Following are just a few real life examples of clients for whom we've helped make a real difference (although we changed their names to protect their privacy). Could you be our next success story? Call us for a free consultation to explore what difference we could make for you.
Understanding What the Financials are Trying to Tell Us
As we were preparing quarterly financial statements for Fred's business, we noticed the cost of goods sold was higher than usual as a percentage of income. When we asked him what had might have caused that, he was surprised because he wasn't aware that anything had changed. We suggested a number of possibilities: an inaccurate inventory count, vendor price increases, a disproportionate increase in more costly items sold, sales not being recorded properly, inventory "walking out the door," or someone "dipping in the till," to name a few. It was the last one that caught his attention, and he took the necessary steps to address the problem and return his company to its usual profitability. By taking the time to not just produce accurate financial statements, but actually read them and interpret what they tell us, we were able to identify a problem our client didn't even know he had, allowing him to be more profitable going forward than he would have been without that extra information.
Paying Attention to Details
Bob came to us to prepare his company's annual tax return. As we reviewed the prior year return the previous accounting firm prepared, we noticed they didn't claim a special tax deduction the company qualified for. We went back and amended the return not only for that year, but the two years prior for the same item as well, and generated additional refunds for his business of over $7,000.
Bob also happened to be starting up a new business with a partner, and told us his partner's CPA would handle the accounting and tax returns. We offered to take a quick look at the return before he filed it, just to see if we might happen to notice anything that could help. And did we! We pointed out an issue they had overlooked, he had them change the return, and it saved our client over $30,000 in tax in that one year alone.
Todd came to us to prepare his personal income tax return, because his prior accountant wasn't returning his calls. It was especially disturbing that he thought something had to be wrong with the last return they prepared, though he wasn't sure what specifically, but they wouldn't even discuss it with him. We looked at not only that return but also the year prior, and found they had forgotten over $200,000 of tax deductions from the year before that could have been carried over and used in later years. That will mean over $30,000 of tax savings which were almost lost forever for no reason other than failing to pay attention.
Do we know something these other accounting firms don't? No. We just take a little extra time to think about our clients' situations and explore possibilities. As you can see, that one extra step can make a dramatic difference.
Failing to Plan
Sue came to us recently as a new client with questions about how to report the sale of a house she and her brother had received from their mother who had recently passed away. Often, recipients receive a step-up in basis in inherited property, and when it is sold, there may be little if any gain to be taxed on. However in this case, the mother had actually gifted the property to them several years before to make it easier for them to manage for her. That sounded like a good idea at the time. But what they didn't realize was that now, since they received it as a gift instead of inheriting it, their basis in the property is what hers was from 20-some years before when she bought it. They'll be paying tax on a substantial gain from the sale as a result. If they had come to us back then, we could have suggested several different techniques that would have accomplished their goals, without triggering this added tax burden later on.
Taking the Extra Step
As we were finishing up returns for Jim & Susan, a married couple, our software pointed out they could save $650 by filing separately rather than jointly. That's pretty good, and not unusual in Ohio. It would have been easy to take that at face value, file them separately, and move on. But we took a few extra minutes to look at their situation more deeply, and found we could make some additional (entirely legitimate) adjustments that in the end saved them about $2,300 instead. If they had been using tax software at home themselves, or had even gone to a typical high-volume tax preparation service, they might have seen the same initial savings we did and been perfectly happy, never knowing what other possibilities they missed. The extra time we take can make all the difference.
Do You Really Need a Professional?
We're often asked how to tell when a return is simple enough that someone can do it themselves and save the cost of paying a tax preparer. It's a legitimate question. When you have a problem with your plumbing or your car, it's pretty obvious it's time to call a professional. The problem is, tax issues can be a lot more subtle and by the time you realize there's a problem, it's often too late to do anything about it. If your taxes are usually pretty simple, one sign it's time to call in a pro is when something out of the ordinary happens, such as marriage, divorce, birth of a child, death of a relative, purchase of a new home, move to a different city or state, change of a job, retirement, etc. But as the examples above show, there are times we can help even when you're not aware of the opportunities that might be out there.