Archive for December 2014

Being okay with not knowing yet

It’s fascinating to me how much we learn when we’re willing to learn and to listen.

I recently had a group of people come visit me at my farm. These people were intelligent captains of industry and business leaders in Oklahoma City. They’ve never been on a farm in their life, but they eat whole organic, natural foods. They weren’t really sure organic truly meant, but they wanted to learn.

For three hours they drilled me for answers about food and farming. The amazing part for me was that I had an answer for every one of their questions. I didn’t realize the amount of information I knew. But, that’s only because I strive for knowledge. I talk with experienced farmers, I read books, and I’m around people who have different opinions than me. I may not agree with their opinion, but I engage them and gather information.

It fascinated me to realize how much I know about food and how to raise it. Yet, I didn’t set out to do that. I started with the intention that I wanted to raise a few animals and honor God with my food choices. The next thing I know, I’m standing in front of a group of 30 people drilling me for three hours and I know all the answers. I never meant to become an expert, but I’m open to learning.

I read a freeing statement the other day in one of Andy Stanley’s books: “A true leader understands that the older they get, the more vulnerable they are and the less they know.” I’ve always operated from the premise that I don’t like telling you “I don’t know.” It’s uncomfortable for me to say and it still is, but I’ve started to understand that it’s okay for me not to know.

It was freeing for me to understand that the more you learn, the more you learn that you have more to learn. And, the more you learn the more open you are to defending your ground. If I’m wrong, then it means I just learned something. I don’t have any pride in being wrong. But the vulnerability is what allows me the ability to stand up in front of people and give them information.

I always talk about what’s referred to as Positional Authority and Relational Authority. Positional authority is someone who holds a higher position than you, like a manager or a superior at work. Relational Authority is someone who you respect because they possess more knowledge or experience than you in a particular area. I love the way Andy Stanley describes this. He said in our life we wear two badges. One badge is Positional Authority the other badge is Moral Authority – it’s that relational piece. The more you learn, the more you understand how much you don’t know. It doesn’t have anything to do with age; it has to do with wisdom. It was a great example of “the more I know the more I know I don’t know.”

My experience on the farm with this group of people launched me into an epiphany about other areas of my life I could improve upon. What else can I learn? Where else am I deficient and how can I correct those deficiencies?

I encourage you to look deep inside you and discover what you might be an expert in and uncover areas you might need additional training or experience in.

Tax Planning vs. Tax Preparing

It seems like every year the tax laws change. Depending on the action (or inaction) of Congress, tax breaks change, expire, or are rewritten each year. This year, several popular tax breaks did not renew.

When Congress writes a law, it’s in place for several years. At the end of those years, Congress has to rewrite or renew those tax laws if they’re going to remain valid. There are several 2014 tax breaks that Congress has yet to extend that I believe will be renewed. These include:

  • Mortgage Insurance Premium Tax Deduction
  • Tax credit for energy efficient storm doors, storm windows and insulation
  • Higher Education Tuition Deduction
  • Cancellation of Debt – There are some special provisions on cancellation of debt related to home mortgage settlements that haven’t been extended yet.

There are a lot people who pay mortgages, insurance premiums, pay tuition for their kids, have added storm doors, storm windows and insulation to their home, and had some kind of cancellation of debt. So far, these tax deductions haven’t been extended for 2014.

As tax planners, we plan for 2014 based on what we know now and we do the best we can. There are certain things I’m recommending to my clients in terms of tax planning because I believe some of these tax breaks are going to come back. We treat them like they’re coming back and plan based on what we think is going to happen and what is in place.

Tax planning is becoming more and more critical. As a result, I’m spending more of my time planning for taxes and less time doing tax returns. I am restructuring my practice so I have more time available to help people plan. I’m starting to become more valuable as a tax planner than I am as a tax preparer – and I’ve been preparing for 27 years.

I’m pretty good at what I do, but I’m infinitely more valuable at tax planning. I provide you much more value sitting in front of you on December 30th talking about what you can do, rather than on January 2nd telling you what just happened.

It’s my job to educate you on what’s going on with your taxes. If I don’t have the heart of a teacher, you need to fire me. It’s not my job to impress you with industry jargon; I have to get the information to you in a way that you understand and can utilize in everyday decisions.

Heading into 2015, tax planning is of huge importance. It’s critical to get an idea of what’s going to happen before it actually happens. That’s the difference between December 30th when I’m being proactive, and January 2nd when I’m being reactive.

I encourage you to come see me before the end of the year, while we still have time to make changes. If you wait until January to see me it’s going to be too late to do anything about your 2014 tax situation. Call our office at 405-341-7044 to schedule a tax planning consultation.