Charitable Giving: Options & Deadlines for 2015

As the year comes to a close, you may be considering charitable gifting. With so many mechanisms to do so, it is necessary to plan ahead. Start by deciding who will receive your donation. We are here to help with the what, how, and when of charitable giving.

Although using cash is the simple and straightforward method for gifting, it may be advantageous to consider your options before writing that check. For example, if you were to liquidate securities in order to raise cash for the donation, you would be responsible for paying taxes on the possible gains associated with the sale. Any capital gain would negate a substantial portion of the tax benefits of charitable giving. READ MORE

Preparing for Year-End Tax Planning

Year-end tax planning may be especially challenging this year because Congress has yet to act on a host of tax breaks that expired at the end of 2014. Some of these tax breaks may be retroactively reinstated and extended, but Congress may not decide the fate of these tax breaks until the very end of this year (and, possibly, not until next year).

For individuals, these tax breaks include:

  • the option to deduct state and local sales and use taxes instead of state and local income taxes
  • the above-the-line-deduction for qualified higher education expenses
  • tax-free IRA distributions for charitable purposes by those age 70-1/2 or older

For businesses, tax breaks that expired at the end of last year and may be retroactively reinstated and extended include:

  • 50% bonus first year depreciation for most new machinery, equipment and software
  • the $500,000 annual expensing limitation
  • the research tax credit

READ MORE

Washington’s GET Program Updates Explained

Many parents in the Pacific Northwest choose to start saving early for their children’s education, including participating in Washington state’s Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET) program. However, as tuition starts lowering with the College Affordability Act, the state felt it was necessary to reevaluate the GET program. Board members announced this August that they would be implementing steps to protect participants who bought into the program and assumed tuition would rise. The plan, which goes into effect on August 19th, includes the following:

  • Refunds on amortization fees for investors who purchased credits after 2011
  • Reimbursements for GET credits bought after July 1st, 2015, and
  • Two-year suspension of new enrollments in the program.

Looking to find out how these updates affect you and your savings? The GET Committee provided the following frequently asked questions about what lower tuition means for the program:*READ MORE

What to Leave When You’re Gone: Estates & Families

In estate planning, there are some common stumbling blocks to completing a plan. Who will care for your children? At what point do you end life-sustaining care? How much should you leave to your children? Perhaps the most challenging of these is the last. Picking a number that provides a leg-up for your heirs while protecting them from leading uninspired, unmotivated lives can seem like the work of a magician. Luckily, our wealth planning experts have put together three ways you can find your magic number.

1. LOOK TO YOUR FAMILY VALUESREAD MORE

Stephen King Horror Moment – the Importance of the Umbrella

Have you ever sent a text message while driving? Taken a phone call in the car and your Bluetooth didn’t sync – phone held up to your ear – multi-tasking, juggling work, family and deadlines? In the blink of an eye, perhaps traffic stops, a motorist swerves, a pedestrian pops out unexpectedly and you’re responsible for a significant accident. The injured party sent by ambulance to the Emergency Room, perhaps multiple surgeries, multi-year rehabilitation and then a law suit ensues, totaling millions.

READ MORE

Reviewing Your Life Insurance

10 Potential Pitfalls and How to Protect Your Beneficiaries

1) Naming a Minor Child

Insurance companies will not pay the proceeds of a life insurance policy directly to a minor. Absent a trust or other specified legal arrangement, a court-appointed guardian will handle all proceeds until the child reaches legal age (18 or 21, depending on the state).

READ MORE

Reminder from your Friends at Coldstream

Deadline for Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs): Clients who are 70½ or older must take an RMD from their IRA and/or their QRP for the 2014 tax year. All RMDs must be withdrawn by December 31, 2014, with the exception of those clients who turned or will turn 70½ during this calendar year; these clients may defer their first distribution until April 1, 2015.

A Coldstream Reminder: The Holiday Season is also Prime Season for Identity Thieves

Please take a look at the following risk measures to protect your finances during the most wonderful time of the year.

Tips on Preventing Fraud

Unfortunately, in our ever interconnected and automated world, we are seeing a big uptick in cases of fraud. While it is unlikely all cases may be prevented there are several ways you can better protect yourselves and your information.

While there is no current way for the IRS to alert you if a Tax Return has been filed fraudulently on your behalf, and many of the credit monitoring agencies only report on new account activities, there are still many things we as consumers may do to protect ourselves.READ MORE

Use a Buy-Sell Agreement to Sell Your Business

After you have a valuable financial interest in your company, you may want to think about various exit strategies. A funded buy-sell agreement with your co-owner or partners can provide security to you, your partners and your family. A buy-sell agreement is a legal contract that is common in closely held businesses. It is an agreement you can enter into now that provides for the future sale of your business interest. When carefully drafted, your buy-sell agreement may be used to set the taxable value of your business interest.

The buy-sell agreement provides a measure of security for both parties of the sale. The buyer is bound by contract to buy your interest, and the buyer knows that you are not allowed to sell to another party. In addition, the buy-sell agreement identifies the conditions under which a sale will occur. You can choose the events that will trigger the sale of your interest under the agreement. Typical trigger events include death, long-term disability, retirement, and divorce.READ MORE

Tips on Preventing Fraud

Unfortunately, in our ever interconnected and automated world, we are seeing a big uptick in cases of fraud. While it is unlikely all cases may be prevented there are several ways you can better protect yourselves and your information.

While there is no current way for the IRS to alert you if a Tax Return has been filed fraudulently on your behalf, and many of the credit monitoring agencies only report on new account activities, there are still many things we as consumers may do to protect ourselves.READ MORE

© 2018 Coldstream Capital Management, Inc. & Rainier Group Investment Advisory LLC d.b.a. Coldstream Wealth Management. All data shown includes information from combined entities. All Rights Reserved.