Tags: salt | taxation

Don't Be Late to the Great SALT Migration

Don't Be Late to the Great SALT Migration
(James Steidl/Dreamstime)

By    |   Thursday, 19 April 2018 03:33 PM

I’m glad the 2017 tax season is finally over—what taxpayer isn’t?

Like millions of Americans, I’ve suffered the horrors of taxation. That’s meant the burden of filling forms, working with an accountant, and finally forking over cash while I tearfully watch my bank balance drop like a rock.

However, the task isn’t over. Our job as investors is to look ahead. For analyzing companies, that means determining if it can continue to successfully fend off competition or come out with a newer and better product.

But there’s more to making money than finding great investment ideas. As tax season just reminded us, keeping as much as possible is worthwhile too. Lowering your tax burden (legally, of course) is just as good for growing your wealth as eking out a few more percentage points in capital gains, but with far less risk.

There are many ways to reduce your tax burden without having to make any significant changes, only by tweaking an investment strategy. It could be as simple as cutting back on trading (where short-term capital gains can take a huge bite), to owning more dividend stocks, where the income is taxed generously lower at 15 percent.

I think we’ll see an acceleration of that trend towards keeping a tax profile as low as possible as time goes on. After all, America is aging, and aging populations need to think more about retirement. A core component of that is earning as much as possible passively without having to pay out too much in taxes.

That’s why folks in New York and New Jersey, two of the largest tax jurisdictions in the nation, tend to retire down in Florida. The sunshine state is one of seven with no state income tax.

That’s becoming a huge deal thanks to the recently-passed tax legislation. While it meant no change in the 2017 tax returns, starting in 2018, the Feds will only allow you to write off the first $10,000 in state and local taxes—also known as SALT. Previously, there was no limit to how much you could write off.

If you’ve been living in California for the past 25 years and have passively enjoyed a huge upsurge in wealth thanks to rising real estate. But your million-dollar McMansion comes with a hefty tax bill—and now it’s not fully deductible. While most folks got a tax break, a sizeable percentage of folks living in high-tax, high-wealth states will see their taxes go up as a result of the SALT limit.

Make taxes high enough, and people will vote with their feet. Once next year’s taxes hit and folks start talking about it with their accountants, they’ll seriously consider moving out of high-tax states and to low-or-no tax jurisdictions like Washington State, Nevada, and Florida.

This is a huge issue—and one that will hurt high-tax states in terms of revenue. In 2016, hedge fund billionaire David Tepper moved from New Jersey to Florida. Since Tepper was earning hundreds of millions per year, and New Jersey was taxing close to 10 percent of his income at the state level, his decision to move put the entire state’s budget in peril.

Think about that! Just one person!

That’s an extreme case, of course. But for millions of middle-class Americans, the tax savings of moving to a lower cost state will look increasingly attractive within the next year. The attentive folks are already noticing. And probably already making a literal move.

If you’re in a high tax state, it’s time to consider the tax implications of moving somewhere where you and your wealth will be treated better.

The savings might be the best return you can make, particularly in choppy markets like today. Keeping expenses down as much as possible is a crucial, but underreported, part of getting market-beating returns—a factor that definitely includes taxes.

 Eventually, cash-strapped states may start to resort to draconian efforts like an exit tax to stall the inevitable. You want to be prepared—and ideally out—well before then.

For folks already living in low-tax areas, expect a boom over the next several years. This may be a good time to shop for rental properties, particularly before interest rates start to rise. A great migration is coming. If you’re getting hit with high state and local taxes, it’s time to leave. If you’re in a low-tax area, it’s an investment opportunity.

Andrew Packer is a Senior Financial Editor with Newsmax Media. He currently writes the Insider Hotline investment advisory, serves as investment director for the Financial Braintrust, and writes the monthly newsletter Crisis Point Investor.

© 2021 Newsmax Finance. All rights reserved.

While it meant no change in the 2017 tax returns, starting in 2018, the Feds will only allow you to write off the first $10,000 in state and local taxes—also known as SALT. Previously, there was no limit to how much you could write off.
salt, taxation
Thursday, 19 April 2018 03:33 PM
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