No, That is NOT the I.R.S Calling

Do you know how the Internal Revenue Service contacts taxpayers to resolve a problem? The first step is almost always to send a letter through the U.S. Postal Service to the taxpayer.

It is very rare for the I.R.S. to make the first contact through a call or a personal visit. This happens in two circumstances: when taxes are notably delinquent or overdue or when the agency feels an audit or criminal investigation is necessary. Furthermore, the I.R.S. does not send initial requests for taxpayer information via email or social media.

Tax Scams and Schemes

Year after year, criminals try to scam certain taxpayers. Year after year, certain taxpayers resort to schemes in an effort to put one over on the Internal Revenue Service (I.R.S.). These cons occur year-round, not just during tax season. In response to their frequency, the I.R.S. has listed the 12 biggest offenses – scams that you should recognize, schemes that warrant penalties and/or punishment.

A Family Mission Statement Can Keep Family Goals First and Money Squabbles at Bay

When rich families squabble over the family legacy, it becomes headline news. Witness the recent battle over the ownership of the Wall Street Journal between members of the Bancroft family. When approached by media titan Rupert Murdoch, various family members fought over whether to preserve the family legacy at the legendary daily business paper or take the money and run. Money eventually won.

For most average Americans, such stories are an illustration not only of how money doesn’t buy happiness, but how it breeds dissention and distance between people who could be enjoying their wealth and moving in concert. With all that money, how can people be so unhappy and contentious?

Families with substantial assets – or the promise of substantial assets as a business grows – might consider creating a family mission statement. While the end product should produce a document built from discussion, argument and consensus, it’s not so much about the piece of paper as the process. When a family sits down to discuss what is really important to them, it’s an opportunity to take the machine apart and see how it works. Many families start the process as a way to build consensus about long-term financial, business, estate and philanthropic goals, but to their surprise, money can take a back seat. Families discover particular strengths, weaknesses and unexpected courses of action within their ranks. The process might identify future leaders of the family.

Trained financial advisors, such as Certified Financial Planner ™ professionals, can explain and guide the process. Some planners may be trained to facilitate such discussion based on the size and goals of the family involved.

The general creation of a family financial mission statement should have four key touchpoints: estate issues, philanthropy, business direction and family dynamics.

Here are some questions that should be asked of everyone in preparing the family’s financial mission statement. They should focus on relationship issues first, and then move into business and money matters.

• What’s most important about our family?

• What do you think our goals should be?

• When do you feel most connected to the rest of us?

• How should we relate to one another?

• What are our strengths as a family?

• Where do you think we’ll be as individuals in 5, 10 and 15 years?

• In order, what are the five things you value most in life?

• How should we behave toward each other?

• How should we resolve our disputes?

• How important is the family business to you?

• What should we be doing differently with our family money as well as our assets inside the business?

• What’s the best way for us to be building our wealth?

• What do you think the role of our family should be in helping the community?

• What should we be doing individually and as a family with regard to philanthropy?

Structurally, the written mission statement can be whatever you agree it should be – a few paragraphs or a page or two. And it needn’t be set in stone – a family should have a meeting every year or two to revise or approve its mission. The family mission statement helps your family establish its identity and the variety of voices within. It can help set goals and diffuse tensions later. It can also be used to moderate discussions that inevitably happen after major changes within the family – death, divorce or happily, an increase in the number of heirs and participants.

As for the age of the participants, it can start in very basic form with younger children and the process can mature as they age. It’s actually a good idea to bring young members into a customized version of the process for youngsters so they can comfortably adjust to working as adults with the older members of the family.

This column is produced by the Financial Planning Association, the membership organization for the financial planning community, and is provided by Angel McCall, CFP, a local member of FPA.

A Guide to Withdrawing Retirement Assets

A lot is being written about how much money Americans can withdraw from their investments to fund their retirement years. Now, a new research institute launched by Fidelity Investments has outlined the order in which money should be withdrawn from various tax-deferred and taxable investment accounts. Described as the ‘withdrawal hierarchy,’ the Fidelity Research Institute suggests the order, with modifications made courtesy of other financial planning experts.

How Your Personality Affects Your Financial Decision-Making

Risk tolerance is an important part of investing – everyone knows that. But the real value of answering a lot of questions about your risk tolerance is to tell you what you don’t know – how the sources of your money, the way you made it, how outside forces have shaped your view of it and how you’re handling it now will inform every decision you make about it in the future.

Angel McCall CFP® of Lifetime Financial Strategies Named 2018 Five Star Wealth Management Award

Denver, CO -- Angel B McCall, CFP® will be featured in a special section of 5280 Magazine's November issue as a winner of the 2017 Five Star Professional Wealth Management Award. Angel has received the Five Star Professional Award for more than 5 years; an accomplishment less than .5% of Denver wealth managers have achieved.

The 2017 Five Star Wealth Manager award winners have been carefully selected for their commitment to providing quality services to their clients. The award is based on an in-depth research process incorporating peer and firm feedback with objective criteria such as client retention rates, client assets administered, industry experience, and regulatory and complaint history.

Are Charitable Gift Accounts Right for You?

Charitable gift accounts are popping up at major mutual fund companies and may be a good idea for individuals looking for a tax-advantaged way to support their favorite charities, improve their estate tax situation or bring more order to their gift-giving strategy. These are not necessarily inventions for the rich – some of these funds can start with an initial contribution of $10,000 and allow additional contributions of as little as $1,000.

Add Prenuptial Agreement to Your Wedding Plans

True, it may seem unromantic. But couples who plan to exchange marriage vows ought to consider a prenuptial agreement long before saying “I do.”

Yes, there was a time when only the wealthy executed such agreements. But now more and more couples, especially those who have been married before or who have a blended family structure, need to evaluate the pros and cons of a prenuptial agreement as part of their wedding plans.

Social Security Gets Its Biggest Boost in Years

Social Security will soon give seniors their largest “raise” since 2012. In view of inflation, the Social Security Administration has authorized a 2.8% increase for retirement benefits in 2019.

This is especially welcome, as annual Social Security cost-of-living adjustments, or COLAs, have been irregular in recent years. There were no COLAs at all in 2010, 2011, and 2016, and the 2017 COLA was 0.3%. This marks the second year in a row in which the COLA has been at least 2%.

Investing Means Tolerating Some Risk

investment-risk-tolerance.jpg

That truth must always be recognized.

Provided by Angel McCall CFP®

When financial markets have a bad day, week, or month, discomforting headlines and data can swiftly communicate a message to retirees and retirement savers alike: equity investments are risky things, and Wall Street is a risky place.

All true. If you want to accumulate significant retirement savings or try and grow your wealth through the opportunities in the markets, this is a reality you cannot avoid.

Regularly, your investments contend with assorted market risks.

They never go away. At times, they may seem dangerous to your net worth or your retirement savings, so much so that you think about getting out of equities entirely.

If you are having such thoughts, think about this: in the big picture, the real danger to your retirement could be being too risk averse.

Is it possible to hold too much in cash?

Yes. Some pre-retirees do. (Even some retirees, in fact.) They have six-figure savings accounts, built up since the Great Recession and the last bear market. It is a prudent move. A dollar will always be worth a dollar in America, and that money is out of the market and backed by deposit insurance.

This is all well and good, but the problem is what that money is earning. Even with interest rates rising, many high-balance savings accounts are currently yielding less than 0.5% a year. The latest inflation data shows consumer prices advancing 2.3% a year. That money in the bank is not outrunning inflation, not even close. It will lose purchasing power over time.1,2

Consider some of the recent yearly advances of the S&P 500.

In 2016, it gained 9.54%; in 2017, it gained 19.42%. Those were the price returns; the 2016 and 2017 total returns (with dividends reinvested) were a respective 11.96% and 21.83%.3,4

Yes, the broad benchmark for U.S. equities has bad years as well. Historically, it has had about one negative year for every three positive years. Looking through relatively recent historical windows, the positives have mostly outweighed the negatives for investors. From 1973-2016, for example, the S&P gained an average of 11.69% per year. (The last 3-year losing streak the S&P had was in 2000-02.)5

Your portfolio may not return as well as the S&P does in a given year, but when equities rally, your household may see its invested assets grow noticeably. When you bring in equity investment account factors like compounding and tax deferral, the growth of those invested assets over decades may dwarf the growth that could result from mere checking or savings account interest.

At some point, putting too little into investments and too much in the bank may become a risk – a risk to your retirement savings potential. At today’s interest rates, the money you are saving may end up growing faster if it is invested in some vehicle offering potentially greater reward and comparatively greater degrees of risk to tolerate.

Having a big emergency fund is good.

You can dip into that liquid pool of cash to address sudden financial issues that pose risks to your financial equilibrium in the present.

Having a big retirement fund is even better.

When you have one of those, you may confidently address the biggest financial risk you will ever face: the risk of outliving your money in the future.


This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note - investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.      

Citations.
1 - valuepenguin.com/average-savings-account-interest-rates [10/4/18]
2 - investing.com/economic-calendar/ [10/11/18]
3 - money.cnn.com/data/markets/sandp/ [10/11/18]
4 - ycharts.com/indicators/sandp_500_total_return_annual [10/11/18]
5 - thebalance.com/stock-market-returns-by-year-2388543 [6/23/18]

10 RMD Mistakes to Avoid

10 RMD Mistakes to Avoid

Turning 70 is a big milestone in anyone's life, and gives reason to celebrate a lifetime of experiences, changes, and most likely a long career now giving way for retirement. The IRS, however, is more concerned about your turning 70 ½. This is the age when you are required to begin withdrawing from your 401k, IRA, or other tax-deferred retirement plan.

Required Minimum Distributions, or RMDs, are amounts of money you are required to withdraw annually. If you miss the minimum distribution, you may be required to pay a fee of up to 50% of the amount that should have been withdrawn. It’s easy to make errors when figuring out the timing of RMDs, That’s why I’ve put together this helpful guide to ensure you can avoid these 10 common mistakes.