What your tax preparer should be

Things change.  And when things change, other things should change as well.  Years ago water was free, television was free, mortgages were simple, college was fairly priced, Taxemployers valued their employees and the list goes on.  All of that has changed.  Now we can buy a cup of coffee for $4, have a cell phone bill of $200 (with texting and internet use of course), pay $150 to watch 700 channels and buy a bottled water for $2.75.  Yet salaries have gone down, taxes have gone up, jobs have been replaced by less expensive means, real estate taxes through the roof, college, cars etc. etc.  Again, things have changed, but are people changing to adapt to today?  Some are, most are not.  And this is why were having some problems out there.

Beware

Well you have financial adviser’s, sounds good but what do they do.  Well they advise you on what stocks and mutual funds to buy for your retirement, so you can make millions of dollars for your future which they make a nice commission.  Ask them a question about tax implications.  They will answer you but it’s not usually good advice.  Why you ask. Taxes are not their expertise.  Our company @ accountant.com  (www.ataccountant.com) received more phone calls last year than you could imagine due to the tax advice that financial adviser’s gave their clients. Most of the problems were after the fact, The problem had already occurred.   They mainly give advice on the future of the stock market, (didn’t anyone learn from World Com or Enron)?  Sorry, no one knows the future.  You don’t save money by investing, you risk it with someone else’s  opinion on the future, or their crystal ball..

Furthermore remember this.  All of the so called financial experts out there will tell you about how much money they made, but do they ever tell you how much money it cost them to get that money.  Look at it this way.  Do your friends ever call you and tell you that they just lost $5,000 at a casino.  Enough said.  I do have to say that here are alot of good places that advise for free.  My favorite is Fidelity, they charge me nothing for their advice.

Now to your tax preparer.  Remember, taxes are only one piece of the whole puzzle.  They are not the cure all.  The tax preparers of yesterday took your paperwork spit out a tax return and sent you on your way with a refund.  You really need a lot more out of your tax preparer today.  Look at it this way.  Every financial variable in you life has some type of tax benefit or tax implication.  You need someone who understands these financial variables and can advise you on them throughout the year.  This includes just about everything, how to treat your debt, how to pay off your mortgage, how to plan for college (not what stocks to invest in) but how to do it gradually over time, the concept itself, how to purchase cars, schools etc. etc.  This is where you save money.  Although Americans are programmed that if you make more you are better off,  they are being fooled.  It has nothing to do with how much you make, it has everything to do with how much you spend.  This is where your tax preparer should spend more time with you, and if they don’t you should find someone who does, to coach you along.

What you want your new accountant to be, and not to be

So your new accountant doesn’t include H & R Block or Jackson Hewitt.  I guess I look at it this way.  If you walk into a Wall Mart and find one of these shops set up, remember the person behind that desk.  First, they are seasonal, and second, their experience is  to take a three week class in how to use a computer program to prepare taxes.  No offense, Exxon Mobil didn’t pay any taxes last year and it wasn’t because of someone from H & R Block.  So in this case, you get what you pay for.

I have a unique way of looking at things.  I’m a firm beleiver in practice what you preach.  For example.  I had a young professional who called me from one of these big financial institutions in New York who claimed he could help me with my retirement portfolio.  I asked him, “What does your retirement portfolio consist of”  He stated that he hasn’t started one yet.  I found this interesting.  Someone who has no experience in something advising others.  I asked if he owned a home.  He said yes, and informed me that he was upside down on it (owed more than what it was worth).  So why would I invest my finances with someone who can’t figure out their own?  I’m not sure.

Ask alot of questions with your new tax preparer, if you get the right one they can help out tremendously.

Robert Fornaro is the CEO of @ Accountant.com, he can be reached at bobf@ataccountant.com or vist the website at www.ataccountant.com

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