As I was writing a recent article about 2017 tax season observations and recommendations, I was also thinking about all of the discussions I’ve had with clients over the past few months about taxes, savings, and general financial health. You’ve asked some great questions, so I thought it would be a good idea to share this information with everyone.
Based on a little research and a few office discussions, here is the (very unscientific) list of the top 10 questions we’ve been asked over the past year:
- Am I paying the right amount of tax? If BJM is doing your tax preparation, the answer is yes. We study tax code updates, use the latest tax software, and have a partner review every return. We also recommend adjustments to withholding and estimated tax payments to keep payments in line with liability.
- Is there anything I can do to lower my taxes? There are a number of strategies that can reduce your reported income and/or tax liability, from retirement account funding to purchasing Georgia film credits. To answer this question, however, we’ll need to review your specific situation and goals.
- What will happen with President Trump’s tax proposal? Even CPAs can’t predict this one. The US public has really only seen an outline, so Trump and Congress still have a lot of work to do to iron out details.
- When should I start saving for retirement? Today! It’s never too early or too late. Saving just $100 per week when you’re in your 20’s could make you a millionaire by retirement. If you’re one of the “1-in-2” Americans who isn’t saving enough, start with something – but start now.
- How often should we be talking? Meet with your CPA twice a year – just like seeing the dentist, but less painful. If you meet with us only at tax time, it’s often too late to make changes. We need to meet again before year-end while there’s still time to make adjustments.
- When can I throw away my tax documents? Per the IRS, you should generally save your individual returns for 3 years. I recommend that clients keep their tax returns forever. Also keep home purchase/sale, renovation, and stock basis information, for at 3 years after you sell.
- Is my financial data secure at BJM? I expect to be asked this more often given the latest ransomware issues. Your data is secure. We use secure on-site servers with cloud backup. An IT company ensures that we have the latest software and technology updates.
- Will you be my financial planner? No, and here’s why. CPA’s should be a neutral entity, free of any and all financial bias. BJM does not sell any financial products, so there’s never even a perception of bias. If needed, we can recommend some great financial planners.
- Why did you choose to be a CPA? My father was a CPA, so I was exposed to numbers and accounting at an early age. That, combined with the daily client interaction, was the perfect “equation” for me to choose this profession.
- Is there anything else I should know? This is my favorite question, and often leads to a financial health review so we can correctly answer the question. Let’s make sure you’re saving enough for the future, and those savings are being invested in the right ways.
Although tax season is over, we’re still here
Unlike those strip mall and chain store tax prep companies, Bach, James, Mansour & Company is a full-service CPA firm. We’re here for you year-round. Please contact us if you have any questions, or if you’d like to schedule a financial health check.
Neal Bach, CPA