What I’ve Written Lately

As we head into the last few weeks of 2018, I’m busily working with several clients – some new and many long-term. Here’s a look at some of the pieces I’ve had published lately.

writing

LendingTree

I’ve written quite a bit about reverse mortgages for LendingTree this year. A recent one, Is a Reverse Mortgage Foreclosure Possible?, covers the risks homeowners take on when they take out a reverse mortgage. For this piece, I had a chance to talk to M. Reese Everson about her experience dealing with a reverse mortgage after her grandmother passed away.

MagnifyMoney

Do you own investment property? If so, maybe you’ve considered tapping your equity in the property to fund improvements, consolidate debts or even buy another property. In this piece for MagnifyMoney, I cover Can You Get a Home Equity Line of Credit on an Investment Property?

Credit Karma

If you’ve ever considered taking a loan against your 401(k) balance, hopefully you were warned about the potential pitfalls that can occur if you lose or leave your job before repaying the loan. The Tax Cuts & Jobs Act of 2017 gave borrowers a little more time to repay 401(k) loans and avoid having them treated like taxable distributions, but that doesn’t mean they’re risk-free. To learn more, check out this piece I wrote for Credit Karma: Tax Reform Gives Some 401(k) Borrowers More Time to Repay.

Accounting Principals

What’s the one problem every hiring manager WANTS to have? Having too many excellent candidates to choose from! In this article for Accounting Principals, I discuss How to Choose Between Really Good Candidates.

Parker + Lynch

Large or small, no business is immune to a cyber-attack. In this piece for Parker + Lynch, I cover ways financial leaders can lead the effort to address cybersecurity from a strategic and economic perspective. Check out Cybersecurity and Cyber Risk Management: Are You Ready for an Attack?

Those are just a few of the articles I’ve written lately. Thank you for checking them out!

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Are two incomes better than one?

This weekend I’m going wedding dress shopping with my younger sister. She and her fiance got engaged at the beginning of this summer and are planning an October wedding.

Seeing their flurry of wedding preparations reminded me of a piece I wrote recently for Credit Karma, Are Two Incomes Better Than One for Tax Purposes?

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Photo by Paul García on Unsplash

In it, I cover the changes that occur when you get married and how they impact your taxes. We’re talking filing status, the marriage penalty, ways in which you might actually get a tax break by getting married, and whether it makes sense to file separately from your spouse. (Spoiler alert: it’s rarely advantageous!)

Check it out and let me know in the comments: If you are married, did you have any tax surprises as a result of tying the knot?

Disclaimer: Please note that some of the links on my website are affiliate links and I may earn a commission if you purchase through those links. I use all of the products I link and recommend them because they are companies that I have found to be helpful and trustworthy. Please let me know if you have any questions about any of the products or services I recommend!

6 Insane Tax Deductions Clients Actually Thought Were Legit

This post originally appeared on Forbes.

Another tax season has come to a close, and my tax pro friends around the country are likely enjoying some much-needed rest and relaxation. Hopefully, despite the crazy hours they’ve been working over the past couple months, they took a little time out of their days to laugh.

 

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Photo by Dmitry Ratushny on Unsplash

 

At one firm where I used to work, two of my coworkers brought comic relief to tax season with a “wall of shame.” On one wall in their office, they’d collect the craziest and most absurd emails, notes and documents from clients. Stuff like a client dropping off a note on April 14th that says, “I can’t find any of my W-2s or 1099s, but I’m pretty sure I made $150,000 last year. We can still file on time, right?” Or maybe another client who felt compelled to attach a political screed to his tax organizer, as if his CPAs were personally responsible for the Internal Revenue Code.

Because most tax professionals I know love sharing this stuff (while safeguarding confidential client information, of course!), I asked a few of them to share some of the craziest deductions they’ve seen clients try to claim on a tax return. Enjoy!

The Sharp Shooter

Enrolled Agent Steven J. Weil, Ph.D. and President and tax manager of RMS Accounting in Fort Lauderdale, FL says one of his clients tried to deduct the cost of practicing at the firing range to increase his firing accuracy. “When asked just how this was business related, he said ‘Well, when you [tick] off as many people as I do every day at work, you need to be prepared.”

No word on the profession of Dr. Weil’s client. I’m hoping he wasn’t an IRS auditor.

The Board of Directors

I’ve seen companies deduct expenses for some pretty lavish board meetings, but Tax-Free Wealth author and CPA Tom Wheelwright’s client pushed the boundaries even further.

“One of the craziest tax deductions we’ve seen is a client who thought their boat was deductible because all of their kids were on their board and the boat was always used for board meetings,” Wheelwright recalls.

Maybe I should incorporate, appoint my six-year-old as Vice President and deduct the cost of his Legos as an honorarium?

The Philanthropist

Dr. Weil shares another story of a client who reported very little income on her tax return, despite showing up to her appointment in a very expensive car.

“I had to ask some questions to make sure that all income was being reported,” Weil recalls. “After asking about any other income and getting a negative response, I said, ‘I see you are driving a new Maserati. How can one afford that on such low income?’ To which she replied, ‘It’s a charitable contribution. You see, my boyfriend is a much older man with a wife and family, so he gave me the car as a charitable gift, to make sure I remain charitable.’”

The Match Maker

I was delighted to learn crazy tax deductions aren’t limited to the U.S. Hannah Xu, a tax accountant and founder of Xceptional Consultancy in London, says one of her clients is a relationship expert. “One of his clients successfully found a partner and got married. My client was invited to attend the wedding, which required him to fly from London to India. He claimed his flight and accommodation and argued that the purpose of the trip to India was not for leisure, but to feature a solid case study for his business to attract more clients.”

The Road Warrior

Xu shares the story of another client who took his travel expenses too far. “In the UK, if you or your employees have to travel more than five miles to work on a client’s premises and you stay there for more than five hours, you are able to claim your travel and food expenses,” Xu says. “One employee drove around the same roundabout several times until he recorded enough mileage so that he could claim his travel and food expenses tax-free.”

The Uninformed Advisor

Unfortunately, sometimes the worst advice comes from the people you are paid to give it. Wheelwright worked with a client who got terrible advice from their former tax preparer. “They actually told the client that as long as he used money from his corporation to pay expenses, pretty much everything was deductible, whether or not it had anything to do with their business.”

Spoiler alert: That’s terrible advice.

Do you have any great stories to add to this list! I’d love to hear them!