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The American Institute of CPAs has created a useful online calculator that financial advisors can use to help clients gain insight into the many taxes they pay at all levels. Called Total Tax Insights, it is located here: www.totaltaxinsights.org/Calculator

In a few minutes, it generates a detailed estimate of the total liabilities taxpayers face at all levels of government – federal, state and local – for the specific county in which each taxpayer lives. The bottom line is the taxpayer’s estimated annual tax liability, in dollars and as a percentage of income. To use it, you will only need the client’s federal adjusted gross income from the most recent tax return. All other inputs are intuitive or they can be estimated.

Of course, the calculator shows familiar data from clients’ tax forms and returns – such as federal and state income tax, Social Security and Medicare tax. But it also digs deeper into hidden taxes Americans pay every day. Who knew taxes represent such a high portion of monthly bills for landline and cell phones, gasoline, hotels and alcohol?

The calculator is useful in helping clients compare alternative scenarios – i.e., Where is a tax-favorable place to relocate in retirement? It also can be used to model “what-if” planning scenarios, such as the impact of shifting capital gains and dividends into a tax-deferred account, or increasing current-year charitable contributions.