Forrest Koch, CPA: New tax law makes smart changes

Forrest Koch has been fascinated by the tax field for more than 40 years. “It continues to become more complex,” he said.

How long have you been in the tax field?

“This year is 40 for me.”

What first attracted you to the field?

“I was in wheelchair. I thought it was the only thing I could do. It turned out to be a great profession and it’s been fascinating for 40 years.”

What is the biggest difference from when you stated to now?

“The changes have been gradual. It continues to become more complex. Increasing regulation has been a theme since I’ve been in and it just gets thicker and thicker. Recently there’s been some reduction in regulation which has been helpful, but regulation has been a trend that’s difficult for everybody.”

Who are your clients?

“About 80 percent of my clients are businesses.”

Are there things business owners should be mindful of this tax season?

“It’s more a matter of the business having a trajectory that takes them into the purview of particular taxes that they haven’t had to deal with in the past. Different circumstances create needs to understand a different part of the tax law. The biggest changes are going to happen in 2018. A lot of the decisions they need to make this year will affect their taxes for next year. For instance there are some advantages of becoming a chapter S Corporation for next year. But you have to do it by March 15 this year.”

What are some of the most common mistakes people make with their taxes?

“Not going to a CPA (ha-ha).

If a client prepared their own taxes in the past and made mistakes but are coming to you for the first time, can you fix issues from previous years?

“Yes, absolutely.”

How far back do you generally look? Is it indefinite?

“About three years. If you have a refund the past three years they don’t give it to you.”

Are there any tax success stories that come to mind?

“I delivered a tax return yesterday to a construction contractor, the second tax return I’ve done for him. I’ve been coaching him how to manage and plan for his business. What he said to me was our relationship has made the biggest difference of any he’s had over the past five years. That’s a success story as far as I’m concerned, for him and for us as accountants.”

What were your initial thoughts on the new tax law?

“My initial thought was that it’s not only a reduction in taxes for virtually everybody, it’s an increase in the business climate for almost everybody. What we’re seeing is not only are taxes going to be reduced, but businesses will have extra money and they invest it in their people. Wages are going to go up and the taxes that are saved on that are no longer paid to the government — their kept by the people. I think it’s a real positive, that was my initial thought. Now that the law is out and I’ve been studying it, it’s been confirmed.”

Who do feel there are winners and losers with the new bill?

“I think everybody is a big winner. It’s all proportional. It’s a very clever bill from my perspective.”

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