Providing Tax ‘Alpha’ to Your Clients: 21 Days of Tax Planning Advice

Our fourth annual monthly focus on tax planning advice. Here’s what we’ll be looking at on ThinkAdvisor

Most investment advisors focus exactly on that for their clients: providing and implementing investment advice. A focus on providing alpha beyond just buying index mutual funds or ETFs is fine, but advisors don’t control the markets. They also don’t control the Internal Revenue Service, but helping clients maximize their tax savings is one form of ‘alpha’ that you can provide your clients. For example, in a recent interview discussing Envestnet’s new Quantitative Portfolios, company chairman and CEO Jud Bergman suggested that providing highly tax-advantaged portfolios to clients can keep them from asking the question, “Why can’t I just buy these ETFs myself?”

Even if you aren’t a CPA or prepare tax filings for your clients, it’s important that you know enough about the federal tax code and what the tax court has ruled and how each state is treating, say, same-sex couples, to help guide your clients and make sure their tax preparer is up to speed. Beyond just maximizing deductions and exemptions and minimizing clients’ annual tax bills, many smart advisors also ask to see clients’ 1040s and accompanying schedules to get a more holistic view of those clients’ total financial picture (surprise; many clients have other advisors!).

There are always moves in Washington to reform the tax code. For example, Sen. Ron Wyden, chair of the Senate Finance Committee, has proposed a series of reforms, as has House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, but it’s unclear whether those plans will bear fruit this year, and past reforms have often made the IRC more unwieldy, not less. Will the current Congress cap the charitable tax deduction (unlikely)? Will 'carried interest' feel the wrath of the reformers? That's one of Camp's suggestions. We'll monitor the proposals, but for the moment, you've got enough on your tax planning plate.

So for the month of March, we’ve sent out editorial staffers, freelancers and bloggers into the tax world highways and byways, and enlisted the help of our colleagues at Tax Facts Online, to provide 21 Days of Tax Planning Advice for the 2014 tax season.

See our calendar below, which will be updated weekly throughout the month of March.

21 Days of Tax Planning Advice for 2014

Monday, March 3

IRS’ Top 12 Tax Scams: 2014’s Dirty Dozen

Annuities and Taxes, Pt. 1: Variable Immediate Annuity Payments (by Tax Facts)

Tuesday, March 4

How to Get Tax-Free Retirement Income With Life Insurance

Roth IRAs and Taxes: Contributions and Distributions (by Tax Facts)

Wednesday, March 5

Honeymoon's Over: Helping Gay Couples (and Others) Manage 2013 Tax Hikes

Charting the New 3.8% Investment Tax Waters (by Tax Facts)

Thursday, March 6

Annuities and Taxes, Pt. 2: Contract Payments (by Tax Facts)

Friday, March 7

HSA Basics: What It Is and Who Can Use It (by Tax Facts)

Monday, March 10

Top 9 Biggest Tax Scams of 2013

Annuities and Taxes, Pt. 3: Fixed Annuity Payments & Beneficiary Payments (by Tax Facts)

Tuesday, March 11

Taxation of 401(k) Distributions and Hardship Withdrawals (by Tax Facts)

Wednesday, March 12

4 Ways Not to Ruin Your Clients’ Taxes

Insurance in Small Business Sucession Planning (by Tax Facts)

Thursday, March 13

Annuities and Taxes, Pt. 4: Nine Requirements of Tax Sheltered Annuity Contracts (by Tax Facts)

Friday, March 14

Annuities and Taxes, Pt. 5: Longevity Annuities (by Tax Facts)

Monday, March 17

How Lower Taxes Drove Would-Be Millionaires to the Poorhouse

The Additional Medicare Tax: What Advisors Need to Know (by Tax Facts)

Tuesday, March 18

How the Social Security Tax Is Altered by Employee Benefits (by Tax Facts)

Wednesday, March 19

8 Tax Evaders Who Should’ve Known Better

Taxation of LTC Insurance: Premiums and Benefits (by Tax Facts)

Thursday, March 20

Taxation of Qualified Tuition Programs: 529 Plans (by Tax Facts)

Friday, March 21

Taxes and Life Insurance: Accelerated Death Benefits (by Tax Facts)

Monday, March 24

6 IRA Investing Mistakes to Avoid

8 Costly Tax Blunders to Avoid in 1031 Exchanges

Avoiding the Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax on Life Insurance Proceeds (by Tax Facts)

Tuesday, March 25

How IRA and Roth IRA Distributions Are Taxed (by Tax Facts)

Wednesday, March 26

How to Benefit From MLPs’ Complex Tax Rules

The Taxation of Life Insurance Policy Loans (by Tax Facts)

Thursday, March 27

Tax Shelters and Abusive Tax Shelters: What Are They? (by Tax Facts)

Friday, March 28

HSA and Taxes: How to Handle Transfers and Rollovers (by Tax Facts)

Monday, March 31

IRS Criminal Investigation Unit Tagged More Tax Criminals in 2013

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For more tax planning stories, check out our Special Report 21 Days of Tax Planning Advice for 2014 home page.

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