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Read More January 18, 2018
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https://www.moneytalksnews.com/3-big-reasons-to-file-your-2017-taxes-early/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_campaign=email-2018-01-08-pm&utm_medium=email&subscriber=yesAn overhauled tax code, a speedy tax refund and possible identity theft: What more reason... Read More January 13, 2018
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Featured

Board Member Spotlight: Jan Gilbert

photo of board member

Jan Gilbert has been a Great Basin volunteer since 1985 and a credit union member for 50 years. He is current Chair of the Board and was a former Chair of the Supervisory Committee; he is also the current Chair of the Asset-Liability Committee.

Mr. Gilbert is currently retired. He was employed in the supermarket industry for 35 years including locally owned Scolari’s Food and Drug Company as Vice President of Buying and Merchandising until 1998. He then worked for Port of Subs in development of new franchise and corporate submarine sandwich restaurants.

Mr. Gilbert’s goals are to work with the other board members and the management team to help provide leadership and direction and to continue the solid performance of our credit union into the future. By serving on the Board with the other dedicated volunteers, he can help provide to our members the same credit union benefits he has experienced over the years.

This Year, Get Your Financial Health in Tip Top Shape

coins and pencils

Happy New Year,

Just like so many people vow to commit to exercise and dieting as a New Year’s resolution, it’s also not a bad idea to take stock of your financial situation and throw in some fiscal goals. Taking a good look into your overall savings plan, wasteful spending and debt can help you get your financial health in tip top shape and increase your prosperity.

Here’s a list of five valuable exercises you can do to make sure you’re closer to where you want to be financially by this time next year.

Cut wasteful spending. This may seem like an obvious choice but for many it can be an ever-so-hard one! All too often people aren’t even sure exactly where they’re spending their money. The following are some apps you can utilize to help on this front: BillGuard, Penny and Level Money. These apps can link your accounts, track all of your credit card purchases and cash withdrawals and then categorize them into types of spending. You can use the knowledge these apps provide to cut back on purchases that may seem inconsequential at the time but add up in the end.

Create a cushion in your savings. This can first and foremost be accomplished by cutting wasteful spending. But another easy way to save more for emergency expenses is to start utilizing and/or adjusting automatic transfer features on your bank account that allow you to push your money from recurring deposits into designated savings accounts. A lot of times when we see the money sitting in our checking account we tend to think it’s available to spend. So by setting up these transfers, the money is no longer in an account where it’s easy to access!

Get a handle on credit card debt. If you have multiple credit cards, you may want to consolidate to one or two cards. Start by looking at each of your credit card statements to see which has the lowest interest rates—transferring your other balances onto those cards can save you hundreds of dollars a month and thousands a year. Then, challenge yourself to lower these balances by spending only cash on everything you purchase for an entire month and see how it affects your spending habits.

Improve your credit rating. Whether you’re looking to buy a new home, rental property, car or solar panels, everyone wants to first…run your credit! You don’t want to be surprised by a low credit score and be faced with a higher interest rate right as you’re applying for a new loan. Make it a priority over the next 12 months to research your credit report, make sure everything is accurate and then take the necessary action to improve it.

Protect your estate. If you don’t have an estate plan, now’s the time to create one. If you already have one, now may be the time to make sure it is up to date. As time passes, things in life change and estate plans need to be updated. Has your family had any recent births or deaths, have you gained new assets, have there been any marriages or divorces? Any of these life changes can alter your estate wishes and should be addressed in your estate documents as they happen to ensure you’re always prepared. Give the office a call if you have had any changes to your situation so I can be sure you are properly covered.
You work hard for your money, and by doing these financial exercises I know you can make sure it works just as hard for you.

All the best,

Steve Lindquist

steve

Steve Lindquist
stevelindquist@peakfns.com
Financial Consultant
9600 S McCarran Blvd
Reno, NV 89523
(775) 789-3140
http://www.gbfinancial.org/

New Year’s Resolutions

fireworks

New Year’s Resolutions

What New Year’s resolutions are you making this year? Many times, people base their resolutions on their finances. Will you be saving more with your free Kasasa rewards checking? Will you be investing? Are you looking to refinance your house or your vehicle? At Great Basin Federal Credit Union, we can help your resolutions become reality.

Here’s what our employees said their resolutions are for 2018:

• Continue a healthy life style, build my savings and to be more organized.

• Start saving and have a paid for a trip to Alaska by the end of next year!

• My husband and I are calling 2018 the year of the cheapskate! We are trying to use every extra dollar to pay down some debt. Just one example of that is instead of dinners out with friends and family, we’ll suggest cheaper options or get-togethers potluck-style. See ya later, debt!

• To learn Spanish.

• I have chosen to stop drinking soda completely (hardest thing for me to do), paying off all of my credit cards, hopefully paying off my car and saving money to buy a home for 2019.

• Eating out less and save money.

• Come up with the last little change for a down payment for a house. Continue to improve my credit aiming for 800-900, one day I will get there. Save money for my dream Vacay. Get a financial review to make sure my hubby and I are on track for our goals.

• Workout, eat better, and run half marathons on a quarterly basis.

• Get my knee back in shape and walk consistently to get myself back in shape.

• Get ourselves ready for retirement by saving and getting things paid off. We are looking at making extra payments on our house to get it paid off.

• I want to have more patience with my kids!

• I would like to save for an amazing Disneyland trip!

• Open my babies Jr. Savers Accounts to get them set up for collage!

• Be more consistent with my work habits like staying organized and so forth, because I do it for a week and then stop!

• To laugh, love, and forgive.

• To save more money than I spend!

• Get active and save up for stuff I may need in the future!

• Have a set budget each month that will help me be more efficient with my saving habits.

• I would like to be more active and also save more each month!

• Live in the moment more and stop worrying about things I cannot change right now.

• Be able to obtain my small aircraft pilots license within this next calendar year

• I would like to resolve to drink less Starbucks coffee which will ultimately result in saving more money.

• Continue to strive for my health goals. Finish my business plan and complete my Masters. Learn Spanish fluently and teach my kiddos.

What 2018 Tax Reforms Mean for Investors

Jason BortzJason Bortz
Senior Counsel and Senior Vice President

 

 

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Tax reform presents important changes for investors, while also preserving several areas some thought could change. 529s get more useful, while 401(k) plans remain mostly unchanged.
  •  Planning opportunities abound especially for high net worth clients, business owners, those interested in philanthropic efforts and others planning for education expenses.
  • Business owners might consider changing their form of business to take advantage of tax breaks for pass-through entities. Decisions regarding philanthropy before the year ends could also be an option.

Congress’ sweeping overhaul of the tax code presents a range of planning opportunities for investors.

For individual taxpayers, the headline provisions include a lowering of the top tax rate to 37% from 39.6%. There could also be secondary benefits to investors resulting from lower corporate taxes.

A deeper look at the new tax law, though, reveals equally important changes beyond tax rates, especially for business owners. Individuals are also potentially affected, especially when it comes to their retirement accounts, philanthropy and education savings accounts.

 

WHAT’S CHANGING

1. Big breaks for business owners who qualify for pass-through income. 

Perhaps the most significant tax change for individuals is the modification in the treatment of income from pass-through entities.  Many businesses are pass-through entities, so the effect could be large and swift.

Pass-through income is generated via business income from business structures like partnerships, S corporations and sole proprietorships.

The new tax rates have a large effect on pass-through income, since this form of income is currently taxed to the end taxpayer, not at the corporate level. In 2017, this popular type of business income potentially faced the maximum tax rate of 39.6%.

That changes in 2018. If you’re eligible for the pass-through deduction, 20% of taxable income gets taken off the table for tax calculation purposes. That means if you’re in the new highest 37% tax rate for 2018, this rule lowers your effective tax rate to 29.6%. 

Who This Affects: Many business owners who receive pass-through income including professionals like doctors and lawyers as well as some financial advisors. There is complexity, though, that might curtail this option for some, so it’s important to consult your tax professional.

What to Consider: Business owners might consider converting from a C corporation structure to S corporation or partnership to take advantage of the pass-through preference. Retirement plan contributions, however, may dilute the benefit of the pass-through deduction.

2. Limits rise even more for estate and gift taxes.

Federal estate taxes affect a small subset of high net worth investors now, but that number is likely to dwindle even further. That’s because new tax rules double the federal estate tax exclusion to $11 million for individuals and $22 million for couples. Very few estates are this large, making this type of planning even more of a specialty for advisors.

Who This Affects: A very small percentage of the population with an estate value at death of $11 million.

What to Consider: Estate planning strategies can be recalibrated for a much higher upward limit.

3. Expansion of 529 education savings accounts make them even more useful. 

Since their creation in 2001, 529s could only be used for college expenses. But now, for the first time, these accounts can be used for primary and secondary education up to $10,000 a year per student. This is a big expansion of the appeal and utility of 529 plans.

Previously, investors looking for tax preference on education costs prior to college had to use other account types such as Coverdell Education Accounts. Coverdell accounts will remain available, despite speculation they would be curtailed. Those accounts have disadvantages to 529s, though, including much lower contribution limits.

Who This Affects: Clients looking for ways to gain tax efficiency when paying for private school prior to college. 529s plans are growing in popularity, but there are many investors who have yet to take advantage of their numerous benefits.

What to Consider: The 529 account is now potentially even more compelling than it was before. Contribution limits remain the same, allowing for annual contributions in 2018 of $15,000 for single taxpayers and $30,000 for those married filing jointly. Some taxpayers might consider making five years of contributions ahead of time, amounting to $75,000 for individuals or $150,000 for couples.

4. The cap on state income tax deductions and doubling of standardized deductions changes the math.

Many of the tax changes are positives for investors, at least in the early years, but not all. Over time, some taxpayers could end up in higher brackets due to a change in the way the annual increases to the brackets are calculated.

The math gets more complicated in other ways. For instance, taxpayers’ state and local income tax deduction is capped at $10,000, which is a negative for taxpayers in states with higher state taxes. But, the standard deduction is also doubled to $12,000 for individuals and $24,000 for married couples.

The end result? Roughly 30% of taxpayers itemize now. That number will likely be far smaller following the tax changes.

 

Standard Deduction: The New and the Old

Who This Affects: The increase in the standard deduction could have ramifications on charitable giving, which is an itemized deduction. Investors who take the standard deduction in 2018 may not get any tax benefit from charitable giving. The tax bill also eliminates all miscellaneous itemized deductions. One of those deductions is for investment expenses. Fees to financial advisors will no longer be deductible.

What to Consider: Philanthropic investors, who itemize, might consider accelerating donations to before December 31, 2017. As with many provisions for individuals, the limit on state and local tax deductibility expires in 2025. Meanwhile, the complex alternative minimum tax remains, but has been restructured in a way that is likely to affect far fewer people.  

 

WHAT’S NOT CHANGING

While much attention is paid to the parts of the tax code that are changing, perhaps equally as important to investors are aspects that are staying the same. 

1. Tax rates on dividends and capital gains remain unchanged.

Tax rates on dividends and long-term capital gains stay where they are in 2018. For capital gains and qualified dividends, that means a maximum tax rate of 15% for taxpayers in the lower tax brackets. For those in the highest tax bracket, the tax rate is 23.8%, including the 3.8% Net Investment Income Tax, associated with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Who This Affects: Investors with taxable portfolios that generate dividends or where investment sales are being considered.

What to ConsiderInvestors and advisors can continue to strategically position investments in accounts to take advantage of preferential tax treatment given to qualified dividends and long-term capital gains. 

2. Tax benefits to retirement accounts, such as 401(k)s and IRAs, stand.

Good news for investors in 401(k) retirement plans: The tax benefits of tax-deferred retirement accounts stand, despite worries they would be curtailed. Changes were small and affect only a subset of taxpayers and investors.

Who This AffectsRetirement accounts remain attractive options for taxpayers looking to save and invest for their retirement.

What to ConsiderThere are some minor changes that investors should be aware of. For instance, investors who converted funds from a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA can no longer undo or recharacterize the conversion once it’s done. Investors may want to check with their tax professionals to see if any other changes affect them.

3. Tax-lot selling rules stay the same.

Investors are still able to determine the most appropriate tax lot to use for cost-basis purposes on investment sales. This preserves an important planning tool for investors. In some versions of the tax bill, it was proposed investors would need to use first-in first-out accounting, where investors would use the cost basis of the shares they bought first. That could have meant higher capital gains for many investors.

Who This AffectsTax-aware investors who have bought investments over time, have unrealized gains and are considering selling.

What to ConsiderInvestors and advisors are still able to analyze investments bought over time and consider which lots are most appropriate to sell for tax purposes. Investors can choose the specific lots to use for cost basis, or, in many cases with mutual fund shares, opt for the average cost of the shares bought over time.

4. Municipal bonds’ appeal is unchanged.

The reduction of the top tax rate could reduce the appeal of municipal bonds for some taxpayers. But at the same time, munis get more interesting due to the loss of itemized deductions. The bottom line: Munis remain important options for tax-aware investors.

Who This Affects: Investors who look to municipal bonds as a source of tax-exempt income.

What to Consider: Demand for municipal bonds from banks and insurers may ease a little. But individuals seeking income may still find municipals to be a potential source of tax-advantaged income and diversification. For higher tax bracket investors in states like New York and California, the relative attractiveness of local bonds could actually improve.

This material does not constitute legal or tax advice.

We may not be on the teller line, but we’re still here!

congrats to Sonia

As you all often hear, when you ask where the person that you’ve been seeing on the teller line for the past three months have gone the phrase “They’ve been promoted” makes you think, have they really? Every time you stop in, you look for this so called promoted individual and you can’t seem to find them anywhere, so where have they really gone?

I cannot speak for every promoted person here at GBFCU but I can speak for myself. For those of you who stop by the Northwest Branch pretty often, you may have notice that I have not been on the teller line. As much as it pains me not to see members face to face, I get to help in many other ways! What I mean by that is that I have been promoted to the call center. Anytime you call us regarding any issues I am one of the ladies who helps you. From being on the teller line to being in the call center it is a big change. Making it personal over the phone is a little difficult because it is not the face to face experience you get in branch, at least that’s what I thought.

But in the call center it is just as personal as in person, if not even more. How you may ask? Well in the call center, we love when you leave a phone call with such thankfulness and gratitude, happy that we were able to help you without having to come in. We also love when you call in and check your balances because we get to hear your sweet voice and not to mention the funny jokes you crack on us, this is definitely one of the many things we look forward to every day.

Although we do not see you face to face we feel you heart to heart and to me that is what the matters the most. I love this new position I was promoted to because I get to help you in many ways that makes you leave the phone call with a smile on your face and that warms my heart. Although I was promoted, I promise I didn’t leave you loving members, I’m still here just in different ways! 😊