Preliminary Tax Forecast

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Many of President-Elect Donald Trump’s policy proposals are too vague to analyze, but one area where he has been clear is on reforming our tax system.  Here’s a quick primer on the changes that you can expect to be introduced to Congress in the coming year.

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Roth Conversions and Mandatory Distributions

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You probably know that the IRS requires you to start taking mandatory distributions from your IRA when you turn 70 1/2, even if you don’t actually need the money.  But can you do a Roth conversion at that late date, and thereby defer distributions forever?

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Uber’s Flying Vision

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The future of personal transportation will be very different from the past.  If you marry two clear trends—the advent of self-driving cars with increasingly popular Uber transportation—it’s easy to envision a world where you can sell your car and convert the garage into a spare bedroom.  Why would you need your own auto when you can call for an inexpensive, automated ride to anywhere and back?  And as a bonus, you avoid parking hassles because you’ll be driven right to the destination’s doorstep.

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Is Home Ownership Finally Rising?

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One economic statistic that you probably haven’t seen much of in the press is the home ownership rate.  Quietly, the percentage  of American families who own their own home (versus rent) has fallen to 62.9% in the second quarter of 2016—the lowest figure in 51 years, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.  Young people are struggling to afford houses due to tight mortgage credit, and they’re also finding that it’s not easy to save for a down payment while paying off college loans.  Contributing to the decline: a lack of new starter homes due to a construction lag following the Great Recession.

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Balancing Traits

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Are you ready to achieve work-life balance?  The American Sociological Review has published a study showing that most of us struggle—which is a fancy word for “fail”—in this important endeavor.  But there’s hope.  The study also found that the minority of people who HAVE managed to achieve some form of the work/life holy grail are doing certain things well.

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Retirement Contribution Limits Unchanged

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In case you missed it, the contribution limits to your 401(k) plan, IRA and Roth IRA—set by the government each year based on the inflation rate—will not go up in 2017.  Just like this year, you will be able to defer up to $18,000 of your paycheck to your 401(k), and individuals over age 50 will still be able to make a “catch-up” contribution of an additional $6,000.  (The same limits apply to 403(b) plans and the federal government’s new Thrift Savings Plan.)  Your IRA and Roth IRA contributions will continue to max out at $5,500, plus a $1,000 “catch-up” contribution for persons 50 or older.

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