On this week’s Wealthy Woman Lawyer® Podcast, we speak with Christina Lael, a CPA and attorney who specializes in helping other attorneys save money by legally and significantly reducing their tax liability. Following her 10 years of experience in the tax department of a fortune 500 company, Christina started her own company to pursue her passion for helping clients reduce their taxes. Today, she is one of only 60 planners certified by the American Institute of Certified Tax Planners.
“I’m an attorney, I study the tax code, and I continually study. I’ve learned how to use the strategies and the tax code for the greatest benefit of my client,” says Christina.
We chat with Christina about how she implements her tax planning strategies, as well as:
- Unwittingly paying more than what’s necessary by using traditional accounting services
- How effective tax planning can help save you money
- Explaining tax strategies to clients in their simplest terms
- The real-world results of using effective tax strategies
- Substantiating your personal income and deductions
- And more
Mentioned in this episode:
- Lael Tax, LLC Website
- Contact Us
- Lael Tax, LLC Facebook Page
- CLICK HERE to order Thinking Outside the Tax Box which Christina co-authored.
- CLICK HERE TO REGISTER FOR CHRISTINA’S WEEKLY LIVE EVENT. Tax Saving Strategies For Attorneys
Davina Frederick: Hello and welcome to the Wealthy Woman Lawyer Podcast. We believe all women lawyers deserve to be wealthy women lawyers. Our mission is to provide thought provoking, powerful and practical information to help you in creating your own sustainable, wealth generating law firm without overwork or overwhelm, so you can live your best life. I’m your host, Davina Frederick, and I’m so excited for you to meet our guest today. So let’s get started.
Christina Lael, is a CPA and attorney who specializes in helping other attorneys save money in taxes. After working in the tax department of a Fortune 500 company for 10 years, Christina started her own company to pursue her passion for helping clients legally reduce their taxes. Christina is one of only 60 planners certified by the American Institute of Certified Tax Planners, the premier organization providing ongoing education and proactive tax planning strategies. So we’re super excited to have her here today on thr Wealthy Woman Lawyer podcast. Welcome, Christina.
Christina Lael: Thank you. I am honored, honored, honored to be here. Super excited.
Davina: Great. This is something we’ve been trying to do for a little while. And we had a couple of hiccups. So I’m so glad that we’re able to do this. Now. I think the timing is terrific. Because I’ve got lots of questions for you on behalf of our listeners. So let’s start with getting everybody to know a little bit about you. Tell me about your journey to becoming an attorney, and specifically practicing in this area. I mean, I imagine little kids don’t just think I’m going to grow up one day and be a tax attorney. Right.
Christina: Right exactly. And that’s definitely not how it happened for me for sure. So thank you for asking. So I was very draw, I’ve really enjoyed business and numbers. And so I first went into accounting and got my CPA license in Tennessee and started working for a corporation, and was paying a lot of taxes. Because I started making a lot of money. And after I went to or after I received my CPA license, I went to law school in Tennessee.
And while I was in law school, a couple things happen. One, I got to study with one of the top tax attorneys actually two of the top tax attorneys in Nashville, because I went to law school. And then I also took some MBA classes in taxes as well, because I just fell in love with it, believe it one of the very few people that did was in a very popular class that federal taxation.
Davina: I imagine!
Christina: But I loved it because I was already a CPA. And I realized that so many people, including myself, were paying so much more in taxes than they needed to. Because in law school and taking these classes and studying with these tax attorneys in Nashville, I was able to learn just like all other attorneys in their specific field, how to study the tax code, and how to use certain strategies and very simple strategies actually, when you know how to do them, like I do, and that are very simple but incredibly effective to save people money in taxes.
So then while I was even attending law school, my classmates wanted me to start preparing their tax returns and helping them. So I did and I remember I, my first classmate, her name was Christie, Christie Shaloo asked me to prepare a tax return. And I’d never done that before for someone else. This is my early years of law school. Right? she asked me how much to charge her. And I thought, well, there’s a there was a headset at the time I really wanted for 60 bucks. So I charged her 60 bucks.
Davina: I love that.
Christina: Yeah. So that’s how I decided so. So I did her tax return. And then she started she started referring a lot of people to me, a lot of my class more classmates started asking me to do their tax returns. And then of course, a lot of people were working for other attorneys in law school. And so the attorney started asking me to prepare their tax returns. And that’s when I really realized that attorneys specifically were paying a lot more in taxes. There were a lot of different ways that attorneys were being paid in different situations, and really focusing on the strategies specifically for attorneys to help them save money in taxes.
So once I graduated law school, I started my own business to help people save money in taxes, and specifically I focus on attorneys, because the tax of the tax code is 1000s of pages long. So in order to be very effective, you really need to focus on a certain industry. If not, it would be like me trying to practice you know, personal injury law. And if you’re as long as no like if you’re in a car crash, you don’t want to go to someone that just dabbles in personal injury.
Davina: Right, right.
Christina: Yeah, they do it. They know that that area of law at hand and a thing Davina that I found out and I think a lot of my clients or a lot of your listeners may relate to is that I found out that most CPAs and accounting firms, the way they’re set up in America, they do not focus on tax planning. Very little, if at all. They’re not attorneys.
Davina: That is what I want to talk about. I want to talk a lot about that, because my husband and I have used a CPA, who was my husband’s father’s CPA, when he had his law firm. And so you know, we have a sort of family tradition of going to this CPA, and he’s super sharp, super smart. He knows his stuff. He he started out as a young CPA at the firm, and eventually, you know, he inherited or took the firm over when other partners passed away. But to get any proactive advice, I always get the oh, you should have done this.
Oh, you should have done that. Dang it, man, why didn’t you tell me this when I could have done something about it. And I was shocked to learn that because I thought that CPAs you know, that that would be part of what their job would be to say, you know, here’s, here’s how you save money on taxes, but so many don’t. They just, you know, they prepare the taxes, and then they go, oh, well, you really should have done this. And then you’re like, Okay, well, that is it now, you know, and you apply it going forward. So why do you think that is? I mean, have you? I’m sure you’ve seen a lot of that?
Christina: Oh, yeah, absolutely. And I know exactly why that is a great question. And going through, you know, both routes, you know, as a CPA for first work at a firm in then at a company in the tax department, and then you know, went to law school. So the whole, it’s true, the whole business model is just completely different. So most CPAs and accounting firms, they offer a lot of different services, bookkeeping, payroll, sometimes investments, even wealth management, and they make a lot of money doing that, in addition to preparing tax returns.
And so they can make a lot of money just getting your information, and easily inputting it into a very advanced tax offer a program that will do a great job adding up all the numbers correctly, and putting them in the right place on your tax return. And that tax program will spit out a tax return that the IRS and even your state is more than happy to accept. Because they don’t do any tax planning. They don’t.
And so again, because I’m an attorney, an attorney, I can study the tax code, which I’ve done, I’ve studied with tax attorneys, I continually study I just had a book that came out, called thinking outside the tax box. And I’ve learned how to use the strategies in the tax code. For my clients for the greatest benefit of my client, just like what any attorney does, right, they know the law as it pertains to their area of focus into their clientele. And based upon their education and their experience, they can then apply that to the greatest benefit of their clients. And what my gift has really been as well is not just to know this, but to impart this to our clients into to implement these strategies for them.
So I have found and just feedback from my clients, of course, I have an amazing team. And we do as much as we can for the client, we implement the actual tax planning strategies for them. And they’ve told me that I explain it to them. And my dad, he wasn’t an official teacher, but he loves explaining things, and he would have been a great teacher. And I think I get that from him. I do love explaining things to my clients and how what we’re doing for them. And what they’ve told me, it’s it’s in very simple terms that they understand.
Davina: Right, right, I really am able to break it down. Right? Because it is so confusing. Even even I mean, you know, even if it’s confusing for your average attorney, right to understand the tax code, imagine how confusing it is for everyone else in the country who doesn’t have that level of education knowledge. And like you say, the reason why is because it is so voluminous, so vast, so detailed, that you can, you know, like you can’t be something you dabble in, you have to dive in. And so that’s why it’s important to have people like you who are there, so we can focus on what we do best in our area of practice. So tell me a little bit about your book.
Christina: Oh, sure. Yeah, it’s called Thinking Outside the Tax Box. It’s available on Amazon. I actually co wrote it. So we had several authors from the Certified Tax Planner the Institute of Certified Tax Planners is a small group of us that are certified tax planners, and we each wrote a different portion. In the book, my, my chapter focuses on deductions for businesses. But what I also wanted to say was what I specialize in when I bring on new clients is proactive tax planning.
So as soon as I bring on a new client, the first thing that I do is I put together a strategic tax plan customized for them. So that’s what really makes us different, again, from other accounting firms and CPAs is that I immediately put together a very formal and exact tax plan for them that I share with them. And I explain everything to them and all the strategies that we can implement for them to save them money in taxes, which of course we implement for them. And on most my average savings for clients is $52,750.
Davina: Wow, wow.
Christina: Yeah. Significant. Every year.
Davina: Imagine what you can do with that in your pocket.
Christina: Right? Yes, absolutely. And of course, that depends on their income and their situation. But I can help anyone, no matter how they’re paid, if they’re paid with a W2, a K1, if they’re a partner, if there’s a sole proprietorship, if they run a different kind of business, all kinds of different situations. And of course, it depends on their income level and their situation as well. But you know, I can just about always reduce their taxes by at least 20, sometimes 30%.
And again, just by using the strategies and the tax code the way Congress intended, and by implementing the strategies correctly, which is what we do for the client. But yeah, it makes such a big difference to people. I remember, again, when I was first getting started, and one of my first clients, I did put together a tax plan for them, they were able to save a few, you know, few 10s of 1000s of dollars, I think it was maybe 30,000. 20 or 30,000. But they were able to use that to put a down payment on their dream house. I mean, that was a significant impact to them right away like they would they would not have had that money to do that.
Davina: Do you have people when they hire you do they have, do you encounter very many people who have sort of fear around using being too aggressive with tax strategies? Because maybe they’ve been told by a CPA before? Well, I’m conservative, and we don’t want to do this, because it might trigger an audit or things like that, where people put those plants those sort of seeds in their head? I mean, how do you address that?
Christina: Oh, yes, that’s, that is a great question. So a lot of times, the CPAs will say that, or your accounts will say that because they don’t know differently. Like they, they just want to avoid the subject. And they really don’t know maybe how to implement these different strategies. And again, it’s not just knowing about the strategy. Sometimes I’ve heard from clients, I’ll have heard about this strategy, like I went to some kind of seminar, but I had no idea how to implement it.
Christina: So the the key, of course, is knowing the law, but then implementing the strategy correctly with however that looks, which is what we do for our clients, whether that’s substantiation or documentation, or just some simple best practices or just showing you how to easily implement the strategy or something you’re already doing. But you’re just not taking advantage of because you don’t have the proper substantiation or backup, to be able to use that tax saving strategy. And also, what I tell people is that my clients rarely get audited, because the strategies that I use, and you can go to my testimonial page, which you know, we’ll talk about that later.
The strategies that are that I use are nothing crazy, no kind of Cayman Islands scheme or having to adopt 11 kids from Algeria. Or moving to Puerto Rico, you know, nothing like that. I really very simple what I think are very simple strategies, because I’ve been doing this for over 10 years, but are incredibly effective. So my, so my clients rarely get audited. But if they do, what we do for our clients is we also provide full audit support, which means that we don’t charge them extra if they were to get audited, because it would be it’s a very simple thing for us to handle because we already have everything in place for them.
So the few times that my clients have been audited, we handle everything for them. They’ve been able to take advantage of every strategy, the IRS has not changed anything, everything is passed. And we don’t charge them extra for for taking care of that.
Davina: Right. So let’s talk about income levels. And if there are certain points where you really need to be more concerned about this than others. So for instance, some of the some of the women law firm owners are just starting out their law firms and they may be hitting that six figure mark, but they’re not yet taking that in personal income. Others maybe around a quarter of a million, and they’re maybe taking $100,000, you know, in their personal income.
And then you’ve got some who are in the high six figures, or over a million dollars. And they may be taking between between paychecks and dividends, they may be taking half million, let’s say in personal income. Is there a certain point where you say you definitely need a good tax attorney? Or is it is there a certain point you say, well, you know, you really don’t need that yet.
Christina: Oh, another great question, Davina. So what I tell people well, so right now I do individualized, customized tax plans. And those are great for people who make or net 300,000 or above? Well, I’ve gotten so much information and requests from people that make less than 300,000.
Davina: We’re talking about personal income, not revenue for business.
Christina: Right. We’re talking about like net income. So what after expenses 300,000 that your business makes or that you bring home. 300 or 300,000, or more, of course. So actually, what I’m working on right now is for people that make under 300,000, I’m putting together a coaching kind of a coaching program, and a do it yourself very simple, tax saving strategies that people can do themselves that that is a lot less for them to set up. So we’re actually in the middle of working on that I’ve got a programmer programming everything for me, I’m making some videos right now. And that should be released, hopefully in the next two to three weeks.
Davina: Oh, wonderful.
Christina: Yes, so even and I’m already starting to talk to people about that. So if you make under 300,000, you can still contact us. And when that program is out, we will send you that information for that. And then it’s simple strategies that you can do yourself. And I walk you through every strategy. And there is going to be a program where you can enter in your information, and all the documents needed or substantiation will automatically be created. So it’ll Yeah, it’ll be like simple tax planning, similar to like Legal Zoom.
Davina: Right, right. Oh, wow, that’s fantastic. Let’s talk about a strategy that you might have, if you’re at a higher bracket, versus a lower bracket. Give me an example of a couple of different strategies that might be different, depending on what you’re bringing in personally.
Christina: Oh sure. So you know, one thing I always look at is, and I do an event, a live event every week where I go to I go over a couple of strategies that I would use in my whole process, and it’s a great length that we can, I’ll have my development manager also send you Davina, if people are interested in that they can attend every week on Wednesdays at 2pm. Eastern, and that it’s about an hour long. And I go through my whole process. And I kind of go through what a strategic tax plan would look like for them.
And I include two strategies that I typically use for people. So like one of the strategies that the first thing I look at is their entity structure. Oh, as attorneys, a lot of times, they’re paying a lot of money in self employment taxes that they don’t necessarily need to. So if they can, can they elect to be taxed as an S corporation, which can reduce their self employment taxes depending upon their salary? So some people are may already have elected to be an S Corp. But it’s not set up entirely correct. Or they’re not paying themselves the right amount of salary to get the best advantage of that.
And so, so either, you know, we look at their entity, if they’re eligible to be taxed as an S Corp. We talked to them about that. And we do that for them. If they approve that, which they they always do when I show them how much they can save in taxes. And we also look at your salary. And one thing I do where people mess up on is they don’t have any substantiation for the salary that they do pay themselves.
Davina: Oh interesting.
Christina: Yeah, they just like kind of, you know, make something up. And if you were to get audited the IRS it doesn’t really matter how much you make, they would want substantiation for why you pay yourself.
Davina: What’s an example of substantiation?
Christina: Okay, well, yeah, so I’m just going to go into that. So what we do for that for the substantiation is we have our clients take a reasonable compensation report, because the nice thing Davina if you think about it, a lot of attorneys especially if their partners of a small law firm or if they’re even a proprietorship, they do a lot of different things.
And being an attorney, they do a lot of they wear a lot of different hats, they have to manage their company, they have to manage their employees, they have to manage their clients, they have to look at their expenses, they have to talk to me about their tax planning, they have to try to reduce taxes, they have to be an HR manager, they have to be payroll clerk.
Christina: Even marketer. Yeah, marketer. And are they so many different things. So what this reasonable compensation report does is they they elect all the different jobs that they actually perform within a typical week, and how much of their time do they do those particular jobs and, and then they also rank themselves in their proficiency with each job. So then that produces a great report that we can use to get their salary as low as possible. Because that’s the trick of being an S corporation is you want that salary as possible, because that’s what determines the self employment tax.
And then and also have great substantiation. And this reasonable compensation report has, it has been created based upon the tax code and the tax court cases all around officers compensation, within S corporations. So that’s, that’s one thing that we do. That’s one strategy. Another super simple strategy that I talked about in my live event is a way to rent out your home, to your law firm or to your business, if you’re a part of a law firm, or a partner, firm. And if you just charge and rent out your home to your law firm, 14 days or less, you don’t have to report that as income.
That’s in Internal Revenue Code Section 280AG. There’s also a private letter ruling that allowed that for a particular taxpayer. So again, once done correctly, which we we show our clients how to do that we create a rental contract for them a sample invoice, we show them how to get substantiation for the best rental amount for their home. And I show them how to substantiate that for the 14 days, like really easily in their calendar. It’s basically how I do it. So that’s a great way to pull money out of the law firm tax free every year, which is my favorite tax rate. 0%.
Davina: Yes, yeah. So a big key of what I hear you say over and over again, and I think this is probably something that is the big challenge is a lot of people may know of certain strategies, oh, I could do this or do that. But they don’t understand the importance of being able to substantiate it and back it up.
Christina: Exactly. They don’t know how to implement it.
Christina: Correctly so that it’s actually so it’s legal, so that they can actually take that deduction or, or implement that strategy. And those are just a couple very simple strategies have a lot more advanced, more advanced strategies. And again, and even for people that are just just receive a W2, or maybe just receive a K1 from a larger law firm.
I can help them save, save money in taxes. And this is why when I share the tax plan with them, I call it the big reveal. It takes about an hour to go through everything with them. And for each strategy that we’re going to implement for them and how it works.
Davina: What are some of the biggest mistakes that you see attorneys making? That their taxes? Like what’s one thing that comes to mind?
Christina: Oh, well, paying too much. Paying so much more than they need to. And they’re paying their unfair share of taxes instead of their fair share, which is what I do again, nothing crazy sounds like a wipe out. They’re all their taxes are even half of their taxes. But take them from paying their unfair share of taxes to their fair share of taxes.
So a lot of their their entity structure, the way they pay themselves, maybe not using, like if they have a car that’s rented out to the law firm, they’re not doing that correctly, like reimbursing themselves for certain expenses. And also and also a lot of people like you just get like a W two or K one they’ve been told there’s absolutely nothing they can do. You know, to save money taxes, and that’s incorrect. There absolutely is something.
Davina: I would imagine for women law firm owners, you know, because our clients, they’re mostly women law firm owners, our listeners that there are you probably encountered a lot of people, especially when they’re in those first few years, who tend to sort of use their business account. I mean, this is common with small business owners in general and solo you know, business owners in general, is sort of use your business account properly. All things and write it all try to write it off, you know, and right that that messiness will get you in trouble pretty quick, I would imagine.
Christina: Oh yes, yes, absolutely. Yes, I’m going to keep that separate. And if there are there, you know, there are ways to write off some personal expenses. But again, you’ve got to do that correctly.
Davina: Have you noticed? Or what do you think 2020? And what kind of impact do you think 2020 is going to have on law firm owners, because we’re seeing so many who’ve got PPP money that they’re hoping gets forgiven, they’ve got economic disaster loans, a lot of people have closed down their brick and mortar spot and send everybody to work remotely, they may have workers working remotely out their homes and owner is working remotely out of her home. What kinds of thoughts do you have on that, that we can do to sort of prepare for this dealing with 2020? And 2021? When this the situation with the pandemic?
Christina: Yeah, well, one thing that came out with this most recent stimulus bill is that the PPP loan is not going to if it’s forgiven, is not going to be counted as income. Because the IRS was threatening, basically. And they do that a lot. They try to threaten and scare people. These scare tactics, kind of like the, you know, you hear this big growl and barking, it’s a tiny little dog, you know, doesn’t have much to stand on. So, and we’ve definitely dealt with snippets. You know, they were saying that that’s going to be taxable, or you couldn’t use it to deduct expenses, which is the same thing as it being taxed as income.
Or the new stimulus package, I said, no, absolutely not, that is gonna be taxable. So that was great. That was great news. For us and our clients, if your PPP loan is going to be forgiven, if you’ve heard that, that’s going to be taxable income, it’s not. So that was fantastic. So I think that was a great opportunity for people who have PPP loans, they’ve made it even easier now for it to be forgiven, much simpler form, especially if you borrowed less than 150,000. So that’s fantastic. And then I have heard from some clients now my, we all work from our homes, my whole team, I do and my team since the beginning.
So we were able to just go on as normal, which worked out well. But I’ve heard that and of course, I have clients all over the United States, and I’m constantly, you know, talking to him on the phone or doing zoom calls or joined up me meetings. And so that it’s become more and more commonplace to do that. And I remember when my client said, man, I used to spend most of my time racing around meeting all these clients, and I might be able to talk to one or two clients a day, but with the pandemic, working from home and using zoom and all the great technology, I’ve been able to meet with six or seven a day.
This is amazing. So he’s like, I’m gonna stick with this. And I’m like, yeah, it’s grown. Thank goodness, you know, we have the technology set up. I mean, just imagine if this had happened, you know, 15, even 10 years ago.
Davina: Yeah, absolutely. I imagine it’s going to complicate things from a tax standpoint, though, with people trying to figure out, what can I write off? What can I not write off? If you’re using especially if, you know, a lot of folks don’t have a setup where they have a really dedicated room that they can have as their office, and they’re using, you know, they’re there with their kids trying to share the dining room table or some, you know, trying to turn some other part of the house into their office to work.
And I’m sure there’s going to be some confusion about what they you know, they’ll know loosely. Oh, I can write off some expenses associated with this. But I’m sure there’s gonna be some confusion about that. With some of these loans, people like economic disaster loan, which is not forgivable, and things like that. I imagine those things are going to complicate matters some.
Christina: Yes. And if we had we actually have someone on our team dedicated just for the PPP loan and the disaster alone. He’s become quite the expert in that. So if anyone has any questions at all, they could reach out to us about that.
Davina: All right, so I have a question for you that I see. I see this question. I see this discussion come up among women lawyers. It always kind of amuses me but I’m just gonna throw it out there for you. Can women lawyers write off their nice outfits and shoes and handbags? .
Christina: Oh! You know what. I wish they could.
Davina: Also shopping.
Christina: Yes, yes. But no, that has that has been specifically banned in in the tax code. And unless it is an actual uniform that you could not wear out in public is kind of how the tax code is written, then you can’t you can’t write it off. And you can’t even write off dry cleaning unless you travel overnight.
Davina: Wow, see this? Yeah, it’s amazing, this discussion comes up. And so many people, you know, think that you can’t and so I wanted to get that out there. So we can save ladies and keep them out of trouble. You can still buy your, your, your wonderful clothes, but you just can’t write it off. So let’s, let’s talk a little bit about your business itself. And you started your firm when?
Christina: Oh, gosh, so I started it in 2005. So it’s actually been over 15 years.
Davina: Wow. That’s fantastic.
Christina: That was, yeah, I started part time, then and, and then went full time quit my job and went full time, just a few years after that. Because it just grew so so quickly. And now I have team members will say I’ve got eight or eight people. On my team, we are a small, firm, but we’re so effective in what we do, we do use a lot of technology, we keep different, like CRMs, and a different way to keep track of what everyone needs to be doing. And I have I do have an amazing team that have been together.
So we’re very, very effective in what we’re what we do. And we’re very personable, we really communicate with our clients. And we do a lot of proactive training a lot of proactive tax planning for our clients. We communicate with them a lot. You know, I don’t charge them extra when we have meetings. In fact, just before this call, I had a meeting with a client and they were like, thank you so much for not nickel and diming us a flat fee. And that includes you know, communication throughout throughout the year.
Davina: Right. Right. That so what is that? So a lot of our like I said our listeners are women law firm owners. And so when I get women law firm owners here growing their business successfully, and you say it’s a small firm with eight people, but still that’s for a small firm. That’s a good size. What do you think have been the biggest challenges you’ve had in growing your home?
Christina: Oh, yes. So I’ve told them I said, I ain’t having any more babies. The tubes are tied, I ain’t hiring anybody else.
Davina: So that was your biggest challenge.
Christina: It is interesting, you know, when I started out and growing and adding more and more people, you know, I used to read I love to read books, I read a lot. And so I first started reading how to you know, reserve reading about sales and how to be a good salesperson, of course, always reading about taxes, any about that, but then after you sell because everyone’s you know, if you’re a business owner, you’re so you’re a salesperson, and you know, and how to get new clients.
So a bunch of those books and then my you know, business started exploding, so then I had to hire new people. So then I had to start reading books about managing people. And being a leader, and then writing books that how to client satisfaction, and customer service. So it’s a lot talking about the different without my reasonable compensation report that I’ve taken, it’s all over the map, I do all kinds of things.
So luckily, I’ve been a my I’m right now live in Fort Myers, Florida and I was able to find a personnel company, a local personnel company that has family, some great talent, and some great people. So and brought them on and then growing the firm you know, constantly being in contact with them. And there is a challenge since we are all virtual, even though we all live most of us live pretty close together and we do get together. But you know, staying on top of them, coaching them, having accountability, tea and teaching, you know, just teaching them how to do certain things.
And then using technology as as well. We really use technology. Well we have secure portals for each of our clients to protect all their information. And I have to say I was right when I left my corporate job. I there was a CPA that I worked with there and I took her with me. I made her an offer she couldn’t refuse. She is fantastic. And not only she a great CPA, but she is a great developer of processes and incredibly organized. So I definitely could not do it with without her or and she’s my now my firm manager as well as being a CPA. So I do have an incredible team.
Davina: So it’s been interesting you have you started out virtual and have been working virtually this whole time. I think a lot of people have it in, in their head that, you know, being virtual is a brand new thing. But you were doing this, it’s like you were doing this before it was cool, right?
Christina: Yes, and when I was in Tennessee I when I first started my practice, I was in Tennessee. So I did meet with some clients in person. But then once I moved to Florida, either that went virtual, or, you know, they went to they went to someone local, actually, very few though did so, which was, which was good. So but now everything’s everything is, is virtual. And I can do that being a CPA, I can file people’s tax returns, and even their state tax returns all over the United States, since I had my CPA license.
Davina: That’s how I imagine. There are some challenges, some challenges are a little bit different when you’re managing it a distributed team, as opposed to having everybody sort of just down the hall from each other.
Christina: Yeah, it’s very beneficial, because we have so much freedom. And we and of course, I’ve got like, I’ve got clients and a lot of clients in California, of course, it’s west coast, we’re east coast. So I there are days that I work really late, and a couple of my team members work really late and they can work from home. Several of my team members have kids. So that’s very helpful for them. And gives me some freedom as well.
But you know what, it really hasn’t been as hard as you would imagine. It was just that’s the way this is the way it it is. And since the technology now is so great. And I can constantly, you know, talk to clients, or we can share our screen or we can get on a zoom call. And again, being a CPA, I can file their tax returns anywhere in the United States, it’s really been nice, because people just can’t come into my office and show up. Right?
So when I do you know, if they have a question, and we just set an appointment, and that’s when we call or we get on a zoom call, or I just talked to him on the phone. So it’s very scheduled, and I have certain times of the day in the week that are open for clients. So it’s really, it’s really been a lot easier than you would imagine.
Davina: I think a lot I think a lot of women locker owners are discovering that this is just if you weren’t virtual before the end, the pandemic has sort of caused you to be I’m I’m having discussions with a lot of people who are saying, Yeah, we’re keeping this. Yes, you know, I think more and more people are, you know, just becoming accustomed to working this way. And so it’s definitely a great way to work certainly way I work in my business as well. So this is the Wealthy Woman Lawyer Podcast.
So I want to I would love to, before we wrap up here, just get a piece of advice from you. For those women law firm owners who are building wealth they’re making now you know, their businesses are doing well. And they’re making a substantial amount of money beyond don’t pay too much in taxes. What advice would you have for them to to reduce their taxes, and keep that money in their pocket? One piece of advice?
Well, if I can have a if I could offer a couple, there was a great book called Profit First, which I highly recommend that is an excellent book about staying on, on budget, and making sure that expenses don’t take over which they certainly can and how to pay yourself. And that’s that’s a really good book that I recommend. I also recommend. And again, this kind of goes back to taxes. But in addition to saving money in taxes now, I also offer some strategies to my clients and strategies that I participate in on how to also take your tax savings and build tax free wealth, and a lot better, a lot safer and more efficient than just your typical retirement plans.
There’s some different strategies you can use for that to build tax free wealth, since tax rates are definitely going to increase in the future. I think we all know that. And so just make sure that you’re saving. And if you can save in a tax free, invest in a tax free manner so that when you start paying a fee out, it’s not reduced by who knows how much in taxes 25% 35% we don’t know how much that’s going to be in the future. But just to be sure to invest in yourself and to put money aside for for the future. Because if you’re not planning for the future, you know, why? Why are we working so hard? And and I also think, you know, work life balance is so important.
For me, I don’t I don’t even have kids, which is helpful running a business but, but a lot of my team members do that for me like I live in a community, a golf and tennis community. I love to play golf and tennis. I love to be outside. So almost every day, I’m able to do a little bit of that whether it’s later in the day or early in the morning and then I schedule my time around that my working time and meeting with coffee. It’s time and and making sure you’re getting away away from from work and being able to do things that you enjoy or just becomes such a such a drudge.
Davina: Yeah, yeah, I agree, I think it’s so important to make sure that you’re taking time to. It’s so easy when particularly when you’re passionate about what you do, and you love what you do. And there’s such a need, you know, for, for your work. And if you can easily become a workaholic, you have to be very intentional. Because there’s more wealth than money. I mean, well, we’re always talking about wealth in terms of money, but a wealthy life and enrich life is about being able to enjoy your life as you go along, and also still plan for the future. So that balance between, you know, getting the most out of everyday now and also preparing for the future. Is that the challenge? You know, that’s what we’re trying, we’re all trying to do, you know, so I agree.
Christina: Yeah. And another book, it’s called The One Thing, and it’s by the guy that started Keller Williams, Williams, you know, real estate conglomerate, he wrote this book, and it talks about that he had actually gotten very sick when he first started his business and how he found work life balance. And then he also talks about, like, what to really focus on in your business. And, and I’ve learned a lot from that I delegate a lot to my team members, and I give them a lot of responsibility and authority and autonomy. And then I focus on the clients and I focus on tax planning, because that’s what I love to do. And that’s my specialty. So it takes a little while to get there, take some trust and allow them to make mistakes, allow yourself to make mistakes, but just own up to them and learn from them.
Davina: Right? Well, Christina, thanks so much for being here today. And helping us to figure out our taxes and knowing what to do, and knowing that we shouldn’t be paying as much as we are paying in taxes. And we should seek you out too. If we want to resolve that issue. I appreciate it. So tell us how we can find out more about you on the internet where we connect with you on social media.
Christina: Oh, sure. So my website is laeltax.com. It’s LAEL. So a before E, just like an alphabet, laeltax.com, and there’s a button at the top that says contact, you can just contact us with any questions that you have. There’s a phone number on there as well. Or you can even book a free session with me, if you really want to start talking about it’s a free set session, no obligation, I can get some information from you. And I can tell you how much I can save you in taxes and tell you how much a tax plan would be. It’s very, very reasonable. It’s a fraction of what you’re going to save in taxes. And then I’m also on Facebook, you can just search for Lael Tax LLC, or Christina Lael, again, L A E L.
Davina: We will also have those links in the show notes. And also get you to send us a link to your book so everybody can grab that if they want. And also follow you for your live sessions on Wednesday. So thank you so much for being here. I have really enjoyed it and love talking with you and getting to know you. And I appreciate you sharing with us.
Christina: All right. Thank you Davina. It’s been it has been super fun. Thank you.
Davina: We hope you’ve enjoyed today’s episode of the Wealthy Woman Lawyer Podcast. If you have we invite you to leave us a review on your preferred podcast platform. The more five star reviews we have, the more women law firm owners will be able to positively impact. Your thoughts and opinions are so important to us. If you are a woman law firm owner who wants to scale your law firm to a million dollars or more in gross annual revenue and do it in a way that’s sustainable and feels good to you, then we invite you to join us in the Wealthy Woman Lawyer League.
The league is a community of highly intelligent, goal oriented and driven women law firm owners who are excited to support one another on their journeys to becoming wealthy women lawyers. We’ll be sharing so much in the league in the coming year, including the exclusive million dollar law firm framework that until now I’ve only shared with my private one to one clients. For more information and to join us go now to www.wealthywomanlawyer.com/league. That’s www.wealthywomanlawyer.com/league. League is spelled LEAGUE. We look forward to seeing you soon in the league.