Understanding the rules is key to making the tax rules work for you. I can’t emphasize this enough.
Understanding the rules doesn’t mean you have to be an expert on the tax rules. Your tax advisor should be the expert.
Understanding the rules simply means you know what to look for so you can identify potential opportunities and discuss them with your tax advisor.
You are the one who is best able to identify potential opportunities because you are the one who is in the day-to-day activity of your business or investing and that is where the opportunities are.
While your tax preparer can identify some opportunities after-the-fact, the results are much better and faster if you are able to identify them as they occur. And faster results most likely mean you can start reducing your taxes faster.
This is why understanding the rules is so important!
Think about playing a game While taxes are certainly not a game, the benefits of understanding the tax rules are similar to the benefits of understanding the rules of a game.
Players can typically be grouped into 4 levels based on their understanding of the rules.
Level 1 Player: Doesn’t understand the rules Result: Struggles with the game
Level 2 Player: Understands the rules, but doesn’t follow them Result: Punished – they are not invited back to play or the other players watch them very closely and don’t let them get away with anything
Level 3 Player: Understands the rules and follows them Result: Fairs well in the game.
Level 4 Player: REALLY understands Tax Advisors the rules and APPLIES them Result: Able to change their strategy as the game plays out which usually results in them winning the game.
The same applies to understanding the tax rules.
Level 1 Taxpayer: Doesn’t understand the tax rules Result: Struggles with their taxes – they pay too much tax or too little tax and are unaware of it either way.
Level 2 Taxpayer: Understands the tax rules, but doesn’t follow them Result: Punished with an audit, penalties, interest, additional tax and / or scrutiny of all their tax filings
Level 3 Taxpayer: Understands the tax rules and follows them Result: Calculates their taxes correctly – which may not necessarily mean they are paying the least amount of tax legally
Level 4 Taxpayer: REALLY understands the tax rules and APPLIES them Result: Able to adjust their tax strategy timely enabling them to take advantage of tax benefits and pay the least amount of tax (legally)!
How to Get Started with Understanding the Tax Rules The best place to start is with your tax advisor.
Ask your tax advisor what rules you need to understand to be able to identify potential tax saving opportunities in your business or investing operations.