Legislative Insider – Summer 2018

Tracking legislation that may impact your business, your estate, your retirement, or your wallet.

Recent Developments

Tariffs on imported metals from European Union, Mexico, and Canada now in effect. On June 1, the U.S. applied 25% excise taxes on steel imported from these trading partners and 10% tariffs on imported aluminum from these three sources. In response, Canada will impose tariffs on $12.8 billion of American goods effective July 1. The E.U. and Mexico also announced retaliatory tariffs on crops, metals, and cosmetics coming from the U.S.1,2

The “fiduciary rule” may be history. Vacated by a federal appeals court in March, the 2016 Department of Labor rule demanding that retirement advisors place client best interests ahead of their own was never fully implemented and may now be dead. No effort to challenge the appeals court ruling has emerged from the Trump administration. The Securities and Exchange Commission did offer a plan this spring – hundreds of pages thick – intended to preserve the spirit, if not the letter, of the rule. The SEC plan lists obligations for investment professionals regarding the integrity of advisor-client relationships, but does not define the term “best interest.”3

Federal Tax Law Adjustments

SALT deduction cap workarounds are being questioned. New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey have created legislative responses to offset the lowered $10,000 annual federal deduction limit for state and local taxes (SALT). These three states are permitting cities and towns to create charitable funds, and homeowners can contribute to these local funds and still receive a federal tax break. In notices issued in May, the Internal Revenue Service and Department of the Treasury said that they would propose new rules to address the emergence of these plans. I.R.S. Notice 2018-54 cautions that “despite these state efforts to circumvent the new statutory limitation on state and local tax deductions, taxpayers should be mindful that federal law controls the proper characterization of payments for federal income tax purposes.”4,5

Additional I.R.S. guidance on vehicle expenses and unreimbursed worker expenses. In June, the agency updated standard mileage rates for 2018: $0.545 per mile of business travel, $0.18 per mile for medical purposes, and an unchanged $0.14 per mile for miles driven in service to charities and non-profit groups. It notified taxpayers that in accordance with the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the $0.545 standard mileage rate cannot be used for itemized deductions for unreimbursed employee travel expenses this year and in all years through 2025. Also, that standard mileage rate cannot factor into itemized deductions for moving-related expenses, except in the case of active-duty service members moving in response to a relocation order.6

A bit of federal tax relief may be ahead for some college endowments. I.R.S. Notice 2018-55 states that the agency is working on regulations to restrict the impact of the new 1.4% excise tax on private college and university endowments. In its notice, the I.R.S. says that such endowments can likely use an asset’s fair market value at the end of 2017 as a basis for calculating tax on any resulting gain stemming from the sale of the asset. While normal basis rules will apply for calculating a loss, the new step-up in basis could lessen the amount of capital gain exposed to the new tax.7

Looking Ahead

The Volcker rule may soon be revised. In June, the Securities and Exchange Commission joined the Federal Reserve, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation in agreeing to amend this key regulation within the Dodd-Frank Act. The Volcker rule, finalized five years ago, prohibits banks from proprietary trading: selling or buying investments expressly for the bank’s potential benefit, rather than the potential benefit to customers. In its current form, the Volcker rule presumes that any positions held by banks for less than 60 days are proprietary. The proposed amendment would do away with that conclusion and allow lenders added possibilities to hedge market risk. A 60-day, public comment on the proposed amendment ends in early August.8

White House considers altering retirement benefits for federal employees. An Office of Personnel Management proposal recently sent to House Speaker Paul Ryan recommended changes to the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) and Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) for federal government workers, with the goal of reducing budget shortfalls. The proposal, which Capitol Hill legislators could consider in the near term, suggests four notable modifications. One, cost-of-living adjustments to FERS pensions would be eliminated and COLAs for CSRS pensions would be cut. Two, the highest yearly pay over a consecutive, 5-year period, rather than a 3-year period, would be used in the calculation formula for CSRS and FERS pension benefits. Three, salary deferral rates into the FERS program would gradually rise to a maximum of 7.25% of pay. Four, most of the supplemental benefit payments given to FERS participants who retire from their jobs before age 62 would be eliminated.9

More states may lower corporate tax rates. As Dow Jones Newswires reports, the gap between the 21% federal corporate tax rate and higher state taxes on corporate business entities may slim in the coming years. A bill in Missouri would cut that state’s corporate rate from 6.25% to 4.0%. Georgia just reduced its corporate rate 0.25% to 5.75%. In related news, Tennessee’s legislature rejected a federal provision limiting interest deductibility for businesses, which could save companies based in that state a total of $1.2 billion through 2028.10

Investment funds can go paperless starting in 2021. In early June, the Securities and Exchange Commission adopted Rule 30e-3, which will give funds three options to fulfill their reporting duties to shareholders. Beginning in 2021, funds can satisfy this obligation by a) notifying shareholders that reports are online at their websites, and offering a link to access them; b) sending shareholder reports electronically to investors who opt for this delivery method; c) sending hard-copy reports through the mail. Funds may also use two or three of these delivery methods in combination.11

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate, and is provided for general purposes only. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and is not intended to be used for, and cannot be used for, the purpose of avoiding US, federal, state or local tax penalties.

Mike Moffitt may be reached at 641-782-557 or email: mikem@cfgiowa.com

Website: www.cfgiowa.coom

Michael Moffitt is a Registered Representative with and Securities are offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investments advice offered through Advantage Investment Management (AIM), a registered investment advisor. Cornerstone Financial Group and AIM are separate entities from LPL Financial.

CITATIONS:

1 – nytimes.com/2018/05/31/us/politics/trump-aluminum-steel-tariffs.html [5/31/18]

2 – businessinsider.com/trump-tariff-trade-fight-european-union-mexico-tariffs-list-2018-6 [6/6/18]

3 – bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-06-08/the-fiduciary-rule-may-sound-boring-but-its-collapse-threatens-your-retirement [6/8/18]

4 – cnbc.com/2018/05/23/irs-treasury-have-set-their-sights-on-blue-states-tax-workarounds.html [5/23/18]
5 – irs.gov/pub/irs-drop/n-18-54.pdf [5/23/18]
6 – accountingweb.com/tax/irs/irs-offers-guidance-on-vehicle-expenses [6/8/18]

7 – accountingtoday.com/news/irs-plans-regulations-to-ease-taxes-on-college-endowments [6/8/18]

8 – bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-06-05/volcker-rule-changes-move-forward-after-sec-votes-on-overhaul [6/5/18]

9 – fool.com/retirement/2018/06/10/these-retirement-cuts-threaten-millions-of-workers.aspx [6/10/18]

10 – tinyurl.com/yblgrr85 [6/11/18]
11 – tinyurl.com/ya4wszz5 [6/5/18]

Young Children are Targets for Identity Theft

We’re becoming savvier to identity theft and taking care of our personal information, both online and in the physical world. Perhaps it is this sophistication that has criminals turning to stealing the identity of children. Over 66% of such thefts are against children under the age of 8. Scammers practicing child I.D. theft made $2.6 Billion in 2017. The theft can often take years, even decades, to detect. Imagine leaving home for college and being unable to rent your first apartment because of thousands of dollars in previously unknown debt. Or, being unable to get that first “for emergencies only” credit card because some criminal has already obtained cards using your name and Social Security number.

Making this problem even worse? Sixty percent of the fraudsters have some relation to the child. Carefully secure your children’s personal information, such as their Social Security number as well as important documents like their birth certificate. If fraud is detected, contact the major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, TransUnion) to examine the credit file and place a security freeze if you are in a state that allows this. This should only be done in cases of fraud, though. If your state does not allow freezing, monitor your children’s credit reports, contact companies involved with these debts, and file a complaint with police.1

Mike Moffit may be reached at ph# 641-782-5577 or email: mikem@cfgiowa.com

Website: www.cfgiowa.com

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Michael Moffitt is a Registered Representative with and Securities are offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investments advice offered through Advantage Investment Management (AIM), a registered investment advisor. Cornerstone Financial Group and AIM are separate entities from LPL Financial.

Citations.

1 – washingtonpost.com/news/get-there/wp/2018/04/24/why-does-a-2-year-old-have-a-credit-card-how-to-protect-your-children-from-identity-theft [4/24/18]

 

 

Why Medicare Should Be Part of Your Retirement Planning

The premiums and coverages vary, and you must realize the differences. 

Medicare takes a little time to understand. As you

Medicare

approach age 65, familiarize yourself with its coverage options and their costs and limitations.

Certain features of Medicare can affect health care costs and coverage. Some retirees may do okay with original Medicare (Parts A and B), others might find it lacking and decide to supplement original Medicare with Part C, Part D, or Medigap coverage. In some cases, that may mean paying more for senior health care per month than you initially figured.

How much do Medicare Part A and Part B cost, and what do they cover? Part A is usually free; Part B is not. Part A is hospital insurance and covers up to 100 day hospital care, home health care, nursing home care, and hospice care. Part B covers doctor visits, outpatient procedures, and lab work. You pay for Part B with monthly premiums, and your Part B premium is based on your income. In 2018, the basic monthly Part B premium is $134; higher-earning Medicare recipients pay more per month. You also typically shoulder 20% of Part B costs after paying the yearly deductible, which is $183 in 2018.1

The copays and deductibles linked to original Medicare can take a bite out of retirement income. In addition, original Medicare does not cover dental, vision, or hearing care, or prescription medicines, or health care services outside the U.S. It pays for no more than 100 consecutive days of skilled nursing home care. These out-of-pocket costs may lead you to look for supplemental Medicare coverage and to plan other ways of paying for long-term care.1,2 

Medigap policies help Medicare recipients with some of these copays and deductibles. Sold by private companies, these health care policies will pay a share of certain out-of-pocket medical costs (i.e., costs greater than what original Medicare covers for you). You must have original Medicare coverage in place to purchase one. The Medigap policies being sold today do not offer prescription drug coverage. A monthly premium on a Medigap policy for a 65-year-old man may run from $150-250, so keep that cost range in mind if you are considering Medigap coverage.2,3

In 2020, the two most popular kinds of Medigap plans – Medigap C and Medigap F – will vanish. These plans pay the Medicare Part B deductible, and Medigap policies of that type are being phased out due to the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act. Come 2019, you will no longer be able to enroll in them.4

Part D plans cover some (certainly not all) prescription drug expenses. Monthly premiums are averaging $33.50 this year for these standalone plans, which are offered by private insurers. Part D plans currently have yearly deductibles of less than $500.2,5

Some people choose a Part C (Medicare Advantage) plan over original Medicare. These plans, offered by private insurers and approved by Medicare, combine Part A, Part B, and usually Part D coverage and often some vision, dental, and hearing benefits. You pay an additional, minor monthly premium besides your standard Medicare premium for Part C coverage. Some Medicare Advantage plans are health maintenance organizations (HMOs); others, preferred provider organizations (PPOs).6

If you want a Part C plan, should you select an HMO or PPO? About two-thirds of Part C plan enrollees choose HMOs. There is a cost difference. In 2017, the average HMO monthly premium was $29. The average regional PPO monthly premium was $35, while the mean premium for a local PPO was $62.6

HMO plans usually restrict you to doctors within the plan network. If you are a snowbird who travels frequently, you may be out of the Part C plan’s network area for weeks or months and risk paying out-of-network medical expenses from your savings. With PPO plans, you can see out-of-network providers and see specialists without referrals from primary care physicians.6

Now, what if you retire before age 65? COBRA aside, you are looking at either arranging private health insurance coverage or going uninsured until you become eligible for Medicare. You must also factor this possible cost into your retirement planning. The earliest possible date you can arrange Medicare coverage is the first day of the month in which your birthday occurs.5

Medicare planning is integral to your retirement planning. Should you try original Medicare for a while? Should you enroll in a Part C HMO with the goal of keeping your overall out-of-pocket health care expenses lower? There is also the matter of eldercare and the potential need for interim coverage (which will not be cheap) if you retire prior to 65. Discuss these matters with the financial professional you know and trust in your next conversation.

Mike Moffitt may be reached at ph#641-782-5577 or email: mikem@cfgiowa.com

Website: www.cfgiowa.com

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Michael Moffitt is a Registered Representative with and Securities are offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investments advice offered through Advantage Investment Management (AIM), a registered investment advisor. Cornerstone Financial Group and AIM are separate entities from LPL Financial.

Citations.

1 – medicare.gov/your-medicare-costs/costs-at-a-glance/costs-at-glance.html [5/21/18]

2 – cnbc.com/2018/05/03/medicare-doesnt-cover-everything-heres-how-to-avoid-surprises.html [5/3/18]

3 – medicare.gov/supplement-other-insurance/medigap/whats-medigap.html [5/21/18]

4 – fool.com/retirement/2018/02/05/heads-up-the-most-popular-medigap-plans-are-disapp.aspx [2/5/18]

5 – money.usnews.com/money/retirement/medicare/articles/your-guide-to-medicare-coverage [5/2/18]

6 – cnbc.com/2017/10/18/heres-how-to-snag-the-best-medicare-advantage-plan.html [10/18/17]

Wealth Management with Memory Disorders

What steps can a family take?

Besides impacting lives and relationships, dementia can also impact family finances. It may call for another family member to assume money management responsibilities for a parent, grandparent, or sibling. It may increase the risk of financial exploitation, even as we do our best to guard against it.

Just how many older adults have memory disorders? Well, here are two recent estimates. The Chicago Health and Aging Project figures that nearly a third of Americans 85 and older have Alzheimer’s disease. The National Institute on Aging sponsored a study, which concluded that 14% of Americans age 71 and older have dementia to some degree.1

Older women may be the most vulnerable to all this. A new Merrill Lynch and Age Wave study notes that after age 65, women have twice the projected risk of Alzheimer’s that men do.2  

In the best-case scenario, parents or grandparents acknowledge the risk. They lay out financial maps and instructions, telling adult children or grandchildren who love them dearly about the details of their finances. They involve the financial professional they have long known and trusted and introduce them to the next generation. All this communication occurs while the elder still has a sound mind.

Absent that kind of communication and foresight, some catching up will be in order. The kids will have two learning curves in front of them: one to understand the finances of their elders and another one in which they discover the degree of care they can capably provide. The stress of these two learning curves can be overwhelming. Asking professionals for help is only reasonable.

The earlier the basic estate planning elements are in place, the better. This means a will, a durable power of attorney, a health care proxy, and possibly a revocable living trust. In cases of significant wealth or a complex personal history, more sophisticated estate planning vehicles may be needed. If a durable power of attorney is in place, another person has the ability to act financially in the best interest of the person with dementia.1

Children and grandchildren must also confer about major decisions. What kind of assisted living facility would be best for dad? How much of mom’s retirement savings should be used for her eldercare? How do we convince dad that he should not manage his investments day-to-day anymore? What do we do now that mom seems totally unaware she has to make an IRA withdrawal? These will be hard conversations, trying decisions. If they never occur, however, the household financial damage may grow worse.1,3

Financial inattention or incompetence may be one of the first signals of Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia. The National Institute on Aging explains that difficulty paying for an item in a store or figuring out a tip at a restaurant could amount to early warning signs; trouble counting change or reading a bank or investment statement may also reflect cognitive impairment. These instances may be harbingers of problems to come – unpaid bills, impulsive and questionable investment decisions, and unwise credit card purchases.4 

Should a household sign up for Social Security’s representative payee program? This may be a good idea. Many retirees have never heard of this option, which lets a designated, approved second party receive and manage monthly Social Security benefits on their behalf. The monthly benefit is sent to that representative, who must document to Social Security that the money was spent in the senior’s best interest. According to the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, just 9% of Social Security recipients older than 70 with dementia were enrolled in this program in 2017.2,3

Elders suffering from such disorders often resist relinquishing financial control. Allowing limited financial independence (credit cards with lower limits, access to some cash for discretionary spending) may make the transition easier. Loved ones can also emphasize that seniors are so often victims of fraud and other forms of financial elder abuse.

The time to think about these things is now. We have all read horror stories of elders owing years of back taxes, facing lawsuits from creditors, or falling prey to investment scams. Your parents, grandparents, or siblings should not be left to experience such crises.

Mike Moffit may be reached at ph# 641-782-5577 or email: mikem@cfgiowa.com

Website: www.cfgiowa.com

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Michael Moffitt is a Registered Representative with and Securities are offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investments advice offered through Advantage Investment Management (AIM), a registered investment advisor. Cornerstone Financial Group and AIM are separate entities from LPL Financial.

Citations.

1 – forbes.com/sites/nextavenue/2017/10/31/managing-finances-for-a-loved-one-with-dementia [10/31/18]

2 – barrons.com/articles/the-stubborn-wealth-gap-between-men-and-women-1524099601 [4/18/18]

3 – usatoday.com/story/money/columnist/powell/2017/09/16/financial-help-retirees-cognitive-impairment-dementia/627326001/ [9/16/17]

4 – nia.nih.gov/health/managing-money-problems-alzheimers-disease [5/18/17]

 

 

Beware of Lifestyle Creep

Sometimes more money can mean more problems.

“Lifestyle creep” is an unusual phrase describing an all-too-common problem: the more money people earn, the more money they tend to spend.

Frequently, the newly affluent are the most susceptible. As people establish themselves as doctors and lawyers, executives, and successful entrepreneurs, they see living well as a reward. Outstanding education, home, and business loans may not alter this viewpoint. Lifestyle creep can happen to successful individuals of any age. How do you guard against it?

Keep one financial principle in mind: spend less than you make. If you get a promotion, if your business takes off, if you make partner, the additional income you receive can go toward your retirement savings, your investment accounts, or your debts.

See a promotion, a bonus, or a raise as an opportunity to save more. Do you have a household budget? Then the amount of saving that the extra income comfortably permits will be clear. Even if you do not closely track your expenses, you can probably still save (and invest) to a greater degree without imperiling your current lifestyle.

Avoid taking on new fixed expenses that may not lead to positive outcomes. Shouldering a fixed mortgage payment as a condition of home ownership? Good potential outcome. Assuming an auto loan so you can drive a luxury SUV? Maybe not such a good idea. While the home may appreciate, the SUV will almost certainly not.    

Resist the temptation to rent a fancier apartment or home. Few things scream “lifestyle creep” like higher rent does. A pricier apartment may convey an impressive image to your friends and associates, but it will not make you wealthier.

Keep the big goals in mind and fight off distractions. When you earn more, it is easy to act on your wants and buy things impulsively. Your typical day starts costing you more money.

To prevent this subtle, daily lifestyle creep, live your days the same way you always have – with the same kind of financial mindfulness. Watch out for new daily costs inspired by wants rather than needs.

Live well, but not extravagantly. After years of law school or time toiling at start-ups, getting hired by the right firm and making that career leap can be exhilarating – but it should not be a gateway to runaway debt. According to the Federal Reserve’s latest Survey of Consumer Finances, the average American head of household aged 35-44 carries slightly more than $100,000 of non-housing debt. This is one area of life where you want to be below average.1

Mike Moffitt may be reached at ph#641-782-5577 or email: mikem@cfgiowa.com

Website: www.cfgiowa.com           

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Michael Moffitt is a Registered Representative with and Securities are offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investments advice offered through Advantage Investment Management (AIM), a registered investment advisor. Cornerstone Financial Group and AIM are separate entities from LPL Financial.

Citations.

1 – time.com/money/5233033/average-debt-every-age/ [4/13/18]

 

Savvy Negotiating: To Get to the Moon, Ask for the Stars

One key way to build serious wealth—whether in a business or your everyday life—is to effectively and consistently negotiate deals that are good for you and your bottom line. Ideally, everyone walks away from a negotiation feeling good about the outcome—a win-win scenario. But ultimately, to be successful you must achieve your minimum goals and preferably a whole lot more.

Trouble is, it’s common for people to end up failing to get what they want due to how they approach negotiations right from the start—from the first declarations of their terms. Here’s how you can avoid that negative outcome and get the results you truly want when hashing out a deal or arrangement with another party.

Start with your goals

Clarity about goals is job one. In any negotiation, you will be well-served by being quite clear about what you want to walk away with. Most people in negotiations have a range of goals, and it’s important you specify the top and bottom of the range. For example:

  • High-end goals. These are the results you would achieve if the negotiations went extraordinarily well for you. Achieving these goals would make you exceptionally satisfied.
  • Minimally acceptable goals. These goals will close the deal if you achieve them, but you’ll walk away from the bargaining table feeling far from thrilled. If you don’t achieve these goals, there is no deal.

By spelling out your range of goals, you are more likely to not get caught up in the negotiations themselves and make a deal that doesn’t work for you.

Take your initial position—and make it big

When bargaining, self-made billionaires commonly make demands they do not expect the people they are negotiating with to accept. Often these are terms and conditions that many would consider extreme or even outrageous. They are, in effect, asking for the stars—a whole lot more than just about anyone would give them.

These billionaires recognize that they will give a little or even a lot along the way, which is both expected and perfectly acceptable. However, they are using the anchoring effect to better their bargaining position and come away with a deal that works well for them

The anchoring effect is a type of cognitive bias that occurs when people make decisions and act on the initial information they receive—the anchor. Once the anchor is set, people tend to be biased toward interpreting other information around the anchor.

There are a number of ways to create an anchor. The easiest is to ask for an outsize outcome at the start of the negotiation. This will usually influence the perception of value for the other party throughout the negotiations.

The anchoring effect also sets the stage for you to implement your concession strategies. This is how you methodically go from asking for the stars to getting the moon—your acceptable result.

STEPS FOR SAVVY NEGOTIATING

Haggling is an integral part of good negotiation, and most people go into negotiations expecting some back-and-forth around numbers and terms. When both sides make concessions, both will more likely walk away satisfied.

By using the anchoring effect, your goal is to give yourself as much room as possible to make concessions and walk away with at least the minimum results you are looking for.

In every negotiation, the concessions you make are based on a combination of art and science. You can’t concede too much or act too quickly, nor can you be inflexible.

To optimize results, there is a delicate balance of give and take that you can strike by keeping these ideas top of mind:

  • Know what you can give up easily and what is very hard to give up. In business negotiations, there are regularly multiple issues, values and conditions. Some will be more important to you, and some less. You will be well-served if you know what really matters and what does not before going into a negotiation.
  • When you give, make sure you get. Concessions should be reciprocal. If you make a concession, you should be looking to get a concession you see as equally valuable. If you make a unilateral concession, you are negotiating with yourself—and are absolutely losing.
  • Incremental concessions are best. If you ask for the stars at the start and too quickly give up a great deal of ground, you will likely lose all credibility and power. Making a large concession willingly tells the other party that there is a lot more you will give up.
  • Make concessions slowly. You want to communicate that these concessions are tough decisions. Tough decisions are ones you usually have to think long and hard about. Therefore, take your time and pace out making concessions.
  • Have a final concession ready to close the deal. Many negotiations—especially complex business deals—are just about there after a lot of back-and-forth, but still do not close. You want something in your back pocket to push negotiations to an acceptable conclusion. It’s therefore often helpful to have a “final” concession you can offer to close the deal you like.

Possible results

By shrewdly asking for outsize terms that the people you’re negotiating with cannot (or should not) take seriously, you arrange the pieces on the chessboard to your advantage. Then, by skillfully making concessions and getting concessions in return, you meaningfully increase the probability of getting the results you really desire.

These are a few possible outcomes of “asking for the stars”:

  • You get the stars. While you might think your requests are outrageous, that does not necessarily mean the people you are negotiating with won’t give them to you. Your counterparties might, for reasons you are unaware of, be so motivated to make the deal that they will accept your over-the-top numbers, terms and conditions. While this outcome generally has a low probability, it is a possibility.
  • You induce the other person to discontinue negotiations. Your requests might be so extreme that the counterparty does not believe you can ever come to an understanding. Consequently, the counterparty might end the negotiations. Like the previous outcome, this one has a low probability of occurring.
  • You get the moon. The moon is your high-end negotiating goal, and you end up making smart concessions and getting good concessions that result in you getting it.

ACKNOWLEDGMENT: This article was published by the BSW Inner Circle, a global financial concierge group working with affluent individuals and families and is distributed with its permission. Copyright 2018 by AES Nation, LLC.

Michael Moffitt is a Registered Representative with and Securities are offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. He can be reached at 1-800-827-5577. Investments advice offered through Advantage Investment Management (AIM), a registered investment advisor.  Cornerstone Financial Group and AIM are separate entities from LPL Financial.

 

The Backdoor Roth IRA

A move that high earners can make in pursuit of tax-free retirement income. 

Does your high income stop you from contributing to a Roth IRA? It does not necessarily prohibit you from having one. You may be able to create a backdoor Roth IRA and give yourself the potential for a tax-free income stream in retirement.

If you think you will be in a high tax bracket when you retire, a tax-free income stream may be just what you want. The backdoor Roth IRA is a maneuver you can make in pursuit of that goal – a perfectly legal workaround, its legitimacy further affirmed by language in the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act of 2017.1

You establish a backdoor Roth IRA in two steps. The first step: make a non-deductible contribution to a traditional IRA. (In other words, you contribute after-tax dollars to it, as you would to a Roth retirement account.)1

The second step: convert that traditional IRA to a Roth IRA or transfer the traditional IRA balance to a Roth. A trustee-to-trustee transfer may be the easiest way to do this – the funds simply move from the financial institution serving as custodian of the traditional IRA to the one serving as custodian of the Roth IRA. (The destination Roth IRA can even be a Roth IRA you used to contribute to when your income was lower.) Subsequently, you report the conversion to the Internal Revenue Service using Form 8606.1,2

When you have owned your Roth IRA for five years and are 59½ or older, you can withdraw its earnings, tax free. You may not be able to make contributions to your Roth IRA because of your income level, but you will never have to draw the account down because original owners of Roth IRAs never have to make mandatory withdrawals from their accounts by a certain age (unlike original owners of traditional IRAs).1,3

You may be wondering: why would any pre-retiree dismiss this chance to go Roth? It comes down to one word: taxes.

The amount of the conversion is subject to income tax. If you are funding a brand-new traditional IRA with several thousand dollars and converting that relatively small balance to a Roth, the tax hit may be minor, even non-existent (as you will soon see). If you have a large traditional IRA and convert that account to a Roth, the increase in your taxable income may send you into a higher tax bracket in the year of the conversion.2

From a pure tax standpoint, it may make sense to start small when you create a backdoor IRA and begin the process with a new traditional IRA funded entirely with non-deductible contributions. If you go that route, the Roth conversion is tax free, because you have already paid taxes on the money involved.1

The takeaway in all this? When considering a backdoor IRA, evaluate the taxes you might pay today versus the tax benefits you might realize tomorrow.

The taxes on the conversion amount, incidentally, are calculated pro rata – proportionately in respect to the original, traditional IRA’s percentage of pre-tax contributions and earnings. If you are converting multiple traditional IRA balances into a backdoor Roth – which you can do – you must take these percentages into account.1

Three footnotes are worth remembering. One, a backdoor Roth IRA must be created before you reach age 70½ (the age of mandatory traditional IRA withdrawals). Two, you cannot make a backdoor IRA move without earned income because you need to earn income to make a non-deductible contribution to a traditional IRA. Three, joint filers can each make non-deductible contributions to a traditional IRA pursuant to a Roth conversion, even if one spouse does not work; in that case, the working spouse can cover the non-deductible traditional IRA contribution for the non-working spouse (who has to be younger than age 70½).1

A backdoor Roth IRA might be a real plus for your retirement. If it frustrates you that you cannot contribute to a Roth IRA because of your income, explore this possibility with insight from your financial or tax professional.

Mike Moffitt may be reached at ph# 641-782-5577 or email: mikem@cfgiowa.com

Website: www.cfgiowa.com           

Traditional IRA account owners should consider the tax ramifications, age and income restrictions in regards to executing a conversion from a Traditional IRA to a Roth IRA. The converted amount is generally subject to income taxation. The

Roth IRA offers tax deferral on any earnings in the account. Withdrawals from the account may be tax free, as long as they are

considered qualified. Limitations and restrictions may apply. Withdrawals prior to age 59 ½ or prior to the account being opened for 5 years, whichever is later, may result in a 10% IRS penalty tax. Future tax laws can change at any time and may impact the benefits of Roth IRAs. Their tax treatment may change.

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Michael Moffitt is a Registered Representative with and Securities are offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investments advice offered through Advantage Investment Management (AIM), a registered investment advisor. Cornerstone Financial Group and AIM are separate entities from LPL Financial.

Citations.

1 – investors.com/etfs-and-funds/retirement/backdoor-roth-ira-tax-free-retirement-income-legal-loophole/ [4/19/18]

2 – investopedia.com/retirement/too-rich-roth-do/ [1/29/18]

3 – irs.gov/retirement-plans/retirement-plans-faqs-regarding-required-minimum-distributions [11/16/17]

Retirement Planning Weak Spots

They are all too common.

Many households think they are planning carefully for retirement. In many cases, they are not. Weak spots in their retirement planning and saving may go unnoticed.

Couples should recognize that they may face major medical expenses. Each year, Fidelity Investments estimates how much a pair of newly retired 65-year-olds will spend on health care throughout the rest of their lives. Fidelity says that on average, retiring men will need $133,000 to fund health care in retirement; retiring women, $147,000. Even baby boomers in outstanding health should accept the possibility that serious health conditions could increase their out-of-pocket hospital, prescription drug, and eldercare costs.1

Retirement savers will want to diversify their invested assets. An analysis from StreetAuthority, a financial research and publishing company, demonstrates how dramatic the shift has been for some investors. A hypothetical portfolio split evenly between equities and fixed-income investments at the end of February 2009 would have been weighted 74/26 in favor of equities exactly nine years later. If a bear market arrives, that lack of diversification could spell trouble. Another weak spot: some investors just fall in love with two or three companies. If they only buy shares in those companies, their retirement prospects will become tied up with the future of those firms, which could lead to problems.2

The usefulness of dollar cost averaging. Recurring, automatic monthly contributions to retirement accounts allow a pre-retiree to save consistently for them. Contrast that with pre-retirees who never arrange monthly salary deferrals into their retirement accounts; they hunt for investment money each month, and it becomes an item on their to-do list. Who knows whether it will be crossed off regularly or not?

Big debts can put a drag on a retirement saving strategy. Some financial professionals urge their clients to retire debt free or with as little debt as possible; others think carrying a mortgage in retirement can work out. This difference of opinion aside, the less debt a pre-retiree has, the more cash he or she can free up for investment or put into savings.

The biggest weakness is not having a plan at all. How many households save for retirement with a number in mind – the dollar figure their retirement fund needs to meet? How many approach their retirements with an idea of the income they will require? A conversation with a financial professional may help to clear up any ambiguities – and lead to a strategy that puts new focus into retirement planning.

Mike Moffitt may be reached at ph# 641-782-5577 or email: mikem@cfgiowa.com

Website: www.cfgiowa.com           

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

*No investment strategy or risk management technique can guarantee return or eliminate risk in all market environments.

Michael Moffitt is a Registered Representative with and Securities are offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investments advice offered through Advantage Investment Management (AIM), a registered investment advisor. Cornerstone Financial Group and AIM are separate entities from LPL Financial.

Citations.

1 – marketwatch.com/story/youre-probably-going-to-live-longer-what-if-you-cant-afford-it-2018-04-23 [4/23/18]

2 – nasdaq.com/article/how-to-prepare-your-income-portfolio-for-volatility-cm939499 [3/26/18]

 

 

Adjusting Your Portfolio as You Age

As you approach retirement, it may be time to pay more attention to investment risk.

If you are an experienced investor, you have probably fine-tuned your portfolio through the years in response to market cycles or in pursuit of a better return. As you approach or enter retirement, is another adjustment necessary?

Some investors may think they can approach retirement without looking at their portfolios. Their investment allocations may be little changed from what they were 10 or 15 years ago. Because of that inattention (and this long bull market), their invested assets may be exposed to more risk than they would like.

Rebalancing your portfolio with your time horizon in mind is only practical. Consider the nature of equity investments: they lose or gain value according to the market climate, which at times may be fear driven. The larger your equities position, the larger your losses could be in a bear market or market disruption. If this kind of calamity happens when you are newly retired or two or three years away from retiring, your portfolio could be hit hard if you are holding too much stock. What if it takes you several years to recoup your losses? Would those losses force you to compromise your retirement goals?

As certain asset classes outperform others over time, a portfolio can veer off course. The asset classes achieving the better returns come to represent a greater percentage of the portfolio assets. The intended asset allocations may be thrown out of alignment.1

Just how much of your portfolio is held in equities today? Could the amount be 70%, 75%, 80%? It might be, given the way stocks have performed in this decade. As a StreetAuthority comparison notes, a hypothetical portfolio weighted 50/50 in equities and fixed-income investments at the end of February 2009 would have been weighted 74/26 in favor of stocks by the end of February 2018.1

Ideally, you reduce your risk exposure with time. With that objective in mind, you should regularly rebalance your portfolio to maintain or revise its allocations. You also may want to apportion your portfolio, so that you have some cash for distributions once you are retired.

Rebalancing could be a good idea for other reasons. Perhaps you want to try and stay away from market sectors that seem overvalued. Or, perhaps you want to find opportunities. Maybe an asset class or sector is doing well and is underrepresented in your investment mix. Alternately, you may want to revise your portfolio in view of income or capital gains taxes.

Rebalancing is not about chasing the return, but reducing volatility. The goal is to manage risk exposure, and with less risk, there may be less potential for a return. When you reach a certain age, though, “playing defense” with your invested assets should be a priority.
* Investing involves risks including possible loss of principal. No investment strategy or risk management technique can guarantee return or eliminate risk in all market environments.

Mike Moffitt may be reached at 641-782-5577 or email: mikem@cfgiowa.com
Website: www.cfgiowa.com

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Michael Moffitt is a Registered Representative with and Securities are offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investments advice offered through Advantage Investment Management (AIM), a registered investment advisor. Cornerstone Financial Group and AIM are separate entities from LPL Financial.

Citations.
1 – nasdaq.com/article/how-to-prepare-your-income-portfolio-for-volatility-cm939499 [3/26/18]

Financing a College Education

A primer for parents and grandparents.

A university education can often require financing and assuming debt. If your student fills out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and does not qualify for a Pell Grant or other kinds of help, and has no scholarship offers, what do you do? You probably search for a student loan.

A federal loan may make much more sense than a private loan. Federal student loans tend to offer kinder repayment terms and lower interest rates than private loans, so for many students, they are a clear first choice. The interest rate on a standard federal direct loan is 4.45%. Subsidized direct loans, which undergraduates who demonstrate financial need can arrange, have no interest so long as the student maintains at least half-time college enrollment.1,2

Still, federal loans have borrowing limits, and those limits may seem too low. A freshman receiving financial support from parents may only borrow up to $5,500 via a federal student loan, and an undergrad getting no financial assistance may be lent a maximum of $57,500 before receiving a bachelor’s degree. (That ceiling falls to $23,000 for subsidized direct loans.) So, some families take out private loans as supplements to federal loans, even though it is hard to alter payment terms of private loans in a financial pinch.1,2

You can use a student loan calculator to gauge what the monthly payments may be. There are dozens of them available online. A standard college loan has a 10-year repayment period, meaning 120 monthly payments. A 10-year, $30,000 federal direct loan with a 4% interest rate presents your student with a monthly payment of $304 and eventual total payments of $36,448 given interest. The same loan, at a 6% interest rate, leaves your student with a $333 monthly payment and total payments of $39,967. (The minimum monthly payment on a standard student loan, if you are wondering, is typically $50.)3

When must your student start repaying the loan? Good question. Both federal and private student loans offer borrowers a 6-month grace period before the repayment phase begins. The grace period, however, does not necessarily start at graduation. If a student with a federal loan does not maintain at least half-time enrollment, the grace period for the loan will begin. (Perkins loans have a 9-month grace period; the grace period for Stafford loans resets once the student resumes half-time enrollment.) Grace periods on private loans begin once a student graduates or drops below half-time enrollment, with no reset permitted.

What if your student cannot pay the money back once the grace period ends? If you have a private student loan, you have a problem – and a very tough, and perhaps fruitless, negotiation ahead of you. If you have a federal student loan, you may have a chance to delay or lower those loan repayments.3

An unemployed borrower can request deferment of federal student loan payments. A borrower can also request forbearance, a deferral due to financial emergencies or hardships. Interest keeps building up on the loan balance during a forbearance, though.1

At the moment, federal student loans can be forgiven through two avenues. The first, the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PLSF) program, requires at least 10 years of public service, government, or non-profit employment, or at least 120 student loan payments already made from the individual. The second avenue, income-driven repayment plans, first lowers the monthly payment and extends the payment timeline based on what the borrower earns. If the balance is finally forgiven, the loan forgiveness is seen by the Internal Revenue Service as taxable income. (If you have student loan debt forgiven via the PLSF, no taxes have to be paid on the amount.)1,3

Consult financial aid officers and high school guidance counselors before you borrow. Get to know them; request their knowledge and insight. They have helped other families through the process, and they are ready to try and help yours.

Lastly, avoid draining the Bank of Mom & Dad. If your student needs to finance a college education, remember that this financial need should come second to your need to save for retirement. Your student has a chance to arrange a college loan; you do not have a chance to arrange a retirement loan.

Mike Moffitt may be reached at ph#641-641-5577 or email: mikem@cfgiowa.com

Website: www.cfgiowa.com

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Michael Moffitt is a Registered Representative with and Securities are offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investments advice offered through Advantage Investment Management (AIM), a registered investment advisor. Cornerstone Financial Group and AIM are separate entities from LPL Financial.

Citations.

1 – nbcnews.com/better/business/student-loan-debt-what-kids-their-parents-need-know-ncna865336 [4/12/18]

2 – www2.cuny.edu/financial-aid/student-loans/federal-direct-loans/ [4/19/18]

3 – credible.com/blog/refinance-student-loans/how-much-will-you-actually-pay-for-a-30k-student-loan/ [12/4/17]

4 – discover.com/student-loans/repayment/student-loans-semester-off.html [8/3/17]