tia delano

BIG Announcement!

I am THRILLED that I get to make this announcement. Seriously, I’m cheesing from ear to ear right now!

I’m launching a brand new, accelerated Money Mastery Coaching Program, and I am making it available, for FREE, to the first 20 people that fill out the contact form below, before October 25, 2015. When you sign up, I’ll send you an email which welcomes you and gives you some information on what you can expect. The actual program will begin November 1, 2015, and end on December 10, 2015 (to allow you additional time to complete the tasks).

On October 27th, you will receive your first email, allowing you access to the program’s private site. You all will be able to do the program completely free of charge. I will be frank with you all: this program is best suited for beginners, so if you are at a more advanced phase of handling your finances, you may find it a little too easy. It’s designed to build comfort in handling your finances, and giving a great snapshot of where you are,financially.

All that I ask in return is that you complete all of the tasks and that you give me lots of honest feedback (you can be completely honest- I want to make the program the best it can be!).


Here are some important dates to remember:

Now – October 25: Sign up for free coaching program

October 25:Coaching program enrollment closed

October 27: Welcome email sent to enrolled individuals

October 28: General information, Instructions and Frequently Asked Questions sent

October 29: Access email sent

November 1: Program begins

December 10: Program ends


I look forward to working with you all!


Updated October 28, 2015: Admission to the pilot program is now CLOSED. Thanks to everyone that signed up, and I look forward to releasing the program to the general public in the very near future.

A Trip to San Diego and A Review of the IRS Nationwide Tax Forum

I spent a fantastic week in San Diego in August, though the trip was more business than pleasure. As part of my Enrolled Agent continuing professional education requirements, I have to take courses in tax law and ethics. I take these courses every year, to keep my skill set sharp and to find out about the latest tax law updates.

This year, as opposed to completing online courses to fill the requirement, I decided to attend the IRS Nationwide Tax Forum. This was my first forum and I attended the San Diego session. The event was held at the Town and Country Resort and Convention Center. I stayed at the Town and Country during the week, so that I could walk downstairs to attend the training instead of driving to the location. The forum featured 40 different training topics, with each session lasting 50 minutes. There were also two networking receptions where attendees can enjoy light refreshments. I was pleasantly surprised by the effort that the vendors and IRS put into creating an enjoyable experience.


My thoughts

The forum was very informative. What I really liked was the fact that these brief sessions made it easy to customize my learning schedule. The speakers were knowledgeable and there were enough topics to satisfy all attendees at varying knowledge levels.

My only points of dissatisfaction were the hotel itself and the location. The staff at the Town and Country were excellent but even they couldn’t make up for the old rooms and less-than-pristine hotel exterior. Also, the hotel was conveniently located across the street from a major mall, but there weren’t many other attractions that could be easily accessed on foot. Many of San Diego’s main attractions could only be accessed by rental car or by extensively coordinating public transportation. Washington DC may have spoiled me a bit: I like being able to walk to everything that I want to see!

The upside of this hotel is that there were beautiful flowers everywhere. Here are a few pics that I snapped while walking around.

102_1677  102_1679 102_1676102_1680

If I attend next year (and I probably will), I will choose a different hotel that is closer to downtown San Diego and just rent a car to get around. Given the perpetually wonderful weather, I’m sure that any hotel I choose will be even more beautiful than the Town and Country.


Well, that’s my quick review of the IRS Nationwide Tax Forum, the Town and Country Resort and Convention Center, and, of course, what little of San Diego I got to see. Here’s hoping that my next trip to San Diego will include more sightseeing!

What’s Going On?

Hi everyone! My apologies for being away for so long: the past several months have been chock full of activity!

Firstly, I spent a week in San Diego, CA, taking refresher courses for CPAs and Enrolled Agents (as well as other tax professionals). I’ll share more information about that in a future post. To put it simply, I fell in love with California. I don’t anticipate an immediate move, but if the right opportunity appears, I would be open to living on the West Coast.

Secondly, I have a brand-new preschooler! She loves school, but the new routine has required me to make a few adjustments. Even little things, like spending 15 minutes working on homework – yes, she has homework – can really throw off the normal flow of the evening. It’s been totally worth it, though: she has been making new friends and has a great time every day. And yes, she’s learning new things. Every evening, she shares what she learned in school.

Lastly, I’m back in school myself! I decided to take a Corporate Finance class, just to expand my skill set. I have no interest in working for anyone’s finance department! I just love numbers and seeing how certain concepts connect to create a complete financial picture. One thing that I know for sure is, exposure is better than ignorance: I’d rather learn all that I can than to find myself ill-equipped to deal with a specific finance issue. Besides, even small businesses benefit from concepts that are taught in corporate finance courses. So here I am, back in school!


So, this post was just a quick catchup, before I get back onto my normal posting schedule. Talk to you all VERY soon!

Beating Tax Debt: Part 3- Prevention


If you’re battling tax debt, make sure you read Part 1 and Part 2 of this series first. However, if you do not have any tax debt, or, you just want to prevent owing in future years, read on.


To say that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure is a gross understatement when it comes to taxes and avoiding a tax bill.

You CAN automate your preventive steps and reduce your tax stress! It’s a lot easier than you thought, and I’ll provide you with some basic tips in this post on how you can do this.

Several small adjustments can prevent you from having tax bills.

Here are a few ideas for avoiding a tax bill:

Learn which deduction category is best for you. There are two types of deductions: standard and itemized. Standard deductions are the amounts set by Congress, which determines the income that is excluded from the tax calculation. Itemized deductions are an alternative that allows a person to use other expenses to calculate the deduction amount. If you pay mortgage interest, have a lot of medical expenses, contribute generously to charity, or have a home office that you use for your job, then itemizing your deductions may be more advantageous than taking the standard deduction rate. IRS has a list of all of the things that can be included as itemized deductions. Check this list to see which deduction category is best for you.

Go back to school. There are tax credits and/or income reductions available to folks that pay for college. Normally, you can get a student loan for the expenses, but it’s better to pay as much as you can out of pocket (that way, you don’t create a new bill). If you want more information about education tax benefits, IRS’s website features an entire section that explore all of the benefits of obtaining an education. Aside from the tax benefit, getting an education could open the door to better job opportunities and more income to be taxed– uhm, I mean, more money to accomplish your goals.

Open a small business. Small businesses can generate income, but, during lean years, can reduce taxable income. The tax benefits of opening a business include being able to write off business related travel, tools, equipment, qualified training, and even the cost of licensure. The point is to always retain a business purpose: you must remain within IRS’s guidelines. IRS has a whole section on small business, as well. If you decide to cheat a little on your taxes, you may find yourself as the recipient of a very unpleasant audit (as former auditor, I can tell you that you DO NOT want this experience)!

Change your W-4. This was briefly mentioned in Part 2 (under planning refunds for subsequent years via increased tax withholdings). Withholdings generally work in the following way: you do the W-4 worksheet and it will come up with a number between zero (0) and ten (10). After that, you put the number on your W-4 form, turn it in to your employer, and that determines how your withholding is calculated. However, if you really want to prevent from having a huge tax bill, you will either reduce that number (if you calculate 5 on the worksheet, put 3 on the form that you submit to your employer) or indicate that you want additional money held out of each check. You are not legally required to use the number calculated on the worksheet, but you are required to reasonably estimate your tax (don’t put down “10” on the form when your worksheet calculated “2”). This is a less drastic way to prevent tax liability, since this involves smaller payments toward the tax.


That concludes the Beating Tax Debt series! I hope you al have enjoyed the information as much as I’ve enjoyed putting this together for you. If you have tax questions or comments, please feel free to comment below. Also, if you don’t already, be sure to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. I’ll talk to you all soon!

Beating Tax Debt: Part 2- Treatment


After figuring out what is causing your tax debt, the next step is to immediately control the issue. There are several ways to handle tax debt so that it is manageable and less stressful on you.

A multi-prong payment strategy will get your tax debt under control quickly and easily.

Before you can resolve the debt, you will want to explore direct and indirect payment options. There are three ways to pay a tax debt directly, and you can weigh which one works best for your situation. Further, there are ways to indirectly pay your tax debt AFTER you’ve gotten a bill.

First, if you have the money, you can send a check for the full tax balance at the time that the tax return is due. Even if you plan on sending your tax return after the due date, you will still want to submit your payment on the due date, which is normally April 15th. If you pay after the return’s due date, you’ll owe penalties and interest, calculated on a daily basis. If you tend to owe every year, and if your balance is over $1000, you may find that you are assessed an underpayment penalty of 10%, even if you pay off your taxes by the return due date.

If you can’t pay the full amount on April 15th, but anticipate you can have the money within 30, 60, 90 or 120 days, then you can request an extension of time to pay (NOT to be confused with an extension of time to file, which allows you to file up to 6 months after the return due date). The extension of time to pay won’t prevent penalties and interest, but at least you will establish with IRS that you intend to pay the balance in full. You will have to call IRS directly in order to

The third option is an installment agreement. These allow you to pay your balance off over a 72 month period, but there is a charge with requesting them (currently $120). Also, if you are late with your payments or end up owing on a future tax year while you’re under the plan, your plan will be cancelled and you will have to pay a reinstatement fee. This works well for those balances that are too large to pay at once. You can fully pay the balance at any time, and you won’t be penalized for paying more than the required amount or for doing a full payoff.

If you’d like IRS’s explanation of payment options, CLICK HERE.


There are a few interesting indirect ways of paying your taxes. These are great because they are usually easy to deploy and won’t put serious cramps in your lifestyle.

One of the least utilized methods for reducing a tax bill is a penalty waiver request. Once upon a time, IRS used to be able to quickly determine your eligibility for waiver when you called them. I’m unsure if they still have this function, but it’s always good to ask. If you are denied your waiver, you can always write to request it. (I have an EASY waiver request template available here!) Allow 30 days for a response, as IRS is required to respond to all written requests within a 30-day period. Pretty much everyone, except the worst tax offenders, probably qualifies for some sort of reasonable cause waiver.

When the penalties are waived, you can expect your balance to decrease. Depending on the type of penalty, you may see as much as 25% vanish from your bill, not to mention the fact that the interest will decrease, since it is calculated on the tax due and the penalties.

Another way to indirectly pay your taxes is to plan for a refund in the subsequent year. So long as you’re under a payment plan, you will be chipping away at the balance, but the quickest way to see a big drop in your tax bill is to have refunds applied from subsequent years. You can increase the likelihood of generating a refund by stopping whatever caused the bill, increasing tax withholdings, increase pre-tax retirement contributions, and by READING about the different tax credits available. Credits can be the difference between paying on a tax bill for 6 years or wiping it out in two or three years.

THIS is why it’s important to file every year, even when you are only getting a small refund. Even tiny refunds can be applied to reduce an existing bill.

If you need to play catch-up and file some older tax returns, feel free to contact me for assistance, or visit your local IRS so that you can get the forms and publications needed to prepare those old returns!

Stay tuned for the third and final part of this series, that addresses how you can prevent owing tax.

Beating Tax Debt: Part 1- Diagnosis


One of the more interesting things that I’ve encountered when I worked at Internal Revenue Service is the confusion surrounding tax debt. For many people that owe taxes, they find it difficult to get out of tax debt and stay out of it. They don’t quite understand how they got into the debt and what they can do to prevent it in the future. No matter how big or small the bill, the steps for resolving the issue remains the same.

In order to STOP owing IRS, you must understand WHY you owe and you must STOP doing whatever is causing you to owe.

Of course, many people are so intimidated by IRS that they won’t even call IRS to get some help with their tax dilemma. Even worse, many paid tax preparers are not very good at understanding and explaining what generates a tax bill. Sorry to say it, but many paid tax preparers only input numbers, without having much knowledge of tax law and its implications. I’m here to tell you: if you aren’t clear on why you owe, you WILL owe again. So, Step 1 of eliminating tax debt is to properly diagnose what caused the tax bill.


The easiest way to figure out what happened with your taxes is to order your return and account transcripts online (these are FREE of charge and available immediately after signing up on IRS’s website; unfortunately, at the time of this post, the online order system is unavailable, though the transcripts can be mailed to you). Then you can compare the numbers on your copy of the tax return to what’s on the transcript. If you don’t have enough prepayments (either tax withholding, quarterly estimated tax payments, or tax credits) to cover your tax, then you will have a bill. If you find yourself owing for one year, after never owing in previous years, you may want to check the transcripts against one another, to see where the difference occurs.

If you look at your transcripts and are still confused, you can visit your local walk-in IRS so that one of the employees can walk you through your transcripts. If that is more time consuming than you would like, feel free to contact me, and I can assist you. After working at IRS for nearly a decade, I’m confident that I can resolve your issue.

However, I’m sure that with a little patience, anyone can figure out what happened with their taxes to cause a tax bill. This is a crucial step in knocking out tax debt. Stay tuned for Part 2 of the “Beating Tax Debt” series, so you can find out the next step needed to handle your tax debt permanently!

It’s My Birth Month: Let’s Have Some Fun!

Hi everyone! I’m so excited because we are officially entering my favorite month of the year: August! Yes, I’m an August baby, and this time of year is my favorite! Aside from the fact that I enjoy each birthday that I’ve been blessed to experience, I love the last truly warm month of the summer, before the heat turns into cool autumn days.


In this space, I celebrate my birthday by GIVING away things (if you haven’t already gotten your free gift for visiting, this is good time to do so!) This month, I’ll be giving away more freebies and answering some of your burning questions. Please remember to check me out on Twitter, as I will be doing some fun stuff over there, too! I’m trying to give you all MORE of what you want and need, so there will be more posts covering the topics that interest YOU, regarding your financial health and legacy building.


I’ve been working hard on something special that I’ll be announcing in October, so look out for that, as well as something EXTRA special for the end of the year. I’m so excited that I can barely keep it secret! I can’t wait to share all of these updates and surprises with you all soon!

This Week in Tax & Finance

Here’s a quick rundown of the most interesting tax and finance articles I’ve read this week:

Special taxes for soda? Well, Mexico implemented a 10% soda tax, which meant that any sugary, carbonated beverages costs consumers more than the price of a bottled water. According to the article posted by Wired, the US could learn something from how the Mexican soda tax was implemented. Berkeley, California already has a version of this tax, but, without nationwide uniformity, the effects of a soda tax are limited. The researchers remain hopeful about the US implementing something similar, but I remain a skeptic. I know how Americans, in general, feel about any tax. They also believe it is their right to guzzle toxic products, so long as said toxic product tastes good.

The takeaway? A soda tax is highly unlikely in the US, where personal freedom reigns over collective wellbeing.


Kids are benefiting from “drugs” (marijuana sales) in Colorado. The Cannabist reports that the 2015 excise taxes collected on marijuana sales totals $3.5 million so far, with numbers expected to increase over the upcoming months. The funds are being used for school construction. There is some additional proposed legislation that will help facilitate the continued use of the excise taxes for school, but it’s very likely that the proposition will pass.

The takeaway? Since marijuana purchases in Colorado mean school funding, purchasing cannabis is now a civic duty.


Do you find that, at the end of the month, you always end up with more month than money? Well, that seems to be a national epidemic, as the federal government managed to overspend its tax revenue by $313 billion dollars. According to CNS News, the feds collected nearly $2.5 trillion dollars in tax revenue over the past 9 months, and still managed to overspend. The largest tax collected came from individual income taxes, followed by payroll (Social Security and Medicare) taxes, then corporate taxes. Despite so many tax streams, the government still spends too much. Let’s hope that this fiscal mismanagement gets under control.

The takeaway? Bouncing checks is a national trait, and it’s detrimental on any level.


That’s all for this week. Look out for another post this week!

I’m Back!

I hope you all have been having a wonderful summer thus far! It’s officially mid-July and I’ve experienced a few changes (moving into a new home, taking on extra assignments at my day job, and finishing up some work with a few clients) so it’s been busy for the past several weeks. A hiatus was much needed!

Now I’m officially back on the blog and ready to give you all information to help you reach your financial goals. Please stay tuned for a few posts this week.

Talk to you all very soon!

Building Your Finance “Dream Team”

Now that you have your “Ultimate Financial Organizer“, you may be wondering how to fill it in. (What do you say? You don’t have yours yet? Well then, click HERE to get it!) Each of the sections are designed to be useful to you as you organize your finances. This post will discuss your finance team and the roles of each person involved.



The purpose of your accountant is to review your finances, prepare tax returns, and help reconcile your financial records at your request. Your accountant’s role may or may not overlap with the roles of the financial advisor. Most accountants work within the “past”, as far as preparing reports to reconcile previous financial actions, while the financial advisor works on future goals/ventures and attempt to project which future actions would result in financial gain.



Attorneys are great for discussing a wide variety of legal issues. Attorneys can help you write wills, set up estates and trusts, draft contracts, and represent your interests in court. Attorneys generally don’t work with your financial figures (that’s up to the accountant, banker, and financial advisor) but they understand the legal repercussions involved with certain courses of action. Everyone will either need or work with a lawyer at some point in life. It’s best to shop around in advance and find one that can assist you so that, if you need one, you won’t have to do a mad dash to find someone reputable. Your attorney should know all of the other members of your team, since the legal advice provided may very well affect the services provided by the other team members.



Regardless of where you bank, having a good relationship with one of the bank/credit union representatives is crucial. The biggest flaw I see when people discuss their banks or credit unions is that they UNDERUTILIZE the resources provided. They allow these institutions to hold their money, but they don’t ever see what benefits and services are provided, other than savings and checking accounts and loans. Either drop in or schedule a time to meet with one of your financial institution’s advisors. Let them know that you want to learn about all of the services that the bank/credit union offers. A good representative will be too thrilled to go over the details with you. As soon as you find a rep that you feel comfortable with, consider him/her part of your Finance “Dream Team”.


Financial Advisor

This person could be your accountant or your banker. You can always hire ME as well (wink wink). In any case, the financial advisor partners with you, in creating a wealth plan that mirrors your values and is aligned with your goals. The right financial advisor is a visionary, that helps make your financial dreams a reality. Just like the rest of your finance team, your financial advisor should be someone that makes you feel comfortable, that listens to you and is honest, creative, and a good communicator. Along with your attorney, the financial advisor should know about all of the other individuals on the team and have some sort of relationship with them. The advice provided by the financial advisor directly influences the services and programs you explore with the other team members.


Insurance Advisor

No one wants to leave their assets vulnerable. Insurance is a must, and can very well mean the difference between years of comfortable lifestyle and a destitute existence. Many people have NO IDEA what kind of insurance they need, other than what is required by law (auto insurance for car owners, renters insurance for tenants, etc.). The key to having an excellent insurance advisor is finding one that doesn’t try to sell you EVERYTHING that the company offers. When you find an insurance advisor that focuses on creating the best insurance package for YOU, as an individual, you’ve found a winner. Always consult with your financial advisor and attorney to make sure that you have adequate insurance, and to verify that the insurance advisor has done a good job with creating a package for you.


Religious Advisor

This seems like an unlikely choice for a member of your Finance “Dream Team”. However, if you do have a religious affiliation, it’s very important that the advisor of your choice is aware of any financial plans that you have that involve your religion. For instance, if, upon your death, you plan on leaving a charitable donation to your religious group, then your advisor needs to know that. Likewise, if you have some religious justification for how you will fund certain goals (certain faiths discourage members from acquiring loans that charge interest), it may be helpful to have the guidance of your religious advisor.