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The Tragedy of the Commons in Investing
Back in the early 1980s a CPA named Herb Vest had this crazy idea to merge the investment and tax preparation fields. By the 1990s both HD Vest Financial Services and your favorite wealthy accountant’s tax firm were hitting full stride.
My first career choice was not tax preparation or accounting, it was financial services. I fell in love with the stock market crash of 1929 my sophomore year of high school and from that point on wanted to be a stock broker. Tax preparation was a seasonal job I preferred over working all year long, putting the stock broker idea on hold. Besides, I invested most of my income and the library was filled with great books on the stock market and its history.
Why I Know Your Tax Return Is Wrong
I sometimes play a little game with people to prove most tax returns are prepared wrong. Before any tax professionals reading this start writing nasty comments I confess I also make errors on tax returns. I get it. Tax season is more triage than solid tax planning. However, once tax season slows down it is time to put your tax preparer to work saving you money, building your net worth, helping you with early retirement and making your life easier from a financial and investing point of view.
Certain errors on a tax return are understandable. Maybe you did not know the tax law or you forgot to tell your accountant about a certain income or expense. Other errors are unacceptable. These include transposed numbers or forgotten elections. This is sloppy tax work and it drives me insane. Anyone plugging numbers on a tax return must review their own work and reduce the number of issues on the return to zero before sending it to the final reviewer.
When I was a little boy I loved watching the stars and dreaming. Then I grew up and, for a short period of time, lost the awesome wonder of the universe. Truth is I lost sight of the big picture for a better view of the small picture.
In the early years of my marriage we forwent cable television. The local free channels were enough entertainment for us. Even after children entered the scene the TV remained free. Massive wealth later caused me a moment of insanity where cable TV entered my home; a decade later it was gone.