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On the Unintended Consequences of High Taxes on the Rich

On the two types of tax increases

[By Rick Kahler CFP®]

Two types of tax increases are being promoted by several presidential candidates and members of Congress. The less common idea, which I wrote about recently, is a wealth tax on net worth. The more common proposal is a significant increase in income taxes.

Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders favors a progressive income tax that tops out at 54.2% on incomes over $10 million. Not to be outdone, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez supports increasing the income tax on the same group to 70%.

If you think these proposals are so radical that only the most liberal of voters would support them, a poll conducted by Hill-HarrisX in January 2019 found that 59% of all voters favored a 70% tax bracket. The survey asked 1001 registered voters if they favored a 70% top rate for “the 10 millionth dollar and beyond for individuals making $10 million a year or more in reportable income.” While predictably most Democrats polled—71%—favored the steep increase, 60% of Independents and 45% of Republicans also supported it.

When you consider how popular the notion of a 70% top income bracket is, it isn’t a stretch by any means to imagine these same voters in the 2020 election giving control of Congress and the Presidency to politicians favorable to hiking taxes. The chance of seeing such massive increases on the wealthy goes from a remote possibility to a real probability.

Promoters of the anticipated windfall revenues from such a tax want to redistribute the proceeds to fund things like free college education, affordable health care for all, high speed rail trains, and converting existing buildings to comply with “green” regulations.

While all these outcomes are well intended, perhaps even desirous, before we forge ahead it may be a good idea to consider unforeseen consequences. Let’s look at how past attempts to fund massive government benefits by raising taxes on the rich have worked.

France

In 2012 France raised the top tax bracket to 75% on individuals earning over $1 million. French economist Thomas Piketty, who really wanted to see the tax at 80%, was so exuberant about the move that he predicted many other countries would follow suit.

Government officials estimated that tax revenues would soar to 30 billion euros in 2013. They were roughly half right: revenues came in at 16 billion euros. One of the reasons the tax revenue windfall didn’t develop was a consequence that politicians had not considered. The wealthy packed their bags and moved, taking their investments and income with them.

By 2015, around 2.5 million French citizens lived in the U.K., Belgium, Singapore, and other countries that had much more competitive tax rates. The French economy ground to a halt, growth stagnated, and unemployment soared to 10%. In 2015 France repealed the ill-fated tax.

England

According to The Times of London in March 2019, one-third of British billionaires have left the country because of high taxes, most in the last ten years.

Maryland

The state of Maryland has had a similar experience due to high state and municipal taxes. In October 2013, the Maryland Public Policy Institute reported on throngs of wealthy retirees  “moving out of Maryland to save money on taxes and leave more to their children. This is costing the state millions in tax revenue.”

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Assessment

If the U.S. enacts a similar tax, it is foolish to assume the outcome will be any different. A plethora of other countries with great amenities and competitive tax rates will appeal to those affected by the tax. Tax policies that regard the wealthy primarily as sources of revenue rather than investors in their communities do little to keep those citizens anchored at home.

And so, 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™

***

Small Companies Get Tax Breaks, Too!

How can this possibly be fair?

By Rick Kahler MS CFP®

An April 29th headline in The New York Times got my attention: “Profitable Giants Like Amazon pay $0 in Corporate Taxes. Some Voters Are Sick of It.” My immediate reaction was outrage. Amazon had a 0% tax rate. My company’s overall tax rate was 24%, and its net profit was less than 0.000025% of Amazon’s. How can this possibly be fair?

The Times article, by Stephanie Saul and Patricia Cohen, gave few specifics but left the impression that Amazon simply gets out of paying taxes on its profits because of a legal, but unfair, manipulation of the tax code afforded only to wealthy corporations, leaving the heavy lifting to the rest of us poor saps.

I wanted to know how Amazon did it, so I did some research

First, let’s put the $11.1 billion profit into perspective. The past 18 months are the first time Amazon has shown any meaningful profit since 2011. Many of those years saw them losing billions of dollars.

The total value (market capitalization) that shareholders have invested in Amazon is $954 billion as of April 29, 2019. That means the 2018 profit of $11.1 billion represents an earnings yield of 1.16% return on investors’ money. The average earnings yield on a large US company is 4.5%, significantly higher than Amazon’s. While $11.1 billion sounds like a lot of money in dollar terms, when viewed in the amount of money it takes to generate those profits, Amazon’s financials are significantly subpar.

Amazon reduced their taxes to zero by primarily doing four things:

  1. They reinvested their profits in equipment and buildings, and were able to deduct a portion of these expenses. They will have to repay the taxes they deferred on these purchases when they sell the equipment or property. And the money spent was not available for distribution to their shareholders.
  2. They received a tax credit for spending on research and development. This credit is an incentive for any company to help offset the high risk of the up-front costs of developing new ideas, not all of which pay off.
  3. They paid some employees in the form of stock, rather than cash. While still a real cost to the company, this is used to minimize cash outflows, while giving employees an opportunity to reap the rewards of their hard work in future profits.
  4. In their start-up years, Amazon lost billions of dollars. Out of fairness, the tax code allows any business to carry losses over into future years to offset profits, when and if they ever materialize. This type of “write off” is real money that was lost.

The article cited a carpet layer who had a profit of $18,000 and paid more in taxes than Amazon. He was so upset at this injustice that he joined the Socialist Party.

The article failed to mention that many of the same write-offs used by Amazon were available to him, too. If his business was incorporated, the tax bill on his profits was probably 21%, or $3,780. If he had reinvested his profit in a new carpet cleaning machine, had losses from previous years to carry forward, spent money on developing a new type of carpet cleaner, or paid his employees in stock, he would have paid nothing in taxes.

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Assessment

Critics of big corporations might say such strategies would not be realistic for a one-person company. Yet I have seen many small business owners use them, particularly carrying forward losses that result from the essential start-up costs. The corporate tax code generally applies equally to all businesses and is meant to encourage small companies as well as large ones to take the risks necessary to create new jobs.

Conclusion

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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Consider Taxes Before Retiring Abroad

Physicians Considering Retirement in Another Country?

By Rick Kahler CFP®

One way for a retiring doctor to stretch a retirement nest egg is to relocate your retirement nest. Finding a place with a lower cost of living can include considering retirement in another country.

International Living

According to International Living, Panama is one of the best options for Americans looking for affordable living costs, good medical services, and an appealing climate. Costa Rica, Mexico, and Belize are also good possibilities.

Before you pack your sunhat and flip-flops and head for a low-cost retirement haven like Panama, however, take a look at all the factors affecting your retirement income and expenses. One of those is taxes.

Taxes

Moving out of the country does not mean your tax bill to the US government or your current state will decrease. Short of giving up your US passport, there is nothing you can do to escape paying US taxes on your income, even if you don’t live in the US. We are one of two countries worldwide—the other is Eritrea—that taxes our citizens based on both residence and citizenship.

You might assume, however, that moving out of the country would end your liability for state income taxes. That isn’t always the case. Some states still want to tax your income even though you don’t live there. According to Vincenzo Villamena in a December 2018 article for International Living magazine titled “How to Minimize Your State Tax Bill as an Expat,” it’s especially problematic if you end up returning to your old address in the state and start filing an income tax return. Eventually, he says, “the state will see the gap” and may require you to pay taxes on the missing years.

You have nothing to worry about if you live in one of the seven states with no income tax: South Dakota, Wyoming, Nevada, Washington, Texas, Florida, and Alaska. Tennessee and New Hampshire aren’t bad, either, as they don’t tax your earnings but they do tax your investment income. Most other states will let you off the hook if you submit evidence that your residence is in another country and you haven’t lived in the state for a while.

Then there are the states that won’t let go of their former residents easily. Those are California, Virginia, New Mexico, South Carolina, North Carolina, Massachusetts, and Maryland. Assuming that when you leave you will be coming back, they require that you continue to pay state tax on your income.

***

Solutions?

The solution to this issue takes a little financial planning and some extra time. The best way to escape paying taxes to a state you no longer live in is to move to a state with no income tax first before relocating abroad. You must prove to your old state that you have left and have no intention of ever coming back.

***

***

This means moving for real—cutting as many ties to your old state as possible and establishing as many as possible in your new state. You will want to sell your home, close bank accounts, cancel any mailing addresses, change healthcare providers and health insurance companies (including Medicare), be sure no dependents remain in the state, and register to vote and get a driver’s license in the new state. As a final good-bye you will want to notify the tax authorities that you are filing a final tax return for your last year that you lived in the state.

Assessment

In case you need a good state from which to launch your leap into expat status, consider South Dakota. Not only would my income tax-free home state let you go easily, it would welcome you back if you should decide to return to the US.

Your thoughts are appreciatedBook of Month

[PHYSICIAN FOCUSED FINANCIAL PLANNING AND RISK MANAGEMENT COMPANION TEXTBOOK SET]

Comprehensive Financial Planning Strategies for Doctors and Advisors: Best Practices from Leading Consultants and Certified Medical Planners™

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

***

Two Different Personal IRA Investing Strategies?

Based on Tax Considerations?

 

 

 

 

 

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko MBA

LINK: https://medicalexecutivepost.com/schedule-a-consultation/

One personal investing strategy is to place more conservative investments (those with lower expected returns) in a tax-deferred traditional IRA, 401-k, 403-b or similar, and more aggressive (higher-earning) assets in a taxable brokerage account or Roth IRA.

WHY? Each account is thus working hard but in very different ways.

HOW? The conservative funds in the traditional IRA or retirement accounts would fill any needs for safety as they grow more slowly – and the higher tax rate won’t take out as big of a bite.

Meanwhile, the more aggressive funds in a taxable brokerage accounts would grow more quickly, but be taxed at a lower rate.

Assessment: Any thoughts?

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MORE FOR DOCTORS:

“Insurance & Risk Management Strategies for Doctors” https://tinyurl.com/ydx9kd93

“Fiduciary Financial Planning for Physicians” https://tinyurl.com/y7f5pnox

“Business of Medical Practice 2.0” https://tinyurl.com/yb3x6wr8

***

Comprehensive Financial Planning Strategies for Doctors and Advisors: Best Practices from Leading Consultants and Certified Medical Planners™

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

 

 

2019 Tax Deductions and Credits

Update on Tax Reform

***

***

Conclusion

Your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

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.

Book Marcinko: https://medicalexecutivepost.com/dr-david-marcinkos-bookings/

Subscribe: MEDICAL EXECUTIVE POST for curated news, essays, opinions and analysis from the public health, economics, finance, marketing, IT, business and policy management ecosystem.

DOCTORS:

“Insurance & Risk Management Strategies for Doctors” https://tinyurl.com/ydx9kd93

“Fiduciary Financial Planning for Physicians” https://tinyurl.com/y7f5pnox

“Business of Medical Practice 2.0” https://tinyurl.com/yb3x6wr8

HOSPITALS:

“Financial Management Strategies for Hospitals” https://tinyurl.com/yagu567d

“Operational Strategies for Clinics and Hospitals” https://tinyurl.com/y9avbrq5

***

Comprehensive Financial Planning Strategies for Doctors and Advisors: Best Practices from Leading Consultants and Certified Medical Planners™

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

Hospital Spending VERSUS Federal Tax Rates

CIRCA 2010 – 2026

[By staff reporters]

 

***

Assessment

Your thoughts are appreciated.

RESOURCES:

“Insurance & Risk Management Strategies for Doctors” https://tinyurl.com/ydx9kd93

“Fiduciary Financial Planning for Physicians” https://tinyurl.com/y7f5pnox

“Business of Medical Practice 2.0” https://tinyurl.com/yb3x6wr8

THANK YOU

Comprehensive Financial Planning Strategies for Doctors and Advisors: Best Practices from Leading Consultants and Certified Medical Planners™

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

***

ATTN: S-Corporation shareholders

Dear S-Corporation shareholder,

[By Cindy Freking, CPA]

The year is coming to an end and we would like to send you a few important reminders.

Be certain that you have taken an adequate salary from your S-Corporation. The practice of taking cash distributions from your S-Corporation without drawing a salary or without drawing an adequate salary is increasingly being challenged by the IRS. The IRS is winning.

If the company is paying your health insurance premiums, please be sure that those premiums will be included in your W-2. If they are not, you will lose the self-employed health insurance deduction that is available to you on your own personal income tax return.

Assessment

If you need help to determine your salary, the appropriateness of your salary and the health insurance premiums that should be included in your taxable wages, please contact your local CPA.

Have a wonderful holiday!

Conclusion

Your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

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.

Book Marcinko: https://medicalexecutivepost.com/dr-david-marcinkos-bookings/

Subscribe: MEDICAL EXECUTIVE POST for curated news, essays, opinions and analysis from the public health, economics, finance, marketing, IT, business and policy management ecosystem.

DOCTORS:

“Insurance & Risk Management Strategies for Doctors” https://tinyurl.com/ydx9kd93

“Fiduciary Financial Planning for Physicians” https://tinyurl.com/y7f5pnox

“Business of Medical Practice 2.0” https://tinyurl.com/yb3x6wr8

***

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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