Tuesday, June 22, 2021

2021 Tax Strategies

 


  

In an effort to pay for new legislation, the Biden administration has proposed higher taxes for the nation’s highest earners. The president advocates returning the top tax rate to 39.6% for individuals earning $452,700 or more, and married couples with more than $509,300 in combined taxable income.

 

This top tax rate was just reduced in 2017 (to the current 37%), which emphasizes a very important point: Tax rates are going to rise and fall. While it may be prudent to make adjustments to income, investments, deductions and other tax strategies in response to changes, it’s always important to do what’s best for your circumstances. Making adjustments every few years could end up derailing your long-term goals. Before making any changes based on proposed or even enacted tax laws, be sure to consult with experienced financial and tax professionals to develop a sound strategy that works for the long haul. Feel free to call us if you’d like to discuss tax strategies.

With that in mind, there are tactics you can use to help minimize your tax obligations and still remain aligned with your goals. For example, if you are currently retired and regularly make charitable contributions, you can use your required minimum distributions (RMD) to donate directly from your IRA account. Those assets would no longer be reported as income, so you would not have to pay taxes on them. It’s a way to continue your charitable goals but minimize your taxes.2

 

Another asset that could be targeted for higher taxes is an inherited home. Today, heirs enjoy a step-up in basis, which means the home’s cost basis is adjusted to market value at the time of the owner’s death. If the heir sells the home immediately, he or she will owe no capital gains tax. Also, heirs can defer paying taxes on that value until they actually sell the home. However, Biden’s proposed inheritance tax would remove the step-up and tax capital gains upon the death of the parent, as if the home was sold. The current proposal includes tax exemptions up to $1 million for single heirs and up to $2.5 million for couples.

That may sound like a lot, but the heirs may have to sell the property if they don’t have ready cash to pay the gains tax. For example, say a son inherits his parents’ home. It was originally purchased for $300,000 and is valued at $1.5 million when he inherits it. Under the Biden proposal, he can subtract both the original cost ($300,000) and the exclusion rate ($1 million), but that still leaves $200,000 on which he would owe capital gains taxes.3

 

Another tax strategy being pursued by this administration is to collect taxes legally owed that are not currently being collected. According to the IRS, that’s about $1 trillion a year based on analysis from 2011 to 2013. However, between the proliferation of virtual currencies and the impressive growth in billionaire wealth just over the past year, the amount of uncollected tax revenues could be a lot higher than that now. In fact, IRS analysis has found that illegal and foreign-sourced income that is not currently being reported would yield an additional $175 billion in tax revenues from America’s wealthiest households. In an effort to avoid raising taxes on middle and lower-income households, Biden has proposed a 10.4% increase in IRS funding to help enforce tax laws already on the books.4


We take pride in assisting our clients with incorporating all aspects of their life into their Retirement Roadmap 360®. Take control of your financial future and give us a call at (734) 769-1719 today to see how we may be able to help you! 


 

1 Kate Duffy. Business Insider. April 29, 2021. “Biden’s tax hike will hit married couples earning more than $510,000 combined, report says.” https://www.businessinsider.com/joe-biden-tax-rise-hits-married-couples-earn-less-400000-2021-4. Accessed May 3, 2021.

2 Steven A. Morelli. Insurance News Net. April 9, 2021. “Advisors Dealing With A Flood Of Tax Anxiety.” https://insurancenewsnet.com/innarticle/advisors-dealing-with-a-flood-of-tax-anxiety. Accessed May 3, 2021.

3 Kate Dore. CNBC. April 29, 2021. “Biden’s plan for inherited real estate may impact more people than just the wealthy.” https://www.cnbc.com/2021/04/29/bidens-tax-plan-for-inherited-homes-may-impact-more-than-the-wealthy.html?recirc=taboolainternal. Accessed May 3, 2021.

4 Aaron Lorenzo. Politico. April 13, 2021. “IRS chief says some $1T in taxes going uncollected annually.” https://www.politico.com/news/2021/04/13/irs-one-trillion-taxes-uncollected-annually-481128. Accessed May 3, 2021.


We are an independent firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance products to custom suit their needs and objectives. This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic retirement income strategies and should not be construed as financial advice.

The information contained in this material is believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions. 

Investment Advisory Services are offered by Imber Financial Group, LLC., a Registered Investment Adviser firm. Insurance services are offered through Imber Wealth Advisors, Inc. Imber Financial Group, LLC. and Imber Wealth Advisors, Inc. are affiliated companies

Monday, June 14, 2021

The Labor Market in the Post Pandemic Era

 

According to the most recent Future of Jobs Report by the World Economic Forum, 50% of employees will need new skills training by 2025 as the pace of technological innovation continues to grow. Among business leaders, 94% say they expect employees to learn new skills while on the job, compared to just 65% who made that claim in 2018.1

 

However, the amount of time it takes to reskill will depend on the industry, according to the online learning platform Coursera. For example, only one or two months is necessary to acquire skills in emerging professions such as content writing, sales and marketing; in contrast, it could take up to three months to expand skills in product development, data and artificial intelligence. Skills needed for roles in cloud computing and engineering could take up to four months. Among soft skills that will increase in demand, critical thinking and problem-solving top the list. But post-pandemic, skills in resilience, stress tolerance and flexibility also are highly valued.2

 

This recognition of the need for new skills training opens up avenues for all types of people, even retirees and middle-aged professionals who would like to change careers. After all, the acquisition of skills based on new technologies means no one will have a huge edge in terms of experience. Therefore, people with the ability to learn technical skills quickly – who already possess high-value soft skills – have strong potential to vie for a new career. If you’re thinking about making such a move, we’d be happy to review your financial portfolio to help make sure you are on the right path toward your retirement.

 

Another labor trend is the rise of remote work and its impact on employees’ lifestyles. With the pandemic clearing the way for many white-collar workers to work remotely, younger workers have been able to move to more affordable locales and buy their first homes. On the other hand, established homeowners can now consider relocating to wherever they’d like to retire, trading in their current home equity for their retirement home – with a plan to pay off that final mortgage while they’re still working. This way, they can move and start enjoying a retirement lifestyle near the beach, lake or mountains while still gainfully employed, albeit working remotely.3

 

Unfortunately, low-skilled, blue-collar professions are on the other side of that coin. Many either lost jobs during the pandemic or were classified as high-risk “essential workers.” Just because grocery store clerks became essential, it doesn’t necessarily mean an increase in pay or benefits. While the debate over raising the national minimum wage continues in Washington, there’s little doubt that many low-paying jobs will always be necessary, but experienced workers in those positions are not necessarily low-skilled.4

 

For example, what is the value of caregivers who can skillfully attend to mobility-challenged people? Or workers who serve multiple tables of hungry and thirsty patrons who want their meal yesterday? Skills like patience and equanimity have not traditionally received the same level of pay as an office worker, but they are no less valued or necessary. It will be interesting to see, post-pandemic, if these types of jobs begin to translate into fair pay and good benefits.5

 

After decades of steady decline, labor unions are hoping for greater respect and participation moving forward – based on support by President Joe Biden’s administration. Today, only one in five households has a union member, and the Economic Policy Institute estimates the decline of unions translates to an average loss of $3,250 per year for a full-time worker. Biden is advocating passage of the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) bill, which would abolish state laws that ban mandatory collection of dues as a condition of employment, penalize businesses that retaliate among union drives and extend federal labor rights to independent contract workers. So far, the House has approved the legislation, but it faces a more difficult path in the Senate.6

 We take pride in assisting our clients with incorporating all aspects of their life into their Retirement Roadmap 360®. Take control of your financial future and give us a call at (734) 769-1719 today to see how we may be able to help you! 


1 Kate Whiting. World Economic Forum. Oct. 21, 2020. “These are the top 10 job skills of tomorrow – and how long it takes to learn them.” https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/10/top-10-work-skills-of-tomorrow-how-long-it-takes-to-learn-them/. Accessed April 30, 2021.

2 Ibid.

3 Liam Dillon. Los Angeles Times. April 30, 2021. “The remote work revolution is transforming, and unsettling, resort areas like Lake Tahoe.” https://www.latimes.com/homeless-housing/story/2021-04-30/covid-wfh-boosts-palm-springs-lake-tahoe-housing-markets. Accessed April 30, 2021.

4 Annie Lowrey. The Atlantic. April 23, 2021. “Low-Skill Workers Aren’t a Problem to Be Fixed.” https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/04/theres-no-such-thing-as-a-low-skill-worker/618674/. Accessed April 30, 2021.

5 Ibid.

6 Steve Matthews and Payne Lubbers. Bloomberg. April 15, 2021. “Biden Confronts Decades of Union Decline in Bid to Boost Pay.” https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-04-15/biden-confronts-decades-of-union-decline-in-bid-to-boost-wages?sref=wFA4tJCq. Accessed April 30, 2021.

 

We are an independent firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance and investment products to custom suit their needs and objectives. This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic financial planning strategies and should not be construed as financial or investment advice. All investments are subject to risk including the potential loss of principal. No investment strategy can guarantee a profit or protect against loss in periods of declining values.

 

The information contained in this material is believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions.


Investment Advisory Services are offered by Imber Financial Group, LLC., a Registered Investment Adviser firm. Insurance services are offered through Imber Wealth Advisors, Inc. Imber Financial Group, LLC. and Imber Wealth Advisors, Inc. are affiliated companies

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Ranking the World's Nations

 


What’s the best country? After several years at No. 2, Canada leads the globe, according to U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Countries” rankings for 2021. It’s followed by Japan, Germany, Switzerland, Australia and the United States.1

 

The criteria used to make Best Country determinations included quality of life, agility, entrepreneurship, an “open for business” climate, a strong job market and commitment to social justice and human rights. At No. 6, the United States received high marks in power and cultural influence, and scored highest in agility, which represents traits such as adaptability and responsiveness.2

 

Agility is an important trait for individuals and families, too, because it means you can pivot, adapt and respond to life’s challenges and move forward. Please call us if you’d like us to help make sure your financial picture remains agile no matter what challenges you may encounter.

 

Over the past year, the global perception of “best countries” has in many ways been shaped by responses to the pandemic. According to the Global Health Security Index, the U.S. has traditionally ranked highest in preparedness in terms of its ability to prevent, detect and respond to infectious disease threats. Unfortunately, that preparedness apparently wasn’t an advantage with COVID-19, as the U.S. ranked worst globally in terms of case numbers and deaths since the onset of the pandemic.3

 

Fortunately, the U.S. has picked up in more positive perceptions as it rolled out vaccinations this spring. In April, it advanced to No. 17 in Bloomberg’s Covid Resilience Ranking. Singapore, New Zealand and Australia top that list as the best places to live during the pandemic. By tracking recovery rates in the 53 major economies across the globe, the Bloomberg index is designed to help predict how they may grow in the future.4

 

For now, global travel remains tenuous. Countries still struggling with outbreaks and low vaccine rates are largely off limits, while countries doing well in these areas are restricting citizens from traveling places where they might return with a new strain of the virus. In April, the U.S. State Department updated its travel advisory guidelines, warning Americas not to travel to about 80% of the world.5

 

All in all, 2020 was not a great year anywhere on the globe. Even countries that had success containing the virus suffered economically due to lockdowns, while the opposite was true for economies that stayed open. Still, the World Economic Forum published its annual World Competitiveness Ranking in December 2020, albeit without country competitiveness rankings due to incomplete data. Based on the indicators of reviving and transforming the enabling environment, human capital, markets and the innovation ecosystem, the U.S. led in areas such as digital legal framework and new business creation.6

We take pride in assisting our clients with incorporating all aspects of their life into their Retirement Roadmap 360®. Take control of your financial future and give us a call at (734) 769-1719 today to see how we may be able to help you! 

 


1 Knowledge@Wharton. April 20, 2021. “Why Canada Took the Top Spot on This Year’s ‘Best Countries’ List.” https://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/canada-took-top-spot-on-this-years-best-countries-list/. Accessed April 26, 2021.

2 Ibid.

3 National Center for Biotechnology Information. Oct. 7, 2020. “The Global Health Security Index is not predictive of coronavirus pandemic responses among Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7540886/. Accessed April 26, 2021.

4 Jinshan Hong, Rachel Chang and Kevin Varley. Bloomberg. April 26, 2021. “The Best and Worst Places to Be as Variants Outrace Vaccinations.” https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/covid-resilience-ranking/. Accessed April 26, 2021.

5 Kenneth Kiesnoski. U.S. News & World Report. April 24, 2021. “State Department has warned against travel to 80% of the world. Here’s what you need to know.” https://www.cnbc.com/2021/04/24/covid-80-percent-of-world-is-unsafe-for-travel-amid-pandemic-state-dept-warns.html. Accessed May 14, 2021.

6 Klaus Schwab and Saadia Zahidi. World Economic Forum. 2020. “The Global Competitiveness Report. Special Edition 2020.” http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_TheGlobalCompetitivenessReport2020.pdf. Accessed April 26, 2021.

We are an independent firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance products to custom suit their needs and objectives. This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic retirement income strategies and should not be construed as financial advice.

The information contained in this material is believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions.

Investment Advisory Services are offered by Imber Financial Group, LLC., a Registered Investment Adviser firm. Insurance services are offered through Imber Wealth Advisors, Inc. Imber Financial Group, LLC. and Imber Wealth Advisors, Inc. are affiliated companies

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Gen X Prepares to Ascend the Throne


Generation X, comprised of adults between the ages of 40 and 55, have entered their prime earning years while at the same time enjoying a bull market for stocks. This demographic represents about a quarter of households in the U.S. (26.8%) and a similar share of

household net worth (26.9%). However, many economists see Gen X as the next generation to hold significant wealth.1

While the declining Baby Boomer generation now accounts for only 22% of American consumers, Gen X is expected to grow to more than 38 million households by 2027. Furthermore, this group is expected to reach $34.6 trillion in investable assets during that same time frame, up from holding $9.2 trillion in in 2017.2

If you or someone you know is earning a good income but has little investment experience, we’d be glad to help. Forming a trusted relationship with a financial professional can be the key to designing and achieving a plan for a financially confident retirement. Please feel free to give us a call or refer us to family, friends and colleagues.

A new study of Generation X women found that more than half (54%) of those with partners earn as much as or more than their spouse. In fact, nearly a third of Millennial and Gen X women report that they are the primary breadwinners of their household. With earnings and financial planning top of mind, about 77% of Gen X women say they are making sure their children learn about managing finances.3

However, Gen X largely represents the last of the old guard. This generation grew up believing in the American dream – get an education, work hard, buy a house with a 30-year mortgage and save for retirement. In contrast, the generations following are more skeptical of these principals. Having lived through and witnessed the effects of two recessions and a global pandemic on their parents’ finances, Millennials and Generation Z are more likely to question the cost-value proposition of a college education and the wisdom of committing to a 30-year mortgage – especially while carrying student loan debt and an auto loan.4

Gen X may be more interested in a job that provides health benefits, while younger generations tend to be more entrepreneurial, and choosing the entrepreneurial path, benefits are not always included with the job. As such, Gen X is more old school when it comes to investing, contributing to traditional savings vehicles and adopting a buy-and-hold mindset. In some ways Millennials are proving more sophisticated; using apps to actively buy and sell stocks, invest in fractional shares, and mix up their savings vehicles among tax-advantaged accounts such as a 401(k) or a Roth IRA.

In many ways, Generation X is in a prime position. Although overlooked by the larger, more influential Baby Boomers and Millennials, Gen X has benefited from being sandwiched in the middle. They’ve inherited the values of the American Dream. Many got their college education before tuitions skyrocketed and student loans became prevalent. Some had bought their first house and had a firm foothold in their career before the 2007 recession.

At the same time, they grew up with computers and easily adapted to smartphones and other new technology. Gen X has accumulated assets that are well positioned to continue growing and help ease them into retirement, not to mention the potential for inheriting wealth from their parents.5

We take pride in assisting our clients with incorporating all aspects of their life into their Retirement Roadmap 360®. Take control of your financial future and give us a call at (734) 769-1719 today to see how we may be able to help you! 


1 Howard Schneider. US News & World Report. March 29, 2021. “Gen X Emerging From Pandemic With Firmer Grip on Americas Wallet.” https://money.usnews.com/investing/news/articles/2021-03-29/gen-x-emerging-from-pandemic-with-firmer-grip-on-americas-wallet. Accessed April 11, 2021.

2 Steven A. Morelli. Insurance News Net. March 26, 2021. “Don’t Call Them Slackers: Why Generation X Is Really Generation $.” https://insurancenewsnet.com/innarticle/dont-call-them-slackers-why-gen-x-is-really-gen. Accessed April 11, 2021.

3 Jacqueline Sergeant. Financial Advisor Magazine. April 1, 2021. “The Buck Increasingly Stops With Millennial, Gen X Women.” https://www.fa-mag.com/news/the-buck-increasingly-stops-with-millennial–gen-x-women-61202.html. Accessed April 11, 2021.

4 Andrew Lisa. Yahoo Finance. April 6, 2021. “What Millennials Can Learn From Gen X’s Money Mistakes.” https://finance.yahoo.com/news/millennials-learn-gen-x-money-201401828.html. Accessed April 11, 2021.

5 Andrew Lisa. Yahoo Finance. March 24, 2021. “Surprising Ways Gen X and Millennials Are Worlds Apart Financially.” https://finance.yahoo.com/news/surprising-ways-gen-x-millennials-110017806.html. Accessed April 11, 2021.

We are an independent firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance and investment products to custom suit their needs and objectives. This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic financial planning strategies and should not be construed as financial or investment advice. All investments are subject to risk including the potential loss of principal. No investment strategy can guarantee a profit or protect against loss in periods of declining values.

The information contained in this material is believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions.

Investment Advisory Services are offered by Imber Financial Group, LLC., a Registered Investment Adviser firm. Insurance services are offered through Imber Wealth Advisors, Inc. Imber Financial Group, LLC. and Imber Wealth Advisors, Inc. are affiliated companies

Friday, May 28, 2021

Investment Consolidation Strategies


Throughout investment industry and financial media sources we constantly hear the message that our money should be diversified. By spreading assets throughout a number of different vehicles, we can take advantage of various market opportunities while helping protect them from some investment risks.

But how much diversification is too much? And what exactly should it cover?

For example, should you spread out your money across brokerages and custodians, or maintain a small number of accounts with one or two financial institutions? As young investors, we are often tempted to try out different investment opportunities in response to broker solicitations, direct mail advertisements, money managers we hear on television or radio, as well as a number of other mediums that seem promising.

But as we near retirement, it’s usually a good idea to begin consolidating accounts. This is because it can often be easier to manage fewer accounts as we grow older. It also can help our loved ones or a hired financial professional step in to find and manage money on our behalf. If you have reached this stage and would like to get your finances organized and consolidated, we can help you decide the best options for your situation. Don’t hesitate to call.

Should you consolidate down to just one brokerage and/or one bank? That may depend on the total value of your assets. Note that the Securities Industry Protection Corporation (SIPC) insures up to $500,000 in each account held at each institution. In other words, if you hold a taxable account and a tax-deferred account at the same brokerage firm, each is insured for up to half a million dollars. Also note that your money is kept separate from the assets of the brokerage firm itself. Therefore, if the company gets into trouble, it can’t tap its customers’ money to bail itself out.1

There are some good reasons to consolidate with one brokerage firm. First of all, it’s simply easier to monitor performance. Second, you also may enjoy additional perks if your total account size exceeds a specific threshold. For example, as a “premium investor” you may be eligible for free advisor consultations, free notary services, etc.

However, just because you consolidate with one broker doesn’t mean you need to put all of your money in one account. In fact, it can be a good idea to vary products for tax diversification. A combination of taxable and tax-free accounts — such as traditional and Roth IRAs (which do not require minimum distributions) – can reduce your tax liability during retirement.

However, be aware of portfolio overlap as you diversify your investments. Your investments — particularly mutual funds and ETFs — may share many of the same securities. When you consolidate, it can be  a good time to cross reference your investments to identify security duplication and concentration. One rule of thumb is to consider holding no more than 10% of your total investment in any particular industry or company. Otherwise, a performance decline may dramatically affect your income during retirement.2

Another idea is to consolidate into a “Target Date” fund which is designed to adjust its allocation mix as you approach the target date (often your retirement date). In doing so, you benefit from a single diversified portfolio managed by financial professionals who periodically rebalance the investment mix to stay on target with its timeline and performance goals.3

Be aware that as working spouses begin to consolidate their individual accounts, they may have many of the same underlying investments. Review all accounts to determine an appropriate asset allocation and retirement timeline for each spouse as well as the household.

If you are considering consolidating multiple 401(k) plans, your choices may be limited by what your past and current plan sponsors allow. Sometimes it’s easier to roll over those assets to a traditional IRA, especially if you tend to change jobs relatively often. The IRA becomes a repository to consolidate old 401(k) assets and maintain a strategic asset allocation without being overly diversified or having too many overlapping securities. Consider your 401(k) options:4


·    Leave the assets in the current 401(k) if allowed by your former employer’s plan.

·    When changing jobs, roll your old 401(k) account assets into your new employer’s plan — if allowed by the new plan. This may be preferable if the new plan permits loans, but be sure to compare new and old plan fees and investment options to ensure you get what you want.

·    Roll over your old 401(k) into an individual retirement account (IRA) — do this with each career/company move to maintain one consolidated reservoir. Be aware that an IRA does not permit loans and there may be negative tax consequences if you have significantly appreciated employer stock.

·    Cash out your old 401(k) only if you need the money. Not only are those funds considered taxable income and subject to an immediate tax withholding, but you also may be subject to a 10% tax penalty if you cash out too young. Moreover, you could miss out on future tax-deferred gains.


We take pride in assisting our clients with incorporating all aspects of their life into their Retirement Roadmap 360®. Take control of your financial future and give us a call at (734) 769-1719 today to see how we may be able to help you! 

 

1 Teri Geske. Investorjunkie. Feb. 23, 2021. “Can You Have Multiple Brokerage Accounts?” https://investorjunkie.com/stock-brokers/can-you-have-more-than-one-brokerage-account/. Accessed April 2, 2021.

2 T. Rowe Price. Spring 2021. “Focus on Diversification.” https://www.troweprice.com/content/dam/iinvestor/planning-and-research/Insights/investor-magazine-spring.pdf. Accessed April 2, 2021.

3 T. Rowe Price. Spring 2021. “A One-Stop Approach to Retirement Investing.” https://www.troweprice.com/content/dam/iinvestor/planning-and-research/Insights/investor-magazine-spring.pdf. Accessed April 2, 2021.

4 T. Rowe Price. Spring 2021. “What Should You Do With an Old 401(k)?” https://www.troweprice.com/content/dam/iinvestor/planning-and-research/Insights/investor-magazine-spring.pdf. Accessed April 2, 2021.

We are an independent firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance and investment products to custom suit their needs and objectives. This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic financial planning strategies and should not be construed as financial or investment advice. All investments are subject to risk including the potential loss of principal. No investment strategy can guarantee a profit or protect against loss in periods of declining values.

The information contained in this material is believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions. If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.


Investment Advisory Services are offered by Imber Financial Group, LLC., a Registered Investment Adviser firm. Insurance services are offered through Imber Wealth Advisors, Inc. Imber Financial Group, LLC. and Imber Wealth Advisors, Inc. are affiliated companies

 

 

 

Monday, May 24, 2021

Social Security Proposals & Strategies


As the Social Security Trust Fund approaches its expiration date, many existing entities are offering helpful suggestions for funding alternatives. For example, the Association of Mature American Citizens (AMAC) recommends a combination of changing how cost of living adjustments are made, delaying retirement age and updating the delayed credit strategy. Among its proposals, the AMAC also advocates establishing a new “Social Security Plus” account — a personal retirement savings account that begins paying out at age 62. Specifically, this account would:
1

 

·         - Be funded on a strictly voluntary basis by both employees and employers

·         Be owned by the individual

·         Provide a tax deduction for employer contributions

·         - Allow after-tax contributions by employees with tax-free withdrawals (similar to a Roth)

·         Be funded via payroll deduction

Alicia Munnell, director of the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College and a respected individual in the retirement income field, advocates a long-term approach to solving the pending Social Security shortfall. While she does not advocate cutting benefits, Munnell believes that the only way to fund full benefits for the next 75 years is to raise current payroll taxes.2

Those who have already retired are less likely to be affected by changes to the Social Security system than those who are currently preparing for retirement. It’s important to have your own plan for an independent retirement income stream, separate from government benefits, to ensure your needs will be covered. Feel free to reach out to learn more about current income vehicles that can help secure your financial future.

In a recent proposal for funding Social Security, President Biden proposed:


·          - Raising the guaranteed minimum benefit to 125% of the federal poverty level

·          - A 5% increase for retirees who have been drawing benefits for at least 20 years

·          - Enhancing payouts to surviving spouses by 20%

·          - Boosting the annual cost-of-living adjustment for benefits

 

Biden proposes paying for benefit increases by levying FICA taxes on workers who earn more than $400,000 a year. Other proposed ideas include imposing FICA taxes on income above $142,800 (which is currently the limit for this tax), gradually increasing the payroll tax rate from the current 12.4% to 14.8%, reducing benefits for those with higher lifetime incomes, reducing cost-of-living adjustments, and limiting benefits for spouses and children of higher-income earners.3

Those are all proposals that, in some form, may likely change the future Social Security landscape. Those nearing retirement can utilize a couple of strategies now that may not be as lucrative once proposed changes are made.

One option is the delayed credit that accrues if you wait until age 70 to draw benefits. Now that people are living longer, this accrual strategy, which was implemented by the Social Security Administration back in the 1950s, produces a substantially higher advantage for retirees who delay drawing benefits and then live to a ripe old age. In fact, waiting until age 70 can make lifetime benefits worth 76% more than claiming them at age 62. This actuarially enhanced perk is available only until benefits are adjusted to match to today’s longer life expectancy.4

Also be aware that widows and widowers do not necessarily have to wait until age 62 to begin taking Social Security benefits based on the earnings of an eligible spouse who passed away. A surviving spouse can begin drawing the deceased spouse’s benefit at age 60, then switch to his or her own benefit later (if higher). They can even wait until age 70 for the delayed credit and begin taking the enhanced benefit at that point.5

We take pride in assisting our clients with incorporating all aspects of their life into their Retirement Roadmap 360®. Take control of your financial future and give us a call at (734) 769-1719 today to see how we may be able to help you! 


1 Association of Mature American Citizens. 2021. “The Combined Social Security Guarantee and Social Security Plus Initiative.” https://amac.us/social-security/. Accessed March 30, 2021.

2 Jane Wollman Rusoff. ThinkAdvisor. March 14, 2021. “Alicia Munnell: Biden’s Social Security Tax Hike Plan Falls Short.” https://www.thinkadvisor.com/2021/03/19/alicia-munnell-bidens-social-security-plan-falls-short/. Accessed March 30, 2021.

3 Bob Carlson. Forbes. Feb. 22, 2021. “Changes Must Come To Social Security.” https://www.forbes.com/sites/bobcarlson/2021/02/22/changes-must-come-to-social-security/?sh=50094aa115e4. Accessed March 30, 2021.

4 Investopedia. Dec. 21, 2020. “How Much Can I Receive From My Social Security Retirement Benefit?” https://www.investopedia.com/ask/answers/102814/what-maximum-i-can-receive-my-social-security-retirement-benefit.asp. Accessed April 14, 2021.

5 Social Security Administration. 2021. “Receiving Survivors Benefits Early.” https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/survivors/survivorchartred.html. Accessed March 30, 2021.

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