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

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Tax Strategies

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Taxes and Technology

Taxes and Technology

Technology continues to expand at an ever-increasing rate and taxes are not immune from the impact...

Net Investment Income Tax for Estates and Trusts

Net Investment Income Tax for Estates and Trusts

There is a 3.8% additional Medicare tax imposed on trusts and estates that have net investment income...

Obamacare Tax Credits & Considerations

The main provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, otherwise known as the...

Year-End Tax Planning for Individuals/Businesses

Now that the final quarter of the year is under way, it is an ideal time to focus on year-end tax...

Obamacare Consulting

Key provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (also referred to as the Affordable...

Roundup of Recent Tax Court Decisions

The U.S. Tax Court is the court to use when the amount of federal taxes is in dispute and the taxpayer...

New Tax Landscape for Trusts

Trusts have historically been used for a variety of reasons: to benefit family members, charities,...

Income Deferral Strategies

In 2013, there is a new, harsher tax landscape for high-income taxpayers. The top rates on ordinary...

Retirement Income Can Impact Medicare Surtax on Net Investment Income

Taxes and Retirement Income Individuals may receive a variety of income when they retire. Different...

22 Tips That are a Win-Win for College Savings Plans

The cost of tuition and related costs are continuing to rise at a greater pace than the rate of inflation,...

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Editor Blog

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Bitcoin Qualifies for Capital Gains Due to IRS Guidance

Bitcoin will be treated a property according to guidance issued by the IRS March 25th. See

Expanding Your Practice with QuickBooks Consulting

QuickBooks Consulting (QBC) fits neatly in the category of expanding your practice because it is one...

NSA Cyber-Tracking Avoidance Techniques

The nuisance of online machine-generated advertising has recently been exceeded by word that Google,...

Spring 2013 Statistics of Income Bulletin Now Available

  WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today announced the availability of the spring 2013...

Apple's dirty little tax secret

Cathy Kearney, an accountant in the Irish city of Cork, lives with her husband and children in a large,...

IRS Should Take More Aggressive Action to Address Travel Card Misuse

WASHINGTON – Although the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS’s) travel card program controls are generally...

CPAs Hard to Find for SSAE 16/SAS 70 Audits

Service Organization Control (SOC) engagements are seen as a growth area for CPA firms. John McLaughlin,...

CPA Fraud Examiner

Robert Gralla is a CPA, Certified Fraud Examiner and Certified Forensic Accountant who has experience...

4 Tips on Bond Portfolios for Tough Times

The extraordinary measures taken by the United States Federal Reserve to stimulate employment growth...

Crowdfund & Small Firm Auditing

The signing of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (JOBS Act) in April of this year has put the spotlight...

Author Julie Welch, CPA/PFS, CFP

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Client Tax Tip

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Have Employer Pay for Tuition and Exclude Cost From Income

Have Employer Pay for Tuition and Exclude Cost From Income

Education expenses can reduce taxes in one of three ways. First, job-related education expenses can...

Use Health Savings Accounts to Reduce the Cost of Medical Care

Use Health Savings Accounts to Reduce the Cost of Medical Care

Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) are similar to individual retirement accounts (IRAs) for medical expenses....

Why Give Appreciated Property to Charity

  Donating appreciated property to charity can produce substantial tax savings. Appreciated...

Help Clients Maximize a SIMPLE Retirement Plan

Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees (SIMPLE plans) are retirement plans that can be set up...

Retirement Plan Distributions Before 59 ½

Penalties generally apply if you withdraw money from your retirement plan before you reach age 59 ½....

Avoid 50% Penalties on Distributions From Your Retirement Plan

When it comes time to withdraw money from a retirement plan, you should consider both nontax as...

Don’t Assume Social Security Benefits Are Taxable

Up to 85% of Social Security benefits can be taxed. However, it is possible that no Social Security...

23 Year-End Tax Tips

Time Your Income and Deductions - Accelerate income in light of the elimi­nation of the Adjusted...

10 Ways the American Opportunity Tax Credit Reduces College Cost

  The costs of higher education may be offset with two credits: the American Opportunity tax...

Capital Gains for Noncorporate Taxpayers - 2012

Julie Welch (Runtz) is the Director of Tax Services for Meara, King & Co. She graduated from William...

Author Martin M. Shenkman, CPA, MBA, PFS, J.D.

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Tax Checklist

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Practice Development: Quicken for Later Life Planning

Practice Development: Quicken for Later Life Planning

Every CPA can and should be a proactive to help clients with estate planning matters. In the past,...

LLC and FLP: The Swiss Army Knife of Planning Options

LLC and FLP: The Swiss Army Knife of  Planning Options

LLCs are ubiquitous in tax and business planning for clients. They have become the default answer...

Post-ATRA Trust Income Tax Planning

Income tax planning for trusts has been profoundly affected by the dramatic changes the American Taxpayer...

Help Clients Save Taxes Using Form 1065 Post ATRA

Partnerships, and limited liability companies (LLCs) taxed as partnerships (both to be referred to...

Income Tax Tips and Estate Planning

Since so few clients have estates subject to federal estate tax ($10.5M+ for a couple) income tax...

Life Insurance Planning Post-ATRA

Insurance has, and will always remain, an integral part of many estate plans, regardless of the status...

CPA's Role in Estate Planning Post-ATRA

Introduction  SALY (same as last year) can be a recipe for disaster if you don’t verify the...

21 Tips for S Corporations with Trusts and Estate Shareholders

There are over two million S corporations. In 2012 there has been a tremendous shift of wealth to...

10 Tax Tips on Reimbursement and Ways You May Access Assets in a Domestic Asset Protection Trust

If you are considering making large gifts in 2012, you may be concerned about whether you can have...

13 Tips On 2012 1040s Impact of 2012 Gift Planning

2012 was one of the most significant years in estate planning history. While the outcome of the election,...

Author E. Martin Davidoff, CPA, Esq.

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IRS Representation Advisor

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IRS Posts New Forms for Offers in Compromise

IRS Posts New Forms for Offers in Compromise

On December 31, 2013, the IRS posted the January 2014 revision to Form 433-A (OIC), Collection Information...

IRS Provides Guidance for Clients Affected by DOMA

IRS Provides Guidance for Clients Affected by DOMA

 In July, I wrote about how the United States Supreme Court found Section 3 of the Defense of...

Defense of Marriage Act Overturned with Respect to Federal Benefits and Federal Tax Laws

On June 26th, the United States Supreme Court found that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act...

Steps to Effective IRS Audit Resolution, Part II

You can view the first half of this article by visiting

Steps to Effective IRS Audit Resolution

When taxpayers receive the dreaded notice that their business is going to be examined by the Internal...

The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012

On New Year’s Day, Congress completed its compromise to avoid the fiscal cliff. Here are the...

Offers In Compromise Improving

On May 21st, the IRS announced major revisions to the Offer in Compromise program (,,id=257542,00.html)....

IRS Appeals in Collection Matters

The most underutilized arm of the Internal Revenue Service with respect to Taxpayer collection issues...

Dealing with the IRS Regarding Collections, Penalty Abatements and Examinations

In practicing before the IRS regarding collection matters, penalty abatements and examinations, I...

New IRS Procedures Claim to Provide 'Fresh Start' for Taxpayers

Over the past several weeks, the IRS has made some significant changes in collection policies and...

Amy Walsh

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Tax Controversies

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KPMG Herbalife Partner Resigns: A Case Study on Preventing Auditor Insider Trading

KPMG Herbalife Partner Resigns: A Case Study on Preventing Auditor Insider Trading

When KPMG audit partner Scott I. London accepted an envelope of cash from his golf buddy in the parking...

Still Have an Undisclosed Foreign Account? IRS Rattles Its Saber and Sweetens the Pot for Taxpayers to Come Clean

Still Have an Undisclosed Foreign Account?  IRS Rattles Its Saber and Sweetens the Pot for Taxpayers to Come Clean

Touting the $5 billion in tax revenue generated by its offshore voluntary disclosure programs, the...

United States Continues Its Siege Against Swiss Banks

On February 2, 2012, the United States government made an unprecedented move in its unrelenting investigation...

Dodd-Frank Whistleblower: What Independent Auditors Need to Know

The SEC in May issued its final rules implementing the new whistleblower program of the Dodd-Frank...

Author Jerry Love, CPA/PFS

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Financial Planner

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Advanced Preparation for Social Security Retirement Benefits

Advanced Preparation for Social Security Retirement Benefits

Retirement is the goal that most of us look forward to at the end of our career. There is much debate...

Advising Clients Over Social Security Disability

Advising Clients Over Social Security Disability

According to the Social Security Administration’s Fact Sheet in February of 2013, 25% of the 25-year-olds...

The Affordable Care Act's Influence on Long-Term Care

A recent article by Christine Vestal, ACA Spurs State Shift in Long Term Care, caught my attention...

What Spouse Receives Based on Your Social Security

Earlier this summer, I wrote an article about the topic of when a person should start drawing their...

Do You Have Enough Money to Retire?

This is a question I am frequently asked by the Baby Boomer generation. After all, most of us have...

When Should You Begin Drawing Social Security?

This is a question that I am frequently asked by clients. Should they start as soon as they turn 62,...

Small Business Gets Tax Credit for Providing Health Insurance

The Affordable Health Care Act (AHCA) is being called the most historic overhaul of the U.S. health...

10 Tax Tips On Implications for Debt Forgiveness

In general, if you are liable for a debt that is reduced, canceled, forgiven, or discharged, you must...

14 Tips to Inderstand the Fundamentals of Annuities

An annuity is an investment option that many people find difficult to understand and frequently turn...

The HSA Alternative for Small Business to Address Health Care Costs

It seems that one topic that is on the forefront of every small business owner's mind this summer...

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Feature Stories

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Bitcoin for Charitable Contributions

By: Jason Tyra, CPA | Bitcoin has seen tremendous growth over the last twelve months. Taxpayers...

The Innocent Alien

By: Philip Panitz, Tax Attorney | When one reads the title of this piece, it is probably a natural...

Among Bitcoin’s Largest Liquidity Providers: SecondMarket

By: T. Steel Rose, CPA | This past September, the investment firm SecondMarket created the Bitcoin Investment...

ACA Medicare Tax Guidance

By: Robert Brant, CPA and Kenneth J. Burstiner, CPA | In March 2010, the Patient Protection and...

Bitcoin Tax Checklist

By: Jason M. Tyra, CPA | Last year was very kind to Bitcoin. So kind, in fact, that for the first time,...

The Dos and Don'ts of Engagement Letters

Engagement letters should be used for all engagements including tax returns and non-attest financial...

Bitcoins, Dwollas and Frictionless Transactions

By: T. Steel Rose, CPA | Coming to a technology client in the near future, if it hasn’t happened already,...

57 Federal Tax Provisions Set to Expire With No Prospect of Extension

By: T. Steel Rose, CPA | AICPA tax leadership acknowledged in a November 15 media presentation that the...

New Guidance for Preparing Financial Statement Engagement Letters

Early implementation is permitted for the proposed SSARS covering Preparation of Financial Statements....

Improving the President's Tax Return

 No matter who you are, at tax time it boils down to numbers on a 1040 form. Here are the tax...

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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