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Blog // Life is Taxing...

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December 29 2016 | Posted in General

A new year and a new name!

Hutchinson & Walter—it has a nice ring to it. I’m sure I will answer the phone many times using the old name.

I have been over to the new building frequently and it is almost ready for us to move in. There are walls and carpet but still no doors on the offices.

As I mentioned in my last post, I will need to update the photo above. However, our new signs will be at the top of the building and I’m afraid of heights so I’m unsure if I will be leaning on the sign this time.

The organizers are in the mail so if you are a tax client of ours, be looking for them. Put them in a safe place and collect all the documents that come in the mail over the next month or two. Complete the organizer or at least the Yes/No questions and then come see me at my new office.

We have sent out newsletters and postcards to remind you of the move and also to update you on some of the changes that are happening. Be sure to look at our “Hot Topics” section on our website for information that could assist you with taxes and other tax related issues.

Another tax season is fast approaching and we are ready to assist you. Let us know how we can help. If there is something unusual that has happened such as selling your home, retiring, or thinking of retiring, changing jobs or wanting some estate planning, we can give you really good information that will help you with these decisions.

My partner Marc Hutchinson was telling me that firms should be able to handle a wide variety of tax and accounting issues—he called it “bandwidth”. We have CPA’s here that specialize in construction companies, real estate development and medical and dental practices. We assist clients at Microsoft, Boeing and Amazon with their stock incentive programs.

We don’t have a Forestry Group or Banking Division here at HW so our ability to assist Weyerhaeuser and US Bank will be limited. However, if US Bank is shopping for a new CPA firm, we might be interested!!

Remember our phone number and emails will not change!!!

Thanks for listening and I will talk at you again from my new office!


November 27 2016 | Posted in General

We are on the move and making some changes!

As many of you are aware, we are planning to move our offices to a new location in late December/early January. The new address will be 1407—116th Avenue NE Suite 222 Bellevue, WA 98004.

However, I’m not sure how many of you knew we are going to make a name change at the same time. Starting in December, the firm will be known as Hutchinson & Walter, PLLC.

It seemed like the right time to make this change. Since all the signage, letterhead, business cards and envelopes are going to change anyway. Mike Bashey has not been with the firm for over 10 years but we continue to see him and his wife Joyce on social occasions.

We have mentioned this move before in our newsletters and everyone will be getting a postcard that tells of the move. It was a hard decision since we really liked our current offices in Hidden Valley Park. We were also very fond of our landlord, Paul Cressman Sr. who passed away just recently. He will be missed by so many. The firm just needed more square footage and there was none left to give at this location.

The move will be a good thing for both the firm and our clients. We will give the staff some room to move around and not have two or three accountants sharing one office. That should make their working environment much more pleasant. You in turn will get a happier CPA and who couldn’t use a happy CPA in their life!!

My picture will have to change since I am standing outside the current building and leaning on the old logo. That’s a good thing since I believe I get better looking with age. That’s what my beautiful wife tells me anyway.

Please take the time to come out and visit us and see the new offices. We would love to show you around and then when you have to come see us, you will know the way!!

Remember our phone number and emails will not change!!!

Thanks for listening and I will talk at you again.


October 18 2016 | Posted in General

"The best things about October!"

October is a great month. Ripe with exciting holidays such as Columbus Day and United Nations Day. Did I forget Halloween?

Halloween is such a fun event. Who doesn’t have childhood memories of going house to house with your pillow case and coming back with enough candy to last until Xmas.

The ups and downs of this celebration are really remarkable. I can still remember the year where my mom told me I was too old to go trick or treating. This was way before any stores or malls were handing out candy. I argued with her all day!

And then there were the years where my kids enjoyed Halloween. Helping them pick out costumes—walking them door to door— sorting through their candy to determine what was safe (and what was mine). In addition to the trick or treating, there was the fun of deco- rating your house and yard with witches, black cats, pumpkins and spider webs.

There are other good things about October. From a tax perspective, October signals an end to filing individual income tax returns— at least timely filing of them.

Our office does 200 to 300 returns during those 15 days in October (17 days this year). We get them prepared and hope there is no tax due. Many of our clients still believe that if they have an extension, they don’t have to pay their tax until Oct. 15th. Not true! Any tax paid after April 15th incurs an interest and penalty charge—definitely a Trick and not a Treat.

October is a good month to wear Orange. In fact, I am wearing my Tennessee Volunteers golf shirt right now and my staff tells me that I could be spotted from space with this shirt on.

I think that wraps up October—sure hope I didn’t miss something important like the anniversary of Stephanie and my first date!!

Don’t forget that we are moving offices at the end of the year. I’m sure we will fire off many emails and newsletters about our new location. Speaking of fire, October is Fire Prevention month so make sure you have a fire extinguisher in your house!

Thanks for listening and I will talk at you again.


September 14 2016 | Posted in General

"The only thing that is constant is Change"

I’ve always liked this Quote. It is from Heraclitus the Philosopher. Change is indeed coming our way.

Right after the October tax season ends this year, we will be readying our office for a move to a new location. We are a little cramped at our current office (which we have been in for ten years).

Our new home starting in late November will be just north of Overlake Hospital. If you are a client, you will receive our September flyer with more details. In addition, we will be sending more details out to our clients over the next five months to keep them in the loop.

We will miss being up against a beautiful park at Hidden Valley. However, our new location will be more in the heart of downtown Bellevue and walking distance to restaurants. My beautiful wife works at Overlake so I’ll be able to see more of her and that is always a plus!

There should be very little interruption of services from us. We will take a couple of days to move furniture and computers. Put down a few throw rugs and brew up the coffee and then right back at it.

Of course, you are welcome to come visit and see the lay of the land at our new digs. There will be plenty of parking outside the building.

Now if you are one of our clients that still needs to get their taxes done, that job will be performed at our current location so try to make an appointment right away. Or you can just drop the information off to our front desk staff and they will get it logged in and ready for prep work.

Change is right around the corner but the more we change, the more we stay the same—we will always be caring, competent and provide value to you no matter where we call home.

Thanks for listening and I will talk at you again.


July 14 2016 | Posted in General

The Hall of Fame and Junior.

When I arrived in Seattle from Aberdeen, South Dakota, I had never seen a pro baseball game in my life. I came to Seattle because my brother lived here and told me what a great place it was to live.

My first time in the King Dome was a truly magical event. It was so big. The fake grass was so green. And of course, there was Ken Griffey Jr.

He was not super human. He was a man like all the other ball players. However, there was something special about him. His talent was at the top of the game and at the same time he had that boyish charm and goofiness that made you think he was just one of the guys.

I can still remember a game when my son, who was just 5 or 6 at the time, was on my shoulders and we were standing right on the edge of the center field wall. Both of us had Ken Griffey Jr. tee-shirts on and we yelled down to him. Most players are a little to full of themselves to even acknowledge a shout out from the crowd but by golly, Junior turned around and looked up at us-I’ll swear to this day he even gave us a smile.

My son and I shared years of baseball games together and Ken Griffey Jr. was the glue that kept us talking about the sport. It was not a happy day when we found out he was leaving. Of course we were a little bit older and we both had an understanding that this game was a business. We were still very sad to see him go as we wished he was going to be a Mariner his entire career.

Family members including my son and I are going to be heading to Cooperstown next week to see Griffey get inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame and although our tee-shirts don’t fit anymore, we will be wearing #24 and hoping to get one more smile from the man who saved baseball in Seattle.

It’s especially good news to us that he will he entering the Hall of Fame as the first player to enter as a Mariner.

I forgot about taxes-if you haven’t filed your personal return, you have until October 15th but if you are a client, come see us earlier so we can get it done over the summer.

Thanks for listening and I will talk at you again.


May 30 2016 | Posted in General

Trying to Get a Handle on Identity Theft

Did you know that the IRS issued over $5.2 Billion in fraudulent refunds last year? I’ve heard that the profit from Identity Theft has exceeded the profits from the drug trade. No wonder criminals are retooling their operations towards a crime that does not need a gun or a fast boat or plane has flexible hours and the only requirement is some skill with a computer.

What does all this mean to you? Our BHW clients were not impacted by identity theft until the last few years when so many data breaches occurred. The Archdiocese breach was the first one that hit many of our clients. After that, Target, the IRS and many other breaches meant that filing was not going to go smoothly.

Once your return is electronically filed, we find out quickly if someone has filed a return using your social security number. The thieves usually file the very first day the IRS accepts electronic filing so they will be the first one to use the social security number.

The best help out there right now (other than safeguarding your information) is the IPPIN which is a six digit pin number that is needed for the IRS to accept your return as the true return.

Not everyone can have an IPPIN (although I think that would be a good idea). You have to have been involved in identity theft to receive one. Or, at least you have to believe you are involved with identity theft. For example, if files with sensitive information were stolen out of your car, you can file a form 14039 and tell the IRS you either been a victim or are exposed to being a victim. This will start the process.

As usual, we are here to help you. Contact us right away if you believe your identity has been compromised. We can’t do much about someone running up charges on your credit card but we can help where it impacts your tax returns.

I left the humor out of this article as I could not find anything funny surrounding this subject—levity will return next time.

Thanks for listening and I will talk at you again.


Apr 21 2016 | Posted in General

Breaking up is hard to do!

Neil Sedaka sang that song back in 1962 and it is as true today as it was then. Breaking up, is hard to do. Which is why you seldom tell your dry cleaner that you have found someone else. You simply do not bring your clothes to them anymore and it is a good guess that they aren’t saying – Where are Rick’s shirts?.

However, in the tax world, we do wonder where your shirts are. As we get closer to April 15th, we try to reach out to the clients we have not heard from. Some tell us they have changed accountants for a variety of reasons, others are grateful that we are on top of this and promise to send us information right away. Still, there are some we just cannot get in touch with. For these clients, we file an extension using the best information available.

What happens if no extension is filed? No extension can cause many negative tax issues. The biggest is penalties if you owe money. Not just small penalties, but significant penalties.

Other issues that may occur are elections that you made on your return can become invalid and retirement plan contributions can be disallowed. I think you get the picture.

Since we’re on the topic of extensions, what happens if we file an extension for someone who has filed their own extension or even filed their own return? Nothing happens. There is no downside for us filing an extension on behalf of someone even if they do not need it and only a downside if we don’t file one and they do need it.

At Hutchinson and Walter, we appreciate all of our clients and we understand that from time to time there will be a reason that you decide to find another CPA firm. We would really appreciate it if you took a few minutes and Broke up with us.

Thanks for listening and I will talk at you again.


Mar 21 2016 | Posted in General

Getting to know the word NEXUS.

Nexus—this is not a new luxury automobile. It is a tax term that is used to describe your involvement in another state. If you have nexus in a state, there is a chance you have to file a tax return in that state.

You would think CPA’s would be familiar with the term—and we are. However, having nexus in a state has changed over the years.

In the past, you had nexus if you had a “brick and mortar” location in that state. You had nexus if you had employees working in that state. Or, you even had nexus if you came into the state to solicit business. These were pretty easy to judge.

Did you know that a baseball player files tax returns in almost every state they play a game in? Think about it—Nelson Cruz owes a return to California—New York—Michigan—Minnesota—Maryland—Colorado—Illinois—Ohio—Missouri—and Massachusetts. Since he played in CA many times (The A’s, Dodgers, Padres, Giants and Angels) a majority of his taxes will go to the Franchise Tax Board. But again, this is someone who came into a state and worked (played) so figuring that they owe tax seems reasonable.

Today, you could have nexus if someone came to your website from another state and purchased something or solicited advice they were charged for. They could be sitting on their couch in South Carolina and purchasing something over the phone or from your website in Seattle Washington and a case could be made that you just had a transaction that is reportable to the SC taxing authorities.

No, I have not been sampling brownies from one of those new store in Bellevue. This is where we are headed—or maybe we are there already—the age of the internet. States (and even cities) want their share of the tax revenue from these sales.

Congress and the states have been fighting over these issues for more than 10 years but have not been able to pass a law that all the states can live with—gridlock, who would of thought!

The cautionary tale here is not to assume you have no liability in a state just because you are not in that state. If you have the ability to track your income by state, you should start that process so when you do have to test your sales, you have some information to rely on.

Thanks for listening and I will talk at you again.


Feb 3 2016 | Posted in General

Politics and tax law—every four years.

Over the 30 plus years I’ve been involved with accounting and taxes, we have had an overhaul of the tax laws just about as often as we have had a new president.

We understand this—each candidate has their own special plan for raising or lowering taxes and once in office, they work to implement those life changing rules for the middle class.

This year is no different. Marco Rubio wants to eliminate most deductions and capital gains tax. Ted Cruz and Ben Carson want a Flat Tax and to abolish the IRS (that thought only occurs to me in my dreams).

Donald Trump would eliminate the corporate income tax and the estate tax. In addition, his highest income tax would be 15% for individuals over $1 million of income. This sounds wonderful but where is the money going to come from to run the government?

Bernie Sanders will increase taxes on most, and for the most wealthy, the rate will hit close to 50%. He counters with health care that will offset these increases.

Hillary Clinton will also have additional taxes for the wealthy and also have a minimum tax of 30% on higher adjusted gross income - not sure how that will work.

As a CPA who makes the majority of his revenue working in the tax arena, new presidents equal more confusion in the tax code and regulations which equal more confusion by the taxpayers. At some point a tax return is just too complicated to do without a tax professional and that’s why we’re still in business.

Do I have a favorite? Of course I do. But this is not the forum for me to disclose who I want in the White House. What I can tell you is that any of the candidate will continue to keep the CPA world very busy learning new tax law and then applying it to your returns.

Flat Tax—Sales Tax—More Tax—No Tax (sounds like a Dr. Seuss story); we can handle them all at Hutchinson and Walter so bring me your candidate and bring me your tax information. We are open for business.

Thanks for listening and I will talk at you again.



Rick Walter, CPA

Blog written by:
Rick Walter, CPA



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