On Aug. 14, 2003, during the hours before a blackout crippled almost half the U.S., I was working at home. I’d taken a vacation day because I needed to file my taxes, and I’d done a perfectly awful job during previous year or so keeping up with that important task, mostly owing to a period of unemployment in 2000 and 2001 and freelancing for a living.

My accountant was a perfectly nice fellow located in Brooklyn. Unfortunately, I couldn’t say where on earth in Kings County his office was. My memory is I had to ride the Q train forever, then transfer to a bus for a ride of similar length. If I didn’t know I was in Brooklyn, I couldn’t tell you where it was. The accountant’s rates were very good — he was also good at minimizing my debt to Uncle Sam. But I knew for logistical reasons it wouldn’t be a long-term arrangement. I had to have someone more accessible — and email friendly.

For me, the blackout more or less clinched the matter: I’d literally just turned off my laptop when I realized the cable box was dark. Then I noticed all the clocks in the apartment, digital or otherwise, were dead. I peeked into my hallway to find the light was out. Circuit breaker seemed all right, but then, stepping outside my apartment door, I realized the whole building was electricity-challenged. The block, the neighborhood, the borough, the city — you know how it happened. It was, as so many people noted at the time, a wild and crazy and wonderful and beautiful night. And then the lights came back on and I still needed a CPA who wasn’t located on an outer planet.

It was through Craig’s List, believe it or not, that I met a fellow named Jonathan Medows, CPA. He has been my accountant ever since, and because he’s been so terrific to me, I honestly don’t mind giving him a shameless plug here at the Clyde Fitch Report. In short order he helped me straighten out my tax situation and I’ve been on the (not so) righteous path ever since. He handles all kinds of individuals and businesses, but I think he works especially well with folks in the arts — actors, writers, directors, artists, musicians, the works. If you have a question, he’s great at providing answers that are direct and understandable, not larded up with technical gobbledygook. He’s extremely thorough and also, on a personal note, a very decent fellow and family man.

So if you need someone to handle your accounting matters, I highly suggest that you visit his website.

My Blackout Tax Epiphany

Leonard J.