Financial Insights- April 18, 2022
BIPARTISANSHIP CAN AND DOES EXIST – SECURE 2.0
Just when you thought bipartisanship died in Washington, D.C., the House fooled us by overwhelmingly passing the “Securing a Strong Retirement Act of 2022” (also known as SECURE 2.0) by a vote of 414–5. What were those five lawmakers thinking? SECURE 2.0 encourages more individuals to save for retirement. Below we highlight some of the significant changes.
- Several years ago, Congress raised the age for Required Minimum Distributions from 70½ to 72. The new bill raised the age to 73 in 2023, to 74 in 2029, and to 75 beginning in 2032. This change allows account owners who do not need the funds to let their retirement accounts grow a little longer before distributions are required. On the other hand, larger distributions potentially create greater taxes and perhaps a higher tax bracket. Since many IRA owners use their RMDs to cover living expenses in retirement, this provision will likely impact a small percentage of retirees.
- Since the beginning of IRAs in 1974, if you fail to take your RMD, you face an astronomical penalty of 50% of the amount that should have been taken. Additionally, the penalty was NOT tax-deductible. The bill reduces this penalty to 25%, and even further to 10% if the RMD is satisfied, albeit late.
- Employers with 403(b) and 401(k) retirement plans must automatically enroll eligible employees. Employees will be automatically enrolled to contribute 3% and it will increase 1% per year to a maximum of 10%. Employees can opt-out at any point. Existing plans are grandfathered, but many have already added this feature.
- Ever since the concept of “catch-up” contributions was introduced for both 401(k)s and IRAs, the $1,000 extra contributions for IRAs have remained static. Going forward, it will be indexed for inflation starting in 2023.
- Speaking of “catch-up contributions,” SECURE 2.0 allows those between ages 62-64 to add $10,000 of “catch-up” for 401(k) and 403(b) plans, and $5,000 for IRAs. Interestingly, no additional money can be put in after these ages even if the individual continues to work.
- Congress will now allow Simplified Employer Plans (SEP) and SIMPLE IRAs to allow Roth contributions. This provision allows the U.S. Treasury to raise revenue since Roth contributions are not tax-deductible. What a great opportunity for younger employees to consider saving through a Roth since they can set aside money when they are in a lower tax bracket than they might be in retirement. Older and higher-income employees who do not qualify for a Roth because of income restrictions may use this provision to create some tax diversification.
- In the past, annuities were not really considered a good asset to own in a retirement plan. That began to change a few years ago when an IRA owner could use up to 25% for a Qualified Longevity Annuity Contract (QLAC). This type of annuity is bought today but does not begin payments until a later date, say age 85, and then guarantees income for the rest of the annuitant’s life, or age 115 whichever occurs first.
- For a decade, an IRA owner could give up to $100,000 to a qualified charity and the distribution would count towards the RMD but would not be taxable. This amount is known as a “Qualified Charitable Distribution” (QCD) will be indexed for inflation. IRA owners may make a one-time QCD contribution of up to $50,000 directly to a charitable gift annuity, Charitable Remainder Annuity Trust (CRAT) or Charitable Remainder Unitrust (CRUT). These vehicles continue paying income payments to the donor with the remainder going to charity at death.
- Student debt continues to plague many employees and their ability to save for retirement. The new bill would allow an employer’s matching contributions to a 401(k), 403(b), 457(b), and SIMPLE IRA plans based on that worker’s student loan payments, rather than just what that worker contributes to their retirement account.
- The bill charges the Department of Labor with creating an online “lost and found” for former plan participants to find an account they may have lost track of over the years. It articulates the responsibilities of a plan fiduciary in finding lost/missing participants.
Before any of this becomes law, the Senate will have the opportunity to add or subtract to the bill and if they do, it will go to a conference committee. Expect the major parts to be part of the final bill.
WEALTHY – YES / ESTATE PLAN – NO
According to a recent survey of 10,000 people by Wealth, an estate planning platform, 70% of people making over $100,000 between ages 30-55 want to pass their wealth on to the next generation. However, 53% of those surveyed do not have an estate plan. What is even more amazing is that 32% don’t even have a Will. Why don’t smart people develop an estate plan? They say it is something to do in the future with 45% saying they avoid thinking about death. If you don’t have an estate plan, or it is significantly out of date, please give us a call to start the conversation
1Q22 CORPORATE EARNINGS REVIEW
In our earnings recap last quarter, we noted that the market’s cold shoulder toward positive earnings surprises was likely more due to the high percentage of companies issuing negative forward guidance and downward estimate revisions by Wall Street analysts rather than the earnings announcements themselves. Since then, analyst estimates have remained around 5% year over year growth for the first quarter of 2022 – a marked slowdown from the 31% growth posted in fourth quarter 2021. Analysts expect earnings growth to accelerate through the year, reflecting expectations for resilient corporate profit margins and easing inflationary pressures while consumer demand remains robust.
As we enter a more normalized operating environment, meaningful unknowns abound. Namely, interest rates and the Federal Reserve’s speed and effectiveness in combating inflation. Positively, economic growth is strong, and consumers are in great financial shape. Markets, however, will continue to oscillate this year as investors attempt to gauge how resilient (and prolonged) this economic recovery is. Look for earnings results and management commentary from the banks to provide some valuable insight.
HERE’S WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WOMEN TALK ABOUT MONEY
In March 2022, Fidelity released its “Money Moves Study” finding that “57% of women are motivated to invest their money for financial independence.”
Lorna Kapusta, Head of Women Investors and Customer Engagement at Fidelity Investments, noted a positive shift with women talking about money through various channels like social media, circles of women and family conversations.
At ProVise, we are encouraged by women removing the taboo surrounding money and investing. As women embrace investing to develop long-term wealth, they create the path to their financial freedom.