Author: Chris Blackmon, CFP®, CPA

2020 Tax Code Changes: What You Need to Know

Most of us have either filed or are wrapping up our 2019 tax filing by this point.  A common question we receive is what will happen to taxes after the election?  Government spending has increased (especially in response to COVID-19 packages) and an increase in revenues will be needed.  Of course, finding consensus on where to increase taxes will not be likely.  At Atlanta Financial Associates, we pay much attention to proposed changes and right now that is all they are, possibilities.  Often, leaders float ideas to see what gains traction.  A couple of the proposals being ‘floated’ right now include…

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IRS Releases 2020 “Dirty Dozen” Tax Scams

Each year the IRS releases a Top 12 or “Dirty Dozen” tax frauds and scams they are seeing in an effort to warn taxpayers of things to be on the lookout for.  I read this each year and the list includes several of the usual suspects but also has some new additions.  You can read the entire IRS list here (IRS Dirty Dozen 2020), but I wanted to highlight a couple of items that I believe are most relevant to our readers…

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4 Things That Will Be More or Less Expensive After Coronavirus

COVID-19 has impacted nearly every aspect of the economy. When President Donald Trump declared the virus a national emergency at the beginning of March, standards of living rapidly shifted: governors enacted stay-at-home orders, learning institutions closed and consumers suddenly faced unprecedented challenges.1 While the travel and tourism industry is seeing record lows, demand for staple foods and hygiene products has surged.

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Help Available to Business Owners

Help for small businesses continues to be a hot topic after the massive stimulus bill passed Friday, March 27th.  Details of the available programs continue to be clarified but one of the programs for which we have fielded the most questions is the Payroll Protection Program. The Small Business Administration (SBA) has released the official application and will begin to process applications on Friday, April 3rd. These loans will typically be processed through an SBA approved bank (our experience has been that almost all banks of reasonable size are enrolled and will be processing these loans and applications).

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Did Anything Perform Well Last Week?

Why do I have bonds in my portfolio in this low rate environment?  This is a reasonable question given the strong performance of the equity market in recent history.  Last week major equity indexes have gone into “correction” (defined as a drop of 10% or more from the index high.)  These sudden declines are the reason we have fixed income in most portfolios.  Bonds do not typically provide the same long-term returns as equities, but they also protect our portfolio by limiting volatility and providing a ballast in our portfolio.  Since the global financial crisis, we have had historically low interest rates and bond returns have not been what investors historically experienced.  This has left investors looking for higher returns with two choices, buy more equities or invest in lower credit-quality bonds which typically pay higher interest rates.  We have always…

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What is the SECURE Act and does it matter to me?

The Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (“SECURE”) Act was signed into law on December 20, 2019.  With all of the discussion in the news around the political uncertainty, impeachment, and the looming trade war, one of the largest changes to retirement savings laws in recent years was passed with very little fanfare.  However, some of the changes will be significant.  I have tried to highlight what may impact the majority of our clients and readers.

The Act has a lot of positives such as simplifying rules and making 401k plans potentially available to more workers, pushing back the RMD age, and allowing contributions to IRAs past age 70.  The negative impact I see is the elimination of the stretch IRA which is a clear move by the government to raise tax revenues by forcing money out of inherited IRAs sooner.  I will discuss in more detail below, but this should be a time to review beneficiaries and discuss whether any change in your legacy planning should be made in response to the new laws. What do you need to pay attention to?

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