The new tax law doubles what you can leave loved ones' tax free when you die and that's really bad for your alma mater. Tax breaks for donations to your alma mater may no longer make the grade with you. Here's why:
Under the new tax law, business owners are entitled to deduct 20% of "qualified business income." The test for qualifying a tax break on 20% of business income is defined in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) and summarized here along with a simple illustration.
If you're a pre-retiree, your returns on fixed income investments may be much lower than your parents' portfolio.
If you spend your professional life giving financial advice, you learn to appreciate every day.
Planning makes you immortal. It ensures the next generation will be just fine. This is something you may not learn or even understand until your 60s or 70s. If you're lucky, you come to hold a baby with dreams for the best things that could happen in the future.
In the long arc of financial history, Americans are coming off a 50-year aberration and returning to normal interest rates.
The new federal tax code affects the return you'll file in Spring 2019.
Commodities are supposed to buffer a portfolio from inflation, but years of low inflation have made commodities laggards in a broadly diversified portfolio. We're here to remind you why commodities still belong in a portfolio, even though they've been stinkers for years.
Ten years ago, the economy was bleak. The U.S. was in a recession. The subprime mortgage crisis was undermining Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, Countrywide Financial, AIG, and other major financial institutions; General Motors looked like it might go out of business. Then, in a story for the ages, the nation bounced back and led the world out from The Great Recession.
Interest rates are on the rise, and that means bond prices will decline. Here's a summary of financial history since World War II demonstrating how long interest rate cycles last and how it is likely to affect you.
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Foreign Intrigue In Estate Planning
Are you married to someone who isn't a U.S. citizen? If you are, special estate planning considerations may come into play.
Whether your spouse is a citizen or not, you can use the same basic estate planning documents without any reservations. You can create a will bequeathing assets to your spouse, name him or her as a beneficiary of retirement accounts, and designate your spouse as the agent under a power of attorney. No problems there.
But things get trickier when your spouse inherits assets. Normally, property transferred from one spouse to another, during your lifetimes or when one of you dies, is completely exempt from gift or estate tax thanks to an unlimited marital deduction. But that doesn't apply to non-citizen spouses.
Instead, you can make use of a $5.49 million unified gift and estate tax exemption that covers transfers to any beneficiaries, including a non-citizen spouse.
In addition, you can give a non-citizen spouse as much as $149,000 (in 2017; the amount is indexed for inflation) in gifts during your lifetimes.
Other ways to avoid being subject to the rules for non-citizen spouses may include:
1. Have your spouse become a U.S. citizen. This can be an obvious solution. It allows your spouse to qualify for the unlimited marital deduction by the time your federal estate tax return is due. That's generally nine months after death, but the IRS may grant a six-month extension.
Because it takes time to obtain citizenship—there is a waiting period before you can even apply—it's important to start sooner than later.
2. Rely on a QDOT trust. With a qualified domestic trust (QDOT), you can leave property to the trust, rather than directly to your spouse. Then your spouse can receive income from the QDOT that is exempt from estate tax.
But there are a couple of extra wrinkles. If your non-citizen spouse withdraws principal from the QDOT, it will be taxed like a distribution from your taxable estate, which can increase estate tax liability. There are also limitations on investments made by QDOTs. In some cases, it could make sense to complement a QDOT with other kinds of transfers to your spouse. Finally, a QDOT can be structured to end if your spouse becomes a U.S. citizen.
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