Fiscal cliff makes tax planning more difficult, important, Oklahoma City experts say

Oklahoma City tax advisers say taxpayers should prepare for changes, but should not overreact.
BY DON MECOY dmecoy@opubco.com Published: November 19, 2012
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Healthy individuals might consider raising health care deductibles to free up funds, he said. The implications of the fiscal cliff are different for each individual, Williams said, and should be discussed with a tax professional.

Clearly, this year's unique situation has captured the attention of some consumers. Most years, Williams asks clients to schedule a visit to discuss their situation, but that has turned around, he said.

“Everybody's concerned,” he said. “We are booked solid for December for these year-end planning issues.”

Readers weigh in

Last week, readers were asked to share with The Oklahoman what they're doing, or considering, in response to the fiscal cliff and potential tax hikes.

Oklahoma City resident John Michalski said the fiscal cliff probably won't be as scary as it sounds.

“Where we were before the Bush tax cuts?” Michalski said in an email. “I seem to recall that day still followed night when we all paid our usual taxes. If we had to go back to paying those same old rates, why should it be such a problem now? Fat cats too used to the perks and shelters? That isn't exactly what I'd call falling off a cliff.”

Jim McGoodwin, a self-described long-term investor, said he wasn't worried about the fiscal cliff because policymakers from both parties are under tremendous political pressure to take action.

“I also look forward to paying more in taxes on my income, dividends and capital gains. I say ‘look forward to' because I take great pride in my country and feel blessed that I'm in a position to contribute more to it. In the long run people like me in the upper income brackets can afford to pay more to help reduce our long-term debt.”

Leo Kingston, owner of 18002sellhomes, said he would pass along any tax increases to his customers.

“I want to continue employing people and providing benefits including insurance,” he said. “The sky is not falling. However, I will have to make adjustments to continue to be a profitable company.”

Al Slattery, owner of an Oklahoma City masonry firm, said Washington policymakers are hurting his family and the families of those he employs.

“Instead of planning growth, we're planning strategies to deal with regulations, taxes and not the least how to make a profit in this complicated economy,” Slattery said.

A new standard?

Cohlmia said some of the angst about the fiscal cliff and potential tax changes likely is overblown. His clients, many of whom are wealthy, haven't been complaining too much.

“Guys who make a million dollars a year of income, I don't hear them bellyaching,” Cohlmia said. “It's not going to change their standard of living.”

Williams, who said many of his clients are “blue-collar, working-class kind of people,” said he is advising those taxpayers to avoid making drastic changes based on fiscal cliff fears.

“Don't jump in the pond with both feet; let's stick our toe in here,” Williams said.



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