FEATURED POST

Advisors Management Group

Be Smart with Your Holiday Jingle
The holidays are upon us, and the pressure is on. There is so much to do to prepare for the holiday season and the holiday bustle can leave you wondering if this is really the most wonderful time of the year. This year, the average American household plans to spend over $1000 this holiday season on gifts, decorations, travel to family and holiday meals. This, on top of normal monthly spending can make November and December some of the most expensive months of the year. Without a plan of attack, December’s holiday magic can easily turn into January’s credit card nightmare. Plan Ahead When it comes to gifts, know who you plan to buy gifts for and how much you intend to spend on them. Stick to the budget. It is easy to get trapped into spending too much especially if you overspend on someone, you may be tempted to buy more for another to make the gift even. If you determine what you are spending, you can determine what you think you’d like to buy to before you enter the store. Use a holiday savings account to save a little bit each month to avoid feeling overwhelmed when the time to shop comes. Keep the store ads with you. Many stores will price match, and this could save you a stop or help you secure an item that you are having difficulty getting at another store. Don’t underestimate how planning your shopping trip ahead can save you both time and money. Plan your route and keep your list handy. By avoiding driving all over town, and potentially backtracking, you can save money on gas and save time. Eating a healthy meal before you head out will put you in a good frame of mind and help you curve the temptation of spending unnecessary money on meals out or stopping for snacks while out and about. Avoid shopping at times that attract crowds like mid-day Saturday and Sunday. By shopping at off times, you can move through your list quickly and with less frustration. Although this one won’t help your pocketbook, time is money and piece of mind is priceless. Shop Online Using a credit card is the most secure way to shop online. It is easier to dispute a fraudulent transaction on a credit card than with a debit card. Remember not to charge anything you cannot pay off when the statement comes. Check multiple websites to make sure that you are getting the best deal. Aim to get free shipping and check for coupon codes. Avoid paying more for something than you should. Items like gaming consoles and other highly desired items are often sold brand new by private parties for a healthy upcharge to parents who are willing to pay anything just to get something that they can’t find in the stores. These items can often be purchased at a fair price after the holidays when the demand drops. Avoid Holiday Scammers and Fraudsters Be mindful of your purse, wallet and credit cards. Watch for skimming devices and be discreet about how you enter you pin number. Track packages and know when they are being delivered. Arrange to have them shipped to your place of employment or to have a neighbor pick them up off your porch. Be wary of vendors selling goods online who ask for gift cards as payment. This is a common internet scam, and it is likely that you will not receive the goods you purchased. Review your credit card statements often. Report and dispute any suspicious transactions right away. By being prepared and organized, you can save time and money so that you can focus on what really matters this holiday season. May your shopping be stress free and may your holiday season be merry and bright!   Rebecca Agamaite, MBA Investment Advisor Representative  Rebecca joined the firm in 2011 as an Investment Advisor Representative. In this role, she works with clients to manage their investment assets and help them obtain their financial objectives. Rebecca brings a great deal of experience to the team having worked for several years at Marshall & IIsley Bank and MetLife.   Advisors Management Group, Inc. is a registered investment adviser whose principal office is located in Wisconsin.   Opinions expressed are those of AMG and are subject to change, not guaranteed, and should not be considered recommendations to buy or sell any security.  Past performance is no guarantee of future returns, and investing involves multiple risks, including, but not limited to, the risk of permanent losses.  Please do not send orders via e-mail as they are not binding and cannot be acted upon.  Please be advised it remains the responsibility of our clients to inform AMG of any changes in their investment objectives and/or financial situation.  This commentary is limited to the dissemination of general information pertaining to AMG’s investment advisory/management services.  Any subsequent, direct communication by AMG  with a prospective client shall be conducted by a representative that is either registered or qualifies for an exemption or exclusion from registration in the state where the prospective client resides.  A copy of our current written disclosure statement discussing our advisory services and fees continues to remain available for your review upon request.
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22 Jul 2021

Advisors Management Group

Small Business Relief in Wisconsin | Programs & Support

It has been nearly a year and a half since the pandemic began and while many businesses are beginning to see things start to return to normal there are many other small businesses that are still struggling because of the pandemic. For those business that were negatively impacted by the pandemic several programs have been launched to provide those business with some additional financial support.  Many of these programs for small businesses were a part of the various stimulus packages that were created throughout 2020 and the early part of 2021. Along with the stimulus payments for qualifying individuals, there were programs created specifically to help small businesses deal with the impact of the pandemic. While many of these programs are based on wages paid to employees, the actual money provided by the programs in some situations can be spent on other necessities to continue business operations.  Payroll Protection Program Loan First, there was the Payroll Protection Program Loan. This loan had a first draw and possibly a second draw if your business experienced a decrease of 25% in revenue. These loans could possibly be forgiven and not taxed by the federal government.  Taxation can vary from state-to-state. They required an approved application based on spending requirements, mostly tied to payroll. Shuttered Venue Operators Grant / Restaurant Revitalization Fund Depending on the industry or nature of your operations, some businesses also qualify for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant or the Restaurant Revitalization Fund.  The Shuttered Venues Grant is meant for those businesses that host live events, such as concerts, and were not able to be hold those events over the past year.  This grant does have an order of priority which is determined based on the magnitude of the revenue loss experienced by the venue from April 2020 - December 2020.  If a business received a PPP Loan, it may reduce the amount of the grant for the business. Restaurants, food carts and trucks, bars, saloons, bakeries, breweries, wineries and other businesses whose on-site sales comprise 33% of their revenues could qualify for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund.  The purpose of this loan is to account for lost revenues from 2019 to 2020 based on the business’s tax returns but are reduced for any PPP Loans received.  Both programs have requirements on how the funds are to be used and there can be additional reporting required in order to meet the requirements of these programs. Employee Retention Credit The final program is the Employee Retention Credit (ERC). The ERC is different than the previous programs because there is no application that needs to be completed and it is not submitted to a bank or the Small Business Administration (SBA).  The Employee Retention Credit is something a business can qualify for if either of the following occurred for 2020. 1) Gross Receipts decrease of 50% when compared to 2019 2) The business was fully or partially suspended by a government order due to COVID-19 during the calendar quarter. If either of those situations occurred and the business has less than 100 full-time employees, wages paid during those specific periods could be eligible for a credit of 50% on a maximum of $10,000 of wages per employee.  The $10,000 figure for 2020 is the full-year maximum. However, in 2021, there are a few changes, the first one being that you only need to experience a 20% decrease in gross receipts when compared to 2019, and the second is the eligible wages are $10,000 per quarter and a 70% credit on those wages. Understanding and coordinating all these programs can be an overwhelming task since each business’s situation is unique and could have a different plan when it comes to combining these relief opportunities. If you think your business could benefit from a discussion on any of the above programs, please reach out to Advisors Management Group today at (800) 488-4032 or schedule a meeting with a team member. Adam Pederson, EA Director of Business Consulting , Senior Accountant Adam joined the Advisors Management Group team in December 2015 and is now the Director of Accounting and Consulting. He has worked extensively in the accounting industry as an Assistant Controller and a Senior Accounting Analyst before coming to Advisors Management Group.

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16 Jul 2021

Advisors Management Group

ABC, 123, QCD

The financial world can seem a bit like alphabet soup at times, with so many acronyms used. QCD, RMD, IRA, ETF, and on and on. Today we will be highlighting one of these acronyms, in hopes of helping you understand if you could benefit from the QCD tax strategy. What is a QCD?  In the financial world, “QCD” stands for Qualified Charitable Distribution. Normally when you take a draw from your Traditional IRA you are taxed on these dollars, even if you donate them to a charity later. However, amounts distributed as a QCD are excluded from your taxable income.   What’s the difference?  Generally, if you take money out of your Traditional IRA, it counts as taxable income. Having more taxable income can move you into a higher tax bracket and may reduce your eligibility for some tax credits and deductions.  It can also cause more of your social security income to be taxable.  A donation given through a QCD can lower your taxable income, as opposed to a donation given from a regular IRA distribution. If you do not use a QCD, you could receive a deduction for your donation on your tax return if all of your itemized deductions are greater than the standard deduction for your tax filing status. With the higher standard deduction, fewer people are itemizing and are not getting a full deduction for their donation.    What are the rules for a distribution to count as a QCD? You must be at least 70 ½ years old at the time you request the funds Funds must be transferred directly from your IRA to a qualified charity. Have your custodian make the check payable to the charity.  Only certain accounts are eligible for QCDs Traditional IRAs Inherited IRAs SEP IRAs SIMPLE IRAs The maximum annual QCD limit is $100,000 per individual. How are QCDs reported on your income tax Return? A QCD, from a non-inherited IRA, is generally reported as a normal distribution on tax form 1099-R; for inherited IRAs, it is generally reported as a death distribution.  For this reason, it is important to keep a copy of the receipt you receive from the charitable organization for tax documentation.  QCD and the RMD Requirement Once you are age 72 or older, the IRS requires that you take a certain amount out of your tax deferred accounts each year.  This amount is called a Required Minimum Distribution, or “RMD.” Amounts taken as a QCD can work toward satisfying your RMD requirement.  If you are required to take out more money than what you need each year, a QCD could be option for you.  If you have any questions or are wondering if a QCD is right for you, be sure to consult with your tax preparer or other financial advisor. Kate Pederson Tax Manager, Investment Advisor Representative, Tax Preparer Kate joined Advisors Management Group in December 2017. Prior to joining the firm, she worked in manufacturing and healthcare during her career as a financial analyst.

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19 Mar 2021

Advisors Management Group

UPDATE: American Rescue Plan Act – What to Know

Updated: March 26, 2020 There have recently been changes to the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 that business owners should be aware of. We have highlighted a few of those changes below.  The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)-based leave may still take a payroll tax credit to cover wages paid has been extended through September 30, 2021. Additional Reasons Supporting Emergency Sick Leave – ARPA expands the reasons an individual may receive a tax credit for emergency sick leave to include: Is scheduled for the vaccine or recovering from adverse effects of COVID-19 vaccine. Is seeking or awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test when the employee has been exposed to COVID-19 or employer requested the test. Paid Sick Leave “Reset” – ARPA provides that employers may receive a tax credit for an additional 10 days of emergency paid sick leave between April 1 and September 30, 2021.  Nondiscrimination – ARPA requires that the employer extend emergency sick and/or expanded FMLA to all employees, not just to specific groups or classes of employees. Additional Reasons Supporting Expanded FMLA – Is now brought in line with the emergency sick leave reasons.  The employer can now claim a payroll tax credit for up to 12 weeks of leave for any of the following reasons: The employee is subject to or is caring for an individual who is subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order. The employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19 or is caring for an individual who has been so advised. The employee is caring for a son or daughter because the child’s school or place of care has closed or is unavailable due to COVID-19. The employee is receiving or experiencing negative effects from the COVID-19 vaccine or is awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test requested by the employer or necessitated because of close contact. Increase Cap on Expanded FMLA Dollars – The FFCRA had a cap of $10,000 of paid leave wages per employee, the ARPA raises the limit to $12,000. If you have any questions regarding the above information, please call us at (608) 782-0200. Updated: March 23, 2020 There has been new information released regarding the $10,200 unemployment tax break that was a part of the American Rescue Plan Act.  The IRS plans to automatically process refunds for taxpayers who had unemployment income in 2020 and filed their tax returns before legislation passed that made those benefits tax-free. The IRS Commissioner, Charles Rettig, is suggesting not to file an amended return at this time. The IRS believes they will be able to automatically issue refunds associated with the $10,200. People who had unemployment income in 2020 and have not yet filed their tax return may need to wait to ensure that they submit all information to the IRS correctly.   Both Wisconsin and Minnesota have extended the filing dates to May 17th for the 2020 returns. This extension does not include an extension for estimated payments thus far. Neither Wisconsin nor Minnesota have adopted the non-taxable unemployment as of March 18, 2021. Wisconsin will most likely have a Schedule I adjustment and MN has updated their tax form to make an adjustment to add back the non-taxable benefit to the MN return. As the IRS will releases more details in the coming days we will share more updates.    Updated: March 19, 2020 Recently, there have been new legislations and bills passed by the United States Government that could directly affect you. As we continue to learn more, we will update and post here on the latest news. American Rescue Plan Act An economic stimulus bill passed last week to speed up the United States recovery from the economic and health effects of COVID-19 pandemic. The American Rescue Plan Act will have major tax impacts for the 2020 and 2021 tax returns which include: Tax-Free unemployment benefits for 2020 Up to $10,200 of unemployment benefits received in 2020 is EXEMPT from federal income tax for households with an adjusted gross income under $150,000. If you are married, you and your spouse can each exclude up to $10,200 of unemployment compensation. If you have already filed your 2020 taxes, we suggest waiting for further guidance from the IRS. It is unknown if individuals will need to amend their taxes or if the IRS will automatically adjust. Retroactive refunding of the advanced premium tax credit If you qualify for a premium tax credit for healthcare purchased on the exchange and you had an excess premium tax credit for 2020, no repayment is required. If you have already filed your 2020 taxes, we suggest waiting for further guidance from the IRS. It is unknown if individuals will need to amend their taxes or if the IRS will automatically adjust. Stimulus checks to individuals $1,400 stimulus checks ($2,800 for married filing joint) will be issued to eligible individuals. This includes $1,400 for each minor and adult dependent.  This is different from the previous two stimulus packages that cut off payments for dependents that were 17 and older. There are income limits for this payment. You will receive the full payment amount if you fall beneath the thresholds listed below.  If your income is within the thresholds you will receive an adjusted payment amount. If your income is above the listed thresholds you will not qualify to receive a payment.  Single: $75,000 to $80,000 Married filing joint: $150,000 to $160,000 Head of household: $112,500 to $120,000 Distributing checks, the week of March 15th How will people get the check? Direct Deposit Physical checks-sent to home address Debit Cards-Prepaid Visa Card sent to home address Expanded child tax credit for 1 year (2021) Individual filers with income up to $75,000, married filers with income up to $150,000 and head of household filers with income up to $112,500 will get $3,600 for each child under 6 years old. For children 6-17 the credit is $3,000 When will people get the child tax credit? Families could receive half their total credit on periodic basis - up to $300/month per child up to age 6 and $250/month per child ages 6-17. This could start as early as July and run through the rest of the year. Families could claim the remaining half on their 2021 tax returns. Tax filers above the income threshold will still be eligible for the existing $2,000 child tax credit that phases out at $200,000 ($400,000 for married filing jointly). Required Minimum Distributions (RMD’s) Secure Act changed the start date for RMD’s from 70 ½ to 72 years if individual reaches age 70 ½ after December 31, 2019. If an individual turned 70 ½ after Dec. 31st, 2019, they are not required to take an RMD until age 72. If an individual turned 70 ½ in 2019 they are required to take an RMD by April 1st, 2020 but due to the CARES ACT the deadline was waived. If individual did not take their first RMD in 2020, they need to take it by April 1, 2021 and the 2021 RMD by Dec 31st, 2021. This only applies to those who turned 70 ½ in 2019 and did not take an RMD in 2019.   Deadline for 2020 Taxes to be filed for Federal extended until May 17, 2021. The deadline for State returns has not been determined.  We will continue to make updates as soon as we learn more. 

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03 Mar 2021

Advisors Management Group

10 Things You’ll Spend Less on in Retirement

We spend a lot of time worrying about running out of cash in retirement. But you might be surprised to see some of the things you'll find yourself spending less on in your golden years. A popular retirement guideline suggests retirees need 80% of their preretirement income to make ends meet, and some experts encourage saving even more to avoid running out of money. Facing such daunting goals, 53% of preretirees say they plan on working past age 65 to ensure that they have enough money, according to the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies. But the 80% rule isn’t for everybody, and it may lead to inflated savings goals that cause undue anxiety as you plan for retirement. Consumer spending actually decreases -- significantly -- as you age. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the average retired household spends 25% less than the average working household. In order to know how much you need to save for retirement, it’s important to know what your spending will look like once you actually retire. Here’s a little pep talk: You’ve actually been practicing for retirement for the last year if you’ve been locked down this entire time. Now, consider these 10 budget line items on which you’ll likely spend less in retirement.   Transportation Life has turned upside down during the pandemic, with many of us working from our computers at home. If you’re still working remotely, that’s pretty much what your transportation life will look like in retirement: You’ll be using your vehicles far less -- my household temporarily went down to one car during the mandatory stay-at-home period. Plus: no more long commutes in rush-hour traffic. Pre-pandemic, the average worker spent roughly an hour a day commuting (in my case, three!)  For many, saying goodbye to rush-hour traffic and long commutes is a highlight of retirement.  Not only will you spend less on gas, you’ll also be saving money on vehicle maintenance, insurance and registration (as well as bus and rail fare) in retirement. Before retirement (and the pandemic), the average working household spent $9,761 each year on transportation. That number drops to $6,814 for the average retired household, a 30.2% decrease in household spending, according to the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.   Clothing Before we were all in the pants-optional world of working from home, it's likely you spent what you needed to look sharp at your job. In retirement, no more pressed shirts or high heels, and your wallet gets a break from updating your work wardrobe. The average retired household spends $1,070 a year on apparel, while the average working household spends $1,866 a year. Also, factor in the money you’ll save on dry cleaning (averaging as much as $1,000 a year in some metropolitan locations). A caution though: Although household spending on apparel decreases overall in retirement, Marguerita Cheng, the chief executive officer at Blue Ocean Global Wealth, says that she sees spikes in spending from recently retired clients who feel the need to update casual wardrobes in the first few years of retirement.   Groceries Even if you dream of a retirement filled with steak dinners and brunch dates, chances are you’ll still spend less on the food you consume in and out of your house. The average household spends 25% less on food in retirement. According to Erik Hurst and Mark Aguiar, professors from the University of Chicago and Princeton University, the logic to this is simply that you have more time to shop. When you’re not in a hurry at the grocery store, you’re more likely to compare prices on similar products, use coupons and spend more time planning meals for the week ahead. Spending on dining out drops even more sharply — as much as 35%. Hurst and Aguiar say that the story behind this is similar. When you’re working, much of your dining out may be quick lunch runs or costly lattes on the way to work. Instead of patronizing fast-food restaurants more frequently, retirees reserve their eating-out dollars for table-service restaurants.   Entertainment Plenty of time for plenty of fun, am I right? No. There’s a common misconception that you’ll spend more dough-re-me in retirement on entertainment — concerts, movies, clogging, you name it — because you have more time. But the numbers don’t back this up. And who knows when entertainment venues will fully reopen to large crowds, if ever, post-pandemic? See how much you’re saving right now, pre-retirement? This decline likely corresponds with changes in mobility as you age. You may also be nervous about being in crowds as COVID-19 still rages. Or you just want to chill after years of slogging to the office. Even if you occasionally splurge to see your favorite college band, you may find yourself opting to watch Netflix instead of going out every weekend. But be careful. Streaming services are popping up everywhere, and their layered charges for more and better options can jack up your entertainment bill. We’re looking at you, Paramount+, Discovery+, Disney+ and all your compadres.   Mortgage Hopefully, you’ve timed this right: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 61.7% of Americans between the ages of 65 and 74 don’t have mortgage debt, and 82.5% of Americans 75 and older are mortgage-free. To be sure, housing costs don’t disappear entirely in retirement. Even if you’ve paid off the mortgage, you’ll still spend on home maintenance, property taxes, utilities, and you’ll incur moving costs associated with downsizing, relocating or moving into senior-living facilities. Still, average annual spending on housing for Americans who are 55 to 64 is $18,006. It decreases to $15,838 for those age 65 to 74, and it drops further to $13,375 for those 75 and older.   Education The average retired household sees a big decrease in personal spending on education, setting aside just about $350 a year for any education, from pre-K through college. That is almost a 79% decrease from the $1,639 of average annual education spending of a working household. Even if you are thinking about going back to school in retirement, many colleges and universities offer classes free of charge (or nearly so)  to those age 65 (in some cases, 55-60) and up. Note: In calculating spending in retirement, the Bureau of Labor Statistics does not factor in money retirees contribute toward college-savings plans for their grandchildren.   Insurance The amount you’ll spend on insurance (excluding health coverage) drops dramatically once you hit retirement age. The average under-65 household spends approximately $8,100 a year on insurance—including annuities, life insurance and other personal insurance plans, such as homeowners insurance. In retirement, that number drops to $2,840, an almost 65% change in spending. Most people pay for life insurance while they have a family to support and may opt out once their children are no longer financially dependent. At the same time, retirees may be eligible for discounts on auto and homeowners insurance. Most states offer older adults discounts on car insurance if they complete a defensive driving class, such as those offered by AARP or AAA. And the Insurance Information Institute says that retirees are more likely to receive discounts on homeowners insurance because they are at home more often, reducing the risks of burglary and fire.   Alcohol and Tobacco Products The New York Times reports that in retirement  many Americans find they are less stressed—and therefore smoke and drink less, are less obese, and may be more inclined to exercise. A study by the Journal of Human Resources found that after a few years of retirement, adults are less at risk for serious illnesses, less likely to report loneliness, and may have an increased sense of purpose and camaraderie that lowers their likelihood to binge eat, drink and smoke.  (Only 9% of seniors smoke, compared with 15.5% of all adults, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.) The average working household spends $381 a year on tobacco and tobacco products, while the average retired household spends $198 a year, almost 50% less. Spending on alcohol also decreases in retirement. According to BLS data, the average working family spends $519 a year on alcoholic beverages, while the average retired family spends $370 a year.   Pets and Pet Supplies It’s often reported that having a pet in retirement can benefit your health in big ways. A four-legged friend can provide companionship for lonely retirees and encourage regular exercise. However, the promised perks don’t have to translate into massive spending. Working households spend an average of $553 each year on pets and pet supplies, while retired households spend approximately $477 on average. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that having children, particularly older children at home, increases household spending on pets.   Taxes In an effort to ease the financial burden on retirees, many states waive or lower property taxes for those older than 65 and exempt a portion of retirement income—particularly from pensions, Social Security and retirement-savings plans—from state income taxes. According to BLS data, households in which the adults are 55 to 64 spend an average of $2,502 each year on property taxes. This number declines to $2,149 for households in which the adults are 65 and older, and to $1,924 in households where adults are 75 and older.   Source: Kiplinger  

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20 Jan 2021

Advisors Management Group

2021 Tax Filing Season Begins Feb. 12; IRS Outlines Steps to Speed Refunds During Pandemic

The Internal Revenue Service announced that the nation's tax season will start on Friday, February 12, 2021, when the tax agency will begin accepting and processing 2020 tax year returns. The February 12 start date for individual tax return filers allows the IRS time to do additional programming and testing of IRS systems following the December 27 tax law changes that provided a second round of Economic Impact Payments and other benefits. This programming work is critical to ensuring IRS systems run smoothly. If filing season were opened without the correct programming in place, then there could be a delay in issuing refunds to taxpayers. These changes ensure that eligible people will receive any remaining stimulus money as a Recovery Rebate Credit when they file their 2020 tax return. To speed refunds during the pandemic, the IRS urges taxpayers to file electronically with direct deposit as soon as they have the information they need. People can begin filing their tax returns immediately with tax software companies, including IRS Free File partners. These groups are starting to accept tax returns now, and the returns will be transmitted to the IRS starting February 12. "Planning for the nation's filing season process is a massive undertaking, and IRS teams have been working non-stop to prepare for this as well as delivering Economic Impact Payments in record time," said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. "Given the pandemic, this is one of the nation's most important filing seasons ever. This start date will ensure that people get their needed tax refunds quickly while also making sure they receive any remaining stimulus payments they are eligible for as quickly as possible." Last year's average tax refund was more than $2,500. More than 150 million tax returns are expected to be filed this year, with the vast majority before the Thursday, April 15 deadline. Under the PATH Act, the IRS cannot issue a refund involving the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) before mid-February. The law provides this additional time to help the IRS stop fraudulent refunds and claims from being issued, including to identity thieves. The IRS anticipates a first week of March refund for many EITC and ACTC taxpayers if they file electronically with direct deposit and there are no issues with their tax returns. This would be the same experience for taxpayers if the filing season opened in late January. Taxpayers will need to check Where's My Refund for their personalized refund date. Overall, the IRS anticipates nine out of 10 taxpayers will receive their refund within 21 days of when they file electronically with direct deposit if there are no issues with their tax return. The IRS urges taxpayers and tax professionals to file electronically. To avoid delays in processing, people should avoid filing paper returns wherever possible. Tips for taxpayers to make filing easier To speed refunds and help with their tax filing, the IRS urges people to follow these simple steps: File electronically and use direct deposit for the quickest refunds.   Check IRS.gov for the latest tax information, including the latest on Economic Impact Payments. There is no need to call.   For those who may be eligible for stimulus payments, they should carefully review the guidelines for the Recovery Rebate Credit. Most people received Economic Impact Payments automatically, and anyone who received the maximum amount does not need to include any information about their payments when they file. However, those who didn't receive a payment or only received a partial payment may be eligible to claim the Recovery Rebate Credit when they file their 2020 tax return. Tax preparation software, including IRS Free File, will help taxpayers figure the amount.   Remember, advance stimulus payments received separately are not taxable, and they do not reduce the taxpayer's refund when they file in 2021. Key filing season dates There are several important dates taxpayers should keep in mind for this year's filing season: January 15. IRS Free File opens. Taxpayers can begin filing returns through Free File partners; tax returns will be transmitted to the IRS starting Feb. 12. Tax software companies also are accepting tax filings in advance.   January 29. Earned Income Tax Credit Awareness Day to raise awareness of valuable tax credits available to many people – including the option to use prior-year income to qualify.   February 12. IRS begins 2021 tax season. Individual tax returns begin being accepted and processing begins.   February 22. Projected date for the IRS.gov Where's My Refund tool being updated for those claiming EITC and ACTC, also referred to as PATH Act returns.   First week of March. Tax refunds begin reaching those claiming EITC and ACTC (PATH Act returns) for those who file electronically with direct deposit and there are no issues with their tax returns.   April 15. Deadline for filing 2020 tax returns.   October 15. Deadline to file for those requesting an extension on their 2020 tax returns Filing season opening The filing season open follows IRS work to update its programming and test its systems to factor in the second Economic Impact Payments and other tax law changes. These changes are complex and take time to help ensure proper processing of tax returns and refunds as well as coordination with tax software industry, resulting in the February 12 start date. The IRS must ensure systems are prepared to properly process and check tax returns to verify the proper amount of EIP's are credited on taxpayer accounts – and provide remaining funds to eligible taxpayers. Although tax seasons frequently begin in late January, there have been five instances since 2007 when filing seasons did not start for some taxpayers until February due to tax law changes made just before the start of tax time. Source: IRS   

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17 Jan 2021

Advisors Management Group

Child Tax Credit 2021: What to Know

  The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021 expands the Child Tax Credit (CTC) for 2021, but only for 2021. The IRS website tells us a few things regarding this credit; firstly, it will increase the credit amount for many taxpayers. Secondly, the credit is fully refundable and includes children who turn seventeen in 2021, not just those under seventeen. Finally, taxpayers can receive part of their credit in 2021, before filing their 2021 income tax return. The increased credit will be $3,000 per qualifying child between the ages of six and seventeen, and $3,600 per qualifying child under age six.  Prior to the ARPA, the credit was $2,000 per qualifying child under the age of seventeen, at the end of the year. Advance payments of this credit will be made to taxpayers starting in July 2021 and will likely be direct deposited into bank accounts on the 15th of the month, from July through December.  Families without bank accounts on file with IRS could receive paper checks or debit cards in the mail.   The total of these payments will be 50% of the eligible Child Tax Credit(s).  Advance payments will be calculated based on information on taxpayers 2020 returns (or 2019, if their 2020 return has not yet been processed). If you decide you do not want to receive the advance payment of this credit, then you need to indicate this using the IRS portal. The IRS portal is expected to launch on July 1, 2021. To opt out of the advance payments, you must login into the portal and manually select the opt out option. These additional credit amounts, $1,000 or $1,600 per child, will be phased out for incomes over $75,000 ($150,000 MFJ and $112,500 HOH).  Once the additional credit amount is phased out, the credit remains at $2,000 per qualifying child until that income phaseout begins at $200,000 ($400,000 MFJ). If you are not sure if you are eligible for the expanded credit, be sure to consult with your tax preparer or other financial advisor. Melanie Chapel, EA Senior Accountant, Tax Preparer Melanie has been part of the Advisors Management Group team since 2008. and has over 23 years of tax and accounting experience.

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13 Jan 2021

Advisors Management Group

IRS Announces 2021 Retirement Plan Contribution Limits For 401(k)s And More

How much can you save for retirement in 2021 in tax-advantaged accounts? How does $58,000 sound? The Treasury Department has announced inflation-adjusted figures for retirement account savings for 2021.  The basic salary deferral amount for 401(k) and similar workplace plans remains flat at $19,500; the $6,500 catch-up amount if you’re 50 or older also remains the same; but the overall limit for these plans goes up from $57,000 to $58,000 in 2021. That helps workers whose employers allow special after-tax salary deferrals, and self-employed folks who can save to the limit in solo or individual 401(k)s or SEP retirement plans.  For the rest of us, IRA contribution limits are flat. The amount you can contribute to an Individual Retirement Account stays the same for 2021: $6,000, with a $1,000 catch-up limit if you’re 50 or older. There’s a little good news for IRA savers. You can earn a little more and get to deduct your IRA contributions. Plus, the phase-out income limits for contributing to a Roth IRA are bumped up. And the income limits to claim the saver’s credit, an extra incentive to start and keep saving, has gone up. We outline the numbers below; see IRS Notice 2020-79 for technical guidance. For more on 2021 tax numbers: Forbes contributor Kelly Phillips Erb has all the details on 2021 tax brackets, standard deduction amounts and more. We have all the details on the new higher 2021 estate and gift tax limits too.  401(k)s The annual contribution limit for employees who participate in 401(k), 403(b), most 457 plans and the federal government’s Thrift Savings Plan is $19,500 for 2021—for the second year in a row. Note, you can make changes to your 401(k) election at any time during the year, not just during open enrollment season when most employers send you a reminder to update your elections for the next plan year. The 401(k) Catch-Up The catch-up contribution limit for employees age 50 or older in these plans also remains steady: it’s $6,500 for 2021. Even if you don’t turn 50 until December 31, 2021, you can make the additional $6,500 catch-up contribution for the year. SEP IRAs and Solo 401(k)s For the self-employed and small business owners, the amount they can save in a SEP IRA or a solo 401(k) goes up from $57,000 in 2020 to $58,000 in 2021. That’s based on the amount they can contribute as an employer, as a percentage of their salary; the compensation limit used in the savings calculation also goes up from $285,000 in 2020 to $290,000 in 2021.  Aftertax 401(k) contributions If your employer allows aftertax contributions to your 401(k), you also get the advantage of the new $58,000 limit for 2021. It’s an overall cap, including your $19,500 (pretax or Roth in any combination) salary deferrals plus any employer contributions (but not catch-up contributions). The SIMPLE The contribution limit for SIMPLE retirement accounts is unchanged at $13,500 for 2021. The SIMPLE catch-up limit is still $3,000. Defined Benefit Plans  The limitation on the annual benefit of a defined benefit plan is unchanged at $230,000 for 2021. These are powerful pension plans (an individual version of the kind that used to be more common in the corporate world before 401(k)s took over) for high-earning self-employed folks. Individual Retirement Accounts The limit on annual contributions to an Individual Retirement Account (pretax or Roth or a combination) remains at $6,000 for 2021. The catch-up contribution limit, which is not subject to inflation adjustments, remains at $1,000. (Remember that 2021 IRA contributions can be made until April 15, 2022.) Deductible IRA Phase-Outs You can earn a little more in 2021 and get to deduct your contributions to a traditional pretax IRA. Note: Even if you earn too much to get a deduction for contributing to an IRA, you can still contribute—it’s just nondeductible. In 2021, the deduction for taxpayers making contributions to a traditional IRA is phased out for singles and heads of household who are covered by a workplace retirement plan and have modified adjusted gross incomes (AGI) between $66,000 and $76,000, up from $65,000 and $75,000 in 2020. For married couples filing jointly, in which the spouse who makes the IRA contribution is covered by a workplace retirement plan, the income phase-out range is $105,000 to $125,000 for 2021, up from $104,000 to $124,000. For an IRA contributor who is not covered by a workplace retirement plan and is married to someone who is covered, the deduction is phased out if the couple’s income is between $198,000 and $208,000 in 2021, up from $196,000 and $206,000 in 2020. Roth IRA Phase-Outs The inflation adjustment helps Roth IRA savers too. In 2021, the AGI phase-out range for taxpayers making contributions to a Roth IRA is $198,000 to $208,000 for married couples filing jointly, up from $196,000 to $206,000 in 2020. For singles and heads of household, the income phase-out range is $125,000 to $140,000, up from $124,000 to $139,000 in 2020. If you earn too much to open a Roth IRA, you can open a nondeductible IRA and convert it to a Roth IRA as Congress lifted any income restrictions for Roth IRA conversions. To learn more about the backdoor Roth, see Congress Blesses Roth IRAs For Everyone, Even The Well-Paid. Saver’s Credit The income limit for the saver’s credit for low- and moderate-income workers is $66,000 for married couples filing jointly for 2021, up from $65,000; $49,500 for heads of household, up from $48,750; and $33,000 for singles and married filing separately, up from $32,500. QLACs The dollar limit on the amount of your IRA or 401(k) you can invest in a qualified longevity annuity contract is still $135,000 for 2021.   Sourec: Forbes

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14 Dec 2020

Advisors Management Group

5 Tips for Handling Holiday Financial Stress

If you’re like many people, the holidays cause more financial stress than any other time of year. Figuring out how to afford gifts, décor and food for the big feast is often overwhelming. You might never be able to remove all of your holiday money worries, but you can alleviate some of them. Even though your shopping list might continue to grow while your wallet shrinks, you can enjoy this season without breaking the bank. Here are five ways to survive holiday financial stress. Set a budget Review your earnings and expenses, and then decide how much you’re willing to spend on holiday gifts, food and other items. Consider making a list and assigning each item a specific dollar amount. This will help you overcome the temptation to overspend. » MORE: How to Create an Early Holiday Shopping Budget Plan your shopping Whether you’re headed to the grocery store or braving the crowds at the mall, know what you intend to buy and who it’s for. Sticking to your list will also help keep you from buying unnecessary items and prevent overspending. It’s easy to make impulse purchases with all the eye candy in stores this time of the year, but you won’t fall prey to these consumer tricks when you know what you need.   Don’t buy it if you can’t afford it A 2016 report from investment management firm T. Rowe Price showed that 25% of parents have dipped into their emergency savings or 401(k) retirement plan or taken out a payday loan in order to cover holiday expenses. If you can’t afford to buy your children something on their wish lists without taking out a loan or borrowing from another account, the best option is to not buy it — it’s OK to say no. Your children will survive. Shortchanging your savings or going into debt is ultimately more detrimental to your family than skipping a few presents. Get creative with gift giving You can give thoughtful gifts while spending a fraction of the cost. If you’re crafty, handmade presents are extremely thoughtful. And if you’re lacking in artistic abilities, you can always give the gift of your time. Cooking someone a meal, giving new parents a night out while you babysit, or offering to clean someone’s house are gifts that recipients will love and will cost you nothing. Remember what the season is all about It’s easy to be swept up in the consumerism of the season, but remember that it isn’t about money and materialism. Focusing on its religious purpose or enjoying time with your loved ones will keep you from stressing over less important things. With a little planning and creativity, it’s possible to get through the holidays and avoid debt or wiping out your savings account. And you’ll feel even less stress when you reach January in good financial shape. Source: Nerdwallet

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17 Nov 2020

Advisors Management Group

7 Tips to Help You Stop Making Holiday Shopping Mistakes

Overspending during the holidays can cost you more than you realize. It can be tempting to go crazy the first Christmas after you get your first real job. You are making a real salary, and you feel that you want to say thanks to those who have helped you while you struggled through college and internships. But that doesn't mean you should blow your budget in the process.  That's why it's important to have a Christmas survival guide to help you avoid common shopping mistakes and to prevent yourself from overspending.   1. Don't Bust Your Budget Before you buy a single Christmas present you should determine your spending budget this holiday season. It goes beyond gifts. Many people forget to add in Christmas cards, office parties, white elephant gifts, and travel expenses. If you are planning a party you should add this into your list as well. Then make a list of which you want to buy for and the amount you can afford to spend on the gifts. Once you add up all your projected costs, plus the estimated cost for gifts, then you'll have your holiday spending budget.  It's important to stick to your holiday budget. When you have used up all of your holiday money, it's time to stop spending.    2. Don't Use Credit One common holiday shopping mistake is to put everything on the credit card. You can end up paying for your Christmas gifts for several months—or even years—if you make this mistake.  Keep in mind that people tend to overspend when they use credit cards compared to cash. Use your debit card or cash to purchase your Christmas gifts. If you plan carefully you do not need to use credit to buy anything associated with the holidays. This is one gift you should give yourself.   3. Don't Buy to Impress It is tempting when you finally have some money to go out and buy extravagant gifts for everyone on your list. You may want to buy an extra nice gift for your parents or a close friend, but try not to go overboard on gifts. Plus, most people would prefer a thoughtful gift rather than one that's simply expensive.    4. Don't Forget Anyone One common holiday shopping mistake is to forget someone on your list. Shopping with a list is essential. For one, you do not want to forget anyone’s gift. Additionally, as you make out your list you can write down gift ideas for each person. Take your list with you and consult it as you shop. Cross off each person as you find the perfect gift, so you don't overbuy for one person and forget another.    5. Don't Forget to Shop Around You may hate shopping, or hate running from store to store trying to find the perfect gift. But another common shopping mistake is to forgo comparison shopping.  Comparing prices can save you big in the long run. At the very least look online at two or three stores, before you go shopping. This will give you an idea of how much an item should cost you. You may also consider buying your gifts online, or taking advantage of Black Friday sales to save money, but only if you go in with a game plan and stick to your shopping list.   6. Don't Wait Until the Last Minute The worst gifts and worst prices are a result of waiting until the last minute to do your shopping. There is nothing worse than the feeling of dread as you try to find a decent present for your family and friends in nearly empty aisles of a store, then spending way too much on an item because you have no other options. Avoid this holiday shopping mistake by shopping ahead. Bonus if you can get your shopping done before the holiday season begins.    7. Don't Forget to Include Christmas in Your Budget Many people’s biggest holiday financial mistake is to forget to spread the cost of Christmas over the entire year. You should set aside money each month to cover the cost of next Christmas. Put the money into a Christmas savings account or simply earmark the money in your normal savings account. This allows you to purchase your Christmas gifts without overspending or worrying about how much you have to spend on gifts.  Source: The Balance

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03 Nov 2020

Advisors Management Group

How Parents Can Serve Financial Sense At Thanksgiving Table

The Thanksgiving dinner table offers a great opportunity for parents to tutor their children towards future success. As you pass the mashed potatoes, consider passing along family stories—your stories—of planning, saving and frugal spending. Make the stories lively and real. Give your kids a reason to believe your stories could someday be their own stories. Here’s a sampling of subject-course pairs you might find useful in your never-ending quest to boost your child’s success aptitude: Appetizer Things start off light, usually a raw vegetable tray or a bowl of fruit topped with a dollop of raspberry sherbet. It’s really just a tease for what’s to come. This is the course when the youngest of children are most engaged. Capture that enthusiasm with tales from your youthful exploits of lemonade stands, paper routes or the equivalent. Don’t emphasize the work (but don’t ignore it, either). Instead, glorify the fruits of that labor. The money you earned as a kid might seem like small change now, but it was a wad of cash back then. What joys did you convert it into? Do your kids have similar wants? How might they acquire those goods without writing a check on the Bank of Mommy or Daddy? Soup There’s nothing like a light broth to warm your insides without filling you up before the main course. The younger kids might begin to sway here, but the serious always appreciate this delicious portion. Liquidity is a common need at almost all stages of life. Do you remember a time when you thought you’d get by on credit only to find the check-out counter said “cash only”? What did you do? What lesson did you take away from that? How did that experience better prepare you for the next time? When was the next time and how important was it for you to have ready cash at that point? Remember, you’re telling a personal story involving money, but it should evoke more feeling and less finance. Your kids will retain it better when they are entertained by your vivid emotion than lectured with your dour experience. No matter how solid the plan, there’s always room for contingency. That’s what the extra cash is for. Plan on it, even if you’ve never used it. Salad Unlike the previous courses, the salad has a more tactile impression. It’s so real you can hear it crunch in your mouth. And the sweet vinegar base of its dressing tingles in your mouth. It’s a savory sensation. Everybody likes salad—or at least they say they do. Here’s your chance to regale them with the grandness of green. And by “green,” make it obvious you mean money. This is the story of the grand slam, your biggest success, the time you took a chance and reaped a much larger reward. Yes, risk is OK. It’s more than OK. It’s a requirement. The Pilgrims took a risk. Weave the Thanksgiving celebration into your own story of the risk you took to get the green. Go ahead, add some croutons to the dish if you like. And don’t worry if some of your retellings include a turkey or two. After all, sometimes the best way to learn is to make mistakes first. The bonus for your kids is they don’t have to make the same mistakes you did. They can make their own mistakes and then accomplish more than you did! Entrée We’ve now arrived to the meat and potatoes of the meal. These represent the heavy-duty nutrients, the headliners on this cavalcade of culinary stars. Sure, you’ve got a few green beans and a cranberry concoction on the side, as well as some rolls and butter to further fill your belly. But the actual attractions are the turkey, stuffing and sweet (and/or mashed) potatoes. Everything before this was just practice. Now comes the real thing. The road to success contains many enjoyable and satisfying side dishes. The road, however, remains the main dish. It is the spine of your success. It may contain multiple careers in different industries, but it always has one common thread: you. If you’ve primed them properly, your children will yearn to hear those events which have framed your success. They’ll now be ready to absorb your adventures in the jungles of long hours, hard work and corporate competition. They want to listen to your winning strategies because they’ll wonder if they’re made of the same stuff. Over the years, as they grow more confident, they’ll pay rapt attention to those same stories again in hopes of determining how to employ similar strategies in their own lives. Don’t hesitate to allow them to extract the nitty gritty details from you. Be proud of what you’ve done. Be more proud of what your kids will do. Dessert At this point, everyone sits sated, too filled to move. Yet, the sweet temptation of pumpkin (or apple, or cherry, or chocolate banana or even lemon meringue) pie calls you. And you cannot deny it. You casually nibble at small, bite-sized pieces in a relaxed, elongated way. This being the final course, there’s no rush, there’s no deadline. There’s only calm, easy, comfort surrounded by those you love most. Isn’t that what retirement is all about? Doesn’t this part of the meal offer the perfect metaphor for a life well lived, the epitome of success? Let your children know of your retirement plans, how they came to be and how you’ve prepared for them over your entire working life. Excite them by showing your own excitement for retirement. Describe how it represents a new beginning, one that you’ve long looked forward to. You’re either on the cusp or well within demonstrable financial success. You are the role model for your children. No one else is. No one else can be. No one else should be. Embrace this duty and share your success with your children. Heck, if you’ve succeeded in getting them pumped up to achieve their own financial success, the time is ripe to bring up the idea of having them start on the road to a comfortable retirement by showing them how to establish a Child IRA. Finally, as they sip from their glass and you drink from your cup remind them of this crucial fact: drinks are a separate charge. That’s when that contingency cash in your pocket comes in most handy.   Source: Forbes

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