HW Blog //


Nov 21 2015 | Posted in General

Trick or Treat for 2015

Halloween has come and gone but it still remains one of my favorite days. It must go back to my youth. There was no real parental controls over myself or my friends where we grew up so trick or treating started at around 5pm and we went until the last houses turned off their porch light.

Getting home with that pillow cover filled with candy was like bank robbers dumping the loot onto a table. “What do we have here?” The candy bars would be separated from the main pile – larger candy bars were the best. I would toss anything homemade. Not because of any worries about tampering, just because I was so focused on the good stuff.

A client called me today and asked if they could give to charity by donating their Required Minimum Distribution from their IRA? This is one of those extenders that congress waits until the last minute and then approves.

I believe the Treats will be late as they always are, especially in an election year when all the politicians are pretty busy just trying to stay politicians. Once we get past that, the tax bill will be approved (I hope).

For those that were not aware, there were two tax bills passed during the year. They mainly moved some of the filing deadlines to make them more uniform. That was a Treat.

Thanks for listening and I will talk at you again.

Sept 18 2015 | Posted in General

Our State Is On Fire

I never really thought of the down side to having 80 degree plus days of hot sunny weather in our state. As a golfer, I only thought of what this means to me – leaving the umbrella behind and not checking the weather before I made plans to golf.

The devastation that has resulted in eastern Washington has made me feel a little guilty. The loss of life and property is overwhelming and my heart goes out to those affected by the uncontrollable flames.

During a conversation with Nick Sooy with Farmers Insurance, he indicated that only about 50% of the homeowners carry fire insurance. This was important to know since there were all these fund raising events going on to send money over to Chelan and other communities that were and continue to be affected. Our Rotary Chapter raised over $1,600 and will be sending it to help with the relief efforts.

So what does this have to do with taxes? There are a couple of connections to discuss.

First thing to remember is if you plan on taking a charitable deduction for your donation to the fire victims and responders, be sure you make that donation thru an organization that qualifies as a charity, a 501(c)(3).

A donation directly to a person or group of people – while a very nice thing to do – will not yield you a tax deduction on your return. There are many organizations assisting the needy during this time. The Red Cross, the local Rotary Foundations and any church should be qualified to accept your donation.

The other aspect of taxes is being able to claim a casualty loss on your return. If you had no insurance or were significantly under insured, there could be a tax deduction to claim for 2015. There are a ton of rules and limitations so contact your accountant once the damage has been assessed.

The thoughts and prayers of myself and our firm are with those of you who have been impacted by the fires directly or thru family members.

Our thanks go out to all of the agencies that have men and women on the fire line and in a support role for your tireless efforts.

Thanks for listening and I will talk at you again.

Aug 12 2015 | Posted in General

Golf and Taxes

The term “Death and Taxes” is very old and has all kinds of implications. Two things you can’t avoid – two things that go hand in hand…

So where do “Golf and Taxes” connect? I can think of three situations, just recently, where they relate.

First is an auction where I purchased a round of golf for myself and two others, and the beneficiary of the money I paid was the Mental Health Department at Overlake Hospital. I wrote a check for $1,000 and now I get to take a tax deduction for that amount – correct?

Not so fast! As it turns out, each round of golf is probably a couple hundred dollars, plus you add in the lunch and drinks and it appears I received a thousand dollars worth of golf. If you receive anything for your donation, the value has to be subtracted from the donation.

How do you get a donation at an auction with that kind of rule? The answer is the second situation I was involved in.

I donated a round of golf at Newcastle plus dinner and this was purchased by someone in my Rotary group. The donation will cost me three rounds of golf and the cost of dinner. This total becomes a deduction for me. However, the person who purchased it will be under the same rules in my first example.

And finally, the last example where Golf and Taxes intersect: While playing a round of golf last week, there was a little wagering, and as it turns out, I was the winner of those bets. I immediately recorded those funds in my tax organzier so that I could report them on my upcoming tax filing.

Well, maybe I only have two good examples of where Golf and Taxes come together.

I hope that you golfers out there are taking advantage of basically 70 days of no rain in our area – I feel like I’m in Arizona with all the benefits of the Great Northwest.

Thanks for listening and I will talk at you again.

June 30 2015 | Posted in General

Networking, who knew?

When I was working for Mike Bashey many years ago, I was scared of Networking for so many reasons-

1. Afraid of the cost.
2. Afraid someone would ask me a question.
3. Afraid I would ask a stupid question. [ED. Of which he’s no longer afraid.]
4. Afraid I would not be able to refer anyone.

Are my taxes filed? When was the last time I changed the oil in the SUV? Is my neighbor really hitting on me? Is my estate plan up to date just in case?

The list could really go on and on. Then one day, a retiring member of the firm told me he was leaving his networking group and would I want to take his place. I had substituted for him a few times so I at least knew what the meeting looked like. So I agreed—assuming the Networking Group would want me (another thing to be afraid of)!!

From that day forward, I have enjoyed the experience of being in a networking group. The revenue it has generated for the firm alone should be a standalone reason, however, that is only a part of the picture.

Having Having a group that you can depend on when you offer up their services and products to your clients and connections is so important. Robert from DeLaurenti Florists has been a go to guy —everything he and his staff put together is just fabulous! Suzy from Hair Republic Salon is so much fun — granted it only takes two minutes to cut my hair, but we talk for an hour!

Business aspects of networking aside, (and of course, business is the number one reason to network,) I can say that 60% of the friends I have are from the groups I join. My beautiful wife and I seem to have a gathering to attend every other weekend that is either from my BNI networking group or the Rotary Club of Kirkland. My my wife jumped in and volunteers at NW Harvest, and also teaches Math to a small group of kids at the elementary school. She has joined a book club and a dinner club from the wonderful friends we have met through Rotary.

What am I trying to say??? Don’t be afraid and don’t wait! Go out and find something to join. It will end up being one of the best decisions you make. Maybe you’ll meet a really good CPA and want hire him (or her).

Thanks for listening and I will talk at you again.

May 28 2015 | Posted in General

What keeps you up at night?

Don’t we all have something that keeps us up at night? In the CPA world it probably revolves around tax season and did we get that return filed or extended! For our clients (by the way, that’s you) it is the same kind of things.

Are my taxes filed? When was the last time I changed the oil in the SUV? Is my neighbor really hitting on me? Is my estate plan up to date just in case?

You can be sure that Hutchinson & Walter can assist you with some of those concerns. Assisting you in filing your taxes is one of the things we do most often — and we do it with Caring, Competence & Value. In addition, we can consult on your current estate plan and where there might be areas that need addressing.

Some estate planning has nothing to do with crunching numbers or determining taxes that might be owed to the State or Uncle Sam.

Having simple things like:
1) A list of people to contact if something should happen to you or your spouse.
2) Making sure that if the house catches fire, your important documents are in a safe place.
3) Gathering the kids together and figuring out who will get mom’s china or dad’s WWII canteen collection.
4) Making sure that your will is still relevant to your situation and that you have both durable and medical powers of attorney documents executed.

These things will help you sleep better at night and when you sleep better at night, you are a happier client.

On one occasion when I did get a good night’s sleep, I dreamt that Lucille Ball and Franklin Delano Roosevelt both lived on my Cul De Sac — I like it when entertainment and history combine.

Thanks for listening and I will talk at you again.

Feb 27 2015 | Posted in General

Readership Is Up To Four And Diversity Is Through The Roof!

One of my favorite and long time clients told me that she read my blog and enjoyed it. I am so excited that my readership has increased 33% from three to four!

The firm is in the heat of tax season as I type and each day gets a little longer. We run full shifts over the weekend to stay up with the work that is coming in.

If you want to see an eclectic group of accountants, try coming by on a Sunday. I’ll be in flip-flops; There will be an array of Tee-shirts that support the Huskies, Cougars, Vandals and Taco Del Mar!

We have a very diversified group of CPAs and support staff hard at work for you. Let me mention a few of them:

Dan from New York – Dan worked at the IRS and has left the dark side to help BHW clients.

Mike the local boy – he is also the Vandal. Mike brings National firm experience to our firm and we rely on him for tough tax issues.

Jinhee from Korea – she is a QuickBooks Pro Advisor and does much of the financial statement work.

We have attorneys, personal financial planners, QuickBooks experts, bookkeepers, payroll specialists, and accountants knowledgable in not-for-profit and construction.

Did I mention that we speak Korean, Russian, Chinese, Hindi, Philipino and French? However, we only accept US dollars for our work!

This is not your father’s CPA firm! We operate with the best computers; We utilize the newest and most efficient software; Our staff is trained in all areas of taxation; We have back channels with most state and federal agencies.

In a nutshell, we are here to serve you and your needs. Come by and see us sometime!

Thanks for listening and I will talk at you again.

Feb 10 2015 | Posted in General

The "Seasons" Keep Us Going

Did you ever notice that we keep time in Seasons? Not summer, fall, winter and spring. Those seasons come and go with relative ease in the northwest.

I’m talking about Ski Season – Soccer Season – The Christmas Season – Flu Season, and the most popular Season of all – TAX SEASON!

Yes – tax season is here, and as the title of my blog indicates, it keeps us going. You might wonder who us is? An entire profession gets busy day and night, seven days a week for about two and half months.

The start of our season isn’t something noticeable like snow of the sniffles. It doesn’t come with happy songs about reindeer. Tax season starts with letters in the mail indicating that important tax documents are enclosed.

Commercials from companies guaranteeing that they will find you every last dollar you deserve when they don’t know you at all.

And let’s not forget that the President will make last minute changes to the tax law that will confuse and delay filing every single year.

When the season is finally over, we find that we are just a little bit poorer in the wallet and mentally tired from the experience.

My list sounds awfully familiar. Let me think about it:

Lots of letters crossing in the mail.

Companies advertising for your business.

The big man, running the show.

Lastly, money gone we didn’t expect to lose.

Is that jingle bells I hear???

Thanks for listening and I will talk at you again.

Blog written by:
Rick Walter, CPA

Filter by year

© Hutchinson & Walter CPAs