Archive for Taxes

IRS Scammers

Although many phone scammers have been caught, there are still many out there. Here is the scam:

The victim gets a telephone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS. The caller states the victim owes money and will be fined or sued if he does not pay immediately. The caller demands payment through a credit card, debit card or wire transfer.

There have been over 15,000 people that paid into this scam. Many have been older people. Make sure all family and friends know about this.

Keep this in mind:

• The IRS has a legal procedure they must follow.
• The IRS sends all notices of payment due by mail (sometimes certified).
• The agency does NOT initiate telephone calls demanding immediate payment by credit cards, debits cards or wire transfer.
• If you are called, hang up. If you are concerned you may owe money call the IRS directly at (800) 829-1040 (try to save the scammers phone number from your caller ID and report it).

Roth IRA/401(k)?

Income tax rates, established under the 16th amendment in 1913, move like a pendulum in a clock. The movement is extreme at each end from ultra high top rates (94% in 1945) to low top rates (24% in 1929). Over all the years the average top rate has been 58% (this does not include state, city or local taxes). At the end of 2016 the top rate is 39.6% plus the 3.8% Obamacare surcharge for a grand total of 43.4% at the federal level. The new Trump administration is proposing 3 rates of 12% – 25% and a top rate of 33%. Think long term in your life. If these lower rates do take place then over time a “regression to the mean” states that rates have to rise in the future (during your retirement years).

One of our goals, at Founders Group, is for each client to have 80% – 100% of their retirement income to be TAX FREE for life. It takes time and planning. It cannot be done at the last minute.

My question to you ……… wouldn’t it make sense to sock money away in tax free investments when rates are low, today, and then harvest the money when tax rates are higher in your retirement years??? There are a few fantastic vehicles to accumulate money for tax free retirement income. For the “do-it-yourself” crowd there are Roth IRAs or Roth 401(k) plans. The problem with both is there are so many strings attached (how much you can contribute, when you can take monies out, etc). Here is some information on Roth’s:

You can take money out of your Roth IRA anytime you want. However, you need to be careful how much you withdraw or you may get stuck with a penalty. In order to make “qualified distributions” in retirement, you must be at least 59 ½ years old, and at least five years must have passed since you first began contributing.

You may withdraw your contributions to a Roth IRA penalty-free at any time for any reason, but you’ll be penalized for withdrawing any investment earnings before age 59 1/2, unless it’s for a qualifying reason. Money that was converted into a Roth IRA cannot be taken out penalty-free until at least five years after conversion.

Not sure whether the money will be counted as contributions or earnings? Well, the IRS view withdrawals from a Roth IRA in the following order: your contributions, money converted from traditional IRAs and finally, investment earnings. For example, let’s say your IRA has $100,000 in it, $50,000 of which are contributions and $50,000 of which are investment earnings. If you withdraw $60,000, the IRS will consider $50,000 of that to be contributions and $10,000 to be earnings. So any penalty would apply only to the $10,000.

There are more sophisticated vehicles that magnify a Roth program and make Roth’s look like child’s play. These programs have been around since 1913 and require education and guidance by a professional adviser.

2016 Election and the Stock Market

People have been calling me and cornering me at social events asking:

“What will happen to the stock market after the election”? In the short run of a day or a week there may be a bit of an adjustment. The real issue is the next four years.

Avoiding any political statements I address this strictly from an economic stand point and as a business owner. Unfortunately, I find most Americans cannot connect the dots when economic policies are presented.

Let’s examine things in light of Economics 101. What moves stock prices? Answer: Earnings (or some call it profits). As a simple example lets say we want to buy a “pizza shop.” The present owner has been earning (making a profit) of $100,000 per year. Lets say the profit equates to “cash profit.” Assume there are 100,000 shares outstanding so the pizza shop’s earnings per share are $1 each ($100,000 profit divided by 100,000 shares). A general rule of thumb is that one would pay about 4 – 5 times earnings (or profits) for a small business like the pizza shop. This is known as the PE ratio or the price earnings ratio. In our case that would equate to a selling price of $400,000 – $500,000. Thus, without changing anything and earning the same $100,000 per year, we, as the next owners, could get a return on investment in 4 – 5 years, or, in other words we are demanding a 20% – 25% annual return (simply divide the selling price $400,000 – $500,000 by the $100,000 profit to get the return number). The present owner would be selling each of the 100,000 shares to us at $4 – $5 per share ($400,000 – $500,000 sale price divided by 100,000 shares).

Now let’s assume after we buy the pizza shop we institute some changes, i.e., getting discounts for buying in larger quantities, teaching employees to be more productive or adding technology so we are able to now earn $200,000 in profit after tax in the next year.

What are some of the outcomes of our changes and hard work: (1) With higher profits more in taxes now go to the government. We see the need to begin advertising since we can now handle more business so the advertising company hires more people (who pay income taxes) to handle our account. We also hire more people to handle the anticipated new business (and the new employees pay income taxes). We ask for more products from our vendors they do the same and so forth and so on. This is known as the multiplier effect. By the way I am not advocating a love of taxes but rather showing the outcome of a growing business and economy. So, with Adam Smith’s “Invisible Hand” principal more people are working, which means they are off the Government dole, more taxes are flowing into the Treasury and more of our new customers are happy.

As a side bar, since our business is now making $200,000 per year (or $2 per share on 100,000 shares) the next buyer would be willing to pay us between $800,000 and $1 million or $8 – $10 per share under the classic 4 – 5 times price earnings multiplier. If we decide to sell the business we would owe taxes on the difference between the selling price of $1 million and what we paid originally of $500,000. So, it is the INCREASE IN EARNINGS that push up the stock prices. By the way the P/E ratio for the S&P 500 has averaged around 12 – 13 times since large companies are more stable and you would demand lower rates of return. I am using a small business example to explain the concepts. Keep in mind the companies that make up the stock market act similarly in concept to this small pizza shop.

Here is a major input to help you understand companies and the stock market. If you took all the companies in the U.S. from the small pizza shops, to grocery stores to Apple computer and added up their profits, the average profit for all the companies in the U.S. comes out around 4.8% (before tax). Yes, it is not the gigantic number people think exists. Grocery stores work on 1% profit while the “sin” companies like alcohol, tobacco etc. have much higher profit margins.

As any business owner, just like any employee, I want to maintain my income (earnings) and lifestyle. Let’s say we are able to maintain the earnings or income of $200,000 per year (or $2 per share) as noted above.

Next, let’s say my expenses skyrocket overnight because the government imposes higher income taxes on our profits, imposes costly new regulations and forces me to buy expensive health care insurance for employees. So, without any change in sales, expenses have gone up and my profits drop back down to the original $100,000. Please keep in mind it is not just our pizza shop that is hit this way. The advertising agency and all of our vendors are hit the same way plus all the other companies in the U.S.

So to maintain our lifestyles we have 3 options: (1) Raise prices, which will make us uncompetitive and is purely inflationary. (2) Cut costs by laying off employees which will restore our profits and lifestyle and make our employees miserable, or, (3) shut down the business. In all 3 options the Government will lose tax revenue and many people lose their jobs who now become a burden on society again by going back on the Government dole. How about selling the business? Well at $100,000 in profits we might get our original money back of $400,000 to $500,000 but the new potential owner has looked at our books and seen profits dropping plus costs going up, so I doubt we can get our money back in a sale.

Who loses here: The Government, employees and entrepreneurs.

Remember small businesses produce 70% of all new jobs created in the U.S. In the past year, for the first time in U.S. history, more small business are shutting down each month than are opening. Tragic!!
Small businesses are just a reflection of large businesses that make up the stock market.

Are you connecting the dots yet?

I hope you have the answer after this long winded explanation of what will happen to your wealth in the stock market after the election.

One candidate wants to (1) lower taxes on business (we have the highest corporate tax rate in the world. That is why many companies are leaving the U.S. and we lose jobs). Every time the Government reduces tax rates more tax revenue is generated. (2) This same candidate wants to reduce costly regulations that stifle the ability to start and maintain a business. (3) This same candidate wants to revamp the out of control costs to business of Obamacare. If this candidate can do this, it will lead to an explosion upward in business growth, employment, tax revenue and the stock market going through the roof which means your wealth will skyrocket.

Who wins here: The Government, employees, entrepreneurs and society as a whole.

The other candidate wants to increase taxes, regulations and health care costs.

This simple article has only covered a few policies that are on the table that separate the candidates. My desire was to answer the question on what will happen to the stock market.

Well, I hope you now can calculate and understand where the stock market will be in the next 1 – 4 years based on who wins the election.

In the great words of Mayor Daly……

“Vote early and vote often.”

Keep More of Your Savings

Keep More of Your Savings

People in their 60s should already be planning ways to minimize taxes in their 70s. Investors can pull money out of tax-deferred retirement accounts without penalty after turning age 59 ½ . Yet many choose to let their investments grow sheltered from taxes as long as possible, which can trigger higher taxes when mandatory distributions kick in. Ironically, tax-deferred growth creates its own tax problem if you do it too well.
Most people tend to delay taxes as long as possible, but this can backfire when it comes to RMDs. “It just pushes all the taxes farther and farther down the line and then they get this huge tax bite later.” “Unfortunately, it’s too late at that point.”
But it’s not too late for retirees in their 60s when withdrawals are penalty free, RMDs haven’t yet kicked in and disbursements are likely to be taxed at a lower rate because the recipient is no longer working. Or consider converting part of your traditional IRA each year to a Roth IRA. You’ll owe income taxes on the amount converted, but it may be at a lower rate if you’re retired.

Garage Gold

Is your garage and storage space still overflowing with clutter after that spring cleaning? You may want to take a second look. You could be holding on to some gold. This means clearing out closets of unwanted tax-deductible clothing and household items that you no longer need. Don’t forget those unused items you placed in storage. But don’t stop there? You may also qualify for write-offs by donating unwanted paint to globalpaints.org, building materials to Habitat for Humanity’s ReStores and old linens (used for pet bedding) to tax-exempt animal-rescue shelters. Utility companies may provide free pickup of older appliances that are not energy efficient. Did you know some utilities will even pay about $50.00 for upgrading your appliances, or they will credit your bill?