Archive for October 2018

Reduce Your Taxes to Zero!

Listening to an experienced accountant explain a tax situation sounds like easy work even when the words and numbers sound strange. It is rarely so easy connecting the dots, however.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) passed December 22, 2017 changed how you are taxed in ways we haven’t seen in over a generation. New opportunities to reduce your tax liability were opened, but the real advantages are hidden from plain view. It takes an experienced hand to ferret out the unexpected connections that can make or break your financial condition.

Today we are going to explore a thought experiment where we outline how the TCJA can super charge your tax savings. But first we have to tell a story.

A Chance Encounter

I spend my days researching the tax code for ways to help clients (that’s you, kind readers) reduce or even eliminate their tax liability. Some ideas are old and well-known. Others are somewhat unique in their application to the specifics of a client’s needs.

Our story starts with a longtime client and a real estate agent.

Wouldn't it be great to know all the tax reducing secrets of tax professionals? Now you can. Check out how accountants reduce their taxes to zero.

Wouldn’t it be great to know all the tax reducing secrets of tax professionals?

In my office there is a family limited partnership with several pieces of commercial property. One of their leases was coming up and I was unable to determine an accurate lease rate. Market rates are changing as real estate values climb.

Since it was my job to advise my client on an accurate lease rate I had my assistant call multiple sources around town to get an appraisal. My client was also interested in selling if the price was right.

After serious vetting we settled on a real estate agent with a history of success in the local commercial real estate market.

I was pleased the agent was wiling to provide a market analysis (a quasi appraisal) without fee. The agent provided the service and hoped to get the business if he did a good job.

My client also had a mini-mall with a vacancy. The current listing agent wasn’t able to sell or lease the unit in years. I convinced my client to get an assessment on this property as well.

The agent preparing the market analysis was fast, efficient and informative. The tenant of the first building we needed to update the lease with also wanted to buy. There was no need for the agent (or the fee) to sell or lease this property.




Good Luck

As luck would have it the tenant of the first building wanted to buy. My client was happy.

I felt it was fair to list the second property with the agent as a gesture of goodwill for his work assessing both properties. The agent did good work, followed up and was professional.

My client dragged his feet. The second building had one vacant unit with nobody working it now. I had to light a fire under my client.

After weeks (it was really a few months) of pleading my client finally relented and decided to let the agent offer the property for lease and sale.

The agent sent his assistant to pick up the paperwork the same day it was signed.

It Pays to Talk with People

It was getting to be 4:30 when the agent’s assistant showed up. I explained we sold the first building and didn’t need his services for that building. The assistant was good with that and understood our reasoning.

I then explained a unique tax strategy (a cost segregation study) that I shared with the buyer of said property. I mentioned to the assistant the buyer would save over $100,000 in taxes even though he was closing on the last business day of the year. These tax saving would be the result of a $300,000 first year deduction for owning the property a single day of the year!

People who know me understand how quiet I tend to be (dad, stop laughing). You can’t pry a word out of me.

Okay, I enjoy deep conversation that leads to massive results.

As I talked with the assistant I explained how the TCJA made it easier than ever to never pay income tax again. As we talked I kept building a bigger and bigger pyramid of tax savings strategies involving real estate. Many of these strategies would help the agent’s clients.

Needless to say, he took several of my cards. I reduced taxes for local businesses by several million dollars in less than one and a half hours. That short conversation opened a can of worms that will benefit this accountant’s communities for years to come.

And it was only possible because of the chance encounter with the agent. I knew all these things, but until that moment I hadn’t put the pieces together. Months of relentless research gave me the tools to excel at helping my clients in their tax matters as it pertained to the new tax laws.

And this is where you come in, kind readers.

The Gift that Keeps Giving

What I am about to share is merely a thought experiment. I will use large and round numbers because it is easier to understand that way. Many of these ideas will work for people with lower incomes. But in the end I will show you how you can have a million dollars in gains, pay no tax on said gain and end up with a $400,000 loss on your tax return you can use to offset other income.

Do I have your attention yet?

I hope so. This is new; this is novel, but it will work. The tax law is clear. What I am proposing can reduce your income tax to zero with extra deductions is case you have other income you need deductions against!

You will also seriously consider selling income properties you currently own to use this information. In fact, you may want to pass on like-kind exchanges (the old, and still usable, way to defer taxed on real estate) in the future. But I’m getting ahead of myself.




Step-by-Step Profits

The best way to understand my strategy is see it in action step-by-step. Because there are several ways to apply this strategy I will provide multiple solutions to the word problem.

Background:

Before we start I need share a few things that have changed in the tax code. Like-kind exchanges are a way to defer the gain on business or income property you sell by transferring the gain to a replacement property. While this tax strategy is still available for real estate, it is nixed in 2018 and after for business property. Capital gains from other investments are always taxable, until this year.

I sometimes get complaints that my tax strategies don’t apply to everyone. This is true. Not everyone can benefit from every strategy. The goal is to provide a framework that is understandable and modifiable for personal needs. While this works best for property owners with large gains, it can be tailored to lower incomes as well. It also assumes you have capital gains as that is our starting point. Wages and business income are not the driver of this strategy. If you want to reduce business income taxes you can read this. Wage earners should probably focus on retirement plan first as these provide significant deductions.

Starting Point:

We start with capital gains since real estate and the stock market have been climbing for a good decade now. The gains in these investments are huge and a real problem to diversify without incurring a large tax bill.

Real estate might seem easier since like-kind exchanges (sometimes known as 1031 exchanges) are still available. But a like-kind exchange requires a replacement property be identified within 45 days and closed within 180 days. And all your money stays in the replacement property to receive the tax benefit. (You can borrow against the equity of the replacement property after closing, but this costs you interest.)

It is easier than ever to reduce your income taxes to zero. Read how the wealthy and tax professionals pay no income taxes.

It is easier than ever to reduce your income taxes to zero.

With this in mind we need to deal with either large unrealized stock market gains or a piece of real estate with a large gain over basis (purchase price plus improvements minus depreciation).

For our example we will consider a stock investment (mutual fund, ETF, index fund, individual stock or other asset with an unrealized gain) with a $1 million unrealized gain and/or a piece of real estate with a large gain if sold.

The good news is that ALL capital gains are now super easy to avoid with a Qualified Opportunity Fund. I will not get into all the details of Opportunity Funds since I published recently on the topic in detail, available through the link.

For our thought experiment we can realize a capital gain from a real estate or investment sale and avoid reporting of the income currently. A million dollar gain can be deferred to 2026 and only 85% is taxed at that time with deflated dollars.

But Opportunity Funds are more than deferred taxes with a small tax reduction enhancer! All the gains within the Opportunity Fund (not the original gain, but gains on the capital gains invested in the Fund) are tax-free if held for 10 years or more.

Another benefit of Opportunity Funds over a like-kind exchange is how much needs to be reinvested. With the like-kind you need to buy a replacement property of equal or greater value to defer tax on all gains. Under the new rules only the GAIN needs to be reinvested in the Opportunity Fund within 180 days. The basis you can do whatever you want with.

Example: You have a duplex you bought for $200,000 and depreciated $50,000. You sell the property for $500,000. You can pocket your remaining basis ($150,000) and invest the taxable gain of $350,000 in an Opportunity Fund, avoiding any tax on the gain until 2026. (We will disregard depreciation recapture in this discussion so the examples don’t get muddy.)

Example: You bought $100,000 of Apple stock and now want to diversify without tax implication. Your Apple stock is now worth $1,000,000. You sell the stock, invest the capital gains in an Opportunity Fund and use the original $100,000 for whatever you want. Only 85% of the $900,000 capital gain will be taxed after 7 years and all the profit the $900,000 generates is tax-free after 10 years in the Opportunity Fund.

A Better Idea:

Selling your appreciated assets (investments or real estate) is only the starting point on your journey to tax-free freedom. Remember, you only deferred most of the gain. And if you have other income (business income, wages, dividends, interest or rental income) in need of deductions to avoid income taxes currently, you need another step.

Enter, real estate.

I assume you are not adverse to income property ownership in this stage of our game.

In our above examples we have large capital gains we deferred gains on and either $100,000 or $150,000 of basis we could do whatever we want with. I suggest buying a good piece of income property.

By good income property I mean a property that cash flows. You may need to buy something further from home base and utilize a property manager. This is probably a good thing regardless.

Without the necessity of replacing a property with an equal or greater value you have more choices. A half million dollar property doesn’t need to be replaced. Instead, with your basis from the sale, you can buy an income property that cash flows right out the gate and get more tax benefits.

Let’s jump to the cost segregation study again. You can read more with the link, including who I refer my clients to for a cost segregation study.

For a cost segregation study to work the property involved needs to have an original basis (generally the purchase price) of $300,000 without considering the value of the land.

The basis from the original sale in your pocket is perfect for a down payment on the property we are eyeing.

Example: Assume we buy a new income property (or properties) for $700,000. Under current tax rules a cost segregation study will turn approximately $300,000 of the purchase price of the building into a deduction the first year!

What this means: Think about this for a second. You sold a stock or rental property with a massive gain. You deferred/avoided tax on the complete capital gain by investing said gains in an Opportunity Fund. Then you decide to use the basis from the original investments as a down payment on an income property and conduct a cost segregation study. This equates to a $300,000 deduction on your tax return while avoiding tax on the capital gains! If you are a real estate professional or use grouping you can use this deduction against other income still being taxed.

But wait!!!

If you buy right now we will include this free pocket calculator. Keep it even if you return the product. It’s our way of saying. . .

Okay, I got carried away.

But I’m not done. there is even more!




Why You Want to Sell NOW!

Up till this point we played with big numbers with a focus on real estate. Deferring capital gains from any source is simple under current tax rules. A $30,000 mutual fund gain is easily deferred/avoided just as easily.

But what about landlords. If you own real estate now you might want to consider selling!

Remember our thought experiment above where we defer gains and apply cost segregation studies on new properties? If you already own real estate with gains you have an additional tax planning tip.

Cost segregation studies are possible on properties you held for years. The tax benefits are still tremendous.

However, unleashing gains on existing properties is a powerful way to spike cash flow!

More isn’t always better so I always recommend property managers for the day-today tasks of property management. Your job is to buy the right properties at the right price. Rinse and repeat. The manager/s should handle the rest.

Example: In this example we will start with three income properties you owned for 10 years. We’ll assume you have a combined basis of $500,000 on these properties with a market value of $1 million. A cost segregation study on each of these properties is inadvisable (each property is less than $300,000).

They say taxes are for the poor. No more. Keep your hard earned money where it belongs: your pocket. The rich have many ways to avoid taxes. Here are three you can use.

They say taxes are for the poor. No more. Keep your hard earned money where it belongs: your pocket.

If you keep the properties your cash flow grows only as fast as market rates for the three properties. You pay tax on all the profits after expenses.

Unless you sell!

That’s right. Sell the three properties. Invest the capital gains in a Qualified Opportunity Fund and use the $500,000 basis as the down payment for a larger value property where a cost segregation study will work well.

Assume we find a multi-unit complex for $1,000,000. The half million capital gain is in Qualified Opportunity Funds avoiding tax while the other half million is available for any use you want. Whether you use all the excess money from the previous sale or borrow more funds to purchase the complex, you will realize around a $400,000 deduction under current tax rules due to the cost segregation study. This massive deduction is available to reduce your other income property profits or income from other sources in many cases.

If the three income properties were throwing off $4,000 a month, the complex should be doing the same or more and the cost segregation study will generate a deduction to eliminate the tax on these profits. (Your taxes would be low or zero in this example if you had no other reportable income so other factors must be considered before you proceed.)

Example: Here is another example worth considering. Let’s say you’ve owned a property for decades and depreciated the property to the land only. The property is throwing off oodles of cash flow, but it is all taxed because there are few deductions (mortgage is paid off,too) and no remaining depreciation.

Capital gains from the sale would go to a Qualified Opportunity Fund to defer/avoid taxes once again. Buying another property to replace the lost cash flow opens the opportunity for a cost segregation study.

I didn’t use numbers in the last example for a reason. The idea is to provide a framework you can tweak to your personal needs. The idea is to keep cash flow pouring in while reducing or eliminating income taxes from any and all sources. The only way to do that is with a new piece of property.

Coda

Taxes are complicated and getting worse. Today’s thought experiment is not meant as a definitive guide to eliminate taxes. Rather, my goal was to help you think differently about taxes and strategy.

The tax code may seem straight forward, but the real benefits come from putting the pieces together. I asked my Facebook followers if they would like a program to reduce their taxes to zero. The response was overwhelming. I asked the same group what taxes they wished they could avoid taxes on this year. Capital gains came up often.

We didn’t cover every type of income or every income level. The idea is to plant a seed in your brain so it can grow.

The TCJA is a massive piece of legislation. The advantages are hard to grasp in the basics and putting the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle together in a way that benefits you is even more difficult.

What I provided above should have been a pleasant exercise. You can see how the new puzzle pieces have increased the opportunities to reduce your tax liabilities.

It might be a good idea to read this a few times and even save it. Share it with friends (enemies don’t deserve this level of tax savings). You might even want to use a highlighter on key points:

  • Sell with no current capital gains tax using Qualified Opportunity Funds and
  • Buy quality real estate where a cost segregation study works well to eliminate all other income taxes.

Below I include the regular list of additional Wealth Building Resources I attach at the end of posts over the last half year or so. You can find cost segregation links easily there from all current posts.

Finally, don’t be afraid to think outside the box when it comes to taxes. Now is the easiest time to reduce your tax liability in over 100 years. Use this opportunity to fuel your net worth.

These good times are unlikely to last forever.

 

 

More Wealth Building Resources

Credit Cards can be a powerful money management tool when used correctly. Use this link to find a listing of the best credit card offers. You can expand your search to maximize cash and travel rewards.

Personal Capital is an incredible tool to manage all your investments in one place. You can watch your net worth grow as you reach toward financial independence and beyond. Did I mention Personal Capital is free?

Side Hustle Selling tradelines yields a high return compared to time invested, as much as $1,000 per hour. The tradeline company I use is Tradeline Supply Company. Let Darren know you are from The Wealthy Accountant. Call 888-844-8910, email Darren@TradelineSupply.com or read my review.

Medi-Share is a low cost way to manage health care costs. As health insurance premiums continue to sky rocket, there is an alternative preserving the wealth of families all over America. Here is my review of Medi-Share and additional resources to bring health care under control in your household.

PeerSteet is an alternative way to invest in the real estate market without the hassle of management. Investing in mortgages has never been easier. 7-12% historical APRs. Here is my review of PeerStreet.

QuickBooks is a daily part of life in my office. Managing a business requires accurate books without wasting time. QuickBooks is an excellent tool for managing your business, rental properties, side hustle and personal finances.

cost segregation study can reduce taxes $100,000 for income property owners. Here is my review of how cost segregations studies work and how to get one yourself.

Amazon is a good way to control costs by comparison shopping. The cost of a product includes travel to the store. When you start a shopping trip to Amazon here it also supports this blog. Thank you very much!

 



Opportunity Funds: Deferred and Tax-Free Gains

An Opportunity Fund can defer or eliminate capital gains taxes. Keep more of your money. #wealthyaccountant #capitalgains #taxes #investments #opportunityfunds
Jump for joy! You get to keep more of your money. Reduce or eliminate capital gains taxes with an Opportunity Fund. #wealthyaccountant #taxes #capitalgains #profits #opportunityfunds

Jump for joy! You get to keep more of your money.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 brought several new opportunities to reduce your tax burden. A few previous options have been reduced or eliminated. First the bad news.

Like-kind exchanges are now limited to real estate. Capital gains in real estate can be deferred into a replacement property if complicated tax rules are followed. The same cannot be said for business property any more.

The good news comes to us in what is known as §1400Z-2 and §1016(a)(38) as added or modified by the Act. This might sound like a mouthful, but once you understand the implications your mouth is sure to start salivating. In a language normal people understand this means ALL capital gains can be deferred with some gains even tax-free at some point. It also means future gains (for a limited time only as we’ll discuss shortly) can be completely tax-free!

Your favorite accountant has received multiple requests to cover these new Opportunity Funds and Zones in detail due to the conflicting and limited information published elsewhere. In this post we will dig deep into the subject, unveiling the nuances you can use to take a serious bite from your tax liability.

We will also use multiple examples to illustrate available options in utilizing Opportunity Funds.




The Basics

Opportunity Funds were created by the Act to encourage investment in economically disadvantaged areas of the country. To encourage investment in these areas Congress provided for zones that would have special tax advantages.

There are two major advantages when investing in Qualified Opportunity Funds:

  1. Tax deferral: Taxes on capital gains invested in a Qualified Opportunity Funds are deferred while the funds are invested in the Fund.
  2. Partial tax-free capital gains: Some of the capital gains deferred become tax-free in some instances (discussed later).
  3. Tax-free growth: Capital gains on investments in a Qualified Opportunity Fund become tax-free if held for 10 or more years.

Point 3 above comes with caveats we’ll discuss below. Deferred gains of the investment used to fund the Qualified Opportunity Fund need to be recognized on December 31, 2026 (or when the investment is sold, whichever comes first) even while the gains from the Fund investment continue deferring to the 10 year anniversary where they become effectively tax-free. Examples below should clarify.

An Opportunity Fund can defer or eliminate capital gains taxes. Keep more of your money. #wealthyaccountant #capitalgains #taxes #investments #opportunityfunds

An Opportunity Fund can defer or eliminate capital gains taxes. Keep more of your money.

You are allowed one temporary election to defer gain. In other words, you can use a portion or all of a gain to invest in a Qualified Opportunity Fund, deferring the gain, and the remainder is reported as gain with applicable taxes paid in the year realized.

You self-elect. Revenue may produce a new form to report this election which is attached to your tax return when you file. You have 180 days to invest the gains into a Qualified Opportunity Fund. The act of investing these gains into a Qualified Opportunity Fund within the 180 day window is your effective election.  You will probably have a simple election button to click on your tax software to report the deferral instead of an additional form to fill out. Be sure to track your Fund investments manually if you change accountants or switch tax software.

The 180 day window to invest includes weekends and holidays. The Act is unclear on this issue, but it seems to indicate 180 calendar days rather than 180 business days, even if the 180th day falls on a holiday or weekend. There is no extension of the 180 window to the next business day.

Only gains are involved. Like-kind exchanges use a complicated formula to determine the amount required to be invested in the replacement property. With Qualified Opportunity Funds only the gains need to invested.

Example: You buy a piece of land for $100,000 and sell it in 2018 for $250,000. Only $150,000 of the sale is required to be invested in a Qualified Opportunity Fund to defer taxation on the gain.

 

Issues

Before we dig down into the details you should note there are several issues with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. In at least one section of the Code there is a reference to another section which makes no sense. We are left to assume what Congress meant if a reconciliation bill doesn’t correct the errors. The IRS will eventually write regulations on the ambiguous issues with the Tax Court determining the actual nature of the issues in question.

Another issues involves the IRS. Revenue promised clarification by late summer. As of this writing the IRS has not provided the form for self-certifying for those wishing to start their own Fund or additional guidance on how to handle many of these issues. The tax profession is left to determine the procedures with the risk regulations and/or the Tax Court may later determine differently.

I will note where the ambiguous issues reside as we review examples below. Taxes by nature have similar issues. Using Qualified Opportunity Funds to defer capital gains is something to consider. Just understand some details may change in the near future. Of course, the Tax Code can be modified at any time so stay tuned for updates.




Tax Benefits

The tax benefits from investing in a Qualified Opportunity Fund are significant with a bonus benefit.

  • Any capital gains invested in a Qualified Opportunity Fund within 180 days of a realized capital gain is deferred until the investment is divested or December 31, 2026, whichever comes first. There is no limit on how much can be deferred. Caution!  While the 10 year rule is still in effect, the tax deferral benefit ends December 31, 2026 and the original capital gain will be reported as income minus the basis adjustment discussed next. You are still required to hold the Qualified Opportunity Fund investment 10 years to receive tax-free status on the Opportunity Fund investment.
  • Investments held in a Qualified Opportunity Fund for 5 years receives a 10% basis adjustment and a 15% basis adjustment for capital gains deferred into a Qualified Opportunity Fund for 7 years. Example: The wording of this tax benefit can be confusing. If you have an income property held for decades with the entire basis (except land) depreciated, the basis is rather low or even zero. However, for this adjustment we use the basis of the deferred capital gain. If $1 million of capital gain is deferred, $100,000 is added to basis after 5 years and $150,000 after 7 years, thereby reducing the deferred capital gain by 10 or 15 percent.
  • There is a 10 year rule when investing in a Qualified Opportunity Fund to receive tax-free treatment of the capital gains from the Fund. Do not confuse this with the original deferred capital gains. Example: Using the above example, assume an $800,000 capital gain while invested in the Qualified Opportunity Fund over a 10 year period. The original capital gain is reduced by the 15% basis adjustment and reported (if held 7 or more years) when divested or on the 2026 tax return for calendar year taxpayers. The additional $800,000 capital gain from the 10 years invested in the Fund become tax-free.
  • While the beauty of investing in Qualified Opportunity Funds involves the deferral of capital gains, there is nothing precluding someone from investing non-capital gains funds for 10 years to receive tax-free capital gains from the Fund. (Jake Drum, a reader, suggested the following edit: You will be able to contribute non-capital gain dollars to the Fund, but only the capital gains contributed will receive tax benefits. See his comment below with my response.)

 

Observations and Examples

The concept is simple in theory, but nothing in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is as simple as it seems. (A true statement of the entire tax code.) The details are important when such a long-term investment is required to receive tax benefits. Details of your personal situation can color the benefits of the program.

  • Only one election can be made per sale or exchange. However, a temporary election can be made and a permanent election made later. The temporary election is the one made from gains invested in a Qualified Opportunity Fund where gains are temporarily deferred and the permanent election is made when you the sell an investment in a Qualified Opportunity Fund.
  • Revenue will need to clarify the temporary and permanent election issues. It seems the one election limit prevents reinvestment of gains from the sale of a Qualified Opportunity Fund into another Fund.
  • It is possible the gains from an installment sale would be limited to one temporary election only. This would limit the value of an installment agreement if deferral is desired.
  • Section 1400Z-2(a)(1)(A) of the Code appears to be in error as it references the wrong section of the Code. There is a similar error in §1400Z-2(b)(1)
  • If your investment in the Qualified Opportunity Fund declines the FMV is used to compute the gain after the deferral period ends, allowing for a reduction in the reporting of the deferred gain on your tax return. This effectively reduces your original capital gain.

Example: You defer $100,000 of gain by investing the gain in a Qualified Opportunity Fund. The investment declines by $10,000 at the time of sale. The reported original gain is now $90,000 ($100,000 deferred gain minus the $10,000 loss in the Fund).

  • While nothing precludes an investment in a Qualified Opportunity Fund from non-gain sources, the basis of your investment in the Fund is zero with some exceptions. If the Fund is sold prior to the 10 year period all the sale price is considered gain. If you are considering an investment of non-gain funds you must be certain you will remain invested the entire 10 year period or your original investment will be taxed as well as the Fund investment profit.
  • The only adjustments to basis is a 10% addition to basis after holding the Fund investment for 5 years and 15% after 7 years.

Example: A deferred gain (or non-deferred gain if you choose to do so) is given basis at the 5 and 7 year mark. If you invest $100,000 in a Qualified Opportunity Fund the basis is zero during the first 5 years, less a day. At 5 years the basis would be adjusted to $10,000, and $15,000 at 7 years. It also appears this only applies to deferred gains when the temporary deferral period ends December 31, 2026 and recognition of gain is required. An actual sale of your Fund investment would cause a circular computation negating the basis gains.

  • If you invest gains and non-gains into a Qualified Opportunity Fund it is treated as two separate investments: deferred gains as one and other than gains invested as the other.

Example: You sell an asset with a $100,000 gain. You elect to defer $80,000 immediately by investing in a Qualified Opportunity Fund. Later you decide to invest the remaining $20,000 of the gain. Unfortunately, the one-election limit doesn’t allow deferral of the $20,000 portion on the Fund investment. The $20,000 does not qualify for deferral and must be included in income the year the gain was realized.

Example: Let’s go the other direction. You once again have a $100,000 gain. You instead invest $125,000 into a Fund. Only the $100,000 gain is deferred and considered one investment (the temporary election) and the additional $25,000 as another investment. This is true even if the investment was made in one combined sum.

  • Once again, the temporary deferral period will be different from the permanent exclusion period. Deferred gains (if held to December 31, 2026) are reported on your 2026 tax return while the exclusion period of the Fund gain will continue for 10 years which means most deferred gain will be reported as income prior to the exclusion gains becoming effective due to the 10 year investment requirement.

 

Risks

Qualified Opportunity Funds are new and must invest at least 90% of Fund assets in Qualified Zone property. Qualified Zone property is located in low-income areas of the U.S. These untested investments could suffer significant losses in an economic downturn. There is also the risk new Funds are operated by unseasoned professionals.

Serious levels of due diligence is required before and investment is made in any Qualified Opportunity Fund.




Investment Choices

Several Qualified Opportunity Funds have opened to date. Still, the choices available are lower than in many other asset classes. You can use a search engine to find Funds to invest in. The Fundrise Opportunity Fund is one such example of a Qualified Opportunity Fund.

Fundrise is not an affiliate nor affiliated with this blog, nor have I reviewed their portfolio. I make no claims as to the suitability of investing in Fundrise. It is advised you begin your search for a suitable Qualified Opportunity Fund as soon as possible. The 180 day investment window provides adequate time for in-depth review of Fund choices if you start early.

 

Starting Your Own Qualified Opportunity Fund

You can also start your own Fund to manage your deferred gains.

An Opportunity Fund could be a better choice over a like-kind exchange when it comes to how much money you keep after taxes. Learn the details here to keep more of your money. #wealthyaccountant #taxes #capitalgains #investments #oppoertunityfunds

An Opportunity Fund could be a better choice over a like-kind exchange when it comes to how much money you keep after taxes.

A Qualified Opportunity Fund must be a corporation or a partnership. (An LLC electing to be treated as such for tax purposes should pose no problem as it isn’t specified or excluded in the Code. An S corporation is not an option; only a regular corporation or partnership can be a Fund.)

 

Observation: A Fund can’t be organized for the purpose of investing in other Qualified Opportunity Funds. The IRS may provide future regs modifying this situation. As of this writing a Fund should not invest in another Fund.

 

Here is the best part of starting your own Qualified Opportunity Fund: you self-certify. Do you like that? The IRS will have a form by late summer (not yet available as of this writing) which you fill out and attach to your corporate or partnership return. It’s as simple as that.

 

Observation: Here is a map of the U.S. with all the Qualified Opportunity Zones listed. Starting your own Fund gives you some control over how your money is invested. However, you can only make investments in Qualified Opportunity Zones.  You will need to zoom in to see the actual Zones.

 

What can your Fund invest in? Investments must be tangible property used in trade or business of the taxpayer and meet these three requirements:

  1. The property was acquired after December 31, 2017 in a Qualified Opportunity Zone.
  2. Use begins with the Fund or the Fund substantially improves the property. Substantial improvements are defined as additions to basis for the property after acquisition during a 30-month period where the basis is increased by an amount greater than basis at the beginning of the 30-month period. Example: Property has a $100,000 basis at the beginning of the 30-month period. Substantial improvements would require additions to basis of greater than $100,000 by the end of the 30-month period.
  3. Substantially all the use of the property must be within a Qualified Opportunity Zone.

Intangible property is not a qualified investment for a Qualified Opportunity Fund; only tangible property counts.

If you are running your own Fund you cannot make an acquisition for your Fund from a related party. There also appears to be errors in the Code in regards to related party purchases by a Fund. These errors will not negate the related party prohibition.

Some investments within a Zone are also prohibited: golf courses, massage parlors, hot tub facilities, country clubs, suntan facilities, racetracks and other gambling business and liquor stores.

One final consideration if you plan on starting your own Qualified Opportunity Fund. There are penalties if the Fund has less than 90% of assets  invested in Qualified Opportunity Zones.

 

Final Comments

The IRS has answered some questions on the topic at hand. Keep in mind the IRS is not the final arbiter in these matters: the Tax Court is. You cannot use advise from the IRS as substantial authority. That is only gained from an enrolled agent, CPA, attorney, the Tax Code, Tax Court rulings and other qualified sources.

Turn capital gains taxes into a powerful tax-free income generating income machine. The ultimate in passive income: the Opportunity Fund! Stop paying taxes on gains today. Read more here. #wealthyaccountant #passiveincome #taxes #taxfree #tax #taxes #investments

Turn capital gains taxes into a powerful tax-free income generating income machine.

Deferring capital gains is easier than ever. While the like-kind exchange has been limited to real estate now, investing in a Qualified Opportunity Fund might be the best remaining option.

There is an argument where the like-kind exchange even for real estate might not always be the best choice. Investing gains in a Fund has more flexibility and liquidity in many cases. Coupled with the increases in basis and potential (if held for 10 years) of excluding all the gains from the Fund investment, a like-kind exchange is no longer an automatic choice for deferring gains.

This is a difficult topic with an easy to understand framework (invest capital gains in a Qualified Opportunity Fund for 10 years and defer 85-90% of the temporary gains until 2026 and the the remainder of the gains are excluded from income permanently.)

The details is where the tire meets the pavement. It would be a good idea to either print out this page or bookmark it for future reference. Unless your gains are a simple transaction the details will motivate your decision process.

 

I know this got technical. Regular readers normally expect a bit lighter reading. However, this has to be published. Too many people need the information as the traditional press is glossing over the subject and many tax professionals are still struggling with the implications of all the nuances of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. I have one more in-depth tax issue to address before we lighten the reading material for a family audience. Until then, take car, kind readers. May this lighten your tax burden at least a bit.

 

More Wealth Building Resources

Credit Cards can be a powerful money management tool when used correctly. Use this link to find a listing of the best credit card offers. You can expand your search to maximize cash and travel rewards.

Personal Capital is an incredible tool to manage all your investments in one place. You can watch your net worth grow as you reach toward financial independence and beyond. Did I mention Personal Capital is free?

Side Hustle Selling tradelines yields a high return compared to time invested, as much as $1,000 per hour. The tradeline company I use is Tradeline Supply Company. Let Darren know you are from The Wealthy Accountant. Call 888-844-8910, email Darren@TradelineSupply.com or read my review.

Medi-Share is a low cost way to manage health care costs. As health insurance premiums continue to sky rocket, there is an alternative preserving the wealth of families all over America. Here is my review of Medi-Share and additional resources to bring health care under control in your household.

PeerSteet is an alternative way to invest in the real estate market without the hassle of management. Investing in mortgages has never been easier. 7-12% historical APRs. Here is my review of PeerStreet.

QuickBooks is a daily part of life in my office. Managing a business requires accurate books without wasting time. QuickBooks is an excellent tool for managing your business, rental properties, side hustle and personal finances.

A cost segregation study can save $100,000 for income property owners. Here is my review of how cost segregations studies work and how to get one yourself.

Amazon is a good way to control costs by comparison shopping. The cost of a product includes travel to the store. When you start a shopping trip to Amazon here it also supports this blog. Thank you very much!



The History of Polarized Politics in the U.S. and Money

How much is polarized politics affecting your financial situation and wealth. Don’t let the politics of others destroy your dreams. Learn how you can take control and excel.

How much is polarized politics affecting your financial situation and wealth. Don’t let the politics of others destroy your dreams. Learn how you can take control and excel.

The polarized political environment in America is not unusual. What makes the current situation so incredible is the comparison to what came before.

After World War II the United States experienced a prolonged period of relative political calm. While disagreement was rife, there was a sense of compatibility between the opposing political parties. A few Republicans were more liberal than some Democrats and a few Democrats were more conservative than a few Republicans. It was a world where liberal Republicans and conservative Democrats existed.

That started to change in the 1970s and blew full force as the 1980s arrived. The reasons are varied, but not the topic of today’s discussion. We are interested in the history of polarized politics and how it affected wealth. The goal is to learn from the past so we can better position ourselves for success in the toxic environment we find ourselves.

Politics is always a dangerous topic to cover. And it might not have an immediate connection with money or wealth. But experience (with heavy doses of research) reveals politics indeed has plenty to do with wealth and wealth creation or destruction. Polarized politics has visited America before and in much worse circumstances.

We will address politics first, then personal finances.




History of Polarized Politics

 

Founding Fathers

There is no exact count as to how many Founding Fathers the U.S. had. Some say there were 7, others 10. The Constitutional Convention had 55 delegates.

Regardless the number of Founding Fathers, there are several points worth noting about their behavior. First, they were all men of the landed class. In other words, the Founding Fathers were men with at least a modest amount of wealth in real estate. This isn’t the most politically correct situation by today’s standards. But we can (or at least should) agree this group of men did a pretty good job at nation-building.

Many Founding Fathers owned slaves. Benjamin Franklin had to dance around the subject when he was the American agent in London for the colonies. The British found it ironic Americans wanted freedom while holding tight to slavery.

Storing crops was more difficult in those days so it was common to store the excess corn crop as whisky. Consumption of alcohol was high in the 18th century. Bad water also encourage more alcohol consumption. It is no exaggeration to say the men who brought America to life were inebriated much of the time. While not drunkards by the standard of the time, some might be surprised how much work these men accomplished with the blood alcohol level they regularly had.

Benjamin Franklin

We only have time to discuss one Founding Father at length; we will touch on several others for reference. Since Ben Franklin is a leading Founding Father he will make a prime example for our discussion.

Much of the polarization of modern politics revolves around the identity politics of the left and the conservative ideas of the alt-right. There isn’t a single Founding Father who wouldn’t be nauseous over the current national dialog. Or would there?

Conservative Franklin: To the chagrin of the left, most Founding Fathers were decidedly conservative. Before President Reagan, Benjamin Franklin had his own version of trickle-down economics. Franklin believed the more money the rich had the more it percolated down to the poor. Franklin stated the”rich do not work for one another…” The rich, according to Franklin, spent their money on the poor buying the goods and services they produced. (Benjamin Franklin: An American Life  by: Walter Isaacson; Simon & Schuster; 2003; pages 267-8.)

Welfare and Social Security: Franklin also warned against the welfare state. He wrote welfare had unintended consequences and promoted laziness. Modern ears may find this palatable, but Franklin went further. “I fear the giving mankind a dependence on anything for support in age or sickness, besides industry and frugality during his youth and health, tends to flatter our natural indolence, to encourage idleness and prodigality, and thereby to promote and increase poverty, the very evil it was intended to cure.” (Italics mine.)

What Franklin was saying is you either work or deserve to starve, even in old age or during illness. Social Security is something Franklin would probably not approve of. If you lacked the necessary frugality and industriousness during the vigor of youth, you serve as a living example to those who consider such sloth.

Minimum Wage: Franklin also disagreed with the minimum wage. By artificially raising wages Franklin felt it would overprice goods destined for foreign markets.

All these positions place Franklin decidedly to the right of center. But was he really cold-hearted? Did Franklin believe people should be allowed to suffer?

While conservative readers might be licking their lips by now, the liberal folks will have something to cheer shortly.

Liberal Franklin: Benjamin Franklin had a balanced political stance. In some ways he could be called a liberal Republican by today’s measures. Franklin had no problem with taxes as long as they were coupled with representation. His lack of debate against the Stamp Act of 1765 is indicative of his political position. Only when there was a serious backlash back home did Franklin give us our first political spin campaign to right his reputation.

Policies should encourage hard work, according to Franklin. He felt hard-working people lucky enough to achieve wealth (became rich) had an obligation to serve the community. These duties should improve the lot of the community, providing for a prosperous middle class. Those in genuine need (people suffering illness before they had time to work for their keep, children and widows, et cetera) were the responsibility of the wealthy. Today we might consider many welfare programs as serving this need in a much larger population than existed in 18th century America.

There are also a few things we might find appalling in Franklin’s behavior even in the Age of President Trump.

The Un-family Man: Franklin left his wife and children to serve as colonial agent in London for the Thirteen American Colonies. Even when opportunity arose, he chose to stay in London or travel to Scotland and Paris, even as his wife’s health failed. Ask John Edwards how that helped his political career. Even the King found this behavior strange when he inquired as to why Franklin remained in England in 1774 when Franklin had no more duties there.

Womanizer: We can forgive Franklin for many of his political positions due to the age he lived in. His position on slavery softened over the years, but as Isaacson reports, Franklin used the qualifier “in time” in letters he wrote. He knew slavery wasn’t a workable prospect, buy also kicked the can down the road.

Modern eyes are ears will be most disturbed by Franklin’s behavior towards women. The list of affairs and potential affairs is long. Need I remind you Franklin was married with children during many of these flirtations.

History records Benjamin Franklin enjoyed the company of women more than men when it came to social gatherings. The flirtations weren’t always innocent and the women not always unattached. There is a crude sketch by Charles Willson Peale of a scene he walked in on of Franklin kissing Polly Stevenson, the daughter of Margaret Stevenson (Franklin’s landlady). It is possible Franklin befriended Polly’s mother for the purpose of spending time with Polly. Mary “Polly” Stevenson was 18 years old at the time Peale accidentally walked in on the kissing scene. But there is also a story of Franklin in a flirtatious conversation with Polly when she was 11 years old discussing her desire to be with an older man Franklin’s age.

Final Notes on Franklin: I spent a fair bit of time on Benjamin Franklin for a few reasons. Franklin is a Founding Father and certainly one of the most important and influential of the Founding Fathers.

He was a man with all the failings and shortcomings of men. His humor was crude at times, as we see when he recommended to the Royal Academy of Brussels that they should study the causes and cures for farts. It is unlikely Franklin was faithful to his wife and was distant to his family often. He even missed his only daughters wedding.

Franklin had strong political beliefs that would have toppled normal men. He didn’t suffer such a fate because he never held a high office. He was more a grandfather and guiding hand in the creation process of the United States. His role was certainly instrumental, but he managed to avoid the polarization politics brings once high office is held. Even Washington faced real criticism for the first time as president.

Another benefit of reviewing Benjamin Franklin is he shows us the world and human nature when the United States was just a dream and there were only American colonies as part of the British Crown.

If we fault Franklin for his short-comings that many current political leaders share, then we espouse the notion that Franklin should not have been allowed to do his work of nation-building. Such opinions at minimum presuppose the right of the United States to exist or at least ever to come into existence.

It is a truism of the ages: The worst of human nature can lead us to greatness.

Maybe we should be more open to human failings if we aspire towards a better tomorrow.




Thomas Jefferson

We will cover the next actors with less detail as they all share similar traits we find so disqualifying.

Thomas Jefferson is also a Founding Father of the United States. He wasn’t the biggest fan of slavery and history assumes he treated with slaves with dignity and respect. (How else could we remember a man as great as Jefferson and his contribution to our morals, values and standards.)

Jefferson also served as the third president of the U.S. That said, Jefferson did own slaves regardless his dialog on the subject. Over 100 years after the abolition of slavery in this country we still feel the scar it has left. The black community more than any other.

To make matter worse, Jefferson had a child with at least one of his slaves. In a modern era where people in authority are criminally liable for sexual activity with someone under their authority, this seems like a serious offense. Yet it happened and we seem unmoved by the act. Maybe time does heal every wound. Or not!

For all Thomas Jefferson gave this nation, he was still a man with failings. Failings we would consider criminal in the current environment. If modern rules were applied Jefferson would never have been president and his work may never have been created. How a man with such concerning behavior gave us rules to live by is hard to understand. But once again, the greatest of us tend to have the greatest failings, too.

President Andrew Jackson

President Andrew Jackson did more to define and solidify federalism than any other president. But could a man of such accomplishment be endowed with faults?

Polarized politics were at their worst in Jackson’s day. Jackson won the popular vote three times and the presidency twice. He also gave Native Americans the Trail of Tears.

Instead of focusing on Jackson’s flaws, I want to refocus on our topic: political polarization.

People today think the things said and done are the worst ever. Wrong! People had no problem Jackson killed a man in a duel, he was also hated enough to be the first president to have an assignation attempt on his life.

He married his wife before she was legally divorced from her husband. As you can imagine, adversaries made hay of this knowledge. They hounded Jackson and his family to the point of murder.

The political campaign of 1828 was brutal. The fight contained numerous ad hominem attacks. This isn’t so different from modern times. The difference was how the attacks also dragged Jackson’s wife, Rachel, into the fight.

Rachel Jackson started to suffer from what we would call today anxiety and depression. The stress became so acute it lead to a heart attack that killed her. Jackson never forgave his enemies for murdering Rachel. We have no way of knowing if the stress caused her death, but Jackson didn’t care. He blamed his enemies and hated them to then end for what they had done.

If you think politics are polarized today, you might want to read up on President Jackson. Few political leaders in the U.S. experienced such an assault in attaining office.




President Abraham Lincoln

Most Americans hold President Lincoln in high regard. They hold views of Lincoln as a moral and honest man. He freed the slaves so he must be good, right? He also preserved a nation rent in two by political division. Never before or since has our nation been so politically divided. There is nothing in the current dialog we can compare to the division our nation faced and underwent in those days of the early 1860s.

These are not the worst of times. Our nation weathered far more serious problems than a misogynist Trump. Need I remind you the great Abraham Lincoln consorted with prostitutes while married. Yeah, great leaders are riddled with flaws. Perhaps the flaws are what make them great.

Yes, I digress. It is political division that most concerns us. Except, all the discourse on said divisions seem to revolve around moralistic behavior.

FDR

Before we finish with the Supreme Court and discussing the personal finance implications, we turn to FDR, the hero of the left.

FDR also had serious flaws when it came to women. He also had an affair. (It starts to sound like a nervous tick after a while.)

The Great Depression was the issue of the age when Roosevelt took office. You would think after the economic crisis the Republicans presided over, the Democrats would have unchallenged rule. You should think again.

Before World War II became an issue, FDR had a New Deal. There was only one problem. Republicans packed the Supreme Court for years and the Court kept knocking down his programs.

Roosevelt had an idea. If the Justices wouldn’t retire so he could nominate his own choices friendly to his programs, he would expand the Supreme Court so he would have vacancies to fill.

This struck Republicans a very wrong. And what do you know, even Democrats felt it was a power grab by FDR. FDR’s own party denied him the ability to expand the number of justices on the Supreme Court for political reasons. Talk about political polarization! Yes, it happens even within parties. Even worse than we see today.

Supreme Court

There is always the temptation to think this is the worst time EVER! Rarely are such thoughts true.

Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court by President Trump signals the worst ever injustice in the history of the U.S. But is it?

There is already talk of impeaching Justice Kavanaugh. Some have warned this would set a bad precedent and has never happened before. And that is a lie!

Here is a quick rundown of notable Supreme Court dramas.

Removed from Office: Supreme Court justice John Rutledge was removed from the court by the Senate in 1795. Yes, 1795! Rutledge’s wife died in 1792 and he didn’t take it well. His mind deteriorated to the point where there was no other choice.

The same year Justice John Blair suffered from such severe headaches he was unable to continue. Rather than have the Senate remove him, he resigned.

Assassination: Justice Stephen Johnson Field was nearly assassinated in 1889 by a California State Supreme Court justice in a confusing story of divorce, alimony and a lost case.

Antisemitism: The Supreme Court had a justice so hated not a single member of the court attended his funeral. Justice James Clark McReynolds was a very vocal anti-Semite. In 1916 the Jewish justice, Louis Brandeis, joined the Court. McReynolds left the room every time Brandeis started to speak.

Racism: Justice Hugo Black  belonged to the Ku Klux Klan prior to taking the bench.

There are stories of bribes and other nefarious behavior by Supreme Court justices. Justice Kavanaugh may still resign or face impeachment by the Senate at some point in the future. Regardless, we sometimes wrongly assume the Supreme Court, the final arbiter of law, rule and justice in our nation, is free from political polarization. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court is just as liable to the shortcomings of human nature as any group.

 

With the groundwork on political polarization in place, we now turn to the impact polarization has on personal finances, wealth and money.




Personal Finance in the World of Political Polarization

 

The lesson above clearly outlines a history of political polarization in the United States from before its inception until today. The luxury of self-pity falls on deaf ears when history is called into action. Things have been marching higher for a long time, as Steven Pinker notes in his landmark works: Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress and The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence has Declined

Stop burning money! Learn the secrets the wealthy have used from the beginning of time to build their financial fortune.

Stop burning money! Learn the secrets the wealthy have used from the beginning of time to build their financial fortune.

The Long March of Growing Wealth: Humans have lived on the Earth for a few hundred thousand years. We lived short lives back then and progress was slow. Life was dangerous. Basic shelter might have been a cave, tree or outcropping.

Then man (it might have been a women for all we know) discovered how to create and control fire. Cooking soon followed which improved life immensely. Cooked food was easier to digest and it killed pathogens. Life was still hard, but lives were made a bit easier with the discovery of fire.

Shelter improved slowly over the eons. Fire made the home warmer in cold climates. Still, disease and subsistence meant most lives were brutal and short.

The pace of human progress was painfully slow for the first several hundred thousand years. Rape, murder, war, disease and starvation were constant threats. Men died from injury and women in childbirth. When God informed Adam and Eve of their curse as they were kicked out of the Garden of Eden, he meant it. But curses have a shelf life.

Civilization: Somewhere back there, over 10,000 years ago, humans became civilized; congregating in cities, that is. This was another improvement. War was a constant threat, but now a larger group was needed to harm the community.

Health issues were the age old problem.

Fast Forward: The pace of improvement in the human condition keeps accelerating. First rudimentary shelters, then fire, now cities. A few lucky souls avoided disease and injury, living to an old age, even by modern standards.

Cities grew and slowly man discovered ways to alleviate medical afflictions. Many remedies were more harmful than helpful. Such is the nature of progress.

Money was invented and the ancient Greeks debated what money really was and how it worked. (Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind) Over half of Jesus’ parables dealt with money or wealth. Life was improving at the fastest pace ever in history and it was slowly picking up steam.

China flourished in isolation from the West; Europe enjoyed the Pax Romana. It would be nearly the thirteen hundred years before mankind experienced the Pax Americana.

From the scientific advancements of Greek and Roman culture, mankind dropped into a Dark Ages. The path of progress is steady and up, but there are plenty of detours along the way. The line is not straight, but it leans ever more so upward every day.

1870: Something happened around 1870. The Dark Ages had long passed, the Renaissance morphed into an Age of Reason and science and discovery flourished. And most important, enough humans finally existed to hit a critical mass, causing an explosion of economic growth the world has never seen before.

 

Gross World Product

 

As the graph above illustrates, economic growth was painfully slow until 1800 where we see a slight tilt north. In 1850 the Gross World Product turns decidedly higher and goes parabolic in the 20th Century.

The pace of wealth creation accelerated like never before. Things got better. A lot better! Really fast.

Pockets of suffering still exists. The 20th Century experienced two world wars, Stalin’s Russia and Mao’s famine. Many people suffered and died. But many more lived better and longer, too.

Inequality: The buzzword of the day is inequality. The rich seem to get richer while the poor get poorer. But is this really true?

Inequality still exists and surely always will as long as more than one human is alive. There has been an uptick in income and wealth inequality recently. Compared to historical norms we live is really good times.

The wealthiest people alive in 1930 rarely, if ever, had indoor plumbing. Today, with rare exception, we all enjoy indoor plumbing.

Medicine is even more widespread. Polio is a rare disease; small pox eradicated. While indoor plumbing eludes many in third-world (I hate that term) countries, modern medicine is brought in on a regular basis. Fewer women are dying in childbirth. Men have fewer dangerous jobs shortening their lives. Children live beyond infancy at a very high rate. These numbers have never been so generous ever in history. Things are as good as they’ve ever been, and believe it or not, it’s still getting better and better every day.

Walter Scheidel in his book, The Great Leveler: Violence and the History of Inequality from the Stone Age to the Twenty -First Century outlines how inequality is on the decline and has been for a long time. Periodic catastrophes level the playing field immensely, but there seems to be a natural level of inequality. The good news is that everyone can have a significantly high standard of living even on the lower ends of the income distribution scale.

Optimism is the Best Financial Choice: If you have to make the call, always bet things will get better. For thousands of years things have been doing just that and at a rapid clip for over 100 years.

Warren Buffett has a reputation as a master stock investor. People spend a lot of time dicing his decisions looking for the secret sauce. I can save you the time. Buffett is the most optimistic guy you’ll ever meet. Even his good friend Bill Gates acknowledges surprise by how upbeat Warren always is.

Buffett came out in support of Hilary Clinton in her bid for the presidency. When Donald Trump won many called it the end of America and probably the world. A bit dramatic, I think. Buffett made it clear America has the “secret sauce” when it comes to economic growth and that America will do just fine even with Trump as president. I personally think the human race has a bottle of that patented sauce.

Yes, some people have it bad. Cancer might not feel like a time to be optimistic. But this isn’t about the individual level. We are talking humanity here. As a whole things are chugging higher all the time with only periodic setbacks.

The stock market reflects these facts. In the U.S. the stock market has powered higher decade after decade. Even the Great Depression is a minor speed bump when the charts are viewed over large time periods. It looked scary up close and personal. Then, a few decades later it looks like a minor dimple on the chart.

The 1987 stock market crash is the same story. The Dow dropped 22.6% in one day. The decline requires you squint your eyes to make it out now.

To the Future and Beyond: Life is good and getting better! Calls for the “end of the world” have been with us from the beginning of time. It’s a story that sells, but never delivers.

The future is bright. Today isn’t so bad either!

America and the world will have challenges ahead. That doesn’t mean optimism is wrong or dead! It is only an acknowledgement of reality. Every challenge will be confronted and re-challenged as we boldly go where no species has gone before.

Don't miss out on the progress happening all around you. Don't let polarized politics harm you financially. Use the "secret sauce" the wealth have used forever to build wealth.

Don’t miss out on the progress happening all around you. Don’t let polarized politics harm you financially. Use the “secret sauce” the wealth have used forever to build wealth.

Back to Politics: I know, I know. We never had a president like Trump. True.

We never had a Founding Father like Franklin either. How could such a womanizer, a masher, be allowed to engage in nation-building after the things he did.

And a president who fathered a child with his slave! How will the nation survive?

And don’t forget the evil of the Trail of Tears, a duel and murder and the death of a president’s wife.

A Civil War didn’t slow us down. A great president with massive flaws sewed the nation back together.

FDR tried to manipulate the Supreme Court to no avail. Talking of the Supreme Court, these are the people who gave us Dred Scott! These flawed men (most of them were men) did something wonderful as a whole. As bad as they were, their flaws made us stronger, more vibrant.

Politics is NOT more polarized than ever before. The First Lady is miffed, but not dead or even scuffed.

Things are not going to hell in a hand basket. The economy may falter from tariffs, but before long we’ll scale even higher heights. It’s almost unbelievable and then it happens again!

Never lose faith. Optimism is always the best choice. Things are good and getting better. We live longer and better lives. Economic and personal wealth is at sky high levels and rocketing higher! And any decline in the markets is a correction soon to be followed by greater heights!




It’s not a Dream; Success is Real: I’ve been around long enough to personally hear many of the doomsayers. They fall by the wayside every time. Yes, much of the Western world in more polarized than it has been for many decades. Let me remind you of the above chart. From 1850 to 1900 the U.S. exploded higher economically. During this time we experienced the Civil War and what many in the south thought was the end of the world, the freeing of the slaves.

Not only didn’t the world end when we took the moral high ground, we excelled. But we had to experience the debauchery and evil of slavery to propel us from the ignorance. We certainly don’t want to go back. It will require vigilance to retain our hard fought gains.

This is not the End: In recent times we were told the U.S. was caput because  a womanizer like Clinton was president. Did anyone take the time to research Franklin and Jefferson? Caput! I think not!

Then Bush was a sign of the End Days. Nope! President George W. Bush proved to have human failings, but we did fine.

President Obama was the worst. I had clients who came into my office saying their life’s mission was to prevent Obama from getting a second term. What a waste of time! The economy grew, the stock market was up and America and the world did great after a serious economic debacle.

And now we have the hated President Trump. Many tears have been shed. The Supreme Court is forever tainted (unless you read few history books where you’ll discover it was always tainted). I’m not a fan of Trump. I disagree with many of his policies. But not all! An honest person will find issues where agreement exists. Who doesn’t like lower taxes? We can debate who gets how much and the fairness of taxes, but com’on! I also agree with more infrastructure spending. I’m against tariffs which are nothing more than a tax on consumers. Call it a quasi value added tax, if you will.

The Beginning: In the darkest hours of World War II, Winston Churchill gave encouragement to the British people as Nazi bombs decimated London. His immortal words are as vital today as they were then as we worry ourselves sick over geopolitical events. His words are a reminder things always get better and setbacks are only temporary.

Now this is not the end.

It is not even the beginning of the end.

But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.

 

 

More Wealth Building Resources

Credit Cards can be a powerful money management tool when used correctly. Use this link to find a listing of the best credit card offers. You can expand your search to maximize cash and travel rewards.

Personal Capital is an incredible tool to manage all your investments in one place. You can watch your net worth grow as you reach toward financial independence and beyond. Did I mention Personal Capital is free?

Side Hustle Selling tradelines yields a high return compared to time invested, as much as $1,000 per hour. The tradeline company I use is Tradeline Supply Company. Let Darren know you are from The Wealthy Accountant. Call 888-844-8910, email Darren@TradelineSupply.com or read my review.

Medi-Share is a low cost way to manage health care costs. As health insurance premiums continue to sky rocket, there is an alternative preserving the wealth of families all over America. Here is my review of Medi-Share and additional resources to bring health care under control in your household.

PeerSteet is an alternative way to invest in the real estate market without the hassle of management. Investing in mortgages has never been easier. 7-12% historical APRs. Here is my review of PeerStreet.

QuickBooks is a daily part of life in my office. Managing a business requires accurate books without wasting time. QuickBooks is an excellent tool for managing your business, rental properties, side hustle and personal finances.

A cost segregation study can save $100,000 for income property owners. Here is my review of how cost segregations studies work and how to get one yourself.

Amazon is a good way to control costs by comparison shopping. The cost of a product includes travel to the store. When you start a shopping trip to Amazon here it also supports this blog. Thank you very much!

 



The Best Conference on Money

This post will cover several issues. It will serve as a:

  1. FinCon18 review,
  2. as an example of how to best manage conference and seminar attendance for maximum results and
  3. as an update on the future of this blog.

These three issues are interconnected as will be clear shortly.

 

Professionals from all walks are either required to attend conferences or strongly recommended to do so. As a tax professional for over 30 years I’m familiar with the different types of conferences and how they can provide value well beyond the fee paid to attend. As we explore using conferences to further your wealth and career, I will use personal examples to build an actionable plan you can use to maximize results, creating the most value for your time and financial investment.

FinCon is a large personal finance conference that floats around the U.S. each year. We will use the FinCon conference to illiterate best practices with my experience as an example. FinCon18 in Orlando is the best conference of any kind I ever attended. That is a tall order considering I crashed and burned at FinCon17 in Dallas the prior year.

Small conferences are straight forward. A small number of people gather with a common goal. These small gatherings are generally seminars. Our discussion today involves the larger gatherings with several tracks. Seminars are easy to define. If your goal is learning about the new tax laws you find a seminar on said topic and attend. Seminars are usually a day or two with one topic in one room. You will not miss a breakout session because there are no other tracks.

Large conferences are overwhelming. FinCon had 8 breakout session tracks running simultaneously at times this year. FinCon Central was a hive of activity concurrently with vendors hawking interesting products and ideas. (Some of the best lessons are learned in the mosh pit where people mingle without a formal framework . Vendors bring new ideas to the table. The combination is a powerful mixture.) Unscheduled meetups and parties are common. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when 2,000 people of like mind gather. So much opportunity abounds! Where to begin?




Lessons from FinCon

 

Pain is a more powerful motivator so we’ll start with my struggles from both FinCons I attended.

Large conferences are hard to understand before attending first. FinCon has multiple cultures under one roof. Virtually every interest in the financial community is covered. Finding people with similar interests is easy. Finding sessions tailored to your goals is equally easy. So why did I fail the first year and sail the second?

Upon review I believe the disaster that befell me at FinCon a year ago was set in stone before I ever left the house. I was well aware of the educational benefits FinCon offered, but choose instead to focus on meeting as many people as possible without regard to sessions.

FinCon is the best financial conference I ever attended. The social and educational opportunities are endless. Build your business, increase blog traffic and more. #wealthyaccountant #FinCon #FinCon18 #money #media #education #seminars #blogtraffic

FinCon is the best financial conference I ever attended. The social and educational opportunities are endless.

You probably share a trait I have. I want to help as many people as possible so maximizing the number of people I associate with during the conference seems like a valid strategy at first glance.

A second trait we may share involves goals. I made the critical error I could learn what I needed to know elsewhere and therefore disregarded educational benefits from sessions. Traffic to this blog is what I wanted and felt the more people I bumped shoulders with would increase my chances of hitting the right combination that would spike blog traffic.

There is nothing wrong with traffic goals. Traffic is the lifeblood of blogs, YouTube videos and podcasts. If nobody shows up all your hard work is in vain. Unfortunately, bumping shoulders with every warm body isn’t the brightest idea I ever had. It eventually comes off as pretentious. Running a  million miles an hour also alienates many people that would normally be happy to help you achieve your traffic goals.

The inevitable happened, of course. My energy drained, I was less engaged, made less than quality first impressions and then met an individual edgy enough to want to hurt me and did. This is where I totally went off the rails. At first I pointed the blame out there. After I calmed down and seriously considered what happened, I realized I needed a good long look in the mirror.

FinCon ( and the accompanying Plutus Awards) are the best the industry ever produced. And my ignorance destroyed my first chance at massive gains. My goals were unmet.

It hurts to confess my errors. But it must be said! FinCon is too large an opportunity for anyone who attends. Wasting the first year over such foolish decisions is something I want you to avoid.

Now we can explore how I turned this boat around.




Round Two

 

I might have crazy ideas, but I’m a fast learner. Some people lick their wounds and never return. You and I are not those people. We own up to our mistakes and try again. We learn from past experience — wins and losses — and grow from there.

Last year I never made it to a single FinCon session except for the First Timers’ Orientation. I didn’t listen well.

I made a point to talk to every person I could. Attended every party, too. Didn’t drink much, but talked the leg off every human without a nautical mile. The hours were long and grueling. A repeat wasn’t something that excited me.

Want to be rich? A millionaire? Then you need to attend the FinCon conference. Learn how you can be a millionaire. #wealthyaccountant #millionaire #rich #wealth # money #conference #seminar

The right conference or seminar can change your life. This conference makes millionaires.

Once again, the FinCon experience was set in stone prior to leaving the house. This time I made a point to attend at least a reasonable number of sessions. I wanted to finish FinCon with actionable material. (More on this in a bit.)

Touching base with old friends and business acquaintances was secondary, but still part of the scheduled program. Attending sessions I found most important was a priority.

Education is a powerful motivator for me. I like working with people, but people are exhausting! Too many people pulling at me simultaneously and I start to fray around the edges. But education is something I can immerse myself in every waking hour. By spending at least a portion of each day learning at FinCon I reduced stress and burnout. My defenses were up and there was not a repeat of the prior year.

You would think a focus on attending workshops and sessions would limit my socialization. It didn’t! I had more in-depth conversations with readers than last year as we waited for a class to begin. People I never met before came to me to shake my hand. How awesome is that? The solitary life of a writer suddenly became real when faced with people I helped with my work. It is humbling to say the least.

Avoiding the parties is a personal choice. Parties can be loud which isn’t good if you want to keep your voice. For an old guy, ah, an accountant, an earlier bedtime worked wonders. You might be different. I recommend listening to your body. Don’t push to the point where it hurts the next day’s performance. You never know when you’ll need to make a solid first impression.

Without attending parties you would think I interacted with fewer people. Au contraire! Parties are great to let off steam and mingle with friends new and old. But parties are a poor way to gather necessary information (unless you’re waiting for people to get drunk and spill the beans). I’m not telling you to avoid parties. I’m saying my focus on learning allowed for ample interpersonal interactions with people I needed to communicate with.

All I’m saying is balance is the best way to get the most value from a conference. Experience told me I should focus on learning and mingle with attendees as opportunity presented itself. Every tax seminar/conference I ever attended was about learning, but plenty of valuable interaction and communication also happened.

Now we turn to the most important part of this lesson and how it will affect you and this blog.




How to Build a Million+ Page View a Month Blog

 

Many lessons learned at FinCon were things I already knew but hadn’t yet reached the deepest part of my gray matter. A good many things were also new to me.

From inception I shot myself in the foot with this blog. All I wanted to do was write, to tell my story. I missed all the reasons, you, kind reader, bother to show up around here and spend your precious time reading my work.

First, it’s all about user experience. All too often I did things I thought would generate traffic and then throw an attitude when it didn’t work. After all these years it finally sunk in. If I focus on improving the user experience they will come. Thankfully I avoided the dreaded pop-ups and similar annoying devices. Still, I modified the blog with the intention of increasing traffic. This was my first and greatest mistake.

A close cousin to the above error in my thinking is I put too much emphasis on “me” instead of the reason people show up around here: “you.”

Create massive traffic for your blog with these 5 steps. A simple to follow program that will super-charge your traffic. How to increase blog traffic. Awesome traffic tips. #wealthyaccountant #blogtraffic #traffic #tips # pageviews #awesometips

Build a million page view per month blog with these 5 ways.

The best writing in this field focuses on actionable material “you” can use in your life to solve problems. Yes, my stories are illustrative and add to the content and its value. However, I frequently never traveled beyond the confines of the personal story. I forgot real people are actually reading this!!! Typing in the solitude of deep evening it is easy to forget I’m not writing a journal to myself, but actually providing material people are seeking to improve their lives and solve problems.

I guess I could add a “Duh!” here, but that would be counter-productive.

The third lesson I was already aware of. Shortly after this blog took its first breath I showed my true prolific colors. The third lesson finally sunk in: Stop publishing so much!

Not only is a rapid publishing schedule grueling on the writer; it’s murder on the reader! Too much material too fast wears readers out.

Publishing too often also reduces the quality of my work. If this is all about the user experience and “you” then publishing just to say I can bang out a certain number of posts a week is, to be blunt, stupid.

Publishing when I have something important to say is a smarter move that keeps you, kind readers, in mind. The extra time allows for more and deeper research.

I was also reminded longer posts are important because it allows for inclusion of actionable material readers can apply immediately, lessons four and five on our list.

Not every post needs to be 5,000 or more words. But some issues demand it! Posts here have always tended to the long side. But many times I intentionally left off actionable material because I felt the post was getting long. This is a tactical error if my goal is to improve the user experience, make you the centerpiece of the post and increase traffic (a little something for your favorite accountant after serving your needs).




The New Wealthy Accountant Blog

 

With the above information in hand, here are some of the changes you can expect to see around here starting now or in the near future.

  1.  The publishing schedule will decline and will not be on a set schedule. I estimate 2-4 posts per month for this to be done right. This is a major reduction! Jim Collins warned me two years ago my traffic would be fine if I reduced my publication schedule. I was too stubborn to accept good advice. One good post per week with actionable material is miles ahead of publishing like crazy just to say I published. Some weeks will have two posts; some weeks none. But my promise to you is better material. (I took off publishing last week for the first time ever and traffic was fine.)
  2. Posts will get longer when it adds valuable information. By spending more time thinking about the topic at hand I’ll be able to include more usable information. Deeper research will make for a better user experience. Material will contain actionable elements. Previous posts centered around 1,500 words. There will be times I work well past 5,000 words to get all the information out. You can pick and choose what you need.
  3. Experimenting is still in. The internet is constantly evolving. Experimenting is vital to the health of a blog. Experimenting gives me the opportunity to help you better.
  4. Some old posts will be deleted. Looking over old posts there are a few that need to go. The Stalking the Accountant series was a thinly veiled attempt to sell books. They were good books, don’t get me wrong. But my intentions were not honorable. In the near future those posts will disappear forever.
  5. Some old posts will be re-purposed. Certain posts were fun to write, but didn’t add much value and get virtually no traffic. An example of a really old post that doesn’t resonate is Caveman TV. It was a fun story on how I raised my kids in the backwoods of Nowhere, Wisconsin with limited doses of commercial media. However, if I edited the post with actionable material and with a new title it would be a far better piece. I could re-title the post: Free Alternatives to Commercial Television. If the changes are minor the post will stay where it is in the Binge list. If a major re-write happens I will bump the post to the front of the list as a new post. (Note: Bumped posts generally are not reported to subscribers with an email. A periodic check of the Binge list is a good consideration.)

I know many readers enjoy hearing my stories of life in the backwoods and in the accounting office. All those things will still be here. A healthy dose of “me” is still part of this blog. The improvement I demand of my work is something more than entertainment value for “you”.

Here are a few examples of what is in store:

  1. Filled-in Form 3115 for cost segregation studies along with verbiage for a grouping election. It sounds like a mouthful. but a lot of tax professionals have been begging me to provide material on handling a cost segregation study on a tax return. Since I recommend cost segregation studies and there is no current filled-in Form 3115 online covering these issues, I plan a step-by-step guide I periodically update with filed-in tax forms as examples. Tax professionals and DIYers will have a tool to prepare an accurate return when a powerful cost segregation tax reducer is involved.
  2. A tradelines series. I can’t tell you the number of people who came up to me at FinCon to thank me for introducing them to selling tradelines. People are paying their entire mortgage selling tradelines and spending less than an hour a month in the process. There are so many more powerful ways you can use tradelines to your advantage. I will not neglect my duty any longer. I will take a good idea and turbo charge it just for you.
  3. Goodies in the queue. Here are a few goodies I have planned as soon as I adequately fleshed out the material: Cheap Auto Repair; The History of Money; The History of Retirement; The History of Polarized Politics in the U.S. I might even touch on the Suze Orman Afford Anything podcast controversy.
  4. Videos. Embedded YouTube videos are coming! The Suze Orman thing might be a video only since it is more an opinion piece than anything. Slowly I will start building a video library made available on YouTube and inserted in posts where appropriate.

Now that I’m not chained to a brutal publishing schedule I can focus on adding more value. Videos that compliment the text take time I will now have. Longer, better and actionable posts are the new norm.

And if I have one of those fainting spells I’ll bring back one of those fun posts where we just let it all hang out on the farm.

I look forward to our adventures together.

 

 

 

More Wealth Building Resources

Credit Cards can be a powerful money management tool when used correctly. Use this link to find a listing of the best credit card offers. You can expand your search to maximize cash and travel rewards.

Personal Capital is an incredible tool to manage all your investments in one place. You can watch your net worth grow as you reach toward financial independence and beyond. Did I mention Personal Capital is free?

Side Hustle Selling tradelines yields a high return compared to time invested, as much as $1,000 per hour. The tradeline company I use is Tradeline Supply Company. Let Darren know you are from The Wealthy Accountant. Call 888-844-8910, email Darren@TradelineSupply.com or read my review.

Medi-Share is a low cost way to manage health care costs. As health insurance premiums continue to sky rocket, there is an alternative preserving the wealth of families all over America. Here is my review of Medi-Share and additional resources to bring health care under control in your household.

PeerSteet is an alternative way to invest in the real estate market without the hassle of management. Investing in mortgages has never been easier. 7-12% historical APRs. Here is my review of PeerStreet.

QuickBooks is a daily part of life in my office. Managing a business requires accurate books without wasting time. QuickBooks is an excellent tool for managing your business, rental properties, side hustle and personal finances.

A cost segregation study can save $100,000 for income property owners. Here is my review of how cost segregations studies work and how to get one yourself.

Amazon is a good way to control costs by comparison shopping. The cost of a product includes travel to the store. When you start a shopping trip to Amazon here it also supports this blog. Thank you very much!