The New 2017 Tax Reform Bill

The New 2017 Tax Reform Bill – Perspectives from a Financial Advisor: Early in the morning of December 20, 2017, the Senate passed the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” by a party-line vote of 51 to 48; (Republican Senator McCain was absent for medical reasons). Irrespective of your political affiliation most would agree that this legislative achievement is the most sweeping overhaul of the US tax system in more than 30 years. Naturally, the question we are all asking is “how does this impact me and my family?” Well, that’s a challenging one to answer because everyone is different, but let’s examine the changes from 30,000 feet. Please remember, however, that this summary is by no means meant to be considered tax advice – you should consult your advisor to determine how it might impact you personally. Implications for the US Economy? By almost all accounts, the Tax Cuts and Jobs …

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Top 10 Financial Predictions for 2018

Top 10 Predictions for 2018: From Pretty-Darn-Certain to Absolutely Guaranteed This time last year, we were dealing with the UK voting to break away from the European Union (which no one predicted), a Presidential election (which no one predicted) and market experts calling for 2017 to be a year where the bears returned. So, in the spirit of making predictions that will actually come true, here are the Top Ten for 2018 – delivered in order of certainty. In other words, Prediction #10 is pretty-darn-certain to happen while Prediction #1 is absolutely guaranteed. 10. Volatility Will Increase The market’s favorite gauge of volatility, the Chicago Board Option Exchange’s Volatility Index (called the “VIX”) hit an all-time low in November, hitting 9.14, resulting in a 17% decline in 2017. Given the current market environment, a new tax bill, rising interest rates, fluctuating currencies, moving oil prices and more, few will predict …

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DOL Responds on Contested Overtime Rule

A series of court decisions prevented an overtime rule issued during the Obama administration last year from going into effect. This rule would have raised the salary threshold level for white-collar exemptions from $23,660 to $47,476 per year and increased this threshold automatically every three years, but some states blocked that rule by filing suit, and an injunction was granted late last year. The Justice Department appealed the court’s decision on behalf of the Labor Department in December, and the Labor Department recently issued a reply brief, but that doesn’t mean the gridlock is over. “Employers should continue to ensure their job descriptions accurately meet the exemptions’ job duties test, and, depending on the 5th Circuit’s ruling, the Labor Department eventually may raise the salary level test,” says Kellen Scott of the law firm Chamberlain Hrdlicka. Here’s what you need to know. What Is the DOL’s Response? The brief from the …

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What’s Next for Dodd-Frank?

The Treasury Department recently issued a proposal outlining changes to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Dodd-Frank regulations were put into place after the 2008 financial crisis, and they changed existing regulatory structures in an attempt to streamline and strengthen them. The law led to stronger regulatory standards and rules about a wide range of financial interactions, such as credit card transaction fees and requiring smaller investment advisers to register with the SEC. The act established sweeping new regulatory rules but came to be seen as too heavy-handed. The House of Representatives recently passed the Financial CHOICE Act in an effort to weaken it, but passage by the Senate isn’t a given. “Many Democrats acknowledge that Dodd-Frank needs to be revisited, and Republicans certainly have enough votes to make sure that it is, but not enough votes to gut it completely,” says David Reiss, a professor at …

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What President Trump’s DOL Action Means for the Advisor

What President Trump’s DOL Action Means for the Advisor

There’s been a lot of confusion in the past few days about the fate of the Department of Labor’s (DOL) Fiduciary Rule. It was widely reported on Friday that President Trump would be signing an order to delay the rule for six months pending further investigation. However when the order was finally issued on Friday afternoon things changed once again, so let’s get to the bottom of things. Only one order was signed (not two as originally expected) which had no specific reference to the Fiduciary Rule. Instead, President Trump has directed the Secretary of the Treasury to conduct a 120-day review of all laws and regulations related to the financial industry. The President also signed a memorandum on the Fiduciary Rule which although doesn’t specifically call for any delay in the ruling does call for a substantial review. According to Section 1 of the memorandum, “You [DOL] are directed …

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