How to Get Involved in the Arts with Michael Markiewicz

Learn how to make sure you have the correct advisors in your immediate vicinity. Learn how you can figure out how to best utilize the legislation and the laws as they currently stand to reduce the amount you will need to pay to the government, whether it be the federal or state.



The journey of Michael Markiewicz

The Broadway Dreams Foundation

Things nonprofits may miss when they are preparing their taxes

The unrelated business tax


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Notable Quotes

Figure out what it is that you're good at and hire out the rest.

If a nonprofit organization participates in an activity that generates nonrelated income, it’s called the unrelated business tax.

Broadway Dreams is an organization that provides training for the Arts. Many young people have dreams of performing on a stage, singing, and dancing have the opportunity to get that training thanks to Broadway Dreams.

Accounting for not for profits is very different than it is for a for-profit organization.In any nonprofit, there are sub-categories, such as program revenues and expenses, administrative revenues and expenses, and as you know, special allocation project revenues and expenses are critical. Nonprofits tax returns depend on how books and records are transferred onto the tax return. Because it's got to be reported properly on the tax return. So many nonprofits get this wrong and it causes problems.

Michael Markiewicz Bio

With over 35 years of experience in providing financial guidance to entertainment professionals, family offices, small businesses, and C-level executives, Michael Markiewicz is the founder and owner of Markiewicz Enterprises, LLC, a New York-based financial services company specializing in CPA services, consulting services and asset protection.

​As a CPA and certified financial planner, Michael provides premium services, with particular expertise in providing production accounting services for films in all stages of development from pre-production through post-production.  Included in those services is the application for pre-certification of film tax credits and the final application for credit funds to be received. Other focuses of his practice are outsourced family office administrative services and business management for sports and entertainment figures. Outside of his practice, Michael is a successful investor, speaker, and is very involved with many philanthropic endeavors. 

​Michael graduated from Tufts University with BA in Economics and Sociology. He received his MBA and MS in Accounting from Northeastern University. As a CPA, PFS (Personal Financial Specialist), and CFP, he is a member of the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, and the Estate Planning Council of New York City where he recently served as a Board Member. He is also the Finance Director of Marriage Equality USA and a member of the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.

​​Outside of his professional life, Michael studies and plays guitar enjoys singing, artist in oil and other media, loves movies and the theatre (where he is also an occasional investor) and is a huge animal rights activist. Michael also serves on the board of Moving Windmills Project, Inc, and acts as treasurer, a non-profit organization where mission is rural economic development and education in Malawi, Africa. 

Michael lives in Chelsea (Manhattan) with his husband Mark and their beloved wire-haired dachshunds, Maggie and Lily.

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Full Transcript

Hey, welcome back to the show. I’m here with CPA extraordinaire Michael Markowitz.

Michael is the founder and CEO of Markowitz Enterprises, LLC. He’s got 40 years of CPA experience and a dozen years on a nonprofit board of directors. He has supported the arts since his teenage years and invested in them. Michael, how are you doing?

I’m doing great, Travis. How are you doing? 

As always, phenomenal; nothing makes me happier than connecting with and conversing with wonderful people. And I think it’s fair to say that I can lump you in with the conversations of great people. That’s an accessible bridge to cross right there.

First of all, thank you for that lovely compliment. Secondly, I’m honored to be here. I appreciate you having me on, and I look forward to the conference.

Yeah, me too, and it is my audience. There are many experiences that you’ve had. Being a CPA and working with nonprofits, getting their nine ninety-five filed and all that stuff, and then you have the added experience of being on the board of directors for a nonprofit. So, you’re the nonprofit equivalent of a Swiss Army knife. Taking care of their back end, being on their board of directors, and giving as well, we don’t find too many guests at our Triple Crown winners like that. So, if you could give us a little bit of your professional background and how you got here,

Well, as you said, I’ve been a CPA for about 40 years and have a wide variety of experience in the nonprofit and for-profit sectors. I want to jump right to the nonprofit aspect of what you were asking me about. So, there’s a nonprofit where I serve on the board and where I also serve as a Chief Financial Officer slash treasurer, and how this came about is that I have a client who works for TED. They had one of their international conferences in Africa in Tanzania, and they discovered a young man who had built a windmill from scrap metal that he found in the junkyard. Through his ingenuity, this 14-year-old kid builds this windmill that generates enough power for, you know, one light bulb and a radio on his family’s own. He was discovered by somebody else that works for Ted. They brought him from his home country of Malawi to Tanzania to speak before the TED Group, and his TED Talk is up on Ted. If you Google it, his name is William Kamkwamba.

You know, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. When my client returned from that conference in Tanzania, he said, “I want to come and meet with you.” He said, “I want to make an awful profit.” Because I think there’s something here, he was discussing with me setting up a not-for-profit to support rural economic development and education in William’s home country of Malawi. And he came up with a name for it. It’s called Moving Windows Project, Inc. It’s based here in New York. I helped him get it set up. We got an attorney to do all the legal stuff, and we’ve been operating ever since. He asked me to be on the board and be the Treasurer, and that organization is moving windmills. You know, probably for the first 8 to 10 years. You know, it kind of plotted TED along, and now we are doing such amazing, much bigger things; raising a lot more money; spending a lot more money, and having a significant impact on one of the poorest countries in the world. Certainly not in Africa. It’s making a huge difference, and I’m honored and proud to be a part of that.

You should be. That sounds pretty amazing. On a side note, TED, for those of you in the nonprofit world with these comprehensive mission statements, TED’s mission statement is two words.  

Spread Ideas

You don’t have to get crazy with your mission statement. I know people are like, “Yeah, it’s taken me three or four weeks to memorize our mission statement.” I’m saying, “Good Lord, why?” In one sentence, you can’t figure out what you’re doing in A and be like, “No, we really can’t.” I’m like, OK, but it was as extraordinary as you are. 

He found William Young, a boy who had harnessed the wind to create enough energy for a radio in a lightbulb. It was discovered by TED, who came to New York and wanted to start his own nonprofit, and it’s just such a fantastic story of what we can do when we combine our superpowers. And in the human condition, as a human, it’s crazy how some of this stuff gets put together and how it works. It’s just a phenomenal story.

Well, a little more background on William and celebrating Kamkwamba. You know, he pursued that because his father is a farmer, and Malawi has a significant number of droughts. The second windmill he built was to pump water from an underground well. His father no longer depended on the weather to irrigate his crops. Because William is from such a low-income family, his parents couldn’t afford the roughly $80.00 equivalent US tuition to send him to school. He decided to go to the local library, which probably had no more than a dozen books. He had maybe 20 books, and he found a book that was a physics book. It had diagrams that showed how to build a windmill. It was because the book was all in English, and William didn’t even speak English, but from the diagrams, he figured out how to build a windmill. 

You mentioned that when he came to New York, he didn’t initially come to New York. He stayed in Africa with my client. And I was doing all the background work here in New York. After that, we initially raised enough money to send him to a high school in Johannesburg, South Africa, to get his high school equivalency and then to London to learn English. And then, he applied to universities in the United States. He used to have eight of them and got into all eight. He was accepted and went to Dartmouth College, where he earned an engineering degree from Dartmouth. Fast forward, he’s running like three businesses back in the lottery from here and there. He lives in North Carolina, but he’s doing it both from here and from there, and there’s a book that he co-wrote with another author called The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, and it’s a phenomenal book. There’s also a children’s version and a film on Netflix called The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind. Catch it if you can. I think it’s well worth it; it tugs at the heartstrings. But it’s great.

You see, that just speaks to the ingenuity that people have. There’s no limit to restraints, there is no number of laws, there are no barriers to how we can’t, and we must overcome as a society to accomplish whatever it is we’re trying to do.

Every time I say things like that, I’ve got people saying, “Well, you can’t fly.” I was like, “Well, you can” If you have the right equipment, you know. And he didn’t generate all the power he needed for his house or farm by physically turning a crank. He built a contraption that harnessed the wind, and it’s amazing that I hear people talk about, you know, the things that happen in the news and politics. And they have a lot of stuff they can bring. But no matter what they determine, no matter what they come up with, we as humans can rise above whatever the conditions happen to be. And that is just really the power of being a human. And it’s just wonderful.

I agree. I agree with you.

Yeah, I know a lot about you and your personal story, and I’m not sure how much you’re willing to share. Still, I know that your parents survived the Holocaust, which is just astronomical when you look at the odds of how people can do such things and continue their lives and perpetuate their goodness and hope and light throughout the world.

Yeah, absolutely. I’m happy to share it. You know that yes, both my parents, both from Poland, survived the Holocaust, and during the war, they didn’t know each other. But they met after the war in a DP camp, or displaced person camp, otherwise known as a refugee camp. It’s perfect for camping. In Austria, these camps were run by the Allies. You know, the Americans, the Brits, the French, and the Russians. They ended up in the same center, and they met there. Someone I love got married there. My sister was born there, and when she was eight months old, they came to the United States, and I was born in this country.

My mom just passed away in early March. She was 95. I never thought she would live that long in her wildest dreams and mine. But through all of the horrific experiences that she’d been through, she was the anchor. I mean, my father certainly played his role as well, but she was the anchor to not only get them here to the United States but also to build and create a home life. And when I was growing up, you know, when I was a kid, even though they always shared stories about their experiences, it was hard for me to grasp. What were those experiences like? because I couldn’t even imagine it as a child. Do you know what kind of horrors those were? But you know, they overcame. And they built a whole life for themselves here. And it’s not to say that they ever forgot anything that ever happened to them or stayed with them very much. They imbued that sense of can-do spirit throughout their lives, and both my sister and I are entrepreneurs. We haven’t always been, but we have been for a long time, and it’s that if you have a can-do spirit, an entrepreneurial spirit, there’s nothing you can’t do.

I love how we can take these stories of tragedy and overcome them. You have done amazing things over your lifetime. You’ve done a lot of good, and you like supporting the arts. Tell us about the Broadway Dreams Foundation.

OK, well, first of all, I will tell you how this came into my orbit if you will. I have a very good friend who is a senior partner with Alliance Bernstein, the investment house. He’s on the board of Broadway Dreams, and every year they have this big gala in New York, and they invite a lot of celebrities, especially Broadway celebrities, and a lot of supporters. He came to me and said, “Michael, I’d love for you to come to support this.” And you know, can you buy a table for this number of people? And I didn’t hesitate because when I told him what to do, I would tell you in a moment what the organizations were. “Wow,” I said, “absolutely.” This is something that I’m passionate about, that I love, and I’m happy to say.

Now let’s talk about Broadway dreams and what they are. I believe Broadway Dreams is an organization that’s based, I believe, in Atlanta. You know, many young people have dreams of performing on a stage, whether on Broadway, off-Broadway, or some regional theater, or whatever it may be, but they don’t have the training. They don’t have the voice training, the acting training, the dance training, all of that. What this organization does is raise money. To be able to support young people who are interested in pursuing that kind of career and provide them with all of the lessons in acting, dance, and voice that they need to be prepared for once they decide that you know they’re going to audition for a role, they have some knowledge about and talents that they can use to show what it is that they can do. I’m a big, passionate lover of the theater. I go to a lot of theaters in New York, and I also invest in some theater; you know, I love Broadway musicals, but I also love a lot of non-musical theater. Some of it is powerful and wonderful. And you know, there’s nothing like a live performance in my opinion. You can watch stuff. On TV, you can watch a movie. It’s all great.

I don’t want to take away from that, but to be in the theater, live theater, and you’re in the same room as the people on stage. I get goosebumps.

You know, I love that you loved that for a long time. My wife would try to get me to watch musicals and other stuff on TV. And I was like, there’s no way they could coordinate all this singing and dancing, and it’s just unlike me that I believe more in sci-fi than I do in musicals. And then I saw Wicked on Broadway when I went down to New York for the weekend, and the show blew me away. I didn’t know what to think before going in there. I’ve been to some local plays in a small town. As a young adult, I was in high school, and I was like, “I don’t get it.” I couldn’t get it and then went down to where we were at the Naval War College in Rhode Island. We took the train down to Manhattan for the weekend. And we ended up going to see Wicked on Broadway. 

If you’re listening to this and haven’t seen it, please check it out. It was amazing. It discusses the true story of the three witches in The Wizard of Oz and the backstory of how they became me and how she indeed did. She became wicked, as we had. Which of the West? It’s just phenomenal. The way they put that together and the way they produced and showcased it, I felt like I had never experienced anything like it; I can understand how you would love live theater. And I kind of wish it now. I think the stuff I saw as a kid had a little more production value. It wasn’t just cheesy because I couldn’t, for the life of me, imagine how people could get into it until I saw a Broadway show in person. It changed the way I viewed everything.

And it’s interesting that, just as an aside, I had the very good fortune to have Attended the Tony Awards, which just took place a week or two ago, was very good fortune because you know that a ticket to go to the Tony Awards is a tremendous amount of money. And it’s one night for a few hours, and I think it’s not worth it. But I got a free ticket. And I attended the Tony Awards, and it was wild. It was just incredible.

Is it fair to say, for those that don’t know, that the Tony Awards are the theater awards? 

It is the theater awards, mostly Broadway, some off-Broadway; it would be like what the Oscars are to film, the Grammys are to music, and the Tony’s are to the theater.

Yeah, there was a long time that I didn’t even know like I couldn’t keep the awards straight, and I was like, we got the Globes and the Oscars. The Oscars and Grammys were easy to differentiate, but then you got the Globes for TV. Yeah, Tony’s for theater and Saw were just a world I hadn’t been a part of, and the arts, in general, have kind of muted me, as has anyone who has had a particularly traumatic upbringing. They usually find an escape in one of the arts. It was movies for me; I could focus. My whole world would disappear for 90 minutes to, you know, 2 1/2 hours or whatever the running time was like. I could get that music. It couldn’t hold my attention. TV couldn’t hold my attention. The arts where I could grow up were essentially nonexistent. They weren’t nonexistent, but they weren’t a thing, but movies could grab me. could hold me the way that they could. Tell the whole story in just, you know, a few minutes. It could just absolutely pull me into that world. I could escape from all the terrible things going on in my life. I could see myself as the hero or one of the movie’s characters. I could get the feeling that it blew me away, and I imagine that’s how you feel about theater.

Yeah, I do, but I know that in addition to that, I’m also an amateur musician. I play guitar and sing, and I’m also an amateur artist; I paint and draw, and all of those things are also an escape for me. That’s my escape. Do you know where I can park? I can pick the guitar up and start playing, and, you know, the rest of the world just goes away and doesn’t exist for me. Or I could spend an entire day painting on a canvas. I forget that I have to eat; it just doesn’t dawn on me. Oh, I need to take a break for lunch or something. I just forget about it because I’m engrossed in creating that piece. But I also love going to museums and seeing other people. The Masters and other people’s art and so forth, not just here in New York, but worldwide. I’ve traveled extensively, and I love to go to museums and see the art there.

Well, you have a second home in Spain, right?

I just bought that not long ago; I just closed on it in December, and the intent is that we will eventually relocate that there, perhaps in about a year and a half.

That’s the dream, right? That’s what people can live in and aspire to. I know you’ve helped several nonprofits take care of their numbers. What things may nonprofits miss or not consider when taking care of their finances and taxes?

Well, as you may know, and as many other people may know, and I’m not assuming that you do, but I’m assuming that you may, you know, accounting for not for profits is very different than it is for a for-profit organization. So, for example, in any nonprofit, there are several categories. In sub-categories, such as program revenues and expenses, administrative revenues and expenses, and as you know, special allocation project revenues and expenses are critical. Because I’ve taken on nonprofits that have existed and been handled by other people before, I was surprised to see how that wasn’t being done properly. Because what happens in the books and records is how it gets transferred onto the tax return. Because it’s got to be reported that way on the tax return, not for profits. 

They have to meet very strict requirements set by the IRS to maintain their nonprofit status. all of these things. have to be buttoned up. and has to be handled very carefully in detail. And you know, there’s no way around that. That’s one of the things that we do for some of our clients, not for every not-for-profit but for a number of them where we maintain the books and records as well so that we know that it’s done right. Then when we prepare the tax return, we know that. It’s done right. I deal mostly with non-profits that are based in New York and New York. Did you know there’s a charity bureau that is part of the Secretary of State’s office, and there are requirements for filing with the state of New York as well? 

In New York, did something called HR 500 or CHDR 500, and you filled out this form, and you were captured 990 on it, and you paid a fee, and you sent it? it to them, and that’s great. But there’s another aspect of how things work in New York: when revenues, or, you know, money, taken in by a nonprofit to reach a certain level. In accounting terms, now you’re required to have either a compilation or review or an audit. OK, and you know, many nonprofits aren’t aware of that. And if they’re a New York charity that can get into real trouble if they’re not aware of it and don’t do it because they’re charity bureau, go back to them and say, hey, where’s your accountant’s report? From the compilation, review, or audit, depending on the threshold of where they are and the money they’ve raised. That’s something we must also be keenly aware of with our clients.

No, I didn’t. I generally deal with many people in the start-up nonprofit world and the things there. There are many things they’re scared to spend money on in two areas that I recommend. They go all out and spend it to get the right person. Is their legal team their attorney, and are they in there? They’re the accounting team because there are many rules, you’re unfamiliar with, right? If you know the rules like attorneys and accountants do, there are many things you can do that you never knew existed. You get beat up with the rules if you don’t know the rules, right? When I think of people getting beat up by rules, I picture poor people that don’t look into things properly. They end up paying a poor tax. Oh, I don’t have the money to change my oil this month. The engine then failed three months later. They pay the poor tax of having to get a new engine or new vehicle because they couldn’t afford the oil change. Don’t be that person in a nonprofit that is scared to spend money because you don’t know what to do with it. Get a professional like Michael here that understands the rules of your state and the IRS. That can keep you out of trouble, and I also understand that there are areas where nonprofits can incur taxes if they create some kind of revenue-generating activity that is not tied to their mission. Have you seen this, Michael?

Yeah, it’s called the “unrelated business tax.”

See, I didn’t even know it was called see; that’s why I had you on today.

What is a nonprofit organization, you know, that participates in some kind of activity that generates nonrelated income? It’s called the unrelated business tax. They’re going to have to pay tax. On that portion, just as if that revenue was generated as if it was in. A profit organization I think that for people to be keenly aware now I did mention earlier that you know most of the not-for-profits I deal with are in New York. I also do business with some others in other states, and you know, I deal with clients even on the for-profit side all over the country. and, in fact, all over the world. I had clients internationally. You know, when I took on One of my not-for-profits is based in North Carolina, and the other ones are based in Florida. We looked the rules up and said, “Well, this is what you need to do in this state.” And we find out which I have to have. I can’t tell you that I automatically know everything about everything in every state because I don’t, but I know where to go to find things. And I know where to go to ask and look it up myself, and you know, they have to comply with the rules and regulations or whatever state that they’re in.

Oh yeah, I fully agree with that. Yeah, I love what you said. You can’t possibly know everything, but you know where to find the information. And then if you can’t find it, you know who to ask many people in this world, no matter what industry they’re in. They get caught up in this trap that says they can’t ask, and I don’t know if it’s the fear of looking foolish. Or whatever it is, but I’ve been told one of my superhero qualities is that I’m willing to ask the question. Hey, I don’t know what this thing is. I don’t know what. This abbreviation stands for “Where did I leave my pants?” Whatever the question is, I’m willing to ask you because I don’t think that having a question is the same as being stupid.

Well, I think one of the true marks of leadership is to surround yourself with people that know more than you do. A true mark of leadership. Surround yourself with people that know more than you do. You can ask them. If there’s something you don’t know, they may not know more than you do about every topic, but they may specialize in a certain area that they are well versed in. I know that if I need to know more about that area, I have to go. They may be in my organization. They may be outside my organization, but I have no qualms about asking because there’s no way that anyone doing what I do, or in the legal world, or probably in a lot of other fields as well, can know everything about everything.

Oh, of course, yeah.

There’s way too much information out there. It’s like if someone says to me, “Well, tell me about this section of the code,” I’ll say, “Well.” What section is that you know? Because I can’t; the code is huge, the Internal Revenue Code is huge; I can’t possibly know that much. About all of it.

Some people are afraid of the IRS tax code, and like you have to find these loopholes and stuff, I was like, I kind of feel like the tax code is you open the page, and it says if you’re in this bracket, you owe this much tax and every other page behind. That is how to avoid paying the total tax price. That’s kind of how I feel about it.

But I don’t think the IRS code will tell you how to avoid it. That’s going to require a consultation with somebody like me, for example, to say, “Well, we can help you minimize it, or we can help you reduce it, or we can help you avoid it legally.” By taking these steps, the IRS will never know.

I’m going to tell you those things.

I don’t see those jokes. Those memes during tax time are like, 

“You need to pay your tax.” 

“Well, How much do I owe?” 

“I don’t know. You tell me, and then if you get it wrong, you’re in trouble”

There was another joke from many years ago that I think is still making the rounds that say, “Well, you know, here’s the tax form.” Fill it out. How much tax do I pay? The question is, how much did you make? I made this much and sent it in. You know, just send the whole thing in.

Yeah, what do you have left? Yeah, we’re going to need exactly that much, please

We’re going to do that stuff.

This is such a fun conversation, Michael. What words of wisdom or advice would you leave? Our audience today.

Words of wisdom I don’t know if I’m smart enough for that.

Don’t sell yourself short, Michael, we all know You know things. 

I would pick up on something you said earlier: whether you’re in the not-for-profit space, or whether you’re in the for-profit space, or whether you’re an individual or whether you’re a family or whatever, it is made that you may be. Make sure that you surround yourself with the right advisors. The people that can find ways to make the most advantage of the law and the laws as they exist to minimize how much you are going to need to pay to the government, whether it be the federal, state, or local You know because here in New York we also have local city tax. You know there are other cities in the country that do. Two, but I think we’re pretty well known for it. But surround yourself with, you know, a good accountant—a good lawyer. Good insurance people, bankers, and financial advisors, you know, make sure that you have a great team of advisors looking out for your best interest. And when it comes to legal, there are two aspects of legal that I refer to, often with people, as one is trust in state law. And the other is commercial law because oftentimes people will, in their businesses, need a lawyer both to help set up their entity and to make sure it’s in compliance and all that. We need two different kinds of attorneys, at a minimum.


OK,  there may be others. They may be labor law. They make that there are many different aspects of the law, and when it comes to accountants and CPAs, you know we, I like I—for example, my part. I have two partners, and my two partners also do audit work. I don’t do much at work; it’s just not something I do. I wouldn’t know how to begin. But I do know if someone needs an audit, I have. I have people I can go to in my org. Patient and they can handle that for me,  make sure that you have people that can take all of the different things that you’re going to need now, and an organization of my size will not handle huge corporations because we’re just not equipped for it. But I think we can handle a lot of small and mid-sized businesses. And individuals, and not for profits. And my word of advice is to make sure you hire good people. You know good people also cost money. You know, because nobody will do this for you for free, and don’t be penny wise and pound foolish because you may. Not get the right person. And I’m not saying that to talk myself up; I’m just because. Even if you don’t hire me, hire someone else. Going to be a great person that you know good people cost money. 


That’s true. Henry Ford is considered one of the greatest American businessmen of all time. He found himself in court, unable to answer questions. He was like, “Why on Earth?”

Would I need to know that I have a head mechanic for that? I have a lawyer for that. I have all of these experts working for me. I don’t know how to; I’ve got people for that. I’ve got the best of the best. I don’t know how to do all those things, and I don’t need to know how to do that stuff. Figure out what it is that you’re good at and hire out the rest. Hire the best people like Michael. Thank you so much for being my guest today.

Michael. Where can people find you?

Alright, my website is

That’s right, check out

We’ll have the spelling for you in the hotlink in the show notes. Thanks again, Michael. 


Thank you, Travis, and thank you for having me on. I appreciate It.  

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