Liar’s dice?

Who is the most dangerous blogger on the internet today? This is a serious question. Think about it for a while.

What characteristics would cause a blogger to become dangerous? To start, the blogger would need an audience to be dangerous. A blog with a modest, but fast growing, audience would have an increasing influence in our society.

Another characteristic might entail new ideas masked as truth. Imagine a blogger telling a story with a broad concept that intentionally excludes many of the facts. A grain of knowledge is a powerful tool to expand learning or it can be a recipe for disaster on a colossal scale.

Have you thought of a few bloggers who might be dangerous? Can you narrow it down to one?

I’ll tell you who I think is the most dangerous blogger on the internet right now. You’re reading him.

That needs some explanation.

The Facts

Things have been pretty darn good around these parts lately. The Wealthy Accountant received nominations in two categories for the Plutus Awards and traffic is climbing for a variety of reasons, including the nominations.

Bloggers can masquerade lies as truth. Their advice may sound plausible, but can be extremely harmful. #injury #risk #bloggers #family #badadvice #adviceTraffic is over 80,000 in the last month with October looking to break into six figures. Blog revenues are climbing, too. Certain advertisers have turned me into a project. They want some real estate on this blog. Don’t expect more ads, however. I’ve included enough ad space to break up the page and flesh out the design. I love revenue, but user experience is more important than ads by a mile.

TWA is experiencing more traffic referrals. Other bloggers find my work acceptable periodically so they include a mention on their blog or in social media. It gives me the warm and fuzzy feeling so I always re-tweet and share mentions when I see them.

Interviews are more common now, too. People seem to think I have something important to say because my traffic is climbing. It’s a self-fulfilling feedback loop I have no qualms with. Traffic strokes my fragile ego. There is a satisfying feeling connected to acknowledgement.

Every blog appeals to a certain demographic. TWA has an inordinate number of tax professionals (and government officials) reading on a regular basis. That is why I needed to write this post.

Danger Zone

Periodically, traffic spikes to 100 visitors here at the same time. It makes me nervous. This is still small traffic compared to most popular blogs, but it exposes a risk. What if these people actually believe what I wrote? Worse, what the heck did I write a year and a half ago? The risk prolific writers face is not remembering what they published the day before yesterday. It could be age, but it’s not! The sheer volume requires readers to refresh my memory when they ask about my previous work. Feels funny when I get schooled by my previous efforts.

Now we get to the part that makes me dangerous. What I write here is wrong 100% of the time! Sorry.

I better qualify the last statement before I’m hauled away.

There is a grain of truth in every statement. Dangerous bloggers tell their truth. That's the problem. The worst offender should be no surprise. #dangerous #truth #bloggers #lies #safetyWhen I write on TWA I avoid dry and stale tax explanations. My goal is to write high concept while knowing the details will require working out later.

Take a simple example. If I say donations to a qualified charity are deductible and move on I only told part of the story. On the surface I am right. Pull back the sheets and issues start to crop up.

Charitable donations are deductible if you itemize. Okay, that is still a lie. If your income is high, your itemized deductions might be limited so the deduction is partial.

I’m still a liar! If you retired and have a side gig with no profit and used a Roth IRA to fund your living expenses, you can’t deduct the charitable contribution even if you itemize because you can only deduct 50% of your AGI for cash charitable contributions. The balance is carried over for up to five years where it is lost afterwards.

And I’m still a sniveling liar! What if the alternative minimum tax interferes?

After all the qualifying of my first statement—charitable contributions are deductible—I am still pumping BS. Sitting here writing I can’t think of anything else that might affect my original statement. It doesn’t mean there aren’t any more out there.

As soon as I open my yap on a tax issue I’m a bigger liar than any fisherman who wet a line. And I know it every time I tap the keyboard.

In the tax profession we constantly say “facts and circumstances”. There is no way I can possibly cover every eventuality. I either write dry, staid tax articles where I cover a very, very narrow topic or I write something normal human beings want to read. I choose the later.

Helping the largest number of people requires I write something they want to read.

The Greatest Danger

Tax professionals hound me incessantly. They inform me how wrong I am. I get it.

When fleshing out a concept I intentionally choose what to include. You read that right. I intentionally get it wrong! If I didn’t, I would be bogged down in 30,000 word posts attempting to cover every possible option. Nobody would read it, including your favorite accountant.

Over the next six months I will publish some very complex tax concepts. The first one and a half years of this blog was tame. Now we will start pealing back the tax code in a serious way. Dropping 50 grand into a retirement account is a child’s game from now on. Now we will hyper-charge the wealth building and tax planning process.

The die is cast.

And everything I say will be wrong . . . for you. In each post where I expose a massive tax concept I will be thinking of how it applies to a client or a small number of clients. Your facts and circumstances will be different and so the rules for you will be different.

Another example: A recent consulting session led a client to contact his attorney to set up a NIMCRUT on my advice. He cc’d me in on the email. I wrote back a few questions and upon reply came to the conclusion he would be better served with a donor-advised fund. This is a simpler and cheaper solution to accomplish his needs. Once again, it all hinged on facts and circumstances. And we didn’t even debate all the other pitfalls of charitable donations discussed above!

When I throw out ideas it is a starting point. Complex tax strategies completely fleshed out for every possibility is a book, not a blog post.

Tax professionals should know better, yet sometimes don’t. Shame on you. When I provide a concept you need to dig further. Sometimes I include links when I find web pages that add value to the argument.

Bloggers want to share knowledge they've gleaned from the world around them. Their misconceptions can cost your health, family, safety and wealth. Don't fall for lies bloggers' tell. #health #family #safety #advice #diet #exercise #wealth #moneyYou, kind readers, are my greatest concern. Some of you are very versed in the nuances of the tax code; others, not so much. Okay, I am not lying when I publish here, but I may as well be if I can’t communicate an adequate message. The concepts I outline work. Your facts and circumstances determine the value the concept has for you. Also remember, you can change the facts and circumstances sometimes to your benefit.

I understand the difficulty in finding qualified tax professionals to help you with this stuff. That is why I encourage tax pros to share their contact information in the forum. Readers, check the forum often. Post questions so accountants can help you and even offer their services.

Final Warning

It’s time for me to get back to work on the aforementioned concepts. The decisions are hard. Your favorite accountant is far from perfect. If you think I said something wrong, do NOT hesitate to leave a comment or contact me. I find real errors periodically and fix them as soon as they are discovered.

The tax code is too large and complex for my work to always be perfect. Tax professionals need to test me constantly for this to benefit the largest number of people, including you, my friendly tax pros.

Finally, everything you read here should be taken like a Margarita. With a grain of salt.

There seems to be an inordinate amount of interest in my writing notes. Periodically I will includes my working notes that spur the writing of a post for your entertainment. Sometimes these notes have been around a while before I write the post. The final product can sometimes be radically different than intended. Writing works that way at times. My working notes are unedited; I will not correct errors in working notes to preserve the process as it was originally produced. Enjoy.

 

Things have been going pretty good around here. Traffic is up and TWA has been nominated for a Plutus Award in two categories.

My head should be swelling, but instead I am nervous. When I watch the live traffic on Google Analytic I am nervous when 50 or 100 people are consuming my work all at the same time. WHAT IF THEY ACTUALLY BELIEVE WHAT I WROTE?!?!

Blogging tax advice is dangerous and I know it. I make intentional errors for the sake of fleshing out a concept; I incl ideas few will benefit from but have to incl it. Posts need to stay reasonable in length. 20,000 words of taxspeak is sure to snuff out a few lives of readers. Three, maybe four, tax pros might stick around for the punch line, but I’m not holding my breath.

Tax charitable deductions as an example: to a qualified charity they are deductible. Right? No! First you must itemize, not make too much and phase out, have income because only 50% of cash donations count and AMT might be an issue. One simple remark is technically correct, yet fundamentally wrong and I know it when I write. Facts and circumstances change the answer.

So I tell readers donations to a qualified charities are deductible and hope for the best.

It’s the risk a blogger takes daily.

Considering the risks this blogger takes with the public it is a wonder he hasn’t been committed.

My last post on questions wealthy people ask their accountant struck an unexpected cord. It also uncovered a serious problem that has plagued this blog since the beginning.

The majority of bloggers come from one of two camps: they write a blog while in retirement or write while working for retirement.

Blogging is a lot of work. Writing is the easy part. Promoting the blog so somebody actually sees your work takes time. This blog does more than simply generate affiliate income. Aside from the passive income, readers discover there is more available from the right accountant. Not knowing a local accountant offering what I suggest they turn to the only place they can go: the contact page.

And as I said before a million times, I am one man. In the last two days if I would have said yes to every offer, I would have filled my calendar until tax season. It’s just not possible to serve all the readers who seek my help. Or is it?

It’s time to stop whining and start implementing opportunities already in place. Many of the comments over the last two days went something like this: Do you know of a tax professional you can recommend in [fill in the blank]?

It hurt as I deleted each request without a response. Even responding to each inquiry would consume more time than exists in a day. So far I am able to read most of what hits my email. It’s the best I can do.

Then I received an email that was firm, yet polite. It was an obvious answer and it would solve a significant problem for you, kind readers, and for your favorite accountant. The email said, “Why don’t you promote your forum more? You told me earlier in the year to use the forum to offer my services as a tax professional since I read your blog and use the strategies you suggest. You know, if you promoted the forum more, guys like me could help your readers while offering you minor respite.”

All I could think to say was, “Duh!”

Help is on the Way

The forum has a category: Wealthy Accountants in Your Area. I started the category because tax professionals wanted to know where they could find clients and I mentioned I have a load of un-served people.

I want more tax professionals to advertise their wares in this category of the forum. If you think it would be helpful for me to add a category for taxpayers looking for an accountant, I can add the category easily.

This is the time of year where you really need to consider consulting. The tax savings can far exceed any consulting fee you pay. There are tax pros out there who are as good (some even better) than me.

Now through tax season I will provide periodic reminders to check the forum. But let’s start today. If you send me a request and I don’t respond you know what my answer is. It is an awful part of this process; ghosting people. The laws of physics (maybe it’s relativity; you know, the time and space thing) forbid me to accomplish what I want. I can do anything, just not everything.

If I can’t take your account, consider one of the fine tax professionals just as good as I am, except they don’t write a blog generating massive amounts of workflow. I love you guys, you know that. If I could do it all, I would. Reality demands I delegate. What better place to find a qualified tax pro than in the forum here.

Before we move on the next piece of business before I let you settle in for the weekend, don’t get hung up on locality. Modern technology eliminates the need for a local accountant to serve your needs. Half of my clients are outside my home state of Wisconsin. Faxing, scanning, secure web portals and email can handle all your communications with your tax pro.

Accountants offering services in the forum should understand a few things. Unlike most traditional tax offices, you will do a lot more out-of-state and multi-state tax returns. You will also receive more unique situations. Readers here want more than a basic prep. They want consulting inside and outside of tax season. What I am saying is, don’t overextend as I too often do. The clients you get from here will demand more of your time and services because they want to utilize your knowledge for their benefit. You get paid to do this, so do it. You will get tough cases. Spread it out so you get work done faster than your favorite accountant. Take it from someone with experience.

Readers, if you need a tax pro who understands a bunch of the stuff I write about you now know where to find them. Don’t expect every tax pro on the list to be the same. Most tax offices specialize when they start handling difficult cases. The only reasons I do so much more is because I have a blog to write and keep researching for your benefit and because there is ample evidence I am mentally unstable. (Stop laughing.)

Readers, vet the tax pros in the forum. A short conversation can determine if it will work for you. There is no need to waste time for either party. There are plenty more tax professionals out there and plenty more clients. Spend a few minutes to determine if it is a good fit.

Back to the accountants. Answer questions in the forum. I don’t spend much time in the forum for obvious reasons. Discuss what I write about. It’s even okay to say I’m full of BS on my own blog. (More on this in Monday’s post.) Help readers seeking solutions. Some of these fine people will want to engage your services. This has to be a team effort. I provide the portal and a slight nudge with each post. You guys—tax pros—have to do most of the heavy lifting. It’s the only way the readers will be served.

Only one warning: Never share personal information that could lead to identity theft in the forum. If discovered by a moderator, your post is toast (for your protection). And no personal attacks. The tax code is huge and there is plenty of disagreement. It’s okay to disagree; it’s not okay to do a character assassination. Be firm without being rude. Respect the opinions of others. It’s also okay to be wrong from time to time. It happens to the best of us, especially me. That is why I am always learning.

Need a Job?

My tax office is actively searching for a full-time, year round CSR/Administrative Assistant and another full-time tax preparer for tax season. The Admin job is full-time all year. The tax prep job is for tax season only with some part-time outside of tax season work, if desired.

I am unwilling to outsource tax work at this time so you have to want to live in NE Wisconsin. You will work in my office on my secure equipment. If you want to work in a unique tax practice with real opportunity to see tax issues most tax professionals don’t see in a career, consider applying. I will also consider two part-time tax preparers as well.

If you work in my office you get famous whether you like it or not. I’ll know when Dawn reads this post. Count on it.

The tax professional I hire MUST be comfortable with S corporation issues. Pay is $20-$35 per hour, depending on experience. If I find a qualified candidate I will open my doors to new clients, so please apply using the contact form on this blog.

The admin position is a support job. Other accountants and the boss (me) need somebody to keep us in line, ah, I mean to keep work flowing smoothly. It’s a hard job during tax season and reasonably normal the remainder of the year. This position is a bit different than what you normally expect in a traditional tax office. This is why it is hard for me to fill the position. It doesn’t fit a traditional model. The work is interesting, satisfying and challenging. Pay is $12-$18 per hour depending on experience with opportunity for advancement.

The pay scale is wide, I know. I am willing to pay more for an exceptional candidate. I hate paying less to take a flyer; it seems to never work. You know a bit about me and my office from my writing. If NE Wisconsin sounds like a fun place, consider submitting your resume.

And last, if the forum really explodes due to my promoting it, I will need a moderator or three. If you want to be on the moderator list, let me know. We’ll let my site manager, Kevin, handle the moderating for now, but if it grows at all I will need some help. Unfortunately it’s an unpaid job. Moderators do it for love.

If the moderator/s job gets too much I’ll consider some forms of monetization for the forum to provide funds for paying moderators. But that is in the distant future.

Now, before you leave to enjoy your weekend, go check out the forum and have some fun. Introduce yourself and share ideas. Readers of this blog are very intelligent and educated. Ask questions. I’m one guy again. I don’t know everything and my opinion doesn’t trump all. You’d be surprised at the awesome people haunting this place. Get to know each other.

A year ago I started tracking the questions clients asked me. Clients were put into three categories: those with income below $50,000; those with income over $400,000; and everyone else in between in the final category.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder isn’t the reason for my behavior. I noticed questions frequently were based upon wealth. I needed to track data for a period of time to verify what I suspected was true.

Clients (and potential clients) with low income and or net worth almost always asked the same question: How much does it cost? That’s all they wanted to know. I hated the question too. It whores my professional service. Is price the only thing that matters to these people?

The lower income/net worth crowd focused questions around: How fast? How cheap? What’s my refund? and, When does my refund arrive? None of these questions helps clients one bit.

Tax preparation is glorified data processing. (Sorry, tax professionals. I have to call’em like I see’em.) Tax season isn’t the time to tax plan or to engage your accountant at a high level. His/her mind is preoccupied with a million things due yesterday. If the only issues with your accountant are cheap and fast, then you need to reconsider your relationship with your accountant!

The middle group was a mix. Some clients from this group asked the same questions as the poor. There were some who asked many questions similar to the wealthy. The lower end of the middle looked a lot like the low income/low net worth group. The upper end of the middle group had at least some questions similar to the high income/high net worth crowd.

What interested me the most was the wealthiest clients. How these people utilized my services was telling. Price was at most an afterthought; quality was demanded over speed; and the wealthy could care less about a refund. They were only interested in their actual tax liability.

Today I want to share the seven most common questions my wealthy clients have asked me over the last year. I think you will find the information valuable. You might also want to start asking better questions, questions the richest people are interested in hearing the answers to. Better questions lead to better answers and the possibility of more income and net worth.

1.) Is there anything I can do to optimize my tax return? This is by far the number one question my wealthy clients ask me. Wealthy people know an experienced tax professional can tell a lot from a tax return.

 A tax return can be accurate without resulting in the lowest tax. Wealthy clients want me to use this information to build tax reducing strategies that fund their goals. Some clients want ideas to improve the efficiency of their charitable giving. Others want to maximize the benefits of their business or investments. A completed tax return is a wealth of knowledge for an experienced tax professional. With the tax return as a starting point serious wealth can be created with a few simple actions.

2.) I want a consulting session? The richest people in my practice want to speak to me at least once or twice outside tax season. They know I am under the gun in spring as the deadline looms so they want a summer or autumn appointment where the stress level for me is lower. (Wealthy clients actually say it this way, too.)

 It is common for wealthy clients to remind me to charge them for the consulting session. (I always charge for consulting!) Rich people don’t want a barroom conversation. They want a deep analysis of their situation. They come armed with pages of handwritten notes they want covered. This is serious business. A thousand dollars of consulting can put $10,000 or more in the pocket of the client. That is a heck of a return on your investment and the wealthy are well aware of it.

3.) Can you review an investment for me? Of course, I can! A good accountant with decades of experience under the belt knows a few tricks when uncovering value. When wealthy clients want me to review an investment they want the bad news! They already convinced themselves it’s a good investment. Now they want me to punch holes in it. When they get my opinion, including the risks, they can make a better and more informed decision.

There are a variety of investments to review. Stocks and bonds are common. Real estate and businesses are also things I review on a regular basis. I run the numbers through the eyes of an accountant, looking for irregularities. In nearly every case I uncover something the client didn’t notice. Years of training will do that for you.

Seven or eight years ago a client working for the Wisconsin Department of Corrections came to me with an investment in concierge portals for hotels. The company selling the investment made a good story. It sounded good and early investors were getting paid. But! Something wasn’t right. The idea was these machines would make money from Google ads. Having websites and blogs on the internet I knew what profit potential these ads could bring. Quick math told me there was no way this worked. It was a Ponzi scheme.

I expressed my concern to the client and outlined why I felt the investment must be wrong. An internet search and background check of the business’s owner turned up nothing. I ventured a guess these machines were never produced or placed in hotels. I was part wrong. The schemer had a few machine made and placed in hotels to cover their tail if a crazy accountant asked to see one of their product in action.

Against my advice the client invested anyway. Over half of the officers in a local county sheriff’s department were invested in this thing and the thinking was nobody would scam a group of police officers. Think again! Who better to scam? It’s the perfect cover to keep the scam going.

A year and a half later the house of cards collapsed as the FBI came in and raided the company. As suspected, it was a complete fabrication. Tens of millions of investor’s money was lost. I help several people in law enforcement recover as much as possible on their tax return. It was still bad.

Wealthy clients want my advice and in situations like this defer to my judgment. Another opportunity is always around the next corner.

4.) What am I worth? At first this sounds like one of those stupid questions. It isn’t. Wealthy people own assets that are hard to value. Stocks and index funds are easy, but what about a coal mine? As I write I am busting tail on valuing a coal mine and it’s harder than you think. There is more than one way to value an asset. I must consider all valuation methods. Usually this question arises due to the death of a family member or a transfer of an asset as a gift within the family. A solid valuation keeps the IRS at bay.

5.) How much more can I tax defer? Wealthy people know taxes will take more than any other item in their budget if unchecked. Frugal people who say they don’t care about taxes are either lying or not as frugal as they want you to think. Overpaying taxes is still spending!

 Retirement accounts are a powerful first line of defense against taxes. The tax code offers multiple opportunities to tax shelter wealth. Not all of the best tax strategies are basic retirement accounts you hear about in the FIRE (financial independence, retire early) blogosphere. I am working with several retirement specialists in building several future blog posts to hyper-charge your tax efficiency using retirement plans within the tax code. (Something to whet your appetite: You never need a solo 401(k)! You can get the same deal as a solo 401(k) with a regular 401(k) if structured properly and at a very low cost. Now anyone can stash $100,000 or more every year into tax advantaged vehicles.)

6.) Is this a wise expense? Rich people have rich people problems and the only way to solve these problems is with a brutally honest accountant. I’ve had clients ask me if they could afford a yacht. I always tell them a story. The second happiest day of a rich person’s life is the day they buy their yacht. The happiest day is when they sell it.

Wealth sometimes puts stars in a young man’s heart. (The ladies are better at avoiding these kinds of rich-person spending pitfalls.) The veeeeery expensive car, boat, vacation home, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, looks like such a good idea when you are loaded. A smart wealthy person—one who will remain rich—knows to ask the accountant before signing the check. Accountants are deal busters. Sorry. That great idea will evaporate like the morning dew when the accountant looks over the top of his glasses at you.

7.) Can you negotiate a deal for me? Yes, I can. Over the years I have negotiated tens of millions of dollars of deals. I’ve had clients tell me after they were in a room with me while I negotiated their deal they were biting their tongue so hard they drew blood. Negotiating can be that way at times. If it’s a BS deal I’ll say it and will walk whenever it suits me.

 Most people don’t negotiate often enough to be good at it. An accountant (attorneys are good at this too) with experience closing large deals can do things you can’t. I can say things in a negotiation a client cannot.

My understanding of how money works, limited legal knowledge and how much total money a certain agreement will yield is a massive advantage. I’ve gotten deals done everybody had already lost hope in. I can be brutal. But it’s a good brutal. There are clients out there more than a million dollars richer because I did one single deal for them. It makes a difference.

Seven questions. They aren’t the only ones rich people ask me, but they are the most common ones I heard over the last year. The difference between people who have money and those who don’t involves determining value. Wealthy people value my advice and work because it profits them. They know my work and trust my experience to solve difficult situations.

Of course, these questions take more time than: What’s it gonna cost? Good accountants are busy all year round. The best accountants are known within a community. They are known by other professionals: real estate agents, attorneys, doctors, title companies, et cetera. The best way to find an accountant who can answer these questions for you is to ask professionals in other fields. They work with these people all the time.

So, I heard you have a question for me?

I am a simple man with simple tastes living in a complex world. Once upon a time the world was a simpler place. We knew the food we ate and the road we traveled. We trusted the news and those who brought it to us. But simple is not in the nature of man.

Take the United States for example. The premise in the beginning was simple: freedom. But it wasn’t simple as soon as the words left the Founding Fathers’ mouths. Men wanted to be free while holding slaves. It led to Civil War. Women waited until 1920 for the right to have their voice heard.

But this story isn’t about morality. This story is about complexity and how quickly it enters life. A simple thought—freedom—was not as simple as it sounded. The nation needed to declare independence, fight a Revolutionary War and write a Constitution. And that was the simple part.

The Tax Code is the same. A simple concept—raise money to pay the government’s bills—turned into a colossus might quickly. For those reading thinking the tax situation was mucked up only recently, let me enlighten you.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt struggled with preparing an accurate return in the spring of 1938 (preparing his 1937 return) so badly he gave up and sent the Bureau (this was before the IRS) a check for $15,000 with a note that said, “I am wholly unable to figure out the amount of tax for the following reason:”

The President then gave an account of the income he didn’t know how to put on the return. He concluded his letter with, “As this is a problem in higher mathematics, may I ask that the Bureau let me know the amount of the balance due? The payment of $15,000 doubtless represents a good deal more than half what the eventual tax will prove to be.”

If you are ready to allege I am making the whole matter up, see for yourself with your own eyes. You can stalk more tax returns of the Presidents here.

Try to pull the stunt President Roosevelt pulled with the IRS and see how far it gets you. Needless to say, penalties would be applied by today’s kinder and gentler IRS.

To top it off, this was back in the days when taxes were simpler! Sure, Form 1040 was four pages, but there were no schedules or additional forms to attach. The instructions for the entire return was two pages! It was so simple even the President of the United States couldn’t figure it out. And he signed the tax bill into law!

The Growth of Complexity

Nature is simple in its most basic components. Keep chopping stuff into smaller bits until you get to the smallest indivisible piece of matter, the atom. But, wait! The atom can be chopped up smaller still into electrons, neutrons and protons.

Whew! That could have gotten out of control with complexity. Oh-oh! Scientists have been busy busting up the itty bitty parts of the atom into even smaller elementary particles. Now it get complex.

Humans love adding complexity, too. It must be in our nature. (Go ahead and make a face.)

Complexity isn’t always a bad thing. Building an automobile or airplane is complex. Modern medicine uses complex procedures to find novel cures to disease.

But complexity can get out of control. When nature gets too complex we end up with cancers.

When people get too complex we get the modern Tax Code, economic system and monetary policy.

Original ideas start very basic, dare we say, simple. Within seconds the complexity is mixed in. This isn’t a character flaw. Riding a horse to church is a fairly simple process. Once automobiles entered the scene complexity followed. Not only are cars complex pieces of engineering, society now needs to deal with the millions of vehicles on the roads. Traffic lights are not there to annoy you, but to keep traffic flowing. How else do you get endless traffic to all its destinations?

Complex Opportunities

I have made a living in the imaginary world of tax complexities. It’s paid the bills and gave me a good life.

At first it might seem a waste of an intelligent man’s life. Before you go down that road, consider: How would the government function without tax revenue? Our national defense, roads, bridges, public works projects and schools need funding to function.

I don’t work for the government; I work for you, protecting you from overpaying the government. And complexity is my greatest friend. The Tax Code is such a massive muddled mess you can drive a Mack truck through it. Given enough time you can find the answer to pay no tax for virtually every situation. Major corporations do.

Taxes aren’t the only area where complexity works in your favor. Machines and computers have made our lives so much easier that nearly everyone could work half the hours and not notice a change to their lifestyle.

You can see this in action within our own FIRE (financial independence, retire early) community with the plethora of side gigs and people retiring in their 30s. Our society is so rich a large number of people with very little effort can retire really young and travel the planet.

This brings up another complex area we can exploit: travel rewards. Once upon a time it cost money to travel. Today you can hack the system and get massive travel rewards to see the world for pennies on the dollar.

Get Rich by Getting Complex

You would think adding to the already complex mix would be your ticket to wealth. It isn’t. The trick isn’t more complexity; it’s breaking down the complex into small, easy to understand, components.

Complexity leads to error. How many product recalls do we hear of? How many times have governments and corporations been hacked? We can be too complex for our own good.

Take investing. You can go through all the hoopla trying to be the next Warren Buffett. You could be the next one! Or something as simple as an index fund can work miracles for your net worth without any effort on your part.

Credit card rewards are a massive mix of options sure to cause problems for those less than astute in the tracking of their credit card activities. Don’t pay the bill in full each month and trouble is sure to follow.

Yet, a simple spreadsheet can solve the problem. Several credit cards can be tracked simply to serve all your financial needs. Travel rewards are only the beginning. In a few weeks I have a side gig you are sure to want to hear about. I will show you a program where your credit cards could sprinkle $1,000 or more every month on you. You have to come back to learn this little side gig nugget. (Notice my talent at creating a cliffhanger? Hahaha!)

Taxes are the ultimate in complexity. Even this can be segmented into easier to understand parts. Maximizing retirement accounts is a simple and easy way to lower your tax burden. Investment property owners can take advantage of new tangible property rules to modify their tax outcome. Business owners can expense certain assets versus depreciation.

Play the Game

It’s all a game. The Federal Reserve manipulates money supply to manipulate the economy and prices. Congress can’t keep its fingers off the Tax Code for more than fifteen minutes.

Since life is a series of complex systems, both natural and manmade, why not use this to your advantage? Complexity isn’t going away. If anything it will get worse. Those who can break the whole thing down into the simplest parts will control the pot of gold.

Diet and exercise is a simple way to benefit the complex system called your body.

Investing regularly into broad-based index funds is the only proven way to match market returns over long periods of time. Forget Peter Lynch and Warren Buffett. Yes, you could be the next guy to perform miracles in the investment world, but odds are strong you will end up another schmuck who massively underperforms the markets with his dazzling displays in Fibonacci programs of complexity.

The index fund wins.

When I consult on tax and financial matters people always want more. The simple answer isn’t satisfying. Complexity always seems to be the right choice. It looks better. Lots of moving parts must be better. Complex must trump simple.

And then it ends in tears.

Complexity isn’t better. We live in a complex world. Simple solutions solve most problems.

The simplest answer—to stop worrying about things you can’t control—doesn’t seem right. But it is!

You will do wonders for your net worth when you find a way to break down the complex into simple components. This is where you will find massive financial opportunities.

When you get right down to it: I am a simple man who happens to enjoy seven layer cake.