Attorney Lee R. Phillips is a Counselor of the United States Supreme Court. He has three university degrees — BS, MS, JD — and has held licenses in real estate, mortgage brokering, securities, and life insurance, as well as being a registered investment advisor. Lee is nationally recognized in the fields of business structure, asset protection, financial planning and estate planning. He is the founder of LegaLees Corporation, a company specializing in solving asset protection and tax problems for high net worth individuals.
Why is Asset Protection Important?
It’s good to be here. Thank you for having me, Chris.
Lee, I’ve coached with you guys. I’ve been coached by your team. Now, I’ve worked with you most recently a whole bunch more and I’m over the top impressed and sold. What I wanted to do is bring as much as we could in the realm of asset protection and asset protection strategies in a short time period to the listeners here. So, let’s kind of get started. I mentioned taxes. I mean how big a deal is that?
Well, I’ve been helping some of the wealthier people in the United States for the past 30 years try and control their taxes. The fact of the matter is the doctor can’t see 20% more patients. You can’t do 20% more rehabs or whatever it is you’re doing, but if we can cut your taxes by 20%, that’s a big deal. People don’t really understand that taxes are one of the major asset protection threats that there is. I mean if I say asset protection…what do you think, Chris? Your knee-jerk reaction is lawsuits, right?
Lawsuits. Well, sorry, my other knee-jerk reaction was people think, “Well, I’m going to get these special corporations hidden in these special states and no one’s ever going to find me.”
We know all about that. No, no. It’s the IRS. That’s probably your biggest asset protection threat. I’m going to make a statement, everybody’s going to say, “That’s ridiculous,” but they’re taking half of what you make, Chris, half of what everybody makes. I mean there’s the income tax. There’s the state tax. There’s the sales tax. There’s the airport tax. I actually rented a car about a year ago in Tampa and I guess they needed the car in Orlando because my rental fee was $1 a day and I had the car for a week. That’s 7 bucks, right?
Well, it was a little over 63 bucks when I got to Orlando because of the taxes, but they didn’t call them taxes anymore. They called them fees. I mean Obamacare, what did they call it? They called it a fee and finally, the Supreme Court said, “No, it’s not a fee. That’s a tax.” So, I mean let me demonstrate to you what taxes does for two seconds.
Yeah, for sure.
I’m going to take a dollar and I’m going to double it 20 times, $1, $2, 4, 8, 16, 32. You got it, Chris?
If you do that 20 times, you end up with $1,048,000 in change, 1 million bucks. But wait, wait, wait. There’s no tax on that sequence, is there, $1, $2, $4, 8? No tax. But everything you do is taxed. So, let’s take a 40% tax and federal and state. I mean some of your listeners are in a 40% tax bracket when all’s said and done. So, I’ve got $1 that doubles to 2, but wait, wait, wait. I got a dollar in profit, don’t I?
So let’s tax the dollar in profit. So I don’t have $2. I’ve got $1.40, so I’ve got a buck, 0.60 so I got a buck, 0.60, right? Not $2. I double the buck, $0.60 and what’s that, $3.20? But wait, wait, wait, I got to take the 40% tax again. I don’t get $3.20. I actually get on the order of $1.56 I think it is. Make sure I’ve got it right, $2.56, $2.56. I knew $1.56 wasn’t right. So I’ve got $2.56. I double the $2.56, I get $5.12, but I have to tax it and get $4.10. So you understand what we’re doing, right?
So on the one side, I’ve got $1,048,000 in change. If I tax it 20 times and double it, but take a 40% tax, what’s that, 40% of a million is $400,000 so you don’t have a million. You’ve got $600,000, right?
Okay. How much have you got? In an audience, I love to do this because I’ll actually do a bidding war. How much have you got? Have you got $200,000? You don’t have $600,000. You got less than that. You got $400,000? You got $600,000? I mean we go all over the place and we have fun with it, but the short story is you don’t end up with $1,048,000. You don’t end up with $600,000, which is 40% less. You end up with a grand total of $12,089.
Well, now wait a minute. Do you understand what just happened? We went from $1,048,000 to $12,000?
I definitely would like you to do a deeper dive on that.
Can’t do a deeper dive. You can do the math. It comes out just fine. You’ve always heard that interest is the eighth wonder of the world, right?
Taxes are interest in reverse. It’s a big deal. It’s a huge deal. People just don’t understand that taxes are the bottom line. Traditionally, there are three ways that you control your taxes. You can postpone the tax. You can give me an example of that, can’t you?
Source: Pexels“Taxes are interest in reverse. People just don’t understand that taxes are the bottom line.” - @LegaLees Click To Tweet
I postpone, just an extension.
Well, no, no. I don’t mean postpone filing the tax. I mean I’m going to postpone paying the tax. How about a 1031 exchange?
Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
How about a standard IRA? I don’t pay the tax today. I pay the tax later. How about 401K? In fact, Chris, you can’t find me anybody that’ll say, “Wow, my broker made me rich.”
You can’t find anybody. I can’t find people who will say, “I have made money in my 401K or my IRA.” Why? Well, your broker isn’t any smarter managing your general account than he is your 401K account. The sheer fact of the matter is the tax benefit of the 401K growing without the tax outruns the stupidity of your broker. That’s why you make money in those accounts and you don’t make money in your standard account. You can postpone the tax one way. You can change the nature of the tax. Give me an example. If I hold the property for 13 months, is that a different tax consequence than if I only hold it for eight months?
Yeah, because of capital gains.
I go to short-term capital gains, long-term capital gains. That’s a different tax. I’ve changed the nature of the tax. The other way that you can control taxes basically is you can shift the tax, you can shift income. I can make my kid pay the tax instead of me paying the tax. How do you do that? Well, you can’t do that. We have to use a legal tool. We use an LLC today or a family limited partnership or corporation or something, and if I run my rental money through an LLC and my children are all owners of the LLC, I can be an owner too, but I get to direct where that rent goes and who pays the tax. I’m shifting the burden of the tax to someone else. If my kids are in a lower tax bracket than I am, then the family as a whole saves money. So you can postpone the tax, change the nature of the tax or shift the tax. That’s basically about all you can do to do tax planning.
On AGI (Adjusted Gross Income)
The problem is your tax planners never think tax planning. They think a deduction or two. If you’re going to understand how to cut your taxes, how to lower your tax burden, you’re going to have to understand how to control your AGI. What does AGI stand for?
Adjusted Gross Income. That’s the magic number. Adjusted Gross Income controls everything. I mean it controls whether you can do your IRA or not. We used to control whether you could convert your standard IRA to a ROTH IRA. It controls your tax bracket. I know, all the accountants that are listening in just went berserk because it’s not really AGI, but yes, basically it’s Adjusted Gross Income that controls your tax bracket. It controls whether you get your itemized deductions and whether exemptions phase out and your child care credits. Oh, and it controls alternative minimum tax, AMT, alternative minimum tax. It was passed … Oh, gee. What is it, 1968 or something like that? To make sure that the rich paid their fair share.
Source: Pexels“Adjusted Gross Income is the magic number for taxes. It controls everything.” - @LegaLees Click To Tweet
I mean, they’ve been saying that for 75 years, to make sure the rich paid their fair share. The problem is now the alternative minimum tax is based upon your Adjusted Gross Income. How much money do you have to make in your AGI to have the alternative minimum tax kick in? There’s no exact number, but it depends on how you make your income and a bunch of factors, but it’s about $80,000. So if you’re above $80,000 in AGI, give or take, then you’re paying alternative minimum tax. What that means is the IRS actually uses a different formula to calculate your tax. It’s an alternative tax calculation, but wait a minute, $80,000 isn’t exactly rich in my book so they have basically taken this concept and applied it to the middle class. Once the camel gets his nose in the tent, we’re dead, right?
They all determine tax, right now, it determines whether you pay the Obamacare taxes and all of that sort of stuff. How do you lower your Adjusted Gross Income?
About 10 years ago, I wanted to really figure out this AGI stuff, how to control taxes which is how I came up with these asset protection strategies. I went out on the internet, in all dead seriousness, I looked to see what I could find. How to lower your AGI? There were a number of sites out on the internet and in an all dead face seriousness they said, “The way you lower your AGI is you adopt a kid.” These people have never raised a child. You do not raise children as tax deductions. There’s got to be another motivation there, Chris.
Yeah, I would think so.
Or just forget it, okay? But at any rate, so I went out and I looked and I researched, and we’ve been doing some really good stuff. In our office now, we have an individual who was a special auditor for the IRS for seven years. He did the big criminal cases. He taught the auditors how to do the audits and I’m amazed at what he can do with taxes, but we’ve sat down and we have created what we call the Advance Tax Tactics. It’s a course. It has a 100-page workbook and then, five hours of audio CDs where we teach you about taxes and how to control taxes. If I can give you basically a 20% raise, might not it be worth five, six hours of your time to figure this out?
You bet, you bet.
I mean our goal is to cut your taxes by 20 to 30% in the Advanced Tax Tactics and it works really well. In order to do it, you’ve got to understand the concept. I’ve got to teach you what above the line and below the line is. Do you know what it is just out of curiosity, Chris?
You’re talking about your P&L I’m assuming.
Well, basically, your P&L. It’s an accounting term, and the line is the last line on page one of your 1040. That line reads Adjusted Gross Income. Anything that occurs on your taxes above that line either raises or lowers your Adjusted Gross Income. Anything that occurs on your taxes below that line has no effect on your AGI. Your home deduction, your mortgage, above the line or below the line?
Your deduction would be above the line.
No, that’s below the line.
I’m on the hot seat here.
Yeah, you are. I’m sorry. That’s below the line. Your charitable deductions are below the line. All the crap that your CPA and your guys tell you to control your taxes, that’s below the line. There’s really nothing that you can do above the line. Well, actually, as an individual, you can make a contribution to a standard IRA and that 5 grand or whatever it is this week, that’s above the line. You make your standard IRA deduction, that lowers your AGI. If you’re a teacher, you can buy supplies on the third Sunday of the fourth month if it’s a full moon and that’s deductible above the line. Your moving expenses associated with your business, that’s above the line. How many moving expenses did you incur last year above the line? Not a lot.
Here are two of my asset protection strategies: there are two things that you can do above the line. Do you want to know what they are?
I’m waiting. I’m sitting on the edge.
Your little business is above the line. Your LLC, your corporation, your S corporation, those things come in above the line. If you file a Schedule C on your little business, that’s above the line. The other thing, and people don’t understand this, you deal with real estate, right, Chris?
That’s it, yeah.
Your real estate is above the line. All of the depreciation, all of the rents, everything is above the line in real estate. People know inherently that people who do real estate investing somehow get wealthy. Yeah, there’s the appreciation and there’s everything else that goes along with the property and the tenants pay the rent and the rent pays the mortgage, but do you realize that that’s really a tax-free dollar that you’re paying the mortgage with? Because the real estate depreciates. You can take the depreciation. Your real estate is a tax shelter. Your little business is a tax shelter. They’re above the line.
Source: Pexels“Everything is above the line in real estate. All of the depreciation, all of the rents, everything.” - @LegaLees Click To Tweet
No accountant, no financial advisor has ever sat you down and put his arm around you or her arm around you and said, “Look, we need to put your AGI on a diet.” They never do that. They don’t even think this way. They’ve never taught you how to maximize the tax benefits of your real estate, how to maximize the tax benefits of your little business. This is good asset protection, guys. I’m protecting, I’m giving you another 20 or 30% in your income. That’s a big deal and one of the asset protection strategies that I like to share with people.
So, the business and the real estate are your key to it.
The Asset Protection Strategies That Will Save You Money
For example, let me give you an example. You’ve ever heard of this code section, the IRS code section 280A(g)?
I can’t say I have by that code, no. Not me.
How would you like to make an extra 10 grand this year, Chris?
I think all of the listeners would agree that would be a good idea.
Lee P: I’m going to make you an extra 10 grand right now, okay?
Let’s do it.
You listen up. 280A(g) says that if you have a residence … do you have a residence? Do you have more than one residence?
Yes, I do.
I have two residences. I have one in Utah and I have one on Siesta Key in Florida. The law says if I rent the residence for no more than 14 days a year, it’s tax-free. So what I do is when I go on vacation for two weeks, I put an ad on Craigslist and I charge $2,000 a day to rent my house and you will always get a meth cooker who will come in and they will rent the house for two grand a day, but that $2,000 a day is tax free to you. It’s not income. It’s not reported. So I just told you how to make extra 10 grand this year, right, Chris?
Source: Pexels“You can rent your home out to your business for 14 days every year -- tax free.” - @LegaLees Click To Tweet
No, no, no, no, no. I don’t have meth cookers come into my house. How do I make a rental on my residence for 14 days? Well, I’ve never had you to my house down in Florida. When Christie gets through doing her thing, I’ll have you down to Florida with me, okay?
Sounds like a good deal.
I’m going to charge you two grand a day.
I knew that was coming.
You just told me to drop dead, too, didn’t you?
Yeah, you did. I heard it. Drop dead, Phillips. I’m not paying you two grand a day. Who pays the $2,000 a day?
I’m going to assume it’s you. I don’t know how that would work on paper.
My business pays $2,000 a day to rent the house in Florida for me to entertain Chris Prefontaine. Oh, I’ve had Al Lowry. I’ve had Robin Thompson. I’ve had Peter…up in Baltimore. Geez, Louise. Anyway, I’ve had a lot of people down to the house and when you come down to the house, I’m going to spend a couple of days with you and we’re going to figure out some way to make more money, Chris. I’ll guarantee that. Is it worth my business paying for me to entertain you and take care of you?
Well, yeah. The business is paying you, correct?
Well, the business is paying for the rental on the house. Now, I’m actually going to make a bill and submit it to the business and the business is going to pay the bill. It looks just like a hotel bill, but look at what happened. That money came out of my business tax free.
Tax free, yeah.
To me. The business got a deduction. I don’t report it. It’s not 1099-ed, nothing. On my accounting sheets, it says rental, residence, 280A(g).
Now your CPA’s going to say, “Hey, buddy, you got to have a reasonable rent.” That’s fine. You go down the street. Go to the Hyatt down there. I think the back of the door says like $1,400 bucks a day at the Hyatt. That’s the only other hotel on the island. I feed you lunch and dinner. Am I pushing the 2 grand? Yeah, probably. Can they throw me in jail for doing that? No. The most the auditor can do is say, “That’s an unreasonable rent. I’m only going to give you $1,400 bucks a day.” Okay.
But how can you do it, Chris? Could you hold your office meeting at your house? You go down and see what it is at the Marriott to rent a conference room and serve lunch or dinner, and that’s the price you charge your company. Absolutely, perfectly okay. If you go down to the Marriott and rent a conference room for the afternoon and serve dinner, you’re looking, for 10 people or whatever it is, you’re looking at $800 or $900 bucks anyway.
Oh, all of that, yeah. I’m in a resort area so I could do what you did.
You can do $1,000 bucks a day for half day for that. As long as you don’t do it more than 14 times a year, any rent that you get is tax free. Why would the IRS do that? Well, have you ever heard of High Point, North Carolina?
I believe I have.
What happens in High Point? Do you know?
High Point is the furniture capital of the world and once a year, they have the furniture mart in High Point, North Carolina. Actually, now it’s in Vegas and they have a half million people come, but they still have a furniture mart every year in High Point, North Carolina. Well, High Point has two Motel 6s. They have more than that, but you can’t house 300,000 people in High Point, North Carolina for two weeks in hotels. The people have to open their homes, so the way they got the people to open their homes is they passed the law, which said, “If you rent your house for no more than 14 days a year, then any rent that you get, you don’t have to report.” It’s just water under the bridge. Can you see how these laws come about?
Yeah, but yet they stick, right?
They stick. It’s been around for decades. Your accountant will know about it. He’ll say, “Well, it’s kind of risky. You have to charge a reasonable rent.” Okay. What happens if I charge more than a reasonable rent? “Well, the IRS could go out at you and they’d say that’s too much and you’d have to pay a back tax on it.” Okay. What’s my chance of being audited, 1%? Okay, I might have to pay a little extra money if I get audited. Other than that, I’m fine. Nothing happens. But keep it reasonable. Keep it reasonable. I mean we don’t want to do anything shady by any means. But look, if you do that 14 times a year, even if you’re only charging $500 bucks. I’ve taken $700. 500 times 14, $7,000 out of business over into my pocket tax free. Didn’t that help the bottom line?
I like it, I like it.
Absolutely, no problem, black and white letter law. Now, wait a minute. If that came out of your business, anything that happens in your business ends up coming in above the line. If you make a profit in your business, that adds to your AGI, doesn’t it?
This is a deduction from the business, but I’ve moved the money around the block and got it into your wallet tax free as one of my asset protection strategies, but it lowered your AGI by $7,000 or $10,000 or whatever it was. So if I can lower your AGI, maybe I can drop you into a lower tax bracket. Maybe I can make it so that you still get your itemized deductions. Maybe I can … If I can lower your AGI, I can control your taxes and this lowered your AGI. Kind of cool, huh?
I think it’s cool. That’s one little thing, I’m sure you’ve got about a million of them, but I’m sure you’ll get the …
No, I’ve only got 10.
All right, 10 will do it.
These 10 asset protection strategies I’ve come up with, but if we can cut your AGI by 20 to 30%, that’s our goal. Yeah, you’ve got to study up the 100-page workbook and you’ve got to listen to a couple of five hours, three, five hours of audio CDs depending upon what you want to listen. I mean they’re all indexed. You can listen to whatever you want, but you can go through and learn 10 ways that you can actually lower your Adjusted Gross Income and that’s huge.
If you’ve got a company, we teach you how to use the company to lower the AGI. There are many other things that we can do in the company besides using the 280A(g) code section. We can lower it with the company or we can lower it with the real estate. We’ve both been an IR, real estate investors. We know how to do it and we teach a lot of pitfalls. There are some pretty bad things out there in the IRS code.
For example, you’ve got your office. Right, Chris? Your office needs a place to stay. So you think, “Okay, I’ll buy a building and then, I’ll rent it to my company and they can have their office there.” Well, if you’re doing that, the IRS has a little surprise for you. They re-allocate your rental income. It’s not passive income anymore to you. It’s non-passive income, which means it doesn’t offset your depreciation on the office building and so, they do lots of interesting things and we talk about those types of things as well.
So once you know what to do and how to work with it, it’s pretty cool to use your business and your real estate above the line to control your taxes. So that’s kind of what I’ve been doing, Chris. We created the Advanced Tax Tactics and it’s on the internet. It’s $399, basically just $400 bucks. Your students, should we give them a deal?
Lee’s Advanced Tax Tactics
Yeah, that was going to be my next comment, if we can do that and what I’ll do is, however we decide to do it, I’ll stick it in the show notes here and at the end, I’ll remind everyone, but for all you guys listening, just go to the show notes on smartrealestatecoachpodcast.com and whatever you think, Lee, whatever you think’s going to be good.
Let’s do half price, $199. Let’s see. How am I going to get them to order it? Let’s give them a phone number, 800-806-1998. How does that sound?
That’s great and I’ll stick it in the notes as well for the listeners that are on here.
Stick it in the notes and there’s a website there as well if you want to go to the website. If you call in on the phone number, we need to identify you as one of Chris’ students. I’ll tell you what. Call in on the number and tell them that you’re one of Chris’ students and that we gave it to you for $149 on the broadcast. We’ll give you an extra $50.
Nice. Sweet. I appreciate that for everyone. Guys, kind of a no-brainer. Just that one little tidbit, and you’re going to get a whole bunch more than one tidbit, but that’s kind of a no-brainer so thank you so much for that.
No, this is, like you said in the beginning, kind of my passion. The IRS people don’t really understand how big of a deal it is in their bottom line. They take the money out of the paycheck. You never see the money. If people didn’t have the money taken out of their paycheck, withheld is what they call it, and they actually had to write a check at the end of the year for the amount of money that they pay in taxes, they would go berserk. That’s exactly why they have the money withheld. You kind of just never see the money and you just kind of don’t know what taxes do to you, but it’s the difference between $1,048,000 in profit and $12,089? That’s a big difference, guys.
Sure is. I’m sure these guys are thinking, Lee, “Man, if I could hang out with Lee for a little while longer,” and so what I jotted down while you were talking was you’re going to be via technology at our event in October, at our next event. Some of the listeners will be there. Many should hear this and say, “Lee is the reason I’ll go. Never mind all the other stuff you’re doing,” but what can they expect at the event? I think you’re spending a good hour with us. Do you want to give them a little kind of a preview as to what they might be able to hear that day?
Well, I’ve got some bad news for you, Chris. I’m going to spend almost two hours with you. Hope that’s in the schedule.
It is now.
We’re going to go through asset protection strategies in the. Taxes are a good chunk of it, but there’s lawsuits. There are all kinds of things that enter into what I call asset protection and today, making it isn’t enough. You have to keep it, too. If the IRS doesn’t take it away from you, the lawyers are going to get it. The tenant’s going to get it. Somebody going to get it. Everybody, I mean the whole attitude of the nation today seems to be if you’re rich, that’s bad and we’re going to take it away from you.
Source: Pexels“The whole attitude of the nation today seems to be if you’re rich, that’s bad and we’re going to take it away from you.” - @LegaLees Click To Tweet
Yeah, Lee. I didn’t share this with you, but you just made me think of it and we’re just having a chat here for these guys to hear and I can’t tell you how many times per week we get an application. My kids are on the buying and selling entity now and we get an application in from a buyer, one or two a week, that says where’s the source of your down payment? “Well, I’m expecting a settlement. I have a lawsuit.” This goes on nonstop. I don’t know if that’s what you’re referring to where people are taking advantage of or trying to take advantage of the system. It’s crazy how many of those I get-
Yeah, yeah. No, that’s one of the things I’m talking about is people are out to get you unfortunately and so, you’ve got to watch your wallet. What we’re going to do at the event is we’re going to create what I call legal pockets. If you’re walking down the street and you get your wallet picked, you’re through, aren’t you? But if I’ve taken some of the money out of my wallet and put it in my front pocket, then when the wallet gets picked out of my back pocket, I didn’t lose all of my money.
We can create what I figuratively call legal pockets and we isolate those legal pockets from each other so that if a thief gets into one of your pockets and that thief might be in the form of a lawyer or even the IRS, how would you like to move your assets out and around some sort of a shield so that when the IRS is barreling down the road at you, you’re standing off over behind the shield and you just watched the IRS go right on by. They can’t take your property. Those are the kinds of things we’re going to talk about-
At the event. No, it’s a big deal and Robin Thompson. Do you know Robin?
I do. Yeah, I absolutely do. In fact, I was listening to an old CD today. Man, I don’t know if it was Dan Kennedy or Ron, but Robin was on it coincidentally. He was last night in my car or this morning.
I do Robin’s legal work. I do Al Lowry’s legal work. I do lots of people’s legal work and these guys that are doing the real estate like you, if you haven’t already, you’re going to get sued. There’s no question about it and-
Yeah, and Lee, whether you were on or not, I mean well, there’s a reason I had you on. I mean I said at the beginning, I love your stuff. Whether you were listening or not and I’ve spent oh, I think since 2013 now in one shape, form or fashion on a somewhat regular basis with you and/or your office and it’s just absolutely amazing, but it’s also 100% necessary and for those of you that are listening that have not registered or even if you missed the event, you can register for the next one, you want to get all these stuff. We’ll make sure we give you a bunch of different ways to do that.
You’re already full on this one, huh?
We are super, super close. I want to say it’s in the single digits. That’s why I’m saying that and then from a timing standpoint, this live recording will live and they’ll have to get you the next time, but good stuff, real good stuff.
Okay, well, good. I’m pleased to be with you and I wish I could be there in person, but my personal circumstances at the moment just make it so that we’re going to have be there electronically.
Yeah. No, I appreciate that.
I’m a lot better on the big screen than I am live so I mean a lot better looking on the big screen.
We’re going to get you the largest big screen we can. No, all kidding aside, Lee. That was really super awesome. I’m sure we could go for hours and hours and I’m sure you could deliver value and you will during that couple hours being with the folks.
So let me wrap up with a couple of my normal thoughts here. For the Smart listeners, we appreciate you guys listening. We appreciate you being part of our Smart Real Estate Coach community. As you know, we can sit here, Lee and I could sit here for hours upon hours, but this information’s absolutely nothing without implementation.
So for starters, before you meet Lee at the event, pick a couple action items here. I mean he gave you a bunch, but for starters get your butt on the phone, dial the 801-806-1998. He’s discounted it less than 50%. We’ll stick that information in the show notes so if you’re watching or listening rather on iTunes or something else, go to smartrealestatecoachpodcast.com.
Lee, I know we all have the same lovely 168 hours in a week and I know you got a whole bunch of stuff going on and those go by so fast and are so valuable so, thanks for sharing one of those hour with us today, just about an hour.
Hey, thank you, Chris. It’s good to be with you.