Retirement Talk Podcast Episode

65. Understanding the Impact of Our Nation’s Debt on Your Taxes in Retirement

August 13, 2021
Understanding Risk Capacity and Risk Tolerance in Retirement Planning

Most experts predict a dramatic rise in tax rates within the next ten years, which has a direct impact on those heading into retirement. Despite your efforts to save, you’rere likely to outlive your money or watch it be taxed into oblivion. 

What can you do when traditional retirement distribution strategies won’t provide sufficient income in the face of higher taxes? In this episode, we’re discussing some important takeaways throughout David McKight’s book, Tax-Free Income for Life. Listen in as we explain some important details of our nations debt, potential tax plans to reduce debt, and the importance of income in retirement!

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Show Notes

Welcome Back Michael (:49)

David McKnight’s Books: (1:08)

The Power of Zero

Tax-Free Income for Life

The Volatility Shield

About Tax-Free Income for Life (3:31)

In this book, David outlines how to create a proactive asset-shifting strategy to shield taxpayers from risk in order to maximize the returns. It provides readers with a blueprint for guaranteed tax-free income. 

US National Debt: $28 Trillion (5:31)

Infrastructure Bill: Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act reauthorizes a mix of transportation and water programs and adds $550 billion in new spending over the next five years. (6:59)

How We Can Afford Debt Right Now (7:31)

Question Prompted in the Book: How do pre-retirees protect themselves against higher taxes? (8:48)

Highest Income Tax Rate: >90% (10:37)

Ownership of Your 401k & IRA (11:24)

Understanding Your Taxes in the Future Based on Tax Brackets/Buckets (12:03)

The last thing you want to do is retire in a much higher tax bracket with no more ability to generate more income, to offset those taxes.

Tax Cuts and Jobs Act: In 2026, higher taxes will come with the reverse. (13:13)

Anticipation & Flexibility in Retirement (13:33)

Biden’s Anticipated Tax Plan: Will not impact couples making less than $400,000 and singles making less than $200,000. (14:10)

Breakdown of Tax/Debt Study by Maya MacGuineas (President of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget) (16:16)

The Impact of the Delta Variant (18:40)

David Walker on Math/Debt/Taxes (19:37)

“If we do not get control of our debt spending, then we will as a country go into bankruptcy.” – David Walker

Two Choices to Reduce Debt: (21:36)

  1. Raise taxes on everyone
  2. Print more money

Income in Retirement (23:58)

How much is enough to live on in retirement? Guaranteed streams of income.

How to get one of our five free copies of this book:
  1. Follow the podcast and leave a review on Apple Podcast.
  2. Send an email to [email protected] or text TAX GUIDE to 474747 with your apple username and mailing address.
Links

redefiningwealth.info

lswealthmanagement.com

Weekend Read: redefiningwealth.info/weekend-reading

Text TAX GUIDE to 474747

The Power of Zero

Tax-Free Income for Life

The Volatility Shield

David’s Documentary

Listen & Subscribe

JAG:

Welcome to Retirement Talk, the Redefining Wealth show specifically for pre-retirees and retirees to help you better understand and navigate and educate during these financial times. We are here to discuss thoughts and ideas with some of today’s foremost experts in the field of finance in retirement, as well as discuss trending topics that could impact your bottom line. These discussions can help you make better financial decisions and be informed so you can live the lifestyle you imagine and make better financial choices.

JAG:

Laura Stover is a registered financial consultant and CEO of LS Wealth Management, as well as founder and owner of LS Tax, a consulting firm. She’s been featured in Forbes, CNBC, and the Wall Street Journal. I’m Jon “JAG” Gay. Here is your host for Retirement Talk, Redefining Wealth, Laura Stover and certified financial planner Michael Wallin. Welcome both to the show.

Laura:

Hello, hello, hello, and I am happy to have my good friend and colleague back on this show with me today, certified financial planner Michael Wallin. How are you doing, Michael?

Michael:

Oh, Laura, I’m great. I am so glad to be back with you and JAG and so excited about talking about today’s topic.

Laura:

We have one of our favorite topics of discussion, one that, honestly, I’ve been sounding the battle cry for some time when it comes to the wonderful topic of taxes, taxes, I said taxes. We are actually featuring a book on the show today, Michael, from New York Times bestselling author, a good friend of mine. I’ve had the privilege of conversing extensively, meeting him multiple times, and the author of the bestselling book The Power of Zero. He has a revised and updated version. There’s a lot of legislative changes. You have to have those updates frequently, but how to get to the 0% tax bracket, transform your retirement. His most recent book is called Tax-Free Income for Life, and that’s a step-by-step plan for a secure retirement. He also authored The Volatility Shield and really how to vanquish that 4% rule and maximize your retirement income.

Laura:

Now, to read more on this topic, as always, go to redefiningwealth.info, sign up for the weekend read. We’re also going to be having a webinar in the upcoming weeks. You’re going to want to stay tuned for that. Sign up for the weekend read, then you can have access to all of this information. And yes, I’ve been on a mission to protect your retirement savings from the impact of rising taxes. It’s one of the pillars of the Redefining Wealth process.

Laura:

And David’s best-selling book, The Power of Zero, it recently also made it into a full-length documentary film. Michael, I know that’s available if you have Amazon Prime. And that documentary is quite astounding, and it has many people that you and I both know that were interviewed in that documentary, and it’s quite daunting, quite honestly. And when we look at the cost, and we’re going to get into this, and I know this is something you like to voice the concerns on, it’s massive, the debt, the spending that we’re into as a country, and how this is all going to impact retirees if you’re not proactive with your planning.

Michael:

Laura, David McKnight’s latest book is tremendous, the Tax-Free Income for Life. He outlines how to create a proactive asset-shifting strategy to shield taxpayers from risk in order to maximize the returns. And as a special gift, we have five copies, and Laura and I want to give these books away to five listeners today so that they can add them to their summer reading list. Now, the Tax-Free Income for Life provides readers with a blueprint for guaranteed tax-free income. And doesn’t that sound wonderful to everybody? What it does is it allows the individual that will put this asset-shifting strategy in place to make sure that that income is built and will last for the long run.

Michael:

And so on today’s show, we’re going to talk about really three main areas here that are outlined, which are, we’re going to discuss the tax plan, what we are expecting to see from the Biden administration, we’re going to discuss what you can do now, not later, but proactively do now to insulate yourself from the impact of higher taxes down the road, and why income, not the size of your asset matters, but what matters most is your income in retirement.

JAG:

Now, one more thing before we get started, guys. We have a bunch of copies of David’s latest book, Tax-Free Income for Life. We’re going to send them out till they’re gone. So step one, follow the podcast and leave an honest rating and review in Apple Podcasts, and number two, send an email to us, [email protected], with your Apple username and mailing address. We’ll ship you the book for free, really that easy. Just go on Apple Podcasts, leave a review, and then email us, [email protected], with your Apple username.

Laura:

And as they say, the tax train is what is coming and it’s on the horizon.

Michael:

The power of zero. I think every listener today that, just in that title itself, is important because what we are all trying to do is put a strategy together so that we can lessen that burden of taxes off of us, because the unfunded obligations for social security, Medicare, Medicaid, the national debt, is getting bigger and bigger and bigger. We’ve talked about this, Laura, on several of the episodes, about how large that is getting, even to the point to where it is going to grow exponentially by 2030 to 117% of the GDP. That’s astounding. And so we’ve got to take control of our future taxation, and we don’t have enough money to pay for all of these things that are being laid out in this national debt. Every time we have a bill being passed through the federal government, it is adding debt, and debt is an obligation that has not yet been completed, and we have got to get control over this.

Michael:

So the first thing we have to do is we’ve got to control it because we’re now approaching over $28 trillion on our US national debt, and it is growing every single day. The obligation is there and we’ve got to be able to sustain a tax base that can meet these obligations, and the taxes are going to be going up.

Laura:

Well, we have an infrastructure bill. Now it’ll probably be passed by the time our show airs, possibly. The Brookings Institute coined this as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. It reauthorizes a mix of transportation and water programs. It adds $550 billion in new spending over the next five years. I hope they upgrade the Fort Lauderdale airport, but it’s likely to target the digital divide, interstate electricity, and transmission. Now the whole reason we can afford to have so much debt right now, Michael, is because interest rates are historically low, but what is going to happen as the debt gets bigger, bigger, bigger, and bigger? Other countries are now going to really believe that we’re going to have the ability to pay that money back. They’re going to say, “We’ll continue to loan you money, but with the provision that we’re going to charge more interest.”

Laura:

So what’s going to happen? What is going to happen when we get to the point where we have so much debt? Interest rates are going to return to historically what we would deem as a normal level. We know the Fed’s been just itching to try to get interest rates up with the pandemic and everything that’s happened, that he had to actually reverse policy at one point and lower it again. We’re servicing all of this national debt. It’s going to consume the entire federal budget, let alone talking about social security and Medicare and Medicaid. So with the next 10 years, tax rates have to increase dramatically, this is what David McKnight talks about, or we’re going to go broke as a country. And in fact, some have even said that tax rates will have to double within the next 10 years to keep our country’s… sort of keeping our ship afloat.

Laura:

And so the real question becomes, and it’s addressed in The Power of Zero, how do people who are preparing for retirement best protect themselves against that impact of dramatically higher taxes, especially when we’re probably looking at within 10 years from now? There’s this conventional wisdom that just says, hey, look, everybody’s been saving most of their retirement in 401ks IRAs, these tax-deferred vehicles, so when you’re in retirement and you’re needing to supplement your income, it’s coming out of taxable… the bulk of people’s income out of taxable accounts. Everyone thought when they retired, they’d be in a lower tax bracket, and this is going to flip and shift course, where that’s not necessarily going to be the case, more than likely.

Michael:

And in David McKnight’s book, I thought it was very apropos that he had Ed Slott do the foreword to the book, which many of the listeners today probably know Ed Slott. He’s another one of the resources that we reach out to, and he is considered the foremost expert when it deals with 401ks and IRAs. One of the things that he talks about, and I think it’s very important for every listener to have this as a baseline to what we’re sharing today, we’re not making predictions. We’re just telling you basic math. This is arithmetic. This is not looking at what we, you or I, Laura, personally think is going to happen. This is a mathematical problem. And I thought it was very interesting that, as you read the foreword of the book, one of the things that is also pointed out, and you just mentioned this that I think the listeners need to hear again, is taxes are going to go up and it is not an anomaly.

Michael:

We have had federal income tax rates exceeding 90% in this country, and let that just kind of sit in for a second. For every $1 you make, nine dimes is leaving your pocket in taxes. We have historical precedent on that. In fact, from 1936 to 1981, the top federal income tax rate has never gone below 70%. That is a long period of time, so as you’re talking about traditional 401ks and you’re talking about IRAs… and IRAs are individual retirement arrangements. That means that you have a partnership with the federal government on that account. It is an arrangement between you and them. And the problem is the federal government has the ability to dictate through taxes what percent of your 401k or your IRA that you own. And it seems really great on the front end because it is a tax-deferred bucket. You literally are entering into this business partnership with the IRS every year, and the IRS gets to vote on what percentage of your profits that they get to keep. Is that really a smart strategy when it comes to maximizing after-tax income for retirement? And it’s probably not, and that’s why we have to implement this shifting strategy. It’s a great way of accumulating in the early years, but then you have to implement a strategy to start moving towards the zero tax bracket or what we call the zero tax bucket.

Michael:

By the time you retire, and let’s just say the tax rates double, if your money is sitting in a 0% tax bracket, well, let’s just do some simple mathematics here. If you go two times zero, it’s still zero. So that really is the best way to insulate yourself from the impact of higher taxes, but it takes proactive measures on our part to build a strategy and start implementing that strategy to move the money from the tax-deferred buckets to the tax-free buckets. Even if you cannot quite get to 0%, our listener today, Laura, is not going to be able to get to that point. The idea is the process helps the taxation of income situation. The last thing you want to do is retire in a much higher tax bracket with no more ability to generate more income, to offset those taxes.

Laura:

Well, we’re expecting tax rates to go up, especially in 2026. We know that the under the tax cuts and jobs act, things are set to reverse if nothing else happens, so we know we’re headed for higher taxes. I think the case has more than been made for that notion. Now, Joe Biden’s tax plan is going to be a major, major overhaul on the US tax system, so we have to approach retirement with a sense of flexibility, a willingness to be nimble, and to anticipate potentially what’s coming down the road. I know a lot of people think that tax rates are going to go up. So for Main Street, America, looking at 2026 and beyond, for people in the highest marginal tax bracket, their tax rates are almost certainly going to go up next year. But what about everybody else? What about the people in the 22% tax bracket or people that are in the 24% tax bracket? Joe Biden’s campaign on the idea, he was not going to raise taxes on people making less than $400,000.

Laura:

He said he is not raising taxes on people making less than $400,000. Read my lips, no new taxes. Oh, that was a different president. So if he honors that promise, what does that look like for everybody making less than the $400,000? Now, if you’re making more than $400,000 you’re going to pay through the nose, but if you make less than $400,000 as a married couple or less than $200,000 as a single person, I believe that Joe Biden, under budget reconciliation, is going to extend… maybe he’ll extend the Trump tax cuts for another eight years. Ed Slott, who you mentioned, he disagrees with David McKnight on that point, but I think there’s room here for disagreement. I believe if you’re trying to insulate yourself on the impact of higher taxes down the road, you’re now going to have eight years, starting in 2022 through 2029, to be able to take advantage of these historically low tax rates, and then come 2030, we will have kicked the can down the road so much that the federal government’s going to be forced to raise taxes.

Laura:

So my message would be to everyday Americans. People need to find themselves, if you’re in that middle income tax bracket range, take advantage of these low tax rates. Stretch that tax obligation out over the next eight or nine years, and let’s wait and see what Joe Biden officially has to say. But stretch the obligation out over the next eight or nine years. Keep yourself at a low tax bracket. Get those dollars systematically repositioned to tax-free. It just sounds better, so by the time tax rates do go up for good, you’ve done all that heavy lifting and can take those dollars out tax-free.

Laura:

Maya MacGuineas, she’s the President of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. She did an interesting study where she said, look, if you want to prevent the national debt from simply growing more than a trillion dollars a year, in other words, keep it at a trillion dollars of growth per year, you would have to raise taxes on people making more than $400,000 up to 103%. Well, people lose all incentive once they get to the point where they lose all of this under work once they get to the point where they’re giving away 100% of their income, so she said obviously that’s not viable. So she lowered the threshold to $250,000. She concluded that people making more than $250,000 would have to pay, Michael, 80% tax on every dollar above $250,000. She says probably that’s not going to work either.

Laura:

So basically what she concluded was they would have to lower the threshold to about $40,000. So in other words, anybody making more than $40,000 would have to pay 40% tax on every single dollar they made above that $40,000 threshold. That’s just to prevent the national debt from growing by more than a trillion dollars per year. That’s not eliminating the growth of the debt. It’s not paying down the debt. It is just preventing the debt from growing by more than a trillion dollars a year. So even though Joe Biden has made the promise that he’s not going to raise taxes on the middle class, mathematically speaking, it’s just not tenable.

Michael:

It’s Math 101, and there’s moving variables. So I think in this math class, we may be moving a little bit into algebra, because when he said 400,000, one of the things… That was a campaign promise. That’s before we dropped $1.9 trillion more dollars out into the economy. So the idea that taxes are going to be capped, are going to be in the stratosphere above the $400,000 income level, I don’t believe that’s tenable. We have other moving things that we’re having to watch today like inflation. As inflation goes up, it’s going to impact what we’re seeing in taxes. The Delta variant is another big area than what we’re having to look at because what is that going to impact as far as infrastructure and expenses.

Michael:

So as we look at that, Laura, yes, you’re absolutely correct. This is a math problem, and I don’t care what anyone’s affiliation is. Your show here is a non-biased platform. We don’t sway you one side or another. Facts are facts. And if you take out a sheet of paper and you sharpen a pencil, tax rates are going to be going up, and it’s going to take more as we get to 2030, and we’re talking about not raising the debt by more than a trillion dollars. Let’s let that sink in for a second. That is atrocious that we would have a trillion dollar spending greater than our tax base of what we could afford it. That is continuing to move the needle towards bankruptcy for the federal government.

Michael:

And the book here that David McKnight put together and Ed Slott also quotes many times goes back to David Walker. And David Walker was the comptroller for the United States. On January 11th, 2011, he came out on a public show and he talked about a four-letter word. Again, we’ve talked about this to ad nauseum on the show, but the four-letter word that he wanted to explain where we are and what the problem is in this country was math. As the comptroller for the United States, he said that if we do not get control of our debt spending, then we will as a country go into bankruptcy. That is where we’re getting. That’s where David McKnight’s book comes in, because as we go into looking at our households, the only way that we’re going to be able to protect and have asset protection around the resources that we have saved over our lifetime for retirement is we proactively have to take a shifting strategy to move from a taxed position to a tax-free position. That is what’s going to allow the listeners today to be able to live the lifestyle that they want to live in retirement.

JAG:

This is a great time to say that if you’re enjoying the show with Laura Stover and Michael Wallin, would like a complimentary copy of best-selling author David McKnight’s most recent book, follow the podcast in Apple Podcasts, leave an honest rating and review, and then send us an email, [email protected], with your Apple podcast username and mailing address. We’ll send you the book for free. Really that easy. Or you can also text TAXGUIDE to 474747. We’ll just need your email, name, and address. You can also book a strategy session with the LS team and speak with Laura and Michael. Just go to redefiningwealth.info and click Schedule Review. Walk through the Redefining Wealth process while you’re there. You can subscribe to the weekend read. Four articles will come straight to your inbox each and every Friday. Now back to Retirement Talk, the Redefining Wealth show with Laura Stover and Michael Wallin.

Laura:

So we really have two choices at this point. You can either raise taxes on everyone, or, I mean, there’s just not enough rich people out there, Michael, that you can confiscate all the wealth. There’s a thousand billionaires in the United States, and it wouldn’t really be enough to fund the federal government for more than a couple of years. So you could do that, I suppose, or you could print more money. But the problem with printing money is that all the programs that are driving the national debt up like social security, Medicare, Medicaid, they’re all tied to inflation. So if you print more money to try to solve these problems and you drive up the cost of these programs because they’re tied to inflation, and you print money, inflation goes up, the cost of the programs also go up.

Laura:

So it’s kind of like that dog chasing his tail. We used to love watching our puppy do that. You never really have enough money to pay for all of this, and it’s that non-discretionary spending that’s so important to so many people that rely on those things. But that’s where a lot of the cost is really, really going.

Michael:

Well, in our first amendment, I think there’s a reason that we have that, and it’s because we have a voice. Right now we need individuals that will step up, raise a warning cry to their politicians that we need leadership in Congress to say, look, enough is enough. If we don’t do something now, then the fix down the road is going to be even more difficult than is going to be able to be bore by the American people in every tax bracket. So I don’t want to sit here and debate politics for an hour and talk about all the we should’ve, could’ves, or would’ves. I’m sure we could, and what the government should do is reduce spending. The increasing and taxing can only be measured by so much because people still have to be able to live, but we’ve got to be able to control this debt spending. We can not have debt spending and tax cuts, but we have to find a balance that makes it relevant and makes it equitable to be able to move the country forward, to benefit for everyone. But 70%, 80%, 90% taxation, that should get listeners’ ears, and for them to understand, well, how’s that going to impact them in the years when they can no longer go to work to provide for the income they need in retirement?

Laura:

Well, income is really what retirement is about more than assets, and I talk about this a lot. Harvard Business School, they went to some people that all had a million dollars, this is another interesting study, and asked that millionaire, “Do you feel like you have enough money?” They said, “No, we don’t feel like we have enough money to last to retirement.” And they asked the second follow-up question, “How much money do you think you’d need to feel comfortable, like you’d have enough money to last through your life expectancy?” And the answer was, “I think, well, if I had $2 million, I’d feel pretty comfortable.”

Laura:

So interesting enough, they took note of that, went to people that had $2 million, said, “Hey, do you think you have enough money? Do you think you have enough money to last through your life expectancy for retirement?” The answer was, “No, we don’t have enough money. I wish I had $4 million.” They went to the people with $4 million. They wish they had $8 million. Those with $8 million wish they had $15 million. Once people had about $15 million, that seemed to be the sweet spot to get people where they are not fearing running out of money.

Laura:

So the question becomes, Michael, what is enough? Maybe not everyone listening has $15 million in their investment portfolio. So we believe that studies have proven this over and over, that the thing that people fears the most is not death. It’s not about dying, but it’s about that longevity risk of running out of money before you run out of life. I thought it was really a complete circle on how to mitigate tax risk and longevity risk with the very same financial plan. In today’s financial planning world, a lot of people talk about doing that, but it’s harder than it looks.

Laura:

So that’s why our proprietary Redefining Wealth process basically is a roadmap, how to mitigate both longevity risk and not running out of money before you run out of life. It’s really that x-ray within the very same financial plan, and it comes down, I think, Michael, to guaranteed streams of income in your life. You may have a $500,000 portfolio, and maybe you have social security which is a guaranteed stream of income that’s adjusted for inflation. Maybe you have a company pension, maybe from a company that you worked for and you have a guaranteed stream of income adjusted for that inflation. And the combination of those two things may be enough to meet all of your basic living expenses, but the cost above and beyond, the key to successful planning these days is if you can reposition some of those tax-deferred accounts that we spoke of earlier for income tax-free dollars today, to cover longevity, to cover healthcare risk.

Laura:

If you turn 65 or older, chances are as high as 70% that you’ll need some sort of long-term care during your retirement. So that is one of the pillars of the Redefining Wealth process, even with strategies today, and we’re going to go into a part two of today’s show next week and continue this same discussion because it is so very important. There’s methods that you can use to transfer maybe some of that qualified money and cover the long-term care cost. So we’re going to talk about that and a lot more on next week’s show.

JAG:

Visit redefiningwealth.info and schedule meeting time that’s most convenient for you at no obligation. We’ll visit with you and provide a complimentary Redefining Wealth financial roadmap. Schedule your free financial review now by going to redefiningwealth.info. Redefining Wealth is a registered trademark of LS Wealth Management.

JAG:

Investing involves risk, including the potential loss of principal. Any references to protection, safety, or lifetime income generally refer to fixed insurance products, never securities or investments. Insurance guarantees are backed by the financial strength and claims-paying abilities of the issuing carrier. This show is intended for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions, nor should it be construed as advice designed to meet the particular needs of an individual situation. LS Wealth Management LLC is [inaudible 00:28:03] offer, and no statement made during the show shall constitute tax or legal advice. The firm is not affiliated with or endorsed by the US government or any governmental agency. The information and opinions contained herein provided by third parties have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed by LS Wealth Management LLC. Investment advisory services offered through Optivise Advisory Services, an SEC-registered investment advisor. LS Wealth Management is a separate entity.

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