Case Study: How One Home-Builder Saved $1M in Taxes
Last updated October 2019
By Ryan Niadoba, President at No Boundaries Advisors
I first met Jim Lupinetti of One Creation Construction on his job site, while he was in the midst of framing a 2,600 square foot cape cod in an idyllic New Jersey neighborhood across from the park. Guys were running around, lumber was laying everywhere.
Jim had several homes actively being built and dozens more on the horizon. He proceeded to tell us how his business was doubling in size every year. How his team was handling the growth, but how he couldn’t stand that his accountant would never return his phone calls, especially with pending tax returns.
See, Jim’s accountant used to be good. He would call back immediately. Jim always knew when his work was getting done, he understood what the accountant did and why he did it.
Unfortunately, Jim’s accountant became more focused on his own retirement than on helping Jim. Despite being very loyal, Jim had grown frustrated and the time to make a change was now.
What Good Accountants Do…
So we asked Jim.
Our CPA firm’s policy is to return all customer phone calls/emails within 24 hours, with no exceptions. Is that something that would put your mind at ease?
And every single project we do for a customer has a known completion date, in advance, approved by you, the client. Would you like that?
Also, we price all of our services upfront so you know exactly what our bill will be and can make a decision on if you want us to proceed with the work. Does that sound fair?
So are you interested in making the transition to our firm?
At this point, we requested the prior two years of tax returns and access to his books, so that we could evaluate what exactly needed to be done for us to help One Creation Construction.
$1M in Tax-Savings PLUS $1.2M in Profits
Once we dove into Jim’s records, we unearthed a mountain of opportunity! Specifically:
- We felt that we could substantially reduce his tax liability (assuming no growth) by nearly $250k over a decade. If he continued to grow at half of his current rate, we would be able to save in excess of $1M.
- We identified a significant opportunity for risk reduction. Certain corporate structures are considered “high-risk” to be audited by the IRS. By restructuring his company, we were able to reduce his audit risk by 90%.
- As specialists in the home building space, we identified areas for increased profitability that would increase his income by nearly $70,000 in year one and would result in an additional $1.2 million in profits over the course of a decade.
But you’ll be surprised by Jim’s response…
Accountants Miss This All The Time!
As we met with Jim and reviewed these opportunities, we could see he was growing a bit upset.
We took the opportunity to ask him why.
To which he replied: “I just do not understand how my accountant could have missed all of these things for so long. I am so happy I met you guys, but so pissed that I never knew all this!”
We explained to Jim that this is something we see all the time because:
- Most accounting firms are “generalists”. They work with anyone in any type of business. They will work with lawyers, doctors, manufacturing, restaurants, websites, etc. They are “jacks of all trades and masters of none”. We are 4th generation home builders and exclusively work with home builders or construction companies. We know the building industry better than most. Plus, we never get stretched thin by having to “keep up” with IRS tax law for other industries (professional services, manufacturing, etc).
- Many accounting firms feel their job is to “do your taxes”. It is a lazy business model. They never look for ways for you to improve. One of our core values as a business is to always seek ways for our customers to improve.
- For the accounting firms that do find ways to improve. They often do a poor job of explaining why changes should be made and what the benefits are. As builders ourselves, we know what is important to you and can explain in plain English why to do it.
- Many accountants never propose new ideas because they are afraid that you will not want to pay for these changes. As I mentioned to Jim in the field, all these changes will be priced upfront and it is “ok” for Jim to say “no”. We will never make that decision on his behalf.
In our first year of working together, we were able to save Jim over $100k in taxes. We have restructured his business to reduce the likelihood that he would be audited.
How’d we do it?
Without going into all the eye-glazing details, here’s a high-level overview what we did for Jim:
- Corporate Structure. We reviewed the actual corporate structure that Jim’s business was set up with. There are many different kinds (sole proprietorships, corporations, s corporations, partnerships, UBO, etc) and they all have different tax treatments. Depending on the business, some are better suited than others. We elected to change his structure for significant tax and risk management benefits.
- Tax Minimization. We evaluated what tax laws, deductions, and deferrals could be utilized to minimize his tax bill. The US tax code is the second most complex in the world (#1 is Brazil). We have an extensive review process to identify missed and underutilized tax minimization opportunities.
- Benchmarking Profitability. As certified NAHB trainers we evaluate the profitability of all our customers and compare how they are doing to the rest of the home-building or construction industry. We commonly see new home builders with gross profitability of 10%-15% when they should be closer to 25% to 28%. There are many factors that can lead to this: lack of knowledge, confusing mark-up and margin, not tracking project costs, etc. We were able to determine that Jim (while very profitable) had room for improvement and have been advising him on strategies to increase profits.
We are now focused on helping him grow and look forward to seeing the results happen.
P.S. Is Now The Time For You To Switch Accountants?
You could stick with your current accountant, and potentially give $1Ms more to the IRS and lose even more in profits.
Book a free consultation now because fairly quickly, in plain English, I tell you whether:
- Your current accountant is dropping the ball by leaving $100K to $10M on the table for the IRS, your company structure is a high-risk for an audit, and you’re missing opportunities for profits. Or….
- In the rare cases, we discover your accountant is doing an awesome job with your taxes, company structure, and growth strategy.
If you’d rather not, I understand, I appreciate you reading this far!
About The Author
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