IRS correspondence is frightening to someone who does not know how to deal with it.  There is no reason to panic if IRS correspondence is received. Taxpayers have rights.  Usually, IRS correspondence can be resolved with either a letter or phone call.  Finally, please consult a QuickBooks Pro Advisor for your monthly or annual accounting needs. Many times small business owners think they can save money by preparing their own monthly accounting work using QuickBooks or another accounting software.  This is usually not true.  It takes more time and expense to clean up accounting records and correct mistakes than it does if the accounting was set up and prepared correctly from the beginning.   This is especially true if payroll and payroll tax deposits are involved.  The IRS charges very high penalties for late payroll tax deposits. 

The majority of my tax clients from the regional firm requested I continue to handle their tax work because of my expertise and commitment to personal client service.  Therefore, I also operated my own tax practice on a part-time basis during my break from public accounting. 

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