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Continual Preparation


CPA partners at Kushner LaGraize plan for post-election tax opportunities.


ceoprofilejan2017The day after the presidential election — while you were busy celebrating or fretting — partners from Kushner LaGraize, LLC, Certified Public Accountants and Consultants, were already sitting in seminars, exploring Donald Trump’s tax proposals as well as the House Republican bill and what the directives might mean for their clients.

“We’re very interested in all the current tax issues and like to keep our clients abreast of all the changes,” says partner and firm co-founder David Kushner, CPA, CR.FA. “Our firm has a very strong team of professionals working together to provide very high-quality service to our clients. We’re energized by the tax change challenges and look forward to meeting with our clients about the opportunities the new tax bill will provide.”

Kushner foresees lowered taxes on dividends and capital gains; changes to itemized deductions; and new treatment of flow-through entities, potentially reducing business taxes from 35 percent to 15 or 20 percent in the coming years. Kushner, and fellow partner Craig Fabacher, CPA, say as soon as that bill becomes law, their entire team will be prepared — partners, managers and all employees.

“We’ve been around for over 30 years and what makes us a little bit different from most other firms in the city is we’re a heavy tax-driven firm,” Fabacher says. “We pride ourselves on the ability to offer tax savings and planning. We focus on being proactive, meeting on a regular basis and helping to answer questions before they become problems.”

Kushner LaGraize is a full-service firm and performs audits, reviews and compilations, as well as litigation support and valuations. “Our clients are all families, local businesses and individuals — not Fortune 500 companies — so our advice is very personal,” Kushner says.

He and Fabacher both feel few people know how much human interaction comes with the job as a CPA. It’s not just sitting in a cubicle, paging through files and crunching numbers on an adding machine. (Or wearing a pocket protector, Kushner jokes.) Every day, they get to meet people and help them, and, for Fabacher and Kushner, that’s one of the best parts of the job.

“People are constantly bringing us their questions and their problems,” Fabacher says. “We can see their pain … it’s easy to get connected personally because you want to help people. They lean on us. And we’re there for them. Without our clients, we have nothing and we’re well aware of that. We know we have to be awake every day and do our very best to serve their needs.”

Fabacher can’t help but brag on Kushner’s behalf that he is one of the most renowned CPAs in the region, especially when it comes to his biggest niches — healthcare groups and attorneys. “David is really well-respected throughout the New Orleans area,” Fabacher says. He was named The Best Tax Practitioner in the New Orleans Area by Money magazine in 1987 and just last year won a Jewish Endowment Federation Young Family Award for Professional Excellence.

The firm itself was the first in the city to reopen after Hurricane Katrina, and, with just two employees leaving in the aftermath, has been recognized by CityBusiness for many years as one of the best employers in the city. In 2015, it was named one of the best firms in America to work for by Accounting Today.

Fabacher says what attracted him to the firm is the way Kushner LaGraize treats employees. “We let them grow and feel happy with where their careers are going,” he says. “Almost everybody at the top has come up through the ranks.” In a field plagued with overtime, especially in peak tax season, the firm works hard to manage the hours to minimize burden and burn-out.

Kushner says what’s more, the firm feels like family. “I’m very proud of our partners and employees and we’re happy to be a part of our New Orleans scene,” he says.
Experience is the Best Teacher

Both Kushner LaGraize partners had early work experience that directly informed their CPA careers.

Fabacher, IRS agent after college: “Most of the time it was a hostile environment, investigating people and telling them to write a check at the end,” he says. “I learned how to deal with people, how to get along and make things work. Now I represent a lot of clients in front of the IRS. A lot of people are scared, but IRS agents are people too. You just have to know what you’re doing.”

Kushner, 13-year-old book keeper: “My grandfather had a lot of loan receivables and rental properties, and I used to collect his rents, take care of his statements and update his records,” he says. “I didn’t even know what accounting meant when I was in high school.” Kushner’s intention was to become a lawyer but college accounting classes lured him away. The rest is history.