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...You're right, my taxes are fairly straightforward. A few stock transactions...

See how quickly things can become more complicated. Here's an example. I picked up a return yesterday... 80+ year old, retiree. Some pension income, dividends and interest and one stock sale.

Taxpayer is a retired AT&T employee. Holds lots of shares of AT&T and all of the various spiin-offs. The one stock transaction...the "sale" of AT&T Wireless (AWE) in the merger with Cingular. Original AT&T shares bought in the 1950s-1970s as an employee. Sale proceeds nearly $10K. I had to advise her that it was more cost effective for her to pay CG tax on the full proceeds than to pay me to find the true cost basis of the AWE stock. (She had no assembled records of her original AT&T cost basis.) Of course, I knew that with a 40-50 year holding period and all the spinoffs, her cost basis would be close to $0/share. So the potential CG savings were small.

On the other hand, had the purchases been made more recently, it may have been well worth paying me to reduce a 10K CG to a 1K CG or even a potential loss and my fee could approach $500 (including the regular fee for the return).


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