Our approach to financial matters is straightforward: we want our clients to prosper, with a minimal amount of government intrusion into their private affairs. Toward that end, we have differing approaches to fulfilling our clients' needs. Read on…
We believe that individuals are generally taxed too much in the United States. Many people do not realize that prior to 1913, there was no personal income tax in this country. Others believe that taxation of income is against the provisions of the Constitution. Actually, the Constitution grants Congress the right and power to levy taxes (in general), and as Congress in 1913 decided that taxation on income was the best thing since sliced bread, we are stuck with the current system, like it or not. Now, there are many ways in which the current system of taxation can be improved (see our links page for some interesting thoughts on this). However, until Congress actually changes the law, the system stays in place. So, what to do?
Now that we have the underlying problem out in the open, the answer to our nagging question is to minimize the impact of the current tax code on our clients. How do we do this? First, let's be clear: we do nothing untoward or outside the boundaries of established legal and ethical guidelines. If this is something you seek, please point your browser elsewhere. Our approach is to first streamline an individual's income tax return as much as possible. For our clients with one or more W-2's, some interest and/or dividend income, and who do not own a home, there's usually not much room to streamline (or minimize the tax implications). In such situations, we strive to at least estimate the tax damage before year's end, to avoid last minute "surprises". For our clients who own homes, businesses, and/or rental property, the streamlining can make a real difference in the bottom line. Additionally, perhaps there are some itemized deductions which have been overlooked? We can help uncover those hidden gems, such as:
- Travel between jobs
- Charitable remainder trusts
- Charitable mileage
- Job-related expenses
- Long-term care contract premiums
- Investment interest expense
Beyond income tax, keeping an eye toward our stated goal of helping our clients prosper, when used wisely, our services can help steer an investor to the right kind of investment, or a real estate developer to the right piece of land. By carefully analyzing profitability, and projecting growth and value, we can help our clients become more successful. After all, isn't that the American Dream?
Businesses – in General
Similar opinions apply to our business clients. Taxing business income merely increases costs to end consumers (our clients' customers and clients). To help our business clients remain competitive in the marketplace, we keep an eye toward maximizing available tax advantages. Often, these tax advantages take the form of aggressive pension planning, allowing the business entity to deduct the pension contributions made on behalf of employees from otherwise taxable income, saving valuable dollars for more important things – such as providing for employee retirement. Often, we will recommend multi-tiered corporate strategies to best leverage the existing company's capital base and pension options.
We also look to aid our clients in their quest for better cash management. Cash flow is a key ingredient in business, and we regularly advise on such matters as acceptable billing practices, payables management, and office overhead auditing. Additionally, we concern ourselves with our clients' overall profitability and advise on possible pitfalls we perceive in the future. By acting as lookout, we can often help our clients avoid otherwise costly mistakes, or overlook possibilities.
Businesses – Closely Held
Closely held businesses can prove to be the most challenging of all propositions. The objective of getting money out of the closely held business to the principals involved can be difficult to achieve without the proper knowledge and approach. Employee contracts are often good, solid tools we use to accomplish this. Employee benefit plans can also prove helpful here, allowing pre-tax dollars to be used for otherwise personally non-deductible or quasi-deductible expenses. Nothing here is "off the rack" for us, as each situation is different, just as with individual financial matters. We work hard to find the right fit for the client's philosophy of operations as well as the long term tax and financial implications of any strategy we consider.
Businesses – Choice of Entity
It often amazes us how quick non-tax professionals are to recommend the election of a corporation to be taxed under sub-chapter S of the Internal Revenue Code. Surely, the true benefits of S Corporations – except for the niche few – dissipated sometime in the mid-1980's, even before the Tax Reform Act of 1987. However, we routinely see clients who are still rowing uphill with now-profitable S Corporations, only to be taxed completely on the pass-through of income at the personal level, and missing out on some of the more attractive C Corporation pension planning provisions. (As an example here, consider S Corporation shareholders who are prohibited from borrowing against their pension plans; no such prohibition exists for C Corporation stockholders.) Still, there are specific reasons to opt for S Corporation taxation, and we can explain these reasons in detail during consultation.
The newest kid on the block here is the Limited Liability Company, or LLC. LLC's offer some of the best features of partnership taxation (while leaving open the option of electing taxation as a corporation), they are recognized in a majority of states, and they provide corporation-like liability shelter. If pass-through entities are under consideration, the LLC should probably be near the top of the list. We handle LLC's on a regular basis.
For some clients, the multi-tiered corporate structure lends itself well. A parent company offering management, oversight, and funding resources to one or more child corporations can prove advantageous. We have several of these in place, and always consider such setups when the right set of circumstances arises.
Here, the emphasis is more on clear, concise reporting to the proper authorities and potential donors. An odd twist of the current tax code leaves open the possibility for non-profit organizations to actually be levied tax penalties for such nonsensical things as late filing of a report of income. We strive to make sure our non-profit clients have little to worry about in these waters. Potential donors want to be assured that their contributions will be put to good use and not squandered, and that the underlying organization is sound and ethical. We work hard to ensure that no questions remain when such benefactors are considering contributions. We make ourselves available to answer questions to such prospects, and to attend meetings as necessary, attesting to our accessibility.