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.

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GOP Moves to Block Rule That Allows Consumers to Join Class Action Lawsuits

A rule that would make it easier for consumers to join together and sue their banks might be shelved by congressional Republicans or other banking regulators before it takes effect.

Members of the Senate Banking Committee announced Thursday that they will take the unusual step of filing a Congressional Review Act Joint Resolution of Disapproval to stop a new rule announced earlier this month by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Rep. Jeb Hensarling (D-Texas) introduced a companion measure in the House of Representatives.

The CFPB rule, which was published in the Federal Register this week and would take effect in 60 days, bans financial firms from including language in standard form contracts that force consumers to waive their rights to join class action lawsuits.

The congressional challenge is one of three potential roadblocks opponents might throw up to overturn or stall the rule before it takes effect in two months.

So-called mandatory arbitration clauses have long been criticized by consumer groups, who say they make it easier for companies to mistreat consumers. But Senate Republicans, led by banking committee chairman Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), say the rule is “anti-business” and would lead to a flood of class action lawsuits that would harm the economy. They also say the CFPB overstepped its bounds in writing the rule.

“Congress, not King Richard Cordray, writes the laws,” said Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), referring to the CFPB director. “This resolution is a good place for Congress to start reining in one of Washington’s most powerful bureaucracies.”

Congress’s financial reform bill of 2010, known as Dodd-Frank, directed the CFPB to study arbitration clauses and write a rule about them. The rule permits arbitration clauses for individual disputes, but prevents firms from requiring arbitration when consumers wish to band together in class action cases.

Consumer groups were quick to criticize congressional Republicans.

“Senator Crapo is doing the bidding of Wall Street by jumping to take away our day in court and repeal a common-sense rule years in the making,” said Lauren Saunders, associate director of the National Consumer Law Center. “None of these senators would want to look a Wells Fargo fraud victim in the eye and say, ‘you can’t have your day in court,’ yet they are helping Wells Fargo do just that.”

Meanwhile, the new rule also faces a challenge from the Financial Stability Oversight Council, made up of 10 banking regulators. The council can overturn a CFPB rule with a two-thirds vote if members believe it threatens the safety and soundness of the banking system. A letter from Acting Comptroller of the Currency Keith Noreika, a council member, to the CFPB on Monday asked the bureau for more data on the rule, and raised possible safety and soundness issues. Any council member can ask the Treasury secretary to stay a new rule within 10 days of publication. The council would then have 90 days to veto the rule via a vote. It would be the first such veto.

The CFPB rule also faces potential lawsuits from private parties.

How to be sure you’re protected by the new rule

Barring action by Congress, the CFPB rule is slated to take effect in late September 2017, with covered firms having an additional 6 months to comply, meaning most new contracts signed after that date can’t contain the class-action waiver. Prohibitions in current contracts will remain in effect.

Consumers who want to ensure they enjoy their new rights will have to close current accounts and open new ones after the effective date, the CFPB said.

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How the “Financial Choice Act” Could Impact Your Wallet

 

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A plan to repeal major aspects of Dodd-Frank — legislation enacted to regulate the types of lender behavior that contributed to the 2008 economic crisis — crossed its first major hurdle last week when the U.S. House passed the Financial Choice Act.

The bill still has to pass the U.S. Senate and be signed by the president before becoming a law. However, if it does, significant changes would be made to some regulations that might require consumers to pay more attention to their financial decisions.

“[The Financial Choice Act] stands for economic growth for all, but bank bailouts for none. We will end bank bailouts once and for all. We will replace bailouts with bankruptcy,” Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), House Financial Services Committee chairman, said in a press release. “We will replace economic stagnation with a growing, healthy economy.”

What’s at stake with the Financial Choice Act, and how does it impact your finances? We’ll explore these questions in this post.

What did the Dodd-Frank Act do, anyway?

Bailouts: After it was implemented in 2010 by President Barack Obama, one of the law’s main pillars was enacting the “Orderly Liquidation Authority” to use taxpayer dollars to bail out financial institutions that were failing but considered “too big to fail” — meaning their collapse would significantly hurt the economy. In addition, Dodd-Frank created a fund for the FDIC to use instead of taxpayer dollars for any future bailouts.

Consumer watchdog: Dodd-Frank also created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, an independent government agency that focuses on protecting “consumers from unfair, deceptive, or abusive practices and take action against companies that break the law.”

In one of its most high profile cases to date, the CFPB in 2016 fined Wells Fargo $100 million for allegedly opening accounts customers did not ask for.

The CFPB’s actions against predatory practices in a number of industries, including payday lending, prepaid debit cards, and mortgage lenders, among others, have won the agency many fans among consumer advocates.

“In fewer than six years, [the CFPB has] returned $12 million to over 29 million Americans, not just harmed by predatory lenders or fly-by-night debt collectors, but some of the biggest banks in the country,” says Ed Mierzwinski, director of the consumer program for the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that advocates for consumers.

And how would the Financial Choice Act change Dodd-Frank?

No more bailouts: The Financial Choice Act would replace Dodd-Frank’s Orderly Liquidation Authority with a new bankruptcy code. So financial institutions would have a path to declare bankruptcy in lieu of shutting down completely.

Fewer regulations for banks: The act will provide community banks with “almost two dozen” regulatory relief bills that will lessen the number of rules small banks need to comply with, making it easier for them to operate.

A weaker CFPB: It would convert the CFPB into the Consumer Law Enforcement Agency (CLEA) and make it part of the executive branch. The Financial Choice Act also gives the president the ability to fire the head of the newly created CLEA at any time, for any reason, and gives Congress control over it and its budget. These changes will take away much of the power the CFPB holds to monitor the marketplace and pursue any unfair practices.

“It not only took the bullets out of [the CFPB’s] guns, it took their guns away,” Mierzwinski says.

Specifically, he says the CFPB would no longer be able to go after high-cost, small-dollar credit institutions, such as payday lenders and auto title lenders.

However, some experts see benefits from taking the teeth out of the CFPB.

“I personally think that’s a good thing because I think the way that the CFPB is structured is fundamentally flawed,” says Robert Berger, a retired lawyer who now runs doughroller.net, a personal finance blog. “You basically have one person with very little meaningful oversight that can have a huge impact on the regulations of the financial industry.”

The bill also would roll back the U.S. Department of Labor’s new fiduciary rule, which isn’t part of Dodd-Frank, but requires retirement financial advisers to act in their clients’ best interests. It went into partial effect on June 9.

What does this mean to consumers?

If the Financial Choice Act becomes law, opponents say it could mean that consumers will have to be even more careful with their financial choices and who they trust as a financial adviser because there will be less government oversight.

“If you’re a consumer, you’re going to have to watch your wallet even if you have a zippered pocket with a chain on your wallet,” Mierzwinski says.

If the bill passes the Senate, it could still face some hurdles. Any changes to Dodd-Frank regulations would need to be approved by the heads of the Federal Reserve System and Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and the Comptroller of the Currency.

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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.

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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.

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How the Stock Market Could React if Trump or Hillary Wins

Whether Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump wins the U.S. election this November, the question for investors is how that victory might affect the stock market.

If Clinton wins, will health care companies like Aetna prosper? If Trump wins, will oil companies like Exxon and Shell, surge?

Historically, the presidential election has had little long-term impact on the U.S. stock market. “The market responds more to Fed policy and economic conditions more than who is president,” said Sam Stovall, Chief Investment Strategist with CRFA.

Stovall looked at how the stock market has fared under past U.S. Presidents. Overall, markets from 1945 to 2016 gained 9.7% under Democrat presidents and 6.7% under Republican presidents, according to his findings. But it’s hard to say whether those gains were tied directly to the person sitting in the Oval Office.

Nonetheless, decisions the president makes can have lasting impacts on certain industries, which could have an impact on market value for publicly traded companies in those industries.

stock-market-graphic

MagnifyMoney reached out to a handful of experts to find out how the market might look the day after Election Day (and beyond).

Here are their predictions:

If Trump wins …

Donald Trump

Stovall noted there’s a lot of concern that a Trump victory would send the market into a nosedive. But any dip in the market would eventually level out. “If it falls, it won’t be for too long,” Stovall says.

Trump has vowed to cut regulations across many industries and let markets rule, which could lift markets if he is elected, says Jeff Auxier, president and CEO of Lake Oswego, Ore.-based Auxier Asset Management. “The perception is he would cut taxes and regulations,” he says.

For example, Trump has said that he will allow insurance companies to buy insurance across state lines, which could boost their business.

The insurance industry would particularly benefit from Trump’s insistence on deregulation, Auxier suggests. Lately, the U.S. government has worked to block a pair of potentially lucrative insurance mergers — marriages between Anthem-Cigna and Aetna-Humana. All signs point to less federal regulation under a Trump presidency.

Most large financial service companies favor a Trump triumph. “Banks favor less regulation,” Stovall says. Under a Clinton administration, some of the mega banks such as Bank of America and Citigroup would likely face pressure to shrink. In other words, they may be forced to sell off businesses and reduce total assets. If regulations under Trump declined, Capital One Financial Corp. (COF) and Discover Financial Services (DFS) stand to gain.

Another industry that might celebrate a Trump victory is construction and engineering.

“Any companies associated with building roads and bridges like engineering firms will benefit,” Auxier says. Some specific companies that could see revenues rise include Granite Construction (GVA) and Sherwin-Williams (SHW), the paint company. Stovall says these companies could do well under Clinton as well, who has said she would spike investment in infrastructure.

Large oil and energy companies would welcome a Trump victory since they prefer less regulation, a hallmark of the Republican agenda, Stovall adds.

For-profit colleges have been battered by regulations and would bounce back in a Trump presidency, Auxier suggests. Under Trump, companies such as Apollo Education Group and Lincoln Tech could “come back from the dead,” he says.

If Clinton wins …

Hillary Clinton

If Clinton wins the election, renewable stocks would prosper and many health care stocks could do well. On the downside, biotech and retail stocks might falter.

Many retail stores and restaurants are concerned about a Clinton election, Stovall says. “Retail is worried about a $15 an hour minimum wage,” Stovall says, which Clinton has supported.

On health care, don’t expect much difference if Clinton is elected. “[A Clinton victory] is basically a continuation of the Obama administration,” Stovall says. “She represents more of the center of the two candidates and that would make for less uncertainty. Wall Street doesn’t like uncertainty.”

Despite that fact that Aetna cut back its Affordable Health Care coverage in 11 states, and Humana and UnitedHealthCare also reduced coverage, the Obama administration has noted that millions of people still maintain their health plans. Health care companies can opt out of offering coverage and then return, so it’s not necessarily a permanent trend.

Under a Clinton administration, large managed health care firms, HCA Holdings (HCA), Tenet Healthcare Corp. (THC), and Molina Healthcare (MOH) could prosper as more companies drop out of the marketplace, creating less competition.

But Stovall also notes that Clinton has focused on capping the rising cost of drugs, which could trouble the pharmaceutical industry.

If Clinton wins, “biotech will shake in their boots,” Stovall adds. Clinton has stressed that controlling drug prices and avoiding massive price hikes is critical. She has said she will look to regulate and curtail pharmaceutical price increases, specifically highlighting the recent controversy over Mylan’s decision to drastically increase the price of EpiPens.

“Biotech and pharma companies would likely suffer from promised price caps. However, hospital management companies will prosper since we won’t be back to the old pattern of uninsured individuals using emergency rooms as their primary care facilities,” Stovall asserts.

While a Trump victory could likely be good news for oil stocks, a Clinton victory could send renewable energy stocks soaring.

“Democrats would be pushing for renewable energy and putting more restraints on energy,” Stovall says. Hillary Clinton has supported President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which intends to set a national limit on carbon pollution, and she has stated that “the Obama plan is a major step forward to combat climate change.”

The post How the Stock Market Could React if Trump or Hillary Wins 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.

Are Democrats or Republicans Better With Money?

fiscal_policies_of_hillary_clinton_and_donald_trump

With America being greatly divided these days — be it red versus blue states, Democrats or Republicans, etc. — it’s easy to get caught up in the fray. Americans will argue and try to differentiate themselves in just about every way. Do you believe in the concept of working together toward a common good? You might be labeled a Socialist. Do you think people should take responsibility for their own lives, health, and finances? You’re a right-wing extremist, in some people’s eyes.

But when it comes to finances and money specifically, one political party is typically associated with fiscal responsibility more than any other: the Republican Party. Responsible spending has been a mantra of the Republicans and conservative party for a long time, and when a lot of people file into the voting booth, money and taxation are on their minds.

So, does that hold true? Are Republicans and red states truly more fiscally conservative than their blue state counterparts? Thanks to some data gathered by LendingTree, we have a better idea.

Red vs. Blue States: An Analysis

“Given this year’s polarizing election cycle with financial and socioeconomic topics, such as minimum wage and education costs being at the front of many discussions, LendingTree decided to compare how different candidate and party supporters really were financially,” a LendingTree press release says. “LendingTree conducted the survey online via SurveyMonkey and polled a nationally representative sample of respondents ages 18 and up. A total of 1,616 completed responses were collected between June 9th, 2016 and June 14th, 2016.”

From the results, LendingTree found that over half of each party’s voting base suffers from a “financial superiority bias,” though Republicans were more likely to say they are financially or economically more knowledgeable. Republicans were also more likely to say that they were financially responsible. But when LendingTree looked at the red and blue state divide and corresponding personal finance habits, there were some interesting swings.

Residents of Republican-leaning states generally had bad credit scores. In fact, of the 50 states, the bottom 10 in terms of credit scores were red. On the other hand, red states generally were better at curbing credit card debt. But, Democratic voters were twice as likely than Republican voters to say that they were “financially happy.”

Democrats or Republicans: Party of Fiscal Responsibility?

From this study, it appears that no specific party can really accurately claim any sort of financial superiority, as blue states tend to be happier and have better credit scores, but red states have better general personal finance habits. Of course, you should read the entire study yourself to get a better gauge of the data, as we’re just looking at the general findings and trends.

But the data does match up, in some ways, to other measures of financial superiority. For example, when you look at which states tend to rely more on the federal government for funding and financial backing, red states are at the top. This, as noted, contrasts with the red state values of small government and financial responsibility. But, you also have to take into account the specific cases of each state. Some of those red states are largely rural, are home to Indian reservations, or lie on the border — all things that require additional federal funding.

The point, though, is that the divisiveness surrounding fiscal responsibility doesn’t really make a lot of sense, especially when you crunch the numbers and find that members of both parties struggle. Monetary issues, like the national debt and growing deficit, were a much bigger issue during the 2012 campaign cycle than they are this time around, which might shed some light on the fact that politicians from both parties know that fighting about being fiscally responsible is losing its appeal.

The last two presidents — Barack Obama and George W. Bush — have seen the national debt and budget deficit soar, after all. So, if there is a point or underlying theme to LendingTree’s findings, it’s that as a whole, neither party appears to be all that fiscally responsible, and slugging it out over other issues may yield more of an opportunity to sway voters.

[Editor’s Note: You can monitor your financial goals, like building a good credit score, each month on Credit.com.]

This article originally appeared on The Cheat Sheet.  

Image: EdStock, 2008 Getty Images

The post Are Democrats or Republicans Better With Money? appeared first on Credit.com.

Need to Register to Vote? Just Google It

google_voter_registration_widget

Thursday’s crowning of Donald Trump as the Republican presidential candidate has ushered in the beginning of the real battle for the White House. Regardless of whether you support Trump, his presumptive Democratic rival Hillary Clinton or neither, you won’t be able to voice your opinion in the November election if you aren’t registered to vote.

If you haven’t registered — whether you think it’s just too much of a pain, you haven’t had the time, or you just don’t know where to start — you’re in luck. Google is here to help with a new widget that makes the process a lot easier.

The widget, launched earlier this month, appears in the results for search terms like “how do I register to vote?”

The widget provides links to registration forms, your state’s county voter registrar offices, plus requirements and deadlines for registration.

Google said in an announcement that the widget helps serve user needs.

“With states’ varied deadlines and methods, the voter registration process can be tricky,” Jacob Schonberg, Google product manager, wrote on the company’s blog. “So … we’re introducing a new tool in Search to simplify the voter registration process to make it easier for you to have your voice heard.”

google_voter_registration_widget

The Election & Your Finances

Whether you believe your vote counts or not, voicing your opinion can have a direct impact on your personal finances. The candidates’ economic proposals are very different this year, on everything from student loan payments to tax breaks, all of which are sure to affect voters’ bottom lines.

While your vote will only go so far in addressing how the economy operates, you can still take charge of your own personal finances by maintaining a good credit score, paying your bills on time, ensuring you have sufficient income and putting some of your money into savings. If any of these are a struggle for you, you can start down the road to a better financial life by checking your credit scores to see where you stand. You can get two free credit scores, updated monthly, on Credit.com.

[Offer: If you need help fixing your credit, Lexington Law can help you meet your goals. Learn more about them here or call them at (844) 346-3296 for a free consultation.]

More on Credit Reports & Credit Scores:

Image: adamkaz

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