Fall 2016

Fall 2016 Issue

Tax Strategies for Windfalls

Sidney Kess, CPA, J.D., LL.M.

Individuals may have financial windfalls because of a variety of occurrences. Some windfalls result from good fortune, such as winning the lottery or selling a business, while others result from...


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Ten Best Practices for Successful Accounting Websites

CPASiteSolutions 9 2016 imageEffective web design is a bit like dating. You want to put your best foot forward, but there are so many decisions to be made. Some are obvious – parachute pants are NOT flattering – and others are more difficult – should I have my financial services listed on individual pages or just one? Learn the do’s and don’ts of website design and download the whitepaper: 10 Best Practices for Creating Great Accounting Websites.

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Tax Strategies

Tax Strategies for Windfalls

Sidney Kess, CPA, J.D., LL.M.

Individuals may have financial windfalls because of a variety of occurrences. Some windfalls result from good fortune, such as winning the lottery or selling a business, while others result from...


Client Tax Tip

Tactics to Use When Preparing 1040s

Julie Welch, CPA, CFP

Be Alert for Digital Documentation Now that companies are going digital, many W-2s and Form 1099s are available digitally. This is a blessing since they may be more readily available when...


Financial Planner

What is a Credit Score?


This is a question on many people’s minds. A few years ago consumers were trained to monitor their credit report. However, now consumers are seeing commercials asking, “Do you know...


Feature Stories

Finding and Maintaining New Clients

Joshua Fluegel

Individuals and businesses put great thought into what must be done to preserve income from the government. Lest the world forget, tax professionals are making sure citizens are receiving their...


Editor Blog

The IRS Issues Final Treasury Regulations Governing R&D …

Peter J. Scalise

On October 3, 2016, the IRS issued Final Treasury Regulations setting forth guidance on research and development efforts in connection to Internal Use Software (IUS) for purposes of claiming the...


Technology Advisor

The PC Industry Needs to Evolve or Prepare for Extinction

Rick Richardson, CPA, CITP, CGMA

PCs are on almost every desk in the world and the installed base is measured in the hundreds of millions. Brian Krzanich, Intel’s latest CEO, recently announced a massive layoff...


What is Fog Computing?

Rick Richardson, CPA, CITP, CGMA

By now, you've probably heard of cloud computing. That’s where companies rent shared software, computers, and storage instead of buying and installing it all themselves in private data centers. They...


Tax Checklist

Checklist: 1040 Planning Idea

Martin M. Shenkman, CPA, MBA, PFS, AEP, JD

√ MULTI-GENERATION CRT Blended families are common, perhaps the norm (only about 20% of family units are comprised of traditional intact families). For many of these clients portability solves any estate...


Financial Planning Starting with Form 1040

mug jerry loveWithout a doubt there is a wealth of information we already know about our clients’ financial status because we prepare their tax return. If we step back to see the forest instead of the trees there is much more the tax return is telling us about their overall financial well being and could lead to expanded services.

It is very important at the outset of this column to emphasize that all tax professionals who wish to offer services to their clients that are beyond tax compliance and tax planning, need to be familiar with Treasury Reg. Section 301.7216-2(n). These Regulations permit the tax return preparer to use their client list to send a newsletter to clients containing, “tax information and general business or economic information or analysis for educational purposes.” However, 7216 explicitly states that the client list may not be used to “solicit any service or product other than tax return preparation services.” You can find more information at

You can use the tax return to identify personal financial planning needs of the client. It gives you an overall picture of clients’ financial situation and can uncover opportunities for planning that client should consider.

Items to consider include:

1.  What is their ratio of investment income to their total income?

2.  If they have a high level of income but little or no investment income, do they have a high level of debt or high level of consumption or a combination?

3.  As you review their investment income, do they seem to have diversified investments?

4.  Is there an appearance that the client’s assets may be low yield investments or at the opposite, concentrated in high-risk investments? Do they need assistance in defining their risk tolerance and/or assistance in understanding the principles of risk/reward?

5.  Do they have a high cash balance in a limited number of financial institutions? Have they considered their balances in light of the FDIC insurance limits?

6.  Have they established an emergency savings fund?

7.  Are they maximizing their participation in a 401k or similar deferral plan?

8.  Do they have an option to participate in a Flex Plan?

9.  If they are self-employed, have they established a retirement plan? Is their plan structured to give them the maximum contribution possible?

10.  If their primary investment and retirement is based on a closely held business, do they have a strategy for developing its value and have a succession plan to realize that value?

11.  If they are self-employed, have they considered the opportunity to have dependents employed in the business?

12.  Do they have children under age 18? Do they have plans to send them to college and if so, do they have a strategy for funding part or all of that cost?

13.  Will they potentially have any financial responsibility for other family members whether that might be parents, siblings, adult children or grandchildren?

14.  Is their spouse active in the business and if so, have they explored the compensation to the spouse including fringe benefits and retirement plans?

15.  If they have an IRA, have they considered converting it to a Roth IRA? Have they considered funding the maximum non-deductible IRA in addition to their retirement plan funding?

16.  Do they have items reflected on Schedule C, F or E that may be a drain on their overall cash flow and diminishing their liquidity? Have they considered the long-term benefit of the venture and how it may be contributing or hindering their financial goals?

17.  If the client has been successful in the accumulation of assets and developing their net worth, do they need estate planning? Do they have plans to make significant charitable contributions during their lifetime or at their death?

18.  Has the client considered their potential needs relative to life insurance whether it may be to provide income replacement or to provide cash to pay either estate taxes or fund a buyout of their closely held business?

19.  If they are self-employed does their health insurance qualify to be deducted on page 1 of Form 1040?

20.  Does the client qualify for a Health Savings Account? Have they considered using the HSA as an additional vehicle to accumulate tax deferred dollars for their retirement years?

21.  Do they have disability insurance? Will it meet their needs?

22.  Has the client given consideration to long-term care insurance and how to address the potential future medical expenses they may encounter?

23.  How much is their annual mortgage interest expense? Do they have more than one mortgage? Do they have home equity loans or home equity line of credit? Do they need to evaluate their cash flow and consider a plan to reduce their overall debt?

24.  Are they high-income taxpayers who are living paycheck to paycheck and putting their financial security on the back burner?

25.  On Schedule E, what type of entities do they have? Do any of these give rise to concerns for unexpected liability?

26.  On Schedule D, do they have a large volume of trading? Does their portfolio contain unrealized gains or losses?

This column and list is not an all inclusive list. For a more extensive list, refer to

As indicated, this short column cannot give an in depth discussion of everything to consider when reviewing the Form 1040 and although the above referenced list gives more guidance, neither will replace a scheduled time to explore financial planning topics with your client. Clients both want and need to explore financial planning in more depth.

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