Please Use an Expert
By Gary Silverman, CFP®
The Web has been both a blessing and a bane to physicians. On one hand it has given easily obtainable information to help their patients develop healthy habits and diagnose problems. On the other hand, it has given easily obtainable wrong information to cause their patients to aggravate problems and misdiagnose their maladies.
The same holds true when it comes to money, though usually the risk of an early death is not a possible outcome.
Take a tax case I read about in a recent edition of Ed Slott’s IRA Advisor (available at IRAHelp.com). A nurse who wanted to invest in gold using her IRA money did some online research. She found, to her delight, that she didn’t have to use some expensive and constricting outside entity to do so. Instead, she could buy and store gold in her home using her IRA money without all the needless hassle. So that’s what she did.
The only problem was that the IRS did not agree with her interpretation of the tax law, not caring what may or may not have been gleaned from the Internet. The courts agreed with the IRS, and said nurse owed a lot of taxes plus penalties.
Or consider a blog post I read that was written by my business partner, Michelle Kuehner, ChFC (available at FixYourBudget.com). Both she and I have read myriad posts and articles about ways to invest in cryptocurrencies without having to worry about taxes. The problem is a lot of this information is wrong—most ends up just being wishful thinking.
In her recent post she talks about some of this, but also another interesting fact: Since crypto earnings can provide you with income, many income-based government programs such as disability, social security, and health insurance tax credits can be lost with that increase of income. Many don’t think about this.
Others do think about it and solve the problem by having their crypto lives occur through an exchange that doesn’t report their actions (often held overseas). However, there is a little item on your tax return that asks: “At any time during 2021, did you receive, sell, exchange, or otherwise dispose of any financial interest in any virtual currency?” Do you answer ‘yes’ and have the IRS wonder why you are not reporting it, or answer ‘no’ and be guilty of tax evasion?
Every month (if not every week), I have a client, friend, or friendly client call or text asking about this or that which they read on the Internet, heard in a podcast or saw on YouTube. Sometimes it starts a great conversation and helps us help them with their money. But often we find that either the topic, method, or investment does not apply to them or that the information was just plain wrong.
So please, when you come upon some surprisingly good info on the web consider getting with a CPA, attorney, or other expert to make sure it’s not one of those too-good-to-be-true stories that don’t have a happy ending.