Attorney: Juda Gabaie
Firm: Gabaie & Associates, LLC
Location: Baltimore, MD
Practice Areas: Tax Law
“Online presence is everything in order to have your law firm be successful in today’s market,” says Gabaie. “Everything is online.”
Attorney Juda Gabaie in the Spotlight…
As a Baltimore-based tax attorney, Juda Gabaie says that most of the time when new clients come to his office they are already facing a problem.
He says that small business owners often are just trying to keep their heads above water financially — especially early on in their ventures — and so they’re not always prepared for the amount of work that goes into the financial bookkeeping portion of ownership.
“These small businesses go through a lot just to make their businesses work,” he says, “and we’re here to try to make it easy for them.”
Recently, Gabaie says a client came to him in the early stages of forming a business, but that the business owner had yet to establish the necessary structure to ensure that his business would be able to remain stable in the long run.
“He was not doing a lot of the steps right,” says Gabaie. “The business was not formed, he was paying his employees under the table, and he was worried. He couldn’t go to sleep at night because he was worried he may have problems later on, which of course he would because nothing was legitimate.”
Gabaie says that few business owners know how to prepare themselves for that side of business ownership, and that’s where the strategies provided by his solo practice come into play in a major way for his clients.
There are licences to file for, obtain, and maintain. There’s the requirement that a company obtain an EIN. There are Maryland personal property taxes, a 941 form for employment taxes to be filed every quarter, and 940 and 1120 forms to file at the end of the year. Then there are the Maryland withholding taxes, a state reconciliation report, unemployment compensation and, still, says Gabaie, that’s just a partial list.
The business owner that knows all of this going into launching a new venture is the rare case, it seems, which means a constant demand for tax attorneys with an array of skills like Gabaie’s.
On the Path to Helping Small Businesses Succeed
Gabaie’s father immigrated to Los Angeles from Iran in the mid 1970s. He studied electrical engineering at UCLA, then started a small business selling industrial sewing machine parts to players in L.A.’s burgeoning textile industry soon after graduating.
It was in this way that Gabaie had his first glimpses of what it takes to run a small business, and it is for this reason that he started out on his course to become a tax attorney.
Since Gabaie’s father ran his business on his own with only occasional help from an assistant, Gabaie says that he “always had to keep track of all of these papers and requirements in order to get the maximum deductions and credits” that he could. Thus, Gabaie says that his father was “always working” and that he “sometimes had to spend time doing administrative work instead of going to get more clients.”
When Gabaie went to Johns Hopkins to pursue his undergraduate degree in business, he says that he really enjoyed working with numbers and naturally found himself drawn to a variety of accounting classes. From there, he found work helping to prepare tax returns for low-income individuals in the community and ultimately decided to continue his education by going to law school to focus on tax law. He worked for a few years at a law firm after getting his J.D., then set out to practice on his own in early 2018.
He says that his focus is not just on helping to get his clients out of financial and legal trouble, but also to help make sure that they don’t find themselves in the same situation again down the line.
“If people were fully informed of the tax incentive for each item associated with their businesses, I guarantee that it would be an entirely different ballgame,” he says.
It’s All About Planning
“When people come to me, often they’re very scared,” says Gabaie. “And obviously I understand why they’re scared.”
Gabaie says that being audited is a “very stressful and tedious process” that requires dredging up records from as far back as three years in the past, though finding accurate records for even one year can be challenging enough.
In today’s internet-based markets, Gabaie says that tax law is even more complicated and confusing than ever before. “Nowadays, taxes are involved with every aspect of your life,” he says. “Millennials (specifically) are not always aware of the taxes involved with all of these small gigs that they take upon themselves. Uber, AirBnB — those have a lot of tax implications because you’re not a W2 anymore, you’re a 1099. Those taxes are really high if you don’t strategize or do any tax planning.”
Gabaie says that a big part of his practice is centered around teaching business owners about the many opportunities available to them to manage and plan their tax situations as they go about the day-to-day work of running their businesses. He says that there are literally “hundreds of apps out there that can help people” with everything from keeping track of expenses, to billing clients and submitting invoices.
“You can basically run your business just from your phone,” he says, “and all of this stuff is what makes it easy for clients to understand how to avoid facing the same (tax) problems in the future.”
It’s a process that Gabaie says he understands well, not just because of his background as an accountant and tax attorney, but also because he is now running a small business himself.
“Online presence is everything.”
Though still in the early stages of building up his law practice, Gabaie says that he knew he needed to invest in his law firm website from the start in order to maximize his ROI.
“Online presence is everything in order to have your law firm be successful in today’s market because everything is online,” he says.
He worked with LawLytics to launch his site and to establish a content plan, and says that the LawLytics Content Department is currently working to add multiple pages to his site on a monthly basis.
Gabaie says that he has an “ambitious plan” to grow his firm quickly and hopes to eventually hire additional attorneys to help maintain his caseload. His involvement as a LawLytics member is a big part of that equation.
“The tax field is not going away,” he says. “It’s actually a growing field because of the implementation of new rules, and people are constantly trying to figure out where they stand in that regard.” Still, he says he knows that all businesses need to prepare for slower periods, and maintaining a solid online presence is a great way to stay ahead of the curve.
“It’s all about planning for the future,” says Gabaie. “There’s always going to be a downtime, so you have to anticipate,” he says, adding that “to stay one step ahead of the game, you have to be on top of it.”
And, for Gabaie, staying on top of his online marketing efforts with LawLytics is a great way to make sure his firm stays at the top of its game.