Aretha Franklin was undoubtedly a brilliant singer, songwriter, and pianist, but she made giant estate planning mistakes that you’ll want to take heed of. Franklin, who was divorced, reportedly died without a will or a trust despite having four grown children, one of whom has special needs.

Many Americans don’t have a will or a living trust. A 2017 survey by found that only 4 in 10 adults do. 64% of Gen Xers and 42% of boomers don’t have a will, the study noted. According to the survey’s respondents, the top reason for not establishing an estate plan was that they simply “hadn’t gotten around to it.”

One of Franklin’s lawyers, Don Wilson, said he tried to get her to create a will or trust to keep her estate private and out of probate. She never followed through.

Now not everyone will have assets worth close to Franklin’s reported $80 million estate, but the actual dollar value of your assets isn’t the point. It’s about making sure your loved ones receive what you want the way you want.

And if you have a special needs child, you might consider working with an estate lawyer to set up a special needs trust. A special needs trust, which is not subject to probate court, lets you contribute funds for your child’s benefit while enabling him or her to continue getting benefits, such as Medicaid and Security Supplemental Income, which require recipients to have no more than $2,000 in assets and limit their income.

Though your options are virtually limitless, proper estate planning -deciding on the “who, what, when, and how” and executing this with the least amount paid in taxes, legal fees and court costs possible can be a challenging and emotional affair to wrestle with alone. For more information, contact Talley LLP today.

With the nonstop demands of running a business, even the most energetic of leaders can get worn down. Here are a few ways to keep things in check so you can consistently show up at your best.
Take a 10,000-foot view. With the daily influx of emails, message pings and phone calls, it’s easy to see productivity as a measure of how fast we clear our inboxes and how many items we tick off our to-do lists. These lists are certainly helpful for keeping tasks on track, but the real value CEOs bring to the table doesn’t always fit in a series of checkboxes. To fully comprehend crises, challenges and opportunities within a business, CEOs do well to take a 10,000-foot perspective, not just a close-up. Read on to discover a few ways to do just that.
Make time for discovery. It may seem counter-intuitive to productivity, but being an effective leader isn’t just about getting things done. Twitter CEO Dick Costello told Inc. magazine that he reserves anywhere from 60 to 90 unscheduled minutes at the beginning and end of each day. In the afternoons, he uses this time for “unplanned encounters” with staff around the office. These conversations are used to make sure information conveyed in meetings aligns with down-in-the-trenches realities.
Don’t be a micro-manager, no matter what Elon Musk says. The surest way to stifle innovation and decrease your own productivity as well as that of your staff and partners—is to micro-manage every task. Even Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s unapologetic identification of himself as a “nano-manager doesn’t make this a good idea.
Yes, it’s absolutely essential for leaders to be keenly aware of the goings-on, processes and results in their companies, providing guidance and support where needed. But is it really necessary to be entering every invoice yourself? Making every social media post? Scheduling every vendor meeting? Instead, find team members and service partners who can help you focus on what you do best: growing your business.
Leading-edge businesses are partnering with Talley LLP and its affiliates to take advantage of our wide range of services, such as bookkeeping, financial reporting, tax planning, auditing and estate planning, all under one roof. 
For more information on how Talley can help grow your business, give us a call today.

While the definition of success will vary depending on who you ask, everyone strives to be successful in their personal and professional lives. Much has been written about how entrepreneurs and executives should “hope for the best and prepare for the worst”…But what happens once your business experiences initial success or substantial growth? What do you do now?

We here at Talley LLP believe that success is something that is continually created, not acquired. It is created by aspiring individuals who have no limits in terms of how they approach and execute creativity, intelligence, ingenuity, talent, persistence and determination. We’ve worked with countless inspirational athletes and entrepreneurs over the years and picked up some pointers along the way.  Here are a few that we’d like to share with you as you chase down your own personal version of success. 

Keep a positive attitude. Many entrepreneurs and executives face unexpected negative consequences after experiencing initial success, such as anxiety over being able to maintain their “winning streak”, fearing that they are being set up to fail, and experiencing the envy others feel towards their accomplishments. While some stress may be a good thing, when stress turns into anxiety, it can be detrimental both to your mental health and to the health of your business.

Set bigger goals and work “backwards”. Once you’ve achieved initial success, map out your next long-term goal or objective and work backwards to figure out what it will take to accomplish it.  But why start at the end?  Many times, the end-result seems so far away and impossible to reach.  Through backward planning, one can mentally prepare him or herself for specific challenges and milestones that need to be achieved to reach an important goal.

Don’t be afraid of letting go of the “we’ve always done it this way” mentality. You are bound to run into unforeseen challenges as you achieve success and grow your business. For an example of this, see our business lesson write-up on Pablo Escobar.  A business in growth or scale mode faces a whole new set of different challenges and opportunities that may require a change in attitude and approach. Your ability to recognize this can mean the difference between spinning your wheels and achieving your next milestone.

Talley LLP understands the challenges facing entrepreneurs with generating and protecting income. Whether you’re looking to improve your profitability, build your brand through a business transaction, or wish to guarantee your legacy through estate planning, Talley is the consulting and financial services firm dedicated to strategic business solutions that deliver meaningful results.

In case you haven’t noticed, there’s a huge amount of data out there. Many enterprises like to talk about data, but what you probably don’t hear as often is how effectively they are using it. In fact, a study revealed that only a small percentage of companies reported effective data management practices. So what’s missing?
What’s missing isn’t technology, but rather an understanding of what is possible and how an organization needs to evolve to take advantage of big data. A large number of businesses don’t have a firm understanding of what technology is currently available to their business or how to leverage their data to use it to their advantage.
“If you can measure it, you can manage it.”
Business data has existed for centuries. Stone tablets, papyrus, ledgers, floppy disks, if you name it, it’s probably been used to store business information. Until recently, statistics were simply recorded and kept in the previously mentioned formats, as an untapped valuable resource.
These days, thanks to falling technology costs and new tools, smaller companies can effectively tap into this information now more than ever. Entrepreneurs successfully utilizing big data are leveraging their internal information (i.e., pricing histories, customer traffic, etc.) with multiple outside sources to increase their profitability. These entrepreneurs are able to achieve this increase in profitability by using said data to understand their customers’ behavior better, to reduce costs by eliminating inefficiencies and human bias, to strengthen client bonds by anticipating clients’ needs, to enrich service offerings based on new knowledge, and to give employees new tools to use to perform their jobs better.
Have a strategy for data management.
Businesses might invest significant money into data capture, but then drop the ball when it comes time to use the data.
Translating a business’s infinite streams of data into decision-making tools that help increase growth and profitability is no easy task. To get it right, key decision makers need to consider a company’s operations from the inside and know what to look for in detail. By working closely with your business’s respective data, you or your advisors can pinpoint the right key performance indicators, and accurately interpret information to ensure that your company is on track to meet its goals.
Talley helps clients properly leverage technology to meet the needs of their growing businesses. From tech-based accounting solutions to management information, analysis, and reporting, Talley is the premier business consulting firm to entrepreneurs and their respective businesses.
For more information on how we can help your business leverage technology, contact Talley today.

As American actress Meghan Markle and Britain’s Prince Harry prepare to walk down the aisle this Saturday, most people will not focus on the U.S. tax issues our complex U.S. tax laws inevitably seem to bring. Early in their engagement, Buckingham Palace announced that Markle will become a British citizen after marriage. Yet tax lawyers quickly pointed out that Meghan Markle’s U.S. citizenship could cause tax headaches for Britain’s royal family.

Unless she renounces her American citizenship, she must continue to file U.S. tax returns, plus foreign bank account reports, every year, reporting her worldwide income and disclosing her assets. Even if the newly-weds try to keep their assets separate, disclosing assets may be a particular worry.

Americans living and working abroad must generally report and pay tax where they live. But they must also continue to file taxes in the U.S., where reporting is based on their worldwide income. A foreign tax credit often does not eliminate double taxes. Annual FBARs carry big civil and even criminal penalties if not handled properly. The civil penalties alone can consume the entire balance of an account.

What if Markle decides to renounce her U.S. citizenship? The U.S. charges $2,350 to hand in your passport, a fee that is more than twenty times the average of other high-income countries. One generally must prove 5 years of IRS tax compliance as well. For some, a reason to get into compliance is only to renounce, which itself can be expensive.

Markle reportedly has a net worth of $5 million, which would mean she would likely need to pay an exit tax to the U.S. if she renounces. If you have a net worth greater than $2 million or have an average annual net income tax for the 5 previous years of $162,000 or more, an exit tax most likely applies. It is a capital gain tax, calculated as if you sold your property when you left. A long-term resident giving up a Green Card can be required to pay the exit tax too.

The tax headache raised with the latest royal wedding stands as an example to individuals and families relocating abroad to consult with an experienced tax professional.

Only broadly experienced tax advisory professionals can provide a truly global perspective so you can preserve, enhance and pass on to the next generation the assets and wealth that you’ve worked hard to build. Talley welcomes the opportunity to discuss with you the current opportunities available to you and your family. For more information, contact us today.

According to a survey by Deloitte, only 40% of organizations polled consider the information provided by their finance function to be insightful. The report even suggests that smaller businesses glean more benefit from this type of information.  So why would smaller organizations, who are typically resource-constrained when compared to the “bigger guys”, find more benefit from management information? A strong argument can be made that as you continue to grow, so do your management information needs.

If your objective as an entrepreneur is to build a successful business, how do you stay on top of the quality and insightfulness of management information as you experience growth? Here are several key areas to focus on:

Improving data is a good place to start. Accuracy. Reliability. Accountability. Conduct regular reviews of your data and how you collect it to ensure the accuracy and quality of data entering your management reports. By improving and simplifying your systems, you can achieve greater accuracy and reliability in your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

Balance KPIs with your strategic objectives. Deloitte found that 60% of respondents do not review KPIs with strategic objectives in mind while only 20% thought they were focusing on the right metrics. KPIs are major insights that make real connections across all departments. Rather than focus on the sheer number of KPIs, hone in and focus on those that have a causal relationship with your strategic objectives. Also, non-financial KPIs are often glanced over but demonstrate how effectively a company is achieving key business goals (e.g. employee retention rates, customer satisfaction, enquiry-to-sales conversion rates, etc.).

Investing in the right team of advisors. Translating a business’s infinite streams of data into decision-making tools that help increase growth and profitability is no easy task. Working closely with the data particular to your business, you and/or your advisors can pinpoint the right key performing indicators and accurately interpret information to ensure your company is on track to meet goals.

With over 25 years’ experience consulting with industry-leading companies, Talley LLP and our affiliate Group 11 Advisors are committed to providing clear, knowledgeable and applicable financial data and analysis solutions, enabling management to intelligently track performance, progress and profits. To determine whether your business is taking advantage of all metrics available to make the most informed decisions for future success, schedule a time to talk with us today.


A number of ultra-rich tycoons have decided to divvy up their wealth for charity and other benefactors, leaving much less than they could to their children. Microsoft founder Bill Gates and his wife, through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, are major proponents of this personal choice. They started The Giving Pledge, which invites the world’s richest to commit to donating at least half their money to charity. Here are several notable tycoons who’ve either signed The Giving Pledge or have otherwise decided not to leave their amassed fortunes to their children.

Warren Buffet – Berkshire Hathaway

Bill Gates’ good friend Warren Buffet is among the list of affluent who signed the Giving Pledge. He plans to give away 99% of his wealth to philanthropy either during his lifetime or death. Why not leave it all to his three kids? In an interview with Fortune magazine over 25 years ago, he was famously quoted for expressing that he’d like to give his children “enough money so that they would feel they could do anything, but not so much that they could do nothing.”

Gene Simmons – KISS Frontman

Rock legend and bassist for the internationally hot-selling band KISS has been quoted for expressing a similar sentiment in regards to his own two kids and their inheritance. He said in a CNBC interview, “…in terms of an inheritance and stuff, they’re gonna be taken care of, but they will never be rich off my money. Because every year they should be forced to get up out of bed, and go out and work and make their own way.” A self-made man who emigrated from Israel to the U.S. with his mother in the late 50s, Simmons pursued a variety of careers before becoming “The Demon.” His net worth has been estimated at $300 million.

Michael Bloomberg – New York City Mayor

An avid philanthropist with a net worth of $50.7 billion according to Forbes, Michael Bloomberg intends to give away nearly all his fortune or leave it to his foundation. He has signed The Giving Pledge, and in his letter to the foundation said, “If you want to do something for your children and show how much you love them, the single best thing-by far-is to support organizations that will create a better world for them and their children.”

Whether you’d like your children to inherit the whole of your fortune, want most of your wealth to go to charity, or feel like striking a balance between options, an experienced financial advisor can help you structure your estate planning so that more of the money goes to your benefactors and less is eaten up in tax obligations. Call Talley LLP to learn more about important inheritance and philanthropic strategies that can help protect your assets and mitigate your tax burden.

If you own a family-run business, succession planning isn’t simply a decision to not show up to work. Having a well thought-out plan of what will happen when you finally decide to retire seems like it would be a prudent matter, however only 23 percent of family businesses have a robust succession plan in place, according to a report from PricewaterhouseCoopers, with only 52 percent of the family businesses polled intending to pass ownership into the next generation.

Given how dysfunctional families can be, the reluctance of many family business owners to pass the company down to their children or relatives should not be surprising. With family businesses, succession planning can be especially complicated due to the relationships and emotions involved, compounded by the fact most people are not comfortable discussing topics such as aging, death, and their financial affairs -even with their immediate family.

Another problem noted in the report is how a business started 30 or 40 years ago by a father or mother can look significantly different today, and will continue to evolve as time goes on. In a complex business world, the ability to adapt to changes is a skill not appreciated enough, and many would-be family member successors may not be up to snuff.

It is difficult for business owners of any small or mid-sized company to make a serious effort toward succession planning while running day-to-day operations.

In what can be a harrowing process, many business leaders who do attempt to make a plan take on too many tasks by themselves. Others simply don’t start early enough to identify and prepare the right people for future roles. With so much at stake – both emotionally, financially and professionally – the key is simply to bite the bullet, start early, and be thorough. Doing so can create a smooth transition that keeps confidence strong among customers, investors, and employees. This confidence can play a major role in ensuring the success of your company’s future and enhancing your own personal legacy.

The Internal Revenue Service announced last week it will begin to ramp down the 2014 Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP), closing the program on Sept. 28, 2018. By alerting taxpayers now, the IRS is encouraging any U.S. taxpayers with undisclosed foreign financial assets use the OVDP before the program closes. 

Everyone knows the scrutiny given to Cayman Island banks, as well as the hidden accounts revealed by the Panama Papers. But “offshore” in the Internal Revenue Service’s eyes means any location outside United States boundaries. The IRS certainly knows about all these places where U.S. taxpayers stash their cash. And they do all they can to find the money and get the taxes due.

US tax and Report of Foreign Bank Accounts (FBAR) filing requirements for Expats

In addition to employing traditional enforcement actions against offshore accounts, the IRS has used a voluntary program since 2009 to encourage foreign account owners to report their offshore holdings to Uncle Sam at a reduced penalty rate as well as avoid criminal charges.

That option, however, will end in September.

Since the OVDP’s initial launch in 2009, more than 56,000 taxpayers have used one of the programs to comply voluntarily. All told, those taxpayers paid a total of $11.1 billion in back taxes, interest, and penalties. The number of taxpayer disclosures under the OVDP peaked in 2011 when about 18,000 people came forward. The number steadily declined through the years, falling to only 600 disclosures in 2017.

Tax Enforcement

The IRS notes that it will continue to use tools besides voluntary disclosure to combat offshore tax avoidance, including taxpayer education, Whistleblower leads, civil examination and criminal prosecution. Since 2009, IRS Criminal Investigation has indicted 1,545 taxpayers on criminal violations related to international activities, of which 671 taxpayers were indicted on international criminal tax violations.

Streamlined Procedures and Other Options

A separate program, the Streamlined Filing Compliance Procedures, for taxpayers who might not have been aware of their filing obligations, has helped about 65,000 additional taxpayers come into compliance. The Streamlined Filing Compliance Procedures will remain in place and available to eligible taxpayers. As with OVDP, the IRS has said it may end the Streamlined Filing Compliance Procedures at some point.

Talley’s experienced team of tax professionals provide comprehensive tax compliance and consulting services so you can preserve, enhance and pass on to the next generation the assets and wealth that you’ve worked hard to build. We welcome the opportunity to discuss with you the current opportunities available to you and your family. For more information, contact us today.

Changes in the rules for like-kind exchanges under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act may lead professional sports teams to trade fewer players, according to tax experts.

It has been long established in the past that player contracts are treated as business assets. Assuming there was no cash involved in the trade, teams would recognize no gain or loss when they traded players. They were just trading the business asset that was their contract. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that was passed in December amends 1031 to only certain real estate deals now. Since professional athletes’ contracts aren’t considered real property, some tax experts believe that 1031 exchange treatment will no longer apply to professional sports teams trading players after 2017. Starting this year, sports teams might need to begin recognizing a taxable gain when they trade players, though so far that hasn’t slowed the pace.

While taxes are probably never going to drive sports teams’ trade decisions, they may become a factor in their decisions, considering every time a team traded a player it would be treated as a taxable event, affecting the economics of the trade.

The change in 1031 exchange treatment could prompt several reactions from pro sports teams. Team owners might do fewer overall trades, fewer player-for-player trades, more cash-for-player or player-for-draft picks deals, or the development of an alternative trading procedure that allows trades without triggering adverse tax consequences.

Our assessment of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is that it is the most impactful tax law enacted in the last 30 years. Talley welcomes the opportunity to discuss with you the current opportunities available to you and your family. For more information, contact us here.