Stop overpaying on your taxes.
That’s the message Diane Gardner wants to share with you.
In this episode, my guest, Diane Gardner, will help you breakthrough the confusion, change your mindset on taxes, and share valuable tax-saving strategies.
Diane is a certified tax coach and the best-selling author of over ten different books, and recently has co-authored, Stand Apart and Why Didn’t My CPA Tell Me That? Her tax coaching sessions have resulted in a combined savings of over $3MM to-date.
Her proactive tax planning approach has helped thousands dodge the tax bullet, and today, she will share her expert strategies to help you save more time and money too!
Listen to the podcast here:
Profit Planning: A New Approach to Financial Stability with Diane Gardner [Podcast 252]
Are you quietly wondering to yourself, “Am I paying too much in taxes?” There are all kinds of uncertainties, all kinds of changes. The Tax Code has gotten larger as we’ve gone thousands and thousands of pages. It would be equivalent to the old Encyclopaedia Britannica books that my dad used to have on our shelves. Are you also wondering, “Do I have the right accountant? Do I have the right person for me to help me take my finances, my business to the next level? Deep down, I wish I had someone in my corner from a finance or accounting point of view who did more than give me reports, but rather give me the ability to make better, smarter business decisions. Give me projections like, what can I do to make a pivot so that I can get a result, a greater ROI or bring me wisdom on how to be able to invest in things that help my company grow as an asset?” Have you wondered those things? I know I have for many years in building and growing businesses for many years. When you find someone that’s good at this, if not great at this, there’s a huge difference between a tax planning person and a profit planning person.
If you’re looking for a profit planning type of mentality, you’re going to love this episode. You’re going to love our guest expert. Her name is Diane Gardner. She’s a certified tax coach and bestselling author whose approach helps clients, maybe like you, dodge the tax bullet. Her methodologies have resulted in a combined savings of over $3.4 million to her clients. In other words, do you work hard for your money? You do. If you work hard for your money, that’s hard-earned profits that if you’re not capitalizing, you’re giving it away. Who are you giving it away to? Probably the government and you don’t have to. There are legal ways that you can grow your profits by using the strategies she’s going to share with you. She’s the bestselling author of the book, Stand Apart and Why Didn’t My CPA Tell Me That? She’s also authored ten other books, including Stop Overpaying Your Taxes!: 11 Ways Entrepreneurs Overpay and How to Stop It Now! and much more. Diane, welcome. How are you?
I’m fantastic, Dan. Thank you so much for having me. To follow that up, I always say we all have to pay our fair share amount of tax, but there’s nothing that says we have to leave the IRS a great big tip.
You don’t want to leave the IRS a big tip, do you?
No, they don’t give a good service that they deserve a big tip. Why are you doing it?
You’re going to learn some strategies and how to create more profits using the code, using the methodologies that Diane is going to share with. Diane, before we get into some of the breakthroughs and strategies that you work with, why are you doing what you’re doing?Don't ever give up. Keep moving because you never know when you're three feet from the gold. - Diane Gardner Click To Tweet
I do what I do because I’m passionate about changing the lives of business owners. I’ve seen many of them struggle through the whole recession, get a business that’s taking off and it’s growing and then they get hammered with tax. It’s like you’re working too hard for that to happen to you year after year. Sometimes they start getting behind on their taxes because they weren’t expecting the big increase. Once you get behind, it’s hard to get caught back up. I thought I have the knowledge to change that, so I need to be sharing it. Because if I’m not sharing that knowledge, I’m doing a disservice to the business community. That is my passion for changing businesses one tax return at a time.
What if there was a big difference between the idea of tax planning, maybe accounting as you know it and projecting or profit planning? Diane, there’s a lot of uncertainty in the market. There’s been all these changes in the Tax Code and promoted. It’s not only applicable to everyday people, but it’s also even more important for business people. If we itemize it into three categories, personal, the changes in the tax law for business, maybe tax-saving strategies for business. Let’s start with the shifts that have happened personally. What are a handful of the biggest changes you’ve seen and what can we do about it?
Some of the biggest changes you probably saw if you’ve already filed, and maybe those who are still on extension and we’ll be seeing these changes, is that there’s an increased standard deduction. Our standard deduction amount doubled from what they were before. A married couple went from about $12,000 to $24,000, singles went from about $6,000 to $12,000, and that was big for certain groups of people. Other people, it didn’t affect them as much. On the flip side, we lost those personal exemptions. Before we had a standard deduction, personal exemption. That seemed to cover a lot of people, but now that they’ve increased the standard deduction to be so high, we have fewer people itemizing their deductions, more people taking the new standard deduction. If you hire a family with a lot of kids, potentially that hurts you with losing your exemptions.
They tried to make it up by increasing the child tax credit. Previously it was $1,000 per child and now it’s $2,000 per child. Previously, “high-income earners” were not able to take advantage of the child tax credit because they would phase out. They’ve increased those thresholds and more of my high-income earners were able to take advantage of the child tax credit and they were excited to see that on their tax return at $2,000 per child. That can move the needle for you. Those were probably the biggest things. Within the itemized deductions, there used to be an area called miscellaneous itemized deductions, which was non-reimbursed employee expenses. It was your tax prep fees. It was your management fees on your financial accounts. It was those kinds of things. That piece has gone. There are no more miscellaneous itemized deductions. That hurt my clients who were maybe employees who put a lot of miles on their car that their employer didn’t reimburse them for. It hurt that group of people. As a fixed, we had them go back to their employer and work out some an accountable plan where they could get reimbursed through the business and not lose it completely on their personal return. That’s was the biggest change in personal tax returns.
What if you were able to take advantage of the dozens and dozens of others along with these and add that to your profit plan overall? What about I’ve heard controversy on the charitable contribution part of things? How has that changed? How does it impact most people?
Charitable contributions had a positive change to it. In the past, your charitable contributions were limited to 50% of your income. They increased to 60% of your income. To be able to take them, you’ve got to get over that new higher standard deduction threshold of potentially $12,000 or $24,000 or if you’re over 65, that bumps up to a little over $26,000. That became a harder nut to crack for those who are charitably minded, especially if they didn’t have a lot of mortgage interest. There’s also the whole property tax and state income taxes that are capped at $10,000, which affected many of my clients over on the East Coast and down in California where those property taxes are super high. There are a lot of changes to the itemized deductions.
If you’re not in the loop on these changes, then that means you’re in limbo or in the dark. If that’s what you want, then keep the blinders on. If you’re looking for a way to get clarity, to get certainty, to get confidence to get direction, then you might want to pay attention. If what Diane has shared with you has opened your eyes about some of the simple strategies you can be put into place to boost your profits, you’re going to want to stick around. We’re going to talk about some of the powerful strategies that small business owners may be like you can take that you’re not even aware of and how to be able to work with those. Hiring your kids, being able to leverage retirement planning. What happens if you’ve outgrown your entity, your business model, in other words, and a whole lot more? We scratched the surface on some of the personal deduction sides of things. I want to shift it over into the business side of things. What are some of the common problems or challenges that you see with most people’s mindset around taxes that are costing them probably a fortune that they’re not even aware of?
Probably the biggest mindset thing I see is most people don’t realize they can plan their way to lower tax liability. They hate the word taxes. They’d rather go get a root canal done. They’d rather be beaten with a rod or something than to have to deal with taxes. They avoid it at pretty much all costs. In reality, you can plan your way to lower tax liability. It doesn’t happen magically. It happens because you’ve sat down with somebody who’s a tax planner and you’ve laid out some strategies. In our case, we would present strategies to you and then from those, you can choose the ones that you think would work the best for your business. Sometimes it’s a phase one, a phase two, maybe even a phase three because it’s too much all at once, we can’t implement. Realizing to get that light bulb to go on and get that mindset to shift from, “I’m going to owe the tax and I hate paying it. I don’t want to deal with it,” to “The possibilities are endless.” That’s a huge mindset shift for a lot of people.
Do you find that also usually ties in with their mindset even around money in some ways?
Definitely, yes. There’s a lot of negative connotation about money. Maybe they’re embarrassed to let their family know how much their business has grown. Somehow there’s some mindset about big successful business is wrong or bad. I see a lot of those mindsets in working with people. They’re super excited about what they did, but they’re afraid to let anybody know. That tax return becomes the rubber hits the road. You did make this amount of money and here’s how much tax you owe. It can be a shocking conversation. I’ve had many people sit there like, “How could I have made that money? How can I owe this amount of tax?”
There’s a relationship we have with all things. I know maybe if you’ve been brought up like I was in a traditional parochial Catholic school back when nuns wore the collars and they would shake you in the hallway if you did something wrong. You were brought up on the idea that money is the root of all evil. What’s your relationship with money? The seed creates the tree. The tree creates the fruit. What’s your fruit, mindset and heart space around money? What if you had a relationship with a friend that was like the relationship you have with money? Do you hide from it and you only look at it once a year, once a quarter or once a month?
If you had a relationship with somebody like that where you only looked at it once a month because you had to, how would that translate? That seed creates a certain outcome, a certain fruit. You want to make a shift to move from being afraid of this idea or having a mindset that’s a scarcity mindset. You want to transform that mindset. Pay attention to what Diane has to share with you. Profit planning, building, planning, growing, evolving, and also using the money to help you create more opportunities. To have a bigger impact, to have a bigger reach, to have a bigger contribution in many cases with the same amount of money you’ve got, being able to distribute it in much smarter ways. Instead of giving it to the government, what if you could direct it into something that fueled your heart and your soul a little bit more? What would that be worth to you? Diane, what are some of the common business strategies that someone could put in place in their planning strategy for more profits and more profit planning?
One of the biggest ones I see is as a business grows and matures, sometimes it outgrows its entity type. They started at a particular entity because it was easy or because their friend told them to. Maybe they went to an attorney or maybe somebody else coached them along the way and they don’t realize that entity is either holding them back or it costs them extra tax or both. They don’t realize that with a full entity analysis being done, we can come up with the pros and cons of all these different entity types and have a deep discussion about which type is best going to fit your business not only now, but for years down the road. Based on where your goals are and where you’re headed, then which entity type will grow with you and allow you the elasticity to grow your business versus which one is holding you back. That’s a whole concept people have never of.
As you’re reading this, what is your entity? What if a little tweak in that entity, which in many cases can be a paperwork exchange, helped you boost your ability to keep more of the hard-earned money you make? Would it be worth taking the time to get that assessed, to get that evaluated from someone who focused on profit planning and not just scratching a to-do list and saying, “I got it done for you,” which is the worst? What are some other business strategies that some people would probably be excited to be able to put in place but maybe don’t know?Once you get behind, it's hard to get back up. - Diane Gardner Click To Tweet
We look at the retirement arena. In that retirement area, there are different types of retirement plans that could benefit a particular type of business. It depends on where the business is on its growth ladder. Whether we’re looking at things like maybe a simple plan or a step moving on up after doing a 401(k) or a defined benefit plan, and then multiple variations of each I should get into that arena. Sometimes setting up something like that frees up some cash for that business owner to turn right around and reinvest it back into another area or do some growth with it or pay down some debt or whatever.
What if you could set up a retirement plan that helps you pay down debt, acquire other assets? Did you know you could do that? If you did it, you’ve had an eye-opening a-ha, haven’t you? Whether it’s with Diane or some other pro that has this type of mindset, profit planning versus accounting, this is incredibly important. I have some personal questions that I have based on the feedback I get from a lot of clients I work with. For example, is there a way for me to have my kids work in my business if they’re under eighteen? If so, what’s a way to be able to do that? I’ve heard certain experts say, “You could have your kids as a model in your business. They’d have a modeling contract with your business. If you’re doing a video with them or photos of them, you could essentially pay them as models and that could be a part of your business expense for your marketing and so on.” Speak to that a little bit. Is that a wives’ tale or is that something somebody could do?
That is definitely something somebody can do and you’ll see it fairly often as people are doing their marketing and they’re shooting their videos. I love the ones where it’s their dog. I’d rather it be their kid because their kids are right off, the dog is not, but employing their children through their business is an amazing way to do some tax planning. The IRS says the child has to be at least seven years old to be able to pay them, as long as you own the business. They can’t go out to work for somebody else at seven years old, but for mom and dad, they can. That’s a great way to put money away for college for them. It’s a great way to teach them how to handle money and teach them to have a positive mindset about money.
There are many lessons over and above the tax savings piece of it, that’s when it gets me excited. In the tax law with the standard deduction being about $12,000, that’s $12,000 that could potentially be pushed down to a 0% tax rate. How exciting is that? You’ll get it off of our tax rate and onto theirs. I’m going to flip it around the other way. What if you have aging parents that you’re starting to have to help support? Maybe they’re trying to make it on Social Security and they can’t. What things in your business could a parent do to help you? For example, my own mom worked in my business for years. She folded our newsletters, assembled them for mailing, and took out the trash. She did shredding and filing. She put up decorations at different times of the year and took them down.
I created a job for her because she wasn’t making it on just Social Security. By doing that, I would’ve helped her anyhow because I’m her daughter. This way, I ran it through my business, pulled it down to her tiny little tax rate and pulled it off of my tax rate. You can do either end of the spectrum. Kids, parents, somebody that you’re supporting out there. The kids are great because if you’re in an unincorporated business, meaning a sole proprietor or a single-member LLC, you could potentially pay them and not even have to pay the Social Security and Medicare and the unemployment on them as long as they’re under eighteen. If you’re in an incorporated business, then you’ll have to pay that. Still, it’s a small price to pay to be able to move that in and come down to the lower tax bracket.
What would that be worth to set up your kid’s college fund through the support of your business? You’re going to pay it one way or another most likely. How smart would it be to be able to set up the stage for you to be able to do that starting right away? If they’re a model, for example, who’s to say what the value of a model is for your business? You want to keep it within a range. You can do your own homework. Talk to a profit pro, not an accountant. A traditional accountant isn’t going to give you advice like this. They’re not even going to know that it exists. They’re going to steer you clear of this strategy probably. In most cases, not all. If your accountant hasn’t brought this to you to say, “How would you like to take the next X dollars down to almost a zero bracket and be able to fund your kids?” What would that be worth? Start teaching them good, healthy money habits from day one and/or do it with your parents or your family and a whole lot more. There are so many fascinating ways that we could go here. If people want to get more of you and they want to get more access to some of these strategies that they could be putting over or maybe learn, how they could work with you? How can people reach out to you, connect with you and more?
The best way is for them to go to www.TaxCoach4You.com/growthtofreedom. There we have a 2018, 2019 tax planning guide that allows you to see the old tax law and the new tax law. You can see when something shifted on your tax return. You’re like, “What happened? I don’t understand this.” You can come in here and you can see, “Here’s what happened. This was a change in the tax law.” It’s our gift to try to help ease some of the confusion that has come about from these tax returns being done under this tax law.Lower tax liability happens when you've sat down with somebody who's a tax planner and you've laid out some strategies. - Diane Garner Click To Tweet
Feel free to browse around on my website, TaxCoach4You.com. I’ve got all kinds of free books I give away. I ask you to help pay shipping and handling and we’re able to send those books out to you and we can help you learn about this whole wonderful world of tax planning. Most accountants are good at putting the right numbers in the right box and they file it on time and then they call it a day. That is your average accountant out there. I see it time and time again as I work with clients all over the US that that’s their accountant. We want to start changing that.
If you want to change that, I want to encourage you to get connected to Diane and her amazing resource. She’s got over ten books. She’s got this free resource available for you. Take action and go to TaxCoach4You.com/growthtofreedom. Diane, what is something I should have asked you that we didn’t get a chance to cover-up?
If you humor me, I’d love to talk briefly about the new qualified business income deduction. I know it’s everybody’s favorite topic. In the tax law, we were given a gift of a deduction for being a business owner. This does not apply to C-corporations because they’ve got a lower tax bracket. They went from a 35% to 21% bracket, but the rest of us got this gift. To oversimplify it, we’re going to take whatever our net profit was, multiply it times 20% and take that as a deduction on the personal return where all those profits flowed through to. I’ve got clients that are saving thousands of dollars with this deduction. There’s a whole lot of work behind the scenes that need to happen. I was oversimplifying it, but to me, it’s exciting because there’s some great tax planning ability in there. It’s around wages, equipment and some of this stuff that we didn’t have before but we do. It’s a wonderful planning opportunity there.
We covered seven main steps. There are hundreds that Diane has at her fingertips to share with you. What would it be worth to put those in place? The ones we covered. We talked about the business deduction that she shared with you. She talked about if you have aging parents, how to include them in your business in a legal way, maximize the deduction and also share the wealth and give your family a gift. How to bring your kids into your business if they’re under eighteen and being able to do that legally and also in a way that’s profitable for your business, for your tax bracket and a whole lot more. She talked about the personal deductions that you can take.
She talked about the charitable deduction and how it shifted. She talked about standard deduction. She talked about lost personal exemptions, what it means to you, and then where do you make it up and how can you make it up? We covered a lot. I hope that you’re going to take action with what she shared. Most importantly, go deeper with what Diane has available to you. You can go get those resources at TaxCoach4You.com/growthtofreedom. I like to pivot, Diane, and hit on some personal things. What were you known for in high school?
I was super quiet and super shy. I hardly talked to anybody. I am helping other people with their homework. I’m not who I am now. In fact, I have a 40-year class reunion to go to and it’s always interesting because I had no voice in high school. I was the wallflower. I have been stretched a little bit.
You’ve been on dozens, if not hundreds of shows. You’ve published over ten books. What’s your favorite book out of your ten that you’ve published?
Probably my favorite book is Stop Overpaying, but we have an upcoming book which I think will even bump this one. We’ve got some higher-end tax strategies in there I’m pretty excited to start being able to share in a bigger environment through my books. I love getting out and doing books and sharing the information with people because it’s so needed. The accounting profession has been terrible at not sharing this information, keeping it secret quiet within our own little group. It’s like, “Let’s make a difference for these people.”
I love what you’re doing, Diane. I love what you stand for. You’re having a voice for the accounting profession and putting a personality to it, which I think most people in business would agree that it’s been over needed. Those people who have personalities in that field can thrive and it’s obvious you’re able to do that and you’re making an amazing contribution, an amazing difference in what you’re doing. I’m curious when you were young, when did you know that you were going to pursue building a business? Let’s start with the business. When did you know that you were going to take a different path and you were going to go build a business for yourself?
I would say that it was probably during my college era. I knew I wanted to get into the accounting field. I wasn’t sure which direction to go. I started out in auditing and hated it. We had moved over to tax but knew that I wanted to be more than just an employee. The firms that I worked for, I didn’t feel like they gave good customer service and I didn’t feel like they were proactive in any way, shape or form. I went out and started my own firm, which in hindsight, it’s like I knew nothing when I first started, but that’s okay. Customer service has been big for me from day one, making sure that they do see the real me, our whole team is this way. We’re always on Zoom with our clients and reaching out.
We do some pretty extra things that your average accountants laugh at me that we do. It’s because we like to create a wow experience with our clients. Over time, I realized the need to do another pivot and move from being a generalist to a specialist because I wasn’t able to get the message out that I wanted. I wasn’t getting to the right type of clientele. Once I became a specialist in tax and profit planning, the doors started opening up and I get to work with the best clients all over the US. I get the cream of the crop. The other accountants can be jealous because I’ve got the best ones. It’s such a privilege to get to meet and work with some of these business owners all over the US.
I love your story and I especially love your spirit. It’s been a pleasure to have you. What are 1 to 3 action steps you would like our readers to take as a result of our time here?
If you’re struggling in your business or you’re struggling to get to that next breakthrough, don’t give up. I was in that position many years ago and I was ready to throw in the towel, but I read a book called Three Feet from Gold and decided to keep moving. This is what was on the other side of it. When you’re in the middle of it, sometimes it feels like this is never going to change. You never know when you’re three feet from the gold. Don’t ever give up and keep moving. Another action item is embracing that mindset of planning and don’t be afraid of the IRS. We need to respect them, but we don’t need to fear them. Everything that we do, tax planning is legal. It’s all backed up with IRS code, with the court.We need to respect the IRS , but we don't need to fear them. - Diane Garner Click To Tweet
It’s court-tested. We’re not going to be telling you something that’s illegal because there can be a bad connotation around the word tax planning. You hear a lot of evasion type of schemes and we’re looking at totally perfectly legal planning. That mindset shifts and then realizing that maybe you’ve outgrown your current accountant. That current accountant might be great at putting those right numbers in the right boxes, but maybe it’s time for a more proactive accountant, somebody who’s going to say, “HHHere’s where you are. Let’s move to this.” It’s moving into that mindset of, “What if?”
What if you’re at a place where you’re like, “Maybe I have outgrown my accountant. Maybe it is time to start building profit planning instead of reporting the numbers and basic accounting.” If you’re at that place, that encourages you at least to go deeper with what Diane has shared with you, inspired you to take action. What if you’re three feet from gold? What if literally, you have 5 or 6 figures sitting there waiting for the right switch of how it’s reported, planned properly, profit planning and you could free that money up to do more of the things you want to do to be able to invest? To build greater assets, take care of your kids’ college, to do more of the things that you deserve. What would that be worth? Would it be worth going and checking out what she’s got available for you?
What’s the worst that could happen? What’s the best that could happen? It seems pretty obvious. Why not give it a shot? On top of that, she’s going to give you your planning guide. I imagine if the push to shove and said, “Show me, prove it to me,” then she could prove it to you. If she couldn’t, she’d say, “I can’t. You’re already working with the best in the world.” If you’re not working with the best in the world, she might be able to show you ten different ways that you can free up more money for profits and asset building, building your business and a whole lot more. Diane, it’s been a pleasure and a privilege to have you with us here. Thank you.
Thank you for having me on the program. I have one more little caveat there, Dan. We love to do a second opinion on tax returns. We have clients who are prospects who send them daily. Send us in your years of tax returns. We’ll take a look at them. We’ll tell you if you’ve had missed opportunities or even mistakes. Sometimes we can amend returns to get thousands of dollars back for people, but we’ll tell you and there’s no obligation. Hop on a Zoom call for an hour and we’ll talk about your tax return. I love it when I can tell somebody, “You’ve got a great accountant behind you. Keep using them.” It’s a little extra there that we like to do for people.
What’s that certainty worth to you? To know, to have the clarity, to have the certainty, to have the focus. One way or another, either you’ve got the opportunity to grow more profits that you deserve to keep. At the end of the day, it’s not what you make, it’s what you keep. On the other hand, have the ability to know. If you’re working with someone who’s amazing, take the first step. Go to TaxCoach4You.com/growthtofreedom. I encourage you to take action.
To give you a snapshot, how would you like to increase your standard deduction? How would you like to capitalize on some of the loss deductions with some other things like the child tax credit, the charitable contribution? How to leverage that properly? If you’re running your business, how to have your kids who are under eighteen work for you and set it up properly? At least take the first steps to be able to be thinking about it as well as maybe aging parents and the business deduction that maybe you didn’t even know about. What if you’re three feet from gold of one little flip in the way that your reports are done, and you move beyond reporting to projection and planning? Profit planning, not just tax planning, not just accounting, Diane is likely to be able to help you. Take action with everything that we’ve shared. Seize the day and we’ll see you next time.
Resources mentioned in this episode:
- Stand Apart
- Why Didn’t My CPA Tell Me That?
- Stop Overpaying Your Taxes!: 11 Ways Entrepreneurs Overpay and How to Stop It Now!
- Three Feet from Gold
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About Diane Gardner
Diane Gardner is a Certified Tax Coach and best-selling author whose proactive planning approach helps clients dodge the tax bullet. Her tax coaching sessions have resulted in a combined savings of over $3,419,571 to-date — hard-earned profits successful entrepreneurs & real estate investors would have given to the government by overpaying taxes.
Diane is the co-author of the best-selling books, Stand Apart and Why Didn’t My CPA Tell Me That? She has also authored ten other books including, Stop Overpaying Your Taxes! 11 Ways Entrepreneurs Overpay and How to Stop it Now!