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
Tuesday, March 4
Roth IRAs and Taxes: Contributions and Distributions (by Tax Facts)
Wednesday, March 5
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
Tuesday, March 11
Taxation of 401(k) Distributions and Hardship Withdrawals (by Tax Facts)
Wednesday, March 12
Insurance in Small Business Sucession Planning (by Tax Facts)
Thursday, March 13
Friday, March 14
Annuities and Taxes, Pt. 5: Longevity Annuities (by Tax Facts)
Monday, March 17