I’ve talked about many different topics in my blogs from informational to (hopefully) inspirational. For this series, I wanted to get back to some basics and dive a little deeper into the way we work with our clients as I believe we have a unique approach.
At our firm, we follow an integrated process to serve our clients. This process starts with the client at the center and then works outward to include the other professionals and non-tax issues in the client’s life. Our integrated process provides a better experience for our clients and often ensures a better tax outcome.
Most clients have several professionals in their lives and we seek to understand who they are already working with, what bases are covered, and where we fit in. Common professionals we find ourselves working alongside are:
- Attorneys who prepare estate planning documents and any other legal documents they may need.
- Insurance agent(s) who helps them with all their insurance needs.
- Investment advisor through their employer or they have their own investment advisor.
- Tax preparer.
- Bookkeeper or accountant for their business accounting needs.
In addition, clients may have medical issues that could affect other areas of their lives and that should be taken into consideration. For example, we have several clients who purchase their medical insurance through the marketplace. As most folks know, when you apply for health insurance through the marketplace, you are required to estimate your adjusted gross income for the coming year. The following year, when you file your tax return, if your adjusted gross income is less than what you estimated, you will receive an extra refund to reimburse you for the premium tax credit you should have received throughout the year. If, however, your adjusted gross income is greater than what you estimated, you will need to pay back a portion of the premium tax credit you received.
Many don’t realize that there is an income threshold based on the size of the family unit for the health insurance premium tax credit. If your adjusted gross income is greater than this threshold, you will be required to pay back all of the premium tax credit you received during the year.
We have a client with this situation. She is single and self-employed. At this time of year, we work with this client and her investment advisor to estimate her adjusted gross income for the year. If it looks like her income may go over the health income threshold, we work together to decide what actions the client can take to reduce her income. For this year, the client is going to make contributions to her health savings account and her retirement account. These two actions will reduce her adjusted gross income so that it stays below the threshold. Without this integrated process for our client, she could be required to pay back thousands of dollars in premium tax credits.
Instead of focusing on ‘staying in our lane’ at Crystal Financial, we instead feel that looking at the bigger pictures for each of our clients is the best way to understand and help them. Have questions about our integrated approach? Please reach out! I’d love to share more.Judith Ackland has more than 26 years of experience in accountancy and financial planning, including seventeen years as a CFO of a diverse business. She started Crystal Financial in 2010 to help a wide array of individuals, families, and business owners better understand their finances and how good financial management could help them achieve their goals. Judith has an MA in Professional Accountancy from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln as well as a Certified Public Accountant Certificate and a Certified Financial Planner designation.