What is the largest expense you’ll have in your life?
Some will say it’s the purchase of their home or their college education. Others, thinking about it a while, feel transportation expenses lead the list of lifetime expenses. You would be justified in thinking medical costs, including medical insurance, are the biggest expense you will face in life.
Yet none of these expenses are close to what you will pay in taxes over a lifetime.
Taxes will consume over half of what the average American earns over a lifetime. This means no other expense can possibly be larger.
The list of taxes in nearly inexhaustible: federal income taxes, state income taxes, sales taxes, excise taxes, payroll taxes, property taxes and now tariffs are being added to the costs of many goods you buy.
Let’s take a look at the taxes a typical American pays:
- Federal income taxes: 20% (yes, you get deductions and credits, but many pay 20% or more after these tax reductions)
- State income taxes: 5% (some states are higher while some have no income tax)
- Sales taxes: 5% of spending (some items are not subject to sales tax however)
- Property taxes: 5% of income, but is levied against the value of the property so it can be a larger (or smaller) slice of your income
- Payroll taxes: 15.3% (half paid by employee, half by employer)
- Excise taxes: What isn’t taxed? From alcohol to fuel to tobacco to vehicle registration and so on.
- Import taxes: Tariffs are a tax paid by consumers of the country levying the tariff and that is going up in the U.S.
- Other taxes: As a consumer you pay the taxes of businesses in the form of higher prices. Taxes are built into virtually every product and service. Medical expenses are usually exempt from sales taxes, but the taxes on the system are passed on to consumers. If they didn’t they would go broke meaning the survivors do pass on the cost of their taxes.
No one tax seems insidious by itself, but added together they take a massive chunk of your wealth unless you take actions to lower your tax liability.
Some taxes are difficult to reduce. If you buy gasoline you will pay the excise tax, for example.
You can avoid many taxes by refusing to consume. That is easier said than done after a certain point. Frugality can save a lot of money, but go too far and you cross the line into being cheap. And there is still something to be said about quality of life.
Reducing consumption doesn’t avoid all taxes. Less consumption means less sales tax, but your wages still get hit with payroll and incomes taxes.
The good news is you can use the tax code to reduce taxes beyond the mere consumption taxes (sales and excise). The United States has a progressive tax system which means your tax bite increases with your level of income. The first $24,000 of income on a joint return is tax-free because that is the standard deduction. Earn several hundred thousand and your top dollar earned can be taxed at over 30%. And that is just federal taxes. The state you live in wants a chunk too.
Investing in Tax Avoidance
Tax avoidance can be a dirty word in the tax profession since it is often the words we use when illegal activities are involved to avoid taxes. However, tax avoidance can be 100% legal!
There are two type of tax avoidance you need to consider: tax deferred and tax-free.
Tax deferred strategies push the tax into the future when you pay them with deflated dollars and potentially a lower tax bracket. Tax-free strategies avoid income taxes completely.
The Tax Code is massive and changing all the time. At the risk of sounding self-serving, you need a qualified tax professional if you are serious about reducing your tax liability. The Tax Code is too complex to navigate effectively without experienced help.
I could go into several tax reducing strategies today, but this isn’t a post on specific strategies. Besides, your facts and circumstances will probably dictate a slightly to radically different approach to meet your needs.
This is where you might think I would recommend my office for your needs. Except that isn’t going to happen.
I closed my office to new clients six months ago until June 1st (which is fast approaching). Unfortunately, a few factors will not make that a good choice for you after June 1st.
First, my regular clients filled May and June to the hilt so in reality July is the earliest I can get a new client in for a consultation.
Second, I decided (with my team) to focus more on local clients. (I owe my community my services. They breathed lifeblood into my firm and spreading myself too thin is very problematic.)
Third, my health had deteriorated significantly.
Before we continue onto solutions you can use I will take short detour into my health issues.
Learning to Breathe
When I was 18 or 19 years old I entered a silo with silo gas. Like a good worker I toughed it out to finish the work. Unfortunately, silo gas damages the lungs.
I’ve since had short bouts of difficult breathing. These bouts are accompanied with persistent coughing. Cold weather makes it worse.
This past winter started early and lasted long. It isn’t hard to say we had a good six months of winter in the Northwoods of Wisconsin this year.
I started out good this winter, but didn’t travel south for a short respite from the cold this year.
Around mid-February I started losing my voice (some might actually think that is a good thing). The cough soon followed. With tax season in full swing I was never granted a reprieve. The cough got seriously worse.
Here it is mid-May and the cough is still running strong; three months of hell and still going. The doctor said there is nothing she can do and recommended extended rest. (Well, that doesn’t work well with me.)
I hurt. A lot. Nothing I do or take seems to work. Summer heat can’t come soon enough.
The cough has sapped my strength to the point I nearly faint when coughing spells hit which is often (like 5-10 times an hour).
To top it off my voice is gone. It has started to come back a bit, but the last days of tax season were so bad I couldn’t talk and breathe at the same time. It was difficult breathing at all! I still find it hard to breathe often. (And I never smoked, in case you’re wondering.)
Finding an Ace Tax Professional
No one person can be the go-to guy of the industry. I might be good, but pushed my body too hard and now the price is being paid.
My openings available this year will be limited so I can produce two courses you will find valuable and to make Camp Accountant a reality. If my health does not improve I will take no additional clients this year.
But that doesn’t mean I’ve been sitting around twiddling my thumbs! I am fully aware of my limitations and have taken steps to provide more qualified choices for you.
Hopefully you have noticed the Finding a Local Tax Pro link at the top of most pages of this blog. The list of tax professionals is still small, but growing.
Not all areas of the U.S. are covered. If you are a tax professional who follows my philosophy, consider adding your name to the list. If you know of a tax professional who does outstanding work, consider nominating them for inclusion on the list. I will contact them before adding them to the list. (They have to want to be a part of this.)
Certified Wealthy Accountant Tax Professionals
And that brings up a good point. What level of quality do the tax pros on the list have?
The question recently arrived via email. A reader wanted to know what I thought of one of the tax pros on the list. In that instance I confessed I did not know the tax pro mentioned and could not vouch for their level of competence.
However, those on the list had to take action to get there. They either read this blog or follow my work as I post it around social media. I would be surprised if they were below average. (Let me know your experience. Too many bad marks and they will be off the list. The good news is I have received no bad comments on any tax pros on the list! Fingers crossed that continues.)
Still, it is not good enough to just put names on a list without vetting them. Over the next year I will take steps to “certify” tax pros on the list as Wealthy Accountant Approved. (They can be still be on the list if not “certified”, but I think people visiting this blog will steer toward the “certified” names.) It might eventually roll out to a national designation showing tax professionals who not only are competent, but can add value to their clients by consulting and providing actionable tax strategies to increase wealth (like maxing out retirement plans, maximizing tax credits, et cetera).
Tax professionals who attend Camp Accountant will be offered the “certified” designation. Tax professionals I have worked with personally and trust their work will also gain the designation.
Rather than simple testing, I plan an in-depth vetting process to include the best of the best tax professionals on this blog’s list with the Wealthy Accountant Approved designation.
This is a valuable resource for you and the tax pro. You know the tax pro meets a high standard and the tax pro can charge more for their exceptional level of professionalism. (Smart people are never afraid to pay more for quality. It is the high price for mediocre quality that irritates.)
Putting a Good Tax Pro to Work
Top-notch tax professionals are always busy. The good news is you don’t have to settle for one tax pro!
As the tax pro list grows you will have more opportunities to find a Wealthy Accountant tax pro locally. Until then you can keep your current accountant while gaining the full benefit of using a Wealthy Accountant tax pro.
Tax season is not the time you save money tax planning. Tax season is triage in ALL tax offices! The options for saving taxes on the return being filed is massively limited (y’all want an IRA deduction with that, is about all we can do).
Reducing your taxes happens now, outside tax season. A few hours of consulting can pay off with a massive return. It is not uncommon for my clients to save 10 times or more than my fee in taxes. This is a 1,000% return! Some clients save even more. In some cases I don’t reduce their taxes but help them understand their tax and financial situation better so they can maximize wealth creation even if taxes are not reduced.
It is rare for a client consultation to end with tax reductions less than my fee. In those cases the value is usually increased wealth from other sources or fixing a tax issue that is sure to bite the client in the future.
I encourage you to use this resource: the Finding a Local Tax Pro list. I do NOT charge anyone to be on this list! This is for you, kind readers. There is no financial benefit to me. You get the value and I get the warm fuzzy feeling more of you are getting the service you deserve and that I can no longer provide. Yes, Camp Accountant has a fee, but that is to cover the costs of the Camp. I want Wealthy Accountant Certified to mean something everyone can trust. I want a day to come when everyone demands their tax professional be Wealthy Accountant Certified whether on this list or not.
As much as I want to help the world, I am one man who has pushed his body too far. I have to think smarter if I am to help every one of you kind readers. Just because I can help someone doesn’t mean I should. Too much work can break the horses back. Well, this horse is struggling with health issues as a result.
I’m never one to shy away from work. I love what I do, even when it hurts. But if I go down no one is helped. I owe it to you, every one of you, to act and think smarter. The audience is too large for one small office in the backwoods of Nowhere, Wisconsin to handle.
I need a team and one is being built. I will give all I have because you deserve only the best. When I push too far it is impossible to give the best.
With the expanding team of tax professionals around the nation we can serve you at the highest level possible.
Don’t be afraid to hire a tax pro from the list. Ask the right questions before hiring. I published two posts on this in the past: 7 Questions Rich People Ask Their Accountant and Finding a Good Accountant.
Ask questions to verify the tax pro can serve your needs. Many tax professionals specialize. As long as you’re going to pay for the service you may as well get the best one possible.
In parting, do not worry about your favorite accountant. I thought the end of tax season would give me a breather (pun intended), but so far the cough and breathing issues have not improved. Warmer weather and time off (tax season really doesn’t end until June or so as extensions and questions come in rapid-fire until then) should allow me to heal. I am a bit worried this has lasted so long and so strong.
I’ll survive, no matter how much it hurts. I always do. I am fully aware of your presence and need, kind readers. I will find a way to get every one of you served to the level you deserve and more.
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.
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 reduce taxes $100,000 for income property owners. Here is my review of how cost segregation studies work and how to get one yourself.