By Keith R. Higgons
April 15th is one of the most dreaded days on the Gregorian calendar.
Embedded in Greenpoint, at 125 Nassau Avenue, in the DMZ that is currently Nassau, is A&W Tax Service. The owners, Ted Wozniak and Greg Austin, work to do the impossible: they work to “humanize taxes.”
They met working for one of the large tax firms and witnessed things they didn’t really like. They decided they could do better. It wasn’t simply a matter of charging a more reasonable fee; it was about understanding and treating clients better.
I walked into their office and was met by two attractive and friendly receptionsts. Just as I sat down, out bounded Wozniak, disarmingly dressed in jeans and a collared shirt. Not an accountant’s uniform. We shook hands and walked into the office he shares with his partner, Austin, who was dressed in khakis and a polo shirt. Wozniak’s desk was covered with papers and notes, and Austin’s was neat and orderly. I was immediately struck with an “Odd Couple” sort of vibe, but soon realized it was more than that: it’s like an accounting yin and yang.
The duo likes to break their business down to two types of people, “Those you can work with and those you can’t. It’s that simple,” says Wozniak. Between the orderly and stoic nature of Austin and less orderly and gregarious Wozniak, I’d be curious to meet the person that they couldn’t work with.
The rapid growth of our area is no surprise to the affable Wozniak, a local guy who has lived in Greenpoint for over 40 years. He loves the influx of new residents for the diversity they bring; not only the mix of personalities and cultures, but also the small business mix .
Wozniak and Austin would like to reach out to some of these new residents and businesses. In particular, those still compelled to send their taxes back to Manhattan, Westchester, or wherever. It’s not that they’re looking to disrupt a long-standing relation ship; it’s more about continuing the sense of community they believe in. They’re also genuinely curious guys and want to know what they can do.
Listening to Wozniak talk, you can see the pride has has watching his neighborhood grow. Of course there are growing pains: the construction, the traffic, the mustaches. But overall, he views all of these as good things, even the mustaches.
When I asked Wozniak some of the key things he advises his clients, he leaned back, thought about it for five seconds, and simply said, “Don’t’ be dumb.” He leaned forward and went on to explain that owning a business or being incorporated is not something you should treat as your personal bank. He used disgraced former Tyco head, and poster child for piggish corporate behavior Dennis Koslowski, as the perfect examples.
A&W Tax Services does it all: start-ups, large businesses, small businesses, partnerships, LLCs, business plan financials, personal taxes. They won’t turn you away.
Of course there are plenty of tax preparers and CPAs in the area, and both Austin and Wozniak are quick to point that out. Their goal is to walk clients through the arcane U.S. tax code to maximize its complicated avenues. Or as Wozniak said, “Anyone can enter numbers in a computer. That’s not what we do.”
Whether you file quarterly or annually, Wozniak stressed the importance of “understanding his clients’ needs,” in order to structure their filings effectively.
And should one of their clients ever find themselves being called before the IRS for an audit, these guys welcome it. They’ll go with you and hold your hand through the process. A typically stressful situation, Wozniak will disarm it and find the proper resolution for his clients.
The two men pride themselves on their deep understanding of the tax code and their ability to decipher and explain it. They invite you to meet them for a free consultation. The office offers multilingual services, with English, Russian, and Polish spoken fluently.
It’s never too early to start planning for the tax season. So if you are wondering whether that pink Izod you bought for the Come-dressed-as-your-favorite-Thirtysomething-character-BBQ is tax deductible, Ted Wozniak, Greg Austin, and the team at A&W Tax Services will help you navigate the labyrinth of our tax code and find out.