About the Expert
Melissa Simmons joined Andre + Associates in 1989 and became one of the firm’s partners in 2009. She serves as Andre + Associates PC’s managing partner and technology partner. She knows the ins and outs of individual and business tax laws and accounting practices. She is a member of the Texas Society of Enrolled Agents and North Texas Enrolled Agents.
Does Andre + Associates have a philosophy?
Yes, and it’s simple. Our clients should feel like they are part of the family. We believe it’s an honor for them to trust us with their financial future, and we want them to know that we have their best interests in mind. We treat them like we do our own family members.
Why do most of your clientele hire you? What does your team comprise?
We’ve been here for 36 years, so I think people see us as a staple in the community. Many clients are referrals from other clients. Mr. Andre started this firm in 1986 and he recently retired. We have seven Certified Public Accountants (CPAs), two Enrolled Agents (EAs), and three EAs who are also CPAs.
EAs have the highest credentials that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) awards, and they are licensed by the treasury department to represent taxpayers before the IRS. We stay busy throughout the year, but especially during tax season. Our company handles a variety of tax planning for individuals and businesses. One of our specialties is helping small businesses get their company started. We take care of all their compliance needs so they can focus on getting their business going.
What are some mistakes people make when planning for retirement?
Opting to take their Social Security too early. If you take it too early, those monthly allotments will be much less for the rest of your life. Soon, 67 will be the retirement age for everyone, and that’s the age you’ll get your Social Security benefits without them being discounted.
If you can wait until you’re 70, that amount increases eight percent every year, or 24 percent more. For decades, we’ve been taught to put money into 401Ks, IRAs and other tax-free vehicles. Traditional IRAs grow tax-free, but when you take the money out, it is all taxable.
Planning ahead to have the least taxable income through conversion from traditional IRAs to ROTH IRAs can help reduce your taxes for future years. ROTH IRAs still grow tax-free, but you only pay tax on the amount you convert, and then you don’t ever pay tax again.
Up to 85 percent of your Social Security can be taxable, and it is a factor of your other income. When you take money out of the ROTH IRA, you don’t pay any tax. It’s important to consult a tax expert and make a plan, so that you can keep more of your income instead of paying more in taxes.
What life changes can change an individual’s tax situation?
We have been helping clients through their life changes — getting married, having children, becoming empty nesters, or losing a spouse — for decades. We help them plan for the next year after tax preparation. Sometimes, more comprehensive planning may be required because of a promotion or job loss. Whatever the situation, we help them maneuver through it. We are advisory driven. We’re not just producing a product — we’re helping people plan for their future.