Seamless tax and financial help you can afford.

  • No more separating your tax preparation from your other financial area
  • A la carte tax service with ability to build an ensemble
  • Save time & money with one central point of contact
  • Get access to more holistic service
  • No need to rack your brain juggling different financial pieces
  • Allocate the time saved to your family
  • See what over 100 people say about us on Yelp

Financial 

issues can be complicated 

  • Don’t know who to trust
  • Worry about hidden costs 
  • Afraid of sales pitch, bait & switch
  • Not sure if it will be worth it
  • Feel financial advisor only is expensive and for the wealthy

You   

should have access to affordable, good financial help.

  • Over 20 years of trusted services, 5 financial credentials, a network of CPAs, CFPs & other financial professionals
  • Upfront cost estimation
  • Focus on providing consultation rather than selling commissioned products
  • Won’t know until you try
  • Mostly true, but not with us

3 Easy Steps   

to financial help.

  • 1.  Choose a service to start
  • 2.  Schedule A Call
  • 3.  Reduce stress by adding other services as needed

From “The Killing Fields” to Financial Educator

Our founder was born in Cambodia during “The Killing Fields” era to uneducated Chinese parents.  With no prior education and a late start in life, he endured trial and tribulation.  Instead of joining Asian gang,  he transformed his life because of the encouragement of  the Fulfillment Fund and a  few great teachers.  He realized he had to work harder than those with more resources. In high school, he taught himself basic finance.  Equipped with an Economic degree from Haverford College and financial work experience, he accumulated enough money to help his parents buy their first home.  Kiak knows first hand what it is like to be financially illiterate and poor.  In 1997, he was featured on KNBC  program called “Beating the Odds”.  With work ethic, the will, and a guiding hand, everyday American can achieve greater wealth.  This is the reason why he has been so compelled to be a financial educator, providing financial resources to the average American.

Backup with Credentials, Memberships, & Connections 

For over a decade, he amassed several credentials and built direct experience and professional connections in the financial industry.  When we don’t know a specific subject area well, we reach out to our network of financial professionals to get answers to your agonizing financial issues.

F.A.Q. & Case Study 

Tax Preparation

1. Why should I hire a tax preparer? 

ANSWER: How many people really enjoy filing their own taxes? Even with tax filing software, the risk of filing mistakes is costly. Tax software is garbage in garbage out and does not always take into account your unique situation. We can help you maximize your returns while minimizing the risk of unnecessary tax audits.

2. How can I trust you?

ANSWER: We are licensed as an Enrolled Agent (or EA), a tax advisor who is a federally-authorized tax practitioner empowered by the U.S. Department of the Treasury. If you get into tax problems, we can represent you before the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Franchise Tax Board, Employment Development Department, and other state taxing authorities for tax issues including audits, collections, and appeals. Furthermore, we often contract with Certified Public Accountants (CPA) to fill the gap for our clients.

 

3.  How much does it cost to get my taxes prepared?

ANSWER: The cost of tax preparation is based on the complexity of your return. Common tax returns contain set pricing while more unique tax filing requires a customized estimate.  Use our pricing tool to get an estimate of our services.

Retirement

1. Will I owe taxes on my rollover?

 

ANSWER: Generally, you will not incur tax liability if you properly complete rollover procedures.  We are fluent with this process.  Contact us for help.

2. What do I need to rollover my retirement account?

ANSWER: We can walk you through this process, reducing your potential mistakes.

3. Should I contribute into a Roth or Traditional IRA?

ANSWER: The best way to answer your question is to run a tax projection with agreeable assumptions.

4. I am approaching retirement, what Social Security questions can you help answer?

ANSWER: We can go over Social Security retirement age, how to apply for Social Security, how much you will get, taxation of your benefit, and many more.

5. I am concern about medical cost, can you go over what I can anticipate?

ANSWER: Great question.  The total cost will depend on your specific situation.  We can go over your medical insurance option when you retire and what additional cost you can anticipate.

6. My friend told me I should buy long-term care insurance, is this a good idea?

ANSWER: This will depend on your financial resources and how you want to manage your risk.  We can help you discuss this issue.

 

Mortgage

     1.   Is it cheaper to get a loan through a big name bank than a broker?

ANSWER: Generally, no. Big banks have layers of overhead that include marketing cost, different levels of management compensation, employees, and even shareholders. Meanwhile, mortgage brokers work with WHOLESALE lenders with a competitive offering and lower overhead costs. Compared to major banks, we have SAVED our clients about $4,000 to $6,000 on a $500k plus loan.

2.   Isn’t a mortgage broker a middleman with a higher cost than direct lenders?

ANSWER: Yes, a mortgage broker is a middleman. So are big banks. What stands between you and the banks are their layers of employees and costs. What stands between you and our WHOLESALE lenders are mortgage brokers.

3.   What are wholesale lenders and how are they different than direct lenders?

ANSWER: Wholesale and direct lenders originate loans, package these loans, and generally sell them to Wall Street. Wholesale lenders reduce their marketing and loan processing costs by working with mortgage brokers. This is why their rate they provide to mortgage brokers tend to be lower. Direct lenders tend to incur marketing and loan processing costs. Generally, these costs are passed down to you. In the end, the cost to you is likely the same. We add value by looking at your situation more holistically, saving you from potential tax and other financial mistakes.

4.  What is the difference between Pre-qualified and Pre-approved?

ANSWER: Pre-qualification is often seen as the first step in the mortgage process, and pre-approval is the next step where you need to provide financial documents such as tax returns, bank statements, and pay stubs.

5.   How much house can I afford?

ANSWER: Most financial professionals recommend you keep your housing expenses (loan payment, property tax, and home insurance cost) to 28% of your gross income and total housing and all other debt payments to 36% of your gross income. We recommend you sit down with a financial professional to factor other variables unique to your situation. We can provide this service.

Real Estate

Buyers

1. Why should I hire your real estate agent?

ANSWER: We know Gardena and neighboring cities within 5 miles radius of our office. You also can benefit from our collaborative approach with our internal tax, mortgage, and other financial professionals. Working with our internal team will save you time and money.

2. How much down payment should I put?

ANSWER: Work with our financial advisor and real estate agent to best position you.

3. How much will the house cost to renovate?

ANSWER: That will depend on what you want. We network with contractors who may be able to provide you with their quotes.

 

Sellers

1. What is my home worth?

ANSWER: We can provide you with a FREE broker opinion. 

 

2. What is the cost of selling my home?

ANSWER: Call our office, we can itemize these estimated costs for you.

 

3. What is your process of selling my home?

ANSWER: We will discuss your goals and assess our compatibility. Then draft-up an agreement, evaluate the value of your home, get your home ready for sale, market your home, show it, review offers, and work with closing agents. 

 

4. What makes you different from other Realtors?

ANSWER: Some home sellers got caught flat-footed with capital gain tax. By working with our realtors, you get access to other financial departments that can help reduce your stress.

Insurance

1. What kinds of insurance do you offer? 

ANSWER: Life, Medicare Supplement, Medicare Advantage Plans, Disability, and Long-Term Care insurance.

 

2. Why should we buy through your company? 

ANSWER: As an independent firm, we contract with many insurance companies, allowing us to put you in the right product that fits your situation.

3.   Should I review my old life insurance policy? 

ANSWER: Generally, you should.  You may not need this insurance anymore.  Perhaps you need a different policy, or maybe it will be lower in cost.

 

Loss of a Loved One

1. What kinds of services do you provide?

ANSWER:

*Dealing with complicated retirement tax codes.

*Understanding payout options of retirement and insurance accounts.

*Sorting out financial documents (i.e., certified copies of the death certificate, annuity paper, retirement plans, etc.).

*Filing taxes for the deceased.

*Sorting through unfamiliar financial statements (e.g., bills, credit cards, mortgages, investments, taxes, etc.).

*Figuring out the deceased’s pension, 401k, and other benefits.

*Addressing re-titling of accounts.

*Notifying Social Security Administration.

*Talking about whether or not to pay off a mortgage or make any significant changes immediately. 

 

2. What kinds of issues can you anticipate?

ANSWER: Here is a fictional case study to illustrate real-life cases with devastating outcomes. Names, characters, business, events, and incidents are the products of our imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental. 

FEATURE STORY: Katherine and the $200k tax bill

Problem:  Katherine is married to Vix. At age 55, Katherine quits her job to care for her elderly father, Jack. With great appreciation, Jack decided to transfer the title of his $1,000,000 home, which he purchased for only $50,000 decades ago. A few years later, Jack passed away, and Katherine moved into this house after her divorce. She went back into the workforce, retired at age 65, sold her home, and moved to Florida to buy a new house using all of her cash proceeds. When filing her taxes, her accountant said she owed the government over $200,000. Katherine used up all her cash to buy a new home and did not anticipate having such a huge tax bill. After going to her bank, she realized she could not quickly refinance because of the drop in her income. Consequently, the IRS and California will assess penalty and interest on the taxes she owed.

Prevention: First, we would have saved Katherine over $200k if she consulted with us before her father transferred the title. Secondly, she could have asked us after the first mistake by her father. In addition to tax knowledge, we also understand the mortgage rules. Therefore, we would have been able to not only project her tax liability but also structure her purchase with a loan before she retired. Our solution could have provided her with interest deduction and eliminate tax penalty and interest assessment.

Tax Issues

Disclaimer:

Our Case Study is a work of fiction to illustrate many real cases. Names, characters, business, events, and incidents are the products of our imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

IRS Tax Issue

1. Jane Walmart, a 55-year-old marketing consultant, got a letter from the IRS stating she owes $1,300,000 in taxes and a lien filed according to Internal Revenue Regulation 301.6323(f)-1? 

ANSWER: We took on this case, got the IRS to release the lien and allow us time to investigate and resolve this giant tax issue. In one of the year, the IRS owes this client. Due to the statute of limitations, however, our client lost on the opportunity to get back her refund. At the conclusion, we SAVE this client over $1.3 million of inaccurate assessment. She ends with over just $8k of liability, most due to failure to file and related penalties.

2. Jo Max, a 50-year-old self-employed mechanic, got a letter from the IRS stating he owes $123,000 due to an audit of his 2003 to 2017 tax returns. A lien filed according to Internal Revenue Regulation 301.6323(f)-1.  

ANSWER: Unfortunately, Jo used a tax preparer who did not know how to make a proper argument and got stuck with this bill. Jo already settled with the IRS. For some reason, whoever helped him did not adequately file the IRS installment paperwork, forcing the IRS to put a lien on his property and bank accounts. Furthermore, those people took Joe’s money and had not been very responsive. Time was running out. We took this on, communicated with the IRS, got the lien released, and filed the appropriate paper.

 

FTB Tax Issues

1. Carol’s dad passed away and was not a resident of California. However, Carol got a letter from FTB saying that her dad must file a California tax return.

ANSWER:  We helped Carol by providing FTB with proper documents and filed the appropriate form. FTB accepted, and closed this case.

 

Employment Development Department (EDD) Tax Issues

1. Jake Miller started a technology consulting firm in 2018. In November 2018, EDD sent him a letter, Notice of Assessment, stating he owed $11,540.  

ANSWER:  Jake hired us to resolve this with EDD. We spent several hours communicating with EDD and filing appropriate returns. Luckily for this client, we were able to reduce his bill to zero.

Inheritance

Disclaimer:

Our Case Study is a work of fiction to illustrate many real cases. Names, characters, business, events, and incidents are the products of our imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

 

  1.  What is my obligation when I inherit a retirement account?

FEATURE STORY: Jane Doe, RMD, and the $155k tax bills

Problem: Jane Doe inherited a $500,000 retirement account from her uncle when he died on December 28, 2014. Like her uncle, Jane is frugal and has always filed her taxes. In early 2015, her husband became ill. Her work health insurance covered her family; therefore, she continued working while caring for her sick husband. In 2017, she sought help with filing her taxes. We discovered she missed a critical deadline regarding that $500,000 IRA. First, her uncle did not take out his RMD in 2014. Second, due to the preoccupation with her sick husband plus work, she forgot to take the RMD for 2015 and 2016. The IRS and FTB assessed her over $30k of penalties, plus she had to amend her past tax returns. Third, she had only three years to distribute all of this asset. This problem increased her tax liability by over $125k. The total devastating outcomes cost her over $155,000.

ANSWER:

Prevention: All too often, a competent person like her uncle becomes forgetful. If he or close family members had sought professional help, this devastating situation could have been prevented. For over two decades, we learned some of the reasons for these mishaps. They include:

 

  • Pride of being independent
  • Mistrust of financial professionals 
  • Mistrust of family members 
  • Not knowing where to start
  • Believed bad things only happen to other people
  • Do not think the advice is worth the cost

Some of the reasons may be legitimate. However, you should assess the validity and take appropriate action before it is too late. Contact us for further conversation.

 

2. I am apprehensive with tax filing because my spouse has been the one handling this up to this point, can you help?

FEATURE STORY: Pat Stepup, Harvest Loss & Use Step-up, SAVE over $170k on taxes.

Problem: This is a bittersweet story. Pat has been buying and selling stocks for over 50 years. With constant changes to tax laws, his wife Hanna hired us to file their taxes. In the next tax year, we learned that Pat has terminal cancer. Throughout their decades of marriage, Pat has always been the one handling their finances. Therefore, Hanna is apprehensive and needs lots of guidance.

ANSWER:

Prevention:  After the second year of tax filing during the off-tax season, we reviewed their investment positions, and harvested losses to offset their tax liabilities. When Pat passed, we coordinated with his investment custodians, helped Hanna with confusing paperwork, and used step-up tax rules to save her money in taxes. Between all the strategies, the Stepup family saved over $170k and reduced lots of stress.

Retirement

Disclaimer:

Our Case Study is a work of fiction to illustrate many real cases. Names, characters, business, events, and incidents are the products of our imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

 

  1.  What retirement issues can you help me? 

ANSWER: If you are about five years from retirement, we can help you evaluate how financially ready you will be. We can position you with tax-saving strategies, prevent you from missteps, and explain what options you will have with your Social Security and or Pension plan. Here are some questions we can answer:  

  • How do you maximize your retirement income?  
  • How much taxes will you incur from withdrawing your retirement accounts?  
  • To minimize taxes, which combination of accounts should you take out and when?  
  • What healthcare planning should you be aware of before retiring?

 

2. Are you a traditional financial folk who talk about numbers all day long?

 

ANSWER: No. Life is not all about money. Your happiness is ultimately about your life’s driven purpose, whether in retirement or not, and with your definition of retirement. You can have this psychological and philosophical discussion with us. Then we can design financial vehicles to allow you to live your life to the fullest.

Small Business Owner

Disclaimer:

Our Case Study is a work of fiction to illustrate many real cases. Names, characters, business, events, and incidents are the products of our imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

 

  1.   What services do you provide to small business owners?

ANSWER:

  •   Help you reduce taxes by evaluating your retirement plans
  •   Project tax liability and plan accordingly 
  •   Discuss various tax filing obligations as a small business owner
  •   Reduce unintended consequences of small-business taxes
  •   Reduce stress with assessing your bookkeeping need

2. What kind of small business do you help?

 

ANSWER: Our knowledge best serves small businesses with gross revenue between $250k to $1.5 million.

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DISCLOSURE

Broker Check

Federal and state insurance and securities rules and regulations prohibit registered representative(s) and/or investment adviser representative(s) from soliciting, offering, and selling any insurance or securities products or providing investment advice until they are properly registered and licensed in each state jurisdiction. 

The registered representative(s) and/or investment adviser representative(s) listed on this website are licensed and registered in CA.  We can sell Insurance Products and provide advisory services in CA.

Investment adviser representative and registered representative of, and securities and investment advisory services offered through TD Ameritrade, Interactive Brokers LLC, and Pershing LLC., all members of SIPC.

Gardena Financial Retirement Advisors is not a subsidiary of nor controlled by   TD Ameritrade, Interactive Brokers LLC, or Pershing LLC.