IAM1772 – Attorney and CPA Helps Businesses with State Tax Problems

Podcast Interview with Karen Tenenbaum

Why it was selected for “CBNation Architects”:

In this episode of the I AM CEO podcast, host Gresham Harkless interviews Karen Tenenbaum, a tax attorney and CPA who founded Tenenbaum Law, P.C. 25 years ago to help individuals and businesses facing IRS and New York State tax problems. Karen shares her insights on the challenges of navigating state tax problems and the benefits of seeking professional help.

Throughout the interview, Karen emphasizes the importance of understanding the human aspect of the business and being sympathetic and empathetic to clients. She also discusses the current state of IRS collections during the pandemic and the need for individuals and business owners to be aware of updates and potential tax collection efforts.

Karen shares her CEO hacks and nuggets, which include knowing your numbers and building an amazing team in the company. She defines being a CEO as working on your business and making an impact in the community.

Overall, the episode provides valuable insights into the importance of tax management for businesses and the benefits of seeking professional help from firms like Tenenbaum Law. Karen's experience and expertise in the field make this episode a must-listen for anyone interested in resolving state tax problems.

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Karen Tenenbaum Teaser 00:00

We have another guy who has an international business, and how do you tell your clients now that the world is opening up and you can get back on a plane and fly internationally, that I can't get on that plane because I owe more than $55,000 to the IRS and they took away my passport?

So people don't even realize the consequences of not opening those envelopes or some of their actions of not paying. They think it'll go away but it doesn't go away.

Intro 00:24

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're in search of.

This is the I AM CEO podcast.

Gresham Harkless 00:50

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.

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, 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 business.

Hello, hello, hello. This is Gresh from the I AM CEO podcast. I have a very special guest back on the show today. I have Karen Tenenbaum of Tenenbaum Law PC. Karen, super excited to have you back on the show.

Karen Tenenbaum 02:17

Thanks so much for having me. We had such a great conversation. I'm really looking forward to this one as well.

Gresham Harkless 02:21

Yes, absolutely. We had a great episode. Karen was actually on episode number 110 of our podcast and we had a great little intro call where we talked about all the things that are updating and changing in our lives. So super excited to have you back on Karen. Obviously before we jump into the interview, I want to read a little bit more about Karen so you can hear about some of those awesome things.

Karen is a tax attorney for 39 years with an LLM in tax and is also a CPA. She founded Tenenbaum Law PC in Melville, New York 25 years ago, and the firm helps individuals and businesses facing IRS and New York State tax problems. Karen is a frequent speaker on IRS and New York State Tax issues for numerous professional organizations including the NYS Society of CPAs, the NCPAP, accounting and Tax Symposium, the AAA-CPA, New York State Society of Enrolled Agents, and many, many more.

Presently, she serves as the chair of the Suffolk County Bar Association Tax Law Committee and the Vice Chair of the NYS Society of CPA's relation with IRS committee. Her firm has successfully helped many individuals and businesses resolve their tax problems.

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Karen, excited to have you on the show again, it's alphabet soup over here. Are you ready to speak to the I AM CEO community?

Karen Tenenbaum 03:34

Thank you so much for that amazing introduction. Wow.

[restrict paid=”true”]

Gresham Harkless 03:38

Yes, absolutely. It's a lot easier to read it than I imagine it was to do it. So excited to have you back on the show. So what I want to do is hear a little bit more on what you've been working on, what I like to call your CEO story. J Just to get an update for all the awesome things that you've been doing.

Karen Tenenbaum 03:51

So, as you mentioned I'm Tenenbaum, Karen Tenenbaum Law. We're in Millville, New York. We handle IRS and New York State tax problems. And I have to say, you asked me recently what is new? Because of the pandemic so many things have happened and it really sparked a lot of conversation. I would say that the government has gotten more aggressive with tax problems and now we're here to help. So many people don't even realize that there are alternatives. A lot of times they owe money or they're being audited, whether it's because they moved their location.

During the pandemic, so many people changed their residency. They claim they're living somewhere else. New York State says maybe not so much. We're not so sure that really has happened. They sent out over 150,000 notices to a lot of people saying maybe there should be an adjustment, or maybe we noticed there's a change in your pattern of filing and we think that maybe you owe a little more money to New York State. They've also gotten more aggressive in their collection. They're now showing up again at restaurants saying, if you don't pay the taxes you owe, we're gonna pay to block the place. This is a little scary.

In the last two years there were so many IRS tax relief initiatives, don't worry, file a little late and if you need help with the payments, we're gonna help you. Now all of a sudden, everybody's back knocking on your door saying, you owe us money. Pay up now. People might not even realize there's an offering compromise alternative, there's an installment agreement alternative. Maybe you're currently not a collectible alternative, and so you might have to get a representative or do it yourself and deal with it. A lot of people didn't even open envelopes and now they're realizing that it's time to focus on reality that they owe the money and they may even be personally liable.

Sometimes people are selling their business because they weren't doing so well during the pandemic and to get out of all these problems, they're gonna sell the business. But if you have a tax problem, you might have to do a bulk sale filing with New York State. They may say before you get paid, we get paid. All these things are making people's heads spin. And so we are here to help and help you navigate the path through everything.

Gresham Harkless 06:02

I love that you obviously devoted your excellence, your experience, and expertise to be able to help these organizations be able to do that. So, I know you touched a little bit on how you work with your clients.

Could you take us through if somebody picks up the phone, gives you a phone call, or shoots you an email or visit your website? What happens from there? Like, what are the different ways by which you can help serve your clients?

Karen Tenenbaum 06:19

So if you call our house, our office is gonna meet my house. You call our office, we actually do give you personalized attention and a lot of great service. You get somebody on the phone. All we do is this, we're a boutique niche law firm, and all we handle are IRS in New York State tax problems. So you're gonna get someone on the phone that's empathetic, sympathetic, who's been speaking to people for years. The person who does our intake has been with us for over 20 years, and she knows, she's heard all the stories and she's sympathetic to everything that you're telling her. She understands the emotional aspect that goes along with this.

This is not just a financial crisis that you're in. If you owe money, it affects your marriage, it affects your relationship, it affects your sleep, it affects your job, your career. If they're taking money out of your bank account or your wages, they're going to your employer and telling them that you have a tax problem. How about this? We represented somebody who's a doctor who normally goes with friends and family on a family vacation in January to Angola. He was embarrassed to tell his friends that he owed more than $55,000 to the IRS and they took away his passport.

We have another guy who has an international business. How do you tell your clients now that the world is opening up and you could get back on a plane and fly internationally that I can't get on that plane because I owe more than $55,000 to the IRS and they took away my passport. New York State will take away your driver's license if you owe 10,000 or more and that adds up quickly. So people don't even realize the consequences of not opening those envelopes or some of their actions of not paying. They think, yeah, it'll go away, but it doesn't go away.

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Gresham Harkless 07:52

Absolutely. And obviously sorry to hear that, but again, it just shows, the impact that you all and your team have and just being able to have these conversations that help make people aware.

But I think really you hammered home the idea of really understanding the different opportunities that you have and different ways that you can handle that. It doesn't have to be just one way and really letting people know about different avenues they can take to resolve some of these things that they're going through.

Karen Tenenbaum 08:15

And you ask what happens. So you call, you get a lovely person on the phone, and then they connect you to my legal team. They'll give you a 15-minute free just a consultation, again, discussing what your issues are, and what the possible solutions are. Then you have the opportunity of either doing it on your own or getting help.

Gresham Harkless 08:33

Yeah, absolutely. That's too huge to be able to have a phone or an email that you are able to reach out to when you're not sure exactly what to do and to take those steps according to your situation.

Would you consider that to be what I like to call it, your secret sauce? The thing you feel sets you or the organization a part or makes it unique? Is it that understanding of the human aspect. Obviously, I know that obviously the X's and O's and all the things related to the law and things like that, but I think so many people gloss over that human aspect of understanding that it's not just a business issue, it's not just a tax, it's a kind of a human issue.

Things that you might be going through that could affect so many different aspects. Do you think that awareness is what you feel sets you apart and makes you unique?

Karen Tenenbaum 09:13

Absolutely. So again, this is all we do and this is all we've been doing for many years. As you mentioned, it was my firm's 25th anniversary already, and so the team is really geared up. They have connections to the federal government, connections to the state government. They understand the stresses that go along with some of these issues. They understand the solutions, the possible solutions. All the alternatives and they lay it out for you very clearly. Also, because we're lawyers, we have an attorney-client privilege.

Most people first go to their accountant when they have these kinds of issues. We get a lot of referrals from those accountants when they no longer can handle it or when they realize that they don't have that same privilege. So God forbid, there's a criminal aspect to this, if you tell your accountant what's going on, they might have to testify against you and we don't have to.

Gresham Harkless 10:00

Awesome. Awesome, awesome. So I wanted to switch gears a little bit and I wanted to ask you for what I call a CEO hack. So this could be like an app, a book, or a habit that you have. Yeah. But what's something that makes you more effective and efficient?

Karen Tenenbaum 10:12

So, first of all, I wanna tell you about some of the resources that I've used to get to this. But I'll do the hack and then we'll do that after. So the hack is to know your numbers. So here I am a CPA, I'm a numbers person. I think everyone needs to know their key performance indicators, their KPIs, their money, their metrics, and make decisions based on that.

So we get a dashboard created every single week, and it has everything, every single thing that we think is important. It's pretty thick at this point and we compare it period to period, year to year so we know everything. I think you can't just look at your top revenue line. You have to look at your bottom net profit line. So I had one year where I was only focusing on the top. We did very well. We're a seven-figure law firm, and we were just looking at the top.

We had high positions, high-paying positions everywhere. Then that year I looked at the bottom and I said, wait a minute. What about me? Everyone else is getting paid well, and so now I've learned you really have to have a combination of things and watch your expenses and make sure that you have some net profit percentage and the dollar amount that allows you to live your life.

Gresham Harkless 11:19

Yeah, I love that. I think so many times, you hear your numbers are able to really tell the story of the business. So what about a CEO nugget? This is a little bit more of a word of wisdom or a piece of advice. I like to say it might be something you would tell your favorite client, or if you hop into a time machine, you might tell your younger business self.

Karen Tenenbaum 11:36

Okay. I would say that everyone has a strength. You can have it all, you just can't do it all yourself. Everyone has the strength. Put together an amazing team that you could rely on to handle all aspects of your business. I always say I have an administrative team, a marketing team, a legal team, and a financial team and together we are very strong and we're able to serve the community and help them.

Gresham Harkless 12:01

Yeah, I love that. I got visuals of the Power Rangers, the Captain Planet, where you combine all these powers together and that's when you really truly, go to another level.

So I think so many times I always say, being a CEO, entrepreneur, business owner, you have that balance beam where you have the ego to believe that you can make an impact and do something different, but you can't let that ego take a hold of you and not allow people to use their power, choose their zone of geniuses, their secret sauces to make things happen.

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So I love that CEO nugget because we can sometimes lose sight and let our ego get in the way.

Karen Tenenbaum 12:33

And I really think that you wanna play to everyone's strengths so that they can be successful. People wanna be successful and so that's part of it.

Gresham Harkless 12:39

Yeah, be successful and also wanna be appreciated. I think that's one of those human things that I love that you've been able to execute on. I wanted to ask you now my absolute favorite question, which is the definition, what it means to be a CEO. We're hoping to have different quote and quote CEOs on this show. So Karen, what does being a CEO mean to you?

Karen Tenenbaum 12:55

That's a very good question. Being a CEO is working on your business not just in your business. Seeing it from the big picture view and as you said, making an impact on the community, figuring out what it is, what unique qualities you do have that allow you to succeed in this world and allow others to succeed in this world and feel loved and appreciated.

Gresham Harkless 13:18

Yeah, absolutely. I love how that ties right into the nugget that we talked about. I really think that it's quote and quote next-level thinking because I've always heard you become a master. Especially, you hear that a lot in sports when you're able to understand what you're supposed to do. But the next level is when you're also able to understand what everybody else is going to do and why they're doing certain things, and you're able to help support them in the way that they need so that they can win and succeed.

I really love that perspective because it really gets you into the lighthouse and you can start to really see things from that vantage point.

Karen Tenenbaum 13:51

And how you can impact, have an impact on other people in the world. Years ago I started a nonprofit organization that is open to all school districts on Long Island teaching kids about money. And you realize then the impact that you can have on these amazing kids. They're 11 years old and they say, wow, I was in fifth grade. That was the best trip I ever went on. Even better at the time than the circus with the Dawn One restaurant. And I thought, wow, I had that impact on 11-year-old kids. There's no better feeling.

Gresham Harkless 14:20

Yeah, absolutely. I think it just goes to really sharing your gifts, sharing your talent, sharing your knowledge with others. Sometimes we can minimize the gifts and talents that we have, but we sometimes forget that just by sharing that then creating that opportunity, not only does it help out us, it helps out those people. Then it creates that domino effect where you start to help out generation after generation.

Karen Tenenbaum 14:43

I'm writing your quote, and I like that. Sharing your gifts and your talents.

Gresham Harkless 14:46

There you go. I love it. Perfect. Karen, truly appreciate that definition. Of course. I appreciate you coming back on the show even more. So what I want to do now is pass you the mic, so to speak, just to see if there's anything additional that you can let our readers and listeners know, and of course how best people can get ahold of you, find about all the awesome things you and team are working on.

Karen Tenenbaum 15:04

So anytime you have a question about the IRS or New York State, anyone can call me at 631-465-5000. Anyone can go to our website at You can email us at Tax I'm Karen Tenenbaum of Tenenbaum Law. We're here to help you.

Gresham Harkless 15:24

Thank you for being so helpful, Karen. To make it even easier, we'll have the links and information in the show notes. But I love, love, love the work that you do. It's so necessary. Sometimes, again, you can feel isolated when you don't know where or who or what to turn to. So I love that you've been able to be that resource in so many different ways.

So thank you so much again, my friend, and I hope you have a phenomenal rest of the day.

Karen Tenenbaum 15:40

Thank you so much for having me on your show. And by the way, they can go to if they wanna learn about how to teach kids about money as well.

Gresham Harkless 15:47

Awesome, awesome, awesome. We'll definitely have that link in the show notes as well too. We're gonna have you back on the show to talk even more about that too. So looking forward to the next time, and I hope you have a great rest of the day.

Karen Tenenbaum 15:56

Take care.

Outro 15:57

Thank you for listening to the I AM CEO Podcast, powered by CB Nation and 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 Apple Podcast, Spotify, Google podcast, and everywhere you listen to podcasts.

Subscribe and leave us a five-star rating. This has been the I AM CEO podcast with Gresham Harkless, Jr. 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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