Could There Be a Mistake? We Can Fix It.

"If you don’t like the road you’re walking, start paving another one."
– Dolly Parton

As I write this on Monday morning, we’re all pretty distracted by the news of the capture and death of Osama bin Laden. It’s a bipartisan moment of gratification — even if it does mean celebrating the death of another human being. In this case, the world may actually be a better place right now.

All that aside, I wanted you to know that we’re starting to pick the pace up around here, after the intensity of the end of our busy season. This is the time of year when we reach out to non-clients and business owners, who are looking for real assistance in managing their tax burdens and finances.

It is, after all, what we do best.

Yes, shutting those doors at the end of the day two weeks ago (the 18th) was sweet. My staff and I could look back on months of hard work, and take real satisfaction in hard work and a bunch of new client relationships which we’re excited to see last for years.

"But…what now?"

That’s a good question–and it takes me back to our offseason preparation. Sure, we’ve taken some well-deserved rest around here … but we NEVER "shut the door" on our relationship with YOU!

That’s why we’ll continue to be here for you for all of your tax and financial needs. If you’re new to us this year…you’ll soon find out that we make a big deal around here of keeping in touch, and offering you hope and wisdom about the current state of the economy–and YOUR wallet!

So this week’s Strategy Note, in fact, deals with a topic which most taxpayers have no idea about.

Jim J. Ornelas’s
"Real World" Personal Strategy

Yes, You Can Still Find Deductions

As a client of mine, you’ve already got the peace-of-mind that you were able to claim every possible deduction legally allowed in the tax code for 2010. We put each return through an extensive review process to ensure to ensure you keep as much of your hard-earned income as the IRS allows.

But what about your friends?

Well, since it’s now AFTER April 18th, they might think that the proverbial "fat lady" has sung on their 2010 returns. Not so.

Did you know that according to a report issued by the General Accounting Office, taxpayers overpay the IRS almost $950 million every year, which equates to an average overpayment of $400 per taxpayer. That’s a somewhat dated report…and the current numbers are certain to be higher.

What’s worse is that folks who prepared their own taxes (with a software, or on their own) are the most vulnerable. But did you also know that taxpayers who used one of the "big chain" preparers are almost as bad off?

An excerpt from a more RECENT 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 postsecondary 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?
Simple: file an "Amended" Return.

Many tax businesses don’t provide this service, but even though we’ve completed our clients’ returns, we WILL review any of your friends’ returns–at no charge.

To You and Your Family’s Peace of Mind!

Jim OrnelasCould There Be a Mistake? We Can Fix It.