Thursday, January 21, 2016


As the deluge of tax-related articles, columns, blog posts, and television and radio discussions that always accompanies the tax filing season begins I thought I would provide a very important reminder of what I have identified as my best tax advice from 44 years of preparing 1040s –

Do not accept tax advice from anyone other than a professional tax preparer!

Don’t listen to a broker, a banker, an insurance salesman, or your Uncle Charlie!  You wouldn’t ask your butcher for a medical opinion, so why would you accept tax advice from your MD?

Over the years clients have come to me wanting to claim the strangest things – telling me “my neighbor” or “a guy I ride in to work with on the train” said it was deductible.  And it seems that just about every workplace has a resident self-proclaimed “tax pro”.

Many people in the “financial industry” may be experts in their particular field but know absolutely nothing at all about federal or state income taxes. Well maybe not nothing. They may have a little knowledge about taxes – but in this case a little knowledge can truly be dangerous.

I am sure for the most part those who give you free tax advice are doing so out of a genuine desire to help you, and sincerely think they know what they are talking about. But there are also those out there who are only interested in making a commission by selling you an investment and give you false tax advice to try to convince you to give them your money.

When you are given advice from a so-called financial professional always consider the source.  Remember, an insurance broker is a salesman, as is a stock broker and, to a degree, a banker. They make their money by selling you something. 

And do not automatically assume that tax advice you read in a print or online article, column, or blog, or hear on a television or radio program, is correct or applies to you.

Also be aware that the availability and amount of any specific deduction, credit, or other tax benefit that you read, hear, or are told about is dependent on the individual facts and circumstances of your specific situation.  The correct answer to the questions "can I deduct this?" or "can I claim this?" or "must I report this?" is always "it depends".

If you are given any tax information by any non-tax person, read something about taxes in a newspaper, magazine, or blog, or hear something on tv or the radio, be sure to check it out with a qualified and experienced tax professional before taking any action.

For more of my best tax advice check out WON’T YOU TAKE THIS ADVICE I HAND YOU LIKE A BROTHER.


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