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Old 03-30-2015, 09:29 AM   #41
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 1,154
Just wrote check for $250 and thought what a bargain. This guy has found things I'd never have, and at least once a year I'll call him with some financial questions. I started using him when we had a more complicated situation, but for $250 I'm very happy. This year I was rather stunned that our NC taxes were about 75% of what fed was. Jeeesh. Better move back to FL before the MRD kick in.

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Old 03-31-2015, 09:05 AM   #42
Recycles dryer sheets
Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: Beach and Mountain
Posts: 304
Most of you can use TT or some similar cut rate tax preparer. As the return becomes more complex, many posters noted they needed a CPA to get it right. You should ask for an estimate before getting surprised at their fees.

The real value is in talking to your CPA outside of busy season is to get Competent Professional Advice. Having done your tax return, they are in a good position to give you a financial check up. If you go to a specialist in insurance, investments, wills or any type of financial services, they are going to sell you their product as their view of your overall finances is limited. And the CPA has no product to sell as they only sell their time.

I have seen many cases where a good meaning financial services professional put someone in a reasonable product but it was wrong for the client or some other failure. Example: A broker puts a client in tax shelters because she says she hates paying taxes. Well, she was in a low tax bracket and had no passive income so the losses were doing her no good. Or an attorney sets up a beautiful will and trust but the client doesn't understand so they don't follow through on re titling of assets. Involving the CPA before the fact would fix many issues. Or the client has 3 children and wants to name all 3 as co-executors to their will. This is permissible and many attorneys will not argue at putting this in the will. I believe that a good CPA would point out the madness of having co-executors. If you are only using a CPA to do your taxes, you are probably overpaying.

I have also had clients who sucked up vast amounts of time during busy season for complex situations, then complain about the bill. Worst was a super wealthy man who had over 30 partnerships (some oil and gas, other working businesses, others passive investments), in maybe 5 to 10 states, $3 million of cap gains from the sale of maybe 10 partnership interests, over 100 donations of appreciated donated items, stock sales, multiple properties, rental properties. Pretty much every line on the return had a large number. And he complained about our bill. The amazing thing is that this man's main business was billing his own time in his field. And his bills were said to be outrageous.

Or there is the old doctor who was about to retire. His finances in retirement looked marvelous. Apparently, he had come to us as a young man. We had set him up with a brokerage firm that had a small business retirement plan product that allowed him to sock away tons of money, pre-tax. The broker put the funds in blue chip stocks with little turnover. We guided him to an insurance pro who sold him the right amount of term and liability. The attorney set up wills and trusts for him, the spouse and kids. We and the attorney worked with him to make sure things were titled properly. With our help he avoided the aggressive tax shelters that were the rage in the 70's but the fiasco of the 80's. This is what you should be paying your CPA to do.

Thank you for letting me rant.

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Old 04-01-2015, 09:32 PM   #43
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 1,832
Great post, Z3D. I agree 100% on discussing finances/taxes with a CPA. We did & it saved us way more than he ever cost us - and he wasn't cheap. Not outrageous iuo, but worth every penny.
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Old 04-01-2015, 10:08 PM   #44
Recycles dryer sheets
Join Date: Nov 2014
Posts: 135
$220 this yr and a little complicated right now but should get simpler in next cpl yrs. We started with this CPA 20 some yrs ago. Did them ourselves after using him for about 10 of those yrs and was "reviewed" (think that's what the IRS called it) three yrs in a row and paid about a grand each time. What a flipping mess that was. Went back to him and have been there ever since. In the off season I have called and gotten advice from him also so that is a plus. Additionally he sends the completed tax form to us and some of it makes no sense to me at all. So feeling like it's worth the $ right now.
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Old 04-02-2015, 08:39 AM   #45
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Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: San Diego
Posts: 9,258
I have consulted a CPA exactly once - and she screwed up - failed to notice I'd overpaid SS taxes (change in job that year, signing bonus put me well over the cap in taxable compensation.)
My husband has consulted a CPA exactly once - and that person screwed up the city of Philadelphia taxes (which are notoriously horrible to do).
I do the taxes now. Hubby turned his pre-marriage house into a rental, then later sold it - I was able to handle the depreciation/cap gains issues. We have a rental now... It's on the same parcel as our property so there were some nuances with shared expenses (utilities, property taxes) I researched the issue on the IRS website. I've dealt with K-1's. I'm able to recognize if I'm missing a 1099 (MIL's taxes this year) or some other form. I guess I don't trust a CPA to notice the details I'm noticing.

I agree with the statement that your record keeping is probably better if you have done your taxes yourself each year. (That's how I caught the missing 1099). CPAs can only work from the documents you provide - so the old garbage in/garbage out caveat can apply.

Retired June 2014. No longer an enginerd - now I'm just a nerd.
micro pensions 7%, rental income 18%
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