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By David GordonDirector, Eaton Vance Advisor Institute

In the wake of "tax season," it may be a good time to ask yourself how well you understand your clients' total tax picture. A look at any client's completed tax forms can provide a road map for you to dig deeper with questions like these:

  • "What was your marginal tax rate last year?" "What is it this year?" "If it changed, why?" (Form 1040 or 1040-SR; Schedule 1)
  • "How long have you paid alternative minimum tax (AMT)?" "Would you like to return to 'regular' tax?" "How will you accomplish that?" (Form 6251; Form 1041; Form 8801)
  • "Have you been impacted by the cap in deductions for state and local taxes (SALT)?" (Schedule A)
  • "Has your charitable giving changed since tax reform?" (Schedule A; Form 8283)
  • "What future capital gains events should we begin planning for now?" (Schedule D; Form 1099)

These might sound like questions more appropriate for a tax professional to ask — and they are. However, an After-Tax Advisor also needs this information to help inform situationally appropriate investment recommendations. Consider offering to help your clients get a head start on a better tax outcome next year by reviewing their tax forms from this year. This can help you spot opportunities and areas for improvement well ahead of filing next year's tax returns.

Bottom line: Even though you are not a tax professional, you are a member of your clients' tax team. You play a vital part in protecting your clients' wealth from unnecessary or excessive taxation.

tax forward