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Financial Word of the Week: Tax Exemptions

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Financial Word of the Week

To wrap up this tax month, let’s talk about exemptions—special deductions that you can use to lower your taxable income.

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Exemptions are a set amount of income that is not subject to income tax. This amount could change each year and could be reduced if your adjusted gross income is above a certain amount. For 2014, you may deduct up to $3,950 for each exemption you claim. You may claim exemptions for yourself, your spouse and any dependents.

Phaseout of Exemptions (2014)

Filing Status                                       Adjusted Gross Income Level That Reduces Exemption Amount

Married Filing Separately                                       $152,525

Single                                                                                 $254,200

Head of Household                                                    $279,650

Married Filing Jointly                                               $305,050

Qualifying Widow(er)                                               $305,050

For example, if you are married and have two qualifying children, you may be able to claim four exemptions. For 2014, this would equate to an exemption amount of up to $15,800 ($3,950 x 4).

If you can be claimed as a dependent by another taxpayer, then you are not allowed an exemption for yourself on your own tax return, even if the other taxpayer does not actually claim you as a dependent.

A dependent can be either a qualifying child or other qualifying relative, but your spouse can never be considered a dependent. Special rules are used to determine whether someone can be considered a dependent.

For more information on exemptions, refer to IRS Publication 501.

 

*This post is not meant to replace the advice of a tax professional.

When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.


UMB Financial Corporation (Nasdaq: UMBF) is a financial services holding company headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., offering complete banking, payment solutions, asset servicing and institutional investment management to customers. UMB operates banking and wealth management centers throughout Missouri, Illinois, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Arizona. It also has a loan production office in Texas. Subsidiaries of the holding company include mutual fund and alternative investment services groups, single-purpose companies that deal with brokerage services and insurance, and a registered investment advisor that manages the company's proprietary mutual funds and investment advisory accounts for institutional customers.



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Financial Word of the Week: Tax Bracket

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FWOTW

Earlier this month, we discussed tax deductions and charitable deductions. This week, we want to talk about tax brackets.

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The United States has a progressive tax system, which means your marginal tax rate increases as your taxable income increases. Tax brackets indicate the marginal tax rate that applies to you based on whether your taxable income falls within a certain range or “bracket.” There are seven tax brackets in the United States, with marginal tax rates ranging from 10 percent to 39.6 percent.

A marginal tax rate is the tax rate you pay on each additional dollar of income. In other words, the first dollar of taxable income is taxed at the lowest rate. As your taxable income increases into the next bracket, only those dollars within that bracket are taxed at the new marginal tax rate.  The actual percent of your taxable income that you pay to the IRS is called your Effective Tax Rate.

Remember that your taxable income is the income left over after subtracting all allowable deductions and exemptions. We’ll discuss exemptions in our next tax-related financial word of the week.

To see which tax bracket might be applicable to you, please refer to the IRS website or see the below example.

Income-Tax-Rates-table

*This post is not meant to replace the advice of a tax professional.

When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.


UMB Financial Corporation (Nasdaq: UMBF) is a financial services holding company headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., offering complete banking, payment solutions, asset servicing and institutional investment management to customers. UMB operates banking and wealth management centers throughout Missouri, Illinois, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Arizona. It also has a loan production office in Texas. Subsidiaries of the holding company include mutual fund and alternative investment services groups, single-purpose companies that deal with brokerage services and insurance, and a registered investment advisor that manages the company's proprietary mutual funds and investment advisory accounts for institutional customers.



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Financial Word of the Week: Charitable Deductions

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FWOTW

Last week we went over what a tax deduction is. This week we’ll focus specifically on the deduction for making charitable donations.

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If there are specific charities that you’re passionate about and want to help, the first step is to confirm that they are qualified to receive tax-deductible contributions before you give them anything.  Ask them to send you their IRS letter recognizing their tax-exempt status.  You can also call the IRS directly (toll-free) at 1-877-829-5500 or visit the IRS website to confirm an organization’s status.

Once you have confirmed their status, you need to keep track of all your donations to that organization.  The best way is to ask for a receipt every time you donate cash or property.

Some things to keep in mind:

  1. You cannot deduct contributions to specific individuals or families. Even if you give money to a qualified charity, you may not specify someone to receive the benefit.
  2. There are limits to how much you can deduct. Generally, you may not deduct more than 50% of your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI).  For example, if your AGI is $30,000 and you contribute $20,000 in cash to a qualified charity, your deduction will be limited to $15,000.  If your income is above a certain threshold, the amount you can deduct may be reduced.
  3. If you volunteer for a qualified organization, some unreimbursed, out-of-pocket expenses may be deductible as well. A deduction of this type might include mileage for driving to and from the volunteer location.  However you may not deduct the value of your time, such as income you lost because you were volunteering instead of working.

For more information on Charitable Contributions, see IRS Publication 526.

 

*This post is not meant to replace the advice of a tax professional.

When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.


UMB Financial Corporation (Nasdaq: UMBF) is a financial services holding company headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., offering complete banking, payment solutions, asset servicing and institutional investment management to customers. UMB operates banking and wealth management centers throughout Missouri, Illinois, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Arizona. It also has a loan production office in Texas. Subsidiaries of the holding company include mutual fund and alternative investment services groups, single-purpose companies that deal with brokerage services and insurance, and a registered investment advisor that manages the company's proprietary mutual funds and investment advisory accounts for institutional customers.



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Financial Word of the Week: Tax Deductions

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FWOTW

Tax season is upon us. Have you filed your taxes yet? Our April series on tax terms will help you navigate the filing process, even if it’s for next year. Let’s start with tax deductions.

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There are several types of tax deductions.  A deduction is an expense or other amount that the IRS allows you to use to offset against your income to ultimately reduce the amount of income tax that you owe.  Certain expenses are considered “above-the-line deductions” and are deducted from your gross income.  These might include certain business expenses, alimony paid, or if you make contributions to a Traditional IRA, among others.  The income remaining is called your Adjusted Gross Income.  You can now look at another set of possible deductions, sometimes called “below-the-line deductions”.

You have two options when it comes to below-the-line deductions.  These deductions are subtracted from your Adjusted Gross Income to arrive at Taxable Income.  You simply choose the option that will reduce your Taxable Income the most:

  • Standard deduction – the standard deduction was created to simplify the life of the “average” taxpayer. Instead of making everyone responsible for documenting their deductible expenses, the IRS allows taxpayers to deduct a fixed amount as a standard deduction.  The amount of the standard deduction will depend on your filing status (single, married filing joint, etc), whether you are 65 or older, or blind. The amount might change each year.  The standard deduction would likely apply to you if your tax situation is relatively simple.
  • Itemized deduction – there are certain expenses that the IRS allows you to deduct from your Adjusted Gross Income such as mortgage interest, charitable contributions, and uninsured medical expenses to name a few. When you add up all these itemized deductions and the amount is greater than the standard deduction amount, you should use the itemized deduction amount to reduce your Adjusted Gross Income.  Just make sure you have proper documentation of these expenses or the IRS might disallow them, causing you to pay more in taxes than you otherwise would have to.

The Internal Revenue Service website has a list of potential deductions. This list details what can be deducted and the limits that apply to certain deductions.

For more advice on taking advantage of your tax credits, check out our recent blog post.

 

*This post is not meant to replace the advice of a tax professional.

When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.


UMB Financial Corporation (Nasdaq: UMBF) is a financial services holding company headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., offering complete banking, payment solutions, asset servicing and institutional investment management to customers. UMB operates banking and wealth management centers throughout Missouri, Illinois, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Arizona. It also has a loan production office in Texas. Subsidiaries of the holding company include mutual fund and alternative investment services groups, single-purpose companies that deal with brokerage services and insurance, and a registered investment advisor that manages the company's proprietary mutual funds and investment advisory accounts for institutional customers.



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Estate planning and how to avoid probate

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probate and wills

In a recent blog post, we discussed what might happen if you pass away without a will and what might happen with a will. When you pass away owning property in your sole name (regardless of if you have a will or not), your assets might need to go through probate in order for your heirs to inherit your property. Having a will does not avoid probate—it just determines who will receive your property. If you die owning property in your sole name without a will, your estate still passes through probate—but who receives your property will typically be determined under the laws of the state where your primary residence is at your date of death (the “intestacy laws”).

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Probate is a court process to provide for an organized way of winding up a deceased person’s affairs. During this process, a personal representative or executor is appointed by the Probate Court to supervise the collection of your probate assets, payment of your final bills and taxes, and distribution of your assets according to either your will or the intestacy laws. This may or may not be what you intend and might be more expensive than if you made other plans in advance.

Avoiding Probate

There are ways to distribute your property at your death according to your wishes without going through probate. While the techniques might vary from state to state, these typically include:

  • titling property jointly with another (“joint tenants with rights of survivorship”)
  • creating a beneficiary deed for real estate
  • adding a “transfer on death” or “pay on death” designation to assets, such as bank or investment accounts, or by beneficiary designation for assets such as your retirement plan, IRA or life insurance
  • creating a “revocable” or “living” trust and retitling your assets in the name of your trust

The trustee holds the legal title to the property owned in the revocable trust, not you as owner. The trust property is held by the trustee for your benefit during your lifetime.  You can choose to serve as your own trustee as long as you are able. At your death, the property held in the trust is distributed by the successor trustee of the trust to those family members, friends or charities you name in your trust agreement, similar to the instructions you can leave in your will.

A Living Trust

There are many advantages to creating a living trust:

  • Control: You can be your own trustee during your lifetime and then you name a successor trustee (such as a bank) to serve after you cannot or do not wish to serve.
  • Flexibility: You can typically change the terms of the trust at any time while you are living. If you become disabled, your successor trustee can step in and pay your bills, manage your investments and allow you to avoid “living probate” where otherwise a court appointed conservator might be needed to manage your affairs. You can create trusts for your minor children or grandchildren to be created after your death, hold assets in further trust for disabled or disadvantaged beneficiaries and even create trusts for charities.
  • Privacy: The terms of the trust and its assets and values are typically private, unlike a probate proceeding, which is a public matter where your will (if any) and list of assets are filed with the court and open to inspection by anyone.

Your living trust would be part of your overall estate plan, which would likely include a “pour over will” (just in case assets weren’t retitled into your trust’s name at your death), powers of attorney for financial and healthcare decisions and a living will.

 

Be sure to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney to discuss what estate plan is right for you under the circumstances.  We also recommend discussing your options with a wealth advisor who can assist you with your financial goals, working together with your attorney and other trusted advisors.

 

 

UMB is not providing you with any legal or tax advice.  You need to consult with your own legal and tax advisors to determine what estate plan is best for you and how the laws of the state governing your estate might affect you given your specific circumstances.

 

When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.


Ms. Teson is a Senior Vice President and Private Wealth Management’s Senior Legal Counsel at UMB Bank. She is responsible for managing Private Wealth Management’s Legal, Fiduciary Tax and Real Estate and Unique Asset teams. She joined UMB in 1992 and has been a licensed attorney for 32 years. She is also a Certified Financial Planner.



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Benefits of a will

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A will allows you to protect and distribute your property owned by you at your death* through a written legal document. By detailing who should inherit what, you try to ensure that your possessions are distributed by your wishes, rather than state laws.  Remember, having a will does not mean that your estate will avoid probate.
Benefits of Having a Will

*Your will only affects property owned by you at your death titled in your sole name. It typically does not affect property which is owned as joint tenants with rights of survivorship, which passes by beneficiary deed or designation, including “Pay on Death” or “Transfer on Death,” or which is owned by a trust.

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UMB is not providing you with any legal or tax advice.  You need to consult with your own legal and tax advisors to determine what estate plan is best for you and how the laws of the state governing your estate might affect you given your specific circumstances.

 

When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.


Ms. Teson is a Senior Vice President and Private Wealth Management’s Senior Legal Counsel at UMB Bank. She is responsible for managing Private Wealth Management’s Legal, Fiduciary Tax and Real Estate and Unique Asset teams. She joined UMB in 1992 and has been a licensed attorney for 32 years. She is also a Certified Financial Planner.



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The Credit Conversation: Now is the time to talk with your private banker

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Personal lending was a completely different world just a few short years ago. With shifts in the financial landscape, economic uncertainty and low interest rates, this is a good time for you to talk with a private banker and create a financial plan for the future—and the conversation should start with the topic of credit.

What was best for a person five years ago may not be the right choice now. Markets shift, and it’s important to occasionally survey the financial landscape with your private banker and possibly prepare for new opportunities.

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  • Work with advisors, not transaction managers.
    Sound financial planning is built on strong relationships, not individual transactions. Those relationships are built on knowledge and trust. A private banker should be acting as your advisor so they can help you make decisions that fit both your short- and long-term goals. Advisors will focus on tomorrow’s financial decisions, not today’s transaction.
  • Don’t make credit decisions with blinders on.
    No financial decision should be made without knowing the overall financial picture. In a trustworthy banking relationship, your private banker works alongside an entire team of experts to determine the best lending solutions for areas such as investment, tax and retirement purposes while also taking into consideration the overall wealth and estate plan.
  • Create a customized credit plan.
    It’s important to understand all the options. The truth: most people don’t proactively manage the borrowing side of their personal balance sheets when they plan to purchase a luxury vehicle, a business or a second home. That may stem from not knowing all of the varied credit options available.

    A private banker can help you explore and customize lending solutions to match risk and best leverage your assets. This provides you with options that may extend beyond the ones commonly offered in the marketplace.
  • Prepare for the unexpected with a line of credit.
    As the old saying goes, the time to borrow money is when you don’t need it. For example, a line of credit can be an invaluable tool to help you prepare for the unexpected and manage your overall financial picture. 

    Lines of credit can be used for a wide variety of purposes, including major ticket purchases, home improvements, education and medical bills. Additionally, lines of credit can provide you with peace of mind if and when unexpected expenses occur.

As you plan for your future, it’s important to talk with a professional who can ensure you are taking full advantage of the many credit solutions available to you while also providing you with advice related to your overall wealth plan.

When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.


Ms. Stokes is a senior vice president and director of Private Banking at UMB. She is responsible for driving sales and relationship management activities. She works closely with the Wealth Management leadership team and regional presidents to grow business and helps to develop roles in wealth management, relationship management and presentation skills. She joined UMB in 2009 and has more than 30 years of experience in the financial services industry. She earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Missouri- Kansas City and a Bachelor of Arts from the graduate school of retail banking.



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