Monday, February 26th, 2018

“The past does not define you, the present does.” – Jillian Michaels I hope your weekend went well–our family has been enjoying the Olympics, and, in particular, many of the stories which go with it. Now…there’s stories like this, and, of course, the stories of our own lives which capture most of our attention. And here’s a BAD chapter to live through: an IRS audit. We’ve dealt with this for clients in the past, and it’s never fun. So, with that in mind, I’ve put together some excellent ways to MINIMIZE your chances of getting audited. Unfortunately, I can’t *guarantee* that you would never get audited…but following this advice will significantly reduce your chances. Read on, and send feedback! Michael Dobrowski’s “Real World” Personal Strategy 8 Ways To Keep The IRS Audit-Hounds at Bay 1. Don’t make indefensible claims There are so many old wives tales saying that certain items […]

He who loses wealth loses much; he who loses a friend loses more; but he that loses his courage loses all. – Miguel De Cervantes While the scope of the Haitian tragedy is very different, “mopping up” after a family tragedy can be just as devastating. Which is why, simply put, it pays to be prepared. Yes, there have been significant estate tax changes this year–but did you know that estate planning is *much* more than just avoiding the “estate tax”? In fact, the great majority of our clients aren’t in the wealth category affected by the estate tax legislation. But that doesn’t mean that estate planning shouldn’t be sought. You’ll see what I mean below. (Oh, and by the way–next week, I’ll return to my surprisingly popular theme re: mistakes made during tax season. Thanks for your nice feedback!) Let me know your thoughts…and, of course, if you’d like […]

“Morale is when your hands and feet keep on working when your head says it can’t be done.” – Benjamin Morrell As you know, from previous notes we’ve exchanged, I really do try to steer clear of political disputes. My clients hail from all sides of the political spectrum, and it does me no good to tick off a bunch of friends to somehow “prove” my bona fides to another. But I think we can all agree that our political system isn’t what it should be. That said, I still believe we live in the best country on the planet–despite how disappointed we can be with individual politicians. And with these individuals, I think it’s fair and appropriate to point out that “promises” made on the campaign trail sometimes must bow to facts on the ground. Why do I write about this? Well, it’s now in the news that President […]

“A lot of people like to do certain things, but they’re not that good at it. Keep going through the things that you like to do, until you find something that you actually seem to be extremely good at. It can be anything.” – George Lucas This subject came up in a note I wrote in mid-June, and the topic is back in the news. You see, unlike my clients, there is a growing number of individuals and families who feel like they get a bit taken advantage by unethical and poorly-trained tax preparers and professionals. Families get sold on promises of fat refunds and excellent service…and then reality sets in. Errors, unfulfilled promises and worse–audits (!) come down the pike, and these families are left hanging in the lurch. Well, the federal government is considering requiring a license for *anyone* who prepares taxes on another’s behalf. And yes…you might […]

No life ever grows great until it is focused, dedicated, disciplined. – Harry Emerson Fosdick It’s pretty crazy that we’re already nearing the end of July! Is it just me, or is time really flying by? More than halfway through 2009… Well, I often try to avoid discussing taxes with you in these personal notes. I find that too many tax professionals and accountants are so full of tax jargon, that the regular family just ends up buried in a blizzard of gobbledy-gook. I hope you can already tell that I take a different approach :). And, of course, it’s our JOB (and our true pleasure at my firm) to take care of most of that stuff on your behalf in the first place! But I did want to make some suggestions this week for how you can plan ahead NOW to avoid getting nailed next tax season. That’s my […]

“For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.” – Audrey Hepburn Well there’s potentially depressing news all over the place these days. The loss of an American Icon (two, if you include Farrah Fawcett), unrest around the world and all of the political developments can leave your head spinning, I bet! Further, if you do follow the news, we continue to get barraged with stories like this: http://www.istockanalyst.com/article/viewiStockNews/articleid/3317499 Essentially, not only are many Americans falling into debt…but so is the country! It would be even worse were it not for the fact that many other established countries are in even worse shape (UK, Germany, etc.). But here’s my advice on this: Enlightened Ignorance. By “enlightened”, I mean that it’s not a bad thing to be aware of the fact […]

“If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story.” – Orson Welles I hope your Father’s Day was special…that you took the time to thank (or remember) your father, wherever he may be. On to the subject of my note: You know, I deal with taxes all the time of course…it’s my job, right? But that still doesn’t mean I <span style=”text-decoration: underline;”>like</span> paying taxes–who does? Certainly none of us are opposed to contributing to the necessary functions of our government–police, roads, fire, administration, etc. Yet I must say that I really do take a special pleasure in helping my clients keep their tax obligations to a minimum. Dave Ramsey calls the unnecessary fees and payments we make when we don’t make wise financial decisions the “stupid tax”. Well, I won’t be so blunt perhaps–but the unnecessary taxes which many families pay because […]

“There are people who make things happen, there are people who watch things happen, and there are people who wonder what happened. To be successful, you need to be a person who makes things happen.” <em>- Jim Lovell</em> So there’s been a bit of a flurry recently in the tax professional community about some proposals to further regulate our profession. Specifically, the federal government is looking at licensing anyone who prepares taxes on others’ behalf (this is already the case, essentially, in California and Oregon). The goal is to nab the people who are helping others cheat on their taxes…and get the IRS more revenue, of course. So what do I think about this? Well, you might think I’d be opposed to it… but, in fact, legitimate preparers generally welcome higher standards as a way of announcing to our clients that we meet those standards! The American Bar Association and […]

“Worry a little bit every day and in a lifetime you will lose a couple of years. If something is wrong, fix it if you can. You can train yourself not to worry. Worry never fixes anything.” <em>- Mary Hemingway</em> An amusing story came out just recently…apparently, there’s consequences for not being on top of your taxes! Turns out a restaurant owner in Texas got audited, and it was discovered that he owed about $40,000 in back taxes. OUCH! This particular entrepreneur decided to, oh, find a way around it…by offering the IRS agent *pizza*–and a job. (Full story here: <a href=”http://www.webcpa.com/news/IRS-Agent-Refuses-Pizza-Bribe-50595-1.html”>http://www.webcpa.com/news/IRS-Agent-Refuses-Pizza-Bribe-50595-1.html</a>) Two lessons to take from this one: 1) Pizza may not be the best form of bribery 2) <strong>Always let a professional handle your books!</strong> (personal and ESPECIALLY business) Sure, that’s a bit self-serving…but come on–pizza? 🙂 Moving on, another recent story points to a rising problem for […]

“An inexhaustible good nature is one of the most precious gifts of heaven, spreading itself like oil over the troubled sea of thought, and keeping the mind smooth and equable in the roughest weather.” – Washington Irving The dust is truly beginning to settle around here (ok, maybe that’s just pollen). Regardless, we’re beginning the process of serving you during the “off season”, and evaluating how things went. To that end, if you’re one of the many good folks we helped this season, then–THANK YOU for trusting us with your finances this year. We know how personal it is to you! Speaking of tax returns (and personal details)…how would you like to see former President George W. Bush’s *actual* tax return from 1997? It’s been obtained by CNN, and is available here: http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/interactive/allpolitics/0804/bush.cheney.taxes/bush.pdf (I like that he and Laura seemed to be very generous with their charitable contributions–which, if you’ve […]

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