Using your taxes as a tool

By: Jay Parks

April brings with it not just the blossoms of spring but also the critical moment for us to look back at our taxes, reflect on the past year, and plan for the future. As a CPA with years of experience guiding individuals and businesses through the intricacies of tax planning, investment strategies, and financial decisions, I've seen firsthand the importance of being proactive during this season.

Using your taxes and tax return as a tool to help you determine what changes you may need to make now to achieve the results needed for future success is a strategy and process I have guided my clients through for many years. Here are some of the steps we take:

Taxes: Making adjustments

April is our annual reminder to scrutinize last year's tax returns. It's the perfect time to evaluate if you need to adjust your withholdings or change your financial strategy to suit your future goals better. For example, modifying the number of dependents you claim can significantly affect your monthly finances and annual tax liability. One recent client, facing a $5,000 tax bill from the previous year, found relief by adjusting their withholdings, avoiding repeating that financial strain.

Investment: A balanced approach

Investing should be a key component of your financial plan, but it requires a balanced approach. It's not just about socking away money into retirement accounts or even having the lowest tax bill every single year. It is about a well-rounded financial plan that accounts for who you are, your goals, and where you are in life.

Young investors should consider a mix of retirement savings and more accessible investments. Engaging with your employer's match in your retirement plan is crucial, but so is investing beyond it, whether in IRAs, mutual funds, or other vehicles. The decision between utilizing a full-service brokerage firm for tailored advice and opting for self-directed platforms like E*TRADE or Charles Schwab hinges on your unique needs for guidance versus autonomy.

Open communication

My philosophy centers on the power of open communication between a client and their CPA. Clear communication is paramount when planning for the immediate tax season, strategizing for business growth, or preparing for personal financial milestones.

As we navigate through April and the urgency of tax season comes to its peak and fades, we put that energy into being a catalyst for reviewing our financial health and making informed decisions.

If you need help ensuring your financial future is where it should be or want an expert to ensure your plan is solid, we would love to sit down with you and review the details.