A Millennial’s Guide for Investing – Annapolis and Towson Estate Planning

Bankrate recently created a guide to investing for Millennials. The Millennial Generation is not only concerned about the ability to retire when they choose, but also outliving their retirement savings.

Many millennials carry a great weight of debt, most of which tends to be student loan debt. The large debt ratio of this generation plays a major role in why they are unable or afraid to invest. It is important to keep in mind that avoiding riskier investments will not help build your retirement faster.

Bankrate reports in their recent article  “Time on your side: A guide to millennial investing” why it is so beneficial for millennials to invest early on. The article also provides a guide on how to go about investing, even if you think this is not in your current budget.

According to Bankrate, before making your investment you should evaluate how much you are able to invest. Here are a few steps to follow:

Calculate your total debt: First, figure out how much income you have coming in monthly and how much money is coming out. Some things to consider are rent or a house payment, monthly loan payments, monthly credit card payments, and factor in other debts or payments that must be made monthly. Paying off even a small credit card can help alleviate some debt and provide you with money to put towards your investment.

Determine your financial risk level: Keep in mind that there will always be ups and downs in the stock market. With this being said, if you have a short-term goal that you have been saving for, you may want to start by investing conservatively.

Educate yourself on stark market basics: Bonds, brokerage account, ETFs or exchange-traded funds, mutual funds, and stocks are all terms that you should educate yourself on. The article published by Bankrate is a good starting point for these investing terms.

One thing to keep in mind is the importance of staying up to date on financial news. General stock market news can be found on any major news source. Before you get started with your investing, determine your short-term and long-term goals.

Reference: Bankrate (February 20, 2020) “Time on your side: A guide to millennial investing”

Sims & Campbell, LLC – Annapolis and Towson Estate Planning Attorneys

Unintended Kiddie Tax Change Fixed in the SECURE Act – Annapolis and Towson Estate Planning

Families were hurt by a change in the kiddie tax that took effect after 2017, but they will be able to undo the damage from 2018 and 2019 now that a fix has become law. The SECURE Act contains a provision that fixed this unintended change, as reported in the San Francisco Chronicle’s recent article, “Congress reversed kiddie-tax change that accidentally hurt some families.”

The kiddie tax was created many years ago to prevent wealthy families from transferring large amounts of investments to dependent children, who would then be taxed at a much lower rate than their parents. It taxed a child’s unearned income above a certain amount at the parent’s rate, instead of at the lower child’s rate. Unearned income includes investments, Social Security benefits, pensions, annuities, taxable scholarships and fellowships. Earned income, which is money earned from working, is always taxed at the lower rate.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 changed the kiddie tax in a way that had severe consequences for military families receiving survivor benefits. Instead of taxing unearned income above a certain level—$2,100 in 2018 and $2,200 in 2019—at the parent’s tax rate, it taxed it at the federal rate for trusts and estates starting in 2018.

Hitting military families with a 37% tax rate that starts at $12,750 in taxable income is unthinkable, but that is what happened. Low and middle-income families whose dependent children were receiving unearned income, including retirement benefits received by dependent children of service members who died on active duty and scholarships used for expenses other than tuition and books, were effectively penalized by the change.

Under pressure from groups representing military families and scholarship providers, Congress finally added a measure repealing the kiddie tax change to the SECURE Act, which seemed as if it was going to be passed quickly in May. The bill was stalled until it was attached to the appropriations bill and was not passed until December 20, 2019.

There is a specific provision in the bill: “Tax Relief for Certain Children” that completely reverses the change starting in 2020. It also says that subject to the Treasury Department issuing guidance, taxpayers may be able to apply the repeal to their 2018 and 2019 tax years, or both.

The IRS has not yet issued guidance, but the expectation is that amended returns will be required, if a taxpayer elects to use the parents’ tax rate for that year.

Some parents whose children have investment income may be better off using the estate-tax rate for the two years that it is in place. In 2019, those trust brackets may actually allow more capital gains and dividends be taxed at the 0% and 15% rates than by using the parents’ rates.

Reference: San Francisco Chronicle (Jan. 20, 2020) “Congress reversed kiddie-tax change that accidentally hurt some families”

Sims & Campbell, LLC – Annapolis and Towson Estate Planning Attorneys