BSMG Blog: Protecting the Future of Families and Businesses

Posts by Russell E. Towers JD, CLU, ChFC

Russ joined Brokers’ Service Marketing Group in 2002 as Vice President of Business & Estate Planning. Prior to joining BSMG, Russ served in a number of advanced planning attorney positions with John Hancock Life Insurance Company for 22 years. Russ’s focus includes estate, business and retirement planning for wealthy business owners, executives and professionals, and he provides customized case consultations for advanced legal, tax, and financial plan designs. In this regard, Russ has written numerous tax and technical advisory bulletins for producers and professionals in the upscale market, including publications in the industry trade journals. Russ received his CLU and ChFC designations from the American College. He is a member of the National and Rhode Island Societies of Financial Service Professionals; and has served as President of the Rhode Island Chapter. A member of the Rhode Island Bar Association for over 30 years, Russ is also a member of the prestigious Association for Advanced Life Underwriting (AALU), the National and Rhode Island Associations of Insurance and Financial Advisors (RIAIFA), and the Rhode Island Estate Planning Council. He is registered with FINRA as both a representative and a principal. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame with a B.A. in economics, he received his Juris Doctorate from Suffolk University Law School. Russ delivered advanced planning seminars to life insurance producers and brokers, and he has lectured to SFSP Chapters, Estate Planning Councils and attorney and CPA professional groups across the U.S.

Congress Passes Retirement Reform as Part of 2019 Year End Legislation

Congress has passed and President Trump has signed into law significant retirement reform which will go into effect on 1/1/2020.  The new law has many provisions which involve expanding and preserving retirement savings, administrative improvements, and revenue provisions.

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Congress on Track to Pass Retirement Reform Bills

The U.S. House of Representatives easily passed the SECURE Act of 2019 (H.R. 1994) 417-3 on May 23, 2019.  The U.S. Senate currently has its version of retirement reform under consideration – the Retirement Enhancement and Savings Act (RESA) of 2019 (S. 972).  Both acts have many retirement reform provisions involving expanding and preserving retirement savings, administrative improvements, and revenue provisions.

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President Trump Signs Tax Reform Into Law


After a long and contentious political battle, the U.S. House (224-201) and U.S. Senate (51-48) have passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.  President Trump signed the bill into law and it goes into effect on 1/1/2018.  Major changes in personal income taxes, business income taxes, and estate taxes will go into effect for tax year 2018.  

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2017 Tax Reform Moves to House and Senate Conference Committee


The U.S. Congress has spent the last few months slowly working its way through the legislative process to provide major tax reform.  This reform impacts personal income taxes, business income taxes, estate taxes, and taxation of foreign business income.  The U.S House of Representatives passed its version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 in early November.  The U.S. Senate just passed its version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 last week. 

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Family Limited Partnerships vs. Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts

Which entity to own life insurance?

The popularity of the irrevocable life insurance trust (ILIT) is well documented. Billions of dollars have been gifted by estate owners to single life and survivorship life irrevocable trusts to help fund the payment of federal estate taxes. Yet, a number of disadvantages revolving around lack of flexibility and lack of control discourage the use of such trusts in certain situations. When estate owners realize an irrevocable trust cannot be changed, they sometimes decide to think about it. Or when estate owners realize they don't own the cash value of the policy and have no access to it for lifetime financial needs, they feel a loss of control.

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High-Earners Will Pay High Taxes in 2016

Certain high-earners face a double-barreled shot of federal income taxes for 2016. The maximum marginal tax rate for these high-earners remains at 39.6% in 2016 and the provisions of the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare) are still in effect.

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6 Reasons Your Clients May Have Multiple IRA Accounts

The IRS announced the “one rollover per year” rule in 2014, which is an important rule to keep in mind when planning for multiple IRA accounts. IRC Section 408(d)(3)(B) has been interpreted by the IRS to mean that an IRA owner can only do one 60-day IRA to IRA rollover per year. However, the IRS also reaffirmed that an unlimited number of “direct transfers” can be made when transferring funds directly from one IRA account to another IRA account.

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RMD Planning Options for Clients with Multiple IRAs

At one point or another, you have encountered a client who has multiple IRA accounts that may have been created at different times with different funding products. You may have even recommended two separate IRA accounts to a client, each with different financial purpose for different designated beneficiaries. In either one of these events the US Treasury Regulations treat certain IRA accounts differently when it comes to distributing IRA Required Minimum Distributions (RMD) from these accounts once the client reaches age 70½. 

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Advisors Take Note - Legislation that Could Impact IRAs!

Currently, the US Senate is considering legislation that would eliminate a life expectancy payout for inherited IRAs. 

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Advanced Sales: The Need for Life Insurance Other Than to Pay Estate Taxes

An experienced financial professional should keep their clients informed of the many different roles life insurance can play to meet financial, retirement, and protection needs.  The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (ATRA) permanently increased the federal estate tax exemption.  This increased and indexed exemption may reduce and possibly eliminate the need for life insurance to pay estate taxes on a case by case basis.

The 2016 federal exemption is now indexed to $5,450,000 for an individual and $10,900,000 for a married couple.  The federal estate tax rate is a flat 40% for taxable estates above the exemption amount.  Many clients who may have been exposed to federal estate taxes in the past may no longer need to worry about federal estate taxes in the future because of this very high exemption.  Very, very few individuals and couples have a net worth in excess of these federal exemption amounts.  Only the super-wealthy still face the daunting task of paying federal estate taxes.

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