SALT TALK: What’s Left Behind

Posted by Wayne K. Berkowitz CPA, J.D., LL.M. on Aug 19, 2019 2:00:00 PM
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This blog has taken me months to write. Thoughts kept spinning in and out of my head. Should I write it? Will it serve a purpose?

We lost a member of the Berdon family a few short months ago. Michael Gelbtuch worked directly for me in the SALT Group. We had just promoted Michael to manager and were looking forward to more great things to come — for him and for Berdon.

I cannot even begin to detail all that I learned from Michael. But the most important of those lessons was clearly the patience he taught me to have with everyone. Whether it be a client, another employee at Berdon, an auditor, or one of my partners, Michael made it his business to listen to all and to understand their point of view.

Saying Michael liked to talk is an understatement. Had he done nothing else, simply listening to Michael reaching his usually insightful conclusions was an exercise in patience. But it was always worth it, and it always delivered much more than that.

For every second of your time that Michael ticked away, he gave back at least two to you. Taking the time to listen to Michael was an investment that paid big returns. Not just in his accomplishments at work, but in lessons in kindness. What a deal! Listen to Michael, get the work done, and learn something to boot.

Whether it be the occasional pearl of Jewish wisdom that he would drop on me or some other insight, Michael always left you with more than you gave him. He was clearly a man who practiced the highest form of charity.

After being at Berdon for a relatively short time, Michael became seriously ill. But our Berdon bulldog faced the challenge head on and finished his treatment successfully. He always went after problems head on. Fighting his illness seemed to give him even more resolve to tackle the issues of our clients. Despite his tenacity, State and City auditors truly liked Michael. Almost all my current interactions with State and City officials involve kind words for Michael.

Michael, we miss you and we will continue to. You left behind something for all of us.

Wayne Berkowitz can be reached at

Wayne Berkowitz, a tax partner and head of the State and Local Tax Group at Berdon LLP, advises on the unique requirements of governments and municipalities across the nation.


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