The Super Bowl and Tax Planning

February 6, 2012

A decade or more ago, the Super Bowl had become a bit of a joke. Fans looked forward to watching the commercials, sure. But the actual game itself had become a dreary series of lopsided blowouts. Super Bowl XXIV was perhaps the worst offender, with the San Francisco 49ers pounding the Denver Broncos, 55-10, in a game that wasn’t nearly as close as that score suggested!

More recently, the game has been more competitive and more entertaining. The NFC champion New York Giants reached this year’s “big dance” by defeating the 49ers, 20-17, in a game that came down to the final play — in a Cinderella playoff run that followed a middling regular season. The AFC champion New England Patriots made it by beating the Baltimore Ravens, 23-20, in a game that came down to the final play. That set up Sunday’s contest, when the Giants defeated the Patriots, 21-17, in yet another game that came down to the final play.

Sunday’s game proved the truth of the old cliche that “offense sells tickets, but defense wins games.” Patriots coach Bill Belichick gambled by actually letting Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw score in the final minute in hopes of keeping precious time on the clock. That gamble succeeded in giving quarterback Tom Brady 57 seconds to engineer a last-minute drive — but ultimately failed when Brady’s desperate final heave to tight end Rob Gronkowski fell harmlessly to the ground.

That same cliche about defense winning games applies to your finances as well — especially when it comes to tax planning. If you want to put real money in your pocket, you’ve got two choices:

•    Financial offense means making more money. (As Charlie Sheen would say, “duh.”) But that’s not always easy, especially in a tough economy like today’s. You can invest all sorts of time efforts into growing your business or your income, only to see them sail wide right like a missed field goal.
•    Financial defense means spending less money. That’s often easier than making more. And when it comes to spending less, it makes sense to focus on the big expenses. For most affluent Americans, that means taxes, rushing you like the Giants’ backfield. Maybe you can save 15% or more on car insurance by switching to GEICO. But in the long run, how much can that really do for you?

Financial defense is important enough that some financial moves which look like offense are actually defense in disguise. Wall Street is buzzing about Facebook’s upcoming initial public offering, wondering if the company can really be worth $100 billion. But the company is raising “only” $10 billion in cash. And Facebook doesn’t need the money. They’re “engineering a liquidity event,” in large part so founder Mark Zuckerberg can pay his own taxes! (We’ll talk more about this as we get closer to the actual offering.)

It’s easy to think of us as just “tax people” and focus on the forms we file for that April 15 deadline (April 17 this year, for you procrastinators).  But focusing on just compliance misses the value you get from proactive tax planning, and misses the total value we offer as your financial “defensive coordinator.” So call us when you’re ready to “call an audible” and play real financial defense. We promise not to let the IRS just walk the ball across the goal line!