“There are generations yet unborn, whose very lives will be shifted and shaped by the moves you make and the actions you take.”
– Andy Andrews

How did the first week of the decade go for you? How are you feeling … financially?

As I wrote last week, the start of the year is pretty important, in my opinion. And the LAST thing you need is to be stressed over finances.

Yet that’s, unfortunately, how many families start their year, this year.

Is there anything we can do to help? Yes, we live to help you with your taxes, but what truly animates me and my staff is the fact that assisting real families (like yours) can make a difference–not just in your “bottom line”, but in the peace with which you operate. That’s, really, why we do what we do.

So, do let us know if there’s anything at all we can help you with.

We’re getting very close to the point where we begin to see many folks walk through our doors with their tax information in hand.

(Oh, and last week my blog included a mostly-complete list of what you will need to get your taxes done. That’s a great list to forward to your friends!)

As folks start streaming through our doors, we end up reviewing the “work” of other tax preparers, as we take a look at previous year returns and numbers.

It’s not always pretty.

So–I thought I’d take some time to give you some pointers for how to avoid some big mistakes during tax time. Yes, it may seem self-serving. And, well…it is. I wouldn’t write this if I didn’t firmly believe in the work we do here.

But if, for some reason, you are in the market for another tax professional (you moved, or you haven’t yet come in to see us before), I hope you’ll find this useful.

Let me know your thoughts…and, of course, if you’d like to talk this over with us we DO have some open appointments for now. That will quickly change, however. Call or email soon!

“Real World” Personal Strategy
Mistakes Made During Tax Season (Part 1)
The “Free” Online Options

Did you know that we accountants like to joke to one another about how good these online software programs (TaxCut, TurboTax, etc.) are for our business? Firstly, they are NOT as “easy to use” as claimed, and secondly…they cost you an arm and a leg.

You might think they’re cheap. And on the surface, you might be right (though, recently, a $1 Billion class action lawsuit was filed in the federal court in Philadelphia alleging gross misstatement of fees and deceptive standards of the federal “FreeFile” program … so even on the surface, it wasn’t always cheap!). But I’m not even talking about the money for the service itself.

Using those programs can end up leaving hundreds, or even thousands of YOUR dollars in the coffers of Uncle Sam … even if you follow all of their instructions to a tee. I see it ALL THE TIME–frustrated clients bringing in prior year’s tax return, astonished at all the “hidden money” my staff and I are able to find for them!

Even worse…

Choosing The WRONG Method To File Your Taxes Could Put You In Some Serious Hot Water With The IRS!

Even if I didn’t owe a ton of back taxes, I still don’t want my record to show some IRS agent that there has been some discrepancy in the past so red flags start to fly and more bureaucratic people begin looking through all my past tax filings and current income holdings … basically taking my social security number and poking around in my private life!

(If you think they won’t do this, the wool might have already been pulled over your eyes.)

They can do a lot of things you won’t want them to do. However, if you keep a clean slate (no IRS correspondence with you related to filing your taxes correctly), the opportunities for them to mess with your personal stuff will be limited.

Here’s another reason why this is so important … now more than ever! New government regulations and changes to the IRS refund system are creating a BIG MESS in the tax industry… and the “Big Brand Names” (you know who I’m talking about) do NOT want you to know about it! In fact, they’re doing all they can this year to hold on to their business, and it is NOT good for you!

Yes, it can be seductive to “go it alone”…to trust a piece of software to point out possible deductions.

But it can be a big trap.

Just ask Tim Geithner.