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How the IRS Chooses You for an Audit

By Keith Taxguy / January 28, 2020 /

Now that tax season is under way it is time to consider audit proofing your tax return. Small steps you take today can save you time, money and headaches later. 

First, the good news. Audit rates have been falling the past decade by a substantial amount. For 2018, the IRS audited .45% of individual returns, down from .59% in 2017. IRS funding cuts between 2011 and 2017 cost the IRS 27% of its enforcement staff (an 18% decline in tax examiners and a 40% reduction in revenue officers), according to the Government Accountability Office. 

The reduction in IRS enforcement efforts does not mean the IRS doesn’t have the authority to aggressively deal with tax scofflaws. The IRS still carries a big stick and focuses on certain problem areas. Taxpayers claiming the earned income credit faced an audit rate in excess of 1% in 2018, compared to the overall audit rate of individual tax returns the same year.

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Hidden Treasure in Altria*

By Keith Taxguy / January 24, 2020 /

I don’t know if Warren Buffett could actually deliver on his promise of 50% annual gains. I do know that arbitrage is an excellent way to spike your investment returns.

A Peter Lynch style review of Altria reveals massive unrealized value. It is easy to forget Altria is more than cigarettes. There is a dash of wine in the portfolio, non-combustible tobacco products, Juul, Anheuser Busch inbev NV (BUD), Cronos (CRON) and on! Nicotine Pouches in the product line as well. 

Let’s take an impossibly negative approach to Altria and see if the company survives or is loaded with large hidden treasures. 

For starters, let’s value Juul at zero. I know, I know. It is worth at least something, but we take no prisoners around here when we tally up a business’s valuation under a worst case scenario. 

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Should You Have a Financial Planner?

By Keith Taxguy / January 21, 2020 /

In 1968 Nick Murray had to sell investments the hard way. He met most clients in their home. The tool of choice was the mutual fund. Most people he sat with were hard working people, but unsophisticated  investors. Fee-based advisors were rare in those days for the small accounts families had. Fees were high and people were risk adverse. To top it off, the market was having bouts of volatility, suffering a noticeable decline even to those who didn’t follow the market on a regular basis.

It was in this environment Nick Murray had to convince his clients and potential clients the best course of action for them. Investing in mutual funds came at a steep cost. Loads (aka sales fees) were as high as 8.75%. 91.25% of your money went to work right out of the gate trying to get back to the even water mark.

Young families had to consider equities for at least a portion of their portfolio if they were ever to have enough money for a comfortable retirement, and Nick Murray knew it. The high fees were one issue; the market another. The question was always the same:

“Do you think the market will go up?”

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High Interest Savings Account for Rednecks

By Keith Taxguy / January 13, 2020 /

The landing page says PayPal pays 1% cash back, but PayPal gave me a $100 cash back reward for spending $1,000 in December and $25 for every $1,000 of spending on my debit card. This means with a small amount of planning I can get close to 2.5% cash back on normal spending (no crazy spending for a reward, as if I have to mention this) on my debit card before the bonus reward.

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(Give Yourself) The Gift of Good Business for the Next Decade

By Keith Taxguy / January 5, 2020 /

Yes, it asks questions about your business like what kind it is, what state(s) you operate in, your revenues, status of tax filings, who does what in the finance functions, etc, but also covers key details like a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats).

Next, we learn about your life goals… not just for your business, but how your business fuels your life’s passions and dreams. 1, 3, 5, 10 and even 20 years. After all, that IS why you are working, right? Finally, we discuss your communication styles and preferences so we are both comfortable with how we will play together going forward. Ninety-five percent of preventable challenges stem from miscommunication.

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The 3 Best Books The Wealthy Accountant Read this Year

By Keith Taxguy / January 1, 2020 /

Reading is the foundation of every form of wealth: mental, spiritual and financial. There is even an argument to be made that reading good books is good for you physically, as you can learn to eat better and exercise more productively. 

Books are the cornerstone of knowledge. The more you immerse yourself in quality material, the better decisions you can make. 

Focusing on only recently published books is a mistake. Avoiding novels is also an error. A well rounded education comes from digesting material from all genres, even topics you normally find uninteresting. Even fiction can teach us plenty about the world around us and ourselves.

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How to Pay Another’s Debt

By Keith Taxguy / December 23, 2019 /

It started with the popular current activity of paying for the person behind you in the checkout line or fast food drive-through. It certainly is  fine gesture of goodwill. I rarely eat at fast food restaurants, but started to wonder what I would do if my meal were paid for. Would I pay for the person behind me if there was someone behind me in line to keep the cycle going?

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What the Bible Teaches Us About Money and Success

By Keith Taxguy / December 16, 2019 /

Perhaps the most important financial advice in the Bible comes from 1 Timothy 6:10:

For the love of money is the root of all evil. (KJV)

Money is not bad; greed is. Working to have money is of vital importance and God places money and wealth front and center. I see so many people suffering financially because they believe “money” is the root of all evil, when that is the furthest thing from the truth. It is the “love” of money that is the problem. Avoid that and you are golden.

There is so much more financial advice than that just in the four gospels and Proverbs. Of course, if you are serious about wealth, you might want to read the entire Bible as Living Literature. The stories still resonate and for good reason. They are archetypal stories dripping with significance. Virtually every bestselling novel and movie can be traced back to some story in the Bible. You just didn’t know it.

Money and wealth are important. And yes, God wants you to be rich. Really rich! Not just in financial terms, but in physical, mental and spiritual terms as well. 

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