House Passes Tax Reform Bill: What It Means for You

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Update: House Republicans have passed a sweeping tax bill that would cut both corporate and income taxes by $1.5 trillion, bringing the country one step closer to the biggest taxation overhaul in decades.

The House passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in a 227-205 vote, bringing President Trump nearer to his first major legislative accomplishment since he took office in January.

“Today’s vote brings America one step closer to historic tax cuts that will allow Americans to keep more of their hard-earned money,” Ronna McDaniel, chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, said in a statement shortly after the vote. “President Trump and Republicans in Congress are keeping their promise to give workers a raise, support American businesses and grow our economy.”

Some experts say the whopping $1.5 trillion tax cut will benefit many taxpayers. But will some lose out? And what does it all mean for you?

As expected, in order to pay for the tax cuts, lawmakers chose to get rid of or limit many key tax breaks. Some of the items on the chopping block under the Republicans’ plan, which include personal exemptions, deductions for medical expenses, paid student loan interest and paid mortgage interest, could impact millions of Americans.

“It really depends on the individual situation whether they’ll be more helped or hurt,” Mark Luscombe, principal federal tax analyst at Wolters Kluwer, told MagnifyMoney. You can read the entire bill here.

What happens next?

The bill will move for a vote in the Senate, which hasn’t yet voted on its own version of a tax cut plan. Trump has called for lawmakers to pass one cohesive bill by Christmas. Republican lawmakers would like to see the reforms take effect in 2018.

But the tax overhaul has a long way to go. The House and Senate proposals differ on a number of major provisions, which will make it tough for the two bills to be reconciled and spur clashes over tax policy.

Keep reading for a summary of the tax changes to come and how they might affect your bottom line:

How individual tax brackets will change

The bill compressed the current seven-tier tax system into four tax brackets: 12 , 25, 35 and 39.6 percent. The top individual tax rate remains unchanged at 39.6 percent.

The new bottom bracket of 12 percent is higher than the current bottom bracket of 10 percent but replaces the 15 percent bracket as well. The proposal will also push some in the current 33 percent bracket into the 35 percent. So there will be some shuffling, and its impact on you depends on your earnings picture.

Here’s the breakdown of brackets for married filers:

The income threshold for the 25 percent bracket moves to $90,000, up from $75,900 for married couples. The 35 percent bracket starts at $260,000, and the top tax rate starts at $1 million.

Next, let’s look at tax deductions. Under the plan, some would increase.

Deductions that would be increased

Standard deduction

Under the House plan, the standard deduction would be almost doubled. The standard deduction is a dollar amount that reduces the amount of income on which you are taxed.

For individuals, the standard deduction would rise from $6,350 to $12,000. For married couples, it would go up from $12,700 to $24,000.

But personal exemptions, currently $4,050 per person, would now be included in the standard deduction, so the actual increase isn’t as big as it seems at first blush. Under the current tax code, taxpayers could claim one personal exemption for themselves and one for a spouse.

The change in personal exemption will likely offset the benefits from the standard deduction for many to some extent. “If they are doubling the standard deduction but eliminating the personal exemption, a single parent with a number of kids could actually be hurt by that on a net basis,” Luscombe said.

Child tax credit

The House bill also proposes to expand the child tax credit, which allows parents to offset expenses of raising children, from $1,000 to $1,600.

The bill also will provide a credit of $300 for each parent with a dependent who is not a child, such as a grandfather or a college student. Those $300 credits expire in five years.

Those credits are seen by advocates as helping some families make up for the loss of personal exemptions.

401(k) contribution limits

Unlike what was suggested in an earlier round of rumors, the Republicans did not call for reducing the contribution limits for 401(k) accounts. Phew.

For 2018, workers under age 59.5 can contribute $18,500 to a 401(k) on a pre-tax basis.

But still, more changes are proposed, with some deductions changed or ended under the proposal.

Deductions that will be eliminated or altered

Mortgage-interest deduction

The House bill keeps the home mortgage interest deduction for existing mortgages. But for newly purchased homes, the home mortgage interest deduction is lowered to $500,000 from the current $1 million debt limit.

It could well put a damper on higher-end home purchases, where half of a $1 million mortgage is not eligible for interest deduction, Luscombe said.

Medical expenses

Medical-expense deductions are going away. Right now, individuals can deduct qualified medical expenses that exceed 10% or 7.5% of their adjusted gross income (depending on age). Households with outstanding medical costs and are eligible for the deductions will feel significant effects from the repeal. The provision could have big implications for families with high medical costs during the year.

Student loan interest

The deduction for student loan interest could also be eliminated under the Republican tax reform.

Under current rules, borrowers may deduct up to $2,500 in interest payments on student loans on their federal income tax returns. The loss of the deduction would put a heavier financial burden on hundreds of thousands of college graduates grappling with significant education debt.

The state and local income tax deduction

The Republicans are further calling for an end to the deduction for state and local income/sales taxes.

The IRS allows those who make payments for state and local income taxes to deduct them on their federal tax return. The loss of the deduction is seen by some critics as hurting people in high-income tax rate states, such as New York and California.

But the proposal would keep in place the state and local property tax deduction, although capping it at $10,000.

The estate tax

Republican lawmakers proposed to double the estate tax exemption from $5.49 million to nearly $11 million and eventually do away with it. The estate tax is the tax you pay to inherit property or money from a deceased person.

This means families don’t have to pay taxes on any inheritance under $11 million. The bill calls for repealing the estate tax after six years.

In addition to reducing or eliminating several tax breaks, Republicans hope that the tax cuts will boost the economy, foster business growth, make the U.S. business environment more competitive with other countries’ in terms of tax rates, and even spur wage growth. This, in, turn, would bolster tax revenue, supporters say. But critics fear a surge in the budget deficit, with implications for future generations.

The post House Passes Tax Reform Bill: What It Means for You appeared first on MagnifyMoney.

What Trump’s Budget Means for Public Service Loan Forgiveness

Confirming the fears of many, President Donald Trump’s recently proposed federal budget calls for the defunding of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. While those currently enrolled in the program would not be affected, anyone taking out loans after July 1, 2018, would not be eligible.

Proponents of the program, designed to attract candidates to the public sector by forgiving student loans after 120 consecutive payments, fear this cut would incentivize teachers, lawyers, nurses, and other professionals to seek out careers in the private sector where the salaries are significantly higher. Opponents say the program is too costly, and the proposed cuts would save taxpayers billions.

What Does This Mean?

Adam Minsky, a Boston, Mass.-based attorney who specializes in student loans and consumer issues, cautioned that President Trump’s budget proposal is just that — a proposal.

The president can propose a budget, but it’s up to Congress to finalize and ratify it. The Republicans currently have a majority in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, and the federal budget only needs to have a simple majority for it to pass. Still, that would require about eight Democrats to vote yay, something they’re unlikely to do unless the final draft takes a more bipartisan turn.

The process of getting a budget approved through Congress is a long road. Each chamber of Congress has to approve the bill internally, then the bill goes to a committee that looks at both the Senate and House of Representatives bills to reconcile any differences. Finally, the bill is sent to both houses of Congress for a final vote.

Budget proposals rarely make it through Congress unaltered. Trump’s proposal is more like a polite nudge from the executive branch, not a firm decree.

Budget talks will continue throughout the summer and fall, and it’s not clear when a final proposal will be announced.

What Is the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program?

Started in 2007, the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program allows borrowers who took out federal student loans to have their loans forgiven after 120 consecutive payments (10 years), as long as they served in a government or nonprofit role while all those payments were made. Graduates who utilize the program are on a mandated income-based repayment plan, so their payments are often much lower than they would be on the standard plan.

Careers such as law, nursing, social work, teaching, law enforcement, firefighting, and the military would all be affected by this shift. Many who choose to enter these professions have the option of working for the private sector where salaries are higher, but choose the public route because of this program. Not having the PSLF program could mean a dearth of candidates entering these fields.

“You have people making major life decisions based on the existence of this and other programs,” Minsky said.

The program incentivizes people to work in the public sector where salaries are lower and the demand is greater. If people don’t have a reason to take a lower-paying job, some experts worry that the gap between the rural and urban communities and other low-income areas will continue to increase.

Who Is Affected by This?

Only borrowers who take out federal student loans after July 1, 2018, would be affected by this change, and anyone who took out loans before this would be grandfathered in. The first crop of students who will have their loans forgiven will be this fall. Currently, over half a million people are enrolled in the PSLF program.

What’s the Problem?

The problem with Trump’s proposal is that the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program is a federal law. A budget proposal can’t change the law, but it can defund the program. That’s where the legal confusion arises.

“That’s the million dollar question,” Minsky said. “How can you have a program that is legally allowed to exist without funding it?”

He anticipates that if a budget passes defunding the PSLF program, several lawsuits would immediately come about.

“The way they’re going about doing it is problematic from a legal point of view,” Minsky said.

What Can People Do?

If you oppose the president’s proposal, you should contact your local representatives to tell them how you feel. Each citizen has one House representative and two Senators. Minsky recommends calling, writing a letter, and setting up a meeting with their spokesperson.

When you call, “you want to identify yourself as a constituent and as a voter,” he said.

If you have coworkers who would also be affected by this, try to rally them to take action. Ask your boss if the organization you work for can take a public stand on these issues. Post about it on social media and encourage your friends to reach out to their elected officials. Strong public opinion could sway politicians to listen to the people and not include this proposal in their own budget.

The post What Trump’s Budget Means for Public Service Loan Forgiveness appeared first on MagnifyMoney.

President Trump’s Education Budget Leaked — And Student Loan Borrowers Won’t be Happy

More details from President Donald Trump’s long-awaited education budget leaked to the Washington Post on Wednesday. The proposed plan would slash $10.6 billion from federal education initiatives, including after-school programs, public service loan forgiveness, and grants for low-income college students, according to the Post.

Here’s what we know so far:

This May Be the End of Public Service Loan Forgiveness

Trump has long promised to dramatically scale back the role of government in education, a plan heartily supported by Betsy Devos, the embattled Education Secretary appointed by the president earlier this year.

Among the programs on the chopping block is the Public Service Loan Forgiveness initiative. Implemented in 2007, the PSLF sought to reward student loan borrowers who took jobs in nonprofits or the public sector by allowing them to discharge their federal student loan debt after 10 years of on-time payments.

Over half a million students were enrolled in the program, and the first cohort would have been eligible for loan forgiveness this October.

Now, the future of the initiative is uncertain. There are no details on whether eligible students will be grandfathered into the program, as has been the case when previous student loan assistance programs were phased out. A Department of Education representative didn’t immediately return a request for comment.

Disgruntled college graduates took to social media Thursday to cry foul.

Changes are Coming to Income-Driven Repayment Plans

As it stands there are five different income-driven repayment plans available to student loan borrowers. The proposed budget calls for one single IDR plan, which could potentially be good news for borrowers.

Typically, under the current IDR plans, borrowers are eligible to have their loans forgiven after 20 years of on-time payments, and their monthly payments are capped at 10% of their income. Trump’s new budget would decrease the payment period from 20 to 15 years but would increase the payment cap to 12.5% of income, the Post reports.

But advanced degree earners wouldn’t be so lucky. Trump’s plan would not only raise the income cap for borrowers who earned advanced degrees, it would lengthen the repayment period. IDR plan payments would be maxed at 12.5% of their income, up from 10%, and they would have to pay for 30 years rather than 25.

Low-Income College Students Could Lose Child Care Services

Trump’s budget would slash the entire $15 million budget for CCAMPIS, a federal grant program that funds on-campus child care services for low-income parents. Dozens of campuses received grants under the program.

$700 Million Cut from Perkins Loans

While Pell Grant funding remains untouched under the proposed budget, the plan would slash more than $700 million in funding from Perkins loans, according to the Post. Perkins loans are low-interest federal student loans for low-income undergraduate and graduate students.

Federal Work-Study Programs Scaled Back

The Federal Work-Study program offers part-time jobs to college students who prove financial need. Their earnings help cover their education expenses. Under the proposed budget, the program would lose $490 million, or about half its budget.

What’s next?

We wait. The final proposed budget is still set to be released May 23, and the particulars could still change. After that, it will have to pass muster with lawmakers in Congress. To write a letter to your representatives,  contact them here. 

 

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What Could Happen if Trump Rolls Back The Dodd-Frank Act

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act has been seen by many as legislation that helped dig the American economy out of the Great Recession by putting strict limitations on banks. Banks had to rein in their high-risk mortgage practices and meet stricter lending requirements.

President Donald Trump has begun the process to roll back parts of the legislation, which could eliminate the restrictions that banks had faced under Dodd-Frank. As recently as Feb. 3, Trump told business executives at the White House, “We expect to be cutting a lot out of Dodd-Frank, because, frankly, I have so many people, friends of mine that have nice businesses that can’t borrow money, they just can’t get any money because the banks just won’t let them borrow because of the rules and regulations in Dodd-Frank.”

The executive order that Trump signed on Feb. 3 asks for a review of Dodd-Frank. Many of Dodd-Frank’s key provisions can’t be undone without legislation, and Democrats have vowed to do all they can to protect the law; however, with a Republican-controlled Congress, there is a possibility of dismantling the legislation.

Consumers and small business owners could feel the impact of Dodd-Frank’s potential rollback in three key ways.

Relaxed lending standards.

The subprime mortgage lending phenomenon caused a surge in defaults when the housing market crashed about a decade ago. Nearly 9.3 million homeowners experienced a foreclosure, short sold, or received a deed in lieu of foreclosure between 2006 and 2014, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Some legal experts worry that a rollback of Dodd-Frank could expose homeowners to the same lending risks they faced prior to the financial crisis.

“If Dodd-Frank is repealed, homeowners should expect to see a return to the ‘anything goes’ days of the 1990s and early 2000s,” says David Reiss, a law professor at Brooklyn (N.Y.) Law School. “There will likely to be a loosening of credit, but also a return to some predatory practices in some parts of the mortgage market,” he says.

When signed by President Barack Obama in 2010, the Dodd-Frank law created several government agencies, including the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). The CFPB, which was tasked with protecting consumers by regulating complaints, conducting investigations, and filing suits against companies that break the law, created the Ability to Repay and the Qualified Mortgage rules. The rules were meant to ensure that banks and mortgage lenders were only issuing loans to homebuyers who could reasonably afford to repay them.

“These are really rules that require lenders to pay attention to who their borrower is, to make sure their borrower can pay back a loan,” Reiss explains. “It sounds kind of silly to have a rule to tell lenders to make sure borrowers can pay back their loan, but before the financial crisis, it was pretty common.”

One of the popular ways to entice subprime mortgage borrowers before the recession was to offer teaser rates. Teaser rates, Reiss explains, made a mortgage appear affordable in its first six months or 12 months, with low rates and low monthly payments. Once the promotional period was up, the rates and payments would skyrocket.

The subprime mortgages and other loans with higher risk for consumers, which can be profitable to banks, had much higher rates of default, Reiss says.

Dodd-Frank legislators originally reduced and prohibited these exotic terms in order to suppress the turbulent market at the time. Repealing Dodd-Frank and its restrictions will not only bring back lenders’ old habits but return the market to a more volatile state, says Reiss.

While the potential abolishment of Dodd-Frank may be a shame in terms of the loss of consumer protections, there is a bright side, says Paul Hynes, a certified financial planner and CEO of HearthStone, a wealth management firm based in San Diego, Calif. Many lenders have complained that heightened regulations have only increased their costs and made it tougher for consumers to get access to much-needed financing. Since the recession, the homeownership rate in the U.S. has declined by 4.7%, from 68.4% in 2007 to 63.75% in 2016, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

“The increased cost of compliance with Dodd-Frank may also go away,” Hynes says, “reducing the drag on the economy caused by these costs, and perhaps stimulating economic growth, higher wages, and overall increase in the standard of living for all Americans.”

Possible benefits for small banks and businesses.

The rollback of Dodd-Frank should have a positive impact on small banks that have felt the effect of the regulations much more heavily than their larger Wall Street and corporate counterparts, says John Gugle, a certified financial planner with Alpha Financial Advisors in Charlotte, N.C.

The costs of complying with Dodd-Frank for banks totaled more than $10.4 billion and 73 million hours in paperwork in 2016, according to the American Action Forum, a conservative nonprofit think tank in Washington, D.C.

Small banks, which used to be an engine for loan growth in their communities, have struggled with the costs to comply with Dodd-Frank, says Gugle, a member of the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) policy committee.

“If you’re a small lender, and having to meet these increasingly rigorous regulations, you don’t have enough money or resources to throw at it,” Reiss says. “So I think the regulatory burden is felt more by the smaller institutions who are just trying to manage to keep the doors open.”

The Dodd-Frank rollback could make it easier for small business owners to qualify for small business loans. Since the recession, lending to small business owners has declined by 17%, according to U.S. Small Business Administration research. While larger banks have focused traditionally on investment and corporate banking, smaller banks have been a primary source of loans to local communities and businesses, and they were hardest hit by the recession.

“For smaller community banks, the increased compliance and regulatory costs have impeded their ability to lend,” Gugle says. “By lowering the regulatory burden, it would make it more cost effective for banks to make loans, but I am careful to point out that small businesses will still need to meet the stringent borrower requirements that banks will impose.”

Another recession? Not likely.

While many financiers and officials have advocated for the repeal of Dodd-Frank, the public is hesitant to remove the restraints on American banks.

In a survey of more than 1,000 people, California-based Personal Capital Advisors Corp. found that 84% were supportive of efforts to protect consumers’ financial rights and concerned about the lack of protections without Dodd-Frank.

Experts agree that a repeal will likely lead to risk-taking by banks, but contend that a recession is not immediately imminent.

If Dodd-Frank is repealed, Hynes, a NAPFA member, says he thinks the U.S. initially will see a “more robust economy, more jobs, and higher economic growth rates.”

“The U.S. economy experienced solid growth, punctuated by occasional, more ‘normal’ recessions, from the end of the Great Depression, about 1940, until 2007 — without massive legislative imposition such as Dodd-Frank,” Hynes says.

The post What Could Happen if Trump Rolls Back The Dodd-Frank Act appeared first on MagnifyMoney.

Republicans Beat Democrats on This Easy Personal Finance Quiz

When it comes time to vote Nov. 8, many voters will head to the polls with their own pocketbooks in mind. From taxes to health care, some of the candidates’ most divisive policy initiatives, if implemented, could have a dramatic impact on the purse strings of millions of American households.

But exactly how savvy are Republicans and Democrats when it comes to matters of personal finance? MagnifyMoney decided to put the major U.S. political parties (including Independents) to the test.

We gave over 1,000 potential voters ages 18 and up a six-question quiz to test their knowledge of basic financial principles, from interest rates to inflation. The quiz itself was borrowed from the official financial literacy test created by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) in 2009.

financial quiz by-political-parties

On average, Republicans were more likely to pass the quiz (answering at least 4 out of 6 questions correctly) than Democrats — 60.9% vs. 56.4%. Independents fell right in the middle, with a pass rate of 55.4%.

Not surprisingly, Republicans boasted the highest average score of all with 59.3%. Independent voters weren’t far behind, with an average score of 57.7%. Democrats came in third place, with an average score of 56%.

financial quiz passed-test

On the bright side for Democrats, a larger share of respondents from this party were more likely to get every answer correct — 10.3% vs. 9.3% of Republicans. But in the end, Democrats were dragged down by a higher complete fail rate (answering 6 out 6 questions incorrectly). Nearly 13% of Democrats answered every question wrong, compared to 8.7% of Republicans and 7.4% of Independents.

financial quiz perfect score

A possible explanation for Republicans’ higher scores could be the demographic makeup of the party itself. Republicans as a whole tend to skew older and male, according to the Pew Research Center. It appears the party benefited from that base in our quiz. We found that both men and older respondents scored higher overall. Democrats, on the other hand, tend to skew younger and more female, according to the same Pew study. Both of these groups earned lower average scores on our quiz.

financial quiz financial quiz

financial quiz by-gender

Check out the full results below and don’t forget to vote!

Methodology: Survey results are based on a MagnifyMoney survey conducted by Google Consumer Surveys on Sept. 28, 2016. There were 1,044 respondents — 351 identified as Democrats, 343 identified as Republicans, and 350 identified as Independents. The survey questions were based on the official FINRA Financial Literacy Quiz.

Full Survey Results:

survey-for-political-parties

The post Republicans Beat Democrats on This Easy Personal Finance Quiz appeared first on MagnifyMoney.

People Would Rather Sit Next to Donald on a Plane Than Hillary, Bernie

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Pretend for a moment that you’re on a plane, and a flight attendant taps on your shoulder: “Just FYI — the seat next to you will be occupied by a presidential candidate.”

Who do you hope it is?

For many Americans, it’s Donald Trump they’d prefer for a seat buddy on this highly improbable flight. According to a survey of 9,700 travelers, 36.8% said they’d most like to sit next to the presumptive Republican nominee for president. Bernie Sanders was second-most popular (barely) with 31.9% of the vote, followed by Hillary Clinton (31.3%). The margin of error is plus or minus 1.1%.

SmarterTravel, parent company of flight-comparison site Airfarewatchdog, conducted the email survey between May 19 and May 23, and the sample is nationally representative, according to a company spokesperson. It was part of a larger survey about air travel.

What the survey didn’t ask about, unfortunately, was the respondents’ motives for choosing their seat mate. Sitting next to politician isn’t necessarily indicative of a vote. Some people might want to sit next to Trump (or Clinton or Sanders) for the chance to interrogate them. (My boss, for one, would treasure such an opportunity.)

Of course, the odds of you seeing a presidential candidate on a commercial airline aren’t great — even Sanders, who collected social-media praise for flying coach, is taking more private flights. Heck, Trump has his own plane, complete with gold fixtures and Trump-crest-embroidered pillows. And Clinton likely would be far too busy doing who-knows-what on her phone to engage with whomever she’s seated next to.

For more realistic flight perks, you might want to look to an airline loyalty program or a credit card that rewards you for travel. That’s not necessarily going to land you in the seat next to anyone notable, but maybe you’ll see someone famous in an airline lounge. If not, a free checked bag or priority boarding should be some sort of consolation. As always, consider your overall financial goals before getting a credit card just for the perks — rewards credit cards can make it tempting to overspend. You can monitor your financial goals, like your credit score, for free on Credit.com.

More on Credit Cards:

Image: andykatz

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There Are Already Realtors Offering to Sell Your Home if Trump Becomes President

sell_home_if_trump_is_president

Disgruntled Americans of all political leanings have said it: “I’m moving to Canada.” The Great White North particularly appeals to those left-of-center, as many liberal Americans are practically drooling with envy over the new Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, in addition to some public policies they would like to see emulated in the U.S.

Let’s set aside, for the moment, the fact that immigrating to another country is a complicated and expensive endeavor. If Donald Trump is elected president, there are a lot of people saying they want to get the heck out of the U.S. as fast as possible — logistics aside.

If you’re one of them, and you’re a homeowner, selling your home will be on your to-do list, and there are a few people willing to help you with that. A Texas real estate agent’s Facebook page went viral over the weekend after she advertised her business as an option for helping people sell their homes if they decided to flee the U.S. in the event of a Trump presidency, BuzzFeed reports.

Michelle Blackwell’s Facebook page had 173 fans when she posted the ad. She now has more than 5,000, and the ad was shared tens of thousands of times before she took it down (her firm reportedly asked her to.)

Another Texas real estate agent, Elena Dinaburg, posted a similar ad, but only within a private Facebook group, rather than on the public platform.

“There’s so much media [attention] with Trump, and so much for and against him,” Dinaburg told BuzzFeed News, saying it seemed like the perfect time to post the ad.

Sure, the presidential election is several months away, but if you’re planning a transnational move, you’ve got a lot to do in that short period of time. Locking in a good real estate agent to sell your home is probably the least of your problems, given that you have to search for a home in Canada, where you have no credit. (You can see where your credit in the U.S. stands by viewing your two free credit scores, updated each month, on Credit.com.) You’ll also need a job or some sort of reason for Canada to let you in the country to stay. Best of luck with that search.

More on Mortgages & Homebuying:

Image: andykatz

The post There Are Already Realtors Offering to Sell Your Home if Trump Becomes President appeared first on Credit.com.

There Are Already Realtors Offering to Sell Your Home if Trump Becomes President

sell_home_if_trump_is_president

Disgruntled Americans of all political leanings have said it: “I’m moving to Canada.” The Great White North particularly appeals to those left-of-center, as many liberal Americans are practically drooling with envy over the new Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, in addition to some public policies they would like to see emulated in the U.S.

Let’s set aside, for the moment, the fact that immigrating to another country is a complicated and expensive endeavor. If Donald Trump is elected president, there are a lot of people saying they want to get the heck out of the U.S. as fast as possible — logistics aside.

If you’re one of them, and you’re a homeowner, selling your home will be on your to-do list, and there are a few people willing to help you with that. A Texas real estate agent’s Facebook page went viral over the weekend after she advertised her business as an option for helping people sell their homes if they decided to flee the U.S. in the event of a Trump presidency, BuzzFeed reports.

Michelle Blackwell’s Facebook page had 173 fans when she posted the ad. She now has more than 5,000, and the ad was shared tens of thousands of times before she took it down (her firm reportedly asked her to.)

Another Texas real estate agent, Elena Dinaburg, posted a similar ad, but only within a private Facebook group, rather than on the public platform.

“There’s so much media [attention] with Trump, and so much for and against him,” Dinaburg told BuzzFeed News, saying it seemed like the perfect time to post the ad.

Sure, the presidential election is several months away, but if you’re planning a transnational move, you’ve got a lot to do in that short period of time. Locking in a good real estate agent to sell your home is probably the least of your problems, given that you have to search for a home in Canada, where you have no credit. (You can see where your credit in the U.S. stands by viewing your two free credit scores, updated each month, on Credit.com.) You’ll also need a job or some sort of reason for Canada to let you in the country to stay. Best of luck with that search.

More on Mortgages & Homebuying:

Image: andykatz

The post There Are Already Realtors Offering to Sell Your Home if Trump Becomes President appeared first on Credit.com.

Bernie vs. Hillary: How Do Their Tax Plans Really Stack Up?

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Tax policy is a crucial component of any political campaign, but as important as taxes are to many voters, they’re not easy to understand. Expert analysis comes in handy, but due to the complex nature of tax policy, even that can be puzzling.

Take, for example, recent joint research from the Urban Institute and Brookings Institution. Researchers from the left-leaning think tanks’ tax policy centers assessed the tax plans from Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders. Together, they include about 80 pages of analyses, describing various ways the candidates’ policies could affect the economy, businesses and individuals. If you want to dive deep into the details (at least, the ones that the campaigns have provided so far), these analyses are worth a read (the Clinton analysis is here and the Sanders analysis here). Here’s a quick look at how Sanders’ and Clinton’s tax plans compare.

On Tax Complexity

The research concluded that Clinton’s proposals make the tax code more complex, particularly for high-income taxpayers, while Sanders’s plan would simplify taxes in several ways.

As with the current tax code, the amount of new taxes Clinton and Sanders propose depends on how much money you’re working with in the first place, which makes it really difficult to concisely summarize every aspect of their plans. And not all parts of their plans have a direct point of comparison in the other candidate’s plan. For example, Sanders proposes a carbon tax, while Clinton proposes eliminating fossil fuel incentives.

Digging into the taxes on businesses adds another layer of complexity that, while not independent of consumers’ tax concerns, can be a bit more difficult to trace back to individual impact.

On Revenue

The research estimates Sanders’ proposals would increase federal revenue by $15.3 trillion by 2026 and an additional $25.1 trillion by the second decade they’re in effect. Sanders has outlined plans to use these revenues to pay for his major initiatives like free college and Medicare for All.

“The plan is unlikely to do much, if anything, to reverse the currently unsustainable path for public debt,” the researchers wrote.

Researchers estimate Clinton’s policies would increase federal revenue by $1.1 trillion in the first decade and another $2.1 trillion through 2036, which would “reduce future deficits and slow, somewhat, the accumulation of public debt,” the researchers wrote. However, Clinton has hinted at proposals-to-come on a tax cut for low- and middle-income households, making it difficult to assess how her plans will affect the federal deficit and the economy.

On Estate & Gift Taxes

Both Clinton and Sanders propose raising the estate tax from 40% to 45%, though Sanders’ plan employs a graduated surtax on estates exceeding $10 million. Both also propose increasing gift taxes.

On Capital Gains

Both Clinton and Sanders propose taxing capital gains at the same rate as ordinary income taxes.

On Take-Home Pay

Clinton and Sanders have each proposed tax increases that would reduce workers’ take-home pay to at least partially pay for services that would theoretically reduce some financial demands on household income, like saving for college and healthcare costs. (If you’re worried about how student loan or medical debt are impacting your credit, you can get a free summary of your credit report every month on Credit.com.) The research concluded that both proposals would decrease incentives to save and invest, though that would mostly apply to only the high-income taxpayers in the case of Clinton’s plan.

Sanders’ proposals would raise tax burdens by an average of $9,000, resulting in a 12.4% cut in after-tax income. It’s higher for the highest income earners and vice versa.

Clinton’s tax plan would mostly hit the highest earners. The top 1% of earners, or those with incomes greater than $730,000 (in 2015 dollars), would see a 5% cut in after-tax income in 2017, while taxpayers outside the top 5% of earners (people earning less than $300,000 in 2015 dollars) “would see little change in after-tax income.”

More Money-Saving Reads:

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One More Thing to Hate About Election Season: Scams

In case you hadn’t noticed, it’s an election year, and with that comes the onslaught of election-related phone calls, emails, snail mail, campaign signs, TV ads, radio ads … yeah, it’s enough to make you stop paying attention.

But within that onslaught are things you do need to pay attention to: The scammers that are hoping you’re too fatigued or too naive to notice that they’re not on the up-and-up. They want to lift your personal information so they can steal your identity.

“Scammers tend to use the same tactics over and over, but they change the subject matter to whatever is topical, timely, or in the news. As the election heats up, we will be hearing about scammers posing as political fundraisers, pollsters or get-out-the-vote canvassers,” Katherine Hutt, national spokesperson for the Better Business Bureau, said. “Consumers need to be wary about sharing any personal information with someone who contacts them, whether it’s by phone, email, text or at your front door. Especially never share banking or credit card information, or your Social Security number.”

Anyone who has experienced an attack on their identity knows that the fallout from identity-related crimes can be devastating.

The Better Business Bureau has compiled four common election season scams and schemes, the red flags you should look for, and suggestions on how to avoid them.

1. Campaign Fund Collections

Scammer are great at sounding like they’re a legitimate political party representative, election committee member or the candidate themselves. When these scammers call, they might ask you to make a donation. But, instead of acquiescing, you should get the caller’s contact information, research the candidates and organizations on your own and contribute through a verified campaign website. You can also call the phone number of the campaign office or mail in a check to their office, the BBB said.

2. Re-Register Scam

Scammers also make calls saying if you didn’t vote in the last election, you’ll have to re-register. It’s a big red flag if a caller ever tells you you’ve been removed from the list of registered voters. It’s good to remember that you should never give your personal information to any strangers who may call you, even if they sound legitimate. If you get a call about your voter registration record, call your state Board of Elections directly about your registration status, said the BBB.

3. Election Survey Scam

Scammers may also call stating that a survey is being conducted on behalf of a political party and that participants are eligible to win a prize. The scam occurs after you’ve answered their legitimate-sounding survey questions: The caller typically asks you to provide your credit card number to pay for the shipping, taxes or handling of the “prize” you’ve won with the intent to commit fraud. Legitimate polling companies will never offer such prizes for participating in a telephone survey, nor will they ask for a credit card number, the BBB said, so don’t turn over payment information.

You also shouldn’t authenticate yourself to anyone unless you are in control of the interaction. Plus, don’t over-share on social media, be a good steward of your passwords, safeguard any documents that can be used to hijack your identity, and consider freezing your credit or putting a fraud alert on your credit file if you think a scam like this has happened to you.

4. Vote By Phone

Never respond to a phone call, email or SMS message asking you to vote by phone.

“This is a scam,” the BBB said. “It is not possible to vote by phone. Hang up if you receive a vote-by-phone solicitation. You can only cast your voting ballot by mail, using official absentee ballots applied for well in advance and received by the deadline date, or in-person at an official polling station.”

Remember, monitoring your credit score regularly is a great way to watch out for identity theft. A big unexpected change in your credit score might mean a thief has struck. You can get two free credit scores every month at Credit.com to keep an eye on them regularly.

More on Identity Theft:

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