Friday, May 28, 2021

Is It Time To Buy?

One of the most rewarding things I see, as a tax professional, is when clients and friends come to me for advice about “tax things.” 

I’m happy to share my knowledge, and open up my Rolodex for referrals about many, many things – how to structure your start up, determining a plan for retirement, understanding the assets you own and the assets you are planning to invest in, and of course, home ownership.

Now, obviously, I look at all of these from a tax standpoint.  Granite countertops or an “S-corp” doesn’t mean anything more to me than their actual definition, but this week, I wanted to share a few things I’ve seen regarding the new home market in America right now. 

It’s HOT!  Inventory levels are low, prices are climbing, and the real reason for it is simple – there’s simply too much demand.  People are ready to buy and they aren’t willing to wait.  Seriously, have you see the price of lumber lately? 

That’s really the challenge right this minute – builders and remodelers can’t get the supplies they need, and what they can lay their hands on?  It’s at a premium.  The result is going to be high short-term prices and – at least potentially, a drop in home value when supply production gets back to normal. 

So what should you do?  Honestly?  If you’ve been thinking about selling your home – and you have a plan for where you’re going to live – then now might be a great time to do it.  If you’re in the market for a home, especially a new one, be prepared to overpay, or to at least pay a premium. 

Now, the real world we all live in dictates this:  you have to have a place to live, regardless of where that actually is.  If you have to move, well, you have to move.  For those who are renting and contemplating a home purchase, I’d have to simply say this:  Don’t overthink it - Buy it!

Why? 

There are just too many upsides to owning your own home.  Not only do you get the ability to write down the mortgage interest (read that, “nearly everything you pay for the first few years…”), you’ll also be creating equity. 

That down payment?  Right there, you’ve got equity in your home.  Sure, prices might fall in the short term, but if you just bought your home, why are your thinking about selling it?  It’s kind of a false alarm from that point of view. 

The bigger point in all this is that if you decided to wait and rent one more year, you’re simply losing money, not some false value based on comparable home prices in the neighborhood you purchased in.  If you’re spending $1,200/month on rent, that’s nearly $15,000 you’ll spend and never see again this year.  Why not put that money into the purchase of a home? 

I recognize that buying a home can be nerve-wracking, but the truth of the matter is that no one ever got wealthy paying rent.  Even if you’re worried about the caliber of home you can buy, or the buying “budget” you might have, my team and I can help lift the veil on that, and really, all aspects of home ownership. 

NOTHING is more satisfying than the feeling of owning your own home, and if you’re thinking about it now, even as crazy as the markets are, I encourage you to reach out and let’s look at the real costs of buying and what your budget really is – not what some silly app on your phone says it should be. 

I look forward to hearing from you!

IMPORTANT: Our firm specializes in tax resolution. We serve clients virtually so don't hesitate to reach out. If you want an expert tax resolution specialist who knows how to navigate the IRS maze, reach out to our firm, so we can schedule a confidential consultation to explain options to permanently resolve your tax problem. Click here to make an appointment! Or, call Toll-free 1-855-254-1892.

Friday, May 14, 2021

Is The President’s Tax Plan Going To Impact You?

You might or might not have noticed that President Biden began discussing a long-term tax plan in April, and there are a lot of unknowns in it.  The challenge, of course, is that even though much of his proposed plan targets high-income or high-net worth individuals, the threshold that keeps showing up - $400,000 – is concerning. 

In short, the plan places far higher tax burdens on the wealthy, in terms of capital gains taxes and the Medicare surtax (created from the Affordable Care Act). 

Long term, this could place capital gains taxes at over 40%.

What’s that mean? 

Well, nobody really knows. 

On the other hand, the problem is this:  it’s obvious that capital gains and the “wealthy” are being viewed as targets for taxation, and, depending on your retirement strategy, that could cause you to encounter far higher taxes when you retire as a result. 

For example, if you have a 401(k) and plan on supplementing that with short and long-term investments in retirement.  Suddenly, you’ll not only have to pay taxes on your 401(k) withdrawals, but you could potentially pay nearly twice the capital gains taxes on your investments.  (Currently, short-term capital gains – less than a year – are taxed as income.)

The real challenge right now is the short-term reactions on the markets every time this conversation arises:  The day this story started, the NASDAQ, Dow Jones, and even crypto markets all took a dramatic downturn. 

Ultimately, they all recovered, but it showed that many traders’ reactions whenever this conversation begins is to sell off immediately – never mind it would potentially be years before such a tax was actively imposed. 

My point in all this is simple:  when it comes to retirement savings, don’t make ANY assumptions.  You have to stay vigilant on how politicians are planning on spending your money and what the tax landscape could look like when you actually retire.  At the same time, you also need to actively explore all your options – both new and established. 

Does that mean crypto?  A Roth IRA?  A so-called “Golden” IRA?  Precious metals? 

It might mean all of them, but if you’ve already got a plan for retirement, then you need to be reviewing that plan and its suitability at least once every quarter.  More importantly, you need to be focused on what it affecting that plan every day. 

What you focus on expands, and if your plan is to retire rich, then knowing the dirty little secrets of taxation BEFORE they affect you is critical. 

Now, none of this is written to scare you, it’s really just to inform you.  If you are worried about what options you now have – or might have – then give me and the team a call to discuss where you money is and how it might be able to work a little harder. 

IMPORTANT: Our firm specializes in tax resolution. We serve clients virtually so don't hesitate to reach out. If you want an expert tax resolution specialist who knows how to navigate the IRS maze, reach out to our firm, so we can schedule a confidential consultation to explain options to permanently resolve your tax problem. Click here to make an appointment! Or, call Toll-free 1-855-254-1892.

Monday, May 10, 2021

Removing the Obstacles in Your Business


No matter how “busy” you are in your company, I’ll bet a lot of the time you spend is solving problems.  Challenges really are a part of any business, and while you can systemize many things, you can’t always create a process for everything.  When a problem arises in a grey area, how will you handle it? 

The answer is deceptively complex, but it really does come back to the overall structure you choose for your business.  Remember, too, “structure” is not always organization charts and rules. 

It’s also rewards, values, and even unconscious assumptions that can influence behavior.  Let me give you an example…

You might adopt a formal policy for your teams that states that customer satisfaction is the primary goal.  On the other hand, you only pay a commission to your sales team for closed sales. 

Will it be any surprise that your sales team figures this messaging out BUT directs their activities and energies towards the reward and not necessarily the stated objective? 

In this case, the real result desired is implied in the result that you reward, not the result you’re claiming.  Obviously, then, it’s important to be able to fully understand how your company really works… 

Of course, this not only defines your management hierarchy, but also how your business might be able to overcome obstacles faster. 

For example, in the last twenty years, we’ve seen how manufacturing has shifted from a very bureaucratic, top-heavy management and decision-making structure to a much more “team-managed” style in many cases. 

While some people have heralded this as the “democratization of the workplace,” the reality is, that’s just an “unintended result.”  By letting manufacturing teams manage themselves, companies can remain competitive in fast-moving industries requiring quick order fulfillment. 

Now, obviously this example may not make sense for your business, but here’s the point:  the structure you build into your business has to be built around what makes sense for YOU, not just the way your industry has always worked. 

Beyond that actual management and operating system, there is another key component that is not necessarily designed, but created, and that’s the culture.  These standards, rules, and accepted practices all act on and shape the culture of any company.  What, exactly, do I mean by culture?  Essentially, the behavior and actions that a company takes in its day-to-day-operations.   

Some of this “culture” is quite explicitly stated – we see it in Vision statements and policies.  A great deal of it, though, becomes part of the story and myth of the business.  This unseen culture can run alongside of the stated goals and will either support it or undermine it. 

A classic example of this parallel culture in demonstrated when companies who proclaim the importance of their employees and constantly share their human resource beliefs turn right around and lay off scores of workers with no notice. 

Their real truth is revealed in their actions, not their words, and this makes a very vivid lesson for their remaining employees. 

Companies such as this miss a very real opportunity – they could recognize this “unstated” culture they have created and bring it into alignment with their stated values and objectives … and not fear “losing face” with their people and their customers.  A truly high-performance company would use this scenario to find a better way to integrate their vision and their actions. 

In the end, your beliefs about what is true for your business shape the flow of energy and activity within it.  The challenge you face is to understand and recognize these unconscious assumptions you are making and ensure they aren’t laying a foundation for failure. 

Remember, because these are unstated, they are often self-fulfilling. 

If you think people cannot manage themselves, you likely won’t take the time to build a system that allows your people to effectively manage themselves. 

If you think your Ideal Customer will only purchase your products or services in one way, you’ll be unlikely to develop and test any other methods. 

That might seem obvious, but until I said it, you either believed it and didn’t question it or you didn’t believe it and didn’t question it. 

Either way, you’re missing a key part of the whole entrepreneurial process – you must learn to question EVERYTHING!

That’s really the point I’m trying to make – to coax you to open your eyes to things you personally – and subconsciously - believe to be true and then, to address them in your business structure or culture that you’re building. 

Make this a great week!

IMPORTANT: Our firm specializes in tax resolution. We serve clients virtually so don't hesitate to reach out. If you want an expert tax resolution specialist who knows how to navigate the IRS maze, reach out to our firm, so we can schedule a confidential consultation to explain options to permanently resolve your tax problem. Click here to make an appointment! Or, call Toll-free 1-855-254-1892.

Friday, May 7, 2021

Why Wait?


 It’s time to take some kind of action.

You’ve been cooped up from COVID, you’ve had to deal with downsizing, layoffs, “essential workers” (or the lack thereof), and, quite frankly, like a LOT of us, I’ll bet you’re sick of it. 

So no matter how this last year affected you, what are you waiting on? 

You’ll only get a certain number of trips around the sun, so why keep going in a job or career you don’t like?  Why keep working for a company that doesn’t value your contributions?  For that matter, why keep living in a state or a town you don’t really like? 

I don’t have that answer, and even if I’m an expert in the realm of taxes, I’m no philosopher, but over the last few months – “tax season,” if you will – I’ve noticed, again and again, this feeling of discontent from many people. 

Entrepreneurs, managers, skilled and essential workers, and even young people. 

Now, it wasn’t what I’d call “anger,” it was more of a sort of discontent. 

After I’d noticed it, I couldn’t really shake it and the more I tried not to look for it, the more I couldn’t help but see it in the men and women I encountered. 

Here’s the thing:  simply being uncomfortable isn’t enough for most people to change, but I’m asking you – right now – if you’re not happy, take action starting today to become happy. 

Who else can do this for you? 

Nobody.

Not the government.

Not your boss.

Not your company.

Not your family, or your spouse, or your buddies.

Just the person you see in the mirror every morning.

How are you going to do that? 

That’s the real question, isn’t it?   For a lot of my clients, of course, it’s about money.  While my team and I can usually help anyone keep more money in their pocket, if you don’t like how you’re earning that money, or where you’re earning that money, then money isn’t nearly as fun as it could be. 

I want to make money fun again. 

How can we do that, together?  Well, maybe it’s giving you a better strategy for saving it, or lowering the amount of taxes you pay, or even helping to guide you in determining what is the best way to organize your retirement accounts. 

My team and I might not even have all the answers, but I guarantee we know the right people to give you those answers. 

Right now, though?  I want you to really think about what you’re tired of, and start thinking about how you can get those roadblocks out of your way.  We’ve all been through too much in the last year to be satisfied with unhappiness. 

If you’re ready to make changes in your financial wellbeing, then give me and the team a call.  Why wait?

IMPORTANT: Our firm specializes in tax resolution. We serve clients virtually so don't hesitate to reach out. If you want an expert tax resolution specialist who knows how to navigate the IRS maze, reach out to our firm, so we can schedule a confidential consultation to explain options to permanently resolve your tax problem. Click here to make an appointment! Or, call Toll-free 1-855-254-1892.

Friday, April 30, 2021

Doing What You Love

I want to ask you to think about something you might not have considered in a long time:

Do you like the work you do?

Before you answer, re-read that line – “do you like the work you do…” – because it means far more than “the job you have…”

Think about it, and then answer the question.

So, do you? 

For a lot of folks, the answer is “no.”  They might like the people they work with, they might like the industry they’re in, but in terms of the actual work they must do every day?  They don’t like it. 

So why do it? 

Why intentionally set yourself up to dislike something for months or years when you can take action and place yourself into a better spot? 

For some people, the answer is money.

For others, the school system their children are in. 

For still others, there simply isn’t any work they’d truly like to do and they might never actually be able to be happy in their career. 

No matter what, though, you have a choice.  You don’t need to continue down the path you’re on, and – if you’re like a LOT of Americans – “money” keeps you stuck in an industry or career you dislike, there’s plenty of ways to change that, even in the weird world we’re living in today, where jobs can be hard to come by and breaking into a new industry seems impossible. 

Let’s start with the basics, first budget. 

The truth is, we often set ourselves up to get stuck on the wrong path.  Many Americans live far beyond their means, and once they have reached a certain income level, they can feel stuck in a job or career due to all the bills they’ve got to pay each month. 

Now, that might not be easy to acknowledge, but if you feel “stuck” because you’ve got to make two car payments, then the easy thing to do is … trade them in or pay them off! 

Why stress yourself out in a career that you hate just so you can keep up with the Jones’? 

In my experience, the easiest thing for a higher-income earner can do to move into an alternate industry is to realign their budget to reflect a much smaller “nut” to cover each month.  Think about it – if your current financial situation “forces” you to clear over $7,000 each month and you’re unwilling to sacrifice some things in order to change your situation, simple statistics tell us that you’ll be looking at far fewer job openings. 

I’m NOT telling you to go back to square one and pretend you just got out of school but being open about your budget while changing careers can allow you to make more changes. 

Not only will lowering the amount of debt you’re servicing each month give you more flexibility in relation to changing careers, it’s also very liberating. 

The truth is, living on the hairy edge of your financial means can be a bad thing.  In fact, when you get right down to it, stress about your finances might be the root of the stress you feel at work.  For example, when you set up a budget and recognize you can live on far less than you make, you allow yourself to not bring financial worry into the workplace.  You aren’t always looking for overtime, or scrambling to hit a bonus. 

In short, your ability to enjoy the work for what it is, not simply viewing it as a means to an end.  So if you find yourself constantly stressed from work and thinking of a career change, maybe take a moment and reflect on your actual budget.  Of course, there might be some aspects of budgeting and taxation that my team and I can help in, and while we aren’t career counselors, we can definitely help you get to the bottom of all the money you aren’t making. 

Feel free to give us a call and set up an appointment to see how giving yourself a raise might change everything in your job.

IMPORTANT: Our firm specializes in tax resolution. We serve clients virtually so don't hesitate to reach out. If you want an expert tax resolution specialist who knows how to navigate the IRS maze, reach out to our firm, so we can schedule a confidential consultation to explain options to permanently resolve your tax problem. Click here to make an appointment! Or, call Toll-free 1-855-254-1892.


Where Are You Losing Your Day?

One of the most common themes in small business owners is “busy.”  I speak to men and women who own companies all the time and inevitably, they are all “busy, busy, busy!”

…But is that really true? 

Here’s an exercise I read about many years ago that has really helped me focus on how I use my time.  It might seem simple, but like many things that are “simple,” the results can be incredibly complex – but they can give you valuable insight into how you spend your days and your time.

It’s incredibly easy to set up – you only need a clean sheet or three of paper and your phone.  Set the timer on your phone to go off every 15-20 minutes, then document what you were doing when the timer goes off. 

NO CHEATING! 

If you were on Facebook, write it down.  If you were getting another cup of coffee, write it down.  On a phone call with your significant other?  You guessed it – write it down!

Do this for at least a few days, and then, document the tasks.  If, for example, you were doing a sales call, then that would be a tactical job. 

Writing employee schedules would be a managerial task. 

Working on your business growth plan for 2022 would be a task that an entrepreneur would be expected to be doing. 

…And those are the only three categories!  Tactical, Managerial, or Entrepreneurial. 

I’ll bet you’ll find that the tactical tasks of your day-to-day take up nearly 70 percent of your time, while managerial accounts for another 20%.  I’d be shocked if you spend more than 10% of your time doing things that support your entrepreneurial growth. 

At the same time, you’ll also find you’re doing a LOT of other things besides those – going to Starbucks, playing on Facebook, watching videos of kittens.  Those?  Well, those need to go away.  You wouldn’t allow an employee to waste time like that, why would you tolerate it from yourself?

Here’s the really critical thing this exercise will reveal:  why you’re so “busy.” 

You’re probably wasting time!  Imagine if you actually put in the time to grow your company! 

I’m not going to beat you up, but when I’ve suggested this exercise to people and they’ve actually done it and been honest with themselves, ultimately, they’ve come to realize why they can get so little accomplished in their days or weeks. 

So the next step is to create some rules…

·       Use the phone ONLY for interacting with clients or prospects

·       No social media unless it is for posting an advertisement (and this really should be handled by a VA, anyway…)

·       Check emails twice a day – real emergencies are communicated by phone

·       Get to work (and leave work) at the same time every day

·       Quit “working” on weekends – they end up bringing bad habits into the office on weekdays

·       Set specific times each week for each category of work (entrepreneurial, managerial, and tactical)

·       Don’t make exceptions unless there’s money to be made by changing your schedule

Now, these all seem easy, and maybe even simple, but the sheer numbers of business owners whom I see not doing them is amazing … yet, when you add up all the time you might have mismanaged during the week, you find whole DAYS of time that wasn’t accounted for – it was simply wasted. 

Go ahead, reclaim efficiency and do this little exercise.  Then, when you’re done, use the things you’ve learned to change how you work and to make the most of the time you have in the office. 

I’ll bet it’s going to end up not only saving you time, it’s going to make you money – and that’s one great reason to do it!

IMPORTANT: Our firm specializes in tax resolution. We serve clients virtually so don't hesitate to reach out. If you want an expert tax resolution specialist who knows how to navigate the IRS maze, reach out to our firm, so we can schedule a confidential consultation to explain options to permanently resolve your tax problem. Click here to make an appointment! Or, call Toll-free 1-855-254-1892.

Monday, April 26, 2021

Will These Kids EVER Go Back To School?

One of the biggest challenges we’ve seen in the last year of COVID-based lockdowns has been with kids and virtual classrooms.

Dual income parents who were furloughed or working from home suddenly had to take on roles they weren’t really prepared for – namely, teaching or helping kids with both sketchy online learning technology, poor connectivity, and trying to dredge up things like sixth-grade math and English grammar rules. 

Now that vaccinations are climbing and the long-term threat of a pandemic are slowly easing off, many parents are wondering what the future holds for in-person instruction for their kids.  All manner of opinions exist on this, from the lack of socialization and its effect on young, developing brains to obvious need to protect older teachers and school administrators from infection. 

New research from an Ohio study of in-student school systems last fall now suggests that masked students who were exposed to a COVID-positive student – even at less than six feet – were no more likely to come down with COVID.  One thing for certain, a lot of parents are worried about what will happen for one reason, and a lot of school officials and teachers are worried about the overall safety of in-person instruction for a completely different reason. 

It’s going to be a challenge, either way, and schools that were already pressed for space trying to arrange classrooms to facilitate the six-foot social distance in seating arrangements are sure to be looking for guidance from the CDC as well as vaccine producers and research. 

The problem, of course, is that as more and more Americans are getting back to work, they’re being forced to choose a job over their family.   Is it safe to send kids back into the classroom?  Is it safe to leave them home for virtual schools? 

These are questions that state and local governments are going to have to answer – and businesses large and small will be accountable for – in the very near future.  Ultimately, it’s going to be frustrating for a lot of people, and no matter what decisions are made, some people and children are going to fall between the cracks. 

The best advice?  Pay close attention to what your local school system is planning, become active in any meetings – the PTA, for example, and don’t be scared to tune in to Zoom meetings of your local Board of Education.  In the end, it’s likely that Uncle Sam is going to have to step in and fund some things – be it an overhaul or an underwriting of a myriad of network communications companies to ensure “last mile” connectivity, some universal expectations of virtual classrooms, or some such.  The downside is that if the Federal government gets involved, untangling the mess could take years and literally not positively impact the very generation of schoolchildren that are at the heart of these challenges. 

One other key thing you can do can literally be done right now:  ensure your employer is aware of your situation.  Even if your boss “knows” you have kids in school, arrange a meeting with them to discuss the challenges you are having now with “virtual” school and any worries you have for the future. 

That can go a long way towards setting you and your kids up for success if and when the option for in-person classes is available in your hometown. 

IMPORTANT: Our firm specializes in tax resolution. We serve clients virtually so don't hesitate to reach out. If you want an expert tax resolution specialist who knows how to navigate the IRS maze, reach out to our firm, so we can schedule a confidential consultation to explain options to permanently resolve your tax problem. Click here to make an appointment! Or, call Toll-free 1-855-254-1892.

Is It Time To Buy?

One of the most rewarding things I see, as a tax professional, is when clients and friends come to me for advice about “tax things.”  I’m ha...