It’s tax time and if you’re like most of the people I know, that means you have tax questions. How do you find someone to give you good answers? Answers that are accurate and that will work for you. And, perhaps most important of all, how do you easily get those answers.
It seems like the easiest way is via social media and that generally means Facebook. Post it in a group, on your personal page or maybe send personal messages.
How is that working out for you?
Here are the results I’m seeing.
#1: The answer is just FLAT WRONG.
Someone recently asked in a local forum whether they could move outside the US and still draw Social Security.
I saw another instance recently where someone asked about an estate planning tool, but the original poster had used the wrong term.
In the first case, there was one right answer (it depends on the type of “Social Security) and there were a bunch of half-right answers and one answer that was just flat wrong.
The correct answer is that it would depend on the type of “Social Security.” If it’s a pension, that’s one thing. If it’s SSI (supplemental income), it’s another. Also, it depends on what country you want to move to and what kind of tax treaty that country has with the US.
If you take the flat wrong advice and assume there are no problems, and in fact, there are, guaranteed the government will find out. And in that case, you’ll lose your benefits.
Those are pretty serious consequences.
In the second case, the person confused living will with living trust. One person answered correctly and a bunch of people also confused the two terms. If the original poster used one of the answers that was flat wrong, they might not have a problem today or tomorrow, but eventually when they die, their heirs are going to have a major problem.
Solution: Check your sources first. Do they really have the credentials to give you a competent and accurate answer? Free advice (especially through social media) can be the most expensive advice you ever get.
#2: The answer is illegal.
There have always been groups that protest whether taxation itself is ethical or even legal. That’s the untaxing world. And, in the end, while a few people may get away with never filing tax returns and illegally hiding their income, it’s short-lived. And they usually end up in court, and sometimes even in jail. The penalties are huge.
There are so many legal ways to greatly reduce the amount of tax you pay, by using the tax laws, smart strategy and most important of all leaving plenty of time to create the change you need to implement those strategies before year end.
#3: The answer is irrelevant.
Since my general theme is social media, any conversation has to include the very nature of social media. Conversations meander and get off point very easily.
And if you’re asking for advice on social media, there is no way you can provide all of the relevant and necessary information needed to make a good decision. Plus, you have no assurance that the person answering even knows what he or she is talking about. Most likely someone goes off on a tangent because you said something that triggered a story. Or maybe it’s some area of tax law that the responding party actually does understood.
The answer isn’t wrong or illegal, it just has nothing to do with what the person who asked wanted or needed.
#4: The answer is “code-y.”
The answer is correct and legal but it’s based entirely on Tax Law. It’s hard to understand and there is no strategy that goes along with it.
That’s the way other tax professionals answer each other’s questions, but usually isn’t any use to taxpayers who aren’t used to deciphering the arcane language of accountants and lawyers. And even fewer know how to turn that information into actionable steps.
#5: The answer is correct and helpful with actionable steps.
In other words, you ask a question and you get an answer that is right for you and your situation. Plus, you’re given actionable steps of what you need to do next.
That, of course, is the best result you can hope for. And you’re most likely not going to get it on social media or for free. A tax strategist is going to need more information from you first to fully understand your current situation and what your goals are and then they do not just answer the question but also give you steps to help you get where you want to go.
If you’ve got a tax question, you have a choice. You can look for a free solution with crowd-sourcing. Who knows, you might get lucky and find a stranger who actually knows what he is talking about and doesn’t mind sharing it for free. More likely, you’re going to find someone who is either messing around with you or doesn’t have a clue what they’re talking about.
Once the IRS is working again, you could call the IRS and ask. That’s another solution. But guess what, they no longer answer taxpayer’s questions. They’ll tell you to talk to a tax professional.
Or, you can join in on one of our coaching sessions. Ask a question there and you will get an answer and strategies. It’s the most cost effective way to get a customized answer from me.
Remember that once you join, you pay for one month’s coaching only. You can quit at any time. The link to sign up is: https://www.ustaxaid.com/coaching-program/