Partner

Mike Goral, JD, LLM in Tax

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Bio

Meet Mike

Mike leads Armanino's Cannabis Tax group. A tax professional since 1989, he has significant experience in federal, state and local tax from both an accounting and legal perspective. He spent time with multiple Big 4 firms, including serving in KPMG’s Washington National Tax Office, and has worked with cannabis companies both large and small in California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington and Colorado.

He advises cannabis clients on a broad range of issues that affect the space, including mergers and acquisitions, loan structuring, and funding mechanisms from venture capital, private equity and investment banking. Mike provides guidance on cannabis technology, manufacturing, transportation and retail issues, and literally wrote the book on Cannabis Taxation for Thomson Reuters.

Mike is the contributing editor of Cannabis Taxation a 250-page treatise for Thompson Reuters discussing the 33 states that tax cannabis sales. He is a member of the California Society of Certified Public Accountants, the National Cannabis Industry Association and the California Cannabis Association, which nominated him for their CPA of the Year award for 2019. He holds a B.S. in mathematics and psychology from the University of Alabama, a J.D. from Cumberland Law, and a Masters of Tax Law from Emory Law School.

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Experience

Professional History

Associations

  • California Cannabis Association
  • National Cannabis Industry Association
  • California Society of Certified Public Accountants

Education

  • University of Alabama
  • Samford University
  • Emory University

Experience

  • Squar Milner LLP
  • Weaver LLP
  • PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC)
  • KPMG LLP
Q&A
Q. What is it about accounting and consulting that first drew your interest?
I started in law, practicing with a focus on state and local tax (SALT) regulations. I saw that accounting firms had deeper relationships with their clients, and I found that very attractive. The accounting profession's move toward consulting on those SALT issues and away from compliance dovetailed with what I wanted to do, and my law degree gave me the opportunity to be on the forefront of that change.
Q. What drew you to focus on the cannabis industry?

I saw that cannabis was going to become a massive industry, similar to other regulated industries such as alcohol and tobacco. Federal, state and local governments were going to be expecting significant tax revenues generated by cannabis businesses. But traditional accountants were shying away from serving cannabis-related clients. There was an opportunity to become an expert in the field, so I made it my passion to learn about the law in all these other states — I even co-wrote a treatise about the 33 states that allow legal cannabis and their taxation mechanisms.

I think that cannabis, as an industry, is going to experience massive growth. Unlike alcohol and tobacco, cannabis has a real medical benefit that can't be ignored. We have this opioid crisis that's going on, and cannabis is a great alternative for those who use it for pain management, without the addictive and harmful side effects that opioids have. I think pharmaceutical companies will be conducting further research about the different compounds that are contained in cannabis and how they can be utilized in the healthcare space.

Q. Without naming names, tell us about your favorite client and why you enjoyed working with them.
I don't have just one favorite, there are many. I love being a trusted advisor to clients and supporting them through decisions that will affect their business, whether it be looking to move to a new location, make a merger or an acquisition, or expand their business to a new state. I can help guide them through issues that they might not have thought of, and I get a lot of satisfaction out of that. I'm very passionate about my work, and I make myself available to my clients 24/7.
Q. Describe your work style.
When I'm working with staff and my peers, I try to be a teacher, a mentor. I like to sit down with my team at brown bag lunches and talk through issues, changing developments, and new and interesting topics.
Q. What’s your proudest moment?
Definitely the birth of my three children. I've also been very proud of being published in law reviews and technical journals. I was nominated for the California Cannabis Association's 2019 Cannabis CPA of the Year award, which was also a big deal for me.
Q. If you could pass on a nugget of wisdom to aspiring accountants or consultants, what would that be?
Bad news is good news, you just don't know it yet. Many times in my career, I've come across issues that initially were bad news. But down the road, it ended up becoming good news, because it opened my eyes and forced me to look at other opportunities or see issues from a different perspective, resulting in better outcomes.
Q. What do you love most about your work?
At Armanino, the people aren’t cookie cutter. We have a broad mix of people with a variety of backgrounds that gives us 360 degrees of expertise in the accounting and consulting profession.
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Industries Served
Mike's Thought Leadership
Blog articles
Article
Most of the provisions involved raising tax rates, which may hurt legal operators.
Blog articles
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Cannabis business may benefit from the Small Business Accounting Method Reform and Simplification tax law which enacted...
Blog articles
Article
The California Department of Tax and Fee Administration, the Office of Tax Appeals and the Franchise Tax Board to offer...