Well, we did it. You did it. We made it through the tax busy season.
Every year, when I shut our Houston office door on April 15th (the 17th this year — er, the 18th, because of the IRS “issues”), I feel a huge weight lift off of my shoulders. Going home that day is very nice. We work hard around here to help you keep more of your money in YOUR pocket. But it’s nice to be able to finally have more family time.
But then the next day comes — and I realize that “breaks” in business (and in LIFE) are, frankly, short-lived.
And so the “offseason” in our business begins. But this is where the real difference is made for our clients.
You see, while some of our competition is out there taking their weeks and months off, living off of the “fat” of tax season, we’re attending conferences, developing our proficiencies in managing our business (and yours), and publishing this money-smart tax blog for our local Houston community.
All of it to serve you BETTER than “Joe Down The Street” who can slap together some paperwork and make it look official for the IRS — and then sips margaritas by the pool all summer when they should be working to improve.
Goodness, I hate to be so blunt — but Houston deserves better.
And speaking of deserving better … lost in the shuffle of last week’s many (moving) deadlines, was the quiet passage of “Tax Freedom Day“. This is the date when the nation as a whole* has earned enough money to pay its total tax bill for the year.
(*It should be noted that this is only a collective average and does not accurately reflect the number for you, or for your neighbors — it is the average tax burden for the overall economy, rather than for specific subgroups of taxpayers.)
This year’s magic date was Thursday, April 19, 2018 (which is three days earlier than last year, for what it’s worth). 3.5+ months into the year. And, as in years past, Americans will collectively spend more on taxes in 2018 than they will on food, clothing, and housing combined.
Now, it’s part of our job to keep your tax bill down, but we can’t do much about the nation’s tax burden, aside from casting ballots. But we can help your friends, family and neighbors here in Houston. (Or maybe even YOU, if you for some reason didn’t use our services this year!)
Here’s what we can do to help …
3+ Reasons Why Houston Taxpayers Might Need to File an Amended Return
“You can never solve a problem on the level on which it was created.” -Albert Einstein
Our local Houston clients who filed with us this year already feel the peace-of-mind that they were able to claim every possible deduction which is legally allowed in the tax code for 2017. After all, we put each return through an extensive review process to ensure you keep as much of your hard-earned income as the IRS allows , and to minimize the need for an amended return as much as humanly possible.
But what about your friends? And what about your previous years?
Well, since the filing deadline has already passed, they (and you) might think that the proverbial “fat lady” has sung on 2017 returns (and 2016 and 2015). Not so.
Because according to the most recent report on the matter, issued by the Government Accountability Office, taxpayers overpay the IRS over $1 billion every year due to incorrect itemization and preparation.
What’s worse is that those who prepared their own taxes (with a software or on their own) are the most vulnerable, according to the report. But did you also know that taxpayers who used one of the “big chain” preparers are almost as bad off?
Read below for the 3+ reasons why you might need to consider an amended return:
An excerpt from an additional report from the GAO: In a Limited Study, Chain Preparers Made Serious Errors
In GAO (United States “Government Accountability Office”) visits to chain preparers, paid preparers often prepared returns that were incorrect, with tax consequences that were sometimes significant. Some of the most serious problems involved these preparers…
1. Not reporting business income in 10 of 19 cases;
2. Failing to take the most advantageous post-secondary education tax benefit in 3 out of the 9 applicable cases; and
3. Failing to itemize deductions at all or failing to claim all available deductions in 7 out of the 9 applicable cases.
More clippings from the report:
* The 19 paid preparers we visited arrived at the correct refund amount only twice. On 5 returns, all for the plumber, they understated our refund amount by a total of $3,465.
* All 19 of our visits to tax return preparers affiliated with chains showed problems. Nearly all of the returns prepared for us were incorrect to some degree, and several of the preparers gave us very bad tax advice, particularly when it came to reporting non-W-2 business income. Only 2 of 19 tax returns showed the correct refund amount, and in both of those visits the paid preparer made mistakes that did not affect the final refund amount.
So what can your friends do about this? And what could YOU do about it, if you didn’t have us handle your taxes in prior years? Simple: file an “Amended” Return.
Many tax businesses don’t provide this service, but even though we’ve completed our existing clients’ returns, we WILL review any NEW clients’ returns — at no charge.
Gold Star Tax