Friday, April 04, 2008
TALES FROM THE TAX TRENCHES, PART ONE
I’m glad I’m anonymous here. It lets me write a lot more truth than if I was public. And that’s a good thing for me as one of my hats is tax accountant and sometimes I need to vent or enlighten or tell secrets. Secrets cannot be withheld from your tax accountant. She knows everything, some of it amusing, some of it very sad, some of it heart warming and some of it downright bad. Trust me. And what I write here is in no way a judgement, it is merely about the foibles of human nature which are of endless fascination to me.
Like, did you know?
· The poorest of my clients give the most to charity.
· Some of my really, really wealthy clients don’t give a dime or consider themselves heroes for throwing a C-bill at the Breast Cancer Campaign (and don’t get me started on that particular ‘charity’!).
· The most intelligent fall for the get rich quick schemes, i.e. The Donald and his come hithers to get you rich quick on real estate schemes, or buying Costa Rica rentals. None of them work. Trust me. Only The Donald and his ilk get rich off you, you poor sucker.
· One client, a financial planner, spends $15,000 a year on underwear. She is not a looker even by a huge stretch of the imagination. Every year, she asks me to write the expense off. I say to her, she’d have to be a model, hooker, lap-dancer or stage artist and declaring her earnings as such to get to write it off. She thinks I’m being too conservative.
· Some go through a fortune of inheritances from hard-scrimping, depression-defying parents in their dreams of doubling the money by being newborn businessmen or women. The first purchase from the estate funds is inevitably a hugely expensive, enormous leather briefcase. I say wealth does not have a magic wand to make you what you were never before, a successful business person. Put a safety net around the money and let it happily click over at a conservative 4% in guaranteed investment certificates. They never listen as they walk off hefting the shiny dream-filled briefcase.
· Some lose all their earnings on the stock market. I tell them devote 5 hours minimum a day to monitoring your investments if you are going to follow that route. None are willing to spend that kind of time but are willing to throw away a fortune on a ‘hot tip.’
· Some are professional gamblers, though the new term now is ‘gaming’ and ‘arbitrage’. Professions for some. Though all lose, lose and lose. Trust me. I get tired of crunching the losses.
· Many elderly parents keep throwing money at their foolish adult children who are trying to make silk purses out of sows’ ears in real estate and fancy shops. Lose, lose and lose.
· One client had a huge windfall and spent it all on a Lamborghini and the following year couldn’t afford the insurance and then lost his business through neglect.
· Very few would-be entrepreneurs have the foresight to put together a business plan even with my suggestions and assistance. They inevitably fail in their new venture.
· The ones who do put together a plan are nearly always successful. These are the people who sign all their own cheques and track their expenses carefully against the business plan on a weekly basis and adjust and tack as the economic wind shifts direction.
· Old men who marry young women - and old women who marry young men - pay and pay and pay again. Each and every one says, “Ah, but you don’t know. This time it’s different”. No, it’s not. You will lose half your hard earned property and half your hard earned cash. And pre-nups never kill true romance. And if they do, walk and consider yourself lucky!
· I often have to chase the wealthy to settle my account.
· The poorest of my clients pay me the fastest.