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What You'll Learn In Today's Episode:

  • An action item for you to get your tax prep off on the right foot.
  • Why CPAs are (often) not responding to you.
  • Why adversarial relationships will do nothing for you.
  • Why making things easier for the CPA benefits you and your client.
  • The safest time to reach out to CPAs.
  • How to start building a great relationship with a CPA.
  • The importance of having the right expectations.
  • How to get referrals from CPAs.

In today’s episode, Matthew is joined by a special guest CPA to talk about tax planning mistake #5 and how you might be making your CPA’s life a living hell. Steven Jarvis is not only Matthew’s brother, but also an excellent tax preparer and the founder of Retirement Tax Services. Together, they discuss the issues that hide behind not getting responses from your CPA and how you can set up a better, more mutually-beneficial relationship with them.

Listen in as Steven shares key insight when it comes to working with CPAs, including tips on when to reach out, how to approach them, and important things to keep in mind when making requests. You will also learn a bit about the upcoming session on tax prep mistakes and why Matthew and Steven view it as such a crucial step to take this time of year.

Podcast Article:

How to Make CPAs Want to Help You 

Collaborating with a CPA you share clients with is an easy way to add value—if you make it worth the CPA’s time.

Any good financial advisor is always trying to make their clients’ lives easier. But what if you could reach beyond your own rockstar team and get help from other professionals, even when they have nothing to do with you or your office? In this article, Steven Jarvis of Retirement Tax Services offers his top three tips for collaborating with a CPA to offer even more value to your clients.

Action Items in This Article

  • Subscribe to the Retirement Tax Services podcast at retirementtaxservices.com for advice on applying the tax code to real clients, and download your free tax reference guide while you’re there.
  • For every CPA your clients work with, pick one or two small things you can do this year that will make their lives a little bit easier. (Think mailing blister packs of Advil around tax time.)
  • Register for the 7 Mistakes Advisors Make on Taxes webinar, cohosted by Steven Jarvis and Micah Shilanski (The Perfect RIA podcast) on April 27, 2022, for tax planning tips and strategies that will help you serve your clients better.

Why Should a Stranger Agree to Help You?

It may seem like any offer to make a mutual client’s life easier would always be welcome. After all, CPAs value their clients just as much as you do, right? But too often, even when financial advisors approach CPAs from a genuine place of collaboration, they make the mistake of not explaining how that collaboration is worth the CPA’s initial investment of time.

In fact, something that seems simple to you, such as having a client sign an information-sharing agreement giving you access to their tax information, could be a huge hassle for the CPA. It takes time to track down a client and turn around paperwork, and that’s time a busy CPA doesn’t always have to spare.

At the end of the day, if you’re not careful about how you approach a busy CPA, you’re likely to be met with a single question: “What’s in it for me?”

3 Power Tips to Make CPAs Love You

As president and founder of Retirement Tax Services—one of the best tax planning resources out there—Steven Jarvis has seen all the mistakes financial advisors make with CPAs. Here are his top three tips for setting yourself apart from the crowd and getting CPAs to help you deliver even more value to your clients. 

1. Pay Their Hourly Rate

When your mutual clients need something from their CPA, they pay an hourly rate for that time. Matthew suggests that whenever you reach out to a CPA, you should start by offering to do the same. Try saying something like this:

“I think we have a couple of clients in common. Can I pay for an hour of your time to learn the best way for us to share information back and forth so that you’re following the rules and we’re all happy? Is that something we could do?”

As a financial advisor used to a retainer model, offering to pay an hourly rate may feel strange—but remember that it’s perfectly normal for the CPA, whose world revolves around the hourly model. By offering to pay a CPA’s regular hourly rate, you’re demonstrating understanding and respect.

2. Set Good Client Expectations

You know you’re coming from a place of collaboration and a desire to make everyone’s lives easier, but if clients aren’t on the right page, you could end up confusing them about what you’re really doing and making the CPA’s job even harder. Further, if clients expect you to magically uncover tax savings for them every single year, your firm is heading straight for a compliance nightmare.

Here’s how Steven sets accurate expectations for his clients: “It’s not that I can guarantee you X amount of savings every single year. It’s that because of how often we do this and how many people we’ve been able to help, we know that by consistently taking this approach over time, we’re going to keep turning over these rocks. And eventually, we’re going to find something under one of them to make it worth everyone’s while.”

And make sure clients know they need to consult with their tax preparer about any questions they have or potential issues you uncover. As Steven notes, “We are a second set of eyes; we’re not guaranteeing that we’re going to find mistakes.” From both a legal and a customer service perspective, it’s important to manage those client expectations carefully.

3. Continue to Respect Their Time

Once you’re on a CPA’s radar, don’t just reach out whenever you want; a basic awareness of the ebb and flow of their calendar year will go a long way. “Most CPAs will build their practice so that they’re crazy busy during tax season,” Steven points out, so March probably isn’t the best time to ask a CPA for a favor. “For most CPAs, you should reach out in May, unless something’s really burning down and you can really articulate why this is time sensitive.” 

And even if you wait to reach out until after the tax rush, that doesn’t mean you get a free pass to waste their time. According to Steven, “They’re trying to take off as much time as they can the rest of the year. They don’t just suddenly, magically have all this time that they want to give to you.”

Once you’ve earned a CPA’s goodwill, continue to respect their time by making every single ask as simple as possible for them to agree to. If you need an information-sharing form signed, don’t leave it to the CPA to figure out the details—include a link right in your email that takes them exactly where they need to go to complete the task.

Collaborating with a CPA is one of the best ways to add value to your practice. Just remember that any time you ask a busy professional to spend time on your business, it’s up to you to show them you’re coming from a place of respect, collaboration, and desire to serve your mutual clients.

 

Read the Transcript Below:

This is The Perfect RIA, in case you didn’t know. Bringing you all the strategies to help your business grow. Are you happy? Are you satisfied? Are you hanging on the edge of your seat? Sit back and listen in while you feel the beat. Another myth bites the dust…

Matthew Jarvis:   Hello everyone. And welcome back to another episode of The Perfect RIA podcast. I am your co-host Matthew Jarvis. And with me today is not Micah Shilanski, but rather, Steven Jarvis, CPA. And yes, you did hear the same last name. Steven and I are, in fact, brothers. Steven is the president and founder of Retirement Tax Services, which I would without any bias say is the best tax planning resource available in the industry. Steven, how are you today?

Steven Jarvis:     I’m doing really great. I’m questioning how you can say that without any bias, but that’s okay. We’re here to talk about taxes, not our brotherly relationship.

Matthew Jarvis:   That’s right. That’s right. Well, right away, to make sure that we’re delivering massive value on this episode like in every episode, normally, we save action items for the end. I want to give you an action on them right now. As you’re listening, assuming you’re not driving in your car, or if you are in your car, you’re driving a Tesla, go to Retirement Tax Services and download the desktop tax guide. I have this on my desk currently. I have a copy on my conference room table. Steven’s got one he’s holding up if you’re watching the video, It’s my favorite tax tool there is. Steven, I know it’s one of the most popular ones that RTS has.

Steven Jarvis:     Oh, it definitely is. Our members love it. Our audience loves it. I get people sending these selfies of them with them, it’s on their desk. I love it. It’s such a handy guide because I’m the CPA on the call here, but you can’t commit all this stuff to memory. You want to have good resources. You don’t need to have it memorized.

Matthew Jarvis:   Yeah. Yeah. Two of my favorite takeaways from your tax guide, Steven, one, it’s got the tax information for when the Tax Cuts Jobs Act also known as the Trump Era Tax Cut, when those expire, what those rates were going to be. And then of course, on the backside, you’ve got the only one I’ve ever seen, which is the guide to state by state income tax. Now, you and I live in Washington where income taxes isn’t an issue. But for at least 43 states, it is an issue. So it’s a good resource to have.

Steven Jarvis:     Oh, yeah. Most definitely. We get lots of feedback on that back page map.

Matthew Jarvis:   Perfect. Well, today in this episode, we want to talk about tax mistake number five. Now, why is it number five? Well, it’s five of seven tax mistakes, Steven, that you and my co-host, Michael Shilanski, are going to be discussing on April 27th. Is that correct?

Steven Jarvis:     Yeah, that’s right. We’re really excited to be doing this session. Obviously, we get a lot of questions from advisors. We get to a lot of things with advisors and taxpayers, because not only do I work with advisors on how to deliver massive value to their clients through tax planning, I also work with taxpayers on a pretty regular basis, especially this time of year. And so we get to see firsthand mistakes that get made, and not just how they get made, but what to do about them.

And so Mike and I are teaming up on April 27th to share the top seven mistakes that we see advisors make and what you can do about it. So this is going to be a great session and we’ve put a lot of time into this. This isn’t just Mike and I getting together and shooting the breeze for an hour. We’ve put together resources that we’re actually going to give out to our audience members so that they have a one page guide that’s one of the ways they can address these different mistakes. So everyone who attends is going to get this great session. They’re going to get things they can take away and put right into practice.

Matthew Jarvis:   I love that. I’m really excited for it myself. Well today, we’re going to look at number five, which is that you’re making the CPA’s life a living hell. By the way, I picked that title, not Steven. He had something more polite like, You’re Having a Hard Time Getting Tax Returns From CPAs or something like that. But here’s what I often hear, Steven. And I’m sure you hear the same thing. I talked to advisors. They say, “Matt, I get that I need to be doing tax planning with clients, but I asked the client for their tax return. They never got around to sending it to me. I asked the CPA for their tax return and they never got around to send it to me either, so I gave up.”

Steven Jarvis:     Yeah. And you’re not getting returns from your clients and their CPAs for two different reasons. Your clients are probably really well intentioned and they just don’t get around to it. The CPA isn’t giving it to you because why should they? I mean, this episode’s getting released in April. I know this firsthand from talking to CPAs. A lot of advisors are waiting until the tax deadline. And then on that day or the day after, they’re saying, “Hey, go ahead and send me all of my clients’ tax returns.” And they leave out the part where there’s any value in it to the CPA. And the CPA’s like, “Yeah, I’m going to go to Mexico over the next two weeks. And then I’m going to ignore you when I get back.” Because the advisor hasn’t done anything to make this easy or impactful for the CPA.

Matthew Jarvis:   Yeah. And for the advisors listening, I want you to take a step back. It’s easy to say, “Well, that’s the CPA’s job. It’s their responsibility. The client told them to do it.” Maybe they did. Maybe they didn’t. But you calling and asking the CPA to give you in for information is not different than you calling and saying, “Hey, Steven, would you come over Saturday and wash my car?” Now, of course, you would never call Steven and ask him to come over on Saturday to wash your car.

But what you’ve instead done is say, “Hey, Steven, would you spend some of your time, some of your team time that you’re not going to get paid for, that you’re not going to get any direct benefit for, that you have to go get a form for, which we’ll talk about in a second, and just do all that because you’re a nice guy?” Now, some CPAs are just nice guys and they’re not managing their time well, and they say “Yes,” but most, Steven, to your point, are saying, “I got a lot to do. Pulling favors for some random advisor that called me that I have no relationship with is not on that list.”

Steven Jarvis:     Yeah. And to take it a step further, just to really get in touch with what’s going on in reality, it’s not even just that the CPA says, “Hey, I work with 1,000 taxpayers every year. I’m not going to take the time to pass those tax returns along.” Every CPA I know has had bad experiences with advisors making their life worse when it comes to them preparing the tax return to begin with, whether it’s not communicating strategies that have been put in place, or it’s getting forms to the CPA late, or it’s explaining to a client how a certain tax revision works. And then the CPA having to be the bearer of bad news. So the CPA is coming into this, most often, with a bad impression of what you did to begin with, and then they’re not looking to do you favors on top of that for no apparent reason.

Matthew Jarvis:   Steven, I talked to an advisor one time who had gotten the tax return from the CPA. The advisor believed that he had found a mistake on the tax return. So he emails the CPA and the client at the same time. Huge mistake. “Hey, there was this mistake.” The CPA comes back and says, “No, it wasn’t a mistake.” This exchange escalates until the advisor is threatening to send in a complaint to the AICPA on this CPA. And I looked at the thing and I’m like, “Dude, I’m pretty sure the CPA didn’t make a mistake here. But either way, you just need to never call this guy again. This guy now hates your guts. And it all started with him doing you a favor by sending this information.” The CPA has no legal or moral or other obligation to send you a copy of a tax return. In fact, Steven explained for us, they actually have a legal or ethical obligation to not send it to you.

Steven Jarvis:     Yeah. So the CPAs get to follow whole bunch of different regulations. The AICPA is the governing body for the profession. Of course, when we’re dealing with taxes, there’s a lot of IRS requirements. The IRS actually has very specific language around what a consent for a tax payer to authorize a CPA to give their tax return information to anyone looks like this. This isn’t just, “Hey, let me put together a couple of paragraphs that says we’re all going to play nice and share information.” This is very specific language, and it has to include the link to report harassing behavior and stuff like that to the right authorities. There’s very prescriptive language.

And so there’s nothing about this that is simple for the CPA, unless you take the time to make it simple for them, unless you’re setting them up for this to be crazy simple. So let’s talk about why you would do that for a second, because it kind of just sounds like we’re going back and forth on whether the CPA should do this, or the advisor should do this. But we got to keep in mind that, at the end of the day, you have to be coming at this from, “How do I add value to my client?” And part of how you’re going to make this easy for the CPA is by making it really clear that the client is the one who wins.

Matthew Jarvis:   Yeah. That’s a great point, Steven. If we come from an adversarial basis, we’re not going to have any progress here. And so I guess that probably the first step I would say in that process, again, you’re listening to this right in the thick of tax season. You are not going to reach out to the CPA. You’re going to hear this podcast and you get really excited to reach out to him. Don’t do that. Don’t do that. Don’t reach out to… Steven, when is actually a safe date, just as a general rule of thumb? So we’re in the middle of tax season, it’s the beginning of April right now. When would you say is probably a safe time to start reaching out to CPAs and taxpayers?

Steven Jarvis:     I’d say for most CPAs, you should reach out in May. This isn’t a couple of days or a week or two. Unless something’s really burning down and you can really articulate why this is time sensitive, I would recommend You wait until May.

Matthew Jarvis:   Yeah. Yep. I would agree. Now, something you could do right now, this depends on your relationship with your different tax repairers. I wouldn’t do this cold, but if it’s somebody you know, go onto Amazon or wherever you shop, and get one of those giant workplace boxes of single serving Advil so that they come in the little packets. And buy that and send it with cute little note and say, “Hey, I’ve heard that tax season can be a little difficult, enjoy your time,” or something like that. Like “Here’s to take a little pressure off during tax season. Hah-a.” And then send it to him.

Don’t do the knockoff, by the way. I’ve seen advisors, Steven. They get the knockoff version. Like, “Great. Is that the message you’re sending? The cheap, expired Russian stuff?” No. Send them the right stuff so it’s a cute little thing. But yeah, Steven, then in May, I would reach out to him. And personally, and Steven, push back on this. I would reach out and, “Hey Steven, I think we have a couple of clients in common. Can I pay for an hour of your time to learn the best way for us to share information back and forth so that you’re following the rules so that we’re all happy? Is that something we could do?”

Steven Jarvis:     Yeah. That’s a great way to start that conversation. Because even once you get outside of tax season, most CPAs will build their practice so that they’re crazy busy during tax season. And then they’re trying to take off as much time as they can the rest of the year. And so this isn’t just, they suddenly magically have all this time that they want to give to you. You still need to make sure it’s clear that you’re coming from a place of respect, that you’re coming from a place of collaboration, and how is this serving the clients? So this isn’t gratuitous lunches or the classic, “Hey, why don’t you come to the Chamber of Commerce meeting with me and we’ll exchange business cards?” There needs to be a clear purpose to it, and you need to be able to set yourself apart right out of the gate. And offering to pay for an hour of the CPA’s time is the best way I’ve seen to do that.

Matthew Jarvis:   Yeah. It’s important to remember, for us as financial advisors, we typically live in this AUM model, this retainer model, this type of thing. Most CPA’s worlds revolve around the hourly model. And so by going in saying, “I’m going to pay for an hour of your time,” for us, that might seem a little bit foreign. It shouldn’t. But for them, that’s just par for the course. That’s how they live, is this hourly model. So you’re understanding them, you’re respecting them. Now, depending on your relationship, they may or may not actually want the money, but that’s fine. You’ve gone above and beyond to do that.

Steven Jarvis:     Yeah. So let’s circle back for a second. We just dove straight in. And you talk about this a lot on your podcast, I talk about it a lot on mine, of why it’s so important to get tax returns all the time. But let’s talk for a second as to why we’re doing this and to communicate to the CPA. “Okay. Here’s why I’m reaching out to you, and why I’m willing to go out of my way to make this really easy for you to follow through on so that it’s clear to everyone that this is to help the client win.”

Matthew Jarvis:   Yeah. Yeah. That’s a great reminder, Steven. And of course, on the webinar on April 27th, Steven, you’re going to have a one page guide that you and Micah have used in your respective practices to communicate this with your CPA. So it’s not like you’ve got to run in there and just talk as fast as you can. You’ve got this piece that you can walk through. But Steven, a couple that I mention, is I say, “Hey, listen, the clients are always confused about how much they should have withheld when they’re taking their RMD or when they’re taking distributions.” Or “When a client calls me and they’re starting social security, they’re always confused how much they should withhold in taxes. So that we don’t have to bother you all year long with those questions, if we can just take a look at the tax return, that will solve a lot of those issues.”

Steven Jarvis:     Yeah. I love that. “So we don’t have to bother you all year long.” I like to reinforce that, “Hey, you know what? We work really proactively with our clients to plan ahead and to make sure that we’re sand off the rough edges of their tax bill where it makes sense, but we know that it only counts if it gets reported to the IRS correctly. And so we would love to be able to take a look at the tax returns so that as we look at next year, we know the kinds of things we need to pass long to you to make sure it’s easy for you come tax time.”

Matthew Jarvis:   That’s right. Another one I’ll use, Steven, is I’ll say, “Boy, Mr. CPA, we both know that sometimes clients forget to give you all the 1099s.” And I pause because the CPA is like, “Oh yeah, every time.” “Hey, if we can get a copy of the tax return, we can always look and make sure that they’ve given you all the 1099s that we’re aware of.” And this, by the way, is a go great time to introduce the RTS 1099 letter to say, “Hey, I know we sent this to you in January,” or “We’re a new relationship, we haven’t sent it to you before. Is there anything else you’d like to see on this to make sure that you are getting all the information to us? This is a two way street. I’m asking you for something, but I want to make sure I’m providing you everything I can as well.”

Steven Jarvis:     Yeah, all great things to help, again, show the CPA that you are going out of your way to try to help your clients, and that as part of that, you’re going to make their life easier. Because a big difference between a lot of financial planning practices and CPA practices, like we’ve mentioned, is that just the sheer volume of clients that you work with. And so just the way the models are set up, right, wrong, or otherwise, that’s just the way they’re set up, financial advisors tend to work with fewer households.

And so a lot of times, CPAs just aren’t thinking about, “Well, hey, what could I do for my 1,000 people I work with to make their lives a little bit easier?” But if you come to them with the ideas and with the tools to make this easy, so you’ve drafted a consent for them that you and they can send the client can sign. You’ve provided a secure link so that they can easily send you the documents, then they’re not thinking about, “Oh, well, how do I get this to you?” And follow all the data security policies. That you’re giving them timelines and ways to follow up. All these kinds of things so that all they have to think about is, “Is there signed consent? And, “Great, which client is it for?”

Matthew Jarvis:   Yes. And when you get to future iterations with the CPA, this again gives you a reason to meet with them. If you can get the relationship where you can say, “Hey, each year, if you could give me the information sharing agreement that you need, and I’ll get the clients to sign that, and I can give it back to you cause we’re going to already be meeting,” or to warn them ahead of time so that when they’re meeting with the client, they can have the client sign it at that time. Because again, not only are you asking them for this information that’s going to take them time, but they’re going to have to go back and get that form signed. So they’re thinking, “Great. I’ve got to pull this PDF. I’ve got to track down the client. I’ve got to get them to sign it.” It’s going to be three or four emails back and forth. Again, all they’re seeing is all this time burning up and they’re not really getting anything in return.

Steven Jarvis:     Yeah, it’s definitely not. It’s not an easy ask in every situation. What we’re outlining are ways to make it more likely to be successful. But I mean, full disclosure, you’re probably not getting to a 100% where every CPA that your clients work with are providing this every single time. In fact, I mean that was one of the motivations for creating a firm like Retirement Tax Services that works exclusively with financial advisors, is to make some of those things so much easier. So when I work with advisors, as we get done with a tax return, we just have a portal we can upload it right to. We’ve taken care of the consent early in the process. So that’s certainly unique in the industry, but just because we can’t get to 100% doesn’t mean we shouldn’t push for more.

Matthew Jarvis:   Mm-hmm (affirmative). Steven, I guess I would add on that. So Retirement Tax Services is definitely at the far extreme of sharing information with advisors that you work with. You’re getting the 8821 signed by the clients. You’re getting information sharing agreement. You’re talking with the advisors throughout the process, but you’ve built your whole model around that. On the opposite end of the extreme, no matter how well you approach this, there will still be CPAs. And by the way, we’re using that as a blanket term, tax repairers. H&R Block is not going to do this for you no matter what.

If you call H&R block and say, “Will you send me a copy of their client’s tax return?” No matter how many nice things you do, they’ll never going to send that. So don’t be shocked or even upset when you talk to tax repairer and they’re like, “I’m just not going to do this. It’s not my jam. I’m not going to do this.” And when that happens, you got to say, “Okay, great. Well, thank you so much. If there’s anything we can do for you, that’s great.” And now, you’re back to working with a client saying, “Hey, we just got to work with you directly. It really doesn’t work out for your tax repairer to send it over to us.”

Steven Jarvis:     Yeah. It’s great to have those clear expectations going into this. So in part, so you don’t get frustrated and just quit after the first person says, “No, I’m not going to do that.” Every now and then, of course, somebody has to be an exception to the rule. We recently had an RTS member who took this approach of, “Hey, can I offer for an hour of your time?” And the very next day after having met with the CPA, got a referral from the CPA. And we said, “Hey, that’s great, but don’t tell anyone else, because now they’re going to think that’s what’s supposed to happen every time.”

Matthew Jarvis:   Yeah, that’s pretty rare. Actually, I remember hearing that story. It probably took me about two years of meeting with CPAs to actually start getting referrals. And then once I did, I get a very steady stream even to this day. But yeah, congratulations to that advisor. And of course, had he not followed that process, he would have exactly zero. So well done to him.

Steven Jarvis:     Well, and I mean, if you hadn’t followed that process, yeah. It took you a bit longer, but you would also have zero. It can be daunting when we talk about, “Hey, this could take a while. You’re not going to get to 100%. You might be two years in before you get a referral or you get any sort of positive reaction from this,” but that’s still two years farther ahead than you’ll be if you wait five years to put it in place, or whatever math you want to use. I mean, you’ve got to get started. You’ve got to start working these processes.

Matthew Jarvis:   Steven, let’s take this one step further. So you’ve talked to the CPA or you find out that the client works with H&R block who’s never going to share information with you. So you exhaust that channel of you’re going to get it from the tax repair. That’s the ideal world is you get it from them, you’ve exhausted that channel. You’re not going to get it from them. Where are advisors seeing success and actually having clients provide that tax return? Because we hear from advisors all the time, “I’ve asked my clients, they’ve not sent it back to me. I asked them three times. They said no three times,” or “They never got around to it.” Where are you seeing advisors have success with that?

Steven Jarvis:     Yeah. The two things that come to mind are, just like with working with the CPA, you’ve got to make this just so easy for the client that it’s almost an afterthought. And the other piece that might seem only somewhat related, because it’s not to do with processes, but you can’t make this optional for the client. The advisors who have the best success with this with clients or prospects is they explain this as a required part of their process, that it’s not a negotiable piece. It’s not, “Hey, if it would be convenient for you.”

And those are the same advisors who have made this just stupid simple, that whether it’s a secure link or that they’re mailing out a prepaid FedEx envelope, they make it easy for them to send in a hard copy. Whatever’s most convenient for the client, they’re putting on the agenda for their client meetings, what ever that system or those multiple systems for getting the documents, it’s the combination of it’s really easy for the client and the advisor’s taking the time to make it clear where the value comes from and that this is not optional for me to do my best work.

Matthew Jarvis:   Yeah. Two things that I’ve found, Steven, that help with this in my own practice, we have a very high success rate with getting clients to provide their tax returns. One is to compare it to something clients are already used to. So I work primarily with retirees. They’re all going to the doctor on a regular basis. I’ll say, “Mr. and Mrs. Kline, you know how every time you go to the doctor, no matter what it’s for, they take your blood pressure and your pulse? Yep. Same thing for us. The tax return is, in a lot of ways, like your blood pressure and it tells us if there’s other problems going on. So we may not have see anything directly there and your CPA might be also looking at it. And I know that when you went to the doctor yesterday they took your blood pressure and your pulse. This is part of our process.”

So it makes this connection for them on that. The other is I point out things that we’ve caught. So we just, this year, Steven, actually three weeks ago, a client brought in their tax return and they had self prepared. There’s an issue there, but they had made an $800,000 mistake. $800,000 mistake. They had just retired and they had reported a rollover incorrectly in the TurboTax software. And so I can go to all my clients now and say, “Hey, listen. Here’s why we do it. Because this year, we caught an $800,000 tax mistake.” Now, for advisors listening, you might have never experienced that yet, and you will in your career, but you can simply say, “Hey, an advisor that I know, Matthew Jarvis,” you don’t have to name me, “an advisor that I know caught an $800,000 mistake in his client’s tax return. This is why we look.” So back to this whole thing, why is it valuable to client? Why do they want to take time out of their day, out of their life to do this hassle? Here’s why.

Steven Jarvis:     Yeah, that’s a great example to use because when we ask for those tax returns, we want to set clear expectations. And we want to make sure the expectation from the client is not, “Oh, my advisor’s getting my return because they’re going to find me tax savings every single year.” Using examples like that of checking the blood pressure or the poll, or sharing stories of times that things have gone wrong or that you have been able to proactively help a client. I’ll get the question all the time, because we do tax preparation and tax planning together. And so for some clients, the fee we charge is higher than what they were paying H&R block, or even their last CPA.

And they’ll say, “Well, why am I paying you for this extra stuff? What is this?” And so we talk about it’s not that I have something proprietary that no one’s ever heard of, that you have to pay to pull back the curtain. And it’s not that I can guarantee you X amount of savings every single year. It’s that because of how often we do this and how many people we’ve been able to help, we know that by consistently taking this approach over time, we’re going to keep turning over these rocks. And eventually, there’s going to be something under one of them to make it worth everyone’s while.

Matthew Jarvis:   Yep. I love that. I want to do a quick note on compliance. I know another one of the mistakes you’re going to be covering is compliance and things related to compliance. You need to make sure, as a financial advisor, whether you’re with a broker dealer and they have strict compliance or you’re on your own, that you are not creating this false sense of security around tax planning.

So I mentioned we found this $800,000 mistake, but whenever we’re talking to clients about taxes, we’re reminding them, and this mistake is that, like, “You need to go back to your tax payer and talk to them about this.” We are a second set of eyes. We’re not guaranteeing that we’re going to find mistakes. So we need to manage those expectations just in general, but also from a legal standpoint. This client that we found a $800,000 mistake, our first advice to them was, “You need to hire a CPA and get this straightened out. This is clearly not accurate, but I’m not totally sure how you got here, and I’m not going to log into TurboTax with you and try to figure out what button you pushed wrong.” Because that’s just a mine field.

Steven Jarvis:     Yeah. For a lot of people listening to this podcast or those who listen to my podcast who are probably on the higher end of doing tax planning anyways, but I like to just point out for people, because of the sheer volume of advisors I work with and in lots of different places, that this idea that tax planning is a differentiator just because maybe you’re in an independent space and you think, “Oh, all those people at the places, they can’t do any of this,” that’s just not true anymore. At Retirement Tax Services, we work with advisors at the Ed Joneses, of the world at the Ameriprises of the world. And those big shops are coming around to allowing tax planning, and then sometimes even encouraging it.

The 1099 letter you mentioned earlier, we have an advisor who’s with Edward Jones, who got their compliance department to approve it. He made some tweaks to it. He made it customized for what they wanted, but we’ve got to look at compliance on our team to help to protect us, as you’re talking about. But especially for advisors in what we maybe more traditionally think of is the more independent, maybe with the more options, as far as what compliance is going to approve, you can’t just ride on that as, “Oh, well, that’s going to magically make me different.” The landscape is changing on that. You need to really lean in and have a proactive, intentional approach to this stuff.

Matthew Jarvis:   Yeah. Boy, that segues nicely into another one of mistakes I know you and Mike are going to talk about, which is where you get in your tax advice? If you are thinking that you can get a 1099 and magically know… Or excuse me, 1040, magically know what to do with it, or that you can Google, “How does this client pay less in taxes?” That just doesn’t exist. In fact, it’s another mine field where you’re going to find a lot of wrong information. You could really dig yourself into a deep hole.

Steven Jarvis:     Yeah. Google might have all the answers, but the problem is Google has about 17 million copies of all the answers and trying to find the one that’s actually right for Bob and Sue, I mean, good luck.

Matthew Jarvis:   Yeah. That’s awesome. Well, I think, Steven, we’ve outlined, in a really fast paced, on a high level, this process. I know on April 27th you are going to go to deeper with Mike. And of course, Mike has had great success in his very successful practice on working with CPAs on getting tax returns from clients. Tax planning is a big component of his practice. So that’s going to be a lot of fun, but let’s jump into some action items. What are things that advisors can be implementing right now, even in the middle of tax season, as they’re listening to this episode?

Steven Jarvis:     Yeah. So as this episode can out near the beginning of April, this is when you should be making your plan for how you’re going to be interacting with CPAs, with tax repairers for the rest of the year. So we’ve thrown out a whole bunch of things today, just pick one or two, pick one or two things you’re going to do this year for every CPA that your clients work with to make their life easier. Whether that’s sending out the big bottle of Advil before the deadline, sharing examples of the 1099 letter, offering to pay for an hour of their time so that you can learn from them, there’s all these things you can do, but commit to at least one or two of these things you can do to make CPAs’ life easier this year.

Matthew Jarvis:   I love that. Action item number two, if you’re listening to this podcast, it’s because you love podcasts, or you at least love hearing advice from system that work. And the Retirement Tax Service podcast, Steven’s podcast, is the same theme. Steven is working with real clients and real advisors day in and day out. So what he’s talking about is not theory. It’s not something he read about in the tax code. This is, how do you apply the tax code to real clients? Retirement Tax Services, you can pull it up in your iPhone or wherever you listen to podcasts. Be sure to, when you listen to it, and your mind is as blown as mine is, give it five stars because that really helps the podcast grow.

Steven Jarvis:     Well. And I love five star reviews from people who aren’t related to me. Those are my favorite kind.

Matthew Jarvis:   That’s right. That’s right.

Steven Jarvis:     So another action item, Matt, you already mentioned it earlier, but just we had so much great feedback on it. I just want to really highlight it. Go out to retirementtaxservices.com and download our reference guide. We make it available to anyone who will give us their email address. And with that email address, we’re just going to send you more tax information so you’re going to win twice. So make sure you go get your copy laminated, put it on your desk, send me a selfie.

Matthew Jarvis:   That’s a special kind of spam. Like, “We’re going to fill your inbox up with great tax knowledge.” You got to be a special kind of person to like that. There’s just this narrow slice. It would almost seem like a prank if you’re not in the industry. Like, “We’re going to sign you up for a tax newsletter.” But for us, it’s great. Last action item, on April 27th, Steven and Micah are doing the Seven Mistakes that Advisors Make on Taxes webinar. This is an incredibly valuable webinar.

It is free, of course, to Retirement Tax Services members. There is a discount for members of The Perfect RIA, but for the general public, it’s $97 to attend. I will offer you my personal guarantee. If you attend this webinar and you don’t get 10X your value, call me personally and I will refund your $97 to attend. I am that confident that this is going to be a session that will not just blow your mind, but will set you up for success for the rest of the year. Now, because Steve is my brother, I’m going to hunt him down for the $97 if he didn’t do a good job. So I know he is going to do a good job.

Steven Jarvis:     Perfect. I love the added pressure.

Matthew Jarvis:   That’s right. That’s right. Well, thank you all so much for listening. Steven, thank you for being here. Really excited to see you again on the 27th. And until next time, happy planning.

Steven Jarvis:     Happy tax planning.

Hold on before we go. Something that you need to know. This isn’t tax, legal, or investment advice. That isn’t our intent. Information designed to change lives. Financial planning can make you thrive. Start today. Don’t think twice. Be a better husband, father, mother, and wife. The Perfect RIA. The Perfect RIA.

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