Case Study: Minimizing Taxes, Maximizing Social Security

Case Study – Minimizing Taxes, Maximizing Social Security

Learn how we helped an individual client get their desired income level in retirement all while minimizing their tax liability and maximizing their Social Security.


Blake StreetBlake Street CFA, CFP®
Founding Partner
Chief Investment Officer
Warren Street Wealth Advisors

 

 

Blake Street is an Investment Advisor Representative of Warren Street Wealth Advisors, a Registered Investment Advisor. Information contained herein does not involve the rendering of personalized investment advice, but is limited to the dissemination of general information. A professional advisor should be consulted before implementing any of the strategies or options presented.

Any investments discussed carry unique risks and should be carefully considered and reviewed by you and your financial professional. Past performance may not be indicative of future results. All investment strategies have the potential for profit or loss. Changes in investment strategies, contributions or withdrawals may materially alter the performance, strategy, and results of your portfolio. Historical performance results for investment indexes and/or categories, generally do not reflect the deduction of transaction and/or custodial charges or the deduction of an investment-management fee, the incurrence of which would have the effect of decreasing historical performance results.Economic factors, market conditions, and investment strategies will affect the performance of any portfolio and there are no assurances that it will match or outperform any particular benchmark. Nothing in this commentary is a solicitation to buy, or sell, any securities, or an attempt to furnish personal investment advice. We may hold securities referenced in the blog and due to the static nature of content, those securities held may change over time and trades may be contrary to outdated posts.

 

Case Studies: An Introduction

Case Studies

With each case study, we hope to show the value we deliver to clients through comprehensive financial planning and keeping the client first, always.

People ask us: “what makes Warren Street different?”

We like to mention that we are a true ensemble practice. That means you don’t just get one advisor, you get a team of advisors that each work on their core competency to deliver the best possible client experience.

With the team approach, we can collaborate to deliver the best possible set of answers for our clients when it comes to their financial planning or investment needs.

Every Friday, the team gets together to discuss recent client questions or planning issues, and we present the client, their goal, and the current hurdles in the way, then we discuss them at length to then produce the best possible course of action.

The most important rule of Case Studies is that everything must be in the best interest of the client when it comes to all facets of the financial planning or investment process. From tax implications all the way to behavioral finance, we want to make sure that everything is done with the client’s best interest at the center of it all.

With that, we wanted to start sharing some of our most interesting and technical cases to display what we bring to the table for our clients.

Stay tuned for our first case in the coming week where we tackle maximizing income, Social Security, and managing tax liability for a retired client.


Blake StreetBlake Street CFA, CFP®
Founding Partner
Chief Investment Officer
Warren Street Wealth Advisors

 

 

Blake Street is an Investment Advisor Representative of Warren Street Wealth Advisors, a Registered Investment Advisor. Information contained herein does not involve the rendering of personalized investment advice, but is limited to the dissemination of general information. A professional advisor should be consulted before implementing any of the strategies or options presented.

Any investments discussed carry unique risks and should be carefully considered and reviewed by you and your financial professional. Past performance may not be indicative of future results. All investment strategies have the potential for profit or loss. Changes in investment strategies, contributions or withdrawals may materially alter the performance, strategy, and results of your portfolio. Historical performance results for investment indexes and/or categories, generally do not reflect the deduction of transaction and/or custodial charges or the deduction of an investment-management fee, the incurrence of which would have the effect of decreasing historical performance results.Economic factors, market conditions, and investment strategies will affect the performance of any portfolio and there are no assurances that it will match or outperform any particular benchmark. Nothing in this commentary is a solicitation to buy, or sell, any securities, or an attempt to furnish personal investment advice. We may hold securities referenced in the blog and due to the static nature of content, those securities held may change over time and trades may be contrary to outdated posts.

 

72(t) Distributions

72t Distributions

Sometimes you can take penalty-free early withdrawals from retirement accounts.

Do you need to access your retirement money early? Maybe you just want to retire before you turn 60 and plan a lifelong income stream from the money you have saved and invested. You may be surprised to know that the Internal Revenue Service allows you a way to do this, provided you do it carefully.

Usually, anyone who takes money out of an IRA or a retirement plan prior to age 59½ faces a 10% early withdrawal penalty on the distribution. That isn’t always the case, however. You may be able to avoid the requisite penalty by taking distributions compliant with Internal Revenue Code Section 72(t)(2).(1)

While any money you take out of the plan will amount to taxable income, you can position yourself to avoid that extra 10% tax hit by breaking that early IRA or retirement plan distribution down into a series of substantially equal periodic payments (SEPPs). These periodic withdrawals must occur at least once a year, and they must continue for at least 5 full years or until you turn 59½, whichever period is longer. (Optionally, you can make SEPP withdrawals every six months or on a quarterly or monthly basis.)(1,2)

How do you figure out the SEPPs? They must be calculated before you can take them, using one of three I.R.S. methods. Some people assume they can just divide the balance of their IRA or 401(k) by five and withdraw that amount per year – but that is not the way to determine them.(2)

You should calculate your potential SEPPs by each of the three methods. When the math is complete, you can schedule your SEPPs in the way that makes the most sense for you.

The Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) method calculates the SEPP amount by dividing your IRA or retirement plan balance at the end of the previous year by the life expectancy factor from the I.R.S. Single Life Expectancy Table, the Joint Life and Last Survivor Expectancy Table, or the Uniform Lifetime Table.(1,2)

The Fixed Amortization method amortizes your retirement account balance into SEPPs based on your life expectancy. A variation on this, the Fixed Annuitization method, calculates SEPPs using your current age and the mortality table in Appendix B of Rev. Ruling 2002-62.(1,2)

If you use the Fixed Amortization or Fixed Annuitization method, you are also required to use a reasonable interest rate in calculating the withdrawals. That interest rate can’t exceed more than 120% of the federal midterm rate announced periodically by the I.R.S.(1,3)

A lot to absorb? It certainly is. The financial professional you know can help you figure all this out, and online calculators also come in handy (Bankrate.com has a good one).

There are some common blunders that can wreck a 72(t) distribution. You should be aware of them if you want to schedule SEPPs.

If you are taking SEPPs from a qualified workplace retirement plan instead of an IRA, you must separate from service (that is, quit working for that employer) before you take them. If you are 51 when you quit and start taking SEPPs from your retirement plan, and you change your mind at 53 and decide you want to keep working, you still have this retirement account that you are obligated to draw down through age 56 – not a good scenario.(1)  

Once you start taking SEPPs, you are locked into them for five consecutive years or until you reach age 59½. If you break that commitment or deviate from the SEPP schedule or calculation method you have set, a 10% early withdrawal penalty could apply to all the SEPPs you have already made, with interest. (Some individuals can claim exceptions to this penalty under I.R.S. rules.)(3,4)

The I.R.S. does permit you to make a one-time change to your distribution method without penalty: if you start with the Fixed Amortization or Fixed Annuitization method, you can opt to switch to the RMD method. You can’t switch out of the RMD method to either the Fixed Amortization or Fixed Annuitization method, however.(2)

If you want or need to take 72(t) distributions, ask for help. A financial professional can help you plan to do it right.


J Rucci

Justin D. Rucci, CFP®
Wealth Advisor
Warren Street Wealth Advisors

 

 

 

Justin D. Rucci is an Investment Advisor Representative of Warren Street Wealth Advisors, a Registered Investment Advisor. Information contained herein does not involve the rendering of personalized investment advice, but is limited to the dissemination of general information. A professional advisor should be consulted before implementing any of the strategies or options presented.

This material was prepared by Marketing Pro, Inc. Any investments discussed carry unique risks and should be carefully considered and reviewed by you and your financial professional. Past performance may not be indicative of future results. All investment strategies have the potential for profit or loss. Changes in investment strategies, contributions or withdrawals may materially alter the performance, strategy, and results of your portfolio.Historical performance results for investment indexes and/or categories, generally do not reflect the deduction of transaction and/or custodial charges or the deduction of an investment-management fee, the incurrence of which would have the effect of decreasing historical performance results.Economic factors, market conditions, and investment strategies will affect the performance of any portfolio and there are no assurances that it will match or outperform any particular benchmark. Nothing in this commentary is a solicitation to buy, or sell, any securities, or an attempt to furnish personal investment advice. We may hold securities referenced in the blog and due to the static nature of content, those securities held may change over time and trades may be contrary to outdated posts.

Citations.

1 – irs.gov/Retirement-Plans/Retirement-Plans-FAQs-regarding-Substantially-Equal-Periodic-Payments [12/19/17]
2 – fool.com/retirement/2017/05/19/use-your-retirement-savings-early-with-substantial.aspx [5/19/17]
3 – thebalance.com/how-to-use-72-t-payments-for-early-ira-withdrawals-2388257 [9/20/17]
4 – military.com/money/retirement/second-retirement/early-retirement-options.html [5/7/18]

The Solo 401k

The Solo 401k

A retirement savings vehicle designed for the smallest businesses.

A solo 401(k) lets a self-employed individual set up a 401(k) plan combined with a profit-sharing plan. You can create one of these if you work for yourself or for you and your spouse.(1)

Reduce your tax bill while you ramp up your retirement savings. Imagine nearly tripling your retirement savings potential. With a solo 401(k), that is a possibility. Here is how it works:

*As an employee, you can defer up to $18,500 of your compensation into a solo 401(k). The yearly limit is $24,500 if you are 50 or older, for catch-up contributions are allowed for these plans.(1)

*As an employer, you can have your business make a tax-deductible, profit-sharing contribution of up to 25% of your compensation as defined by the plan. If your business isn’t incorporated, the annual employer contribution limit is 20% of your net earnings rather than 25%. If you are a self-employed individual, you must calculate the maximum amount of elective deferrals and non-elective contributions you can make using the methods in Internal Revenue Service Publication 560.(1,2)

*Total employer & employee contributions to a solo 401(k) are capped at $55,000 for 2018.(1)

Are you married? Add your spouse to the mix. If your spouse is a full-time employee of your business, then he or she can also make an employee contribution to the plan in 2018, and you can make another profit-sharing contribution on your spouse’s behalf. (For this to happen, your spouse must have net self-employment income from the business.)(2,3)

The profit-sharing contributions made by your business are tax-deductible. Annual contributions to a solo 401(k) are wholly discretionary. You determine how much goes in (or doesn’t) per year.(2,4)

You can even create a Roth component in your solo 401(k). You can direct up to $5,500 annually (or $6,500 annually, if you are 50 or older) into the Roth component of the plan. You cannot make employer contributions to the Roth component.(3)

Rollovers into the plan are sometimes permitted. Certain plan providers even allow hardship withdrawals (loans) from these plans prior to age 59½.(5)

There are some demerits to the solo 401(k). As you are setting up and administering a 401(k) plan for your business, you have to see that it stays current with ERISA and IRC regulations. Obviously, it is much easier to oversee a solo 401(k) plan than a 401(k) program for a company with 15 or 20 full-time employees, but you still have some plan administration on your plate. You may not want that, and if so, a solo 401(k) may have less merit than a SEP or traditional profit-sharing plan. The plan administration duties are relatively light, however. There are no compliance testing requirements, and you will only need to file a Form 5500 annually with the I.R.S. once the assets in your solo 401(k) exceed $250,000.(4)

If you want to hire more employees, your solo 401(k) will turn into a standard 401(k) plan per the Internal Revenue Code. The good news is that you can present your new hires with an established 401(k) plan.(2,3)

On the whole, solo 401(k)s give SBOs increased retirement savings potential. If that is what you need, then take a good look at this option. These plans are very easy to create, their annual contribution limits far surpass those of IRAs and stand-alone 401(k)s, and some custodians for solo 401(k)s even give you “checkbook control” – they let you serve as trustee for your plan and permit you to invest the funds across a variety of different asset classes.(5)


J Rucci

Justin D. Rucci, CFP®
Wealth Advisor
Warren Street Wealth Advisors

 

 

 

Justin D. Rucci is an Investment Advisor Representative of Warren Street Wealth Advisors, a Registered Investment Advisor. Information contained herein does not involve the rendering of personalized investment advice, but is limited to the dissemination of general information. A professional advisor should be consulted before implementing any of the strategies or options presented.

This material was prepared by Marketing Pro, Inc. Any investments discussed carry unique risks and should be carefully considered and reviewed by you and your financial professional. Past performance may not be indicative of future results. All investment strategies have the potential for profit or loss. Changes in investment strategies, contributions or withdrawals may materially alter the performance, strategy, and results of your portfolio.Historical performance results for investment indexes and/or categories, generally do not reflect the deduction of transaction and/or custodial charges or the deduction of an investment-management fee, the incurrence of which would have the effect of decreasing historical performance results.Economic factors, market conditions, and investment strategies will affect the performance of any portfolio and there are no assurances that it will match or outperform any particular benchmark. Nothing in this commentary is a solicitation to buy, or sell, any securities, or an attempt to furnish personal investment advice. We may hold securities referenced in the blog and due to the static nature of content, those securities held may change over time and trades may be contrary to outdated posts.

Citations.

1 – irs.gov/retirement-plans/one-participant-401k-plans [10/25/17]
2 – mysolo401k.net/solo-401k/solo-401k-contribution-limits-and-types/ [2/13/18]
3 – doughroller.net/retirement-planning/solo-401k-best-retirement-plan-self-employed/ [5/21/17]
4 – tdameritrade.com/retirement-planning/small-business/individual-401k.page [2/13/18]
5 – thecollegeinvestor.com/18174/comparing-the-most-popular-solo-401k-options/ [12/11/17]

Less SALT for Taxpayers to Subtract

Less SALT for Taxpayers to Subtract

What does the new federal cap on state and local tax deductions mean for you?

Have you routinely itemized your federal tax deductions? In 2018, you may decide to take the standard deduction instead. One possible reason: the new limit on state and local tax deductions set by the federal government.

The SALT deduction is now capped at $10,000. The standard deduction is now $12,000 ($24,000 for a married couple). So, your incentive to take the SALT deduction might be gone. Even if you live in a wealthy suburban area, a high-tax state, or a state that charges no income tax, you might not see any point in claiming it. The Tax Policy Center estimates that 3.5 million households will quit itemizing in 2018 simply because of this one revision to the Internal Revenue Code.(1,2)

High-earning households have usually claimed SALT deductions. Research from the TPC’s Briefing Book shows that 93% of households earning $200,000-$500,000 took the deduction in 2014. In fact, more than 40% of taxpayers in Connecticut, Maryland, and New Jersey made use of the tax break that year. In 2015, the average SALT deduction for taxpayers in California and New Jersey was around $18,000; in New York, it topped $22,000.(1,3)

The change may not affect some taxpayers. The TPC projects that households earning $150,000 or more could be hit hardest by this, but it also believes that just 40% of those households will actually see higher taxes as a result of the SALT cap. Why? Many households earning between $200,000-$500,000 will be subject to the Alternative Minimum Tax, so they will not benefit from a SALT deduction. The average taxpayer in the top 1%, though, is positioned to see a federal tax increase of about $30,000 due to the new deduction limit.(2)

Some state governments are crafting responses. In California’s state legislature, a bill proposes the creation of a new state charity, the California Excellence Fund, to which taxpayers could pay some of their state taxes. Residents could contribute the portion of their state tax bill exceeding the $10,000 federal cap to the proposed fund, and all their SALT taxes would be deductible. (To help facilitate this, these taxpayers would need to meet with their CPA or tax preparer in December rather than spring.)(1)

New York state lawmakers are also advancing a plan to create a new state charity, in the vein of the California bill. Maryland state legislators are proposing something similar, whereby taxpayers could make charitable donations to public schools once over the $10,000 SALT deduction limit.(1)

Another idea making the rounds in New York’s state legislature: have workers accept a pay cut in exchange for a SALT break. Employers would shoulder a new statewide payroll tax, and presumably reduce employee pay – but in compensation, workers would get a wage credit equivalent to their pay cut. This way, the worker’s pay would stay the same. For example, an employee could see a $10,000 salary cut, but pick up a $10,000 tax-deductible wage credit at the same time.(1)  

Will the $10,000 ceiling on the SALT deduction rise in future years? Unfortunately, no. It is not indexed for inflation.(2)

Should you still itemize in 2018, even with the new SALT deduction cap? You should make that decision (and others) with input from the tax preparer you know and trust. There are many variables that can potentially impact your federal tax return, and you will want to take a thorough look at them before you make a move.  

 


Cary FacerCary Facer
Founding Partner
Warren Street Wealth Advisors

Cary Facer is an Investment Advisor Representative of Warren Street Wealth Advisors, a Registered Investment Advisor. Information contained herein does not involve the rendering of personalized investment advice, but is limited to the dissemination of general information. A professional advisor should be consulted before implementing any of the strategies or options presented.

This material was prepared by Marketing Pro, Inc. Any investments discussed carry unique risks and should be carefully considered and reviewed by you and your financial professional. Past performance may not be indicative of future results. All investment strategies have the potential for profit or loss. Changes in investment strategies, contributions or withdrawals may materially alter the performance, strategy, and results of your portfolio. Historical performance results for investment indexes and/or categories, generally do not reflect the deduction of transaction and/or custodial charges or the deduction of an investment-management fee, the incurrence of which would have the effect of decreasing historical performance results.Economic factors, market conditions, and investment strategies will affect the performance of any portfolio and there are no assurances that it will match or outperform any particular benchmark. Nothing in this commentary is a solicitation to buy, or sell, any securities, or an attempt to furnish personal investment advice. We may hold securities referenced in the blog and due to the static nature of content, those securities held may change over time and trades may be contrary to outdated posts.


Citations
1 – cnbc.com/2018/01/23/how-these-states-are-rebelling-against-the-new-gop-tax-code.html [1/23/18]
2 – forbes.com/sites/beltway/2017/12/21/what-the-tax-bills-curbs-on-the-salt-deduction-would-mean-for-itemizers/ [12/21/18]
3 – taxpolicycenter.org/briefing-book/how-does-deduction-state-and-local-taxes-work [2/19/18]

Why Having a Financial Professional Matters

Why Having a Financial Professional Matters

A good financial professional provides important guidance and insight through the years.

What kind of role can a financial professional play for an investor? The answer: a very important one. While the value of such a relationship is hard to quantify, the intangible benefits may be significant and long lasting.

A good financial professional can help an investor interpret today’s financial climate, determine objectives, and assess progress toward those goals. Alone, an investor may be challenged to do any of this effectively. Moreover, an uncounseled investor may make self-defeating decisions.

Some investors never turn to a financial professional. They concede that there might be some value in maintaining such a relationship, but they ultimately decide to go it alone. That may be a mistake.

No investor is infallible. Investors can feel that way during a great market year, when every decision seems to work out well. In long bull markets, investors risk becoming overconfident. The big-picture narrative of Wall Street can be forgotten, along with the reality that the market has occasional bad years.

This is when irrational exuberance creeps in. A sudden market shock may lead an investor into other irrational behaviors. Perhaps stocks sink rapidly, and an investor realizes (too late) that a portfolio is overweighted in equities. Or, perhaps an investor panics during a correction, selling low only to buy high after the market rebounds.

Often, investors grow impatient and try to time the market. Poor market timing may explain this divergence: according to investment research firm DALBAR, the S&P 500 returned an average of 8.91% annually across the 20 years ending on December 31, 2015, while the average equity investor’s portfolio returned just 4.67% per year.(1)       

The other risk is that of financial nearsightedness. When an investor flies solo, chasing yield and “making money” too often become the top pursuits. The thinking is short term.

A good financial professional helps a committed investor and retirement saver stay on track. He or she helps the investor set a course for the long term, based on a defined investment policy and target asset allocations with an eye on major financial goals. The client’s best interest is paramount.

As the investor-professional relationship unfolds, the investor begins to notice the intangible ways the professional provides value. Insight and knowledge inform investment selection and portfolio construction. The professional explains the subtleties of investment classes and how potential risk often relates to potential reward. Perhaps most importantly, the professional helps the client get past the “noise” and “buzz” of the financial markets to see what is really important to his or her financial life.

This is the value a financial professional brings to the table. You cannot quantify it in dollar terms, but you can certainly appreciate it over time.

 

 


Blake StreetBlake Street, CFA, CFP®
Chief Investment Officer
Founding Partner
Warren Street Wealth Advisors

Blake Street is an Investment Advisor Representative of Warren Street Wealth Advisors, a Registered Investment Advisor. Information contained herein does not involve the rendering of personalized investment advice, but is limited to the dissemination of general information. A professional advisor should be consulted before implementing any of the strategies or options presented.

This material was prepared by Marketing Pro, Inc. Any investments discussed carry unique risks and should be carefully considered and reviewed by you and your financial professional. Past performance may not be indicative of future results. All investment strategies have the potential for profit or loss. Changes in investment strategies, contributions or withdrawals may materially alter the performance, strategy, and results of your portfolio.Historical performance results for investment indexes and/or categories, generally do not reflect the deduction of transaction and/or custodial charges or the deduction of an investment-management fee, the incurrence of which would have the effect of decreasing historical performance results.Economic factors, market conditions, and investment strategies will affect the performance of any portfolio and there are no assurances that it will match or outperform any particular benchmark. Nothing in this commentary is a solicitation to buy, or sell, any securities, or an attempt to furnish personal investment advice. We may hold securities referenced in the blog and due to the static nature of content, those securities held may change over time and trades may be contrary to outdated posts.

Citations.
1 – zacksim.com/heres-investors-underperform-market/ [5/22/17]