Don’t Let Poor Tax Planning Derail Your Retirement

This is a letter of apology and explanation. Loudly proclaimed and often stated, I have boldly said I hate the Internal Revenue Service. The reality is I love our country and the benefits it provides including being able to make statements about the core funding structure. Taxes are a necessity for roads, fire fighters, schools and the military and to all involved in those actions required to function and serve you have my deepest admiration and appreciation.

So if I don’t “hate” the IRS why is it that I am so driven to fight taxation? I was quoted in the USA Today October 17th as saying “nothing will separate you from your retirement as quickly as the IRS.” I said it and I meant it and it is what I have witnessed to be true over the last 31 years of my career.  Truth be told,  it isn’t the IRS that really frustrates me. The true and core frustration is that people – the tax payers themselves – don’t understand how their taxes work.

My family moved my junior year of high school. In Muncie I attended a high school where a good number of students drove nicer cars than the teachers.  We moved to a farm community and I fell in love with farmers who seemed to be simple in needs and yet knew how to work. This was much more suited for my personality.

There were students who became friends – good friends – at that school and community. When I began to hear of the horror of what happened when fathers and grandfathers passed away I became not just frustrated but heart broken. Family farms were lost to the tax man not out of lack of hard work but rather a tax code that was clearly out of touch with how we should treat our neighbors. My lifetime objective or mission was set before me and off I went in search of a solution.

The pain and disgust I felt for farms being lost and families destroyed caused me to loudly state I hate the IRS. The reality is that I hate the fact families do not understand the impact on their retirement, charitable gifting, and many other facets of their lives as dictated by an ever changing tax code. To be fair, the conditions that caused those families to lose their farms was somewhat rectified in 1986 under the tax changes during the Reagan administration. The event was years ago but the scars persist and thus my drive to educate people about their taxes and investments.

My deepest apologies to those I might have offended by not properly stating the pain and assigning blame to the wrong area. It is neither the IRS nor the taxes that I despise. The monster in the closet is that we as taxpayers don’t understand the ramifications of taxation on the process we use and the decisions we make in many areas of our lives.  My passion is to help rectify that confusion.

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