May 19, 2022
The natural ebbs and flows of market volatility can make even the best investors a bit nervous at times. However, smart investors also recognize the opportunities presented by a downturn. These include specific financial strategies to be leveraged for a long-term benefit. Here are several financial moves one should consider during a market lull:
Roth IRA Conversions
During normal market conditions, Roth IRA conversions typically initiate a sizable tax event. However, during a market dip, Roth IRA conversions are a prime opportunity to move funds from a traditional taxable IRA to a tax-free Roth IRA all while saving money.
To achieve the benefits of a Roth IRA conversion, investors convert funds from their traditional IRA to a Roth IRA. While the conversion will trigger a taxable event, it’s based on the contributions and earnings. The larger your pre-tax balance, the more you will owe. During market volatility, financial experts recommend making this move as “it is like getting the Roth IRA on sale” and when the market ultimately recovers, that growth is captured, tax-free, inside of the Roth IRA.
If you don’t have a traditional IRA, this can also be achieved through what some call a “backdoor Roth IRA,” an unofficial means for high-income individuals to create a tax-free Roth IRA.
Remember, the earnings limits for Roth individual retirement account contributions are capped at $144,000 modified adjusted gross income for single investors and $214,000 for married couples filing together in 2022.
To achieve the benefits of a “backdoor” Roth IRA conversion, investors make what’s known as non-deductible contribution to a pre-tax IRA before converting the funds to a Roth IRA, kickstarting tax-free growth.
Gift & Estate Planning
A market downturn is also a great opportunity for individuals seeking to minimize estate taxes and gift assets to others. This is because the value of the securities will be lower, resulting in a lower gift tax amount and all subsequent appreciation will be excluded from your estate – a win-win!
Tax-loss harvesting is another key strategy to consider during a down market. It involves selling investments that have lost value and replace them with similar investments to ultimately offset your capital gains with capital losses. In doing so, investors reduce their tax liability while better positioning their portfolio. This can be done up to $3,000 a year. The average investor can leverage this strategy and it doesn’t involve much but an assessment of your investments and their performance. A couple of items to note when considering this option is:
- It applies only to investments held in taxable accounts – so it does not include 401(k)s, 403(b), IRAs or 529s because the growth in these tax-sheltered accounts in not taxed by the IRS
- This is not a beneficial strategy for those in lower tax brackets – the idea is to reduce your tax liability and traditionally, those individuals in the higher tax bracket have a greater liability and therefore, a greater savings.
- The deadline for taking advantage of this approach is the end of the calendar year – December 31.
Finally, the information provided above is for general information only and should not be considered an individualized recommendation or personalized investment advice. The investment strategies mentioned here may not be suitable for everyone. We recommend connecting with your financial and tax advisors to discuss the best plan of action for your personal situation.
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Nov 01, 2021
Charitable Gift Planning Opportunities
In the third installment to our Timely Estate Planning Strategies Series, we outline how traditional income and estate planning may incorporate an individual’s desire to fulfill philanthropic goals. Giving can be done both while living (receiving current income tax deductions) and through one’s will at the time of death (garnering estate tax deductions). However, given the current ‘perfect storm’ we outlined in the first blog of the series, there is no better time to address your giving strategies.
The estate tax exclusion is currently $ 11.7 million per individual which means persons with an estate less than this will NOT benefit from charitable bequests in their wills. The emphasis for these individuals should be obtaining current income tax deductions while fulfilling their charitable intent. Individuals with taxable estates greater than $ 11.7 million can receive a double tax benefit by making lifetime charitable gifts. The donation is deductible for income tax purposes when the gift is made; the property along with any future appreciation is removed from the taxable estate.
Several opportunities to benefit from current charitable gifts are available. It is important to note, total itemized deductions including charitable deductions must exceed the standard deduction to receive a current income tax benefit. Some of your options include:
- Bunching contributions into one year to make sure you exceed the standard deduction.
- Contributing to Donor-Advised Funds (DAFs). A large contribution to the fund in year one provides the income tax deduction. After which, amounts can be paid from the fund to charities over a designated number of future years.
- Donating to Charitable Remainder Trusts. The remainder interest in a given property is donated to charity, obtaining a current income tax deduction, and retaining an annuity (income) interest in the property during the donor’s lifetime. Or the reverse of this,
- Giving to Charitable Lead Trusts. This provides a charity an annual distribution while the remainder interest passes to a Trust beneficiary in the future.
- Making Qualified Charitable Distributions (QCDs). Taxpayers over the age of 70 1/2 contribute directly from their IRA to a specified charity. The distribution is not taxable and no charitable deduction is taken. Structured properly, this can convert required minimum distributions into nontaxable withdrawals from the retirement account.
Your WVC advisor would love to meet with you and your estate planning team to see how charitable transactions could help you meet your philanthropic goals in a tax-efficient manner.
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Categories: Estate Planning
Oct 21, 2021
Low-Interest Rate Opportunities
An important component of personal financial and estate planning often includes transferring assets and future growth of those assets to younger generations or to charitable organizations while reducing current income taxes and future potential estate taxes. Once properly made, appreciation of such transfers and any future income generated thereon can be free of transfer taxes.
The current low-interest-rate environment provides an excellent opportunity to shift wealth to future generations. While we cannot predict the future, we can anticipate the writing on the wall. As noted in our previous post, Estate Planning Strategies Before Year-End: Part One, recent and proposed massive spending by the federal government will likely put pressure on rates. This coupled with various proposals to modify tax laws relating to gift and estate taxation, individuals should plan on implementing any such plans sooner rather than later.
Planning techniques benefitting from lower rates include the following:
1. Charitable Lead Annuity Trust (CLAT). This trust can be set up to provide annual distributions to charity for a specified number of years. Any growth in the value of the assets above the applicable federal interest rate passes to the non-charitable remainder beneficiaries (i.e. the taxpayer’s children) free of estate or gift tax at the termination of the trust.
2. Intra-Family Loans. It’s a good time to loan money to family members or trusts for members’ benefit. Interest can be charged at very low rates; to the extent the borrowers are able to leverage the funds to generate a return greater than the stated rate, wealth will be transferred without any transfer tax.
3. “Defective” Grantor Trusts. When a taxpayer (grantor) transfers assets to fund this trust, certain rights might be retained causing the trust to be “defective”. This may include the right to substitute other assets of equal value in future years. As a result, the annual income of the trust remains taxable to the grantor even though the income inures to the benefit of the beneficiaries. The effect of this is to reduce the grantor’s taxable estate by the amount of the income taxes paid annually. These trusts are often used to sell assets expected to grow in the future to the trust in exchange for a low-interest rate promissory note. The grantor does not recognize gain from the sale, and no income is recognized on the interest payments. The appreciation in the assets will be realized by the next generation without any transfer tax.
4. Charitable Remainder Trust. If a current income tax deduction is more important than saving transfer taxes, this trust may be implemented. The trust will make annual payments to its beneficiaries for a period of time. At the termination of the trust, the principal balance goes to the specified charity. This “remainder interest” is calculated at a present value to determine the current charitable contribution income tax deduction available to the donor. Lower interest rates translate to a larger remainder interest, and thus larger income tax deduction.
5. Grantor Retained Annuity Trust (GRAT). A grantor transfers assets to the trust and retains the right to receive specified payments from the trust for a specified number of years. At the end of the trust term, the accumulated principal of the trust passes to the specified donees, often the grantor’s children.
The annual payments can be structured so that the present value of the annual payments will equal the value of the property transferred to the trust. The trust is said to be “zeroed-out” because the donees’ remainder interest has no value for gift tax purposes, thus no gift tax exemption is used and no gift tax is due. To the extent, the increase in the value of the assets exceeds the annuity stream paid to the grantor, the assets remaining in the trust pass to the beneficiaries becoming a tax-free gift.
These are just some of the planning opportunities your William Vaughan advisor can discuss with you. We encourage you to take this important step now to avoid potentially detrimental changes which have been proposed in Washington. Early adoption and implementation have perhaps never been more important.
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wvco.com | 419.891.1040
Oct 11, 2021
Current Ideal Estate & Gift Planning Environment On Its Way Out
For the past few years, we have experienced a near-perfect environment for estate and gift planning purposes given the vastly expanded exemption amounts, low-interest rates, and retention of step-up in basis at death.
The Perfect Storm
How did we get here you ask? When Congress passed the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), substantial changes were made to the estate, generation-skipping transfer, and gift tax laws. Most notably, the TCJA included:
- A doubling of the basic exclusion amount from $5 million to $10 million, indexed for inflation, and an exclusion amount of $11.7 million for 2021. Coupled with proper planning around the concept of portability of a spouse’s amount, this could allow a married couple up to $23.4 million of assets to be exempt from the estate tax.
- The retention of the concept of “step-up” in basis at death. With the increased estate exclusion amount, income tax savings from the basis step-up at death sometimes became more important than trying to avoid estate tax via gifting or other transfer techniques.
These provisions were to be effective from 2018 through the end of 2025. Furthermore, regulations subsequently issued by the IRS stated there would be no clawback or adjustment of increased amounts taken by taxpayers during this period when the amounts reverted back to the old amounts on January 1, 2026.
This coupled with recent ultra-low interest rates left taxpayers and their planners taking a renewed interest in reviewing family gift and estate plans to take advantage of the perfect storm.
While these conditions were expected to remain until 2026, the political winds have changed and with that is incredible uncertainty regarding what changes might be coming and when.
A number of proposals have been outlined which would greatly impact gift and estate plans—both existing and those contemplated. Among the proposed changes:
- drastic reduction in the basic estate exclusion amount
- possible increase in estate tax rates
- restrictions on certain transfers in trust
- restrictions on discounts when valuing property
More critical are the various effective dates proposed which may be retroactive to earlier this year.
While no one can predict the future, these potential changes make for increased risks and uncertainty in planning in the current environment. What is clear, however, is that regardless of what changes are ultimately made and when their effective date might be, the estate and gift tax rules will be far less liberal or beneficial than they are right now.
What Should I Do Now?
We believe significant planning opportunities exist under the current law and urge you to review your personal plans now. If new trusts or other asset transfer plans are contemplated, you will need to act immediately.
Here are some basic recommendations. Stay tuned to our series as we will delve into two other opportunities you should be considering before year-end:
- Make Gifting A Priority – Your timeframe to complete gifts may be much shorter if your plan involves an irrevocable grantor trust or gifts of interests in nonbusiness assets held in a limited liability company (LLC), partnership, or other private entity.
- Fund Grantor Trusts – Irrevocable grantor trusts allow you to gift assets and continue to be the owner of those assets for income tax purposes. Under the new proposals, these tax benefits would no longer be possible as soon as the new law is enacted.
- Complete Gifts of Nonbusiness Assets in LLCs or LPs – Currently, if you gift a minority or non-controlling interest in a private entity, the interest is valued at a lower price to account for the lack of control and marketability. Under the new proposals, these discounts would go away if the LLC’s assets include publicly traded securities, non-operating cash, or other passive, non-business assets.
We highly encourage you to not only contact your William Vaughan Company practitioner but also your financial advisors so your personal situation can be reviewed and updated before your potential risk may increase.
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