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Annuities Do Not Belong In 401(k) Plans

Here is Why?

By Rick Kahler CFP

Several weeks ago I wrote about the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act, which will reform various aspects of US retirement laws. The Act was passed by the House in May and is currently stalled in the Senate.

One of the most troubling of the SECURE Act’s 29 provisions is that it will ease regulations to make it easier for financial salespeople to sell annuities to 401(k) plan participants.

This is alarming, as the act creates a safe harbor for annuities inside 401(k) plans. That means companies choosing to offer annuities would be shielded from liability—no matter how terrible an investment the annuity products may be. This provision has great potential for harm.

Annuities seem always to be a hot financial product in the market place. It’s rare when I interview a new client that they don’t have at least one in their portfolio. Often, it’s the only investment they own. Annuities are not hot because consumers are clamoring to buy them, but rather because annuity sales people love to sell them.

While I rarely recommend them, there are some good things about annuities, especially that earnings grow tax deferred until distributed. They can be useful in this regard in special situations—when stripped of their high fees and commissions. Therein lies the problem.

Sales

Most annuities sold by salespeople inherently contain high fees, big commissions, and high penalties to consumers for taking money out early. What that means for the investor is low returns. For those reasons, the negative aspects of annuities far outweigh any good.

Even worse, annuities have no place being owned by an IRA or, as the SECURE Act would allow, a 401(k) plan. Regardless of fees or commissions, no annuity belongs in a retirement plan. One of my top pet peeves as a financial planner is so-called “financial advisors” who sell people fixed and variable annuities for a retirement account. This makes no sense.

An annuity is a tax-deferred container to put investments in, not an investment itself. It’s what investments are inside it that matters. The same is true of  IRAs and 401(k) retirement plans. Since a retirement plan is already a tax-deferred investment container, it makes no sense to put an annuity—another tax-deferred investment container—inside of it. The silliness of this is obvious to even the most casual observer, unless your livelihood comes from selling these products.

Agents and their companies spare no expense in developing convincing storylines, half-truths, and slight-of-hand explanations of why it makes perfect sense for a retirement plan to own an annuity.

The bottom line is that annuities are sold, they are not bought. The only reason annuities are purchased in someone’s retirement account is because the salesperson receives a much higher commission from the transaction than selling a mutual fund, individual stocks, or CDs.

Why?

So why did our Representatives vote 417-3 to open up investors’ 401(k) plans to these high-cost, high-commissioned, financially disastrous products? I can only surmise that most of them didn’t fully understand what they were voting on and that the insurance lobby did their normal amazing job of selling the alleged benefits of annuities. Oh, and maybe there was a campaign contribution or two.

Assessment

Most annuities are expensive investment vehicles that benefit the salesperson and the company far more than they benefit you. If you are thinking of buying one, or in the future your 401(k) offers the option of buying an annuity, do some digging before you sign on the dotted line. Make sure you get advice first from someone other than the annuity salesperson—someone with no vested interest in selling you this product.

Your thoughts are appreciated.

Risk Management, Liability Insurance, and Asset Protection Strategies for Doctors and Advisors: Best Practices from Leading Consultants and Certified Medical Planners™8Comprehensive Financial Planning Strategies for Doctors and Advisors: Best Practices from Leading Consultants and Certified Medical Planners™

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ME-P News Stories Wrap-Up for August 2015

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18 Financial Planning Tips For Physicians from a DR-CPA

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For Personal and Medical Practice Management Modernity

Dr. Gary Bode; CPA, MSA, CMP

By Dr. Gary L. Bode CPA MSA CMP [Hon] PA

http://garybodecpa.com/

http://www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.org

1. Consider establishing an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP).

If you own a clinic or medical practice or business and need to diversify your investment portfolio, consider establishing an ESOP. ESOP’s are the most common form of employee ownership in the U.S. and are used by companies for several purposes, among them motivating and rewarding employees and being able to borrow money to acquire new assets in pretax dollars. In addition, a properly funded ESOP provides you with a mechanism for selling your shares with no current tax liability. Consult a specialist in this area to learn about additional benefits.

2. Make sure there is a succession plan in place.

Have you provided for a succession plan for both management and ownership of your medical practice, clinic or business in the event of your death or incapacity? Many business owners or physician-executives wait too long to recognize the benefits of making a succession plan. These benefits include ensuring an orderly transition at the lowest possible tax cost. Waiting too long can be expensive from a financial perspective (covering gift and income taxes, life insurance premiums, appraiser fees, and legal and accounting fees) and a non-financial perspective (intra-family and intra-company squabbles).

3. Consider the limited liability company (LLC) and limited liability partnership (LLP) forms of ownership.

These entity forms should be considered for both tax and non-tax reasons.

4. Avoid nondeductible compensation.

Compensation can only be deducted if it is reasonable. Recent court-decisions have allowed physician executives or business owners to deduct compensation when (1) the corporation’s success was due to the shareholder-employee, (2) the bonus policy was consistent, and (3) the corporation did not provide unusual corporate prerequisites and fringe benefits.

5. Purchase corporate owned life insurance (COLI).

COLI can be a tax-effective tool for funding deferred executive compensation, funding clinic or company redemption of stock as part of a succession plan, and providing many employees with life insurance in a highly leveraged program. Consult your insurance and tax advisers when considering this technique.

6. Consider establishing a SIMPLE retirement plan.

If you have no more than 100 employees and no other qualified plan, you may set up a Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees (SIMPLE) into which an employee may contribute up to $12,500 per year if you’re under 50 years old and $15,500 a year if you’re over 50 in 2015. As an employer, you are required to make matching contributions. Talk with a benefits specialist to fully understand the rules and advantages and disadvantages of these accounts.

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7. Establish a Keogh retirement plan before December 31st.

If you are self-employed and want to deduct contributions to a new Keogh retirement plan for this tax year, you must establish the plan by December 31st. You don’t actually have to put the money into your Keogh(s) until the due date of your tax return. Consult with a specialist in this area to ensure that you establish the Keogh or Keoghs that maximize your flexibility and your annual contributions.

8. Section 179 expensing.

Businesses and medical practices may be able to expense up to $25,000 in 2015 for equipment purchases of qualifying property placed in service during the filing year, instead of depreciating the expenditures over a longer time period. The limit is reduced by the amount by which the cost of Section 179 property placed in service during the tax year 2015 exceeds $200,000.

9. Don’t forget deductions for health insurance premiums.

If you are self-employed (or are a partner or a 2-percent S corporation shareholder-employee) you may deduct 100 percent of your medical insurance premiums for yourself and your family as an adjustment to gross income. The adjustment does not reduce net earnings subject to self-employment taxes, and it cannot exceed the earned income from the business under which the plan was established. You may not deduct premiums paid during a calendar month in which you or your spouse is eligible for employer-paid health benefits.

10. Review whether compensation may be subject to self-employment taxes.

If you are a sole proprietor, an active partner in a partnership, or a manager in a limited liability company, the net earned income you receive from the entity may be subject to self-employment taxes.

11. Don’t overlook minimum distributions at age 70½ and rack up a 50 percent penalty.

Minimum distributions from qualified retirement plans and IRAs must begin by April 1 of the year after the year in which you reach age 70½. The amount of the minimum distribution is calculated based on your life expectancy or the joint and last survivor life expectancy of you and your designated beneficiary. If the amount distributed is less than the minimum required amount, an excise tax equal to 50 percent of the amount of the shortfall is imposed.

12. Don’t double up your first minimum distributions and pay unnecessary income and excise taxes.

Minimum distributions are generally required at age seventy and one-half, but you are allowed to delay the first distribution until April 1 of the year following the year you reach age seventy and one-half. In subsequent years, the required distribution must be made by the end of the calendar year. This creates the potential to double up in distributions in the year after you reach age 70½. This double-up may push you into higher tax rates than normal. In many cases, this pitfall can be avoided by simply taking the first distribution in the year in which you reach age 70½.

***

buckets cash

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13. Don’t forget filing requirements for household employees.

Employers of household employees must withhold and pay social security taxes annually if they paid a domestic employee more than $1,900 a year in 2015 (same as 2014). Federal employment taxes for household employees are reported on your individual income tax return (Form 1040, Schedule H). To avoid underpayment of estimated tax penalties, employers will be required to pay these taxes for domestic employees by increasing their own wage withholding or quarterly estimated tax payments. Although the federal filing is now required annually, many states still have quarterly filing requirements.

14. Consider funding a nondeductible regular or Roth IRA.

Although nondeductible IRAs are not as advantageous as deductible IRAs, you still receive the benefits of tax-deferred income. Note, the income thresholds to qualify for making deductible IRA contributions, even if you or your spouse is an active participant in a employer plan, are increasing.

The $100,000 income test for converting a traditional IRA to a ROTH IRA was permanently eliminated in 2010, allowing anyone to complete the conversion.

You can withdraw all or part of the assets from a traditional IRA and reinvest them (within 60 days) in a Roth IRA. The amount that you withdraw and timely contribute (convert) to the Roth IRA is called a conversion contribution. If properly (and timely) rolled over, the 10 percent additional tax on early distributions will not apply. However, a part or all of the distribution from your traditional IRA may be included in gross income and subjected to ordinary income tax.

Caution: You must roll over into the Roth IRA the same property you received from the traditional IRA. You can roll over part of the withdrawal into a Roth IRA and keep the rest of it. However, the amount you keep will generally be taxable (except for the part that is a return of nondeductible contributions) and may be subject to the 10 percent additional tax on early distributions.

15. Calculate your tax liability as if filing jointly and separately.

In certain situations, filing separately may save money for a married couple. If you or your spouse is in a lower tax bracket or if one of you has large itemized deductions, filing separately may lower your total taxes. Filing separately may also lower the phase out of itemized deductions and personal exemptions, which are based on adjusted gross income. When choosing your filing status, you should also factor in the state tax implications.

16. Avoid the hobby loss rules.

If you choose self-employment over a second job to earn additional income, avoid the hobby loss rules if you incur a loss. The IRS looks at a number of tests, not just the elements of personal pleasure or recreation involved in the activity.

17. Review your will and plan ahead for post-mortem tax strategies.

A number of tax planning strategies can be implemented soon after death. Some of these, such as disclaimers, must be implemented within a certain period of time after death. A number of special elections are also available on a decedent’s final individual income tax return. Also, review your will as the estate tax laws are influx and your will may have been written with differing limits in effect. In 2015, estates of $5,430,000 (up from $5,340,000 in 2014) are exempt from the estate tax with a 40 percent maximum tax rate (made permanent starting in tax year 2013).

18. Check to see if you qualify for the Child Tax Credit.

A $1,000 tax credit is available for each dependent child (including stepchildren and eligible foster children) under the age of 17 at the end of the taxable year. The child credit generally is available only to the extent of a taxpayer’s regular income tax liability. However, for a taxpayer with three or more children, this limitation is increased by the excess of Social Security taxes paid over the sum of other nonrefundable credits and any earned income tax credit allowed to the taxpayer. For 2015 (as in previous years), the income threshold is $3,000.

For more information concerning these financial planning ideas, please call or email us.

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ABOUT  DR. GARY L. BODE MSA CPA CMP [Hon]

Dr. Gary L. Bode was Chief Executive Officer of Comprehensive Practice Accounting, Inc., a firm specializing in providing tax solutions to medical professionals. Originally, he was a board certified podiatrist and managing partner of a multi-office medical practice for a decade before earning his Master of Science degree in Accounting from the University of North Carolina. He then served as Chief Financial Officer [CFO] for a private mental healthcare facility. Today, Dr. Bode is a nationally known Certified Public Accountant, financial author, educator, and speaker. Areas of expertise include producing customized managerial accounting reports, practice appraisals and valuations, restructurings, and innovative financial accounting as well as proactive tax positioning and tax return preparation for healthcare facilities. He has been quoted in Newsweek.

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Why I Hate Non-Publicly Traded REITS

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On Product Frustration

Lon JefferiesBy Lon Jefferies MBA CFP®

As my experience in the financial planning and investment advisory industries has grown over the years, there is one investment that I’ve seen no logical reason to own — non-publicly traded real estate investment trusts.

Josh Brown, one of my favorite analysts and author of TheReformedBroker.com nailed each of my frustrations with these products. Here is a significant excerpt from his post:

 ***

I consider non-traded REITs or nREITS to be part of the group of investments that are just absolute murderholes for clients – they pay the brokers so much that they cannot possibly work out (and they rarely do without all kinds of aggravation and additional costs). Further, I have yet to hear a single credible explanation as to why a broker would recommend a non-traded REIT over a public REIT other than compensation. The only explanation that makes sense to me is that 7% is a lot more than the 1% commission you get doing an agency trade on a NYSE-traded REIT. A reader with experience in the industry sent this to me and I found it hilarious. Below, a fictional, transparent conversation between an indie broker and his “client” that would never occur…

If Brokers Were Transparent:

Rep:

Before we wrap up our quarterly portfolio review I would like to talk to you about a new investment I think you might be interested in.  You have been looking for more income and this is an investment vehicle that pays a 7% dividend.

Client:

Sounds great, give me the details.

Rep:

With your portfolio size and risk tolerance I would recommend a $100,000 investment.  Given that amount let’s first go over the fees. If you invest $100,000 I will be paid a commission of $7,000. My firm is going to get $1,500 – $2,000 in revenue share. My wholesaler, the salesman that works for the investment’s sponsor company, will get $1,000. He is a great guy, buys me dinner and takes me golfing. The sponsor company is going to get around $3,000 to pay for some of the costs they incurred in setting up the investment. So after Day 1 there will be around $87,000 left over to actually invest.  I bet you are getting excited.

Client:

Are you on drugs? Why would I pay 13% in fees on anything?

Rep:

Don’t worry, it won’t feel like you are paying $13,000 in fees. The rules allow my firm to report your investment at $100,000 on your statement. You never really know what its worth but you will think you never lost money. Pretty sweet huh?

Client:

You have to be kidding.

Rep:

No, this is a really good investment. Let me tell you about the income component before you jump to any conclusions. Like I said this investment pays a 7% dividend and the dividend won’t change.

Client:

That sounds high and how do you know it won’t change?

Rep:

You see, the sponsor just picks the 7% dividend number out of thin air. Here’s how it works. You see the vehicle you are going to invest in is new and it’s going to take the firm a while before your net $87,000 is actually invested. Later on, maybe 2-4 years from now they will have the money fully invested and it will generate actual cash flow. So they just pay a quarterly dividend of 7% by giving you your money back. This is great from a tax perspective because return of capital isn’t taxed as income.

Client:

Are we on hidden camera or something?

Rep:

Ha, you are funny. I bet this next benefit will change your mind.

Client:

I hope so or I should start looking for another financial advisor.

Rep:

This is the best feature. You can’t sell your investment until the sponsor has the opportunity to create liquidity. You might be locked up in this investment for 7-10 years.

Client:

This feels like the Twilight Zone. Your firm allows you to sell this crap?

Rep:

Oh yeah, our firm sells a ton of it. In fact independent broker dealer firms like mine sold over $20 billion of these investments in 2013. Think about that. Reps like me made over $140 million dollars and our firms pocketed $20-$30 million.

Client:

This is crazy, what is this investment?

Rep:

Non-traded REITs. $100,000 sound about right?

***

Currency

***

Josh touched on every part of these investments that I despise — excessive commission paid to the so-called “financial advisor” (salesman), a supposed “dividend” that is really just paying the investor his own money back (essentially providing an interest-free loan), and a complete lack of liquidity and transparency.

When I begin working with a new client who owns one of these products, it is impossible to obtain accurate, current information on the investment (not even a true value is apparent). Even worse, if the client wants to sell the investment he would need to do so at pennies on the dollar. For the most part, once an investor purchases one of these products he just needs to forget about it and hope that one day he can get his money back.

Assessment

The bottom line is that if your advisor ever recommends a non-publicly traded REIT, I’d strongly recommend you walk out the door and start searching for a true financial advisor with a fiduciary responsibility to act in your best interest.

Conclusion

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Events Planner: May 2013

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Events-Planner: MAY 2013

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Calendar Calculator“Keeping track of important health economics and financial industry meetings, conferences and summits”

Welcome to this issue of the Medical Executive-Post and our Events-Planner. It contains the latest information on conferences, news, and relevant resources in healthcare finance, economics, research and development, business management, pharmaceutical pricing, and physician/entity reimbursement!  Watch for a new Events-Planner each month.

First, a little about us! The Medical Executive-Post is still a relative newcomer. But today, we have almost 175,000 visitors and readers each month from all over the country, in addition to our growing subscriber base. We have been a successful collaborative effort, thanks to your contributions.  As a result, we are adding new resources daily. And, we hope the website continues to provide the best place to go for journals, books, conferences, educational resources, tools, and other things you need to establish the value your healthcare consulting and financial advisory intervention.

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A Look Ahead this Month – And now, the important dates:

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  • May 08: Public Safety Congress: New Orleans, LA.
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Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com

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Events Planner: April 2013

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Events-Planner: APRIL 2013

By Staff Writers
Calendar Calculator“Keeping track of important health economics and financial industry meetings, conferences and summits”

Welcome to this issue of the Medical Executive-Post and our Events-Planner. It contains the latest information on conferences, news, and relevant resources in healthcare finance, economics, research and development, business management, pharmaceutical pricing, and physician/entity reimbursement!  Watch for a new Events-Planner each month.

First, a little about us! The Medical Executive-Post is still a relative newcomer. But today, we have almost 175,000 visitors and readers each month from all over the country, in addition to our growing subscriber base. We have been a successful collaborative effort, thanks to your contributions.  As a result, we are adding new resources daily. And, we hope the website continues to provide the best place to go for journals, books, conferences, educational resources, tools, and other things you need to establish the value your healthcare consulting and financial advisory intervention.

So, enjoy the Medical Executive-Post and this monthly Events-Planner with our compliments.

A Look Ahead this Month – And now, the important dates:

  • April 25-26: South Florida FPA Conference. Westin Hotel, Ft. Lauderdale, FLA.
  • April 28-30: IMCA Conference. Washington Convention Center, Seattle, WA.

MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com

Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com

Subscribe Now: Did you like this Medical Executive-Post, or find it helpful, interesting and informative? Want to get the latest E-Ps delivered to your email box each morning? Just subscribe using the link below. It’s free. You can unsubscribe at any time. Security is assured.

Link: http://feeds.feedburner.com/HealthcareFinancialsthePostForcxos

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Events Planner: February 2013

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Events-Planner: FEBRUARY 2013

By Staff Writers
Calendar Calculator“Keeping track of important health economics and financial industry meetings, conferences and summits”

Welcome to this issue of the Medical Executive-Post and our Events-Planner. It contains the latest information on conferences, news, and relevant resources in healthcare finance, economics, research and development, business management, pharmaceutical pricing, and physician/entity reimbursement!  Watch for a new Events-Planner each month.

First, a little about us! The Medical Executive-Post is still a relative newcomer. But today, we have almost 175,000 visitors and readers each month from all over the country, in addition to our growing subscriber base. We have been a successful collaborative effort, thanks to your contributions.  As a result, we are adding new resources daily. And, we hope the website continues to provide the best place to go for journals, books, conferences, educational resources, tools, and other things you need to establish the value your healthcare consulting and financial advisory intervention.

So, enjoy the Medical Executive-Post and this monthly Events-Planner with our compliments.

A Look Ahead this Month – And now, the important dates:

  • February 04-05: IMCA New York Consultants Conference. Mariott Marquis, NY
  • February 10-12: Inside ETFs Conference. Hollywood, FLA
  • February 10-13: Rural Health Care Leadership Conference. Phoenix, AZ
  • February 17-20: Center for Health Care Governance Symposium. Phoenix, AZ.

Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Medical Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com

Subscribe Now: Did you like this Medical Executive-Post, or find it helpful, interesting and informative? Want to get the latest E-Ps delivered to your email box each morning? Just subscribe using the link below. It’s free. You can unsubscribe at any time. Security is assured.

Link: http://feeds.feedburner.com/HealthcareFinancialsthePostForcxos

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