Meet Vardan Pogosian, CPA with Pogosian Tax Planning Inc

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Tax strategist Vardan Pogosian is a former IRS agent who has taken tax planning to the next level.

Born in Armenia and raised in Mongolia, Vardan had his first experience in the business world running numbers and crunching data for his uncle at their fast-food restaurant in Russia. After moving to the U.S., Vardan was accepted into USC, where he thrived in accounting. His lifelong dream of becoming an IRS agent became true a few years later. Now, he runs Pogosian Tax Planning where he works with business owners and small family offices to help create successful tax-reduction strategies. When Vardan is not helping business owners grow their wealth, he loves spending his free time with his feet in the sand and traveling the world.

CLICK HERE for more information about Vardan Pogosian.

CLICK HERE for more information about Pogosian Tax Planning Inc.

Listen to Vardan’s story here.



Click here to read the transcript

Announcer 0:00
From Los Angeles, this is the Echelon radio network

Jerri Hemsworth 0:11
This is Jerri Hemsworth and welcome to the Echelon Radio Podcast. And today I’m talking with Vardan Pogosian. How are you?

Vardan Pogosian 0:21
Doing good, Jerri, thanks for having me.

Jerri Hemsworth 0:23
Oh, I’m so glad you’re here because you have a very unique profession. And I’m totally intrigued by what you do. Tell me what you do.

Vardan Pogosian 0:34
I’m a tax strategist. I’m a CPA and former IRS agent. I help business owners legally reduce tax, improve their cash flow and help them build wealth.

Jerri Hemsworth 0:45
So the former tax agent, how long were you a tax agent?

Vardan Pogosian 0:49
I was at IRS for about nine years.

Jerri Hemsworth 0:52
And did you get there out of school? Or how did you how did you get a job and your career there? How did that happen?

Vardan Pogosian 1:01
I went to USC and graduated and I did some audits in private industry before joining IRS for about couple years, two and a half years at a short stance with the Department of Defense audit agency as well. But my goal was all along to work at IRS. So I applied, this a long process, took about a year and a half.

Jerri Hemsworth 1:24

Vardan Pogosian 1:26
Yeah, so I was patient one morning, 6am HR person from New York called me and offered me a job.

Jerri Hemsworth 1:33
Oh, did you do a happy dance after that?

Vardan Pogosian 1:36
No, I went back to sleep probably. I was I was pretty happy.

Jerri Hemsworth 1:41
Yeah, that’s all that sounds arduous. that just can’t be fun. At what point did you know, you know what, it’s time for me to leave the IRS.

Vardan Pogosian 1:51
Yeah, it was end of 2013/14. Government shutdowns. You know, IRS was in a debacle, with Lois Lerner case. If you recall, Obama administration used IRS to target you know, conservative nonprofits during elections, that whole mess, basically, long story short, Congress decided to punish IRS and, and cut the budget. So it was pretty rough times. So and there was no promotion opportunities. And I felt like, you know, it was time to move on. I was in Arizona sitting in my hotel room, and we were supposed to visit Grand Canyon. And Grand Canyon is a federal park and it was shut down due to government. You know, Congress shut down. And I’m like…

Jerri Hemsworth 2:43
My work, my play, everything shut down. What do I do?

Vardan Pogosian 2:46
Work was shut down, and park was shut down. I’m like, It’s time to talk to my wife. I said, it’s time to move on, Go out go out on our own.

Jerri Hemsworth 2:54
Is that when you started Pogosian planning?

Vardan Pogosian 2:57
No, I started a traditional CPA firm in 2014. Just you know, doing tax compliance, tax preparation, bookkeeping, payroll, you know, your traditional CPA services. But also tax planning. So the emphasis was on tax planning all along. Around 2020, I realized, you know, I need to do this full time, I need to do tax planning full time, I need to help my business owners legally reduce tax through this advanced tax strategies, but it’s time consuming. It takes vetting it takes Tax Court research, to keep up with the tax planning strategies to keep up with, you know, what’s going on in the tax planning world.

Jerri Hemsworth 3:42

Vardan Pogosian 3:42
So I decided to sell my practice in 2020.

Jerri Hemsworth 3:46

Vardan Pogosian 3:47
And do this full time. So now I have a tax planning practice where I do this full time.

Jerri Hemsworth 3:54
And was that that was obviously where your joy was, was helping your clients?

Vardan Pogosian 4:00

Jerri Hemsworth 4:00
With this? And what kind of process vetting your clients do you have a set, I don’t know process and what is the type of clients that you take on?

Vardan Pogosian 4:16
Sure. So we want to see at least million dollars in net profits. Why do they come up with that amount? It’s not like I want to work with millionaires only. It’s just that’s a kind of a threshold where we can bring in good ROI to our clients. To really understand the process. We have to look from the standpoint of ROI. So tax planning is like an investment project. You put in money into the tax planning project, and you get an ROI back. So through tax savings, so just like investments you invest in stocks, mutual bonds, you get an ROI back. Tax Planning is very similar. You invest into a tax plan and you get an ROI in form of tax saving.

Jerri Hemsworth 5:11
Sure, that makes sense.

Vardan Pogosian 5:11
And so, yeah, and to achieve a good ROI, we generally want to see at least million dollars in net profits. We’re kind of industry agnostic, you know, we don’t have an, you know, particular industry, it’s more profit driven. If you have, if you have that income level and the tax liability in California, you’re gonna have about 500,000 of taxes on million dollars. Right. So, we can help. That’s where we come in, and, you know, we can do some damage.

Jerri Hemsworth 5:43
That’s fantastic. And you also deal with family offices, right? And, that space?

Vardan Pogosian 5:51
Yeah, we actually have a family office structure in our practice. So besides tax planning, we also help businesses synergize all their other aspects of their wealth creation, their estate planning, risk management, you know, your insurance, and investments, Wealth Management, your retirement investments, your you know, outside of retirement investments, and what, what’s unique about us is, we have a tax first approach.

Jerri Hemsworth 6:24

Vardan Pogosian 6:25
So we want to address taxes first. So, for example, if you have a good financial adviser, and you know, he has, you know, X amount of returns 12% 15%. You know, generally you’re happy or, you know, your portfolio is doing good. But our what we ask is, let, let us look at your tax situation first. Did you optimize your taxes? Did you have a tax plan in place prior to investing? If you just pay 51% tax, and invest it? And yeah, you’re, you have, you know, great returns on your investment. Or you might be in real estate. You just pay 51% tax. And that money is never coming back. It went to Uncle Sam. It’s never coming back.

Jerri Hemsworth 7:18
Yeah, yeah, it’s gone. Yeah.

Vardan Pogosian 7:20
Can we, the question is, can we legally reduce that amount? Emphasis on legally, we don’t do anything illegal here? So legally, can we reduce that tax first, then invest?

Jerri Hemsworth 7:34
Gotcha, gotcha.

Vardan Pogosian 7:36
So the second layer is the investments. Once you saved on taxes, then there is a tax savvy way to invest through because tax planning creates tax advantageous structures. That’s what we do. And within those structures, you invest. And when clients see that the wealth, exponential wealth, wealth creation is unparallel. When you address taxes first and you invest within those structures, the return on investment is exponentially higher.

Jerri Hemsworth 8:15
And I would imagine having that family office structure and you’re working with the other professionals that have the same goal. That’s got to be huge benefit for the clients. Massive.

Vardan Pogosian 8:27
Exactly. And I am at the helm of the family office as a tax strategist. Okay. So your family office normally when you people have family offices in those structures, it’s oftentimes financial advisors at the helm calling the shots, right, which is fine. But there is a level up where you can have a tax first approach to your family office. And Jerri, we find that there is an underserved market. You know, normally family offices, you would have to have, you know, 50 million and up.

Jerri Hemsworth 9:08
Yeah, it’s up there.

Vardan Pogosian 9:08
Yeah, 100 million, you know, they have 500,000 retainer I know, to just even be in the family office.

Jerri Hemsworth 9:15

Vardan Pogosian 9:16
So what what we’re, what our niche is that we go after the underserved market, below 50 million in, in, in, you know, assets under management. And we find that they’re just at the mercy of their financial advisor. Again, nothing against financial advisors. We work with financial advisors, and we actually have financial advisors bring into our family structure their clients, and they do the wealth management piece within our tax planning structures.

Jerri Hemsworth 9:54
Yeah, yeah.

Vardan Pogosian 9:54
So we encourage financial advisors to contact us to see if we can possibly help their clients manage. So in our, in our family office structure, Jerri, if you’re an estate planning attorney, for example, you can bring in your client and you as estate planning attorney will plug in yourself and your client into that family office structure, and you will be doing that piece as estate planning attorney.

Jerri Hemsworth 10:23
Yeah, they stay, you stay.

Vardan Pogosian 10:26
Yeah, you stay. So now you have, you and your client have access to the tax planning strategies that you know risk management all within the ecosystem of taxes first.

Jerri Hemsworth 10:41

Vardan Pogosian 10:41
So, and if you’re a CPA, you bring in your client, we don’t do CPA work, so you’re gonna continue doing your CPA work. And now your client is plugged in into this infrastructure of taxes first, tax planning, taxes first investment, taxes first retirement planning, taxes first insurance.

Jerri Hemsworth 11:03
Unbelievable. Is there a minimum for that? I know, you know, for the tax planning, you said a million

Vardan Pogosian 11:09
In profits

Jerri Hemsworth 11:10
In profits. What about the family office?

Vardan Pogosian 11:13
Family office we can bring in the client, yeah, we want to see generally 3 to 5 million in investable assets. The threshold is not very high. I mean, at higher thresholds, we can offer free tax planning meaning if if you know someone comes in and and brings into the infrastructure, you know, they don’t have a financial advisor they’re gonna utilize our our back office team for a wealth management and you know, asset management. The tax planning can be part of the deal here.

Jerri Hemsworth 11:49
I think this is brilliant, because it, you know, the family office, the traditional one that has, you know, 50 million on up. There’s far I, I believe there’s far more like you said, the underserved market that have between the 2 or 3 or 4 million to the 50 million, there’s far more need, I can imagine in that in that space. So I think this is actually a very brilliant idea.

Vardan Pogosian 12:17
And they separately get advice from their financial advisor on investment. Again, it could be great advice.

Jerri Hemsworth 12:24

Vardan Pogosian 12:24
They get insurance products separately. They don’t talk to each other. No, no, they go to a state planning attorney, draw, draw, they draw up their will, their trust. That’s separate. No one talks to each other and their CPAs filing the return separately.

Jerri Hemsworth 12:40

Vardan Pogosian 12:41
So those pieces don’t work together. They’re just on their own. Each one maybe has the best interest of the client, but they’re working in a tunnel.

Jerri Hemsworth 12:52

Vardan Pogosian 12:53
On their own.

Jerri Hemsworth 12:53

Vardan Pogosian 12:54
And, but what we’re saying is, why won’t we combine this in under a one stop shop, and even possibly the same advisors can come in and work under the umbrella of a tax strategist? A, you know, says this IUL policy makes sense from the tax standpoint, for example. Can we have a tax advantageous structure to put this insurance product for example? Or you know, you’re in equities. How can we minimize your tax first and invest within a different structure? The same equities you’re investing now.

Jerri Hemsworth 13:32

Vardan Pogosian 13:33
It doesn’t really matter.

Jerri Hemsworth 13:35
Not after that 51%,

Vardan Pogosian 13:36
Yeah, like yeah, if you’re, you know, we, we just might move the same product in a different structure.

Jerri Hemsworth 13:43

Vardan Pogosian 13:44
So we’re not rocking anybody’s boat.

Jerri Hemsworth 13:46

Vardan Pogosian 13:46
We’re just, you know, saying, hey, let’s address taxes.

Jerri Hemsworth 13:50
Smart and sensible with the clients. But the client’s goals and the client’s needs first. It’s just, great.

Vardan Pogosian 13:58
And if someone wants to use our wealth management services, investment advice, we you know, we’ve partnered up with a with a great company. They exclusively work with people like me, financial planners, or tax planners or, or you know, CPAs actually not financial planners, they’ll exclusively work with CPAs and tax planners, and they understand taxes. And they work synergetically in this family office environment, and they understand taxes and I’m very happy to work with them.

Jerri Hemsworth 14:34
I think that it’s again, I think it’s brilliant, what you’re doing, absolutely brilliant. Especially coming from a marketing standpoint. There’s, it feels a lot more accessible and affordable for somebody that has a smaller estate or a smaller business that that is doing fine. But you know, I need I feel like I need more than being having to talk to my CPA all by themselves and, and my estate planning attorney all by themselves and my insurance personnel, and to have a one stop shop, as you say, planner that is helping and alleviating that stress of oh gosh, is everybody talking? Am I doing this right over here? But oh, it I just think it’s brilliant. I think it’s absolutely brilliant. So changing, changing gears a little bit. What do you do when you’re not working?

Vardan Pogosian 15:40
I like to travel with my family. Sometimes friends. I have two boys, 12 And 5.

Jerri Hemsworth 15:47

Vardan Pogosian 15:48
They keep me busy. Happily married. Beautiful wife who is in business with me. She is my business partner.

Jerri Hemsworth 15:57
Well, now there’s there’s a topic because I work with my spouse. And, and I think you and I talked a little bit about this before. Are you guys really good at staying in your own lanes? In running the business?

Vardan Pogosian 16:12
Yes. We started the CPA firm together back in 2014.

Jerri Hemsworth 16:16

Vardan Pogosian 16:17
And when our second one was born, yeah, she just, you know, stayed home. And now when I opened my consulting practice, she’s back with me.

Jerri Hemsworth 16:25
So you just speak the same language?

Vardan Pogosian 16:27
Yeah. Yeah.

Jerri Hemsworth 16:29
Tax and numbers.

Vardan Pogosian 16:30
Tax some numbers, she’s more into business development sides, admin, like kind of administrative office stuff business development. She, you know, and I stay on my lane with my tax planning.

Jerri Hemsworth 16:43
Yeah, I know. It’s, it is really helpful when you both have your own lanes and and focus. But you also mentioned traveling with your family. Where are your favorite spots to travel to?

Vardan Pogosian 16:57
Well, Maui is my favorite spot.

Jerri Hemsworth 16:59

Vardan Pogosian 17:00
Unfortunately, you know, the fire happened and hopefully, you know, they’ll recover fast. Mexico, we like to go to Mexico. We went to Europe this year.

Jerri Hemsworth 17:12
And you took the boys?

Vardan Pogosian 17:14
Yeah. Yeah. We took to our boys to Europe, and they liked it. Yeah, it was very, very fun trip was.

Jerri Hemsworth 17:20
Have you always traveled with the boys? Or did you leave them home at a certain point?

Vardan Pogosian 17:26
Yeah, I mean, lately, my wife and I will travel alone. You know, with our first one. I couldn’t convince her. She felt guilty. You know, leaving our first one, you know, kind of,

Jerri Hemsworth 17:39
Yeah,we did that. We took our kid with us everywhere. We went.

Vardan Pogosian 17:42
Yeah. We had a couple of trips, trips last couple years. We went to Miami.

Jerri Hemsworth 17:48
So you like the beach?

Vardan Pogosian 17:49
Yeah, I’m a beach guy. You know, lay down by the ocean.

Jerri Hemsworth 17:53
Are you, are you able to turn off work in your head when you go on vacation? Are you able to leave it behind?

Vardan Pogosian 18:00
Oh, yeah pretty much. Yeah.

Jerri Hemsworth 18:01

Vardan Pogosian 18:02
I’m tempted to look at emails, you know, couple times but no, I try to, I don’t take a laptop or anything.

Jerri Hemsworth 18:09
Good. Good. Good. Good. The kids. Have you found as as a dad, your vacations alter to suit your kids a little bit more?

Vardan Pogosian 18:21
Oh, yeah, definitely. We’ve got to keep them busy at the resorts. We want to see water slides. And you know, before we go, we have couple of spots will like in Mexico. Yeah, Mexico and Hawaii. So good family resorts.

Jerri Hemsworth 18:37
Yeah Wailea has some really good ones. Have you been to the Disney one in Wailea?

Vardan Pogosian 18:45

Jerri Hemsworth 18:45
We went to we took Libby to Hawaii a couple times when she was very young under five. And then they built the Wailea Disney Resort after that, and I thought, oh my gosh, we’ve got to go there, but we never were able to. And now she’s 23 now she can pay her own way. But I thought, oh, I gotta meet somebody who’s taken their kids there and see if you know how they enjoyed it. I’ve heard it’s fantastic.

Vardan Pogosian 19:14
Yeah, we should check it out.

Jerri Hemsworth 19:15
Yeah. Oh, my gosh. You said you went to school at USC. Why did you pick USC?

Vardan Pogosian 19:25
Well, at the time, they still are one of the best accounting schools in the country. They were ranked number three at the time.

Jerri Hemsworth 19:33
So you always want to be an accountant?

Vardan Pogosian 19:34
Yeah, pretty much, yeah pretty much. I came to this country in ’96. And you know, went USC and I had high school diploma when I came, so went to USC and yeah, accounting was definitely my thing. You know, I had a little business in my, with my uncle when I was a teenager.

Jerri Hemsworth 19:58
What kind of business?

Vardan Pogosian 20:00
It was like a little fast food restaurant, you know, helping him out. And I did the numbers, you know, you know, he would ask me to calculate margins and things like that.

Jerri Hemsworth 20:10
And you’re like, oh, this is fun.

Vardan Pogosian 20:13
Yeah, I figured

Jerri Hemsworth 20:14
Counting the money and

Vardan Pogosian 20:16

Jerri Hemsworth 20:16
the margins and like, watch it go up and down.

Vardan Pogosian 20:20
And later on as my career develop, I realized I like strategic stuff with numbers, not necessarily calculating numbers, you know, playing with numbers.

Jerri Hemsworth 20:30
Yeah, sure. Like, oh, this is I can see if I put if I push over here, this goes up. And if I push down over, this goes down. Now I can understand that.

Vardan Pogosian 20:41
And I have a little attorney me also like law and researching and you know, putting law and numbers together.

Jerri Hemsworth 20:49
Yeah. You mentioned tax law in in what you were saying. And I thought, Wow, that must be really great reading at night. But you like it? I mean,

Vardan Pogosian 20:57

Jerri Hemsworth 20:58

Vardan Pogosian 20:59
Because you need to know the tax law to do tax planning. Really, you know, you need to understand, you know, okay, if I arrested in like a certain strategy, why? Because they’re attacking certain points in the strategy that were not done properly. And then as you design those plans, you address IRS’s concerns, right.

Jerri Hemsworth 21:19
Yeah. Then in that way, you solve the problem before there is one. Yeah. When you were at USC, did you take tax law? Did they teach you a lot of tax law there?

Vardan Pogosian 21:30

Jerri Hemsworth 21:31
And you were probably a straight A student in that.

Vardan Pogosian 21:33
Oh, yeah for the most part. Yeah. A couple of B+s. Yeah, I was. I did well, on accounting courses. Definitely.

Jerri Hemsworth 21:43
But that’s so great that you were able to identify that this is what you love to do. And and work this way. And then you were so focused on working for the IRS.

Vardan Pogosian 21:53
Yeah, pretty much. Yeah. I, I wanted to, you know, get that hands on experience, you know, and at that time, IRS training was amazing. Those in-person and veterans of the industry we’re teaching there.

Jerri Hemsworth 22:09
Gotcha. Gotcha. So where did you grew up? Where did you have this restaurant with your uncle?

Vardan Pogosian 22:14
I grew up in Armenia. Actually, when I was five, my dad was sent to Mongolia.

Jerri Hemsworth 22:21
Oh, really?

Vardan Pogosian 22:22
Yeah. During Soviet Union, you know, to help build Mongolia. So it was a communist country as well. So I lived for five years in Asia. You know, my childhood, you know, I lived until I was 10, in Mongolia. So I came back to Armenia when I was 10. And when I was 18, I went to Russia. And that’s where we had the restaurant there, restaurant business for for a year and a half. And then we wanted a green card, we came to the U.S. legally. So in ’96, we came to United States with family and,

Jerri Hemsworth 23:03
So your familys here.

Vardan Pogosian 23:04
Yeah. Familys here.

Jerri Hemsworth 23:05
That’s, that’s the best. That’s the best. Vardan, thank you so much for being with me today. And I really love chatting with you about this. I think it’s fantastic. It’s great what you’re doing.

Vardan Pogosian 23:17
Thank you, Jerri.

Announcer 23:26
Presented by Echelon business development, more than just networking. Way more

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

As CEO and Creative Director at Newman Grace, Jerri leads one of Los Angeles’ most respected marketing firm and brand communication firms. Newman Grace has been providing marketing, brand and advertising consulting, graphic design, and social media services to growing companies since 1996. Newman Grace serves the professional services, manufacturing, sports, publishing and non-profit markets. Jerri is an adjunct professor in the School of Media, Culture and Design at Woodbury University. She is also a co-founder of Echelon Business Development Network. Learn more about Jerri here at Newman Grace.