Tax stuff I think is interesting. It is either copied from my primary blog on forbes.com http://www.forbes.com/sites/peterjreilly/ or stuff that I did not put there because being on forbes is a good gig and they have, you know, standards. Also some guest posts.
Saturday, September 6, 2014
Does Obama Return Make Michael S Solheim "First Accountant" ?
Originally Published on forbes.com on April 14th,2012
So here it is 9:00 PM on Saturday April 14th and I decide to look at one more return before I go to bed. And it is not even for a client or a relative. I wish I still had my mother’s return to do, but no need to be maudlin. It is actually a pretty simple return. One W-2, a couple of 1099′s, a Schedule C with hardly any expenses. They are paying over 12,000 in alternative minimum tax, but there is really not much that can be done about it. The only AMT preference is state income tax. Maybe they could have timed the payments better. According to the attached schedule the W-2 is from DFAS-CIVPAY DIRECTORATE. Anyway Barrack and Michelle Obama’s return is one of the simplest that I have looked at this season. I was thinking of discussing the specific charities they chose or the 529 plan they funded for their daughters several years ago that is revealed in the gift tax returns, but there is something else that really interests me. Who signed the return ?
Michael S. Solheim CPA of Wineberg Solheim Howell & Shain signed the return. As I frequently remark, perhaps ad nauseum, I am a tax blogger not an investigative reporter so there is perhaps much that could be learned about Michael Solheim, but I was not able to find much in the span of time I allotted myself. He was licensed by the State of Illinois in 1987. His firm has a very bare bones website. Here is the firm profile:
We believe in the value of relationships. We view every client relationship like a partnership, and truly believe that our success is a result of your success.
We are committed to providing close, personal attention to our clients. We take pride in giving you the assurance that the personal assistance you receive comes from years of advanced training, technical experience and financial acumen. Our continual investment of time and resources in professional continuing education, state-of-the-art computer technology and extensive business relationships is indicative of our commitment to excellence.
If you google a sentence from that profile you will find numerous firms with the exact wording. Hey we’re CPAs not writers, not most of us anyway. WSH&S prefers to take a proactive vs reactive approach to tax services like at least scores of other firms that apparently used the same website package.
Mr. Solheim donated $3,800 to the President’s 2008 campaign. I was disappointed that the return did not indicate what the tax preparation fee was (Presumably it would have been for last years return). It is understandable that it was not there. In order to be deductible miscellaneous itemized deductions have to exceed 2% of adjusted gross income. On the Obama return that would be a hurdle of almost $16,000. Even if they beat that, though, there would be no benefit because of the alternative minimum tax. Although it was an easy return, I would not want to have gone near it. The pressure would have driven me nuts knowing that so many people would be looking at it.
Mr. Solheim’s linked-in profile is marked private and it indicates that he has six connections. I’m a second degree connection to Barack Obama through two people and his CPA is not in my network. Go figure.
Given the combination of Mr. Solheim’s apparently low profile and my limited research skills, I have to imagine him. What I imagine is a working stiff CPA who does a really good job at returns. He probably knows the tax law in a very practical applied way. I’m thinking, perhaps hoping, that he is like Murray in the movie Dave :
Maybe when it is finally time to get serious about tax reform the President will invite him over for a skull session and will ask him where the needless complications are. I bet Mike starts with Form 6251, the alternative minimum tax.