Who's Who of Professional Women


Sarah Wagner

Tax manager Sarah Catherine Wagner of Gulf Breeze, Florida, has a longstanding passion for developing individuals, entrepreneurs, and businesses and watching them thrive. One of the best ways to accomplish this is by ensuring that her clients stay on track financially through her work as an independent contractor and state and local tax director with her self-initialed accounting business, SCW, LLC.

Ms. Wagner specializes in state and local income tax planning. More specifically, she has extensive experience with state and local income tax compliance, provision, credits and incentives, mergers, and acquisitions. She works with clients from various industries, including retail, banking and finance, insurance, food and beverage, manufacturing, and transportation. She almost missed her professional calling in college, however. The younger Ms. Wagner, then Ms. White — her maiden name — originally studied political science in preparation for a career in law. It was an astute guidance counselor who helped the disenchanted Ms. Wagner identify her strengths in English and math and suggested accounting as a professional, which she said just clicked.

Before starting her own accounting firm in 2021, Ms. Wagner worked as a state and local tax expert in a variety of roles. From 2022 to 2023, she was a senior manager at BDO USA, LLP, having previously spent time as the director at EF Mussler, PLLC from 2019 to 2021 and the senior manager at Ernst & Young, LLP from 2018 to 2019. Earlier in her career, Ms. Wagner spent nine years with KPMG LLP, first as an associate from 2009 to 2012 and then rising to serve as a senior associate from 2012 to 2015, a manager from 2015 to 2017 and, finally, a senior manager from 2017 to 2018.

Ms. Wagner earned a Bachelor of Arts from the Patterson School of Accountancy at the University of Mississippi and also holds a diploma from the University of Mississippi’s Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College. She has also been licensed as a certified public accountant, as designated by the state of Tennessee. To keep abreast of new developments in her field, Ms. Wagner maintains professional membership with the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants and gave back to her alma mater as president of the Greater Pensacola Ole Miss Alumni Association.

Ms. Wagner, a Marquis Who’s Who of Professional Women honoree, attributes her success to being a people person, especially when it comes to work. When she was first hired at KPMG LLP, she was immediately placed with clients. This, along with being great with numbers, helped Ms. Wagner to quickly develop her professional and interpersonal skills further and was excellent preparation for later developing staff. The most important lessons learned that have benefited her career and professional growth are that the client knows best and to not argue with a client. She believes it is also essential to become a mentor to new college graduates and help mold and qualify them as the future of the industry. Within the next few years, Ms. Wagner hopes to grow her business and wants to see more firms return to public accounting.

When Ms. Wagner is not working, she spends most of her time with family, including her husband and their dog, a beloved golden retriever, as well as gathering with friends. She is a self-proclaimed foodie who likes relaxing at the beach or the pool. Ms. Wagner also enjoys watching sports, including football, tennis and basketball.


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