Tim Kelly worked as a police officer for thirty years. He laterally transferred agencies three times, working for LASD (Class #196), Beverly Hills PD, Sacramento SO and retired from Davis PD as a patrol sergeant. He has done virtually everything one can do in uniform in law enforcement. Consequently, he has a special place in his heart for his fellow cops, whether they work on the street, in the prisons, in investigations or even in management.
Kevin Rego has worked as a police officer/firefighter (public safety) for twenty five years. A veteran of both the street and the fire service, he brings an intimate knowledge and understanding of law enforcement to our firm. Kevin holds a law degree from Santa Clara University and a Master of Laws degree in taxation law from the University of Alabama.
We intentionally specialize in the tax affairs of public safety personnel because of the quality clients who come to us. We look out after their interests and make ourselves available year-round for questions concerning taxes and tax planning. We attend hundreds of hours of continuing legal education each year in the areas of tax law most useful to our clients.
As a further service to our retired clients who have moved out of California, Tim has been admitted to the bar of, and is therefore licensed to practice law in, Idaho, Illinois and Texas, as well as California.
Included in our basic fee is the ability of our clients to email us any time during the year and ask us questions about the specific issues they have paid us to handle. It costs them nothing to communicate directly to their own experienced tax attorney, rather than have to listen to myths and misinformation from other people.
We may not be the right tax professionals for you, however, if you are more concerned about big refunds than remaining within the law. There are several well known tax preparers catering to police officers who are more than happy to put grossly inflated numbers on a tax return to get that big refund. Never mind that this is tax fraud, that their clients' career and retirement are put at risk, all clients of these tax preparers see are dollar signs. If you want this kind of "service," then don't come to us for tax services and planning. Instead, we will be happy to refer you to some very competent criminal tax attorneys in Beverly Hills. We do not mean to sound harsh but that is the reality of what we see on a daily basis when tax returns are prepared by amateurs, professional thieves or just incompetent people holding themselves out as tax preparers. We are convinced many of these tax preparers who "specialize" in the taxes of public safety personnel by using inflated deductions and other fraudulent means will eventually be caught by the IRS.
We believe your integrity is not worth an artificially large refund. We are aggressive but we take our positions based upon reasonable interpretations of the law and by constantly harping upon our clients to keep records, records and more records. Unlike the average tax preparer, we have been counsel of record in over four hundred federal court cases involving the litigation of tax liabilities. In the vast majority of these cases the clients have been police officers or deputy sheriffs.
Don't get us wrong. We are second to none when it comes to thoroughly using every possible tax deduction. You can see this from our checklist. But we are also second to none in preaching to our clients that they can never have too many records. We teach them how to keep mileage logs and prevent receipts from being washed. Simple realities such as donating property and taking photos go far towards tax savings supported by adequate substantiation.
As for our firm, where else but our offices can you watch the numbers being entered on your own computer screen? If you see something wrong or inaccurate we expect to be told. Everything is in the open and our clients see everything entered onto their return. If you are mailed a tax return following a telephone appointment you have every opportunity to question any item you see and to have it changed as you desire to ensure accuracy.
We cater to taxpayers who want the most accurate guidance for their annual tax reporting obligation. This means thoroughness, integrity and competence. For those just looking for the big return, there are no shortage of starving tax preparers out there ready to do whatever it takes to make you happy with a big refund and to keep you from going to the competition. If you are willing to play the odds (in the tax business we call this audit roulette) with the IRS for a few additional dollars, we cannot help you.
For more insight, read on. These are excerpts from an article by attorney Kevin W. Rego.
Do you get a little nervous when you sign your tax return? Do you wonder where those numbers came from, or would you rather not know? How much is that big refund worth in peace of mind? Did you notice you are signing under "Penalty of Perjury."
Rather than just file away those returns, actually take a look at them. Here are a few things to look at.
1) Cash charitable contributions? Did you really give all that money to church? If you did, no problem, but hopefully you used envelopes or wrote a check. If you don't have proof of what you gave in such a form, you will never have it allowed in an IRS examination. The law was recently changed to specifically disallow a cash contribution without clear documentary proof. Contrary to legend, there is no "maximum" contribution allowable without substantiation. To sum up the position of the IRS (which is fully supported in the Tax Court), if you donated cash you didn't donate it. Today the IRS will not hesitate to hit a taxpayer hard with penalties, even penalties for civil fraud, if large unsubstantiated contributions appear on the return.
We know this is a harsh rule for many of you. Every Sunday we see lots of cash go by in the collection basket, and we get caught offguard by the "second collection." We also know many of you attend different churches and then there are those of you who do not feel they should disclose their personal tithing to any human being. Unfortunately the tax code is not written with these considerations in mind. You are not being dishonest by listing your cash contributions on your tax return when they are genuine, but we want to be clear what the consequences may be. The tax code is clear in that without proof there is no deduction.
We are most concerned because this is a common area where crooked tax preparers "bump things up," in order to illegitimately reduce tax liability, I have often questioned new clients with substantial cash contributions on priors years returns whether they continued to be so generous, only to hear them say they had no idea such large amounts had been placed on their tax returns. A quick glance at the Schedule A on your tax return before signing it can prevent surprises like this.
2) Contributions of property are a much abused area, and you should feel comfortable with the numbers on your Schedule A in this area. For example, valuing the couch you used in your dorm room ten years ago at $700 is going a little overboard. By the same token, you may be estimating that fifty gallon trash bag of clothing is worth thirty or forty dollars when in reality it could be worth several hundred. For those taxpayers who routinely donate truckloads of personal property, an investment in documentation could pay off handsomely. First, I highly recommend taxpayers take photographs of the property donated. Second, a detailed inventory of all the items is a must. This can now be accomplished relatively painlessly with commercially available software. Intuit sells a product called, "It's Deductible," available at www.itsdeductible.com ." This product will automatically assign reasonable values to property item by item as the type and condition of the item is entered. The software will generate a total and a detailed list, which when used in conjunction with photographs and a receipt obtained from the donee organization, will provide substantiation for the charitable contribution placed on the tax return.
3) Mileage is another area where crooked preparers "pad" the numbers. Legitimate miles are those you drive for business which are not eligible for reimbursement by your employer. Business mileage never includes commuting, which is a personal expense. Yet we see returns with mileage exceeding ten thousand from preparers who see this as an easy way to remain competitive by getting their clients that big refund. Look at Form 2106, which will contain the mileage numbers and ensure what is written there is realistic. While these employee mileage numbers are no longer deductible for the federal tax return as of 2018, they remain a legitimate deduction for any California tax return even now.
The best way to reduce your tax liability is through competent advice, planning and record keeping. With good records and good advice you need never fear the taxman.