Annuities

TLC: Taxation, Longevity and Control


Annuities

Health care might be one of the most expensive risks in retirement. Today, and most likely to continue for the foreseeable future, government health care premiums are based on means testing based on income levels. It’s important to understand the components of the income calculations. And, it’s equally important to determine how to control that income.

 

In general, less taxable income translates to less health care premium. The goal for the retiree should not be to lower taxes, but increase net income. Net income can be positively affected by reducing taxes, lowering premiums and other costs, and increasing the gross income to the client. Let’s look at some techniques that can add control to the financial plan that might also increase the net after-tax income to your client.

 

Asset Location Vs. Allocation

Many people tell me that purchasing a single-premium immediate annuity (SPIA) in today’s low interest rate environment is one of the worst decisions they could recommend. However, I think a SPIA can be the most effective tool in raising after-tax income for our clients. With today’s interest rates, a nonqualified SPIA can provide a high exclusion ratio for every payment received. This excluded amount is a non-taxable event and does not go into the calculations against Social Security taxation and health care means testing. 

 

Housing Wealth

In the United States today,there is as much housing wealth as the industry has in assets under management. The use of housing wealth might be the most underutilized strategy for any retiree. We ran simulations using housing wealth as a noncorrelated investment strategy during retirement. Every year that the markets ended down, the home equity was used to generate the income needed instead of the investment portfolio. This provided some time for the investment portfolio to recover.

 

With a traditional systematic withdrawal strategy and no noncorrelated assets, the portfolio failed at age 95 in 26 percent of the simulations. The client would run out of income in more than one out of four situations. By using a withdrawal from the noncorrelated asset (home equity conversion mortgage), the failure rate dropped to just 2 percent. We decreased the risk of failure from one in four to one in 50. That’s a significant change in confidence for the American retiree.

 

Other Noncorrelated Assets

Noncorrelated assets don’t have to be just housing wealth. Fixed annuities with liquidity, cash and permanent life insurance are all noncorrelated assets. Life insurance and housing wealth provide access to these funds on a tax-free basis. Noncorrelated assets can be a great tool to control the tax on the retiree’s income and create flexibility of when to pay the tax based on the source of the income.

 

Winning Strategy

Instead of looking at rates of return, look at your client’s net after-tax income as a benchmark for performance. Look for solutions to increase gross income while managing taxes and expenses to increase the funds available for the retiree to spend. 

Retirement Webinar

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Professor Jamie Hopkins joins us to explain how the tax reform bill impacts retirement income tax planning, focusing on tax efficiency.

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About the Author

Mike McGlothlin is a team leader, retirement industry activist and disciple of Indiana Hoosier basketball. In addition to being EVP of retirement at Ash Brokerage, he is a sought-after writer and speaker. His web series, “Winning Strategies,” provides insight and motivation for financial advisors in many forms – blogs, books, videos, podcasts and more. You can get his latest book, “Winning Strategies: The New Rules of Retirement Planning,” on Amazon.

Retirement Taxes Health Care Home Equity Conversion Mortgage

Unintended Consequences and an Underutilized Solution


Annuities

Whenever there is a significant change in the tax code, there are always unintended consequences. The Tax Cut and Jobs Act (TCJA) is no exception. While many people thought the new tax law created simplification and reduced corporate taxes, it might also create a dramatic and negative affect on charities.

 

A few reasons why:

  • The TCJA increased the standard deduction to $12,000 for singles and $24,000 for couples
  • Tax brackets were lowered, making all deductions less valuable
  • The federal estate exemption was raised to $22 million for couples, making charitable bequests less urgent for wealthy households

 

The Tax Policy Center estimates that the share of middle-income households claiming the charitable deduction will fall by two-thirds, from 17 percent to just 5.5 percent. Even larger incomes will see a significant drop of nearly 25 percent.1

 

Obviously, those households that are charitably inclined will continue to support their favorite charities. However, many Americans are motivated to make donations based on financial advantages. I want to point out that there are great opportunities to continue making charitable contributions that can impact the tax control of a retiree’s income – one such technique is the use of Qualified Charitable Distributions (QCDs).

 

Help Clients Give

QCDs allow for required minimum distributions up to $100,000 to be directed to a charity directly from the plan participant’s IRA. The distribution does not count as income – that’s a really important distinction. A deduction, most likely, would be taken off adjusted gross income with some limits. A QCD simply does not count as income.

 

This strategy creates cascading benefits – some key ones include:

  • The client can make a charitable deduction even if their contribution is under the standard deduction
  • QCDs do not increase combined income for Social Security taxation calculations
  • QCDs do not increase the Modified Adjusted Income for Medicare premium thresholds
  • The lower income may allow a client to “bracket bump” and convert other qualified funds in a lower tax bracket

 

The use of QCDs hasn’t been popular recently, but I can’t pinpoint why. Many planners haven’t used this strategy because the client was able to take a deduction above and beyond the standard deduction. Now, tax laws have changed, making it more difficult to make a charitable contribution the “traditional” way.

 

Winning Strategy

The tax law change should make you think and act differently. Talk to clients who are taking RMDs about changing their contribution to Qualified Charitable Distributions.

Retirement Webinar

Craving More?

Professor Jamie Hopkins joins us to explain how the tax reform bill impacts retirement income tax planning, focusing on tax efficiency.

Catch the Replay Here

 

1Tax Policy Center, TaxVox, “21 Million Taxpayers Will Stop Taking the Charitable Deduction Under The TCJA,” January 2018: https://www.taxpolicycenter.org/taxvox/21-million-taxpayers-will-stop-taking-charitable-deduction-under-tcja

 

About the Author

Mike McGlothlin is a team leader, retirement industry activist and disciple of Indiana Hoosier basketball. In addition to being EVP of retirement at Ash Brokerage, he is a sought-after writer and speaker. His web series, “Winning Strategies,” provides insight and motivation for financial advisors in many forms – blogs, books, videos, podcasts and more. You can get his latest book, “Winning Strategies: The New Rules of Retirement Planning,” on Amazon.

Retirement Taxes Charitable Planning Qualified Charitable Distributions

Two Birds, One Stone: A Strategy to Retain Assets and Find New Clients


Annuities

The Tax Cut and Jobs Act made great strides in transferring wealth by increasing the federal estate tax exemption to $11.2 million per person. The problem is many Americans no longer feel the need to complete estate planning. That’s incorrect thinking.

 

One of the costliest taxes at death is the income tax on the transfer of nonqualified annuities. This will likely come as a surprise to many beneficiaries as most planners have not addressed the issue. You can address it by giving your clients and their beneficiaries more control.

 

One Rider, Several Advantages

One of the more innovative income riders has received a private letter ruling that provides great tax benefits. The income that is generated to the current owner/annuitant receives an exclusion ratio. All other income riders are taxed as last in, first out (LIFO).

 

This tax advantage allows the client to be more intentional about the source of retirement income. The use of an exclusion ratio might boost net after-tax income to the client while taking pressure off the assets under management to perform. For clients using taxable certificate of deposit interest as income, this maneuver can make a significant increase in gross and net income.

 

More importantly, the rider allows the beneficiary control over how they receive the transfer at the death of the owner/annuitant. The beneficiary can “harvest” the cost basis in the nonqualified contract through a lump-sum distribution or by continuing the monthly income. I like to think of this strategy as putting the tax man at the back of the line instead in the front of the line.

 

This strategy creates several advantages:

  • You’ve increased the overall income to the client with the income rider
  • The client enjoys more of the income since more of the income is received tax free in the form of a return of cost basis
  • The beneficiary has choice and control of when to get taxed on the remaining gain in the annuity

 

If you provide that level of value to your clients and their beneficiaries, you are in a great position to retain those funds through the next generation. That’s the best way to retain assets and attract new clients.

 

Winning Strategy

Think about getting your clients in a better position to harvest the cost basis on their nonqualified annuities during the transfer process. It can help the client now and the beneficiary later.

Retirement Webinar

Craving More?

Professor Jamie Hopkins joins us to explain how the tax reform bill impacts retirement income tax planning, focusing on tax efficiency.

Catch the Replay Here

 

About the Author

Mike McGlothlin is a team leader, retirement industry activist and disciple of Indiana Hoosier basketball. In addition to being EVP of retirement at Ash Brokerage, he is a sought-after writer and speaker. His web series, “Winning Strategies,” provides insight and motivation for financial advisors in many forms – blogs, books, videos, podcasts and more. You can get his latest book, “Winning Strategies: The New Rules of Retirement Planning,” on Amazon.

Retirement Taxes Wealth Transfer

How to Double Your Clients and Double Your Business


Annuities

Everyone always asks my sales team if we support marketing initiatives like seminars, client events and mailing lists. We do in certain situations, but I’ve found those tactics to have limited upside and they are costly, even with sponsorship. 

 

To be honest, I think there’s a more effective way to grow your business – by capturing the next generation of your current clients. 

 

According to LIMRA, there are more than $489 billion of in-force annuity assets on the books of insurance carriers. These policies are not being annuitized for income and largely not being used for income rider usage. Many have accumulated for years and contain built-up gains that will be taxed at the beneficiary’s ordinary tax rate. We call that the ticking tax bomb. 

 

Defuse the Situation

You could wait for the IRS to strike as soon as your client is gone. Or you could take action to help their beneficiaries before it’s too late. 

 

One solution is to turn on tax-advantaged income for your clients who own these “untapped” annuities. The income stream is small and includes a return of basis, making part of their payment tax-free. When your client dies, the remaining cost basis may be stripped from the annuity in a lump sum or through payments. This allows their beneficiaries immediate access to tax-free cash. 

 

The remaining inheritance can be stretched over a beneficiary’s lifetime, which reduces the affect of taxation. Otherwise, a beneficiary would have to claim 100 percent of the remaining gain in the year of receipt or over five years from the date of the annuitant’s death. 

 

By putting the IRS in the back of the line, you will gain trust with your next generation of clients. This is a great way to grow your business. I encourage you to not only conduct regular reviews of your clients’ beneficiary designations, but also look at planning for the beneficiary’s inheritance. How they receive the money is equally important as the dollar amount. 

 

Winning Strategy

Double your business by doubling your clients through annuity reviews. If you look at how the distribution will affect the beneficiary and add value to their distribution, you will gain their trust and earn their business.

Retirement Webinar

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We recently sat down with a few of our top Retirement Income Consultants to gather their perspective from the field. Watch how they helped their territory grow with tools and resources from Ash.

Watch the Replay

 

About the Author

Mike McGlothlin is a team leader, retirement industry activist and disciple of Indiana Hoosier basketball. In addition to being EVP of retirement at Ash Brokerage, he is a sought-after writer and speaker. His web series, “Winning Strategies,” provides insight and motivation for financial advisors in many forms – blogs, books, videos, podcasts and more. You can get his latest book, “Winning Strategies: The New Rules of Retirement Planning,” on Amazon.

Retirement Planning Annuities In-Force Review Tax Planning Generational Planning

The Legacy Strategy that Passes Greater Values


Annuities

Many times, your clients will say they wish to leave a legacy or inheritance to their children or grandchildren. Usually, they think of this as a lump sum of cash or certain personal items. But what about a steady income? You could help them create a longer, and potentially more fulfilling legacy with a joint income annuity.

 

We’ve had successful results with this concept. Usually, clients want to leave a certain amount of money to their beneficiaries. However, before they pass and give away their remaining assets, they’re going to need a certain amount of income. This strategy solves both challenges.

 

In this situation, the older client elects to purchase a single-premium immediate annuity and make a child or grandchild a joint annuitant. There are a few advantages to purchasing an annuity in this manner:

 

  1. The older client enjoys an income guaranteed for life
  2. Income is received with an exclusion ratio, so most of the income is received tax-free
  3. When the older client passes away, the joint annuitant continues to receive the income for the rest of their life
  4. If a cost-of-living rider is attached, the joint annuitant enjoys potentially guaranteed step-ups in income for the rest of their life

 

Greater Values

This is already a unique strategy to legacy planning, but I encourage clients to take this one step further. I ask them to write letters to their child or grandchild, passing along memories, advice and family values. Along with the funds from the annuity, these letters can be sent at certain life milestones:

  • 16th birthday
  • High school graduation
  • Wedding day
  • Birth of first child 

In these letters, the parent or grandparent can share their wisdom – struggles as a teen, joy in marriage, the challenges of raising a family, etc. These letters are what will make a difference to beneficiaries. The transaction is more than an economic benefit. It becomes an inheritance of a legacy.

 

Winning Strategy

When it comes to wealth transfer, we tend to think about life insurance or beneficiary designations. Think outside the box to transfer wealth that includes value – family values.

Retirement Webinar

Craving More?

We recently sat down with a few of our top Retirement Income Consultants to gather their perspective from the field. Watch how they helped their territory grow with tools and resources from Ash.

Watch the Replay

 

About the Author

Mike McGlothlin is a team leader, retirement industry activist and disciple of Indiana Hoosier basketball. In addition to being EVP of retirement at Ash Brokerage, he is a sought-after writer and speaker. His web series, “Winning Strategies,” provides insight and motivation for financial advisors in many forms – blogs, books, videos, podcasts and more. You can get his latest book, “Winning Strategies: The New Rules of Retirement Planning,”  on Amazon.

Wealth Transfer Annuities Family Values Legacy Planning