No matter how complicated or simple your personal situation is, it's never too early to think about tax planning for the coming year. By getting an early start on the 2020 tax year and using and referring to this guide to 2020 taxes throughout the year, you'll be in much better shape to take advantage of all the favorable provisions that can result in a lower tax bill this year and beyond.
Tax planning is the analysis of a financial situation or plan from a tax perspective. The purpose of tax planning is to ensure tax efficiency. Through tax planning, all elements of the financial plan work together in the most tax-efficient manner possible. Tax planning is an essential part of an individual investor's financial plan. Reduction of tax liability and maximizing the ability to contribute to retirement plans are crucial for success.
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The year 2001 witnessed a series of financial information frauds involving Enron, auditing firm Arthur Andersen, the telecommunications company WorldCom, Qwest and Sunbeam, among other well-known corporations. These problems highlighted the need to review the effectiveness of accounting standards, auditing regulations and corporate governance principles. In some cases, management manipulated the figures shown in financial reports to indicate a better economic performance. In others, tax and regulatory incentives encouraged over-leveraging of companies and decisions to bear extraordinary and unjustified risk.[72]
At least a bachelor's degree in accounting or a related field is required for most accountant and auditor job positions, and some employers prefer applicants with a master's degree.[54] A degree in accounting may also be required for, or may be used to fulfill the requirements for, membership to professional accounting bodies. For example, the education during an accounting degree can be used to fulfill the American Institute of CPA's (AICPA) 150 semester hour requirement,[55] and associate membership with the Certified Public Accountants Association of the UK is available after gaining a degree in finance or accounting.[56]
Both the words accounting and accountancy were in use in Great Britain by the mid-1800s, and are derived from the words accompting and accountantship used in the 18th century.[26] In Middle English (used roughly between the 12th and the late 15th century) the verb "to account" had the form accounten, which was derived from the Old French word aconter,[27] which is in turn related to the Vulgar Latin word computare, meaning "to reckon". The base of computare is putare, which "variously meant to prune, to purify, to correct an account, hence, to count or calculate, as well as to think".[27]
Before you hire a tax professional, visit their business profile to see how they handle payments. Many CPAs and tax experts accept digital payments through Venmo, PayPal, Square Cash, Zelle and other online platforms. More businesses may be changing their payment methods to accommodate social distancing. Check with your tax preparer to see how they handle payments. 
To take advantage of these lower rates, taxpayers should ensure that they meet the requirements for qualified dividend income and long-term capital gains. Most dividends that U.S. stocks pay qualifies, but any dividends that don't qualify get taxed at higher ordinary income tax rates. Selling an investment you've held for a year or less makes any gain short-term rather than long-term, and short-term capital gains also get taxed at ordinary tax rates. If you pick good dividend stocks and hold your investments for the long run, the tax laws reward you with lower rates.

Financial accounting refers to the processes used to generate interim and annual financial statements. The results of all financial transactions that occur during an accounting period are summarized into the balance sheet, income statement and cash flow statement. The financial statements of most companies are audited annually by an external CPA firm. For some, such as publicly traded companies, audits are a legal requirement. However, lenders also typically require the results of an external audit annually as part of their debt covenants. Therefore, most companies will have annual audits for one reason or another.
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