We use the term “Tax Planning” often, but we are aware that many people are not sure what it really is. Some people think “That means offshore accounts and citizenship shell games ending with jail time. No thank you!”. That is not tax planning, that’s tax evasion, and it’s not at all what we recommend. Others think only the wealthy need a tax planner, and for regular folks, it can mean paying a 30-year mortgage off 12 years early or having a college fund with actually enough in it to pay for college. It’s not for the wealthy, though. Tax planning can be a useful tool for anyone who is aware of the opportunities. Our tax code is complex and much like the game of chess, in that there is not one possible outcome, there are many. Your opponent is not the IRS, however. It is yourself. Like many games on your cell phone, you are playing against an imaginary opponent. Lack of desire to learn, fear of the IRS, and many other factors contribute to you not achieving as high a score as you could with a little more effort. Most tax planning steps are simple things, such as a pensioned senior in the 12% marginal bracket who, after seeing a tax planner, moves $30k from his CD to a tax-free municipal bond and now only pays 10%. It’s rarely complex, but like anything, you need a coach that knows all the rules.
Go seek out a tax planner and get better at your real-world chess game. It’s your money until you make the wrong move and give too much of it to Uncle Sam.