On December 22, 2017, President Trump signed into law the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, a sweeping $1.5 trillion tax-cut package that fundamentally changes the individual and business tax landscape. Some of the major changes included in the legislation that affect individuals are summarized in the link to the document here. These changes create tax planning opportunities. Please consult with your tax adviser to discuss how you can maximize your tax savings.
It has been my experience that life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we react to it. In other words, we can’t control what life throws at us, but we can control how we respond. We are in charge of our attitude. Those individuals who have a positive attitude are much easier to love, honor and respect. I want to be the person who sees the “glass that is half full, not half empty.”
I know in my life, when I begin each day with a grateful heart, the events of the day seem to go better. One of the ways I express my gratitude is through serving others. Not only does it help the greater good of the community in which I’m serving, but I have found that volunteering is also a guaranteed path for greater joy in life. In fact, there is even a website to help you discover the right volunteer opportunities available for you: VolunteerMatch.org. One of the not-for-profits that we serve pointed me to this resource. I encourage you to login and check it out. You can search opportunities by cause, interest, location or keyword. Another similar website is JustServe.org.
The joy that comes from serving others is real, enriching and lasting. I would enjoy hearing from you about your volunteer activities and the benefits of putting others before yourself. You can reach me at: email@example.com.
Rowland Carmichael is blessed to work with families aspiring to influence and impact their communities both locally and worldwide. Generosity alone is rarely sufficient if you want your charitable giving to make a difference. This process is often confusing and can be very emotional. Many families choose to start and manage family foundations, often working directly or jointly with institutions that share foundation goals and impact initiatives.
When considering if a foundation is the right avenue for your family, a great place to begin is reading Give $mart: Philanthropy that Gets Results by Thomas J. Tierney and Joel L. Fleishman. This book gives a well-rounded look at starting, managing and transitioning foundations and covers a myriad of case studies and lessons learned in dealing with both successful and unsuccessful attempts to “give smart.” We often recommend families review and discuss the important lessons learned in this book before venturing down the path of starting a foundation. Forethought is encouraged regarding the foundation’s mission statement, the priority for gifting initiatives, and the extent, if any, to which future generations will be involved through the Family Office. If you are interested in exploring the use of family foundations and employing intelligent governance, we welcome an open and honest conversation around how you want to live and leave a legacy.
During the holidays and throughout the year, many want to help others in need. Because of the Arizona Charitable Tax Credit, you can donate up to $800 to certain qualified charities and get it right back on your Arizona tax return.
How does it work? You can make a donation to the following: Qualified Charitable Organization, Arizona Military Family Relief Fund, Qualified Foster Care Charitable Organization, Public and Private Schools and School Tuition Organization.
When you file your Arizona taxes, you can claim a dollar-for-dollar Arizona Charitable Tax Credit that will either reduce your tax liability or increase your refund.
Click here for a list of qualified places you can give to for a tax credit.
If you would like to discuss the Arizona Charitable Tax Credit, please give us a call.
Tax deferred retirement accounts like IRAs and 401(k) plans are a great way to save money for the future while enjoying tax benefits!
In October, the IRS announced the inflation-adjusted numbers for 2018.
IRA and Roth IRA contribution limits
The maximum amount you can contribute to a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA in 2018 is $5,500 or $6,500 for those age 50 or older. You can contribute to both a traditional IRA and a Roth IRA in 2018, but your total contributions cannot exceed these annual limits.
Your ability to deduct IRA contributions may be phased out based on your income.
Employer retirement plans
Retirement plan participants can contribute up to $18,500 in 2018 – an increase of $500. Those 50 and older can contribute an additional $6,000 for a total of $24,500. SIMPLE plan participants can contribute up to $12,500 or up to $15,500 if age 50 or older.
Please contact us for specific guidance or advice for investing in your IRA, Roth IRA and company retirement plans. We are happy to help.
Volunteering and giving back both locally and around the globe has been a part of the Rowland Carmichael culture. Our last two volunteer events have been through the non-profit faith-based organization called Feed My Starving Children (FMSC). Every meal that goes out is hand-packed by volunteers and all meals are funded by donations.
Clients and family volunteered alongside us on Thursday, October 19th. One of those helpers included my daughter, Aven (6). While most volunteers helped pack bags with food ingredients or pack boxes with bags of food, Aven and I organized the labels for the meals. She was so excited for the opportunity to help kids around the world. When we arrived home, she told her mom that “every day we have off in the future, we should go back to FMSC to help little babies not be hungry.” She genuinely walked away from the experience with a new perspective, as did the rest of the group.
Afterwards, we were given stats of our hard work. We packed 128 boxes which provided 27,648 meals that will feed 75 kids for a year at the cost of $6,082.56. We look forward to our next volunteer event in the Spring of 2018.
Rebecca “Becca” Sponcil is a native of Arizona and graduate of Veritas Preparatory Academy. Becca received her Bachelor of Science in Accounting and Masters of Accounting from Regis University. While at Regis she was involved with National Society of Collegiate Scholars and received the Presidential Academic Scholarship and Athletic Scholarship. Becca also participated with Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Student Athletic Advisory Committee and volunteered with Volunteer Income Tax Assistance. She was a member of the university’s Division II Volleyball team from the Fall of 2011 to the Spring of 2016, where she was captain for the 2014 and 2015 seasons.
Becca worked as an Audit Associate at Eide Bailly, LLP in Denver, Colorado before returning to Arizona in 2017. She enjoys mountain climbing, coaching high school girls’ Volleyball and spending time with her family.
Identity theft has taken center stage as the details unfold from one of the largest data breaches to date. Affecting more than 143 million Americans, Equifax explains that hackers invaded their system from mid-May through July, stealing sensitive information such as names, social security numbers and driver’s license numbers. It is estimated that credit card numbers for 209,000 people have been compromised. If you have ever applied for a new account or line of credit (or done anything else that requires running a credit report), then it is likely that Equifax has your information in their system since they are one of the three major credit reporting agencies.
What can a fraudster actually accomplish with the information they gathered from Equifax’s system?
- Open accounts in your name
- Open credit lines in your name – mortgages, refinancing, etc.
- Purchase items with your credit card number
- File false tax returns on your social security number
Tips you can take to protect against identity theft:
- Check your credit reports – http://www.annualcreditreport.com/
- If there are any accounts or activities listed that you do not recognize, it may indicate you are a victim of identity theft.
- An annual credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies is available for free.
- Visit https://identitytheft.gov/ if you believe you are a victim of identity theft.
- Consider placing a credit freeze on your files.
- This will only prevent thieves from opening new accounts, but will not protect your existing accounts.
- Credit freezes must be done separately at each of the three major reporting agencies.
- Take this step with great care! This locks your credit report files to all applications, so it is not a good option if you plan to shop for an auto or home loan in the near future.
- There are varying costs per state and per credit reporting agency for freezing your credit and temporarily lifting the freeze. However, it is always free to remove the freeze.
- Consider placing a fraud alert on your files.
- This warns creditors that an applicant may be an identity theft victim, requiring them to verify that the applicant is the correct person before obtaining the credit report.
- Fraud alerts must be done separately at each of the three major reporting agencies.
- There are a few types of fraud alerts available:
- Initial fraud alert: 90 day alert available for non-identity theft victims whom have lost or compromised personal information or account information.
- Extended fraud alert: 7 year alert available for victims of identity theft.
- Active duty alert: 1 year alert available for deployed military personal.
- Monitor your existing credit cards and bank accounts at least weekly, if not more often.
- Thieves tend to start with smaller purchases to ensure the account is valid. They can rack up significant purchases very quickly once they know it works.
- File your taxes as early as possible.
- Once a return has been filed under your social security number, it is less likely that a false claim will make it through.
- Consider a membership to Identity Theft Protection.
- Click link here for the comparison chart for more details.
- Equifax is offering one free year of credit monitoring, but it is very likely that thieves will retain your information and begin to use it once that time has expired.
- Avoid accessing your accounts while on public computers or networks (such as airport Wi-Fi, hotels, etc.).
- Do not reply to an email asking for account information or sensitive personal information.
- Avoid clicking on embedded links or attachments in emails from unknown senders.
- Generally, you can hover over a link to see the true URL.
At Rowland Carmichael, we strive to take the necessary precautions to keep your personal information safe. Some of the ways we do this include:
- Password protection on our technology interfaces (and dual authentication where available) such as computers, network, custodial sites, contact manager system and internet portals.
- Password protection when sending sensitive personal information through email, as well as further use of transferring sensitive documents through our secure Client Portal.
- Only acting on email instructions after verbal verification with you by phone or in person.
- Shredding all papers that contain sensitive personal information.
Our custodians also have procedures in place to help reduce the likelihood of a breach or fraudulent activity. Some of the ways they do so include:
- Never sending you emails requesting account numbers, usernames, passwords, or other personal information.
- Utilizing firewalls to keep unauthorized parties from obtaining personal information and to alert of any unusual behavior in the accounts.
- Offering dual authentication for login credentials (Charles Schwab).
- Security Guarantee: 100% coverage for any losses in your Charles Schwab account due to unauthorized activity (Charles Schwab).
- Blocking access to the account until client or advisor verification has been obtained if suspicious activity is detected (TD Ameritrade).
Identity theft is rising. Though inconvenient, we strongly urge you to take precautionary steps to avoid becoming a victim. If you would like to discuss this topic in more detail, please feel free to reach out to your wealth manager.