Paying for the Infrastructure Bill

Paying for the Infrastructure Bill

President Joe Biden introduced the much-anticipated American Jobs Plan, which outlines an approach to spend roughly $2.2 trillion on the nation’s infrastructure and other projects.

As part of the legislative process, the Biden administration also laid out a proposal for paying for the domestic investment. The plan includes raising the corporate tax rate to 28% from 21%, cracking down on companies that use overseas operations to manage profits, and eliminating tax breaks for some industries.1

Right now, the proposal does not include any new taxes on individuals. It’s only targeting corporations expecting that the 8-year plan would pay for itself in 15 years.2

But some believe that in the coming weeks, the Biden administration intends to put forward additional tax initiatives that target high-earning Americans.

One proposal that may get introduced would raise taxes on families who earn more than $400,000 a year. There also has been discussion about a higher capital gains tax rate for individuals earning at least $1 million a year and adjustments to the estate tax exemption.3

At this point, it’s uncertain what—if any—tax changes for individuals will be taken up by Congress. The initiatives that will take priority may become more clear in the weeks ahead.

Challenge yourself to be patient during this period of debate over tax proposals. If they introduce changes, a sound analysis should drive portfolio decisions, not knee-jerk reactions to current events. Remember, this letter is for informational purposes only. It is not a replacement for real-life advice, so make sure to consult your tax, legal, and accounting professionals before modifying your tax strategy.

If you are concerned about one or more of these proposals, please give us a call. We’d welcome the chance to hear your perspective, and hopefully, we can provide some guidance.

1. CNBC.com, March 31, 2021
2. USAToday.com, March 31, 2021
3. Bloomberg.com, March 14, 2021
The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. This material was developed and produced by FMG Suite to provide information on a topic that may be of interest. FMG Suite, LLC, is not affiliated with the named representative, broker-dealer, state- or SEC-registered investment advisory firm. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security.

A Bucket Plan to Go with Your Bucket List

A Bucket Plan to Go with Your Bucket List

John and Mary are nearing retirement and they have a lot of items on their bucket list. Longer life expectancies mean John and Mary may need to prepare for two or even three decades of retirement. How should they position their money?1

One approach is to segment your expenses into three buckets:

  • Basic Living Expenses— Food, Rent, Utilities, etc.
  • Discretionary Spending — Vacations, Dining Out, etc.
  • Legacy Assets — for heirs and charities

Next, pair appropriate investments to each bucket. For instance, Social Security might be assigned to the Basic Living Expenses bucket.2

For the discretionary spending bucket, you might consider investments that pay a steady dividend and that also offer the potential for growth.3

Finally, list the Legacy assets that you expect to pass on to your heirs and charities.

A bucket plan can help you be better prepared for a comfortable retirement.

Call today and we can develop a strategy that may help you put enough money in your buckets to complete all the items on your bucket list.

  1. John and Mary are a hypothetical couple used for illustrative purposes only. Diversification is an approach to help manage investment risk. It does not eliminate the risk of loss if security prices decline.
  2. Social Security benefits may play a more limited role in the future and some financial professional recommend creating a retirement income strategy that excludes Social Security payments.
  3. A company’s board of directors can stop, decrease or increase the dividend payout at any time. Investments offering a higher dividend may involve a higher degree of risk. Keep in mind that the return and principal value of stock prices will fluctuate as market conditions change. Shares, when sold, may be worth more or less than their original cost.

The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. This material was developed and produced by FMG Suite to provide information on a topic that may be of interest. FMG Suite is not affiliated with the named broker-dealer, state- or SEC-registered investment advisory firm. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. Copyright 2021 FMG Suite.

Your Must Know Guide to Current & Future Tax Changes

Your Must-Know Guide to Current & Future Tax Changes

AQuest Webinar 2/11/21

Dr. Jason Van Duyn discusses the current and future changes for your 2021 Taxes as well as a review of the proposed tax changes by the Biden Administration and how they may affect your portfolio. Understand the newest changes to the tax code, CARES Act, etc. Review the Biden Tax Proposals and how you might make them work for you

Volatility can test your mettle

Volatility Can Test Your Mettle

Most people understand that stock prices don’t go straight up. But when
market volatility increases, the price action can test the mettle of even the
most seasoned investor.

In recent weeks, stock prices have trended lower with a few eye-popping,
one-day rallies as the financial markets appear to adjust to higher interest
rates on long-term Treasuries. Since the beginning of the year, we’ve seen
a jump in the yield of the 10-year treasury.1

While investors recognize that economic strength may lead to higher bond
yields, it’s the speed at which bond yields increased that proven unsetting.
Generally speaking, when yields rise, bond prices tend to fall.

It’s uncertain what’s next for stock prices, but it’s possible the current
downtrend could take certain market indexes into a correction, meaning a
decline of 10% or greater from a recent high. The Nasdaq market has
flirted with correction territory as the rising bond yields have upended
some high valuation growth stocks.2

But by comparison, the Standard & Poor’s 500 index has seen a modest
pullback from its closing high set on February 11, 2021. The Dow Jones
Industrial Average set an intraday record high in recent trading.2
What matters is what you do next. Right now, it may be best to ignore
some of the short-term price swings. Remember, you craft your
investment strategy to help pursue your long-term goals, regardless of
what the markets do from day-to-day.

You’re always welcome to give me a call with your questions. Rest
assured, we’re keeping a close eye on the financial markets, and most
importantly, watching for any new long-term trends that may emerge on
your behalf.

1. CNBC.com, March 8, 2021
2. CNBC.com, March 5, 2021
Investing involves risks, and investment decisions should be based on your own goals, time horizon, and risk tolerance. The return and principal value of investments will fluctuate as market conditions change. When sold, investments may be worth more or less than their original cost. The market value of a bond will fluctuate with changes in interest rates. As rates rise, the value of existing bonds typically falls. If an investor sells a bond before maturity, it may be worth more or less than the initial purchase price. By holding a bond to maturity, an investor will receive the interest payments due plus your original principal, barring default by the issuer. Investments seeking to achieve higher yields also involve a higher degree of risk. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is an unmanaged index generally considered representative of large-capitalization companies on the U.S. stock market. The S&P 500 Composite Index is an unmanaged index that is considered representative of the overall U.S. stock market. The Nasdaq Composite Index is an unmanaged index that is considered representative of small-capitalization companies. Index performance is not indicative of the past performance of a particular investment. Past performance does not guarantee future results. Individuals cannot invest directly in an index. The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. This material was developed and produced by FMG Suite to provide information on a topic that may be of interest. FMG Suite, LLC, is not affiliated with the named representative, broker-dealer, state- or SEC-registered investment advisory firm. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security.

 

Planning for College

Planning for College

The cost of college continues to escalate. If you have children or teens, develop a savings plan to help support their education. For most Americans, college is expensive (so much so that for those with young children, imagining the day when they enter college and reach out to you for their quarterly tuition check is terrifying, to say the least). Have you begun saving for the big day?

There are a number of savings options to address your children’s or grandchildren’s college costs. They vary in terms of contribution limits, tax benefits, and even college choice. Understanding what’s available may help lessen the anxiety — and financial sting — for when the school bell rings.

Roth IRA

Roth IRAs (Individual Retirement Account) feature enhanced flexibility that allow you to make after-tax contributions and even tax-free withdrawals. Interest that accrues is tax deferred, and you can make taxfree withdrawals from your earnings if you comply with the rules. Consult your financial professional to determine current law and its impact on the benefits of Roth IRAs.

Early withdrawals that you use to pay for qualified education expenses avoid penalties that would otherwise be assessed for non-educational purposes. You are limited to $6,000 per year in contributions — or $7,000 if you’re 50 years of age or older — though high-income earners have other restrictions that limit their contributions.

Finally, a Roth IRA value isn’t included on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)®, though any withdrawals you make are counted as base year income.

U.S. Savings Bonds

You can purchase up to $10,000 per year (per-owner, per-bond type) in qualified U.S. savings bonds, redeeming them tax-free (of federal taxes) when you apply them to college expenses. The bonds earn modest interest, though an interest exclusion is phased out for those in the higher-income bond category.

529 Plan

A 529 plan provides generous benefits, allowing couples to contribute up to $30,000 a year without triggering the gift tax (you can even increase this amount if you take the money from your lifetime gift tax exemption). Money that you put into a 529 plan earns tax-deferred interest, while withdrawals you make for qualified college expenses are tax-free and exempt from reporting on the FAFSA.

Contributions to 529 plans can be made regardless of your income, and 529 plans are available to pay for college in all 50 U.S. States. Before investing in a plan, consult your financial professional to determine whether your state offers state tax benefits.
NOTE: Non-educational withdrawals from a 529 Plan are subject to taxes and penalties.

UGMA and UTMA Accounts

You can also make contributions pursuant to the Uniform Gifts to Minors Act (UGMA) and the Uniform Transfers to Minors Act (UTMA), adding up to $15,000 ($30,000 for couples) in a child’s name free of the gift tax. If you use some of your lifetime gift tax exemption, you can contribute even more.

Keep in mind, any interest, dividends, or capital gains income in excess of $2,100 may be subject to a tax. However, if this is the child’s only income and it is less than $10,500, you can report the income on your own tax return.

 

This material is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. There is no assurance that the views or strategies discussed are suitable for all investors or will yield positive outcomes. Investing involves risks including possible loss of principal.

Prior to investing in a 529 Plan investors should consider whether the investor’s or designated beneficiary’s home state offers any state tax or other state benefits such as financial aid, scholarship funds, and protection from creditors that are only available for investments in such state’s qualified tuition program. Tax treatment at the state level may vary. This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax advice. We suggest that you discuss your specific tax issues with a qualified tax advisor.

The Importance of Your Credit Score

The Importance of Your Credit Score

Understanding the value of your credit score is an important first step to improving your financial health.

Anyone who has ever applied for a loan to purchase a car or house has encountered their credit score. This elusive figure can be perplexing, a three-digit assessment of your credit worthiness that has the potential to impact your financial health. We offer insights into understanding your credit score and taking steps to improve it.

What’s In a Number?

Your credit score most commonly used by lenders is FICO, a three-digit number from 300 to 850. It fluctuates continually, reflecting the interest rate of your credit cards, outstanding loans, and even a lack of credit.

Aim for at least a score of 700, a good figure by many lending standards. You can request a copy of your credit report (there is a small fee) from the three major credit reporting companies, Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.

Credit Worthiness

Check your credit report periodically, making sure that there are no errors, while using it as a tool to make sure that you’re paying your bills on time and staying within your established credit limits. Such actions have the potential to increase your credit score. You can request free copies of your Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion credit reports from AnnualCreditReport.com.

If you spot any errors, report the discrepancies to the appropriate credit bureaus (the report may differ among the three). They are required to take reasonable steps to correct any errors.

Establishing Credit

If you are a first-time credit seeker — applying for a credit card or loan, for instance — you may have to establish your credit score, which you can do in several ways, including by getting a secured credit card or becoming an authorized user of someone else’s card.

Improve Your Score

Not satisfied with your credit score and want to increase it? There are a number of steps you can take, like paying your bills on time, decreasing the amount of debt you carry, and staying within your established credit limits.

By taking control of your credit score, you are taking prudent steps to improve your overall financial health.

 

Save the Dates: America Saves Week is February 22-26, 2021

Save the Dates: America Saves Week is February 22-26, 2021
Holiday raises awareness of the importance of establishing responsible saving behaviors.

Underscoring the importance of saving successfully to achieve financial stability, the non-profit America Saves, an initiative of the Consumer Federation of America (CFA), is holding its 15th annual America Saves Week (ASW) event, February 22-26, 2021.

Comprised of more than 270 consumer education, advocacy, and cooperative members, the CFA is dedicated to educating consumers. ASW is the organization’s annual high-profile event, where they recommend that consumers perform a careful assessment of their finances and saving behaviors. “The America Saves pledge is the framework that allows savers to set a goal,” America Saves writes on its website, “and make a plan to achieve better financial stability.”

“Americans are in the midst of a savings crisis with more than 50% of us living paycheck to paycheck,” said George Barany, Director of America Saves, in a lead up to last year’s event. “Having some emergency savings can make a significant difference in one’s quality of life. Unfortunately, many people are not told about the most effective way to save, and that’s making saving automatic.”

Organizations can support ASW by becoming a participating organization, cross-marketing ASW to spread awareness of the event. “Once you’re a participating organization, it’s time to plan how your organization will show up for the week,” America Saves says. “The America Saves Week Digital Toolkit will provide done-for-you social media graphics, resources and tools, sample emails, press releases, and more. Many participating organizations choose to create their own aligned content for the week, host events (both virtually and on location), and more.”

Last year, dozens of organizations made public commitments to the event, including: BlackRock, USAA,
Zeiders Enterprises, JP Morgan & Chase, FDIC, National Disability Institute (NDI), Navy Federal Credit Union, National Association of Federally Insured Credit Unions (NAFCU), Funding our Future, Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education (AFCPE), and National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC).
This year’s ASW event is organized around the following daily themes:

  • Save Automatically (February 22): A day to encourage Americans to save automatically through direct deposit of a portion of their income into a savings account.
  • Save for the Unexpected (February 23): Emphasizes the importance of creating an emergency fund to support unexpected expenses, like a car repair or medical bill.
  • Save to Retire (February 24): Addresses the importance of establishing a retirement fund that has the potential to help you support your lifestyle expectations when you retire.

How To Be a Responsible Credit Card User

No need to be afraid of credit cards—if you use them wisely. Follow these guidelines to help you charge responsibly.

Credit cards are a modern convenience that make shopping easier and safer. They can be better than cash for large purchases, and they’re a good option for shopping online if you’re concerned about the security of digital transactions. You can also find useful benefits such as cash-back or rewards points that can help you with other spending needs. A credit card can also be key for establishing and building a credit history, which is essential when financing large purchases such as a car or a home.

But like many things in life, the ease of credit cards comes with an opportunity cost. Excessive use of credit over time can lead to future financial problems. But credit doesn’t have to control your financial life, if you take control of your credit and learn how be a responsible credit card user.

Use your credit card like a debit card. Make purchases on your credit card only when you have enough money in your bank account to pay for them. This approach can help you pay off debts as you realize them, while you build a solid credit report and reap rewards at the same time.

Be prudent with credit. A credit card can be useful in helping you pay for large purchases when you don’t have enough savings, as long as you have a plan to pay off the purchase in a few months. There are some purchases that are not a prudent use of credit; for instance, paying taxes, your rent or mortgage, or significant medical bills. Once you start paying for these expenses with credit, it’s easy to keep doing it. That’s a quick way to dig yourself into a hole of debt.

Make minimum payments on time. Always pay your full credit card balance every month. This is the best approach for avoiding interest changes. But there may be times when you cannot pay off your full balance. If so, you should at least pay the minimum amount due on time. Nearly all credit cards charge fees for late or missed payments, and some banks are likely to apply higher interest rates as well. Late and missed payments can also become black marks on your credit history that are hard to erase.

Don’t max out your credit. The convenience that credit cards offer is great, but that ease of use can also lead to trouble if you continue to make purchases with credit. If you don’t pay off these purchases and continue to shop with your card, eventually you’ll hit your credit limit. Carrying a high credit card balance can weigh on your credit score. If you need to carry a balance from month to month, make sure it only represents a small portion of your credit limit.

How Tax-Loss Harvesting May Help Lower Your Tax Bill

A volatile year in the financial markets can create opportunities for reducing your taxable income.

Many investors use the closing months of the year to review their portfolios and assess their winning and losing investments. It’s also a good time to do tax planning for the upcoming filing season; decisions you make before year-end can help you lower the taxes you own on your ordinary and investment income.

Tax-loss harvesting is one strategy many investors use to offset taxable investment income and capital gains with capital losses. After a volatile year in the markets, you may see a stark divide between winners and losers in your portfolio. There is opportunity, however, to consider selling certain investments that realize losses you can use to lower your overall tax bill.

Use losses to lower your tax liability. Tax laws permit you to take a credit for any investment losses you incur during the calendar year to lower realized capital gains and possibly your taxable income. For example, let’s say earlier this year you sold a stock position you’ve held for several years and realized a profit of $1,000. This profit will be taxed as a capital gain at a rate of as much as 20%, depending on your tax bracket. However, let’s say you sold another long-term stock position this past year for a loss of $600. You can use this capital loss to reduce your total capital gains for the year to $400. The most you’d pay in taxes would be $80. ($400 capital gain x 20% maximum cap-gain tax rate.)

You can also use tax-loss harvesting to reduce your ordinary taxable income, if you realize losses in excess of your total capital gains for the year. You can apply capital losses up to $3,000 in a calendar year—a small amount, but potentially significant if the credit lowers your total annual taxable income and keeps you from moving into a higher tax bracket.

Carry over excess losses for the future. If your total losses for the year exceed your total capital gains, you can also apply these losses against future capital gains by carrying them over to another tax year. The IRS caps this capital-loss carryover at $3,000 per year, but you can extend the losses over consecutive years until the entire amount of the capital loss is applied.

Know the “wash sale” rule. If you plan to sell a security for a loss, the IRS forbids the purchase of the same security or a “substantially similar” security for 30 days before and after the sale. This type of transaction is known as a “wash sale”. It’s an important rule to remember if, for example, you want to sell an indexed ETF and purchase another ETF linked to the same index. Violating the wash-sale rule could disallow any offset losses, not only for the current tax year but potentially future tax years as well.

Budget-Friendly Options for Any Gift-Giving Occasion

You can show your love to friends and family without breaking your bank account. Here’s how.

Holidays and stress seem to go together like a hand in glove. One common cause of stress comes in picking out the perfect present for their loved ones. But that can also create a difference source of stress—spending too much on gifts and going deep into debt.

As a result, many people feel pulled in two directions at once. But you can give thoughtful gifts and keep your spending under control. Consider these budget-friends gifting options:

Give with a personal touch. Photos are a great way to be thoughtful during gift-giving season, but you have options beyond picture frames and prints. These days, you can put a digital photo on just about any object, which makes your gift personal and practical. Consider screening a favorite photo on everyday items such as coffee mugs or coasters.

Make an event out of it. Even while you’re practicing social distancing with family and friends, you can look ahead for getting back together in the future with tickets or coupons for social activities. Local events are great for for planning an outing with friends or family members, or creating a reason for a “date night” with a partner or spouse. Plus, you don’t have to break the bank with pricey concert or theater tickets. You may find some great deals right now on movies, theater, concerts and musical performances from arts organizations looking stay connected with their communities.

Do it yourself. Maybe you don’t have a creative bone in your body and a DIY gift isn’t your style. You can still think outside the box to craft thoughtful gifts that don’t come from a store and won’t cost you a lot of money. Edible gifts are almost always welcome, whether you bake something from scratch or assemble a basket of favorite foods.