Leaving My CPA

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oembogle
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Joined: Wed Apr 03, 2019 12:33 pm

Leaving My CPA

Post by oembogle » Mon May 13, 2019 7:49 am

Hi
I have had same CPA for last 20 years (My Brother) .
He does my year end returns but does not offer any tax advice, tax loss harvesting , tax strategies.
I asked him about NUA and he shrugged his shoulders.
I provide him all my receipts and for $600 he files my taxes.
I am of the mind to leave him and do my taxes with TurboTax .
He is using a software program call LaCerte and is not that tech savvy .
My Situation :
Married, 62, working , about 2 M in IRA/401K and about 2M in non qualified MFs/Stock , no pension , 2 Rental Properties (Clear),
No Trusts, No Seps,
My questions :
1 Can the LaCerte Software export my files so I can import into Turbo Tax or Quicken ? I have asked him and he does not know.
2 What information does he have that I will need to take with me ie Cost Basis of Rentals,,etc
3 What is the best way to prepare to leave him ?

Thanks ahead of time.

cashheavy18
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Joined: Fri Jun 15, 2018 3:19 pm

Re: Leaving My CPA

Post by cashheavy18 » Mon May 13, 2019 7:58 am

I don't have answers to all of your questions, but do know that Lacerte and TurboTax are both owned by Intuit, but run on different tax engine platforms.

Good luck!

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RickBoglehead
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Re: Leaving My CPA

Post by RickBoglehead » Mon May 13, 2019 8:02 am

A quick Google search shows that you cannot import the data to TurboTax. Quicken would be a non-issue, you don't import tax return data into Quicken.

You could easily acquire TT 2018 and put in all your info, seeking to match what he filed for you in 2018. If you get close or match it, , then you've got a handle on it.
Avid user of forums on variety of interests-financial, home brewing, F-150, PHEV, home repair, etc. Enjoy learning & passing on knowledge. It's PRINCIPAL, not PRINCIPLE. I ADVISE you to seek ADVICE.

bsteiner
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Re: Leaving My CPA

Post by bsteiner » Mon May 13, 2019 8:16 am

oembogle wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 7:49 am

I have had same CPA for last 20 years (My Brother) .
He does my year end returns but does not offer any tax advice, tax loss harvesting , tax strategies.
I asked him about NUA and he shrugged his shoulders.
I provide him all my receipts and for $600 he files my taxes.
...
An accountant who can offer tax advice, tax loss harvesting and tax strategies, and who is familiar with NUA, would probably charge substantially more than $600 (at least if he weren't your brother).

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gasdoc
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Re: Leaving My CPA

Post by gasdoc » Mon May 13, 2019 8:38 am

I can't believe you were willing to share your confidential tax info with your brother-in-law for 20 years! I wouldn't have been able to do it.

gasdoc

Grt2bOutdoors
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Re: Leaving My CPA

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Mon May 13, 2019 9:04 am

gasdoc wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 8:38 am
I can't believe you were willing to share your confidential tax info with your brother-in-law for 20 years! I wouldn't have been able to do it.

gasdoc
It’s his brother! Not the in-law.
"One should invest based on their need, ability and willingness to take risk - Larry Swedroe" Asking Portfolio Questions

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dodecahedron
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Re: Leaving My CPA

Post by dodecahedron » Mon May 13, 2019 9:16 am

RickBoglehead wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 8:02 am
A quick Google search shows that you cannot import the data to TurboTax. Quicken would be a non-issue, you don't import tax return data into Quicken.

You could easily acquire TT 2018 and put in all your info, seeking to match what he filed for you in 2018. If you get close or match it, , then you've got a handle on it.
Arguably, if you don´t get close, you should consider amending your 2018 return. There may be something your brother overlooked.

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FrugalInvestor
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Re: Leaving My CPA

Post by FrugalInvestor » Mon May 13, 2019 9:55 am

RickBoglehead wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 8:02 am
You could easily acquire TT 2018 and put in all your info, seeking to match what he filed for you in 2018. If you get close or match it, then you've got a handle on it.
After retiring and my preparer jacking up their price this is exactly what I did. I input all my information into TurboTax in parallel with the preparer and came came out to the penny.

In my case I was required to fill out a worksheet which provided the data for the preparer's tax software anyway. This made the process even more understandable for me. I figured if I was already doing most of the work I may as save a few bucks and just do it myself.

But in my case the preparation savings were just the tip of the iceberg. The largest financial benefit by far was that I became more aware of how the tax laws work which along with knowledge gained here and actions I've taken as a result (i.e. tax loss harvesting, Roth conversions, HSAs, etc.) have saved me a bundle in taxes over the last 10+ years.

Ignorance was bliss but knowledge has been much more valuable.
IGNORE the noise! | Our life is frittered away by detail... simplify, simplify. - Henry David Thoreau

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Stinky
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Re: Leaving My CPA

Post by Stinky » Mon May 13, 2019 10:02 am

Agree fully with Frugal Investor post. Well said.

OP will be well served to develop a basic knowledge of his tax situation. Once he has that, he can decide whether to employ other professionals to help him out.
It's a GREAT day to be alive - Travis Tritt

Greenman72
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Re: Leaving My CPA

Post by Greenman72 » Mon May 13, 2019 10:14 am

oembogle wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 7:49 am
Hi
I have had same CPA for last 20 years (My Brother) .
He does my year end returns but does not offer any tax advice, tax loss harvesting , tax strategies.
I asked him about NUA and he shrugged his shoulders.
I provide him all my receipts and for $600 he files my taxes.
I am of the mind to leave him and do my taxes with TurboTax .
He is using a software program call LaCerte and is not that tech savvy .
My Situation :
Married, 62, working , about 2 M in IRA/401K and about 2M in non qualified MFs/Stock , no pension , 2 Rental Properties (Clear),
No Trusts, No Seps,
My questions :
1 Can the LaCerte Software export my files so I can import into Turbo Tax or Quicken ? I have asked him and he does not know.
2 What information does he have that I will need to take with me ie Cost Basis of Rentals,,etc
3 What is the best way to prepare to leave him ?

Thanks ahead of time.
My answers for you:
1. Doubtful. Lacerte is a professional program and probably will not interface with programs with less functionality, even though they're both owned by Intuit.
2. A lot, but you should have all of it on your return. The most important thing people need is their depreciation schedules.
3. If it weren't your brother, I'd say just send him a letter and ask for all of your documents back. Since it's your brother....maybe just tell him that your wife is no longer comfortable with a family member having so much involvement in family business. I don't know.

My comments (which you did not ask for):
Very few CPA's offer tax advice or tax strategies. Most of them focus on tax compliance. Rarely do they ever give any advice other than on current tax deductions. (They may offer once-in-a-lifetime advice on entity structuring, but that's about it.)
Most CPA's aren't aware of NUA because most clients aren't. And most clients go straight to the financial advisor and do a rollover anyway before it ever gets to the CPA.
Instead of giving him receipts, why don't you add them up and itemize them?
Good luck DIY'ing. You'll probably realize that there's a lot more to it than you think.
Lacerte is Intuit's top-of-the-line program, but once it's set up, there's not a lot of IT-heavy maintenance. But it's not something that a non-professional should use.

MrBobcat
Posts: 66
Joined: Fri Jan 11, 2019 5:19 pm

Re: Leaving My CPA

Post by MrBobcat » Mon May 13, 2019 10:22 am

oembogle wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 7:49 am
Hi
I have had same CPA for last 20 years (My Brother) .
He does my year end returns but does not offer any tax advice, tax loss harvesting , tax strategies.
I asked him about NUA and he shrugged his shoulders.
I provide him all my receipts and for $600 he files my taxes.
I am of the mind to leave him and do my taxes with TurboTax .
He is using a software program call LaCerte and is not that tech savvy .
My Situation :
Married, 62, working , about 2 M in IRA/401K and about 2M in non qualified MFs/Stock , no pension , 2 Rental Properties (Clear),
No Trusts, No Seps,
My questions :
1 Can the LaCerte Software export my files so I can import into Turbo Tax or Quicken ? I have asked him and he does not know.
2 What information does he have that I will need to take with me ie Cost Basis of Rentals,,etc
3 What is the best way to prepare to leave him ?

Thanks ahead of time.
1. No

2. You will need to get the detailed Federal Depreciation Schedule and Alternative Minimum Tax Depreciation Schedules. Some CPAs include these with the client copies of the return and others do not. Your brother can print them out for you if you don't have them. You will absolutely need these if you have rentals.

3. IDK, just tell him. Straight forward and why always works for me.

Regarding the advice sans the NUA, have you asked him about strategies?
Last edited by MrBobcat on Mon May 13, 2019 10:27 am, edited 1 time in total.

Greenman72
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Re: Leaving My CPA

Post by Greenman72 » Mon May 13, 2019 10:27 am

I should add this--I'm a CPA. I work with a lot of CPA's. And rarely do I ever see CPA's giving advice. It's just not in their DNA. They record history and put it on a government-prescribed form.

To the extent that you CAN get a CPA to give advice, it will be limited to 1.) this year, and 2.) what's on the tax return. Outside of that, they pretty much punt it to another professional. (The lone exception to this is entity structuring. They'll give long-range strategic advice on that. But again, that's based almost purely on how to avoid self-employment taxes, and disregarding all the other headaches that the entity structure deals out.)

I really don't know why CPA's refuse to give advice. They have a wealth of it. IMHO, we are the most technically proficient of the "professional advisors" that most people have. Yet we refuse to embrace it (or bill for it).

MrBobcat
Posts: 66
Joined: Fri Jan 11, 2019 5:19 pm

Re: Leaving My CPA

Post by MrBobcat » Mon May 13, 2019 10:33 am

Greenman72 wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 10:27 am
I should add this--I'm a CPA. I work with a lot of CPA's. And rarely do I ever see CPA's giving advice. It's just not in their DNA. They record history and put it on a government-prescribed form.

To the extent that you CAN get a CPA to give advice, it will be limited to 1.) this year, and 2.) what's on the tax return. Outside of that, they pretty much punt it to another professional. (The lone exception to this is entity structuring. They'll give long-range strategic advice on that. But again, that's based almost purely on how to avoid self-employment taxes, and disregarding all the other headaches that the entity structure deals out.)

I really don't know why CPA's refuse to give advice. They have a wealth of it. IMHO, we are the most technically proficient of the "professional advisors" that most people have. Yet we refuse to embrace it (or bill for it).
It comes down to clients and cpas talking to each other. CPAs need to get better at asking open ended questions about what services a client is looking for. The default is just tax compliance. That being said many are looking for advice as well as compliance and if one doesn't ask (either party) one is left guessing and sometimes unsolicited "advice" isn't always appreciated.

michaeljc70
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Re: Leaving My CPA

Post by michaeljc70 » Mon May 13, 2019 12:12 pm

Well, if you need that advice, you aren't going to get it dumping him and doing it yourself (unless you already know that stuff and then why complain he isn't telling you what you already know?). Do you want to spend the time to do the taxes? You have 2 rental properties, so $600 for a CPA to do them is reasonable IMO. Frankly, especially given it is your brother, I would leave it alone. If doing your own taxes is something you have been wanting to do, then fine. FWIW, I worked in public accounting decades ago and do a few family members returns every year (for free). I give them advice and it is rarely taken.

Tlmlb
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Re: Leaving My CPA

Post by Tlmlb » Mon May 13, 2019 3:03 pm

I was a practitioner for 30+ years and always tried to strive to educate my clients as to their particular situation and make them a partner in the process. I may see them only once a year despite encouraging them to call (I didn't charge for phone calls unless there was significant analysis required) when they had questions. Dealing with a relative at a discount, you have not been making that investment in your education.

Additionally, the interpersonal relationship may make communication difficult. For example, family inheritance questions....it is better to deal with an outside tax professional. I was never shy about probing and asking questions to get the most accurate picture of what was going on financially. Some of the questions became quite personal and seemingly unrelated for a lay person, ie. what is your health history re social security / insurance questions. These might be hard to ask if one is a family member.

I think that you need to seek a professional that will partner with you rather than a data entry historian. Or go it alone without knowing the intricacies of taxes.

just my two cents.

123
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Re: Leaving My CPA

Post by 123 » Mon May 13, 2019 3:14 pm

oembogle wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 7:49 am
...3 What is the best way to prepare to leave him ?...
As others have said get a copy of TurboTax 2018 and try it out with your 2018 tax data. It's possible all the depreciation numbers etc are already in the copies of the tax returns he gives you, lots of tax programs, including TurboTax, have printout options that produce a large volume of printouts. Many tax preperers will give you a big printout so it looks like they did more work.

Next year do your own taxes early. If he asks for your tax paperwork to do your taxes just say they've already been done.

It's possible he's more ready than you are to leave the tax preparation relationship between you behind.
The closest helping hand is at the end of your own arm.

JBTX
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Re: Leaving My CPA

Post by JBTX » Mon May 13, 2019 4:17 pm

Greenman72 wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 10:27 am
I should add this--I'm a CPA. I work with a lot of CPA's. And rarely do I ever see CPA's giving advice. It's just not in their DNA. They record history and put it on a government-prescribed form.

To the extent that you CAN get a CPA to give advice, it will be limited to 1.) this year, and 2.) what's on the tax return. Outside of that, they pretty much punt it to another professional. (The lone exception to this is entity structuring. They'll give long-range strategic advice on that. But again, that's based almost purely on how to avoid self-employment taxes, and disregarding all the other headaches that the entity structure deals out.)

I really don't know why CPA's refuse to give advice. They have a wealth of it. IMHO, we are the most technically proficient of the "professional advisors" that most people have. Yet we refuse to embrace it (or bill for it).
As to your last paragraph I am a CPA but don't practice. My guess would be due to various regulatory and ethics training you become very risk averse and avoid risk by "staying in your lane""

Dottie57
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Re: Leaving My CPA

Post by Dottie57 » Mon May 13, 2019 4:21 pm

RickBoglehead wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 8:02 am
A quick Google search shows that you cannot import the data to TurboTax. Quicken would be a non-issue, you don't import tax return data into Quicken.

You could easily acquire TT 2018 and put in all your info, seeking to match what he filed for you in 2018. If you get close or match it, , then you've got a handle on it.
Great idea.

AerialWombat
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Re: Leaving My CPA

Post by AerialWombat » Mon May 13, 2019 4:27 pm

Greenman72 wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 10:27 am
I should add this--I'm a CPA. I work with a lot of CPA's. And rarely do I ever see CPA's giving advice. It's just not in their DNA. They record history and put it on a government-prescribed form.

To the extent that you CAN get a CPA to give advice, it will be limited to 1.) this year, and 2.) what's on the tax return. Outside of that, they pretty much punt it to another professional. (The lone exception to this is entity structuring. They'll give long-range strategic advice on that. But again, that's based almost purely on how to avoid self-employment taxes, and disregarding all the other headaches that the entity structure deals out.)

I really don't know why CPA's refuse to give advice. They have a wealth of it. IMHO, we are the most technically proficient of the "professional advisors" that most people have. Yet we refuse to embrace it (or bill for it).
You are correct -- most of our colleagues don't do anything other than record history and prescribe. The percentage that are even interested in doing anything else is quite small. I've built my entire consulting and CPE business around offering programs that expand a CPA's wheelhouse.

To the OP: They are few and far between, but I'd encourage you to actively search for a new tax advisor that will actually advise. Obtain referrals from trusted sources. Consider a CPA, attorney, or EA that explicitly specializes in working with real estate investors (very common topic of discussion on Bigger Pockets, worth searching). Potentially also consider one that touts their tax planning and/or financial planning. Their are a few that are a CFP, PFS, registered investment adviser (RIA), etc. Plenty of due diligence to be done, but these specialists do exist.
“Life doesn’t come with a warranty.” -Michael LeBoeuf

JBTX
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Re: Leaving My CPA

Post by JBTX » Mon May 13, 2019 4:42 pm

Greenman72 wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 10:27 am
I should add this--I'm a CPA. I work with a lot of CPA's. And rarely do I ever see CPA's giving advice. It's just not in their DNA. They record history and put it on a government-prescribed form.

To the extent that you CAN get a CPA to give advice, it will be limited to 1.) this year, and 2.) what's on the tax return. Outside of that, they pretty much punt it to another professional. (The lone exception to this is entity structuring. They'll give long-range strategic advice on that. But again, that's based almost purely on how to avoid self-employment taxes, and disregarding all the other headaches that the entity structure deals out.)

I really don't know why CPA's refuse to give advice. They have a wealth of it. IMHO, we are the most technically proficient of the "professional advisors" that most people have. Yet we refuse to embrace it (or bill for it).
As to your last paragraph I am a CPA but don't practice. My guess would be due to various regulatory and ethics training you become very risk averse and avoid risk by "staying in your lane""

Stormbringer
Posts: 780
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Re: Leaving My CPA

Post by Stormbringer » Mon May 13, 2019 5:06 pm

I'm on my 3rd CPA in 25 years and in my experience most of them don't know half of what is commonly discussed on this forum. I find that I have to explain backdoor Roth's almost every year. My current CPA asked how I manage to put so much into my 401k every year (a solo 401k). Every year I comb through my returns and find several errors. This year her first attempt at my taxes gave me a $2,000 refund. When I was done going through it, it was a $31,000 refund (she missed a QBI deduction). This year was especially bad because of the new tax code.

On several occasions involving complex real estate deals, I've asked two CPAs the same questions and gotten very different answers.

All I can say it that nobody is ever going to care about your money as much as you do, so educate yourself.
"Compound interest is the most powerful force in the universe." - Albert Einstein

fullplay2024
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Re: Leaving My CPA

Post by fullplay2024 » Wed May 15, 2019 11:40 am

Stormbringer wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 5:06 pm
I'm on my 3rd CPA in 25 years and in my experience most of them don't know half of what is commonly discussed on this forum. I find that I have to explain backdoor Roth's almost every year. My current CPA asked how I manage to put so much into my 401k every year (a solo 401k). Every year I comb through my returns and find several errors. This year her first attempt at my taxes gave me a $2,000 refund. When I was done going through it, it was a $31,000 refund (she missed a QBI deduction). This year was especially bad because of the new tax code.

On several occasions involving complex real estate deals, I've asked two CPAs the same questions and gotten very different answers.

All I can say it that nobody is ever going to care about your money as much as you do, so educate yourself.
+1

This has been my experience dealing with CPAs. The onus is always on you to do strategic tax planning. Most CPAs are only good at going through a check list and completing tax returns.

Topic Author
oembogle
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Re: Leaving My CPA

Post by oembogle » Thu May 16, 2019 12:57 pm

All
Thanks for your replies as they have given me a ton to think about .
I did schedule a talk with Turbotax and discussed some of the items your replies suggested.
The TurboTax Person indicated that it was possible to export a LaCerte Tax Return in PDF format .
The Lacerte PDF export could then be imported into Turbotax . She recommended exporting my 2018 LaCerte Return and importing into 2019 Turbox Tax when it was available. I believe she said Depreciation schedules/tables would be encompassed.
In the meantime i will do what you recommended, use my 2018 Return to populate 2018 Turbotax to approximate the results my CPA achieved.

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