Who Pays in the Tariff Wars?

 

May 14, 2019

 

Global stock markets have been spooked by the escalating trade disputes between the world’s two largest economies: China and the United States.  And there is no evidence that the dispute is about to be resolved.  On Friday, U.S. President Donald Trump raised tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods, and began taking steps to tax nearly all of China’s imports.  The new tariff levels are an unprecedented 25% of the value of the Chinese goods coming into the U.S., raising the costs of seafood, luggage and electronics.  China, meanwhile, has placed tariffs on nearly all of America’s exports into the Middle Kingdom, including agricultural products.

 

This is not the first trade dispute the U.S. has engaged in since the Trump Presidency; steel and aluminum products coming from abroad were hit with tariffs and import duties early in the presidency, followed by various other measures.  The stated idea was to reduce the U.S.’s trade deficit with the rest of the world; however, the overall United States trade deficit with the world increased 1.5% in March to $50 billion.

 

But many taxpayers seem to be confused about how tariffs work.  The President has said that American tariffs on Chinese products are bringing in unspecified “billions” to the U.S. government.  That may be true, but the source of those “billions” is not China or Chinese companies.  Importers pay the import taxes when the items they’ve purchased overseas cross the U.S. border.  With import taxes as high as 25%, it is all-but-guaranteed that the price of these items will be higher when sold to American consumers. 

 

If the importer—which might be a manufacturer who has components manufactured abroad or a retail company like Wal Mart—decides to absorb some of the tariff cost, then that shows up in lower profits for the American company.  So when an American consumer buys an iPhone, the cost might go up $160—which is the additional amount that would be paid to the U.S. government.  Or Apple Computer could eat the cost and reduce its overall earnings by 24%.  The same is true with goods like vacuum cleaners, electronics, computer monitors and power adapters.

 

There are arrangements where the importer and exporter negotiate for the exporter to pay the tariff—the term for such an agreement is DDP, or “Delivery Duty Paid.”  But once again, the tariff raises the cost of the item, and the ultimate bill comes due to the consumer who buys the product. 

 

So ultimately, U.S. tariffs on imported items, shipped from China or any other country, represent an additional tax directly on the wallets and purses of American consumers—or on the earnings of American companies that decide to absorb some of these costs. 

 

There may be additional economic impacts, such as what American farmers—particularly those who grow soybeans—are now experiencing.  When the cost of American products go up due to retaliatory tariffs imposed by China, Chinese consumers and importers can go to different markets, where they can buy items that are not burdened by the costs of import duties.  Chinese importers have shifted their purchases of American crops to South America, which has long sought a foothold in the world’s largest consumer market.

 

Wouldn’t that work the other way around?  One issue is that many Chinese companies are government-owned or government-supported, so during an escalation of trade war conflict, the government of the most populous nation on earth will do what the American government will not: stabilize sales by subsidizing prices or making up for losses while the negotiations continue.

 

Most economists believe that tariffs impede global trade and the health of the global economy.  And tariffs create uncertainty about whether companies can rely on existing supply chains or sources of manufactured items that go into their final products, like mobile phone devices and automobiles.  This is why the imposition of additional tariffs, and the threat that they will continue into the future, is spooking the investment markets.  The U.S. Treasury is definitely getting fatter as a result of American tariffs on Chinese goods.  The question that stock market analysts and traders are asking is whether this is good for the American consumer and the U.S. economy as a whole.

 

Sincerely,

 

Edward J. Kohlhepp, Jr., CFP®, MBA
President 

 

Edward J. Kohlhepp, CFP®, ChFC, CLU, CPC, MSPA

Founder & CEO

 

Sources:

 

https://www.msn.com/en-in/money/news/trump-increases-china-tariffs-as-trade-deal-hangs-in-the-balance/ar-AABaJJF

 

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2019/05/09/donald-trump-white-house-continues-trade-talks-china-past-deadline/1150788001/

 

https://uktradeforum.net/2017/09/28/who-pays-tariffs-anyway/

 

https://www.yahoo.com/finance/news/3-reasons-why-china-apos-111113176.html

 

This material was prepared by BobVeres.com., 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.

 

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Is a New Social Security Fix at Hand?

Is a New Social Security Fix at Hand?

 

March 21, 2019

 

We’ve been hearing for years that the Social Security trust fund will run out of money in 2034, and a close reading of the Social Security Administration’s Trustee Report projections (https://www.ssa.gov/oact/TRSUM/) show what this would mean.  By that time, based on estimates of the number of people earning an income in the workforce, the numbers of Social Security benefits recipients still alive, and the amount of income, overall, that the workers will be earning, payroll taxes will account for about 77% of the existing benefits—indexed for projected inflation.  In other words, if we don’t fix the system between now and then, by 2034 the government will be taking payroll taxes and turning around and paying this money back to the Social Security beneficiaries, and that money is projected to equal about 77% of today’s benefits.  As more people retire and live longer, the ratio of workers to beneficiaries is expected to gradually decrease, meaning that 77% will become 76%, then 75% and gradually shift downward barring an influx of new workers or unexpected mortality among the elderly.

 

Chances are, there will be a fix of some sort between now and 2034.  But what will it look like?  200 Democratic co-sponsors in the U.S. House of Representatives have recently signed on to an expansion of Social Security that would keep the trust fund solvent—and the payments coming—for at least the next 75 years.  

 

What are they proposing?  The new bill, which is unlikely to pass Congress until/unless the Democrats take control of the Senate, would address one of the anomalies of the payroll tax, that it stops at $132,900 of annual income (currently).  That means a person earning $132,900 pays 6.2% of her income, while a person earning $266,000 pays 3.1%, and a person earning over $1 million pays just .77% of total income in payroll taxes.  The legislation would, just like today, stop collecting payroll taxes temporarily at $132,900 (adjusted each year for inflation), but resume those taxes on all income over $400,000.  It would also gradually raise the 6.2% tax rate to 7.4% by 2042.

 

In return, all Social Security beneficiaries would receive a 2% increase in benefits, and the benefits would go up a bit faster each year, using the CPI-E index for inflation, rather than chained CPI.  (Much of the difference is that the CPI-E calculation is more sensitive to medical inflation and other costs that disproportionately affect seniors.)  Higher-income seniors would also get a bit of a tax cut; that is, less of their Social Security benefits would be taxed, using a complex change in an already-complex formula.

 

Not in this proposal, but worth considering, is allowing the Social Security trust fund to invest at least some of its assets in equities, which normally appreciate much faster in value than the current “assets:” promissory notes backed by Treasury bills.  Look for a healthy debate on the solvency of Social Security in the next election cycle.

 

Sincerely,

Edward J. Kohlhepp, Jr., CFP®, MBA
President 

Edward J. Kohlhepp, CFP®, ChFC, CLU, CPC, MSPA

Founder & CEO

 

Source:

https://www.morningstar.com/articles/918591/will-the-big-social-security-fix-include-expansion.html

This material was prepared by BobVeres.com., 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.

 

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Shutdown Economics

January 24, 2019

 

A full month into a historic government shutdown, after 800,000 government workers have missed their second paycheck, two things are clear: 1) Economists and political pundits had no expectation that the impasse would past this long; and 2) the impact on the U.S. economy cannot be calculated with precision.

 

Many of the reports you may have read probably failed to note that the shutdown only impacts 7 out of 12 yearly appropriations.  Still receiving funding, under an earlier resolution, are Energy & Water, the Legislative Branch, Military Construction and VA, the Department of Defense, and Labor, Health & Human Services.  Together, they represent 75% of discretionary government spending, and are fully funded through September 30, 2019.

 

That famously leaves 800,000 federal workers on furlough, although roughly half of them are still at work because they were deemed to be “essential.”  Ironically, the budget impasse instantly terminated a pay freeze for certain government workers, so, for example, Vice President Pence has received a $10,000 annual pay increase, as did a number of the Trump Administration’s political appointees.  The cost of the raises is estimated to be more than $300 million over ten years.

 

At the other end of the spectrum, workers with the Transportation Security Administration are still on post at airports, as are air traffic controllers—working without pay.  But others were deemed inessential.  Many food inspections performed by the Food and Drug Administration have ceased, and the SNAP program—aka food stamps—is about to expire because February’s benefits have not been funded and 2,500 retailers cannot renew their EBT debit card licenses.  School lunch and breakfast programs will stop operating in February as well.

 

Zillow, the real estate database firm, has estimated that federal workers not receiving paychecks owe $249 million in mortgage payments and $189 million in rent payments—all due this month.  But even people who are simply trying to buy a home are shut out because new applicants for FHA loans are not able to communicate with the agency.  In addition, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which provides loans for people buying homes in rural areas, is not processing those requests that land on unoccupied desks. 

 

Some 1,150 landlords who provide subsidized (affordable) housing for low-income Americans are not receiving their subsidy payments, and another 500 contracts will expire at the end of January.  As a result, as many as 100,000 low-income tenants could face eviction.

 

Economists have been trying to model the impact of so many workers not spending money as they normally would, plus a shutdown-caused slowdown in the housing market, and an interruption in the flow of actual government statistics due to furloughed economists.  Most Wall Street analysts initially thought that 0.05 percentage points would be shaved off the American Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for every week the shutdown goes on.  But by adding in the loss of revenue to federal contractors and third party companies that are paid by one of the shut-down agencies, government economists now believe the GDP reduction is closer to 0.13 percentage points every week.  That means the 30-day (and counting) shutdown has already knocked 0.25 points from first quarter GDP, with no clear end in sight.

 

If you can ignore the human costs of not receiving a paycheck, not receiving food stamp assistance, a subsidized school lunch or not being able to get a home loan, then this is not a great catastrophe for the U.S. economy.  But there is a nontrivial chance that economic growth will turn out to be negative in the first quarter, in small part due to the shutdown, and that could spook the markets into believing that the economy is heading into recession. 

 

 

Sources:

http://fortune.com/2019/01/03/the-government-shutdown-us-gdp/

https://www.businessinsider.com/government-shutdown-senior-trump-administration-officials-get-raises-2019-1

https://www.businessinsider.com/government-shutdown-how-the-partial-closure-affects-average-americans-2019-1#the-approximately-40-million-people-who-receive-snap-benefits-also-known-as-food-stamps-will-only-be-able-to-get-the-benefit-through-february-if-the-shutdown-continues-7

https://www.businessinsider.com/government-shutdown-2018-social-security-checks-still-paid-2018-1

https://www.businessinsider.com/government-shutdown-federal-workers-mortgage-rent-payments-housing-2019-1

This material was prepared by BobVeres.com., 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.

 

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Shutdown Metrics

December, 2018

 

We are told that one reason stocks have been going down lately is the threat of a government shutdown, which seems almost probable if the President’s recent statements are to be taken at face value.  The U.S. President is on record as embracing a government shutdown on Friday, December 21 unless he receives full funding for his border wall with Mexico.  This seems unlikely, so it might be time to ask: If the government shuts down, what is actually likely to happen?

 

An article on the ZeroHedge website offers some news that might surprise most of us.  First: government shutdowns have been more common than we might realize.  In all, there have been 20 government shutdowns since October 1, 1976:

 

October 1-10, 1976

October 1-12, 1977

November 1-8, 1977

December 1-8, 1977

October 1-17, 1978

October 1-11, 1979

November 21-22, 1981

October 1, 1982

December 18-20, 1982

November 11-13, 1983

October 1-2, 1984

October 4, 1984

October 17, 1986

December 19, 1987

October 6-8, 1990

November 14-18, 1995

December 6, 1995 - January 5, 1996

October 1-16, 2013

January 20-22, 2018

February 9, 2018

 

The article notes a few things to remember.  First, Congress can avoid a partial shutdown by passing another continuing resolution—following the continuing resolution in September that temporarily funded 7 out of 12 total appropriations into December.  If the President were to veto that resolution, then a two-thirds majority in both the House and Senate could override the veto.

 

What about the other 5 of the 12 appropriations?  Those—Energy & Water; the Legislative Branch; Military Construction and VA; the Department of Defense; and Labor, Health & Human Services—represent 75% of discretionary government spending—basically 75% of the money spent that is not related to Social Security, Medicare or other entitlement programs.  Those programs are fully funded through September 30, 2019. 

 

So what appropriations would the shutdown actually impact?  The seven that still have to be authorized are Agriculture; Commerce, Justice and Science; Financial Services and General Government; Homeland Security; Interior and Environment; State and Foreign Operations; and Transportation and HUD. 

 

What would be the economic impact of this potential partial shutdown?  The report estimates that for every day of a full shutdown, American GDP is reduced by 2.4 basis points, or 0.024%.  But since only 25% of the government would be inoperable, the impact in this case would be about 0.008% per day. 

 

Put another way, each month would reduce American economic growth by about half a percent.  That, of course, is unlikely to happen.

 

What have the markets done during past government shutdowns?  The data show that the average market move for the S&P 500 index, in the week of a government shutdown, is down 0.06%—which I think most of us would regard as virtually unchanged.  The two weeks during and after a shutdown, the markets averaged down 0.13%.  More interesting is the fact that the one-week data shows that only 47% of the time did the market go down.  More interesting still, in the month after the shutdown, the average price move was UP 0.25%.

 

Nobody is saying that a government shutdown is good for stocks, or that shutting the government down is a great way to shake the market out of its current tailspin.  But it probably isn’t a good idea to panic about the market impact of a shutdown either.

Sincerely,

Edward J. Kohlhepp, Jr., CFP®, MBA
President 

Edward J. Kohlhepp, CFP®, ChFC, CLU, CPC, MSPA

Founder & CEO

 

Source:

 

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/19%20govt%20shutdowns.png?itok=UIGSm3fB

This material was prepared by BobVeres.com., 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.

 

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Another Tariff, Another Downturn

 

March 28, 2018

 

Last weeks, stocks went on sale again, but there didn’t seem to be a lot of bargain hunters stepping in to take advantage.  The S&P 500 dropped 5.9% over five days, its worst week since January 2016.

 

This follows a by-now-familiar pattern: the Trump Administration announces tariffs—this time on Chinese imports with an estimated value of $60 billion a year—but is not specific on the details.  Traders fear that there will be retaliation against American products sold abroad, and put a lower value on the large multinational companies that account for most exports and make up most of the major indexes.

 

The last time this happened, the tariffs involved steel and aluminum, and the panicked sellers  later discovered that the impact on global trade was actually quite small, due to negotiated exemptions for major steel producing nations like Canada and South Korea—plus the Eurozone and Mexico.  This time around, the U.S. trade representative has 15 days to develop a list of specific Chinese products to slap the additional taxes onto, and there will be a public comment period before the threatened tariffs go into effect.  China has announced that it is developing its own list, and as companies (and farmers) become aware of what is included in its reported $3 billion tariff package, they will lobby for exemptions which may turn this announcement into another tempest in a teapot.

 

Meanwhile, in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica (no relation to Cambridge Investment Research) scandal, admissions that private information on 50 million people had been pilfered, and up to 126 million Americans had seen posts by a Russian troll farm on its site, Facebook shares fell almost 10%, from 176.83 down to 159.39.  This took the social media giant down from the 5th largest-capitalization company in the S&P 500 index to the 6th (behind Berkshire Hathaway)—dragging the index down even further.

 

What’s remarkable about the selloff over things that might or might not happen is that it came amid some very good news about the U.S. economy.  Durable-goods orders jumped 3.1% in February, sales of newly-constructed homes were solid, and Atlanta Fed president Raphael Bostic announced that there were “upside risks” in GDP and employment.  Translated, that means that the economy is looking too good to keep interest rates as low as they have been, which means this is a curious time to be selling out and heading for the investment sidelines.

 

Sincerely,

 

Edward J. Kohlhepp, Jr., CFP®, MBA
President 

 

Edward J. Kohlhepp, CFP®, ChFC, CLU, CPC, MSPA

Founder & CEO

 

 

This material was prepared by BobVeres.com., 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.

 

 

 

Sources:

http://theirrelevantinvestor.com/2018/03/23/8750/

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/heres-why-the-stock-market-took-the-china-tariffs-so-hard-2018-03-22

https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2018/03/22/stock-market-falls/448665002/

http://www.symbolsurfing.com/largest-companies-by-market-capitalization


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Much Ado About.....

 

 

March 13, 2018

 

You may have heard about the “Trump Tariffs;” that is, the proposed 25% surtax on all steel imports coming into the U.S. from foreign manufacturers, and a similar 10% surtax on aluminum.  The markets certainly noticed; they fell dramatically after the announcement, as investors feared that the move would spark a global trade war.

 

The proposed tariffs would be enacted under a loophole in the World Trade Organization rules, which generally prohibit countries from straying from their agreed-upon trade arrangements, but permit “safeguard” responses to a sudden, unforeseen and damaging import surge that could seriously damage a particular industry.  Internally, the Trump Administration plans to circumvent Congress by imposing the tariffs under Section 232 of a 1962 U.S. law that allows the President to take unilateral action based on national security concerns.  The last time Section 232 was invoked was back in 1975, when President Ford imposed taxes on foreign oil.

 

The initial panicked market reaction cooled after it became clear that the tariffs may actually never be imposed—for several reasons.  One is that there has actually been no unforeseen or damaging import surge in aluminum or steel, or really any surge at all.  The U.S. already imposes 169 trade taxes on various types imported steel, including 29 on Chinese products that were imposed during the Obama Administration.

 

Another is that the national security concern is not easy to justify, particularly after the President signaled that he would remove these tariff measures on Mexico and Canada—two of the largest exporters of steel to the U.S.—if those countries come back to the table to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement.  Wouldn’t that put the country back at risk all over again?

 

A third is that the tariff is a bit like shooting at the enemy and hitting one of your fellow hunters instead.  President Trump specifically called out China for destroying the U.S. steel industry and dumping artificially-priced steel on U.S. markets.  But China is only the 11th largest source country to the U.S., accounting for just two percent of total U.S. steel imports last year.  The Chinese steel industry doesn’t depend on the U.S. market; America is China’s 26th biggest import customer, well behind South Korea, Vietnam, the Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia. 

 

Who would be hurt most by the tariff?  Canada is by far the biggest source of manufactured steel, accounting for 17% of U.S. imports.  Other U.S. allies like South Korea, Mexico and Brazil are all significant sources for U.S. manufacturers.

 

Finally, if the effort is to boost the number of manufacturing jobs in the U.S., the proposal looks like it could seriously backfire.  There are approximately 170,000 steel- and aluminum-related jobs in the U.S. currently.  But if the measure makes steel and aluminum more costly, it would lower profits for companies that employ more than 6.5 million workers—who are paid to make everything from pickup trucks to canned soup.  Worse, the measure opens the doors for the European Union and China to create targeted retaliatory measures like slapping significant tariffs on Harley Davidson motorcycles, bourbon and a variety of agricultural products that depend on exports—further endangering American jobs.

 

So while the sweeping tariff proposals make headlines, the reality is likely to be a quiet walking back from the proposal altogether or, to save face, a tariff that makes a lot of exceptions and grandfathers existing long-term contracts.

 

 

 

 

This material was prepared by BobVeres.com., 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.

 

Sources:

 

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trade-explainer/trumps-extraordinary-tariffs-idUSKBN1GH2IR

https://www.dallasnews.com/news/donald-trump-1/2018/03/01/trump-says-will-steel-aluminum-tariffs-despite-objections-industry-congressional-leaders

http://money.cnn.com/2018/03/02/news/economy/steel-industry-statistics-us-china-canada/index.html

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/03/02/if-trump-thinks-hes-taking-steel-tariff-war-to-china-hes-wrong.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/05/opinion/trump-tariff-americans-jobs.html

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What the Tax Bill Means to You

 

December 18, 2017

 

The new tax law hasn’t been formally ratified by the U.S. House and Senate, but all indications are that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 will be sent to the President’s desk in the next few days.  As you probably know, the House and Senate versions were somewhat different.  What does the new bill look like? 

Despite the promise of tax “reform” or “simplification,” the bill actually adds hundreds of pages to our tax laws.  And the initial idea of reducing the number of tax brackets was apparently tossed aside in the final version; the new bill maintains seven different tax rates: 10%, 12%, 22%, 24%, 32%, 35% and 37%.  Most people will see their bracket go down by one to four percentage points, with the higher reductions going to people with higher income.  And the tax brackets, going forward, will be indexed to inflation, meaning that the “real” income brackets will remain approximately the same from year to year. 

The new brackets break down like this: 

Individual Taxpayers 

Income $0-$9,525 - 10% of taxable income

$9,526-$38,700 - $952.50 + 12% of the amount over $9,526

$38,701-$82,500 - $4,453 + 22% of the amount over $38,700

$82,501-$157,500 - $14,089.50 + 24% of the amount over $82,500

$157, 501-$200,000 - $32,089.50 + 32% of the amount over $157,500

$200,001-$500,000 - 45,689.50 + 35% of the amount over $200,000

$500,001+ - $150,689.50 + 37% of the amount over $500,000

 

Joint Return Taxpayers 

Income $0-$19,050 - 10% of taxable income

$19,051-$77,400 - $1,905 + 12% of the amount over $19,050

$77,401-$165,000 - $8,907 + 22% of the amount over $77,400

$165,001-$315,000 - $28,179 + 24% of the amount over $165,000

$315,001-$400,000 - $64,179 + 32% of the amount over $315,000

$400,001-$600,000 - $91,379 + 35% of the amount over $400,000

$600,000+ - $161,379 + 37% of the amount over $600,000

 

Taxes for trusts and estates were also changed to: 

$0-$2,550 - 10% of taxable income

$2,551-$9,150 - $255 + 24% of the amount over $2,550

$9,151-$12,500 - $1,839 + 35% of the amount over $9,150

$12,501+ - $3,011.50 + 37% of the amount over $12,500

 

Notice that in the lower brackets, the joint return (mostly for married couples) were double the individual bracket thresholds, eliminating the so-called “marriage penalty.”  However in the higher brackets, the 35% rate extends to individuals up to $500,000, but married couples with $600,000 in income fall into that bracket.  In the top bracket, the marriage penalty is more significant; individuals fall into it at $500,000, while couples are paying at a 37% rate at $600,000 of adjusted gross income. 

Other provisions: the standard deduction is basically doubled, to $12,000 (single) or $24,000 (joint), $18,000 (head of household), and in an interesting provision, persons who are over 65, blind or disabled can add $1,300 to their standard deduction. 

The bill calls for no personal exemptions for 2018.  And the Pease limitation, a gradual phaseout of itemized deductions as taxpayers reached higher income brackets, has been eliminated. 

Despite the hopes of many taxpayers, the dreaded alternative minimum tax (AMT), remains in the bill.  The individual exemption amount is $70,300; for joint filers it’s $109,400.  But for the first time, the AMT exemption amounts will be indexed to inflation. 

Interestingly, the new tax bill retains the old capital gains tax brackets—based on the prior brackets.  The 0% capital gains rate will be in place for individuals with $38,600 or less in income ($77,200 for joint filers), and the 15% rate will apply to individuals earning between $38,600 and $452,400 (between $77,400 and $479,000 for joint filers).  Above those amounts, capital gains and qualified dividends will be taxed at a 20% rate. 

In addition, the rules governing Roth conversion recharacterizations will be repealed.  Under the old law, if a person converted from a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA, and the account lost value over the next year and a half, they could simply undo (recharacterize) the transaction, no harm no foul.  Under the new rules, recharacterization would no longer be allowed. 

For many taxpayers who itemize deductions, the adjusted gross income number will be higher under the new tax plan, because many itemized deductions have been reduced or eliminated.  Among them: there will be a $10,000 limit on how much any individual can deduct for state and local income tax and property tax payments.  Before you rush to write a check to the state or your local government, know that a provision in the bill states that any 2018 state income taxes paid by the end of 2017 are not deductible in 2017, and instead will be treated as having been paid at the end of calendar year 2018. 

The mortgage deduction will be limited to $750,000 of principal (down from a current $1 million limit); any mortgage payments on amounts above that limit will not be deductible.  However, the charitable contribution deduction limit will rise from 50% of a person’s adjusted gross income to 60% under the new bill. 

What about estate taxes?  The bill doubles the estate tax exemption from, currently, $5.6 million (projected 2018) to $11.2 million; $22.4 million for couples.  Meanwhile, Congress maintained the step-up in basis, which means that people who inherit low-basis stock will see the embedded capital gains go away upon receipt. 

Public “C” Corporations saw their highest marginal tax rate drop from 35% to 21%, the largest one-time rate cut in U.S. history for the nation’s largest companies. 

And pass-through entities like partnerships, S corporations, limited liability companies and sole proprietorships will receive a 20% deduction on taxes for “qualified business income,” which explicitly does NOT include wages or investment income. 

As things stand today, all of these provisions are due to “sunset” after the year 2025, at which point the entire tax regime will revert to what we have now. 

 

 

Sources: 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/12/15/the-final-gop-tax-bill-is-complete-heres-what-is-in-it/?utm_term=.4b0efca718e8 

https://www.forbes.com/sites/kellyphillipserb/2017/12/17/what-the-2018-tax-brackets-standard-deduction-amounts-and-more-look-like-under-tax-reform/#42b575bf1401 

https://www.kitces.com/blog/final-gop-tax-plan-summary-tcja-2017-individual-tax-brackets-pass-through-strategies/

https://www.bna.com/2017-Individual-Tax/

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/12/15/us/politics/final-republican-tax-bill-cuts.html

This material was prepared by BobVeres.com., 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.

 


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Senate Tax Bill

Senate Tax Bill

 

December 5, 2017

 

The U.S. House of Representatives passed its proposed tax “reform” bill last month, and now the Senate has followed suit.  Interestingly, the two bills are different enough that the two sides are going to have to meet and hammer out a compromise.

Here’s a quick glance at the provisions in the Senate bill and some of the differences.

First, the Congressional Budget Office created a quick report that assesses a variety of income levels, and whether they’ll come out ahead, tax-wise (blue and white cells) or will lose ground financially (pink cells) under the proposed bill.  (See graphic). 

 

Under the Senate bill, there would be seven tax brackets (compared with four in the House version): 10%, 12%, 22%, 24%, 32%, 35% and 38.5%.  The threshold to reach the top rate would be raised from $418,000 (single) or $480,000 (joint) to $500,000/$1 million.

The Senate bill raises the standard deduction to $12,000 for singles and $24,000 for joint filers, compared with $12,200 and $24,400 in the House version.  The Senators decided to keep the mortgage interest deduction as it is today, rather than (House version) limit the amount of mortgage debt upon which interest can be deducted to $500,000.

Meanwhile, the House repealed the alternative minimum tax, but the Senate decided to keep it, although it did propose to raise the income exemption levels from $50,600 (single) or $78,750 (joint) to $70,600 and $109,400 respectively.  Both versions would raise the estate tax exemption to $11 million for individuals and $22 million for joint filers, but the House version would repeal the estate tax altogether in 2024, while the Senate version would not.

Like the House, the Senate bill would eliminate many popular deductions, including state and local income taxes, casualty losses and unreimbursed employee expenses. 

It is possible that the final version will greatly reward taxpayers who own and receive income through so-called “pass-through entities;” that is, corporate arrangements where the taxes are calculated and paid by the owners rather than at the corporate level.  This includes partnerships, Subchapter S corporations and limited liability companies, which would, under the Senate bill, be taxed at a rate of about 29.6% rather than the top rate, whatever that turns out to be.

Interestingly, this lower rate is also extended to publicly-traded pass-through vehicles—which suggests that you might see a lot of new tax-advantaged investment products come on the market if the bill is passed.

Speaking of publicly-traded entities, companies with significant earnings outside the U.S. will also receive a generous tax break; they would, under the Senate bill, be able to bring their earnings home at tax rates ranging from 7.5% to 14.5%—lower than the proposed new 20% corporate tax rate. 

The consolidated bill is expected to be signed before the end of the year—and of course the professional community is watching closely to calculate the impact on all of us.

Sincerely,

Edward J. Kohlhepp, Jr., CFP®, MBA
President 

Edward J. Kohlhepp, CFP®, ChFC, CLU, CPC, MSPA

Founder & CEO

 

 

This material was prepared by BobVeres.com., 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.

 

 

Sources:

 

http://money.cnn.com/2017/12/03/pf/taxes/senate-house-tax-bills-individuals/index.html

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/02/business/tax-bill-offers-last-minute-breaks-for-developers-banks-and-oil-industry.html

https://www.forbes.com/sites/anthonynitti/2017/12/02/winners-and-losers-of-the-senate-tax-bill/#79382054254d

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The Republican Tax Reform Plan

 

November 10, 2017

 

 

Major changes may be ahead for federal tax law. At the start of November, House Republicans rolled out their plan for sweeping tax reforms. Negotiations may greatly alter the content of the bill, but here are the proposed adjustments, and who may and may not benefit from them if they become law.

   

The corporate tax rate would fall from 35% to 20%.Wall Street would cheer this development, perhaps with a significant rally. Sole proprietorships, partnerships, and S corporations would also see their top tax rate drop to 25% (although W-2 wages for business owners who invest in these pass-through entities would still be taxed at the owner’s marginal tax rate).1,2

 

The estate tax and Alternative Minimum Tax would be eliminated.The AMT would die immediately, saving more than 5 million high-earning taxpayers from an annual bother. Death taxes would sunset within six years, and in the interim, the estate tax exemption would be doubled, leaving the individual exemption at about $11 million. This would be a boon for many highly successful people and their heirs.2

 

Personal exemptions would go away, but the standard deduction would nearly double.The loss of the personal income tax exemption (currently $4,050 per individual claimed) would be countered by standard deductions of $12,000 for individuals and $24,000 for married couples. This could lessen the tax burden for many middle-class households. On the downside, the larger standard deduction might reduce the incentive to donate to charity.1,2

 

Only four income tax brackets would exist.While the top marginal tax rate would remain at 39.6%, the other brackets would be set at 12%, 25%, and 35%. Individuals earning $45,000 or less and spouses with combined earnings of $90,000 or less would fall into the 12% bracket. Households earning less than $260,000 would be in the 25% bracket. The individual threshold for the 39.6% bracket would be moved up to $501,000 from the current $418,401; it would apply to couples who earn more than $1 million.3

  

Some state and local tax deductions might vanish.Taxpayers who face higher state income tax rates – such as those living in New York, California, and New Jersey – could lose a big tax break here. The reform bill’s author, House Ways & Means Committee Chair Kevin Brady (R-TX), says that a new revision to the bill would at least let homeowners deduct state and local property taxes up to a $10,000 cap.3

  

Speaking of caps, the mortgage interest deduction would be halved to $500,000. Real estate investors, developers, and agents are unhappy with this idea, as the current $1 million mortgage interest deduction has helped to spur home buying.1

 

Some key itemized credits and deductions would disappear.Among those the bill would do away with: the medical expense deduction, the moving deduction, the student loan interest deduction, the deduction on alimony payments, the electric vehicle deduction, and the tax credit drug manufacturers rely on as they undertake clinical trials. Retirees, divorcees, college grads, and pharmaceutical companies could see some financial negatives.1,2

 

Private college endowments would be taxed.With the aim of generating $3 billion in revenue over the next ten years, the bill would impose a 1.4% federal excise tax on private colleges and universities with 500 or more students and assets equivalent to or greater than $100,000 per full-time student.1

 

The Child Tax Credit would grow.Families eligible to claim the credit would see it rise to $1,600 from the current $1,000.3

 

Hardship withdrawals from workplace retirement plans could become larger.Currently, plan participants who take hardship withdrawals are only allowed to withdraw their contributions, not both their contributions and earnings. The new reform bill would lift that restriction. In addition, a worker with an outstanding loan from a workplace retirement plan who loses his or her job would have until April 15 of the following year to repay the loan balance, as opposed to the current 60 days.4

 

 Sincerely,

Edward J. Kohlhepp, Jr., CFP®, MBA
President 

 

Edward J. Kohlhepp, CFP®, ChFC, CLU, CPC, MSPA

Founder & CEO

    

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.   

     

Citations.

1 - nytimes.com/2017/11/02/us/politics/republican-tax-plan-winners-losers.html [11/2/17]

2 - kiplinger.com/article/taxes/T055-C032-S014-3-game-changers-for-investors-in-house-tax-plan.html [11/3/17]

3 - businessinsider.com/trump-gop-tax-reform-plan-bill-text-details-rate-2017-10 [11/2/17]

4 - chicagotribune.com/business/ct-biz-gop-tax-bill-401k-changes-20171103-story.html [11/3/17]

 

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A Look at Jerome Powell

 

November, 2017

 

On November 2, Jerome “Jay” Powell was nominated to lead the Federal Reserve. The announcement in the White House’s Rose Garden was not a surprise; in recent days, he had emerged as the front-runner for the chairmanship.1

 

Three things stand out about Jay Powell’s nomination, and the change of leadership presumably ahead at the Fed in 2018.1

 

The choice of Powell does much to affirm the status quo. In fact, Powell has sided with the majority in every Fed policy vote since he became a Fed governor in 2012. Former White House budget director David Stockman calls him “Janet Yellen with a tie.”1,2

 

Analysts widely expect Powell to try to maintain the accommodative stance of his predecessor, along with the Fed’s current strategy for normalizing monetary policy. He has shown an interest in scaling back some of the banking regulation put in place by the Dodd-Frank Act, such as the prohibition on proprietary trading by commercial banks.1,3

   

Interestingly, Powell does not have a Ph.D. in economics. He is not an economist by profession, but rather a lawyer who became an investment banker and Fed governor. This may turn out to be more of a curiosity than a detriment; after all, the last Fed chair without a doctorate in economics was a fellow named Paul Volcker.3,4

  

For the first time in almost 40 years, a sitting Fed chair will not be reappointed.Presidents have commonly retained Federal Reserve chairs appointed by the previous commander-in-chief; if Powell takes the helm of the Fed, that pattern will end. Janet Yellen does have the option to stay on as a Fed governor and voting member of the Federal Reserve Board through 2024, though exercising that option would be atypical. Assuming his nomination is approved, Powell will succeed Yellen as Fed chair in February.3,4

Sincerely,

Edward J. Kohlhepp, Jr., CFP®, MBA
President 

Edward J. Kohlhepp, CFP®, ChFC, CLU, CPC, MSPA

Founder & CEO

 

 

    

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.   

     

Citations.

1 - nytimes.com/2017/11/02/opinion/jerome-powell-trump-federal-reserve.html [11/2/17]

2 - foxbusiness.com/politics/2017/11/01/fed-pick-jerome-powell-is-janet-yellen-with-tie-fmr-reagan-budget-director.html [11/1/17]

3 - thestreet.com/story/14364543/1/powell-seen-as-safe-uncontroversial-choice-to-replace-yellen.html [11/1/17]

4 - tinyurl.com/y8kammc9 [11/2/17]

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Don't Sell on Headlines

August 16, 2017

 

So far, the world markets seem to be shrugging off the sabre-rattling coming from North Korea (normal behavior) and the U.S. White House (complete departure from policy). The smart money is betting that the distant but suddenly headline-grabbing possibility of the first conflict between two countries armed with nuclear weapons will amount to a tempest in a teapot.   
 

Meanwhile, the U.S. stock market has been testing new highs for months, and experts cannot quite explain why valuations have been rising amid such low volatility.  
 

So the question is quite logical: isn’t this a good time to pare back or get out of the market until valuations return to their historical norms, or at least until the North Korean “crisis” blows over?   
 

The quick answer is that there’s never a good time to try to time the market.  The longer answer is that this may actually be a particularly bad time to try it.   
 

What’s happening between the U.S. and Korea is admittedly unprecedented.  In the past, the U.S. largely ignored the bluster and empty threats coming out of the tiny, dirt-poor Communist regime, and believe it or not, that also seems to be what the military doing now.  Yes, our President did blurt out the term “fire and fury” in impromptu remarks to the press, and later doubled down on the term by suggesting that his warning wasn’t worded strongly enough.  But the U.S. military seems to be responding with a yawn.  There are no Naval carrier groups anywhere near Korea at the moment; the U.S.S. Carl Vinson and the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt are both still engaged in training exercises off the U.S. West Coast, and the U.S.S. Nimitz is currently patrolling the Persian Gulf.  Nor has the State Department called for the evacuation of non-essential personnel from South Korea, as it would if it believed that tensions were leading toward a military confrontation.   
 

Meanwhile, on the home front, the U.S. economy continues to grow slowly but steadily, and in the second quarter 72.2% of companies in the S&P 500 index have reported earnings above forecast.   
 

What does that mean?  It means that you will probably see a certain amount of selling due to panic over the North Korean standoff, which will make stocks less expensive—a classic buying opportunity.  History has given all of us many opportunities to panic, going back to World War I and World War II, and more recently 9/11—but those who stayed the course reaped enormous benefits from those who abandoned their stock positions.
   

If you’re feeling panic over the North Korean situation, by all means, go in the nearest bedroom and scream—and then share some sympathy for the Americans living in the island territory of Guam, which is in the direct path of the North Korean bluster.  Just don’t sabotage your financial well-being in the process.   
 

Sincerely, 

Edward J. Kohlhepp, Jr., CFP®, MBA 
President  

Edward J. Kohlhepp, CFP®, ChFC, CLU, CPC, MSPA
Founder & CEO

 

This material was prepared by BobVeres.com., 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.

 

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Kohlhepp Investment Advisors, Ltd.
3655 Route 202, Suite 100
Doylestown, PA 18902
Phone: 215-340-5777
Fax: 215-340-5788
Email: Info@KohlheppAdvisors.com

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