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It Never Pays to be a Bear

Bulls make money. Bears make money. Pigs get slaughtered! —Old Wall Street Adage

Back in the early days of my career the investment industry and the tax/accounting industry tried to merge. To be fair it was the investment industry’s idea. Tax offices were the perfect partner to sell securities (usually mutual funds with a respectable dose of insurance thrown in for good luck). Virtually every small accounting firm took the plunge.

Accounting offices are prime for solicitation. Tax professionals have a powerful relationship with their clients. Accountants also know a lot about their clients due to the data collected to file an accurate tax return.

I Hate My Job!

The accounting industry has been consolidating for decades. When I started my practice in the 1980s the local newspaper had several pages of business card sized ads hawking the wares of local tax offices and CPA firms. Today you would be hard pressed to find an ad (outside the massive DIY tax software) by any tax or accounting firm even in the depths of tax season.

There are several reasons why the corner mom and pop tax office is dying. The tax code has steadily increased in complexity. If I didn’t have a background of knowledge to build on I might not consider the tax field if I were starting today.

Tariffs, Stagflation and Stock Market Risks

What is so bad about a tariff? It raises money to pay for the recent tax cuts. It promises to raise prices for steel and aluminum manufacturers. Some laborers stand to benefit from higher wages and with less competition, more job security. At face value it sounds like a good idea!

Of course, it only works if the tariff takes place within a vacuum. The tariffs Trump promises this week are blanket, meaning they hit steel and aluminum from every nation. When such a draconian ax is taken to the playing field there will be a response.

Normally tariffs take a long process to change. Treaties and trade agreements go through a long process of negotiations before each member nation to the agreement presents the details to their legislative branch for approval. Passage isn’t guaranteed. Several safety nets are in place to encourage each nation to honor the terms of all trade agreements.

Stalking the Camp Accountant Update

The biggest issue surrounding Camp Accountant is time. I’m enjoying the best tax season in years. The office is running smooth. Virtually all tax returns are out in a week or less. If your return has been in my office longer than a week we either are waiting for more documents or I’m researching an issue to maximize tax benefits. Even still, the pain of burnout lingers.

Longer hours and hyper-productivity take a toll. The tax law changes this past year are so significant I will spend most of my time this summer with clients and blog readers hammering out the best approach to realizing the maximum benefits from the changes.

With limited personal time available I am unable to run the whole Camp Accountant show myself. I am committed to attending (it was Pete’s first question) and presenting several topics. I will also attempt to get IRS approval for CPE for enrolled agents and CPAs.

Fixing an Incorrect or Erroneous Refund

A surprise refund in the middle of summer from the IRS quickly raises suspicions “this might not be a good thing”. However, refunds for less than anticipated are more common. Missing refunds top the list.

Before you panic, refunds have a general time table. If your refund is AWOL you might need to practice patience first. If it’s been less than three weeks since you e-filed (six week for paper filed returns) you need to wait a bit longer. Calling the IRS will waste a good portion of your day only to hear the friendly IRS employee say you need to wait at least 21 days before they can do anything.

Church of FI

Back in the old days the FI (financial independence) community was a different place. Advice was simple and straight forward. King Solomon reminded us to avoid lending or borrowing. Nearly half the parables of Jesus have to do with money and wealth.

The simple message sold well. So well in fact it became ingrained in religious dogma. The goal was honest. Work hard, save and you will enjoy your old age.

The old school in the Church of FI made the most of a basic message. The advice and values were handed down generation to generation. It lasted for one simple reason; it worked!

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