Landmark Tax Group - January 2019

Landmark Ledger

(949) 260-4770 Professional | Experienced | Licensed Expert IRS & State Tax Relief

January 2019

How I Got Here From Working for the IRS to Helping You

Many of my clients aren’t big fans of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The department keeps pestering them, reminding them of money they owe, and inflicting more stress

After finding my passion for helping others learn about their tax debt and how to fix it, I knew I could open my own firm. Additionally, the eight years I spent at the IRS proved to be some of the best training for the future of my career. I was working at the core of our nation’s taxing system, and I was experiencing pieces of the process other professionals never actually see. Throughout that experience, I was working across the table with big-budget companies that promised relief to taxpayers, and I saw firsthand their inability to fulfill their clients’ needs. It quickly became apparent that there was a massive need for professional IRS help, where a taxpayer could have a licensed representative advocate for them to resolve their back tax issues. In 2012, I left the IRS armed with the stockpile of knowledge I picked up while working there. I opened Landmark Tax Group in July of that year and immediately began helping taxpayers find consolation from the very organization where I once worked. After helping taxpayers settle over $35 million during the last seven years of private practice, I’ve continued to learn about the intricacies of tax law and reconciliation while helping people through their very raw emotions. I’ve learned that the panic and anxiety most people experience is heavier than it should be because human brains exaggerate situations. My job is to help them see the less-stressful reality, and more importantly, I use my expertise to make sure they don’t end up needing my services ever again. Tax codes are complicated and confusing, but they’re concepts everyone can understand and find relief from with the right help. I completely understand the fear. As a husband and a father, I’d do anything to make sure my family is happy and healthy. If my family and I were facing tremendous debt, I know I’d struggle through high stress and fear. I also know there’s a light at the end of what seems to be a very dark and long tunnel, and I’ve dedicated my career to helping people find it.

with each phone call and letter. But if it hadn’t been for the IRS, I wouldn’t be able to help my clients find relief from that very same department. In 2004, about a year after graduating college in Florida with a degree in business and information technology, I found myself at a career fair chatting it up with some IRS agents. I’d never considered working at the IRS until the agents informed me that the agency was hiring 1,100 people, and the deadline to apply was midnight — that night. I was immediately intrigued, so that night I took and passed the IRS’s 150-question quiz. Before I knew it, I was flying across the country on my own dime to Los Angeles for fingerprinting at 7:30 a.m., mock phone calls, and a one-on-one interview with the IRS. I was eventually hired and began my yearlong training to become an IRS Revenue Officer. It was my job to knock on people’s doors and meet with them in person regarding the back taxes they owed after paper and phone communication had failed. I was lucky enough to have a great coach for this job, but those initial meetings with taxpayers were nerve-wracking. I remember constantly walking on eggshells, knowing I wouldn’t be a welcomed sight as I flashed them my badge and talked to them about the money they owed. However, the part of that job that invigorated me the most was talking to people. I learned about the life situations and the fears that lead people to these places in their lives, and through my conversations with them and the expertise I gleaned during my tenure with the IRS, I was able to educate them about ways they could avoid being in this distressing situation again. That lit a spark in me. It made me realize that helping people in this way was something I was meant to do.

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—Michael Raanan, MBA, EA


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How to Spend Wisely in Retirement When it comes to retirement and finances, there’s enough material about saving to fill a library. You see commercials on TV showing one tiny domino gradually becoming a massive tower, you hear advice from coworkers and family members, and you read books and articles on the topic. Much less attention, however, is paid to how to spend those savings once you’re actually retired, even though it’s a significant part of the equation. After all, it doesn’t matter how much you save if you blow it all in a year. Here are a few considerations to keep in mind as you begin chipping away at that nest egg. of increased medical costs or other later-life expenses, an escalating plan provides a financial safety net. What to Spend On Some of your spending choices Make Your Savings Last

will come down to personal preference and interests, but you might be surprised to learn that one category of spending consistently proves more fulfilling than others. Professor Michael Finke of The American College surveyed nearly 1,500 retirees and found that spending money on leisure

How Much to Spend The easiest way to budget for your retirement is with a level spending plan. In this system, you simply estimate how many years your retirement will last and divide your savings by that number. It’s better to make a generous estimate rather than a conservative one. A survey of financial planners conducted by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) found that outliving savings is the No. 1 concern of those approaching retirement. Underestimating your life span is an easy way for this fear to come true. Of course, a level spending plan assumes that your financial needs won’t change over the course of your retirement. If you’re the type of person who regularly meets and exceeds your budgeting goals, you can probably make it work. If not, you may want to consider a plan that allocates more money with each passing year of retirement. In the event

activities and experiences caused the lowest rate of regret. Finke calls this “social spending” and surmises that it’s favored because it encourages older adults to get out into the world and enjoy their retirements. There is no perfect plan for how to spend your savings during retirement. But there is one very wrong way to go about it, and that’s mindlessly. However you choose to spend your savings, make sure you have a plan.

Tax Season Reminders How You Can Avoid Surprises and Confusion

Revoking Your Passport While this isn’t a new law for 2019 — it was actually introduced in December of 2015 — it’s still largely unknown. With this law, the IRS has the right to request the U.S. Department of State revoke the passports of those who owe more than $51,000 in tax-related debt, including penalties and interest. This can limit your ability to use your passport or update it in the future. Additionally, your passport can be taken away when you are not in the U.S., which could turn your European vacation into an unintentional extended stay. However, the IRS does honor a few life situations pertinent enough to not merit your passport being revoked. These include you filing for bankruptcy, working through a compromise with the IRS, or being unable to pay due to life circumstances. The IRS will also give you 90 days to find a resolution to your back taxes before they request your passport application to be denied. The best way to keep your passport and avoid more debt is to seek help. Learn more about these changes and how we can assist you by visiting

As we gear up for another tax season, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is reminding taxpayers to anticipate possible changes. As exciting as that may or may not sound, you shouldn’t spend another minute dreading your taxes this season. Prepare for your tax filing with the following reminders from the IRS: Tax Withholding Changes Due to recent reforms, how much or how little your employer withholds from your paychecks could change. For millions of taxpayers, this will be reflected in a serious shortfall of their withholding, which will affect refunds and tax fees. Because of this, the W-4 form you originally filled out when you became employed by your current company may no longer reflect your wishes for withholding, but this form can be updated. Making changes to your W-4 won’t be reflected in your 2018 taxes, but you can anticipate changes for 2019. However, in order to prevent any surprises this year, the IRS is encouraging people to utilize its Tax Withholding Calculator and its informational videos and pages found on


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Debt and Your Body How Your Health Is Affected by Debt

If you’ve vowed to improve your health in 2019, you may be ramping up your workouts, trying to make spinach taste less horrible, or snuffing out your smoking habit. But no matter how many veggies you eat or squats you do, you may still be ignoring a crucial part of your overall wellness — resolving your debt. According to a multitude of studies, accruing high amounts of debt can not only make daily expenses a struggle; it can also impede your health and wellness. Additionally, these afflictions can show up in the form of physical pain and mental illness. Studies have linked large amounts of debt to higher blood pressure, which puts you at risk for heart attack and stroke. These studies specifically focus on people in their 20s and 30s, who should be at the lowest risk of having high blood pressure. But because of their debt, these numbers have skyrocketed. Furthermore, depending on where you carry your stress, your body could sustain chronic pain in your back, neck, and shoulders. This could lead to more pain and other conditions, since your spine connects these trouble areas to the rest of your body. On top of all that pain, your immunity can be compromised when you struggle through debt. Studies have shown that high stress dampens your immune

system’s functionality. While there hasn’t been a large-scale study on the correlation of debt and immunity, money problems have been shown to create high levels of stress on individuals and families. This could be particularly dangerous for households with older adults or children, as their immune systems’ capabilities are already more likely to be weaker. But your health is so much more than just your physical body. Stress and debt have been linked to both anxiety and depression, which can trigger issues with your sleep, productivity, and social life. Additionally, mental well-being and physical fitness have been linked together. Simply put, when you feel good mentally, your body feels good and you’re more likely to be active — and vice versa.

Take back your life and your health today. If you owe back taxes to the IRS and are struggling

to find relief, Landmark Tax Group can help you. Find out how by visiting


“To tax and to please, no more than to love and to be wise, is not given to men.” –Edmund Burke, 18th Century Irish political philosopher and British statesman “The power of taxing people and their property is essential to the very existence of government.”

–James Madison, U. S. President


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2030 MAIN STREET, STE # 1300 IRVINE, CA 92614 (949) 260-4770 Professional | Experienced | Licensed Expert IRS & State Tax Relief

Inside This Issue Finding You Relief 1

Sudoku Answer Key

Spending Tips for Older Adults Reminders FromThe IRS 2 Connections Between Debt and Wellness Tax Quotes 3 Happy Year of the Pig! 4

New Year’s Menagerie Legend of the Chinese Zodiac

You have probably heard of the Chinese zodiac and the 12 animals that represent each year: the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig. Maybe you already know which animal claims your birth year, and you’re ahead of the game if you know that we’ll be celebrating the Year of the Pig in 2019. But do you know how these specific animals earned such a high honor? According to legend, when the celestial Jade Emperor created a way to measure time, he invited the animals in his kingdom to earn a spot on the zodiac by winning a race. Cat and Rat, who were best friends back then, were both eager to participate. Wanting to be well-rested, Cat took a nap before the race. But when the time for the race came, Rat, who was determined to win, sneaked away without waking his friend. Rat’s cunning didn’t stop there. When the race reached a raging river, Rat secretly climbed on the back of Ox, who was in the lead. When they reached the other side, Rat jumped off, crossing the finish line before Ox and claiming

the first year of the zodiac for his own. The other animals finished the race in the order they appear in the zodiac, each taking a place influenced by their unique traits. Now, you might be wondering how Dragon came in fifth place. Unlike their monstrous brothers in Western mythology, Chinese dragons are wise, helpful creatures. During the race, Dragon saw a village suffering from a terrible drought, so he stopped to help make rain so the farmers’ crops could grow. Even with the delay, he still finished well before most of the other animals. And what about poor Cat? When he woke up to discover he’d missed the race and would be left out of the zodiac, he was enraged. He declared vengeance on Rat, and to this day, cats still hold their grudge against rats. Was there really a celestial race that named each year in the Chinese calendar? Probably not. After all, cats hadn’t been introduced in China when the zodiac calendar was first put into use! But it’s an exciting story and one that’s always fun to tell on the Chinese New Year.


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