Click Here To Listen To The Retirement Tax Services Podcast
Believe it or not, that relationship doesn’t have to be adversarial. In fact, if you approach things right, they can help add value for clients.
Matthew is in a good place now. However, this didn’t happen overnight. A couple of decades ago, when he started out with a broker-dealer, things were different.
In fact, his employer trained him with an emphasis on sales. In other words, professionalism; genuinely seeking to benefit clients was back-burner-ed.
Clearly, they wanted salespeople focused on closing transactions. Meanwhile, despite his ambitions, he wanted to be a resource for his clients and provide real value. Something had to give.
Consequently, he is a tax-planning advisor today. He didn’t start out that way, though.
As a matter of fact, he still occasionally has to smooth feathers: His Compliance officer called him in for a meeting prior to recording this podcast.
Don’t be intimidated away from providing value through tax planning. At the same time, be careful how you go about things. C-Y-A approaches help.
Start with disclaimers. In other words, make a point of telling clients or prospects things like, “You (still) need to confirm these figures with your CPA,” “We are not CPAs,” and “The numbers we’re giving you may not be accurate.”
In fact, Matthew recommends working directly with another COI when you can. Steven regularly advocates getting proactive about it: Make noting who someone’s CPA is a standard part of your onboarding process.
We’ve shared tips for reaching out to CPAs here. Once an amicable association has been established, reference the fact that you’ve checked in with them. Mention it when Compliance worries.
Realize that all advisors, fundamentally, give tax advice daily. Call it recommending an IRA account. Similarly, call it suggesting a Roth conversion. Taxes are an intrinsic factor.
Other advisors use MoneyGuide Pro or a proprietary software where he works. However, both get vague with regard to tax planning. They make good generalizations, but don’t do specifics as well.
Overall, there are usually 4 things to do for keeping Compliance happy:
1) Communicate key tax considerations clearly. In other words, let’s say you’re going to recommend a Roth conversion to a retiree: If they’re on Medicare and taking Social Security, articulate how this could affect their Medicare and Social Security tax liability.
2) Allow clients to choose the course of action. Suggestions are fine, but keep mindful of your conduct. Avoid anything that could be mistaken for manipulation, deception, or coercion.
3) Standardize your tax planning process. Prepare both what you’re going to say to clients and how you will do it in advance. It will have to be written down the same way with everyone; across the board.
4) Use hedging language when discussing tax strategies. That is to say, issue those disclaimers frequently. Make sure written instructions to the client are irrevocable, too.
As a professional, help clients and prospects see the value of a true, ongoing financial planning relationship. Consequently, when people realize that they are more than sales opportunities to you, immeasurable value is added.
By the way, patience has an ROI. During the recent meeting with Compliance, Matthew Daugherty got an email: His employer had officially green-lit tax planning.
If you work with a broker-dealer, learn their rules. In all honesty, it shows good intent on your end. Everything should be easier if you keep within those guidelines.
Learn more about taxes. Expand your skill set by taking courses and reading up. Your state’s CPA association probably offers some free resources.
Partner with a CPA. Offer to pay them for their time. Additionally, be honest; tell them you’d like to understand tax issues faced by your clients better.
Start doing it. Go out and find 5 clients to whom you are the closest. Next, ask for their tax returns, W2S, and most recent pay stubs. Plug those into the IRS’s tax withholding calculator (or the software of your choice), and analyze the results.
Steven and guest Matthew Daugherty have more tips for getting along with Compliance in this episode of the Retirement Tax Services Podcast. Tax-related questions are always welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“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.
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 to their clients through tax planning. One of the topics that comes up frequently from advisors is related to how they can do tax planning with the blessing or in spite of at times their compliance department. And I’m really excited today to have Matt Daugherty as my guest. Matt is a CFP with Ameriprise Financial based in Ohio and Matt, welcome to the show.
Thank you, Stephen. I’m very excited to be here.
Thanks for being here. Really appreciate it. This podcast really came from a conversation around this topic of compliance, and I’m so excited to have you here to share your thoughts because a lot advisors see this as an excuse, but if you approach your compliance department as part of your team, and more importantly, if you’re really committed to the value that comes through tax planning, compliance, shouldn’t stop you
I agree with that 100%. My four year old son, when he comes to me and he says he can’t do something, I always respond with the same thing: “Don’t tell me you can’t, figure out how”. And so that’s what we’ve been able to figure out how to do here is to provide tax planning, even though it’s difficult with the compliance environment that we have around us
It certainly can be difficult, but so Matt, maybe just kind of share some of your experiences about how you figured that out. Cause it sounds like it was a process. You didn’t just have the cheat sheet on day one. This was, this is a learning process.
There’s definitely a learning process. And I wouldn’t say that it was something that we actually really set out to do. I’ve been in the business for 20 years and I can tell you that going back to when I first started in the business, one of the things that I realized was that I wanted to be known as a professional. I didn’t want to be known as a salesman. And when you come up with a broker dealer, especially if you came up with a broker dealer 20 years ago or more, you kind of realize that you’re trained more to be a salesman than you are to be a professional. And I got specific stories that I can share, but I mean the biggest one to me was going out to visit with literally the first client that I ever got with a manager. The manager took me out there to him after he had told me that he wanted help preparing for retirement, but also getting himself out of debt.
And we sold the guy to variable universal life insurance policies. And we came back to the office. I looked at my manager and I said, what are we going to do about getting this guy out of debt, helping him with the debt? And he looked at me square in the face and he said, how much do you get paid, helping a client get out of debt? And I said nothing. And I didn’t really realize exactly what he meant because by the way, the client had already paid us a $500 fee for financial planning and advice, right. He didn’t pay us to sound life insurance. So, so that was one of the turning points in my career where I kind of realized that I wanted to be, I wanted to be a resource for people. I didn’t just want to sell and stuff. And I’ve got other stories of leaders that helped me see the importance of things like tax planning. And that really just kind of led me into just starting to do it. Like I just started doing it in small ways and it led to more and more and more and more over the course of time.
Yeah, I appreciate you sharing that background. I think a lot of advisors can relate to that, that as they launch into this career at the top of their list of reasons to do it was not the tax code that tends to scare people away. But as you get into this, you start to realize that as an advisor, really, everything you do has a tax impact. And so to your point, you can either keep being a salesman and focus on where you get your commissions, or you can be a professional. I like you using that word and really embrace all of the aspects that impact your clients. So clearly early on, you committed to this as an important part of your client’s lives. And so then we get to the part of, okay, now you want to do tax planning, but how did compliance play into that?
For years I didn’t really think a whole lot of it because like I said, we weren’t doing a tremendous amount of tax planning, but you and I talked about this last week, it was very ironic that you asked me to do this podcast when you did, because literally about two weeks before this, I had a meeting with my compliance officer and she looked at me and she said, as part of our meeting, she said, “I’m reading some of the letters you’re sending the clients. And I feel like you might be doing more than you’re supposed to be doing when you’re talking about taxes.” And I just kind of stared at her and said, okay. And she didn’t tell me I needed to stop. She didn’t tell me I needed to change. She just said that it just didn’t seem right. And my response in my head was well until somebody tells me that what I’m doing is absolutely wrong. I’m not going to stop doing it because to your point, we have figured out that it’s easy to give tax planning advice as long as you’re really covering your own your own, you know what, your CYA, right? So you’re doing it by doing things like making comments that say, you need to make sure that you confirm these figures with your CPA. We are not CPAs. The numbers we are giving you may not be accurate, make sure that you confirm with them. And by the way, the best thing you can do as an advisor is actually work with the CPA, put it on the CPA, reference that you confirm these figures with the CPA, let the CPA even think that it’s their recommendation, even though it’s technically yours. Right? And that’s the biggest thing. And I, but the other thing that I had mentioned to you, and if you, do you want me to go into talking about what Ameriprise is now allowing us to do?
Yeah. Please. I’d love to hear your experience.
Thank you. It was also ironic that at the same time that I had this meeting with a compliance officer, I got an email from Ameriprise, which said that they were going to begin allowing us to give “enhanced tax planning”. And ultimately what that meant is that most dealers will actually allow you to educate your clients on tax related issues. But what they don’t want you doing is they don’t want you going out and giving specific numbers or giving specific levels of advice. Now you and I joked as well about the fact that all advisors are actually giving tax advice and their broker dealers are telling them to do it. When they’re doing things like saying, we recommend you make an IRA contribution, right? I mean, there are tax implications to doing that, right. And so it’s funny that for years we’ve been told not to do it, but yet they’ve also been pushing us to do certain things like that.
So Ameriprise came out with this email that says you’re not allowed to do enhanced tax planning, which essentially means that we have to go out and purchase a specific software that we can use to do the actual tax calculations. Now, I personally use NaviPlan to do those calculations now because NaviPlan does a really good job of doing that. One of the problems we have is that a lot of our advisors here use Money Guide Pro, or we have a proprietary software called the Confident Retirement. And neither one of those actually give accurate figures as it relates to tax plans. They’re just basically general figures. So with this whole enhanced tax plan that they’re now allowing us to do, they’re basically saying, so this is kind of why I’m answering your question as to how you get around from clients. They’re giving us specific guidelines and they’re saying, you can do it, but you need to make sure that as an example, there’s four primary things.
One is that you clearly communicate key tax considerations. So in other words, if you’re going to recommend to a retiree who’s on Medicare and taking social security, that they do a Roth conversion, you need to make sure that you clearly communicate to them that this could impact their Medicare, their income related monthly adjustment, or that it could impact how much of their social security that they pay taxes on. And this actually happened to an advisor. I know where he recommended a client convert a sizable amount of money from IRA to Roth, and after they did it a year or two later, they got a notification that their Medicare premiums were going up to the highest level 400 and whatever the number is $431 or whatever the number is. And the client was irate. Now the advisor was able to go back and say, look, I want to remind you that what we did is projected to save you X dollars in taxes.
And there was a very sizable number. And he said, if I told you that it would cost you an extra 300, some odd dollars a month in Medicare premiums for a year to save thousands of dollars in taxes over your lifetime, would you have still done it? And the client said, yes. And the advisor said, I’m sorry. I, you know, I made a mistake. I shouldn’t disclose this. You and it’s not that he didn’t disclose it, right. He just forgot to really talk about it. But when a client doesn’t know that causes a problem, and those are the kinds of things that can get people to file complaints. And so that’s where a large company like Ameriprise is saying, you need to be very careful if you’re going to do this right.
Matt, there’s so much great stuff. And how you’re explaining that. I want to pull out just a couple of things. One, even though you kind of led that with here’s how you get around compliance, you’re clearly not trying to skirt the edges here. You have a very deep knowledge of the compliance requirements that Ameriprise has, that the broker dealer you work with, that you’re making sure you’re going through and doing those things to make sure you check all those boxes so ultimately you get back to delivering value to your clients. I also really liked that story you shared about the other advisor who, you’re exactly right, there can be situations where there are these shadow taxes. We call them sometimes outside of your marginal rate that you need to consider when we’re talking about accelerating income. And I was just a little bit nervous, but I was glad that that story ended with the advisors saying, “hey you know what, I’m sorry, I should have done more.” I always recommend that you take that ownership. All of us can make mistakes at times. But part of the value we can add to clients is to help kind of pull back this curtain for them a little bit of how taxes work and make sure there are clear expectations, because it might still make sense to make those conversions or to accelerate income or make tax planning recommendations that make your Medicare premium go up as an example, we just need to make sure that’s considered and then clearly communicated. We want to take out the surprises.
Absolutely. And that that’s like I said, I mean, that’s, that’s what they want to, when I say they, I mean the broker dealers, right? They want us to clearly communicate these things. And so if you’re not, if you don’t know those things, you need to make sure you go out and know those things before you start just giving tax advice like this.
Yeah. So as you, as you kind of launched into this and you were talking about meeting with your compliance officer, you clearly went into that meeting with a lot of confidence about what you’re doing around tax planning and what your compliance department’s gonna allow you to do. Maybe rewind a bit and talk about how you built up to that level of competence. Because some of our listeners are probably hearing you say that I’m thinking there’s no way I’m walking to my compliance office and saying something like that.
Oh, that’s a good question. I kind of said this earlier. It kind of was something that just grew over time. One of the things that I really started doing at the beginning of my career was I was doing a forma tax return. We had a financial advisory service. I believe FAS was the software we used and it did a nice tax projection. And we would take a client’s paychecks and we would use them to determine if they were going to get a large tax refund. We would compare it to their actual return from the previous year. And that was one of the ways in the beginning of my career, that I was able to help bring value to people because I would say, look, you know, you need to save $500 a month or more. And ironically, you get a $6,000 tax refund, right? So I was never allowed to say, I recommend that you adjust the withholdings on your paycheck and increase your inventions to five, right?
But I was allowed to say, we recommend that you consider adjusting your exemptions. And we recommend that you talk to your tax preparer about how many exemptions you should change them by so that you can then receive $500 a month in your paycheck. So it’s always been something where I’ve given the advice, but I’ve done it in a way where it dies. I said earlier, we put it back on the CPA, we put it on the client to go out and actually do it. All we’re doing is saying based on the numbers, you’ve given us based on a review of your return. It appears as though you’re going to receive a refund of $6,000 and then you can essentially educate them and help them understand that that is just a tax payer, excuse me, an interest free loan to the government over the years that they can then get in their paycheck, have $500 a month freed up. They can go to help them save the money that they need to save for retirement or their child’s education or whatever the case may be. So that was really where it started. And it’s just kind of grown from there and did different things. And I can go into more detail if you want with other stories, but that’s essentially how it came to be.
Yeah. I really love the intentionality there that in my mind, that as you keep telling these stories, it just, it comes back to that commitment to tax planning as an essential part of serving your clients and then not letting the little, those kinds of little hiccups along the way of what wording choice do you use. You didn’t let those things stop you. It’s this practice and improvement. One of the four rules of success is be intentional. And clearly that’s what’s helped lead you to this point where you’re consistently delivering value to your clients through tax planning. Yeah.
And I think to your point, it’s about process too. Like it’s not just, don’t just go out with, you know, don’t go out when you’ve never done this and just give one person that advice, having an actual process of this is exactly how you do it. This is how you say it. And when I say this is how you say it, what I really mean is this is how you write it down because once it’s written down, that’s where you get yourself into trouble. Not that you should be saying things that could get you into trouble. Right? [laughs] But, but we want to write it down and we want to write it down in a specific way. And you just have a process because if you’re going to do that for 75 clients, then you want to say the same way to each client. Yeah.
Yeah, definitely. And really talking about clients, tax refund is a great example of where advisors who are new to this can start. It’s easy to get confused with complexity and value just because something seems simple to you doesn’t mean it’s not value to your client. So I love that description there of, you know, what, helping a client understand that if you haven’t taken the time to really evaluate how many exemptions you’re claiming or what that withholding from your paycheck is you essentially are just giving the government an interest free loan. And I always talk about making sure that you’re aligning their refund with their goals and making sure, you know, asking their client, “Hey, how much of a refund do you want to receive?” But a lot of clients don’t really understand that they can, they can have an impact on that.
Absolutely. Yeah. It’s a powerful tool when you can show them things that they hadn’t thought of before.
So Matt, what are other areas that you see a lot of positive feedback or a lot of positive response from your clients on when it comes to tax planning?
So we have two primary focuses in our practice and, uh, the two primary focuses are retirees. I mean, for 20 years, we’ve really been helping people transition into retirement. And then the other one is we work with executives that have equity compensation. And so obviously those are going to be two different… There’s, you’re coaching those in two different ways. But with the retirees, we do a lot of work with Roth conversions. Anytime we have a retiree that is essentially less than 72 years old, and sometimes even over 72, depending on their tax bracket, we are working with them to help them understand that they are in a sweet spot, where they have the ability to convert assets from IRA to Roth, likely in a low tax bracket so that they can save taxes over their lifetime. Right? They’re not going to save taxes in the year.
They’re doing it. They’re going to pay more taxes. And that’s one of the things you have to clearly communicate to appease your broker dealer, but also to keep yourself in compliance, but it’s helping them see the power of those things. So probably one of the best stories I can share is: we bought, we purchased a practice last year in July. And when we purchased the practice, one of the clients in the practice had a sizable amount of money with us. But also we found out, had sizable amounts of money with two other firms. And when I go into meeting with people, I was realizing with this client that it was, we were trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Essentially. They like to come in and go, okay, we need to know how you’re performing relative to the other two firms that we’re working with. And basically what I’ve found out in the course of these conversations is every time they would meet with me or the other two, they would always be frustrated with one, at least one person, right? One, one would be frustrated with one company the next year they’d be frustrated with the other because the returns would, would be different, right? So don’t wanna get off track here. But point was is that I was trying to help these people see the value of a true financial planning and advice relationship, not just, “hi, I’m a broker who sold you some investments and you need to compare my returns against two other people.” And so I finally got them to see the value in that and start working with us in a planning relationship. And we talked about doing Roth conversions and the client even said to me, in the process of all this, that they’ve been wanting to do these Roth conversions for years. And then they went to their other advisor and I’m not going to say who he is or with what firm, but he went to the other advisor and talked about doing Roth conversions. He said, you know, I’ve been reading up on this. It seems like I’m David and I’m 65 years old. He had no other income other than social security. It seems like this to make sense for us. And the advisor’s response was simply this. I never paid taxes before I’m required to be an advisor. That’s good advice.
And so the result was that the client didn’t do Roth conversions when we started working together. And we actually, instead of saying, we don’t pay taxes before we need to, we put all their information in the NaviPlan. We did cashflow and tax projections for the next 30 years showing one option versus another. So one option, obviously being converting versus not converting and helping them see that they would save a substantial amount of taxes over their lifetime by converting assets today. Right. We actually did the work. We did the math. We didn’t just assume that it wasn’t going to work out because paying taxes today is going to hurt you. Right. And so I don’t remember exactly what your question was, to be honest and how I got into this.
Oh, no, the question was, what are some of the things you’re doing with clients? They see a lot of value. And so this is a great example.
Yeah. Okay. So, right. So yeah. And this was an example of somebody who got to see the value. When one advisor just took the easy route, whereas we decided to take the harder route and actually provide them with value. And it’s amazing the things that they have said to us, you can tell that they are finally saying to me, we’ve been looking for a relationship like this for 40 years, and we didn’t even realize it existed until you forced us into it.
Yeah, that right there is really the power of advisors, embracing tax planning. It certainly gets talked about more and more. I mean, the, the term Roth conversion gets thrown around all the time, but that doesn’t mean that the majority of advisors are really doing this effectively and doing this with all their clients. I mean, that’s the CPA side of me thinks that’s wild that someone a professional could really just say that to a client because I’m all for paying every last dollar of tax that you’re required to over the lifetime of your wealth. And that’s really the way we’ve got to look at this. It’s not how much tax am I currently required to pay this year. It’s: if I’m proactive, what am I required to pay over the lifetime of my wealth? And then how do I have an impact on that? How do I legally reduce the amount the IRS is going to ask me to pay? Because we’re not talking about any kind of, uh, you know, shady, creative loopholes that we just hope the IRS doesn’t notice. We’re talking about things that are in the tax code that we’re allowed to do if we’re proactive. And we think about them, if we go beyond just how much does Aunt Iris want from me right now?
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And it’s also important to understand that obviously it’s not right for everybody, right? So not every retire is going to be right for them to, to do Roth conversions, but especially helping them see the benefits to their children. You know, if you have clients that have children and it’s very important for them to leave as much behind to them with as little tax liability as possible, helping them see that as a very powerful thing, even if it doesn’t save them money in taxes over their lifetime.
Yeah, exactly. That’s why I look at it as the lifetime of your wealth and not the lifetime of the taxpayer, because those, those end of life planning goals are important, too. It does make a difference. If you want to leave things to your children, or if you want your last check to bounce, or if you’re leaving it to charity, whatever your goal is at the end of your life, that impacts your tax planning as well.
Yeah. So we love doing that. And with the retirees, it’s not just the Roth conversion stuff. Even if a person’s not doing the Roth conversions. And part of our process is to do a proforma tax projection. As I said, we request a client’s return from the previous year, we reviewed it against our pro forma. And especially as they’re starting into retirement, one of the valuable pieces we provide that I find most, even CPAs are not providing their clients is just simply saying, here’s how much you need to withhold. Well, we have, let me rephrase this: We don’t tell them this is how much you need to withhold from your social security or your retirement distributions. We do the projections to determine what the number is. And then we say, we recommend that you talk to your tax preparer to confirm this and to determine how he or she would like you to pay the taxes, whether it’s through quarterly estimates or through withholding from social security, or IRA Distributions. And then what we typically do is we actually make that call for them. We just say, is it okay with you if we call your CPA and confirm these figures with them, and then we’ll get you set up the way that you want to. And then again, we can just put it on that, right. You know, we did the work, but we’re letting them take ownership of it.
Yeah. I really love that. It’s a great way to make sure that the client is getting really solid advice and accurate advice. But one of the questions that does come up at times, and I actually talked about it recently on an episode of the podcast is okay that’s great and I’ll just say, let’s go ask the CPA. What about for clients who do their own taxes? I would love to hear your thoughts. If you ever come across that situation where you have a client that does their own taxes, they don’t have a CPA that you can go and say, Hey, go ask them if these numbers are right?
That’s a very good question. And that’s a harder one to answer. But typically what we recommend at that point is that they work with a tax preparer and they confirm these figures with a tax preparer. So we, again, we, you know, we have to, especially within the rules of our broker dealer and what they want to see, you know, you have to kind of put it on the client. I don’t want to put it on the client. I want to take responsibility for it. And in essence, we are in a way, but ultimately we just tell the client, look, these failures are not figures from a CPA. We are not CPAs. We do not know if these are actually 100% accurate. You need to confirm this either on your own or with a CPA.
Well, and clients can go invest their own money in the stock market. They can try a lot of DIY financial planning, things on their own as well, but they came to you for whatever their list of reasons was, but most likely because they wanted a professional to help with these complex areas. And so when we’re getting to the point where there’s tax planning opportunities, that would require the input of a CPA, it’s probably a good time to have that conversation to kind of help your client get to that conclusion of, okay, maybe this is the next topic in my life where it makes sense to pay a professional, to make sure that the complexities are handled correctly.
Well, Matt, this has been a really great conversation, very insightful from the experiences that you’re sharing. We like to make sure that we’re always giving listeners action items. We want to take knowledge and turn it into something they can put into practice. So as you think about kind of the journey you’ve gone through with compliance and tax planning or the things you’re doing to add value now for your clients, what are action items you can recommend to our listeners?
So I wrote down, I wrote down three, I’ll throw in a fourth one, which the fourth one is going to be, if you’re going to do this. And if you’re working with a broker dealer, make sure that you go to your broker dealer and find out what their rules are. So you can try to live within the realm of their rules. I figured out that Ameriprise has four primary things that they want us to do. They want us to clearly communicate the key tax considerations. They want us to enable clients to choose a course of action. They want us to use hedging language when discussing tax planning strategies, always hedge with the language that you’re using, right? And then include written instructions to the client that it’s irrevocable so that whatever they’re doing can not be changed. Unless of course it can, but in most cases, as you know, it cannot be.
So definitely first and foremost, go out and confirm with your broker dealer, what their requirements are, how they, so that you can try to do it within… you can’t do it, but do it so that you also can keep them happy as well. But to me, the more important things are, if you’re an advisor who hasn’t done tax planning, you may not know how to do tax planning. So you need to learn how to do tax planning. So I would recommend that you start learning about taxes if you don’t know already. And most of us as advisors know something about taxes, but the reality of it is that even, I mean, it’s, it’s amazing to me, the amount of CPAs or tax preparers that I’ve dealt with over the years, that they don’t even know how to properly do taxes and do tax planning. And I’ll just share a great story:
At the beginning of this year, my mom texted me. My mom’s got a very simple case. She decided to go to a different tax preparer this year that her friend had recommended to her and she texted me and she said, why didn’t I take a distribution from my IRA last year? And I said, why are you asking? And she said, because the guy who’s doing my taxes says, I need to do it because I’m over 70. There’s two reasons. There’s two reasons why my mom didn’t have to take an RMD last year. One is she’s not overstepping [inaudible] and they were all waived because of COVID as we all know. Right? So just start learning about taxes. And I will just share this. I logged into kitces.com this morning. The first thing on kitces.com after I logged in was a button you could push. And there was a course titled how to find planning opportunities when reviewing a tax return. So there’s one place you can go, right? So one is understanding your broker dealers requirements. Two is start learning about taxes, take courses on it. Three is partner with a CPA, have a CPA help you understand some of this stuff. If you are close with a CPA partner with them and even offer to pay them for their time, right? It’s just okay to call them up and say, listen, I want to understand more about how to help my clients prepare for taxes in the future. Could you help me understand some of the things that I’m trying to learn about? And the last one is just start doing it, just start doing it without making promises, go out, find five of your best clients. And when I say best clients, ultimately, I mean the clients that you know the most about and that you have the closest relationship with ask them for their tax returns, ask them for their W2’s and ask them for their most recent pay stubs, do a tax projection.
It’s not hard to do so many advisors probably don’t even know this, but the IRS has a tax withholding calculator. You can plug figures into and it’ll tell you how much you’re supposed to be withholding Ameriprise on their website. For anyone that wants to use it. You don’t have to be an Ameriprise advisor or client. You can go to Ameriprise website and there is a tax projection tool, and it’s a good tool. Or if you have proprietary software, that will do it, do that. But take the information that you have, review their current pay stubs to their tax returns and to a proforma tax projection, to start doing the things that I started doing. But as you go through it, look at and read every line item on the return and understand it. And if you don’t understand it, figure it out. But also don’t hesitate to ask the client questions.
So one, I remember one of the things we learned as is HSA started to come onto the scene was that when you fill out the form for health savings account contributions, if it’s withheld through your employer, it’s already taken off the top. So when you get to the HSA calculation worksheet, most CPAs will actually put it in there as it was all withheld. It was all contributed to by the employer. So it could be that $7,100 was contributed by the employer, even though maybe the employer only did a thousand, that seemed wrong to us. We didn’t know it at first, we just had to figure it out. We asked the CPA and that’s what, that’s what it ended up being. So it’s okay to ask the client questions though, to say, Hey, it looks like maybe this wasn’t done right. Can you give me some, some background information on this? Or can I talk to your CPA to start doing it? Don’t make any promises. You don’t even need to give any specific advice. You can just talk to the client about their return, walk them, walk through it with them. They’ll find value in that to your point earlier about it, doesn’t have to be something that saves them $10,000 in taxes. It can just be the simple fact that you’re reviewing it with them. They will find value in that.
Matt, that’s such an incredible framework that you just laid out in those four steps to make sure you understand the rules of your compliance department. Start learning how to do tax planning, partnering with a CPA is one I always recommend to people. And then just start wherever you’re at. Get started, no matter where you are as an advisor, whether you’re just starting with tax planning, or you’ve been doing this for years, these are great action steps to take your tax planning experience for your clients. The next level, Matt. That’s awesome. Thanks so much for outlining that for us. The only other action item that I’ll throw on there is to be sure and go out and follow retirement tax services on LinkedIn and Facebook so that you can stay up to date on the content we’re putting out so that you can hear interviews that we’re doing. And other things that we’re putting out for our listeners to make sure that you really can deliver that value to your clients through tax planning, Matt, thanks again for being here. This has been great.
Steven it has been awesome being here, man. It’s been a pleasure.
Thanks everyone for listening until next time. Remember to tip your servers, not the IRS
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.