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The Team Approach to Tax, Financial and Estate Planning

by Lance Wallach

CPAs are the best and most qualified professionals when it comes to serving their clients needs, but they need to know when and how to coordinate with other experts.

Over the last twenty years we have worked with thousands of practitioners who have decided to add financial services to their practices. They do it for a variety of reasons, but the most common are as follows:

*They don’t want to refer their client elsewhere when they request financial services.

* They want to remain competitive.

*They want to diversify and increase their revenue as opposed to depending solely on tax and accounting revenue.

While helping these professionals add planning and investment services to their core offerings, we have found that they achieve four main benefits after doing so:

1. They are more satisfied with their work.

2. Their clients are more satisfied because they can work with someone they trust to meet financial goals.

3. Their clients give them more referrals.

4. Their incomes increase.

We believe that CPAs are the most appropriate–and perhaps the only–professionals who can provide comprehensive financial services to clients because they understand their clients’ tax and financial situations. Their clients trust these practitioners to provide professional advice that is in their best interest. In fact, we believe that tax professionals have an obligation and responsibility to advise their clients, and clients expect their professionals to advise them in these important areas.

With a combination of never-ending tax reform, the Tax Code’s significant and complex changes, and the market volatility we’ve experienced over the past few years, clients need guidance more than ever. Practitioners who provide financial planning and investment advisory services are in a position to advise and assist their clients with these issues.

Practitioners just starting out in this arena may not possess the myriad skill sets and substantive knowledge required to embark on new business ventures.

CPAs who don’t have all of the necessary talent in-house may find it easier to associate themselves with strategic “partners” who can provide the proper skill sets, training, technology, support and turnkey solutions in their specialized disciplines and niches, to help identify and meet their clients’ financial goals.

Adapted from “The Team Approach to Tax, Financial & Estate Planning,” edited by Lance Wallach, with chapters by Katharine Gratwick Baker, Fredda Herz Brown, Dr. Stanly J. Feldman, Ira Kaplan, Joseph W. Maczuga, Roger E. Nauheimer, Roger C. Ochs, Matthew J. O’Connor, Richard Preston, Steve Riley, Carl Lloyd Sheeler, Peter Spero, Paul J. Williams, and Roger M. Winsby. Product 017235.

No Shelter Here: Beware of These Insurance Plans | Remodeling

No Shelter Here: Beware of These Insurance Plans

Backlash on too-good-to-be-true insurance plan

During the past few years, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has fined many business owners hundreds of thousands of dollars for participating in several particular types of insurance plans.

The 412(i), 419, captive insurance, and section 79 plans were marketed as a way for small-business owners to set up retirement, welfare benefit plans, or other tax-deductible programs while leveraging huge tax savings, but the IRS put most of them on a list of abusive tax shelters, listed transactions, or similar transactions, etc., and has more recently focused audits on them. Many accountants are unaware of the issues surrounding these plans, and many big-name insurance companies are still encouraging participation in them.

Seems Attractive

The plans are costly up-front, but your money builds over time, and there’s a large payout if the money is removed before death. While many business owners have retirement plans, they also must care for their employees. With one of these plans, business owners are not required to give their workers anything.

Gotcha

Although small business has taken a recessionary hit and owners may not be spending big sums on insurance now, an IRS task force is auditing people who bought these as early as 2004. There is no statute of limitations.

The IRS also requires participants to file Form 8886 informing the IRS of participation in this “abusive transaction.” Failure to file or to file incorrectly will cost the business owner interest and penalties. Plus, you’ll pay back whatever you claimed for a deduction, and there are additional fines — possibly 70% of the tax benefit you claim in a year. And, if your accountant does not confidentially inform on you, he or she will get fined $100,000 by the IRS. Further, the IRS can freeze assets if you don’t pay and can fine you on a corporate and a personal level despite the type of business entity you have.

Legal Wrangling

Currently, small businesses facing audits and potentially huge tax penalties over these plans are filing lawsuits against those who marketed, designed, and sold the plans. Find out promptly if you have one of these plans and seek advice from a knowledgeable accountant to help you properly file Form 8886.

—Lance Wallach, National Society of Accountants Speaker of the Year and member of the AICPA faculty of teaching professionals, is a frequent speaker on retirement plans, financial and estate planning, and abusive tax shelters.

This article is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as specific legal or financial advice.