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Zach Abraham

Zach Abraham Discusses the Stimulus Package

By | In The Headlines, Legislation

Chief Investment Officer Zach Abraham discusses markets, the economy, and the new coronavirus aid package signed into law in December on Cheddar.com.

 

Some points discussed:

  • The Fed has already told Congress that they literally can’t put too much money into stimulus aid relief in order to help the economy.

 

  • The $900 billion stimulus package is not big enough, a full economic recovery will require much more; Congress will need to do another round, plus investment in infrastructure.

 

  • The pandemic was a Black Swan event. These bills are much more than just a stimulus; this is like government paying damages after a major disaster in order for our nation to recover.

 

  • No matter which side of the aisle you’re on, depending on what happens in the Senate runoff in Georgia we will see more economic relief happen more quickly or more slowly, based simply upon who is in power. This will dictate our 2021 investment strategy for our clients. As one small example, if Democrats win the majority in the Senate, we could expect the clean energy sector to take off based on Biden’s platform moving forward.

 

Watch the whole show:

Your Annual Financial To-Do List

By | Financial Planning

Things you can do for your future as the year unfolds.

What financial, business, or life priorities do you need to address for the coming year? Now is an excellent time to think about the investing, saving, or budgeting methods you could employ toward specific objectives, from building your retirement fund to managing your taxes. You have plenty of choices. Here are a few ideas to consider:

 

Can you contribute more to your retirement plans this year? In 2021, the contribution limit for a Roth or traditional individual retirement account (IRA) is expected to remain at $6,000 ($7,000 for those making “catch-up” contributions). Your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) may affect how much you can put into a Roth IRA. With a traditional IRA, you can contribute if you (or your spouse if filing jointly) have taxable compensation, but income limits are one factor in determining whether the contribution is tax-deductible.

Remember, withdrawals from traditional IRAs are taxed as ordinary income, and if taken before age 59½, may be subject to a 10% federal income tax penalty starting again in 2021 because the CARES Act ends December 31, 2020. Roth IRA distributions must meet a five-year holding requirement and occur after age 59½ to qualify for tax-exempt and penalty-free withdrawal. Tax-free and penalty-free withdrawals from Roth IRAs can also be taken under certain other circumstances, such as a result of the owner’s death.

Keep in mind, this article is for informational purposes only, and not a replacement for real-life advice. Also, tax rules are constantly changing, and there is no guarantee that the tax landscape will remain the same in years ahead.

 

Make a charitable gift. You can claim the deduction on your tax return, provided you follow the Internal Review Service (I.R.S.) guidelines and itemize your deductions with Schedule A. The paper trail is important here. If you give cash, you should consider documenting it. Some contributions can be demonstrated by a bank record, payroll deduction record, credit card statement, or written communication from the charity with the date and amount. Incidentally, the I.R.S. does not equate a pledge with a donation. If you pledge $2,000 to a charity this year but only end up gifting $500, you can only deduct $500.  You must write the check or make the gift using a credit card by the end of December.

These are hypothetical examples and are not a replacement for real-life advice. Make certain to consult your tax, legal, or accounting professional before modifying your record-keeping approach or your strategy for making charitable gifts.

 

See if you can take a home office deduction for your small business. If you are a small-business owner, you may want to investigate this. You may be able to write off expenses linked to the portion of your home used to conduct your business. Using your home office as a business expense involves a complex set of tax rules and regulations. Before moving forward, consider working with a professional who is familiar with home-based businesses.

  

Open an HSA. A Health Savings Account (HSA) works a bit like your workplace retirement account. There are also some HSA rules and limitations to consider. You are limited to a $3,600 contribution for 2021 if you are single; $7,200 if you have a spouse or family. Those limits jump by a $1,000 “catch-up” limit for each person in the household over age 55.

If you spend your HSA funds for non-medical expenses before age 65, you may be required to pay ordinary income tax as well as a 20% penalty. After age 65, you may be required to pay ordinary income taxes on HSA funds used for nonmedical expenses. HSA contributions are exempt from federal income tax; however, they are not exempt from state taxes in certain states.

 

Review your withholding status. Should it be adjusted due to any of the following factors?

* You tend to pay the federal or state government at the end of each year.

* You tend to get a federal tax refund each year.

* You recently married or divorced.

* You have a new job, and your earnings have been adjusted.

These are general guidelines and are not a replacement for real-life advice. Make certain to consult your tax, human resources, or accounting professional before modifying your withholding status.

 

Did you get married in 2020? If so, it may be an excellent time to consider reviewing the beneficiaries of your retirement accounts and other assets. The same goes for your insurance coverage. If you are preparing to have a new last name in 2021, you may want to get a new Social Security card. Additionally, retirement accounts may need to be revised or adjusted?

 

Consider the tax impact of any upcoming transactions. Are you planning to sell any real estate this year? Are you starting a business? Might any commissions or bonuses come your way in 2021? Do you anticipate selling an investment that is held outside of a tax-deferred account?

 

If you are retired and in your 70s, remember your RMDs. In other words, Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) from retirement accounts. Under the SECURE ACT, in most circumstances, once you reach age 72, you must begin taking RMDs from most types of these accounts.

 

Vow to focus on your overall health and practice sound financial habits in 2021. And don’t be afraid to ask for help from professionals who understand your individual situation. Give us a call if you would like to discuss. You can reach Bulwark Capital Management in the Seattle area at 253.509.0395.

 

 

Sources:

https://thefinancebuff.com/401k-403b-ira-contribution-limits.html

https://money.usnews.com/money/retirement/iras/articles/what-is-the-secure-act

https://www.irs.gov/publications/p590b

https://www.azcentral.com/story/money/business/consumers/2020/11/22/these-tax-laws-charitable-donations-were-changed-help-pandemic/6295115002/

https://www.investopedia.com/articles/tax/09/self-employed-tax-deductions.asp

https://www.investopedia.com/articles/personal-finance/082914/rules-having-health-savings-account-hsa.asp#:~:text=You%20can%20only%20open%20and,as%20a%20catch%2Dup%20contribution.

https://www.thinkadvisor.com/2020/11/29/10-tax-tips-to-take-by-year-end/

 

President Elect Biden

Zach Abraham Discusses Biden Presidency with Investment News

By | Geopolitical Affairs, News, Stock Market

Financial advisors are navigating the uncertainty of Biden’s impact on markets and the economy, scrambling to prepare portfolios and client expectations amidst a cloud of uncertainty regarding taxes and economic growth prospects.

Several advisors weighed in with Investment News, including our founder and chief investment officer, Zach Abraham. Zach summed up the unprecedented environment by saying, “The stock market is really confusing a lot of people right now.”

“There is unequivocally a massive separation between the performance of financial assets and the underlying economy,” he added. “The markets started celebrating after the election because one party didn’t sweep it, there wasn’t a blue wave, and there wasn’t a Trump reelection that would make the cities burn.”

But, going forward from here, Abraham said the financial markets are expecting mountains of government stimulus to carry the economy until it can get past the COVID-19 pandemic and back to standing on its own.

“It is structurally impossible for this economy to perform at the level of 2019 at any point in the near future and asset prices will reflect that new reality without stimulus,” he said. “It will take some bumpiness in markets to wake up the politicians, but those guys aren’t afraid of spending.”

While some advisers are trying to help clients navigate the unknown of higher taxes, others are wondering if clients are becoming too complacent with a stock market that continues to defy gravity.

From a pure stock market perspective, most data show that U.S. presidents typically get too much blame for down markets and too much credit for up markets.

An analysis compiled by John Bernstein, founder of Bernstein Financial Advisory, which measured stock market performance in two-year election cycles dating back to 1928, found that the political party in power was only responsible for about 2% of the stock market’s total performance.

Read the full story here: “Financial advisers navigate the uncertainty of Biden’s impact on markets, economy.”

 

 

 

2021 Limits for IRAs, 401(k)s and More

By | Financial Planning, Tax Planning

Numbers to know for the new year.

On October 26, the Treasury Department released the 2021 adjusted figures for retirement account savings. Although these adjustments won’t bring any major changes, there are some minor elements to note.

 

401(k)s. The salary deferral amount for 401(k)s remains the same at $19,500, while the catch-up amount of $6,500 also remains unchanged.

However, the overall limit for these plans will increase from $57,000 to $58,000 in 2021. This limit applies if your employer allows after-tax contributions to your 401(k). It’s an overall cap, including your $19,500 (pretax or Roth in any combination) salary deferrals plus any employer contributions (but not catch-up contributions).

 

Individual Retirement Accounts (IRA). The limit on annual contributions remains at $6,000 for 2021, and the catch-up contribution limit is also unchanged at $1,000. This total includes traditional IRA (pre-tax) and Roth IRA accounts or a combination.

 

Deductible IRA Contributions. Taxpayers can deduct contributions to a traditional IRA if they meet certain conditions. If during the year either the taxpayer or his or her spouse was covered by a retirement plan at work, the deduction may be reduced, or phased out, until it is eliminated, depending on filing status and income.

For single taxpayers covered by a workplace retirement plan, the phase-out range is $66,000 to $76,000, up from $65,000 to $75,000. For married couples filing jointly, where the spouse making the IRA contribution is covered by a workplace retirement plan, the phase-out range is $105,000 to $125,000, up from $104,000 to $124,000.

 

Roth IRAs. Roth IRA account holders will experience some slightly beneficial changes. In 2021, the Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) phase-out range will be $198,000 to $208,000 for couples filing jointly. This will be an increase from the 2020 range of $196,000 to $206,000. For those who file as single or as head of household, the income phase-out range has also increased. The new range for 2021 will be $125,000 to $140,000, up from the current range of $124,000 to $139,000.

 

QLACs. The dollar limit on the amount of your IRA or 401(k) you can invest in a qualified longevity annuity contract is still $135,000 for 2021.

 

Although these modest increases won’t impact many, it’s natural to have questions anytime the financial landscape changes. If you’re curious about any of the above, please call Bulwark Capital Management in the Seattle area at 253.509.0395.

 

 

 

Sources:

https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/income-ranges-for-determining-ira-eligibility-change-for-2021

https://www.forbes.com/sites/ashleaebeling/2020/10/26/irs-announces-2021-retirement-plan-contribution-limits-for-401ks-and-more/

 

10 Reasons You Need a Financial Plan

By | Financial Planning

October is Financial Planning Month which serves as a useful, annual checkpoint to make sure you are on track to meet your financial goals. A written, up-to-date financial plan encompasses not only investments, but risk management solutions, tax reduction strategies and estate planning.

10 Reasons You Need a Financial Plan

  1. To have one comprehensive document to address your finances.

Financial planning provides one summary location for everything related to your family’s financial life. From your budget, to your savings, to your investments, to your retirement, a financial plan helps you consider your finances in a holistic manner, and gives you one central place to see everything at a glance.

  1. To ensure your investments are in line with your current short- and long-term goals.

A financial plan includes short-term goals like buying a house and long-term goals like saving for retirement, as well as everything in between. As your goals change through time, your financial plan is a living document that should get updated with your advisor on at least an annual basis.

  1. To ensure you’re not spending too much money each month—to have adequate cash flow.

A realistic budget is very important to keeping you on track with your goals. This doesn’t mean you have to deprive yourself of little luxuries—it just means that those are already built into the plan so you don’t overspend.

  1. To ensure you’re saving enough money, in the right places, including adequate reserves.

As many of us have learned during the pandemic, having adequate emergency funds is important. That amount varies from person to person, and your advisor can help you define the amount you have saved for emergencies, and help you find the right strategies to use so that your savings are liquid and accessible when you need funds.

  1. To ensure your retirement is on track.

Making sure your retirement funds are invested for best performance while matching your risk tolerance and time horizon to retirement is one part of making sure your retirement is on track. Another part is making decisions about your desired retirement lifestyle and the corresponding monthly budget you will need later. These retirement lifestyle decisions can change throughout your working career, but should get more solid as you get from five to 10 years away from retiring.

  1. To put and keep adequate protection in place against risks—like health, disability, accidental death and liability.

Providing for your family’s financial security is an important part of the financial planning process, as is assessing other risks you may face such as liability from lawsuits. Having the proper insurance coverage in place can protect your whole family. And today’s policy designs mean you may be able to cover multiple risks with fewer policies—and may even be able to enjoy “living benefits” while providing death benefit protection for your family members.

  1. To address and have a plan in place for your estate.

Everyone needs an estate plan. A will allows you to spell out your final wishes, such as listing recipients of each of your possessions and designating minor children’s guardians. A trust can bypass probate court, saving money and keeping things private while easily transferring wealth. Health care directives and powers of attorney are critical should you become incapacitated. When creating your estate plan, your ideal team should include an estate attorney, your financial advisor and your tax professional.

  1. To help you manage changes.

A financial plan includes all its various parts and pieces so that you can quickly see what needs updating when life changes happen. Remember, the beneficiaries you list on your individual insurance policies and your retirement accounts (like 401(k)s) take precedence over what is in your estate planning documents. Too many people have had their ex-spouses receive money because they forgot to update all documents properly.

  1. To help you mitigate taxes.

It’s truly not how much you have; it’s how much you get to keep. Tax reduction strategies can help you annually, but your advisor can also help you look further ahead to reduce taxes later, such as during retirement. Remember, all the money you have saved in accounts like traditional 401(k)s are pre-tax dollars—you will have to pay ordinary income tax on that money when you withdraw it, which you have to do starting at age 72. Making a plan for taxation can help.

  1. To help enhance your peace of mind.

Reducing stress and sleeping more soundly may be the best reason of all to have a financial plan in place.

 

If you would like to create, update or review your financial plan, please call us. Contact Bulwark Capital Management in the Seattle area at 253.509.0395.

Zach Abraham Wall Street Journal

Zach Abraham Discusses Options for Cash in the Wall Street Journal

By | Financial Planning, In The Headlines, News

With interest rates so low, many consumers wonder where to find the best place for their savings. High-yield savings accounts are now paying around 0.6%, while the national average for traditional savings accounts is a meager 0.05% according to the FDIC.

Other options that offer more yield, however, often mean taking on more risk and sacrificing liquidity.

“If you think you see something higher than 2%, with liquidity, be very careful—there’s no silver bullet here,” says Zach Abraham, Chief Investment Officer at Bulwark Capital Management.

Zach told the Wall Street Journal that he’s seen people think outside the traditional options, looking instead at accounts with transactional requirements such as balance thresholds or debit-card usage. He has spoken to some clients about moving cash to CDs that fit their timeline. As of October 2020, the national average for 2-year CDs is 0.23% according to the FDIC.

 

 

Read the whole article here:   (subscription to Wall Street Journal required) https://www.wsj.com/articles/stashing-cash-in-a-low-interest-world-11602149402 

Or Download the PDF.

 

 

UPDATE:

The Wall Street Journal article quickly went viral around the globe, reaching millions of readers:

 

QQ China 57,048,000 https://new.qq.com/omn/20201014/20201014A01EAY00.html

ADVFN – US USA 8,067,000 https://www.advfn.com/stock-market/stock-news/83450961/u-s-stocks-drop-as-earnings-season-begins

Morningstar USA 8,024,000 https://www.morningstar.com/news/dow-jones/202010138472/us-stocks-drop-as-earnings-season-begins

La Republica Colombia 2,092,000 https://www.larepublica.co/globoeconomia/las-acciones-estadounidenses-caen-a-medida-que-comienza-la-temporada-de-ganancias-3073156

Marketscreener USA 2,081,000 https://www.marketscreener.com/news/latest/U-S-Stocks-Drop-as-Earnings-Season-Begins–31533030/

ADVFN – UK UK 2,084,000 https://uk.advfn.com/stock-market/stock-news/83452201/u-s-stocks-end-lower-as-earnings-season-begins

Beursduivel Belgium 1,054,000 https://www.beursduivel.be/Beursnieuws/601995/Wall-Street-op-verlies.aspx

Beursgorilla Netherland 729,038 https://www.beursgorilla.nl/beursnieuws/601995/Wall-Street-op-verlies.aspx

Beleggen Netherlands 455,046 https://www.beleggen.nl/financieel_nieuws/602011/Wall-Street-sluit-lager.aspx

ADVFN – Australia Australia 1,879 https://au.advfn.com/p.php?pid=nmona&article=83452201

Roth Conversions

What is a Roth Conversion?

By | Retirement, Tax Planning

To understand what a Roth conversion is, you must first understand some of the basics about the different types of retirement accounts, called “qualified accounts.”

  • Pensions

Also called defined-benefit plans, pensions are paid for by employers. They have largely gone away for Americans in the private sector starting with the passage of three laws during the Reagan administration, the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act passed in 1982, The Retirement Equity Act of 1984, and The Tax Reform Act and Single Employer Pension Plan enacted in 1986.

The lack of pensions is one reason why it’s important for people to create their own retirement income plans.

  • 401(k) Accounts

Defined-contribution plans, including 401(k)s and similar plans, rely on an employee to elect to contribute a percentage of their salary in order to save for retirement. Contribution amounts are usually taken out of an employee’s check on a “pre-tax” basis, and sometimes a company will add a “matching” amount based on the percentage the employee contributes, often based on an employee’s length of service.

A 401(k) plan generally has a limited list of fund choices. The maximum an individual can contribute to a 401(k) in 2020 is $19,500 per year, or $1,625 per month, not including the employer’s matching amount.

For traditional 401(k)s, no taxes are due on 401(k) accounts until the money is withdrawn. Ordinary income taxes are due upon withdrawal at the account owner’s current tax bracket rate, and withdrawals are mandatory starting at age 72. NOTE: Roth 401(k)s are available at some companies, and contributions for those are made on an after-tax basis.

  • Traditional IRA Accounts

An IRA—Individual Retirement Account—is a type of account which acts as a shell or holder. Within the IRA, you can invest in many different types of assets. You can choose between CDs, government bonds, mutual funds, ETFs, stocks, annuities—almost any type of investment available. You can open an IRA account at a bank, brokerage, mutual fund company, insurance company, or some may be opened directly online.

For 2020, you can contribute up to $6,000 to an IRA, plus an additional $1,000 catch-up contribution if you reach age 50 by the end of the tax year. Traditional IRA contributions are typically made with pre-tax dollars, which gets accounted for on your tax return in the year you choose to make the contribution. Depending on your income level, sometimes traditional IRA contributions can also be tax-deductible. Traditional IRA withdrawals are treated as ordinary income and taxed accordingly, and withdrawals are mandatory starting at age 72.

  • Roth IRA Accounts

Like a traditional IRA, a Roth IRA is a type of account which acts as a shell or holder for any number of different types of assets. The difference is that Roth IRA contributions are made with after-tax dollars.

Withdrawals are not mandatory for Roth IRAs, but you can withdraw funds tax-free as long as you follow all rules, which include having the account in place for at least five years. Those age 59-1/2 or older can withdraw any amount—including gains—at any time for any reason, and can also leave Roth IRA accounts to their heirs tax-free—beneficiaries just have to withdraw all the money within 10 years of the account holder’s death.

For people under age 59-1/2, as long as they have had their Roth IRA account in place for five years or longer, they can withdraw any amount they have invested at any time—but not the gains or earnings. If they withdraw the gains or earnings, they may have to pay ordinary income taxes plus a 10% penalty on those, with some exceptions, such as first-time homebuyer expenses up to $10,000, qualified education and hardship withdrawals, which may avoid the penalty but still require tax be paid on any amount attributed to earnings.

Roth IRAs offer the potential for tax-free retirement income as well as tax-free wealth transfer to heirs. Essentially, with a Roth IRA, your interest, dividends and capital gains which accumulate inside it are tax-free as long as you follow all Roth IRA withdrawal rules.

For 2020, you can contribute up to $6,000 depending on your income, plus an additional $1,000 catch-up contribution if you reach age 50 by the end of the tax year. However, Roth IRAs have income restrictions that may disqualify higher-income people from participating. The income restrictions on Roth IRA accounts are not always a barrier to conversions—a perfectly legal tax strategy called a “backdoor Roth IRA conversion” can be accomplished as long as all IRS rules are followed.

Roth Conversions

Because of the many Roth IRA tax advantages, some people may benefit from converting some of the money in their taxable 401(k) and/or traditional IRA accounts into tax-free Roth IRAs. Conversions are a taxable event in the year they are done, and they cannot be undone, so it is important to work with a qualified advisor to run anticipated tax savings calculations to see if they make sense. Additionally, there are complex tax rules which must be adhered to in regard to the ratio of taxable to non-taxable amounts held in IRAs.

If you have a low-income year due to a job loss or cutback, or you are five to 10 years away from retirement, you may benefit from a Roth conversion, or a series of them at today’s lower tax bracket rates, set to revert back up to 2017 levels for the 2026 tax year.

There are basically three ways to do Roth conversions according to Investopedia:

1) A rollover, in which you take a distribution from your traditional IRA in the form of a check and deposit that money in a Roth account within 60 days.

2) A trustee-to-trustee transfer, in which you direct the financial institution that holds your traditional IRA to transfer the money to your Roth account at another financial institution.

3) A same-trustee transfer, in which you tell the financial institution that holds your traditional IRA to transfer the money into a Roth account at that same institution.

Whatever method you use, you will need to report the conversion to the IRS using Form 8606 when you file your income taxes for the year and follow all rules. Roth conversions are complex and you should seek expert tax guidance.

Let’s talk. Contact Bulwark Capital Management in the Seattle area at 253.509.0395.

 

 

This article is for informational purposes only and should not be used for financial or tax advice. Future tax law changes are always possible. Be sure to consult a tax professional before making any decisions regarding your traditional IRA or Roth IRA.

Sources:

https://protectpensions.org/2016/08/04/happened-private-sector-pensions/)

https://blog.turbotax.intuit.com/tax-deductions-and-credits-2/can-you-deduct-401k-savings-from-your-taxes-7169/.

https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/investing/how-much-should-i-contribute-to-a-401k/.

https://www.debt.org/tax/brackets/

https://www.investopedia.com/terms/b/backdoor-roth-ira.asp#

https://www.investopedia.com/roth-ira-conversion-rules-4770480

https://www.kitces.com/blog/roth-ira-conversions-isolate-basis-rollover-pro-rate-rule-employer-plan-qcd/

How Rich Do You Have to Be in Order to Retire?

By | Health Care, Long Term Care, Retirement, Tax Planning

Even though perceptions have changed during the pandemic with more Americans now saying they need less money to feel rich1, when it comes to retirement, most people are still unclear about how much they will need to have saved before they can quit their jobs.

The answer to that question is different for every person.

Here are some of the things you need to think about in order to get a realistic retirement number in mind.

 

What do you want to do during retirement? Where will you live?

Different people have different retirement goals and visions. You may not realize that you need to answer lifestyle questions before you can answer the “how much do I need” question.

Think about it this way. A single woman downsizing into a tiny home in a rural community to enjoy hiking in nature is going to need to have saved up a lot less money than a couple who wants to buy a big yacht, hire a crew and travel around the world docking at various international ports. A man who wants to spend all his time woodworking in his garage in the Midwest will need a smaller nest egg than a power couple collecting art and living in a penthouse in New York.

Most people are somewhere in the middle of these extremes. Yet answering these questions for yourself is very important both financially and emotionally for everyone entering retirement. You don’t want to end up feeling lost or bored not working—you want to feel that you are moving forward into a phase of life that is rewarding to you. And you certainly don’t want to run out of money because you miscalculated.

Take some time to get specific about your needs and desires. Will you want to spend holidays with family or friends? Start an expensive new hobby like golf? Take a big vacation every year? (The pandemic will end eventually!) Visit your grandchildren who live across the country multiple times? Go out to eat every day?

Based on your goals and objectives for your retirement lifestyle, your financial advisor will help you prepare a realistic monthly budget, adding in calculations for inflation through the years.

Once you’ve developed your monthly budget, it can be compared against your Social Security benefit to give you a good idea of how much additional monthly retirement income you will need to generate from your savings. From there, your advisor can come up with strategies to help you create income from savings, and then give you a realistic figure that you will need to have saved up before you retire.

But in addition to your retirement lifestyle, there are a couple of other things that need to be considered.

 

How is your health?

Nearly every retiree looks forward to the day they can sign up for Medicare. But Medicare is not free; the standard Part B premium for 2020 is $144.60 per month2 for each person. Your premiums for Medicare are usually deducted right from your Social Security check.

If you elect to purchase additional coverage through Medicare Advantage, Medigap and/or prescription drug plans, your premiums will cost more. And there will still be deductibles to meet and co-pays you will owe.

Some estimates for health care expenses throughout retirement are as high as $295,000 for a couple both turning 65 in 2020!3

Even worse, keep in mind that this figure does not include long-term care expenses—Medicare doesn’t cover those after 100 days.4

 

Have you planned for taxes?

It’s not how much money you have saved, it’s how much you get to keep net of taxes.

When designing your retirement plan and helping you calculate how much you need to save, your advisor will take into consideration an important piece of the puzzle—taxes. Tax planning is often different than the type of advice you get from your CPA or tax professional when you do your tax returns each year. Tax planning involves looking far into the future at what you may owe later, and finding ways to minimize your tax burden so you will have more money to spend on things you enjoy doing in retirement.

Different types of accounts are subject to different types of taxation. “After-tax” money that you invest in the stock market can be subject to short- or long-term capital gains taxes. Gains accrued on “after-tax” money that you have invested in a Roth IRA account are not taxed due to their favorable tax rules. Interest paid on “after-tax” money in savings, CDs or money market accounts is taxed as ordinary income, although this usually doesn’t amount to much especially with today’s low interest rates.

What your financial advisor will be most concerned about is your “before-tax” money held in accounts like traditional IRAs or 401(k)s which are subject to ordinary income taxes when you take the money out, which you have to do each year starting at age 72 per the IRS. (These mandatory withdrawals are called required minimum distributions.)

If “before-tax” money like 401(k)s are where the bulk of your savings is held, you will want to run projections to calculate how much of a bite income taxes will take out of your retirement, especially since tax brackets will go back up to 2017 levels5 beginning in January of 2026. There may be steps you can take now to help you lower your taxes in the future.

 

Please contact us if you have any questions about your retirement. Contact Bulwark Capital Management in the Seattle area at 253.509.0395.

 

 

Sources:

1 https://www.financial-planning.com/articles/americans-now-say-they-need-less-money-to-feel-rich

2 https://www.medicare.gov/your-medicare-costs/medicare-costs-at-a-glance#

3 https://www.fidelity.com/viewpoints/personal-finance/plan-for-rising-health-care-costs

4 https://longtermcare.acl.gov/medicare-medicaid-more/medicare.html

5 https://taxfoundation.org/2017-tax-brackets/