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Taxes, Medicare And Social Security, Oh My
I welcome back in David and Karen Bezar and Bret Elam will be along with us as well. David, this is a significant month. Tax Day is scheduled now as we look ahead. In some of our pre-show prep leading into how we were going to approach the month, there was some dialogue and some conversation about let’s spend the month and drill down on some real relevant points for the audience. It’s almost a month-long special presented by Thrive Financial Services.
Joe, we’re totally excited about it. To be able to share the content that we’re sharing, it’s appropriate right now. Our workshops have been overfilled. We’ve got waiting lists happening because this is a time of year where people are thinking. Finance pops to the top of the mind because taxes, everything that happened last year, they are now either paying the consequences or reaping the rewards.
Talk to me about that Roadmap to Retirement. I can’t remember the launch month of the book, but I know it was successful. That Roadmap to Retirement helps us, helps me and helps the audience put things in perspective. I know in the past we’ve talked about planning vacations and things like that. The visual theater of the mind is what Roadmap to Retirement allows us to start to think about.
It continually is gaining traction. There are many requests from the radio show to get a copy of the book. When our folks come in from our workshops, we’re giving them a copy and we’re getting great feedback. They said it’s one of the first books that they’ve read that maps out what it’s going to take to navigate retirement successfully. We’re so passionate about that concept, about building that retirement roadmap for the people that we serve because it’s complex. Karen is going to spend some time talking about the difference between somebody who’s in the financial field and focused on helping people accumulate their asset. The things that we hear often and passionately from the people that attend our workshops are coming to our office for a Retirement Roadmap consultation is it’s the first time that they’re having this deep of a conversation.Every scenario is going to be different. Click To Tweet
Taxes, Medicare, Social Security and many more topics, but how does it all fit together? It’s complex. People come out to these workshops because the first question I ask is, “How many of you have a suspicion that taxation is going to be a whole lot different in retirement than it was during the time that you were working?” Every hand goes up in the room. My next question is, “Do you know what to do about it?” Nobody has a clue. The fact that our firm goes deeply into how the mechanics work, how to do forward tax planning, how to think about your Social Security. If you’re a fortunate couple or fortunate family where you accumulated a lot of assets, how are you going to distribute those assets to your heirs in the most beneficial, most tax-efficient way? These are the conversations that we have at our office with the clients that come in.
Karen will be along in our B-block after the first stop set to talk about financial advisors, as David had mentioned. Let me give you an opportunity, Karen, to welcome you in. I know it’s a busy time for you and you can set the table for our audience.
We’re glad to be here. Thank you for welcoming me in. We’re going to talk a little bit more about financial advisors. There are different types. From meeting people who come to our workshops, they say, “I have an advisor. My guide, my advisor,” and I’m asking people out there, “Is he really an advisor? Is she really an advisor? Are they acting in your best interest or their best interest?”
The workshops are sometimes moving to a waiting list to get in to the workshop. That tells me, David, that the information being provided is good. There’s quality to it, there’s a real meaning and that’s why people are coming out.
We had a workshop and we were at the Upper Dublin Township building, which is local to our main corporate office in Fort Washington. We had a registration of how many people are attending because we have to manage the room. What ended up happening was people who were coming were bringing couples with them. I love the fact that the information that we’re spreading is having that dramatic of an impact with people. We do have two workshops coming up. We have one at the Horsham Library in Horsham Township. The topic is going to be Taxes in Retirement. We have another one at the Wissahickon Public Library, which is in Blue Bell. That’s also going to be a Taxes in Retirement workshop.
People can go to our website at ThriveFinancialServices.com and find out which ones are upcoming. We also have Social Security Workshops going on around the area. We’ll get those dates out, but people can see those on our website. The other thing I’d love to mention is I sit on the board of directors of a charitable organization called BeatCancer.org. We have our annual charitable golf tournament. If you’re interested in putting a foursome together and joining us, it’s a great event. The last one was great. You can call Carl Wagner. Carl is the CEO at BeatCancer.org. His phone number is (215) 942-6438 and his extension is 105. It’s a great day, great food and a lot of great people. It’s calm and relaxed. Hopefully, we’ll have a wonderful day from a weather standpoint. Even if we don’t, it’s always good to get out there for charity.
North Hills Country Club is a great spot to play. It’s renovated, a ton of money, millions dumped into North Hills. It’s a good spot to be. It’s a good day to spend, of course, it’s a worthy cause. Give Carl a call if you’re interested. With Tax Day looming, we’re both zeroing in and focusing in on taxes. It’s tax time for us, for the audience, and for me. It’s a nervous time. I’ve got to start to get everything together. As you said, “What did I do? What mistakes did I make? What don’t I have?” and all of that and how can I avoid moving forward the mistakes that I’ve made in the past?
Bret’s segment is going to be interesting. We’re going to illustrate what that process looks like when we’re dealing with folks’ taxes. Karen, myself, Bret, it’s in everybody’s mind. The difference is getting your taxes done, which is what most people say, is a result of the decisions that you made last year. What we’re trying to educate people is there are opportunities. If you have the right information to make the right decision, you can impact what you’re going to end up paying taxes in a positive way. We encourage people to come in and get one of our Retirement Roadmap consultations. It’s a review. One aspect of that review is that forward tax planning, where we’re going to sit down with you. We’re going to look at some of the things that you’re interested in doing.
We even find times, Joe, where we’re able to help people that have traditional IRAs and start pulling money out of those IRAs in a tax-free way. When we first say that, people look at us and their eyes go cross because like, “How can you do that?” Depending on the situation, depending on the income that’s showing up on the tax returns. Bret’s going to talk about a guy that we sat down with. He has $6 million in assets. You would think there was nothing you could possibly do to improve because there’s so much money there.
The reality is we showed him from age 60 through 70 that he’s going to be able to pull money out of his IRA accounts and not have to pay a lot of taxes on it, much less than he would if he was going to go the normal route that most people think is the right thing to do. I tell people all the time, Joe, what’s popular isn’t always right and what’s right isn’t always popular. Get the facts for yourself. Give us a call at (800) 516-5861, schedule an appointment to come in and sit down with us and get a Retirement Roadmap consultation done.
David and Karen Bezar, along with Bret Elam are advocates for you. They’re going to educate you. They’re going to listen to you. They’re going to provide information for you that you can use. I want to welcome Bret Elam in and give Bret an opportunity. Give him time to set the stage. It’s tax time. You’re going to give some good advice or at least start to give some good information out to the audience.
For those of you who may not have made an IRA contribution yet for calendar year, we still have until Tax Day to do that. I encourage everybody to do that.
Karen, you’re going to spend some time in this block talking about financial advisors. What is an advisor? What does that all mean?
What brings this up is I recently met with a couple who came out to one of our workshops. The first thing they said to me after the workshop and after I sat down and met with them is they thought retirement was supposed to be easy. It’s supposed to be laid back. You’re supposed to enjoy the rest of your life. After the workshop, they realized that they did not have enough information to make sure that their retirement was on good ground. What started me thinking about that was they came in, they meant to meet with us. They have a “guy,” an advisor. What gets me riled up, for lack of a better word, is your advisor really an advisor? If you have an advisor, are they a fiduciary? We throw these words around a lot.
They’re a great couple, they worked hard all their lives as we all do. We have our money set aside for retirement. They are heading into retirement. Their wonderful guy or their advisor, one of the things that he did for them is he sold them six annuities. Annuities can definitely work for retirement plan, but six annuities in all the same exact company gets you thinking, “Is he doing the best job for himself or is he doing the best job for his clients?” We’re different from not all advisors, but we differ from advisors in the way we were talking about. We do the Thrive Retirement Roadmap. Some advisors, specifically brokers or stockbrokers, they’re advisors as well as we are, but they’re generally required to sell products that are “suitable” for clients.
That means they are held to a lower standard than a fiduciary standard. We are registered investment advisors. We’re registered with the US Securities And Exchange Commission or State Regulator depending on the size of the company. We’re held to a fiduciary standard when we deal with our clients. We have to put their best interest ahead of our own. We’re different from other investment advisors because we focus on investment portfolios. We do a more financial planning approach. We don’t just look at where your money’s at and where you want it to be ten years down the road. We don’t want just to grow the money, but we also want to make sure that you have enough to last you for your full retirement.
One thing that I’ve certainly learned about the process, the ability to educate the individuals that come into the Thrive Financial Services office or that you meet at the workshop, that is important. People have to understand. Sometimes I always feel decisions are made without a full understanding, and that being one of the core principles of Thrive.
That’s why I encourage anybody out there, please take advantage of our workshops at Horsham Library, Horsham, Pennsylvania, and then Wissahickon Valley Public Library in Bluebell. Take advantage of coming to the workshop. We can get you a slot in the workshop or give us a call. Come in and we’re going to give you some information. We’re going to give you the Thrive Retirement Roadmap. We’ll tell you what’s involved in your retirement. To backpedal a little bit, we are fiduciaries. I want people to understand how important that is because we do what’s right for our clients all the time. It’s crazy that they have to make somebody technically a fiduciary and they have to put into law that you had to be a fiduciary.Figure out where you can pull money in the most tax-efficient manner. Click To Tweet
You would think it would be, if you’re an advisor, wouldn’t you always want to do what’s best for your clients? What we do when we formed Thrive is we are independent. We are not beholden to one specific company. To go back to the people that we met from the workshop, they had six or seven annuities all with the same exact company. I asked, “Do you think that those were the only annuities available to the person that wrote them for the clients? Were there other ones out there that might have been better for the client?” We have the capability to do is search and we know which ones are best for them. It might not be the same for the wife. It might be different for the husband or whatever the case may be. That’s important because we are doing what’s right for them.
It helps the individual, it helps the couple, it helps the wife or the husband avoid some of the pitfalls.
Krause, it’s important too and it’s why we created Thrive is the importance of independence. As Karen talked about, how many six or seven different annuities with one company is that we find many people, advisors, even if they’re advisors or not, they work for a company that the only options they have are the one flavor of ice cream. They’re the vanilla factory. While we’re independent, we love being Baskin Robbins at the end of the day. When we see all those different flavors of ice cream, that’s why we pride ourselves on being independent.
It’s understanding who you’re dealing with as well, as Karen was going down there. Is this person independent I’m dealing with? Am I going to get that vanilla every time that I’m talking with, whether I’m dealing with MetLife, Prudential or Ameriprise? We almost see a statement. We know the annuities that are going to show up on the statement because they’re the vanilla factory. They only have one flavor of ice cream and it better be the one that fits. They don’t have any other options or it may be the one that pays them the most amount of money.
Karen, I did want to give you an opportunity to talk about personal references and the ability for personal endorsements from clients of Thrive because that’s important.
I want to also let you know that working with clients, they’ve become family. People that we meet at a workshop come into the office, they don’t know us and we don’t know them. In working in overtime, they have become more than clients. They’ve become family. I want to let the listeners out there know that it please, give us a call. It’s complimentary. We’re not going to make you do anything that you don’t want to do. We offer some great reports to review with you, the Social Security Maximization Report, we do a Tax Clarity report, which is Forward Tax Planning. We do Retirement Stress Analysis with a lot of people, a large population in retirement. What’s their question? “Do I have enough money? Is my money going to last me?”
We do something called Riskalyze. We take a look at your current investment situation and we give you basically a second opinion. Is it invested correctly? Is it where you want to be in the market? I encourage you, please come down to our workshop or give us a call. We’d love to meet with you. It’s complimentary. It’s an hour out of your life. We are local advisors. We’re based in Fort Washington and then we have what we call an office of convenience and extend for our people that like to live out in the country more. We would love to meet with you guys. Please give us a call.
Thanks for the clarity. It is like family at Thrive Financial Services. As we look out yonder, on the calendar it says Tax Day. Leading up to that are some nervous days, days where we scramble at home looking for information, trying to do to figure out, do we have everything that the accountant needs to cover our taxes? We haven’t even gotten to the topic of, what mistakes did we make? We don’t realize that until we got our taxes prepared.
You said that Krause, it’s tax time for people from the biggest nation and it’s always the last minute. Do you know what nation they’re from?
Procrastination. Everyone always wait until the last minute.
I never know the answer to your question. I’m glad you always get the answer.
We’ve been taking a bunch of $6,500 checks from individuals as we have tax time coming up here. We’ve got a couple days left to make those final contributions. We had a couple in. They weren’t going to make their contribution. They went back in and amended their tax return. They put another $1,800 in their pocket by simply making that tax refund. A lot of the topics that we talk about related to taxes are prevalent today because we have the tax time ending here. Krause, you refer to the rebranding of the show, The Retirement Roadmap Show. This is not called The Investment Roadmap Show. It’s what we pride ourselves in.
We want to talk about a little bit about a client that we met with this past week in terms of the importance. We talked about tax efficiency planning in retirement distribution. We had a client in who had $6 million. I don’t care whether you have $6 million, $4 million, $2 million, $1 million, this all applies what we’re getting ready to go through here. He had sat down with various advisors. What he had said is, and I hear the same story every time, “Do you have enough money? Give me your money. Let me manage your money.” It’s like, “There’s a little bit more to this.”
The story was a 61 and a 60-year-old individual which had a lot of money out there. They were spending a couple of dollars as well. It was giving them guidance on where to pull the money from on an annual basis. As David said, we can help people, especially up until they’re at the age of 70 and a half where the government’s controlling where they’re pulling the money from. We have flexibility, whether it’s pulling money from your IRA or whether it’s taking money from their long-term capital gains of what makes the most sense.For people who are getting closer and closer to retirement, market volatility is becoming a big issue. Click To Tweet
If we started the year from scratch or if I had no money that showed up on the tax return on a given calendar year, when we talk about long-term capital gains and when we talk about qualified dividends, if nothing else was on the tax return, our first $101,000 of long-term capital gains and qualified dividends, we’re paying zero taxes on. I’m here doing my working life. I’m making a lot of money. I’ve done well. My assets over the past decade have grown quite a bit. Maybe I have not realized a lot of these gains that I’ve had year over year. The conversation we had, there was a couple of hundred thousand dollars of capital gains that were out there. We said, “We have the opportunity that you have a clean slate. You’re retired, 61 and 60 years old. You’ve done a great job at building up that net worth.” We’re talking about, “How can we start distributing that money that you’re going to want to start to live on and enjoy that quality of life in the most tax-efficient manner?”
These were some of these conversations that he was not having previously. He saw the value in coming in to get that Retirement Roadmap Review. When we sat down, what we had shared with him was that during the first couple of years, we’re going to start to realize those long-term capital gains. It was going to take us approximately three years, the dividends that were coming in from the portfolio on top of allowing us to sell some of those stocks and mutual funds that was in that portfolio to realize those gains. Conventional wisdom tells us we’re going to pay 15% from a taxation standpoint when we go to sell those funds. The slate is clear, there’s no earned income on the tax return anymore.
It allows for us to be a little bit more flexible, in fact, a lot more flexible when it comes from where it makes sense for us to start pulling our money? Getting away from conventional wisdom, that’s the importance of coming in for that Retirement Roadmap Review, is to get clarity in figuring out all those different pieces. Whether you’d to come see us at some of the workshops, the two we have at the Horsham Library and the Wissahickon Library. You can call us and come in directly. You can bypass going to the workshop. We’re going to go right to it, roll the sleeves up and dig in to all those different pieces.
I almost feel that as an individual, it’s an absolute must. Every scenario is going to be different. Every scenario is going to uncover information that we as consumers, we’re not aware of.
Joe, the biggest mistake that consumers make is they’re taking blanket information and applying it to their personal situation most times. Give you a couple quick examples. CNN/MoneyMagazineOnline came out with a report talking about the 4% rule. It said, “The 4% rule was the worst thing that there ever was. It doesn’t work. It’s never worked.” On CNN/MoneyMagazine.com, they came out and said the 4% rule is the greatest thing that’s ever been. We’ve had people come into the office related to topics like Bret’s talking about. Bret uses the word conventional wisdom. It’s what’s out there. People apply it. The next thing you know, it wasn’t the most efficient. Sometimes it was negative for their scenario.
It’s important to come to people who understand how all the puzzle pieces fit together. It’s a cause and effect. You do something on this side. It’s going to affect the other side and see in space how they all work, understand the rules. It’s not just taxes, it’s Social Security. Karen and I had an appointment with a gentleman who’s getting ready to retire. He wanted to start taking Social Security at 62. He’s going to continue to work until at least 66. Some of the rules related to Social Security is if you’re continually working and you’re above a certain income, you’re going to get penalized on your Social Security benefit. He didn’t know that. It’s conventional wisdom. His buddy at work said, “I did it.” His buddy was in a completely different situation. It’s knowing the rules. The client that Bret’s talking about had some complexities he had heard consistently. I’ll talk about in my block a little bit more about the situation, but Bret can cover a little bit more of what we were talking about.
What was important given this particular situation and people when they hear the word dividends and capital gains, it’s understanding there’s a difference. When we say dividends, there are two types of dividends, ordinary dividends and qualified dividends. It’s like when you say the word mutual fund, what type of mutual fund is this? When you say the word annuity, what type of an annuity is it? When you say life insurance? We need to dig into the complexities, the details, and putting all the pieces together. This gentleman had almost 75% of his dividends were ordinary dividends. This is what’s a big deal, Krause. Remember when I said $101,000 tax-free? That was qualified dividends. Qualified dividends and long-term capital gains have that favorable tax ability where we can get up to 0% on that $101,000.
The fact that $32,000 of his dividends were ordinary dividends, they get taxed just like us working. We get a W-2 or a 1099. If we have money that’s in the bank, is that ordinary income? Is it generated from ordinary dividends? When we talk about qualified dividends, is that’s where we get that favorable tax ability. It’s always important and that’s part of what we do through that Retirement Roadmap Review. We dig into the actual investments. We’re looking for things that’s qualified dividends, not ordinary dividends. That’s the importance from a taxation standpoint of how much we can. All of a sudden it will cut back how much we can take from our long-term capital gains. We talk about short-term capital gains. Those exist too. They’re taxed like ordinary income.
We’re going to pay at the normal tax rates that we have out there. In talking about distribution strategies, that’s part of the Retirement Roadmap Review. It’s figuring out where we can pull the money from in the most tax-efficient manner. What we found with this couple is that after those first couple of years that we are going to realize those long-term capital gains is that we’re going to start to pull off approximately about $40,000 a year. We could pull off our first $25,000 a year from their 401(k)s and IRAs and pay zero in taxes.
We’re going to start taking off about $40,000 a year. They’re going to pay about $1,500 in taxes, which is okay. They put their money away and never pay taxes on it. We’re going to pull out almost $40,000 and only pay about $1,500 in taxes. What that’s doing is it’s lowering the required minimum distribution when we hit the age of 70 and a half. Everyone’s situation is different. We’re talking about some particular situations. That’s part of the Retirement Roadmap Review.
If you were slightly confused or you didn’t have a grasp while Bret was talking and referencing that example like I was, don’t be afraid to call, 1 (800) 516-5861. I am proud to say that Thrive Financial Services is all about advocating for you. It’s all about providing education for the big audience. David, set the table for your block.
The fact that Bret shared what he shared should make people want to come in. You could see the complexities that people deal with. You get a great understanding. Bret knows what he’s talking about. You should definitely come in and see us.
A good, solid information from Bret Elam. A quick reminder on the two workshops in Horsham and Blue Bell at the Wissahickon Valley Library.
Joe, I want to talk a little bit about what Karen shared and talk a little bit about what Bret shared. One of the things we’re also getting from people calling into the office, they’ve read the blog and they come to the workshop. They love the content. They liked the information, but they’re also asking us to go a little deeper. They want to start hearing about specifics. They want to start hearing about strategies and their investments. Are mutual funds better than ETFs or vice versa? If I’m going to go with ETF because they’re lower expense charges, which ones do I go to?
We get a lot of questions related to annuities. For pre-retirees and retirees, annuities are such a confusing topic out there. We’ll dedicate some time to insert some conversations related to annuities and other non-correlated assets to the market. The reason I bring that up is some of the big questions we’re getting is 2018 isn’t shaping up exactly the way that 2017 finished. Volatility has returned to the market. I’ve been doing this for 30 years. For me, it’s old hat. You see the cycles, you get used to them, and you know how to deal with them. For people who are getting closer and closer to retirement, it’s becoming a big issue. They’re getting nervous.
It’s interesting when you talk to people about how much bragging they did and now that the volatility has returned, it’s been a slap in the face. People are now, “What do I do?” We’ll devote some time to that. When we have situations like this, the bulls come out and say, “We’re going much higher.” You get the bears who come out and say, “The next big crash is about to happen.” Rather than making those decisions emotionally, the idea is to put a plan in place. That plan, Joe, is not just your investment portfolio strategy. It’s all-encompassing. That is why it is important to get this Retirement Roadmap Review done because it will take a look at the total picture.
We will look at Social Security if it’s applicable for you. There are some studies out there, Joe, that a traditional savings between making the right election choices versus the wrong election choices and how it relates to your overall success in retirement. If you don’t make the right choices, it could cost you about $350,000 of your retirement nest egg by not optimizing a Social Security election choice. How do you optimize it? You got to do the math. We happen to have a software package that allows us to create that. We go through the math, but we don’t just apply what the report says. This type of a report can live in a vacuum. We have to look at how it relates to all other aspects of their finances, part of the review.
We look at Social Security and then we look at taxes. We look at what Karen talked about, the overall stress. We get two big questions. Do I have enough to retire the way I want to retire? Will that retirement last? That depends on what you do. The client that Bret was talking about that we worked with, he had seen numerous advisors and from all the big names. The Merrill Lynchs of the world, the Wells Fargos of the world, the Morgan Stanleys. He said every time he walked in, two things happen. Number one, he had $6 million and he wanted to spend a couple hundred thousand bucks a year and a lifestyle. Everybody said, “Everything’s going to be perfect. You don’t even have to worry about it. We’d like to invest the money for you and it’s all or none.”
When he sat down with us, he said it was incredibly refreshing because of two things. Number one, we took an educational approach. Number two, he said we were the first firm to come back and told them that there was a bump in that road. That if he did things the way that he thought he wanted to do them, he had a potential that he would exhaust his money over his lifetime. They were a young couple. They were in their early 60s. Retirement could last them 30 years. We uncovered and he thought, “That’s what I needed to know.” He’ll be able to make some adjustments to his life plan, that he’ll be able to navigate it successfully.
That is real story, real time, real life. That’s what you get. That’s great stuff.You got to do the math and how it relates to all other aspects of their finances. Click To Tweet
The thing about it is that couple gets the same exact treatment as a person that we sat down with that had $40,000 to invest. They get the same time, they get the same energy and they get the same education and depending on how it applies, we’ll give them guidance for that. We got a couple of things. We’ve got our workshops. These are focused on taxes in retirement. We’ve got one at the Horsham Library in Horsham Township. We’re also at the Wissahickon Library which is in Blue Bell. If people go to our website, ThriveFinancialServices.com or they’ll give us a call at (800) 516-5861, they can schedule a Roadmap to Retirement Review. It’s that consultation, first appointment. It’s completely complimentary. It takes about an hour. We go through things. People walk out empowered. I encourage our audience to take us up on that.
The examples that were used provide a lot of clarity for the audience. Whether you have $6.1 million or $140,000, you are going to uncover what the potential pitfalls are as you plan and you prepare for retirement. Special thanks to Bret, Karen and David for kicking off. On behalf of David Bezar, Karen Bezar and Bret Elam, and a special thanks to our entire audience, I’m Joe Krause. We’ll see you next time.