November 1, 2013 - Phil Hodgen

Jell-O Shot 25 – The “I’m A People Person” Edition

This is Jell-O Shot 25 – The “I’m A People Person” Edition. It went out yesterday to the fine people on the mailing list. You should be on that list, too. Go to the bottom of this web page and fill in your email address. You can unsubscribe at any time.


Events. We have ’em. Webinar, International Tax Conference, and the inaugural subterranean international tax discussion group meeting at our office.

Also, tax returns are how you talk to the government about money.

Exit Tax Webinar – November 12, 2013

I am doing a limited attendance (10 people, 3 6 seats already gone) webinar for people who are thinking of renouncing their citizenship before the end of the year.

More information about the exit tax webinar is on our website. You will get the same stuff I tell lawyers and accountants. Plus there will be plenty of time to ask questions.

Taxation of Multinational Families – November 15, 2013

My full-day program for the California Society of CPAs will be held on November 15, 2013 in San Mateo. Sign up here for the live event. I like to call this my “If a border runs through your balance sheet” program. Wealthy parents outside the United States, children living in the USA. That’s the typical scenario. Money and people moving across the border will create tax problems. We talk about them in this course.

The course is also webcast–live–on November 15, 2013. You can ask questions even if you are watching online. Sign up for the webcast here.

International Tax Conference (San Francisco) – December 6, 2013

I am returning as the Chairman of the International Tax Conference on December 6, 2013 — in San Francisco. It is sponsored by the California Society of Certified Public Accountants.

Elena Redko, CPA of our firm will be doing an hour-long presentation on PFICs. I will be doing an hour on expatriation, in addition to my duties as the international tax version of Vanna White.

More information about the International Tax Conference is on the CalCPA website. The webcast signup is here.

Lunchtime discussion meeting (Pasadena) – December 13, 2013

We are hosting a “bring your own lunch” event in our conference room on December 13, 2013. Noon to 1:30 p.m. We will provide beverages (no adult beverages, sorry!). However, you need not be a lawyer, accountant, or EA to attend.

This is an experiment, aimed at starting a discussion group that covers international tax topics.

I will do a quick presentation, then it is a “Bring your hardest questions” social brainstorming event. If you spend a lot of time wrestling with international tax problems, please attend. If you have a topic you would like to talk about, we can feature you next time.

The group yesterday for my “Taxation of Multinational Families” course at LAX was populated with people who were experienced, sharp, and willing to think creatively. It was challenging! I got a new idea for dealing with problematic CFCs from one of the CPAs attending yesterday’s event. This is what I am hoping for with this discussion group.

Please email me if you want to attend. Just hit “reply”, give me your contact info, and we’ll put you on the list. Our conference room is not the biggest venue in the world, so we’ll have to limit attendance. Otherwise it will get really, really toasty and warm in the conference room.

I’m looking forward to this one. I like to meet people. I’m a people person. Heh. 🙂

Oh. We have a very nice starfish speakerphone that sits on the table in the conference room. If there is enough demand, we’ll set this up for people to dial in remotely and listen/participate over the phone. Let me know. (That was another idea from the October 30, 2013 course I taught for CalCPA.)

Finally . . . Talk To The Government

As John Apuzzo (he’s a CPA at Deloitte in Orange County) once said to me, “Tax returns are the way you talk to the government about money.” So, speak nicely. Don’t mumble. Be organized. And tell the truth–it’s easier.

We are reaping the rewards of this knowledge in a couple of cases we’re working on now. One of the things we do well is clean up prodigious messes. When things have really gone wrong, the guiding principle is “Make this a money problem only.” The alternative outcome in serious tax cases is far worse than writing a big check.

For a couple of these massive projects we are seeing the virtuous cycle–spend the time being OCD about the underlying accounting. (We have a couple of people on staff who really, really like digesting large piles of data into meticulous spreadsheets). (One of our clients told us that OCD is a good thing if it an operating philosophy, not a way of life. That captures it, I think.)

The data goes on tax returns. The tax returns are filed. They make sense and they are readable. Every number on the return has a reason for being there, and data to back it up.

For the two huge projects we are working on now, those tax returns are going to hit the IRS and be clean. They had better be. The financial (and *ahem* other) stakes are extreme. It’s nice to be trusted with something as critical as this. It’s even better when you know you can — and are — do a better-than-pro job. These tax returns are going to talk nicely to the IRS.

I’m just telling you this because a few of you might not see the latent benefit of doing exquisite tax returns. And the thought of doing the task yourself horrifies and bores you.

Don’t sweat it. For every task you find horrible and boring, there is someone else on the planet for whom the project is cheesecake and champagne. Boxes of financial data? Having to make decisions when the law is opaque or there is no law? We love it. Bring it on.

Friday Edition