Rich Americans switch up money plans to soften Biden's proposed tax hikes
President Joe Biden's tax proposals threaten the preferential treatment wealthy Americans receive in terms of income, investment, and inheritance, causing the wealthy to adjust their finances before tax changes can take effect.
"People have been thinking about this ever since there was an opportunity for Joe Biden to be elected president," Lewis Taub, accountant and New York director of tax services at Berkowitz Pollack Brant Advisors, told Yahoo Money. "I've been discussing this with customers since October or November 2020."
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Biden's plan targets some of the greatest benefits of tax legislation wealthy Americans enjoy, particularly the treatment of capital gains - a great source of their income that is taxed at a lower tax rate than wage income, which is the main source of income for the land 99% the American.
"Wealthy individuals worry about two things," said Taub. "They are concerned about capital gains and they are concerned about their estate planning and the timing of their gifts."
United States President Joe Biden speaks during a drive-in rally at the Infinite Energy Center on April 29, 2021 in Duluth, Georgia. (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI / AFP via Getty Images)
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Biden's plan nearly doubles the base rate for long-term long-term capital gains and increases the effective rate to 43.4%, including the Medicare surcharge.
If implemented, the new capital gain rate would be at its highest level in almost 100 years, according to the tax foundation. This could be costly to the top 1% - according to the Congressional Budget Office, capital receipts represented 41% of their income in 2016.
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The 43.4% rate would apply to those who earn more than $ 1 million. However, some high-income people can fall below this threshold with advanced planning, so that they can pay the next lower rate of 23.8%.
"You may be able to plan to keep your total income below that $ 1 million annually just so you don't have to pay additional taxes on capital gains," said Karl Schwartz, CFP and CPA, at Team Hewins, a wealth management company with high net worth Individuals working together, Yahoo Money said.
For example, those selling a business could choose an installment sale that spreads the proceeds from the sale over time and keeps them in a lower income tax bracket.
The potential tax changes are expected to come into effect in 2022, according to Taub, giving wealthy Americans time to review their portfolios and sources of income by the end of the year. Investors looking to sell stocks can do so before the potential tax hikes kick in.
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"There's an acceleration in profits, there is an acceleration in income," said Taub. "If you're thinking of selling something in the not-too-distant future, you might want to do it in 2021 as opposed to 2022 as the tax would likely be lower in 2021."
Biden's plan is to restore the highest individual income rate to 39.6% for taxable income over $ 400,000. Taub said many close to that threshold could accelerate income through 2021, such as converting traditional IRAs to Roth IRAs or exercising stock options. Postponing deductions to 2022 can also lower taxable income for high net worth individuals.
Current tax law allows heirs to inherit stocks, real estate, and other assets that the deceased owned without paying tax on the appreciation - called the step-up basis. This can effectively make an investor's lifelong capital gains tax free when inherited by an heir.
"People are always amazed when I tell them," Jules Martin Haas, a New York-based estate planning attorney, told Yahoo Money. "They say," Are there any taxes on it? "No, you sell it at fair market value. You sell it for what it is today. Zero profit."
But Biden's plan would remove the top-up base, meaning the wealthy would pay capital gains tax on inheritance.
To mitigate the blow, wealthy Americans are looking for life insurance. If the life insurance policy is held in an irrevocable life insurance fund, the death benefit from the policy is not included in the estate, which means that the amount of estate tax or capital gains tax that would be due on death would not be increased.
"This is a big change," Inna Fershteyn, a New York-based estate planning attorney, told Yahoo Money. "There's not much you can do upfront other than buy life insurance. There's nothing you can do to move new assets to avoid it."
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Denitsa is a writer for Yahoo Finance and Cashay, a new personal finance website. Follow her on Twitter @denitsa_tsekova
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