FinancesI AM CEO PODCASTTax Planning

IAM1755 – Founder Helps Individuals and Businesses Facing IRS and New York State Tax Problems

Podcast Interview with Karen Tenenbaum

Why it was selected for “CBNation Architects”:
In episode IAM110 of the I AM CEO podcast, host Gresham Harkless interviews Karen Tenenbaum, the founder of Tenenbaum Law, P.C., a tax law firm that helps individuals and businesses facing IRS and New York state tax problems.
In the interview, Karen talks about her journey as an entrepreneur and the importance of tax planning for businesses. She shares her unique approach to tax consulting, which involves personalized service and expertise to help clients save money on taxes and improve their bottom line.
Karen also discusses her involvement in a non-profit organization called Commerce Plaza, Inc., which introduces children to the business community through a simulated work environment. She shares her CEO hacks and nuggets, which include entrepreneurship programs like Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business and the Make Mine a Million $ Business program.
Additionally, she defines what being a CEO means to her, which involves being vision-oriented and coming up with processes and KPIs to achieve them.
Overall, the episode provides valuable insights into tax planning for businesses and the importance of personalized service in consulting.

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Karen Tenenbaum Teaser 00:00

It was always my dream to get involved and help small businesses and individuals. I'm an attorney and an accountant, so whether it be from the accounting side or the legal side, that was always my dream. Now I help people with tax problems so that they can live a better life and sleep at night.

Intro 00:16

Do you want to learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales and grow your business from successful entrepreneurs, startups, and CEOs without listening to a long, long, long interview?

If so, you've come to the right place. Gresham Harkless values your time and is ready to share with you precisely the information you are in search of.

This is the I AM CEO podcast.

Gresham Harkless 00:41

Hello, hello, hello, this is Gresh from the I AM CEO podcast and I appreciate you listening to this episode. If you've been listening this year, you know that we hit 1600 episodes at the beginning of this year. We're doing something a little bit different where we're repurposing our favorite episodes around certain categories, topics, or as I like to call them, business pillars that we think are going to be extremely impactful for CEOs, entrepreneurs, and business owners, or what I like to call the CB Nation architects, those that are looking to level up their organizations.

In this month, we are focusing on knowing thy numbers. I could hear the phrases from Mr. Wonderful on Shark Tank, and if you understand or don't understand exactly what numbers is, think finance, economics, accounting, capital, investment funding, bootstrapping, or anything that's around numbers. We have to understand how important it is to know your numbers and how important that is for you to forecast, make decisions, and to be able to truly strategize around your business and do that successfully.

Things are gonna be a little bit different, obviously, this month. So look for CEO hacks and CEO nuggets and interviews that focus around this. But more than everything else, make sure that you know your numbers because they're extremely important to the life of your work and business.

Hello, hello, hello, this is Gresh from the I AM CEO podcast and I have a very special guest on the show today. I have Karen Tenenbaum of Tenenbaum Law, P.C. Karen, it's awesome to have you on the show.

Karen Tenenbaum 02:07

Oh, it's great to be on the show. Thank you so much.

Gresham Harkless 02:09

No problem.  What I wanted to do was just read a little bit more about Karen, so you can hear about all the awesome things that she's doing.

Karen's law firm is actually recognized as a leading tech firm for 35 years. Karen founded Tenenbaum Law P.C. which helps individuals and businesses facing IRS and New York state tax problems.

Aside from practicing law, Karen is also the co-founder of Commerce Plaza Incorporated, a nonprofit organization dedicated to introducing children to the business community through a simulated work environment.

Karen, are you ready to speak to the I AM CEO community?

Karen Tenenbaum 02:42

I am.

[restrict paid=”true”]

Gresham Harkless 02:44

Awesome. So the first question I had was just to hear a little bit more about your CEO story and what led you to start your business.

Karen Tenenbaum 02:50

So I grew up within a family business. My father had a family business and my two brothers work in it. We always sat around the dinner table talking about small businesses so it was always my dream to get involved and help small businesses and individuals.

I'm an attorney and an accountant, so whether it be from the accounting side or the legal side, that was always my dream. Now I help people with tax problems so that they can live a better life and sleep at night.

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Gresham Harkless 03:15

That makes perfect sense because sleeping is always important. I know as being an entrepreneur and business owner, there are always so many different things that are going on, so it's great that you're providing services and you grew up in that environment. Now you're helping out people that are going through probably not the greatest situations all the time.

Karen Tenenbaum 03:29

The truth is, I am an entrepreneur at heart. I always wanted the challenge of having my own business. I think that you have more control over your destiny and your schedule and your life.

Gresham Harkless 03:39

Yeah, I would definitely agree with that. I wanted to drill down a little bit deeper and hear how you're helping out these entrepreneurs and business owners. Could you tell us a little bit more about what you're doing with Tenenbaum Law?

Karen Tenenbaum 03:48

Sure. So again, we handle IRS and New York state tax problems. I don't know if everyone knows this, but if you owe New York State more than $10, 000 or equal to $10,000 in taxes, interest, and penalties, they could take away your driver's license. And if you owe more than 51,000 to the IRS, they can take away your passport. There are so many tools that are available to help you if you owe this kind of money.

One of my growth opportunities and what we're working on right now is to create a link from our website for the next generation of people who like to do it themselves, self-service, we could go on our website and get links to all the tools that the IRS has. So if you owe $100,000 or less to the IRS you could get into an installment agreement over 7 years (84 months) and if you owe $20,000 or less to New York State, you can get it into an installment payment agreement for 36 months (3 years).

You might even have to probably give less financial disclosure than you normally would with amounts over those cited and you can again be up at two in the morning worried about this tax problem and not even have to speak to a tax attorney or your accountant. Of course, if you do have problems and you're unable to solve them on your own, we are available to help you either on an hourly basis or on a project basis. We take care of the whole problem from beginning to end.

We represent a lot of restaurants that have failed tax audits. So if you're being audited and you don't wanna be involved, you can hand off the quote problem to us and we could represent you. We're at

Gresham Harkless 05:27

Awesome, awesome, awesome. Yeah, I think when people are going through so many different things, and like as we spoke about a little bit offline is that some people just are more to do with yourselves and they wanna know about all the resources and sometimes people wanna call and talk with somebody.

So it's great that you're helping people out from both sides. Is that correct?

Karen Tenenbaum 05:42

Yes. So we also do, as I'm saying, full representation. So we represent a lot of business owners, small business owners, businesses go up and down and you can't always anticipate that you're gonna have a slow period. We step in and help and again negotiate with the IRS or New York State if you owe money. So we handle a lot of collection matters.

So the IRS or New York state has decided perhaps that you owe something. Either you've been audited or you just filed a return and couldn't pay. We step in and perhaps get rid of the penalties or perhaps you're a non-filer. We could deal with the voluntary disclosure on New York State's level where you have a limited lookback period for filing and you avoid criminal exposure and then you don't have any penalties.

So we could step in and we have a lot of knowledge and experience where the layman might not even know that there's this opportunity that there might be a first-time penalty abatement on the IRS level. They don't realize that they have this penalty that they could get rid of just by asking for it. Again, there are a lot of things that the layman might not know. We handle a number of, as I said, business owners who may have more than one home. So we do a lot of residency audits in New York State.

Let's say you're a snowbird. Perhaps you live in Florida a little half the year and you live in New York half year, or you live in New Jersey and Connecticut, and you commute to Manhattan on a regular basis, or you have a house out in the Hamptons, New York state may come in and say, you owe taxes to New York State. You might owe tax on a hundred percent of your income, for wherever it's derived.

I'm not saying you owe a hundred percent tax. You owe tax on all of your income wherever it is derived. New York State may come in and say, we really think you live in New York State and you say, no, no, no, I really live elsewhere. Sometimes you have the burden of proof by clear and convincing evidence. That's a tough burden. These audits take up a lot of time, a lot of effort, a lot of energy, and you need the proper representation in order to be successful.

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Gresham Harkless 07:36

That makes perfect sense.

Karen Tenenbaum 07:37

New York State is very aggressive. Yeah. New York State is very aggressive on these audits, but again, we're here at

Gresham Harkless 07:44

Awesome. Now I wanted to ask you for what I call your secret sauce. This is something that you feel distinguishes you or sets you apart, you or your organization apart.

Karen Tenenbaum 07:52

Yeah. So again, I'm an attorney, I'm a CPA. I have an LLM in tax from NYU and we have many years of experience. We've done, handled so many matters over so many years, and we're very good at negotiating a resolution that saves significant time and effort and energy.

Because I have an accounting background, I worked in large accounting firms, I worked in large law firms. You get to see things from different perspectives. So one thing that I think is very unique about us is that when not just lawyers, a lot of us are accountants or have the master of laws, the LLM in tax. So we know how to read financial statements, we know how to read the tax returns. We've been on both sides. Again, you get a different perspective.

Gresham Harkless 08:36


Karen Tenenbaum 08:36

We also have an amazing team. A lot of the people on the team are so empathetic and compassionate. They hold your hand through the whole thing because it is an emotional thing.

You don't just come to us because you have a legal problem. Usually, there's something going on behind the scenes. You're about to get remarried or there's some other pressure that's going on in your life that's causing you to fix this problem because often it's been lingering around, it's not the kind of thing you wanna always face.

A lot of people come to us, they didn't even open up the mail from the IRS or New York state. They were worried. Why are they getting these letters? And so, sometimes it's the handholding that you need as well, not just the years of experience to get a good resolution.

Gresham Harkless 09:13

Yeah. And if at all possible, it's great to get both as you guys are providing there. So, I appreciate you for sharing that with us.

What I wanted to do was switch gears a little bit and ask you for what I call a CEO hack. This might be a habit, a book, or even an app that you might use that makes you more effective and efficient as a CEO.

Karen Tenenbaum 09:28

Yes. I have to say I have been the lucky recipient of a number of entrepreneur programs. I don't know how many people have heard of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program. It's the most unbelievable thing. In connection with American Express and an organization called Count Me In, had a program called Make Mine a Million. I think the statistics are that only something like 2 to 3% of women's revenues of a million dollars or more in the country and American Express and Count Me In, make mine a Million had a pitch competition a number of years ago.

I don't know if they're still doing it. I was one of the pitch winners and what I ended up winning was with a number of other women, a coach. A private coach. I shouldn't say private. It was 10 women on the telephone through people biz in Texas. Alicia Marie, I'm giving a shout-out to Alicia Marie and she wrote the Business Accelerator Program. It's actually similar in a way to the Goldman Sachs program, which is available to businesses that have, I believe, four or more employees and have less than something like 1.5 million or less than 4 million in revenues, something like that.

I'm not sure of the exact numbers. In less than 4 million in revenues. What they do, the Goldman program has a similar business accelerator program where they teach you the marketing and sales. The key performance indicators, the processes and procedures, and you go through an entire program of 10 weeks. I went to LaGuardia Community College every Friday or every other Friday, and they go through each and every aspect of your business.

At the end, you know about the marketing side, the financial side, the administrative side, how to get an amazing customer experience, how to produce, not produce your product, but do it in a way that's special so that the clients are very happy with you at the end. I would highly recommend these programs, the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program and People Biz Coaching, which I'm sure is available if you wanted to pay. I was lucky enough to be the recipient for free of both of these programs.

The People Biz program was a 20-week program where 10 women called into a colon line and we had a coach on the phone, and every week you had to do a prep form in advance. Homework the night before analyzing what was good that week, what was bad that week, and looking at specific goals that you had. You had to set goals in advance and now compare how you're doing on those, what were you able to get to, and what were you not able to get to. It was the preparation before the call that was very important.

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Each week we focused on a different topic. Again, things like the marketing, the sales, the key performance indicators, how you are as a leader, what you know all about your team, and HR issues, and that's invaluable to have a community that you can chat with. It's the same as Goldman Sachs. I'm part of their alumni community. We recently had a summit in Washington, DC where Lauren Buffet is on the advisory board he was there speaking. Michael Bloomberg was there, Sarah Blakely, who owned Spanks, and all the billionaires were there. Richard Branson from Virgin. So many amazing speakers, and we're part of this unbelievable community. Like-minded people, other business owners who have the same challenges that you have.

It's unbelievable when you all get together in a room and discuss some of these issues that every business is similar to, whether it's a legal business or a non-legal business. We all have similar concerns and you need support. Business goes up and down. You all have similar challenges and you have to figure out what your vision is, what your growth opportunity is, and how you're gonna implement it.

That was one amazing thing about Goldman Sachs, is that they gave you homework every time, every week, and it was to analyze a different aspect of your business and write a growth plan. How are you gonna grow this business? And it was the most unbelievable, great experience, greatest experience that I've had. So that was definitely one of the things that's in my back pocket that I would like to promote. Everyone should look into the Goldman Sachs program's all around the country for free.

Goldman Sachs funds the whole thing.

Gresham Harkless 13:26

Nice. I appreciate you for sharing that with us and definitely belated congratulations on being selected for that. Now I wanted to ask you for what I call a CEO nugget. This is a word of wisdom or a piece of advice, or if you can hop into a time machine, what would you tell your younger business self?

Karen Tenenbaum 13:39

Oh, absolutely. So first I think that you have to get have a vision. I think you have to get a team together, you have to clearly express your vision and get a team together that believes in your vision. I think you have to play to everyone's strength. You have to know who your target audience is, know what your message is, and be ready to share it.

Gresham Harkless 13:59

There you go. That makes perfect sense. Now I wanted to ask you my absolute favorite question, which is the definition of what it means to be a CEO. So what does being a CEO mean to you?

Karen Tenenbaum 14:08

So, yeah. I go back to that to what I just said, which is have a clear vision, put together a great team that can help you implement it, come up with processes and procedures to help you carry it out and come up with key performance indicators that you're gonna track and measure on a regular basis to see if you're on track. Be the leader of that.

Gresham Harkless 14:24

Nice. Karen, I truly appreciate you for taking some time out of your schedule. What I wanted to do is pass you the mic so to speak, just to see if there's anything additional you want to let our readers and our listeners know, and then also how best people can get ahold of you.

Karen Tenenbaum 14:35

Absolutely. So first I think success means having clarity and consistency. I'd like to quote Mario Cuomo who said, there are two rules for being successful. One, figure out exactly what you wanna do, and two, To do it.

I also wanna quote Nel Merino, who started the Count Me In, and also take your daughters to work day years ago. She said You could have it all. You just can't do it all yourself. You need a great team and I really believe that.

Get in touch with me. So my name is Karen Tennenbaum. We're at and the number here is 631- 465- 5000 and we're in Millville, New York. So you could reach me at

Gresham Harkless 15:34

Awesome, awesome, awesome. I appreciate you so much again, Karen, and we'll have those links in the show notes and that information, but I hope you have a phenomenal rest of the day.

Karen Tenenbaum 15:41

Thank you so much. It was great to talk to you Gresh.

Outro 15:44

Thank you for listening to the I AM CEO podcast, powered by Blue 16 Media. Tune in next time and visit us at

I AM CEO is not just a phrase, it's a community. Be sure to follow us on social media and subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, Google Play, and everywhere you listen to podcasts.

Subscribe and leave us a five-star rating. Grab CEO gear at This has been the I AM CEO podcast with Gresham Harkless. Thank you for listening.


Dave Bonachita - CBNation Writer

This is a post from a CBNation team member. CBNation is a Business to Business (B2B) Brand. We are focused on increasing the success rate. We create content and information focusing on increasing the visibility of and providing resources for CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners. CBNation consists of blogs(, podcasts, ( and videos ( CBNation is proudly powered by Blue16 Media.

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