Meet Al Paulsen, Winner of the 2023 Sales Tax Nerd Award

“In this field you get to be the star sleuth of your own detective novel, interviewing witnesses to sales tax regulations and piecing together different statutes to remain compliant for another day.” 

Al Paulsen sure is the main character in today’s story! His professional journey has led him to his position as a Sales Tax Associate for Equity LifeStyle Properties based in Chicago, IL. In this job, he immerses himself in research to specialize and find new ways to improve his company’s sales tax-related processes. He’s taken on the informal role of sales tax innovator. And even though Al is still early in his career, he prioritizes elevating those around him by passing on his knowledge to his peers. 

The Sales Tax Institute is proud to announce Al Paulsen as the winner of the 2023 Sales Tax Nerd Award! The Sales Tax Nerd Award recognizes sales tax professionals who demonstrate a dedicated passion and commitment to the study and practice of sales tax. 

The award does not solely weigh prior accolades or job titles, it also awards a professional for being a self-proclaimed “sales tax nerd” who loves working in the field and sharing their knowledge with others. 

Meet Al, learn more about his career, and watch his reaction
to winning the 2023 Sales Tax Nerd Award! 

”I’ve known Al through his involvement with the Chicago Tax Club and was thrilled to see his application to be the Sales Tax Nerd of the Year. Al has always impressed me with insightful questions and comments on some challenging issues. Working at Equity LifeStyle Properties requires him to know about so many different types of taxes not just general sales taxes. He just digs in to figure out how the tax applies and then applies it to the business.  What really impressed me was the creation of “Al’s Knowledge Corner” where at staff meetings, he shares the knowledge he has learned from either his own research or attending meetings, webinars, and conferences.”
– Diane Yetter, President and Founder of the Sales Tax Institute


Breaking the Mold for Sales Tax Pros 

“I’m not afraid to stand out and break the mold, and through the Sales Tax Nerd Award I’m able to change the narrative around accounting and who can be a tax professional.” 

Sales tax isn’t all about forms and Excel worksheets, it’s complex and layered with state and local laws. Al’s favorite part about sales tax is the thrill of uncovering answers to the greatest mysteries his department faces. Al doesn’t stop at sales tax filing and compliance; he enjoys taking sales tax out of its usual context. 

He’s passionate about combining his sales tax background and passion for solving problems in the realm of fraud investigation, a multifaceted approach to his professional growth! Having seen the negative effects of fraud firsthand, he aims to use his sales tax expertise to investigate more suspicious transactions while searching for process weaknesses.  


His Commitment to Sales Tax 

“My realization that sales tax is an interesting career path was more gradual. As I learned more about various tax rules, I started getting excited after finding missing pieces and making the sales tax processes at my current job more efficient.” 

Al’s journey into sales tax wasn’t a sudden epiphany but rather a gradual realization sparked by the joy of uncovering missing pieces and enhancing tax processes. His enthusiasm peaked when he created a new sales tax workbook, finding immense satisfaction in streamlining procedures for future associates, showcasing his commitment to improving efficiency and effectiveness. 

Surely, a lot of sales tax pros can relate to slowly dipping their toe into sales tax when they had very different projections for their career path. Then, if you’re a nerd at heart, you dive right into the deep vast pool of all there is to know about sales tax and problem solving. He thrives in the ever-evolving work environment that sales tax provides. The “Aha!” moments provide a rewarding thrill after conquering a new challenge where he was able to learn and grow.  


Paying His Knowledge Forward 

“Beyond learning everything I can, my next step is to continue documenting my knowledge as preparation for mentoring an incoming sales tax associate in the not-too-distant future.” 

Though early in his sales tax career, Al is already dedicating his time and effort to learning how to be the best colleague and leader that he can be. Whether it’s implementing “Al’s Knowledge Corner” in his team meetings to share his latest learnings, preparing to mentor his new hire, documenting his processes for his current and future team to use, or simply sharing his passion for sales tax, this Sales Tax Nerd never fails to share his nerdiness. He even came up with an idea for a sales tax card game to teach concepts in a fun way! How clever is that?! 

Making sales tax a more approachable idea will change the game for all future Sales Tax Nerds. We are so excited for Al to join the Sales Tax Nerd Community to spread his sales tax passion!  


2023 Sales Tax Nerd Award Finalists  

The Sales Tax Institute is also thrilled to recognize an outstanding group of 2023 award finalists. The finalists represent a variety of backgrounds and industries within the profession. All demonstrate a passion for learning and a dedication to paying their sales tax knowledge forward. 

We are so proud to know this group of professionals that advocate bringing an increased focus on sales tax within their companies and the wider field of accounting. 

The 2023 finalists include: 

  • Lisa Bauman, Sales and Use Tax Manager, Vornado Air, LLC 
  • Americo Rodriguez, Senior Tax Manager, FGMK, LLC 
  • Katherine Martinez, Strategy Research Specialist, Stripe 
  • Erik Wallin, Regulatory General Counsel, Sovos 
  • Nathan Yoder, CAS Sales Tax Specialist, Adams Brown, LLC 

Learn more about each finalist on the Sales Tax Nerd Award page.

Posted on November 28, 2023