Most financial advisors don’t pretend to be tax experts. Even those CPAs-turned-planners, who in a previous life practiced accounting more often than not job out their tax preparation work. Still, it’s incumbent upon advisors to keep up to speed with alterations in the ever-changing tax world as best they can.
“Some people are happy if they can keep up once a year,” notes Alan Weiner, CPA J.D., L.L.M., senior tax partner at Holtz Rubenstein & Co. in Melville, New York. For daily or weekly data, and for information in general, Weiner recommends contacting Commerce Clearing House, known as CCH (www.cch.com), a wholly owned subsidiary of Wolters Kluwer U.S. Geared for CPAs and attorneys, CCH’s products can be used by planners as well, and are available in a variety of media. The company’s flagship product is The Standard Federal Tax Reports. Other publications include The U.S. Master Tax Guide, CCH Federal Tax Guide, Human Resources Management, and CCH Medicare and Medicaid Guide.
Research Institute of America (www.riahome.com) offers a weekly tax newsletter, similar to CCH’s, that covers federal tax matters. Another service that offers a weekly tax publication is Klbinrock (www.klbinrock.com). The Internal Revenue Service (www.irs.gov) has an “excellent” Web site, says Weiner, “but you have to know what you’re looking for in order to get to the answer.” Each state has a Web site in which tax matters are addressed, as well.
Some other sources worth checking out:
oCPA Pat Konetzny of The Practical Planner, an advisory firm in Maynard, Massachusetts, reports that besides taking yearly tax courses to stay up to date on both federal and state laws, she is a member of NATP (National Association of Tax Professionals–www.natptax.com), and purchases the yearly U.S. Master Tax Guide. “The absolute handiest tool is The Quickfinder Handbook [www.quickfinders.com],” she says.
o Curt Weil, Weil Capital Management, Palo Alto, California, finds the Financial Planning Association (www.fpanet.org) to be “the best source” for current information on tax matters. “FPA’s Government Affairs Committee has a staffer dedicated to tax matters, and sends out regular bulletins,” he say.
o National Association of Personal Financial Planners (NAPFA–www.napfa.org) offers useful tax information, and Web links (for example, this link to a New York Times tax article, “A Step By Step Look at Taxes” (www.nytimes.com/pages/business/yourtaxes/index.html).
Another good source is the Tax and Accounting Sites Directory (www.taxsites.com), an index of Web-based tax and accounting resources designed for persons searching for tax and accounting information, products, and services. The site is maintained by Dennis Schmidt, a Professor of Accounting at the University of Northern Iowa.
Schmidt notes that since his directory is subject-specific, “you may be able to find resources faster with it than with a general search engine or general subject directory.”