It’s a safe bet millions of advisor clients saw reports of the tax reform package President Obama will officially unveil in his State of the Union speech tomorrow.
If some of your customers call today asking how the proposals will affect their family finances, tell them if they really want to watch a show Tuesday night that could have a big impact on their personal prosperity, they should to buy lottery tickets during the day and tune in for the winning numbers that evening.
The president’s wish list was scoffed at as dead on arrival by Congressional leaders and other Washington knowledgeables immediately when it was published in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Politico and The Washington Post.
Republicans, who now control both houses of Congress, are likely to veto anything with a Made By Obama stamp on it.
The savings idea most likely to be enacted is a requirement for mandatory IRAs that would incorporate automatic enrollment for workers at small employers that don’t offer retirement plans. But the laws are going to be enacted in state capitols, not Washington.
State legislators from both parties see mandatory retirement plans as a way of reducing social welfare costs. Their rationale is the more seniors can pay for their livelihoods out of their own pockets, the less they will need state government support for health care, housing and other costs.
The Obama package would also hike the highest capital-gains tax rate to 28 percent from 20 percent, establish a $500 tax credit for families with two working spouses and increase the taxes on inherited wealth.
The Tuesday speech that could have the most bearing on American pocketbooks may not be Obama’s in the evening, but Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch’s in the morning.
With his newfound power from the shift to Republican control of the Senate, Hatch will be unveiling his own priorities to an audience undoubtedly stocked with existing and would-be campaign contributors at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Hatch is certain to recycle ideas he proposed in the last session of Congress that never saw the light of day because his party was in the minority.
Now that he has the power to shine a spotlight on his ideas, look for the senator to re-propose the establishment of Starter401(k)s that would allow a participant to contribute $8,000 to $10,000 per year towards retirement, a little less than under tradition 401(k)s, but a higher limit than IRAs.
In December, he released a whitepaper calling tax reform “an economic necessity,” and he should be friendly to savings and investments for individuals. One idea in the whitepaper is to make uniform eligibility, contribution and withdrawal rules for 401(k), 403(b) and 457 retirement plans.