Our Spotlight series highlights the careers and lives of tax professionals across the globe. This week’s Spotlight is on Justin Pierce Berutich, managing director and head of tax at Euclid Transactional. He also leads Euclid’s tax insurance practice.
Before joining the insurance world, Berutich, a licensed attorney in three states and the District of Columbia, facilitated negotiations, planning, and structuring for Fortune 500 companies and high-growth businesses, providing tax and business advice to help his clients achieve objectives and avoid costly disputes.
Berutich resides in the New Jersey suburbs with his wife, Hallie, two boys (JP, age 4, and Chase, age 2), and their 6-month old, 75-pound Bernedoodle, Diggy. To wear out the boys and the puppy, most free time is spent outdoors or, as their boys say, “going on adventures to explore.” Everyone comes home muddy, happy, and tired.
What’s your official title, and what does it mean? I am a managing director and head of tax at Euclid Transactional, a general agency specializing in underwriting transactional insurance, including representations and warranties, tax liability, and contingent liability.
Free time: book, audiobook, or podcast? One benefit of the pandemic is that I am almost always home to read my boys a bedtime story—they get to choose the book. Without the daily commute, my podcast library is piling up. However, I try to find time for “Nothing Personal with David Samson"—unedited, 45-minute daily episodes focused on the business of sports.
Tax is a huge subject. What’s your area of special interest? Being in the tax insurance space, I really enjoy seeing opportunities related to obscure sections of the code I was not immersed in while in private practice. I can dive into the sections, get into the weeds on some novel tax issues, and really nerd out.
What’s the last movie or show that you watched and loved (DVD, Netflix, or in the theater)? We do not do a whole lot of television. I like sports, and my wife likes reality television, so we settle for home renovation shows.
What college did you attend, and what did you study? I graduated from Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida, where I graduated magna cum laude with a degree in chemistry. I only chose to major in chemistry because it was my father’s major—neither one of us ever wanted to be a chemist. I earned my J.D. and my LL.M. in taxation from the NYU School of Law.
Go to pick-me-up: Coffee or tea? I made it all the way through undergrad and law school without drinking a single cup of coffee; however, I had my first cup while toiling away in the wee hours of the night working as a low-level associate and have been addicted ever since. Much to my cardiologist’s chagrin, I drink several—to put it nicely—cups a day.
What’s the best tax or financial advice that anyone ever gave you? Not technically tax or financial, but it led me here: “Love what you do and you’ll never work a day in your life.”
If you weren’t working in the tax profession, what would your dream job be? Professional triathlete, assuming some additional God-given talent. I love triathlons, and I love training and racing. I am a very regimented person, so the sport fits me nicely. I met my beautiful wife, Hallie, at a small race in Pennsylvania, and we got engaged several years later at the finish line of the Lake Placid Ironman after twelve-plus hours of racing.
If you had the opportunity to make one change in the tax world—an extra credit, a disallowed deduction, whatever—what would it be? Time and resources aside, determine the true cost of tax expenditures to determine if they are meeting their intended goals. Focus on simplifying the code, eliminating waste, and reducing market distortions. Take the savings and find non-tax expenditure means to reduce child poverty and hunger.
Favorite food, snack, or candy during tax season or other busy time? I have an addictive personality. If I open a bag of Sour Patch Kids, no matter the size, the bag is gone. To steer healthier, I avoid the candy and get my sour fix from grapefruits—at least one a day.
What tax news or move made the most impact on your practice or clients this past year? A good deal of my business is merger and acquisition related. The threat of potentially unfavorable tax changes, combined with accommodative monetary policy and a bullish stock market, helped create an unprecedented year for M&A. Deals create, and identify, tax uncertainty, whether in the form of a subject deal structure or a historic tax position at the target. As a result, tax insurance was in high demand as it provides an efficient means of insulating private equity, strategics, or other taxpayers should a supportable tax position fail to qualify for its intended tax treatment.
If you received a big tax refund check right now, what would you do with it? Is it too late to give the professional triathlete thing a try?
You can find Berutich on LinkedIn.
You can find out more about Berutich’s company, Euclid Transactional, on their website.
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