We are rocking and rolling through tax season these days at Ye Olde Phillips Tax Shoppe. But I woke up Monday to the news that the federal government took in a record $1.08 trillion in taxes during the first quarter of their fiscal 2017 (which ran from Oct ’16 – Jan ’17).
That’s a lot of nickels.
And it reminded me of why we love what we do here — not because we take particular pleasure in seeing governmental coffers bulge, quite the opposite. We exist to help people like YOU pay their fair and legal share, but only their fair and legal share of taxes. The government doesn’t need you to give them any tips!
But far too many Dallas/Fort Worth people end up doing so because they don’t have a skilled advocate in their corner, nor do they have someone who can help them navigate through the pile of forms to fill out (and know which ones NOT to fill out). It can be a confusing mess if you’re not skilled and practiced — but if you’ll pardon the horn-tooting, we are, and we love the opportunity to serve.
And speaking of tax money, those who have already filed their taxes and claimed the Earned Income Credit (EIC) or the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) have had their refunds held back because of congressional action. The VERY good news is that the IRS says they will start processing those refunds on February 15th — though the IRS did say in a statement that “these refunds likely will not start arriving in bank accounts or on debit cards until the week of Feb. 27.”
The best way to check the status of your refund is the “Where’s My Refund?” tool on IRS.gov: https://www.irs.gov/refunds Hopefully we’ll see some movement on that front for our clients, and soon. But you never should expect things to move fast, unfortunately.
So, that business aside … it’s been a relatively smooth tax season for the most part. We love getting the chance to see our clients, and having all the catch-up conversations we haven’t had throughout the year. And “tax time” is the perfect time for you to get other, long-delayed financial tasks accomplished. One of these is the sometimes-dreaded estate plan. This is something which every family should have in place, and so I’ve got some further thoughts on that for you in this week’s Note…
Start The Estate Planning Process During Tax Season by Timothy Phillips
“Arriving at one goal is the starting point to another.” -John Dewey
Most of us spend a considerable amount of time and energy in our lives working for our families and accumulating wealth.
But unless you’re careful, much of it could go to waste.
That’s why a well-crafted estate plan is so critical. It ensures that your hard-earned wealth (including intangible, non-financial assets) can pass intact to those you intend to be your beneficiaries, instead of being siphoned off to government processes and bureaucrats, or even being lost. We all dislike handing over our resources to those who don’t have our best interests in mind.
A well-made estate plan guarantees that this will NEVER happen to your family.
“But, what happens if I don’t create an estate plan? Doesn’t the judicial system have easy steps in place for families?”
Yep, and it’s called “probate” (Latin for “prove the will”), and it’s an ugly process.
You see, “probate” guarantees government interference in how you transfer your estate (however large or small). Documents must be filed, and approval must be received from a court to pay your bills, pay your spouse an allowance, and account for your property. Oh, and even worse — it all takes place in the public’s view.
If you fail to plan your estate, not only do you lose the opportunity to protect your family from an impersonal, complex governmental process (that is a burden at best), but it’s slapped across the public domain for all to see.
Then, of course … there’s taxes. You think the government is incentivized to keep those low on your behalf? There’s a variety of solutions for each family’s particular situation, but the plain fact is that working without a plan is U-G-L-Y no matter how you slice it.
When it comes right down to it, planning is a gift for your family (the people you love most), because if you don’t take care of things while you are living and able, they’ll have a mess to clean up when you are gone.
Even more, if you have children, you want to establish the proper (legal) procedure for ensuring they’re taken care of properly.
So if these issues are important to you (and I believe they are), make your tax preparation appointment with us count twice, and we can set you up with information about how to get the estate planning process started right.
To your family’s lasting financial and emotional peace…
Timothy A. Phillips, CPA, PC