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The tax times have changed
The recent period of near-zero interest rates, a climbing stock market and tax relief is ending. These changes, while seemingly unwelcome, also bring some silver linings for clients – as well as an opportunity for advisors.
By proactively offering timely and relevant tax-smart strategies for the current environment, you can help clients maximize their after-tax income and investment outcomes over multiple years while furthering their important financial goals. And that can help you demonstrate your value and strengthen your client relationships. Here are some ideas to get you started.
Segment your clients
Before you start reaching out to contacts, it can be helpful to group them according to a few key parameters. This step can simplify the process of identifying relevant strategies and help you be more efficient in your communications.
For example, you might segment by:
- Level of ordinary income
- Level of philanthropic giving
- Level of estate or trust income
- Whether they have unrealized capital gains (or losses)
- Year they will need to start taking required minimum distributions from retirement accounts
- Whether they experienced recent (or are planning) changes to state domicile, marital status or job status (or losses)
Make your communication personal and proactive
Create a plan to systematically reach out to your book of business, using their preferred method of communication. Contact both clients and prospects to offer insight that is relevant to their unique circumstances.
Provide visibility into the future
Help clients estimate their anticipated adjusted gross income (AGI) for each year between now and 2026. Be sure to account for any planned changes that might affect AGI. For example, if a client is planning to retire or shift to a lower-paying job, you’ll need to adjust future AGI downward. If retired clients will need to start taking required minimum distributions (RMDs) from retirement accounts, you’ll need to adjust upward.
Engage clients in multi-year planning
Armed with foresight about which will be higher and lower income years, you can offer clients specific relevant strategies as well as guidance on when to use them for maximum benefit. Look for opportunities for clients to bunch deductions into higher income years when they are most valuable, and delay income and capital gains until lower tax years.
For example, in higher tax years, clients might:
- Make multiple years’ worth of charitable gifts in a single year
- Make up to five years’ worth of 529 Plan contributions in a single year
- Make the maximum allowable retirement plan contributions
- Pre-pay state income and property taxes
- Collect the proceeds from a home sale in installments
- Delay the exercise of employee stock options
- Purchase an option collar to lock in profits on appreciated securities without selling
- Harvest capital losses on depreciated securities to offset gains
Keep in mind that many of these strategies take years to implement. The more you plan ahead, the more flexibility your clients will have to execute when the time is right.
Stay focused on clients’ goals
While your clients will appreciate a lower tax bill, keep in mind that tax implications shouldn’t be the main driver of any financial decision. Instead, keep the focus of your conversations on your clients’ overarching objectives – where they want to go and how you can help them get there.
All information has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but its accuracy is not guaranteed. There is no representation or warranty as to the current accuracy, reliability or completeness of, nor liability for, decisions based on such information and it should not be relied on as such.
This report is provided for informational and educational purposes only. Although this report contains general tax information, it should not replace a client’s consultation with a professional advisor regarding their tax situation. Nuveen is not a tax advisor. This information is not intended to provide legal or tax advice. Clients should consult with their legal and tax advisors regarding their personal circumstances. This report contains no investment recommendations and should not be construed as specific tax, legal, financial planning or investment advice. Information was obtained from third-party sources, which we believe to be reliable but not guaranteed. Tax rates and IRS regulations are subject to change at any time, which could materially affect the information provided herein. Nuveen Securities, LLC, member FINRA and SIPC.