Click Here To Listen To The Retirement Tax Services Podcast


  • When Dean got involved in the financial industry. (2:00)
  • The value in communicating every action you make for your clients. (5:35)
  • Why holistic financial planning must involve tax planning, as well. (8:28)
  • The importance of collaboration between client, CPA, and financial advisor. (10:20)
  • Why tax planning must be included in any financial advice your receive. (16:10)
  • How to create a great client experience. (22:00)
  • The benefit of learning how taxes work. (25:30)


Tax laws are changing frequently, which means a client’s financial plan is going to need the ability to pivot throughout their working years and their retirement. This is why comprehensive financial planning should always include a tax planning professional. In fact, to give financial advice without looking at your client’s tax returns can be incredibly irresponsible, and even lead to miscalculations or increased uncertainty. Dean Barber, CEO of Barber Financial Group, joins the show to share his experience with including tax planning in his firm and why he believes it is essential for every advisor to consider doing the same.

Listen in as Dean shares what provisional income is, why it is important that your clients understand the advice that you’re giving, and how to create the best client experience. You will learn how to create learning experiences for your clients, the benefit of learning how to do your own tax returns first, and more.

Ideas Worth Sharing:

In order to do holistic financial planning, you have to have the CPA involved. - Dean Barber Click To Tweet Collaboration has got to go both ways. - Dean Barber Click To Tweet If you’re not looking at the tax return, and you’re not working with a CPA, and you’re pretending to be a comprehensive financial advisor, you’re kidding yourself—and you’re doing a disservice to your client. - Dean Barber Click To Tweet

About Retirement Tax Services:

Steven and his guests share more tax-planning insights in today’s Retirement Tax Services Podcast. Feedback, unusual tax-planning stories, and suggestions for future guests can be sent to

Are you interested in content that provides you with action steps that you can take to deliver massive tax value to your clients? Then you are going to love our powerful training sessions online. Click on the link below to get started on your journey:

Thank you for listening.

Read The Transcript Below:

We’re not overpaying. No, we’re not overpaying. We’re not overpaying anymore. The tax code’s complicated, boring, and overrated. You don’t want that, you want a pro. One thing that you should know: this is a radio show. It’s not tax advice, don’t take it that way.

Steven Jarvis:     Hello everyone, and welcome to the next episode of The Retirement Tax Services Podcast, Financial Professionals’ Edition. I’m your host, Steven Jarvis, CPA. And in this show, I teach financial advisors how to deliver massive value through tax planning.

Really excited today, I’m actually in a different location. I’m on scene with my guest, Dean Barber of Barber Financial Group. We’re at his office, in his studio. And I’m really excited to have Dean on the show today to talk about what tax planning can look like when it is included within your firm. So, Dean, welcome to the show.

Dean Barber:      Hey, great. Thanks to be here. I’m glad I could be on your podcast.

Steven Jarvis:     Yeah, it’s exciting to be here with you. So, we’re here together, kicking off a strategic partnership that we have through our RTS premier program, really at a whole another level though, just because of the amount of work we’re going to do together.

But really, what I want to talk about today is that you’ve been doing this for a long time and taxes has been a really core component of what you do for a long time.

So, talk about kind of what led you to that level of commitment, and then maybe what you’ve learned along the way; maybe bumps, learning opportunities, we’ll put that nicely of maybe things that didn’t always go quite right. But how have you learned and stayed committed to this tax aspect?

Dean Barber:      Let’s just go back to kind of the beginning. I’ve been in the financial services industry for 35 years and in 2005, I met a friend of both of ours. His name is Ed Slott, and most advisors know who Ed is. I actually was one of the original charter members of Ed Slott’s Elite IRA Advisor group.

And I started really learning far more than what I ever thought I would want to know out of the tax code. And at that point in time, I had some, I would call them loose relationships where I’d refer some people to a CPA, and think well that CPA’s going to do the job. They’re going to know what to do.

And what wound up happening is, what I was learning, I was actually then teaching the CPAs about a lot of the rules that surround retirement accounts, because that Ed’s specialty. And there was never a cohesive communication between the CPA and myself.

And at that point in time, I had started really growing the organization, I had started hiring additional advisors, I had started hiring support staff, and all the advisors were experiencing the same thing.

And so, it was late 2009 that I decided that if we were really going to have an impact on our clients, I needed to just hire my own CPA and pay that CPA a salary — not worry about how much revenue we got making money on tax returns and whether that was going to be enough to pay for the CPA or not. But we need to start offering tax preparation services for our clients. And more importantly, having that CPA that was in-house provide forward-looking tax planning.

Now, it took me a while to train the CPA on the forward-looking tax aspect of it. Because as you know, most CPAs are looking in the rear-view mirror. They’re reporting on history. It’s important, but it’s not as critical as doing the forward-looking tax planning.

So, trained the CPA on the financial planning software, taught them how to look at what we’re trying to do for the future. And then we started creating good forward-looking tax plans for people.

And if you fast forward into 2021, we were 1.7 billion in assets, 12 advisors in the location where we sit here, four CPAs, almost 600 tax returns a year, and just a ton of interaction.

But what I saw was the most interesting, when I finally got the CPA up and running, was the appreciation that the clients have for the collaboration of the CPA sitting next to the financial advisor, and really talking about that person’s situation.

Steven Jarvis:     If you’re watching this on YouTube, you’ll see that I smile really big as Dean says that, because it’s this fascinating dynamic to me of just the sheer emotional connection to the tax piece.

As we’ve had different conversations today, I’ve heard you say something that I’m always advocating for, which is this idea that everything you do in someone’s financial life has a tax impact.

So, you’re totally bought into that taxes are this essential piece of it, but the client’s emotional connection is also skewed towards taxes. And I’m sure you have these similar experiences where an advisor can do all sorts of wonderful things for a client, whether it’s investment returns or risk management or estate planning or whatever it is. There can be this whole package of incredible things that you’ve done for a client.

And then they can come to the tax preparer and that tax preparer can save them $500 in taxes, and the client is over the moon. They’ve suddenly forgotten about everything else you’ve ever done for them, and they are ecstatic about that $500 in taxes because taxes are so emotionally painful.

Dean Barber:      Or on the flip side of that, your client can go to an outside CPA, where the CPA’s had zero communication about what’s going on in the person’s financial life, and they’re preparing the tax return, and they’re like, “What the hell are you doing? You did a $90,000 Roth conversion last year, you didn’t tell me about it. And this is how much money you owe in additional taxes.”

Well, that CPA didn’t understand that that was part of a strategic longer-term strategy. And so, then that casts a shadow of doubt about the financial advisor’s role and what did they do?

You and I talked about this at dinner last night, and all the advisors that are watching this or listening to this on a podcast, they need to pay really close attention to this.

If you went out and surveyed a hundred people from the general public that are not in the financial services industry and they’re not a CPA, and you ask them this question, say, “I am a financial advisor, do you consider me a salesperson, or do you consider me a trusted advisor?” The vast majority of people are going to say you’re a salesperson.

But if I come up to somebody and say, “I’m a CPA,” are they going to consider me a salesperson, or are they going to consider me a trusted advisor?

Steven Jarvis:     Trusted advisor, every time.

Dean Barber:      Trusted advisor all day long. So, whatever the CPA says is gospel and whatever the financial advisor says, it can be doubted because, “What are they trying to sell me? What are they trying to get me to do?”

And so, the collaboration of the CPA, working with the financial advisor, where they both understand what the long-term objective is, and the CPA can say, “No, this is the right decision,” they can never doubt the financial advisor again.

And I think that’s the beauty of what you’ve created with RTS in that collaboration with financial advisors, because it really doesn’t exist unless you’re willing to go out and invest in your business and hire the CPA, and then it gets bigger. And then you got to hire multiple CPAs and you got the tax software and you got all … it’s an expense. It really is.

Steven Jarvis:     Yeah, no matter how you’re going to incorporate tax planning, there’s work behind it, there’s cost behind it. I feel like I almost have to give a disclaimer that I am not here sponsored by the AICPA to advocate for financial advisors making CPA’s life better.

I share a lot of things on this podcast that might sound like here’s how you make the CPA’s life better. Really what I’m after is how to make the client’s life better.

But one of the things advisors have to understand and you’re really hitting on this, is that the CPA already has a leg up on you when it comes to consumer perception. And so, it doesn’t really matter if you think that’s the way it should be. That’s the reality right now.

Dean Barber:      Absolutely.

Steven Jarvis:     And so, for advisors, you’ve got to say, “What’s the piece I can control?” And so, even if you’re not at the point or your goal is never to have 600 returns you’re doing in house … early on in your progression, it was proactively working with those CPAs. It was helping them understand the pieces that you were doing for clients.

You’re going out of your way to improve the client’s experience, and part of that has to be proactively working with the tax preparer in their life.

Dean Barber:      A hundred percent agree, a hundred percent agree. And you go back to even questions about, somebody says “I do holistic financial planning.” Okay, really? “Do you really do holistic financial planning?”

Because I think in order to do holistic financial planning, you have to have the CPA involved. You have to be looking at tax returns, you have to be working on the estate plan, you have to be working on the risk management side.

Holistic financial planning doesn’t mean I’ve calculated how much money it’s going to take for you to get $60,000 a year in income, 10 years from now. That’s a simple mathematical calculator that you can find online anywhere.

Steven Jarvis:     Nobody’s asking for my opinion on this, but if it was up to me, if you’re going to use the word comprehensive or holistic or even fiduciary, that should come with the automatic requirement that you’re getting tax returns from all of your clients every single year.

Because if you don’t have the actual data, if you can’t see the tax return, in my opinion, it’s irresponsible, to give financial planning advice without seeing the tax return seems irresponsible.

And so, whether that means that you have that really concrete, specific, formal relationship with a tax preparer or not, at a minimum, you’ve got to see the data and you’ve got to proactively send that communication to the tax preparer so that it’s not just so that the tax preparer doesn’t back the bus up over you, that you described earlier because that definitely happens. It’s because your client is going to win that way.

Tax preparation isn’t set up for the benefit of consumers. It’s not. And so, there’s plenty of things that can and will go wrong if there’s not proactive collaboration.

Dean Barber:      Well, and one of the things that I’ve seen over the years and this will be for people that are coming in to talk with my organization for the first time, and we start reviewing two or three years’ worth of tax returns almost in … I’d say at least 90% of the time, people that have not been working with a financial professional that’s also working with a CPA, they have been overpaying their taxes.

And they’re not overpaying their taxes because their tax preparer did the tax return wrong, they’re overpaying their taxes because they’ve missed opportunities.

I told you a story at dinner last night that really got one of my clients; he’s a client now, has been a client now for almost 15 years. But back in the day, I was doing radio program and I was talking about tax planning. I was talking about putting it all together, making it all work.

And this guy says, “Well, I’m going to take you up on your challenge.” And he comes into my office and he sits down and I said, “If you want to come in and have me do anything with taxes, I need two years’ worth of tax returns.”

So, this guy comes in, scoots his tax returns across the desk and he says, “I want to know how you could do any better than this.” And so, I look at the tax returns, both years, he paid zero dollars in taxes. He was 62-years-old and he said, “How can you beat that?”

And I said, “Zero’s a good number.” I said, “I’m not going to argue with you.” I said, “But what are you living on?” He goes, “I’ve got a bunch of money in my savings account, I’m living on that.” And I said, “Oh”, I said, “So, you don’t have any money in IRAs?”

He like, “Yeah, I got $2 million in my IRA.” And I said, “Well, you didn’t even get to use your standard deduction in personal exemption. So, when your tax preparer told you that you could have taken that much money out of your IRA and paid zero taxes on it, was there a reason why you didn’t do it?”

And he just looked at me like we didn’t have that conversation. And I said, “Based on tax laws at that time,” I said, “You could have taken real quick calculation, $93,000 out of that IRA and paid $11,000 in taxes to get it over into a Roth IRA where it be tax free forever. So, when your CPA explained it, you should have done that. Is there a reason why you didn’t?”

And he gets this look on his face and he’s like, he never had that conversation with him. And I said, “Why do you think that is?” And he said, “Because he didn’t know I had an IRA.”

There’s the collaboration. It’s got to go both ways. And that guy missed an opportunity for two years to get $180,000 or more into a Roth IRA for $22,000 of taxes.

Steven Jarvis:     Yeah. I’d take 11% of taxes all day long.

Dean Barber:      Absolutely.

Steven Jarvis:     Yeah. That perfectly illustrates why there’s the need for the collaboration between the two. We’re not here to advocate for one over the other, people need both. And it needs to be proactive and intentional.

We talk all the time about asking those types of questions with prospects, as far as what did your advisor say when they looked at your tax return? Which almost always is “Well, they didn’t look at my tax return.”

But I love that you’re doing that, even with people who are working with tax professionals. Because for most tax preparers, they’ve spent their whole career being trained that I’m focused on this year and last year at best. And that my goal is to help a client get as big a refund right now as possible.

And that’s not how we win against the IRS. We don’t come out ahead. You mentioned that a lot of people are overpaying the IRS and it all comes down to that proactive, intentional decision-making and not just letting things happen to us.

Dean Barber:      After we had hired our first CPA on staff here, we had a client come in and this client was a retired CPA. And so, this was a fascinating story about how sometimes you need someone else to take a look. And I love for one of my other advisors to take a look, I love for my CPAs to take a look, somebody’s going to miss something along the way.

So, without making this story too long, this guy had about $2 million and he had some money in a taxable account, he had some money in an IRA. He had no money in Roth IRAs, and his accounts had taken a huge loss in 2008.

It was 2 million, I think it was down to like 1.3 or 1.4, and this guy needed to live on almost $10,000 net of taxes. And he’s like, “You guys got to give me something of investment that I can get that much interest on so that I don’t have to go back to work.”

And I looked at his situation, I said, “No.” I said, “That’s not what you need.” So, I’d run this by my CPA. And so, he comes back in and he goes, “What’s the investment that we’re going to use?” And I’m like, “It’s not about the investment.” I said, “I’m going to show you how you can get that much income and pay zero taxes.”

He goes, “Come on, I’m a retired CPA, that’s not possible.” And I said, “No, it is.” I said, “You just don’t understand. As soon as I explain it to you, you’re going to kick yourself for not figuring it out.” And he’s like, “Okay, I’m all ears.”

So, I said, “You’re familiar with the term provisional income, right?” And he gives me this look, he’s like, “How do you know what provisional income is?”

And so, I went through the formula of how provisional income works and for the advisors that are listening or watching that don’t understand, it’s the part of the tax code that tells you how much, if any, of your social security is taxable.

He had a bunch of money that was in a taxable account. And so, what we did is we created a spend down plan at a 4% interest rate. So, that 4% on the spend down piece of the money was low enough that it kept all of his social security from being taxable.

So, he had no taxes on his social security and he had no taxes on the 4%, because it didn’t exceed his personal exemption and standard deduction. And it gave him all the income that he needed with no taxes. And we could make that last for about six years, which gave us the opportunity then to take a lot of pressure off of the portfolio, and then grow that money back up over time.

Had I not had the ability to collaborate with a CPA, that would’ve never been caught, and this guy would’ve probably gone back to work.

Steven Jarvis:     And really illustrates that this has got to be a multi-year conversation. And this is why tax preparers aren’t helping their clients with the kind of tax plan that we’re talking about, because it takes looking at multiple years at a time.

If you would’ve just looked at what’s the best answer in that one year, you probably would’ve come up with a different answer than, “Hey, if we can look at the next six or 10 or 20 years.” It changes the game to take a long-term perspective.

Dean Barber:      But think about if this guy had gone to somebody who didn’t have the ability to collaborate with a CPA, that was just going to sell him an investment.

Steven Jarvis:     Yeah, that was just going to look at his portfolio and say, “Here, let’s take money from here.” Who didn’t understand, here’s where I’m at with the taxability of my social security. Who didn’t understand what are my other sources of income already on my tax return. You’ve got to have that tax return.

So, Dean, when you first started going down this road with doing the really hands on tax planning and tax preparation with your clients, one of the pushbacks I’ll get from advisors is, I advocate for this so heavily is, “Well, my clients don’t want to provide their tax returns. I get pushback on providing a tax return to me because I’m a financial advisor, why should I provide that?”

Did you ever run into that where clients were pushing back on, “Hey, you’re the financial planner” that you don’t need to worry about this?

Dean Barber:      There’s four pillars to financial planning; there’s investment, there’s tax, there’s estate planning and there’s risk management. Can’t build a financial plan without addressing all four.

And so, if you just want somebody that’s going to sell you investments, we’re not the right place because I’m not going to talk to you about your investments until I’ve completed a financial plan. And in order to complete the financial plan, I have to have your tax returns. It’s that simple.

And I know you don’t like to term fiduciary, but as a fiduciary, if we say we’re going to do financial planning, we have to do financial planning and you can’t do a financial plan without looking at the tax return.

Steven Jarvis:     Well, I completely agree with you. And I feel like I should clarify. I don’t like when people lead with fiduciary as the only reason they should be hired. I love that people take care of their clients.

But you’re absolutely right, because what you’re doing there is you’re communicating your value proposition to the client. This isn’t an option for the client of, “Hey, do you want to provide your tax return?” This has got to be clearly spelled out from the get go.

“Here is how we do our best work. And by the way, we’re only going to do our best work. So, either we do all four of these pillars (to use your example) or we do none of them because we’re not going to let this collapse because you weren’t willing to embrace one of the pillars.”

Dean Barber:      Right. And I think one of the beautiful things about the way that I think we work and with our clients and with our in-house CPAs and I don’t know how you treat this at RTS, but I don’t lead with the fact that we have to do your taxes.

What I want is I want copies of your tax return. And if you want to choose to keep working with that other CPA, fine, go ahead. But I need copies of the tax return when they’re done, every year.

Steven Jarvis:     That’s a great point because even though I am the tax professional in the room advocating for advisors to do more with tax planning, that doesn’t mean to be a successful advisor you have to have tax preparation in-house.

You need to be doing something around taxes to be responsible and add value to your clients. I wholeheartedly believe that. It doesn’t have to be in-house tax preparation. It could be another tax professional who’s doing that, but you’ve got to have access, you’ve got to have visibility. There’s got to be room for collaboration.

Dean Barber:      So, if a person were to run into a scenario where they’re just saying, “I’m not the tax expert man, but I’d love to have Steven and his group at RTS, help me with some tax planning” — can you help them with tax planning if you’re not preparing the returns and they’re still paying your fee?

Steven Jarvis:     Great question. We work with advisors in two different ways. It comes up on the podcast every now and then.

But we have education resources and content for advisors under our Essentials Membership. That is, “Hey, I’m not ready or just because my client base don’t want that full partnership of let’s do the hands on work together.” And so, we’ve got a lot of great resources for advisors that way.

And then our Premier Membership is that hands-on collaboration, my good friend, Ben Brandt, the way he describes it is, “The only thing better than owning a boat, is having a friend that owns a boat.” And as it comes to taxes, he doesn’t want to be a tax preparer, he wants to have a friend that is a tax preparer. And so, that’s why he partners with RTS.

Dean Barber:      No, that’s interesting, but it just is to me essential. If you’re not looking at the tax return, if you’re not working with a CPA and you’re pretending to be a comprehensive financial advisor, you’re kidding yourself. And you’re doing a disservice to the client.

Steven Jarvis:     Oh, completely agreed. And for advisors listening who are thinking, “Okay, well, I haven’t set that expectation up to this point, so how do I pivot?” Because I get that as a concern, because the way you describe that is beautiful for that upfront conversation. And I know there’s advisors who are thinking, “Well, what about my existing clients?”

There’s nothing wrong. In fact, you should be constantly looking for ways to improve your value proposition to your clients. And so, it’s as simple as going to your existing clients and saying, “Hey, great news. We’re always looking for ways that we can add more value. And one of the things that we’ve learned from other successful advisors is that tax planning has to be something that we incorporate to make sure that we’re really taking care of you.”

“So, going forward, we’re going to include tax planning in everything we do, and to be able to do our best work on that, we’re going to need two years of your tax returns.”

And so, you’re just reframing the conversation. You’re resetting those expectations. And whether it’s tax planning or any other area of financial planning, you should always be looking for ways to up your game.

Dean Barber:      What we did that was really, really interesting that our clients just thought was the coolest thing ever. It’s just like, “Oh my God, these guys walk on water.”

You think about, we work with what I call the millionaire next door. The people who never really made a ton of money in their lives — they had good earnings, but they saved well. And they never lived beyond their means, and they paid attention to where they spend their money.

And so, we made the decision that for any of our clients that were taking advantage of our full suite of services, that we would actually charge them zero to prepare their taxes. We waived the tax preparation fee. That’s included in the asset management fee and the financial planning fee that we do.

And you would’ve thought it was the biggest deal in the world. Maybe it was a $500 check that they had to write to get their tax return done, or a $750 check. But the fact that they didn’t have to write that check anymore, you’d have thought I just gave them $10,000.

Steven Jarvis:     It’s so funny the emotions that are connected to taxes for people, whether they’re paying for their taxes to be prepared or they’re signing the check to the IRS. Because for a lot of people, even that millionaire next door, some of them might getting their tax prep done for as little as 2 or 300 bucks.

But yeah, I’ve seen that with other advisors as well that clients just get so excited to just not have to worry about it. And I think that’s part of it, is that you’re taking one more concern off their plate.

That they don’t have to track down a separate professional and provide them a separate set of documents or play that game of telephone of, “Well, I think my advisor told me to do it this way.”

Dean Barber:      Right, yeah. You better be careful if you decide to do what I just explained, you might start getting more referrals.

Steven Jarvis:     Wouldn’t that be the worst thing to get more referrals.

Dean Barber:      Well, because you know what they’re going to say, “I don’t have to pay anything for my tax return,” and their friends are going to say, “What do you mean you don’t pay for your tax return?”

“Well, let me tell you what my guy, Dean Barber and his group does for me. Man, not only do they do my tax return for free, but they’ve got these CPAs that are giving me direction on how to structure myself so that I can pay less taxes over time.” “What do you mean?” “Yeah, he’s my financial advisor.” “What’s he sell?” “Well, he’s a financial advisor.”

As an SEC registered RIA, we never get a commission from anything. It doesn’t matter. But the value that was added there, and the perceived value in the eyes of the client, our referrals are going off the charts.

Steven Jarvis:     And I think part of the reason for that is (for people listening), think about times you actually give referrals, when it’s complex or you don’t totally understand what’s going on, like with investments or estate planning or other areas that financial advisors take care of — you’re probably doing a great job, but if your clients don’t fully understand what the benefit was, they’re certainly not telling their friends about it.

Maybe they understand, they feel like intuitively they understand; they don’t know how to articulate it. But everyone knows that all their friends file a tax return every year. They have no idea if their friends have investments that need to be managed. They know their friends file a tax return. They know it’s painful for their friends. And now, if that pain is gone for them, yeah, they’re going to tell their friends about it.

Dean Barber:      You create a great client experience year after year after year, and they talk to their friends about it.

We have a special incentive for our entire organization and in our Linux office where we’re doing this podcast today, we have 37 total employees. And we have an incentive that everybody gets a little cash bonus in any month that we exceed 10 referrals, and we regularly exceed 10 referrals a month. In fact, we’re on track to get 160 referrals this year.

Steven Jarvis:     That really speaks to the value that you’re providing to clients that they’re that willing to talk and share, “Here’s what I’m getting from my financial advisor.”

Dean Barber:      But it’s the collaboration, it’s the whole experience. It’s not just the money management, and the returns are the last thing on their mind when they’re coming in. Because we’re going to review the plan, we’re going to review our tax strategy, we’re going to review the estate plan, we’re going to review the risk management.

They can then go enjoy their life, do their thing because they don’t want to have to think about it. They want to know that somebody else is taking care of it.

So, I think the power of what you’ve done with RTS really allows that advisor to up their game in a meaningful way, in a very meaningful way, that’s going to have a huge impact on the client experience, which is if they want to grow their business … if you don’t want to grow your business, don’t do it because you’re going to start getting a bunch of referrals that you probably don’t want.

Steven Jarvis:     Well, I certainly appreciate the kind words.

So, Dean, we always like to make sure that we take the information we’re sharing and turn it into value for our listeners, which means turn it into action.

So, as you think about that progression of tax planning for your firm, what are action items that you would recommend to advisors who are ready to move forward with how they incorporate taxes?

Dean Barber:      So, the first thing I would do is, knowing what I know about what you’re doing today is I would sign up for your premier membership.

Steven Jarvis:     Well, thank you.

Dean Barber:      And I would take my top 10 clients and I would introduce it to them in the very first year. And on my top 10 clients, I would not ask them to pay for the fee, I would pay for the fee, and I would use that to create that learning experience.

So, then you can actually hands-on see what’s that new relationship like, how did it work? And then next year, you’re going to want to introduce it to more clients and more clients and more clients.

You’re never going to really know what you’re missing until you actually take the step, spend a little bit of money. Don’t think of this as an expense, this is an investment in your practice. This is an investment in you, that’s ultimately, going to benefit your client, which is going to cause them to give you more referrals, which is going to allow your practice to grow.

Steven Jarvis:     Well, I certainly appreciate the endorsement there. For our audience members who aren’t quite there yet, thinking back to, you told that story about looking at that tax return and being able to identify like, “Hey, here’s some things you missed out on.”

What were the steps that led you to being comfortable, as not a tax preparer yourself; being comfortable, “Yeah, go ahead, slide me your tax return. I’m going to find value there.” How did you get to that point where you were comfortable with that?

Dean Barber:      So, I started making a lot of money when I was 25-years-old, was the first time I made over a quarter of a million in this industry. And so, from the very early years, I hated paying taxes. I was just like, “Oh my God, this is just way too much.”

So, I took it upon myself to learn the tax code inside-out, backwards, everything I could read, everything I could soak up, and then trying to keep up with it.

And so, I know that I know the tax code about as well as any CPA does. I don’t know how to prepare the return. I know how to read the return, and I know what to look for. And I’ve known that for a long, long time, just because of my own loathing of paying any more than what I absolutely have to pay.

Steven Jarvis:     I love that, that’s such great advice there, of start with your own tax return. That’s really where that comes from. Because at the end of the day, all political beliefs aside, no one likes paying more on their own tax return than they absolutely have to.

So, if you’re not sure of how you get to that level, where you feel comfortable just having a client slide a return across the desk to you and looking at it, start with your own return. That’s a must, that’s an action item for everyone. And if you’ve reviewed your return before, have you looked at it recently? It’s a great place to start.

Then from there, it’s getting the reps in. Whether that’s on your own return or client returns, you’ve got to be getting tax returns for every single client, every single year. And you’ve just got to get those reps in to build that skillset so that you’re able to identify those things that are relevant to your clients.

You don’t have to learn all 80,000 pages of the tax code. You’ve got to learn those things that are relevant to your clients, so you can identify those things that are really going to move the needle for them.

Dean Barber:      There’s some real esoteric stuff out there that’s way outside the realm of the normal, what I’ll call the millionaire next door. You have a lot of resources on your website that people can subscribe to for a lesser fee than your Premier Membership. And I would start with that; start getting in there and get the monthly newsletter, read all the blogs, take it in.

Steven Jarvis:     Yeah, there’s definitely a lot of great resources out there. You’ve got to commit the time to it. I can’t read it for you, you can listen to the podcast. And sometimes, I’m essentially reading it to you, although it would have to be a separate podcast of me just reading the tax codes, so you guys can go to sleep at night.

Dean Barber:      Start with the Secure Act.

Steven Jarvis:     Perfect. That’ll be my next venture. I’ll have a podcast where I just read the Secure Act to help everyone sleep at night.

Dean Barber:      And find out if you’re an eligible, designated beneficiary or a non-eligible designated beneficiary. And if your beneficiary’s going to have to take the money over 10 years, because you were before the required beginning date or after the required beginning date.

When I was going through all this final proposed legislation for the Secure Act in my spring slot conference, I thought my head was going to explode. It’s complicated, but if you’re not a student of it, you’re not going to be able to have this great a collaborative relationship as you can have with a CPA if you’re a student of it. If you just rely, “I don’t need to know anything about that,” that’s not true.

Steven Jarvis:     Yeah. You really do need to commit to that continual education.

Well, Dean, thanks so much for coming on the show today. It’s been great being able to spend some time here in your office and I really appreciate you recording a podcast with me.

Dean Barber:      I am so excited to be here and excited about our journey together.

Steven Jarvis:     Absolutely. For everyone listening. Thanks for being here. Until next time, good luck out there. And remember to tip your server, not the IRS.

We’re not overpaying. No, we’re not overpaying. We’re not overpaying anymore. The tax code’s complicated, boring, and overrated. You don’t want that, you want a pro. One thing that you should know: this is a radio show. It’s not tax advice, don’t take it that way.


The information on this site is for education only and should not be considered tax advice. Retirement Tax Services is not affiliated with Shilanski & Associates, Jarvis Financial Services or any other financial services firms.

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