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mailNewsletter 51 | June 2017 | Archives | Services

 

 

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Dates to Remember Pic

July 4th - The birthday of our nation. Today, we celebrate and enjoy the freedom that comes with the event that made this day so special.

Thomas Jefferson, is the author of the Declaration of Independence. He led a committee that crafted the declaration between June 11-28, 1776. Jefferson and other discontented representatives from the thirteen colonies, voted and approved it on July 4, 1776. The document declared freedom for the 13 colonies from British rule. It currently resides in the Exhibition Hall of the National Archive in Washington, D.C.

Did you know? The Declaration of Independence was not signed by all representatives until August, 1776. To make it official, John Hancock, President of the Continental Congress signed it. Now, can anyone guess where the saying "put your John Hancock on it" came from!?!

Today, we enjoy the benefits of the freedom which the framers signed and ultimately fought for. For us, it is a time for baseball, hot dogs and family picnics. Summer is in full swing and life is good.

July 17th - Global Hug Your Kids Day is a day you can get your arms around. The purpose of this day is simple...... give your kids a hug or two, so they know you love them. Use a hug to let them enjoy the comfort, safety, and security that a hug provides. Your kids are precious, and should never be taken for granted. Express your love with hugs.

Hugging is instinctive, and almost universal among mammals. Research has proven that everyone needs a hug. We should hug our kids at least once or twice each and every day. You will find that not only is a hug good for your kids, it's also good for you.

A hug is a way to say everything is, or will be okay.

Hugs are good in so many ways. In a simple physical way, it expresses love, comfort, security, caring, sympathy in times of sadness, and so much more. It is a natural stress reliever.

While this may be Hug Your Kids Day, it is certainly fine to hug others in your life today. They will feel better for it, and so will you!

July 30th - The International Day of Friendship.  The world is filled with too much hatred, too much fighting and too much mistrust of others.  This day is certainly an opportunity to stop, and to reverse, these worldwide problems.

According to the United Nations, the official sponsor of this special day, the International Day of Friendship is day set aside to promote friendship among peoples, cultures and countries. Today is a time to encourage efforts towards peace, and to build bridges among different people. It is a day of respect for others, and a day to celebrate diversity.

According to the United Nations, on this day people, groups and governments should hold events and activities to promote mutual understanding and reconciliation.

On an individual level, use this day to promote friendship in big and small ways. You can begin by "extending an olive branch" to a sibling or a family member, a neighbor, or an old friend who we've had a falling out with. If we all try just a little the world will be a friendlier, more peaceful place.

 

 

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·         Taxes and Retirement Planning

Taxes and Retirement Planning

The White House recently introduced what it billed the “biggest tax cut” in U.S. history. While a presidential tax proposal is not likely to get passed without significant changes, the fact that Republicans dominate both chambers of Congress suggests 2017 may well be a year in which significant tax reform is engineered.1

One thing should be perfectly clear: The U.S. tax code is highly complicated.2 There may not be anyone who understands it all off the top of their head. CPAs and tax professionals must conduct thorough due diligence to tailor strategies and complete returns for taxpayers with complex situations.

Because of this, we recommend our clients who require tax advice work directly with an experienced and qualified tax professional. However, we also believe financial and tax professionals should not work in a vacuum, and therefore are more than happy to work in concert with our clients’ tax advisors to help align their financial strategy with their tax situation.

This is particularly important when it comes to retirement planning, because you want to save as much as possible before you retire, which may include tax-deferred financial vehicles such as a 401(k) or IRA, but you don’t want to get hit with a big tax bill on untaxed earnings once you’re in retirement.3 This is a delicate balance that requires experience and collaboration from both a financial professional and a tax professional.

One tax issue each of us deals with is the federal income tax rate. Our annual earnings determine which federal tax bracket we land in, but that tax bracket isn’t the tax rate applied to our entire income. Instead, we pay every tax rate on income blocks up to our individual bracket. Like many things about filing taxes, this can be highly confusing for many people.

It may be easier to understand this through a hypothetical example. Let’s say Joe, who is single, had $92,000 of taxable income in 2016, which landed him in the 28 percent tax bracket. This is how his total tax is calculated:4

    • He pays 10% on the first $9,275 (tax of $927.50)
    • He pays 15% on the next $28,375 (tax of $4,256.25)
    • He pays 25% on the next $53,500 (tax of $13,375)
    • He pays 28% on the final $850 (tax of $238)

o   Total tax bill of $18,796.75

As you can see, Joe doesn’t pay 28 percent on the full amount of his taxable income; his taxable amount progresses through each income bracket and their respective tax rates until it reaches his total taxable income for the year. Therefore, a person who falls in the highest tax bracket is only paying that higher tax rate on a portion of his or her income.

This is an important distinction to remember as the U.S. works toward tax reform. On one hand, reducing the number of tax rates from seven to three (Trump’s proposal: 10 percent, 25 percent, 35 percent)5 looks to simplify tax filings, but for many people, this could mean paying a higher tax rate on larger blocks of income. Let’s take the hypothetical example of Joe again, using the same income brackets (to date, no tax rate income brackets have been proposed). Here’s how Joe’s scenario might break down:

    • He pays 10% on the first $9,275 (tax of $927.50)
    • He pays 25% on the next $81,875 (tax of $20,468.75)
    • He pays 35% on the final $850 (tax of $297.50)

o   Total tax bill of $21,693.75

This example simply illustrates how a progressive income tax works. Obviously, it doesn’t take into consideration credits and deductions, which vary substantially among taxpayers. Nor does it include payroll taxes.6

Federal income brackets and their respective tax rates are the most fundamental issues Americans are subject to when filing taxes. But as you can see, there’s nothing straightforward about them. This is worth remembering as tax reforms continue to be proposed and debated moving forward: Nothing concerning taxes is simple, and there are usually layers that impact us that the average layperson isn’t likely to see.

1 Fox News. April 26, 2017. “Mnuchin vows ‘biggest tax cut’ in US history, confirms plan to slash business rate.” http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/04/26/mnuchin-vows-biggest-tax-cut-in-us-history-confirms-plan-to-slash-corporate-rate.html. Accessed May 5, 2017.

2 Vanessa Williamson. The Atlantic. April 18, 2017. “How the Tax-Filing Process Confuses Americans about Tax Policy.” https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2017/04/paying-taxes-confusion-policy-1040/523287/. Accessed May 5, 2017.

3 Fidelity. March 1, 2017. “How to invest tax efficiently.” https://www.fidelity.com/viewpoints/investing-ideas/tax-strategy. Accessed May 5, 2017.

4 Tina Orem. Nerd Wallet. Sept. 8, 2016. “2016 Federal Income Tax Brackets.” https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/taxes/federal-income-tax-brackets/. Accessed May 5, 2017.

5 Martha C. White. NBC News. May 2, 2017. “Even Families Making $100K Won’t Be Better Off Under New Tax Plan.”                                                     http://www.nbcnews.com/business/taxes/even-families-making-100k-won-t-be-better-under-new-n753941. Accessed May 5, 2017.

6 NPR. 2017. “On Tax Day, an Economist Outlines How the Payroll Tax Works.” http://nhpr.org/post/tax-day-economist-outlines-how-payroll-tax-works#stream/0. Accessed May 5, 2017.

These hypothetical examples are for illustrative purposes only. This information is not intended to provide tax advice. Be sure to speak with one of our qualified CPA's about your unique situation.

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 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.

·         Healthy Aging: It's Not About Figting Age, It's About Maintaining Values

Healthy Aging: It's Not About Figting
Age, It's About Maintaining Values

Everyone ages differently -- some may have annoying aches, start losing hair rapidly or find they aren’t as mobile as they once were. Some health conditions require that you “use it or lose it” while the outcome of others is that if you overuse it, you can lose it. The point is, don’t just let aging creep up on you. You know it’s coming, so make a plan to be as prepared as possible.

While no one knows how their body will age, very few people go through life without encountering some health issues. Whether cancer or arthritis, the body has a way of slowing us down whether we want to or not. Consider your personal values regarding health. Do you want to eat a healthier diet? Would you like to shed a few pounds? What type of exercise do you actually enjoy doing, and how feasible is it to continue doing those activities in your 80s or even 90s?

Set goals and develop a regular, disciplined plan for how you approach every day in retirement. Be vigilant -- don’t give up -- even on days when your mind is tired and your body aches. Remember that exercise and good nutrition actually make you feel better, which ultimately is what you want. So don’t look at a retirement fitness and health care regimen as a futile battle to fight old age, look at it as a way to set and maintain your lifestyle values.

·         Making Plans for How You Want to be Remembered

Making Plans for How You Want to be
Remembered

It may sound morbid, but an uneventful death is one of the most thoughtful things you can give your children. As sad as it is to cope with the death of a loved one, the situation can be worsened by poor communication and disorganized planning.

For example, have you considered what you would like regarding a funeral? Do you have a favorite Psalm you’d like read or hymn sung? Do you want to be buried or cremated? Will your organs be donated? Yes, these can be very troubling and painful questions to address -- but imagine having to consider them after you just lost that loved one. This is what it will be like for your spouse or children if you don’t address funeral planning issues while you’re alive.

Awash with grief, family members may not be able to recall details about your history -- early jobs, places lived, volunteer activities, even some of the things you may be most proud of in your life -- to include in your eulogy or obituary. If your children are not familiar with people in your everyday life, they may not even know to contact certain friends to let them know you’ve passed.

Consider writing out some of these things to help your loved ones plan a beautiful and loving tribute after your death. This way, they won’t have the regret of remembering your favorite hymn months after the funeral. Give your children access to your address book, email and cell phone contacts, and any other social media accounts so they can let people know. Don’t forget to include former colleagues they may have never met but that you know would like to pay their respects at your funeral.

And of course, have a will and/or or trust in place to make sure your wishes for your estate are followed. We can refer you to a qualified estate planning attorney who can assist you with this.

Why think about death now? Because it’s inevitable, and detailing how you would like to be remembered is one of the most considerate gifts you can provide your children during one of most difficult times in their life.

·         Quote of the Month

Quote of the Month

 

 

 

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did you know

Did You Know?

- The birth flower for July is the water lily.

- Seven US presidents have died in July, which is more than any other month.

- Until the 18th century, the word July in English had the stress on the first syllable and rhymed with duly or truly.

- In 1994, President William (Bill) Clinton proclaimed the fourth Sunday in July as National Parents Day.

- Chocolate is a vegetable. It comes from the Cacao tree found in tropical rain forests.


 

 

 

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