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December 2021

A fair amount of my work involves helping business owners make plans for the transfer of their companies—either during lifetime or after death. Sometimes I am called on when a business owner has already begun to make plans for selling the business—but the plan seems to be falling apart.  To continue reading, click here.


July 2021

The federal government has a seemingly insatiable appetite for our tax money. As evidenced by some of the discussions going on in Washington these days, the hunger for tax revenues has only gotten stronger.

A number of tax incentives are built into the Code with regard to qualified plans and IRAs. That fact helps induce our clients to put money into such plans. However, Congress and the President have not prepared a free lunch. The retirement plan rules also create an end to the ability to defer income taxes for those products, in that eventually distributions—known by the acronym RMDs—are required.  To continue reading, click here.



June 2021

I was reading recently about the Morrissettes, and their efforts to keep the ownership of Interstate—a national moving and relocation company—in the family. The source of the story was not a book or article, but rather a case from the Tax Court.  To continue reading, click here.



May 2021

Every year around the tax filing deadline it feels like many of the people I talk to are looking for tax deductions that will be effective for last year.  Usually, the taxpayer is seeking to reduce the surprising large federal income tax bill associated with income and profits from the prior calendar year.  To continue reading, click here.


The Calculated Investor: Recent market movements, events and thoughts on investing

May 2021

Markets have advanced so far this year, as vaccination numbers grew and new infections stabilized. U.S. stocks, as well as developed foreign and emerging markets, continued their powerful advances. The S&P 500 is up over 10% and other indices are also seeing increases. To continue reading, click here.



April 2021

While many would agree that the extra spending was needed to shore up an economy devastated by COVID-19, the dangers connected to extra federal government borrowing are real.  The burdensome debt must be dealt with as we move past the pandemic.

Before he was elected, President Biden announced his intention to ask Congress to raise taxes.  Among the things being considered is the idea of expanding the scope of the federal estate taxTo continue reading, click here.


Special Update Letter: Volatile Trading

April 2021

Recently, there have been news reports of volatile trading in a handful of both domestic and international securities. These movements have been linked to the reported liquidation of a leveraged hedge fund that experienced liquidity problems. This, in turn, caused a few investment banks that provided loans to the fund to sell collateral.  To continue reading, click here.



March 2021

Calendar year 2020 is over. Most folks that I know are happy to be finished with the year which will be remembered for the COVID-19 pandemic.

Unfortunately, we are not completely finished with the 2020 hangover yet. The IRS has given us until April 15 to sort out the tax results associated with that year. If you are like me, you are organizing forms sent to you from various financial institutions. Those forms contain information that is needed for your personal tax return.  To continue reading, click here.

Special Update Letter: Cryptocurrency from an investment stewardship perspective

March 2021

In 2017, a relatively new “investment” called cryptocurrency garnered a tremendous amount of media attention, most notably Bitcoin. While Bitcoin lost media interest at the end of 2017, it is now back in the spotlight since climbing in value.  The intention of this review is not to issue a forecast of cryptocurrency, but rather briefly examine what it is and what it is not.  To continue reading, click here.


Special Update Letter: Interest Rates

March, 2021

You may have seen news reports about recent interest rate movements in the media. We want to keep you informed as to what is going on in the markets and offer our perspective on what that means for you and your portfolio.  To continue reading, click here.



February 2021

In April 2016, Prince Rogers Nelson—better known as simply Prince—passed away at age 57 unexpectedly at his home in suburban Minneapolis.  Although Prince owned music-related assets worth tens of millions of dollars, he apparently passed away having prepared no will or other estate planning documents.  To continue reading, click here.



January 2021

On December 22, 2017, the president signed into law the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. This Act brought about big changes to our tax system. Here’s a review of those changes, and what they mean for 2021.  To continue reading, click here



November 2020

I do my best to meet with clients regularly.  While I enjoy their company there is usually a professional agenda behind getting together.  Often things have changed—either for the client or in the outside landscape--and it is time to make adjustments to the existing plan.

Now that we are near the end of 2020—thank goodness, from my perspective—I am planning to touch base to discuss year-end ideas.  A few of these strategies are unique to year-end 2020 and have a short expiration date.  To continue reading, click here.


Health Savings Accounts

October 2020

Many of my clients struggle with the high cost of health insurance coverage, particularly those who are still working full time.  Comprehensive health insurance, whether purchased individually or provided in part in connection with employment, is expensive.

Some have found that combining a health savings account (HSA) with a high-deductible health plan can be an efficient way to lower the financial strain.  To continue reading, click here.



July 2020

My entrepreneurial clients are full of questions related to taxes. The most common one that I get is this:

Is there something I can spend money on through my business that generates a tax deduction for the company while still being excluded from my personal income?

After talking about the alternatives that might be available, we usually discuss qualified plans. Pension plan contributions are tax-deductible by the business, and the participating employee—including an owner-employee—avoids personal income tax on the front end. To continue reading, click here.


IRAs and Roth IRAs

June 2020

Individual retirement accounts—whether in the traditional IRA or Roth IRA guise--are some of the most powerful retirement savings tools available to individuals. They offer the opportunity to plan and save for future retirement needs, often with more flexibility and control than typical employer pension plans.


Much about IRA taxation has evolved. New rules have been passed affecting IRAs in just the last few months. To continue reading, click here.

The CARES Act: Things to Consider

May 2020

The CARES Act includes a wide variety of provisions aimed to jump-start the U.S. economy during and after the business-slowing side effects of the coronavirus. The legislation includes direct financial assistance to individuals, indirect aid to individuals affected by COVID-19, various salves to employers designed in part to help keep people employed and miscellaneous provisions expected to help stimulate economic activity. To continue reading, click here.



February 2020

On December 20, 2019, President Trump signed a spending package into law, part of which included the SECURE Act (Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement). To continue reading, click here.


The New Tax Numbers For 2020: Things To Consider

January 2020

On December 22, 2017, the president signed into law the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. This Act brought about big changes to our tax system. Here’s a review of those changes, and what they mean for 2020: To continue reading, click here.


Deferred Compensation Plans: Things to Consider

My business owner clients often use life insurance as the basis for sweetening the compensation package of one or more key employees. They may generally choose between

  • A bonus plan,
  • A split dollar plan or
  • Some kind of deferred compensation plan.

What is a deferred compensation plan? In short, it’s a promise to pay an executive later on for work they are doing now. To learn more about deferred compensation plans, click here.


Managing Capital Gains Taxes: Things to Consider

November 2019

Folks sometimes sell certain assets in order to reinvest in others. When one of my clients thinks about selling an investment, we discuss the tax consequences.

Many of the financial investments in a client’s portfolio will be capital assets. Gain on the sale of most capital assets is taxed at capital gains rates. To learn more about capital gains, click here.


Tax Planning for Retirement: Things to Consider

September 2019

My clients ask me all kinds of questions about the tax and technical aspects of financial strategies. In particular, folks are curious about the details Social Security benefits. To continue reading, click here.


Tax Planning for Retirement: Things to Consider

July 2019

Most people who are planning for retirement worry about whether they will have enough income to comfortably live on. One factor in the retirement income mix that sometimes gets overlooked is the effect of federal income taxes.

The good news about federal income taxes is that for many of those nearing or at retirement age, the rates are lower today than they have been in the recent past. The outlook isn’t all rosy though. To continue reading, click here.


Do It Yourself Estate Planning: Things To Consider

June 2019

Those of us who provide life insurance and financial advice to our clients understand the importance of planning for the death-time transfer of wealth. I work closely with estate planning attorneys and tax professionals to make sure my clients get the benefit of comprehensive and coordinated advice.

Not everyone is open to the idea of hiring a professional team to create an estate plan. Some are determined to do things themselves. Why? There may be several factors: To continue reading, click here.

Business Continuation Planning

May 2019

Many of my clients need help making plans to transfer their businesses one day. Whether they intend to sell to a third party at retirement, or want their family members to take over in the event of death, written plans are a key part of any strategy.
I work with my business owner clients to protect the business and to make sure the owner’s goals are met. A properly drafted, implemented and funded buy-sell agreement can help achieve. To continue reading, click here.

Federal Income Tax Withholding

April 2019

I recently read an article in USA Today. Did you see it? Here’s an excerpt:
The average tax refund issued so far dropped to $1,949, down 8.7 percent from $2,135 at the same time last year, according to IRS statistics. Last week, the agency reported that refunds were off by 8.4 percent compared with 2018 after the first week of filing.  
In a way, this part of the story misses an important point. To continue reading, click here.

Questions & Answers

February 2019

My clients are full of questions related to taxes and law-related topics. They often ask me questions (among others) about

  • IRAs,
  • the Tax Cut and Jobs Act,
  • Social Security benefits and
  • life insurance and annuities.

Here are a couple of questions posed by clients that I wanted to share with you. To continue reading, click here.

The New Tax Numbers for 2019

January 2019

On December 22, 2017, the president signed into law the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. This Act brought about big changes to our tax system. Here’s a review of those changes, and what they mean for 2019: To continue reading, click here.

Saving Taxes with Life Insurance

December 2018

The federal government has implemented lots of rules that affect the tax characteristics of life insurance. My clients are likely to have tax concerns and objectives that have a direct or indirect connection to life insurance.
The federal tax code is a patchwork that requires an experienced guide to arrive at a particular client’s destination. In fact, sometimes the journey requires several experts—life insurance professional, accountant and attorney.
The Internal Revenue Code is explicit in the tax advantages that it gives to life insurance. To continue reading, click here.

New Pass -Through Business Tax Rules

September 2018

Late last year, the Tax Cut and Jobs Act (TCJA) was signed into law. The process was more hurried than the path for similar comprehensive federal tax changes in the past. As a result, the TCJA left many unanswered questions.
The TCJA made major changes to federal income taxes. The tax rules were amended for both individuals and businesses. For individuals, some of the biggest changes were: To continue reading, click here.