Feeling like “the tax man cometh” too often?

With a recent notice from the IRS that the tax filing deadline has been pushed back to May 17th, you may be feeling a little off the hook for now. The pressure is off, at least for the moment.  However, while there is a momentary lull in the action, consider a few facts about taxation which might make you think about taxes differently. Historic Tax Rates While it’s easy to feel like you are paying too much in taxes, especially at this time of year, it’s important to put this in perspective. In 2021, the top marginal tax rate is 40.8%, which is a combination of the top marginal bracket of 37% and the 3.8% Medicare surtax for high earners. That sounds like a very high tax rate but consider that the historic average top marginal tax rate (1925-2026) is 57.5%, with rates in the 1950’s topping 90%.  The marginal tax rate considers the highest tax bracket you hit with your taxable income, while the effective tax rate is the percentage you are effectively paying when your income across all Read on! →

One positive outcome from Covid & 2020

While there are many aspects of 2020 which we might prefer be forgotten, there were a few positive outcomes from the year which need to be highlighted.  As a majority of individuals in the U.S. were sheltering-in-place during Covid-19 an interesting thing happened. Because we were unable to travel, dine out and generally entertain ourselves by spending lots of money, the U.S. personal savings rate jumped to a record 15% of gross income. As can be seen from the chart below, not since the early 80’s has the U.S. seen a savings rate even in excess of 10% and it has been as low as 3%, which occurred just prior to the Great Recession. Even though the jump in personal savings was not spread evenly throughout the population, it does represent a very positive change, one that shouldn’t be abandoned when the world returns to it’s new “normal”. It is interesting to note that in order to successfully fund retirement, it is recommended that a consistent annual savings rate of 10-15% is required. With this chart going back to 1960, Read on! →

After the Taxes are Completed

When the tax returns are completed for the year, don’t just put them in the file drawer and forget about them.  Use the data provided to make some good decisions about 2021 withholding and saving patterns. This is a good time for you to review a recent paystub from 2021.  With tax return results in hand, you can estimate whether you need to adjust your W-4 to change federal withholding, either reducing large refunds or withholding a bit more each pay period to better cover 2021 taxation. Your CPA can assist with this evaluation. Lastly, refer to your paystub to ensure you are taking full advantage of deferrals to retirement plans, using the table below to view the annual maximums allowable. Your plan administrator allows you to adjust deferral percentages throughout the year.

Choosing an Advisor in the Time of Covid-19

If the shelter-in-place restrictions were not enough to take you off balance, the March recession and changes to your ongoing employment likely tipped the scale for you. Given the many months this crisis has continued on and amid so many uncertainties, where should you turn and how do you go about choosing an advisor to partner with for the future? Can you even search for an advisor during Covid-19? Clearview Wealth Management is fully able to meet virtually with you to help determine if there is a mutual fit for your situation and if we have the expertise you need to help you meet your goals. Whatever is driving your search for an advisor, there are some important aspects which should be considered before making your decision. Because this is not a decision most people make more than a few times in their lives, consider the following to help you narrow down your search for the right person. Choosing the Right Advisor – A Clearview Case Study example of advisor characteristics you should consider NAPFA Advisor Comparison Tool  – A Read on! →

Your phone is ringing. Should you answer it?

I would hazard a guess that for many of us, answering the phone has become an exercise in frustration.  If you are like me, regardless of the efforts I have taken to place my number on the DoNotCall registry and to use my caller id to prescreen before answering, I am still bombarded with scam calls each and every day.  What makes it worse is that the robo-callers and scammers are now using a technique called “spoofing” where they can disguise their identity on caller id and make it appear that a legitimate business is calling.  This spoofing technique has resulted in innocent individuals picking up the phone believing that the IRS or Social Security is calling and ultimately being strong-armed into releasing personal information to the callers.  A recent article by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) discusses this issue and provides the following tips to avoid becoming the victim of a call scam: Don’t answer calls from numbers you don’t recognize. If the caller is not who you were expecting, hang up immediately. Never give out personal information such Read on! →