April 2021


Advisor News Insight

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Annuity Planning

IRS Addresses Tax Treatment of Non-Qualified Annuities Issued to Trusts

The Internal Revenue Service released a private letter ruling in July, PLR 202031008 (“the Ruling”), which considers how Internal Revenue Code sections 72(q) and (u) apply to an annuity contract issued to a trust. In particular, the Ruling interprets the terms “taxpayer,” “holder” and “held by” in those Code sections in situations where a non-qualified deferred annuity contract is issued to a grantor trust or a non-grantor trust. The Ruling’s analysis and conclusions differ in some respects depending on which of these types of trusts is involved. In addition, although the Ruling does not address sections 72(s) or 72(e)(4)(C), the Ruling has potential implications under those provisions because they also use the term “holder” and “holds,” respectively.

Read more   IRS PLR 202031008

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Estate Planning

Does Your State Have an Estate or Inheritance Tax?

This article was written by Janelle Cammenga, Policy Analyst with the Center for State Tax Policy at the Tax Foundation.

In addition to the federal estate tax, with a top rate of 40 percent, some states levy an additional estate or inheritance tax. Twelve states and the District of Columbia impose estate taxes and six impose inheritance taxes. Maryland is the only state to impose both.

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IRA Planning

When a “Reverse Rollover” Makes Sense

This article was written by Ian Berger, JD IRA Analyst of Ed Slott and Company, LLC.

When we think of rollovers, we normally think of moving funds from a 401(k) (or other company plan) to an IRA, but it sometimes makes sense to consider a “Reverse Rollover” — from and IRA to a 401(k).

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Retirement Planning

DOL Interprets Five-Part Investment Advice Test and Issues
Final Investment Advice Prohibited Transaction Exemption

On December 15, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor (the “DOL”) issued its highly anticipated final prohibited transaction class exemption for fiduciary investment advice (the “Final Exemption”). The Final Exemption, which will be officially designated “Prohibited Transaction Exemption 2020-02,” serves two broad functions. First, in the preamble, the DOL provides its “Final Interpretation” of the five-part test under its 1975 regulation defining who is an investment advice fiduciary under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, as amended (“ERISA”) and Section 4975 of the Internal Revenue Code (the “Code”). Second, in its operative text, the Final Exemption makes available prohibited transaction exemptive relief for such fiduciaries, subject to certain conditions.

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Guaranteed lifetime income to support longer retirement: new insights

This report was developed in Collaboration with the Principal Financial Group.

This is the great American spend down challenge: how workers can financially plan for and navigate a retirement that could reach up to 40 years, but may also last just one. There are a number of different ways to create reliable income streams in retirement. In this paper, the focus is on income annuities, which, according to many experts, are a viable and immediately realizable vehicle to help many Americans develop guaranteed lifetime income.

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Retirement Planning in the Post-4% World

This article was written by David Blanchett, PhD, CFA, CFP® retirement research for Morningstar’s Investment

Today’s low bond yields and high equity valuations have led many to jettison the traditional 4% initial safe-withdrawal rate (SWR) assumption. But I will show that the optimal “safe” withdrawal rate depends considerably on the retiree.

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Tax Planning

Here’s how people can request a copy of their previous tax return

Taxpayers who didn’t save a copy of their prior year’s tax return, but now need it, have a few options to get the information. Individuals should generally keep copies of their tax returns and any documents for at least three years after they file.

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IRS Publication 575

The Internal Revenue Service has released a draft version of an important financial services tool: an update of Publication 575: Pension and Annuity Income. The new update is supposed to help taxpayers prepare their personal federal income tax returns for 2020. The publication serves as a kind of retirement arrangement tax encyclopedia. It provides sections on disability pensions, insurance premiums for retired public safety officers and railroad retirement benefits, as well as sections on variable annuities, Section 457 deferred compensation plans and retirement plan distribution rollovers.

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State Individual Income Tax Rates and Brackets for 2021

This article was written by Katherine Loughead, Senior Policy Analyst with the Center for State Tax Policy at the
Tax Foundation.

Individual income taxes are a major source of state government revenue, accounting for 38 percent of state tax collections in fiscal year 2018, the latest year of data available.

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Tax Day for Individuals Extended to May 17: Treasury, IRS extend Filing and Payment Deadline

The Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service announced today that the federal income tax filing due date for individuals for the 2020 tax year will be automatically extended from April 15, 2021, to May 17, 2021. The IRS will be providing formal guidance in the coming days.

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Tax and Estate Planning

Sanders and Colleagues Introduce Legislation to End Rigged Tax Code as Inequality Increases

Press release distributed by Bernie Sanders, U.S. Senator for Vermont.

In a continued effort to combat rising economic inequality, Sen. Bernie Sanders on Thursday introduced two pieces of legislation to end our rigged tax code and ensure the wealthiest people and largest corporations pay their fair share – the For the 99.5% Act and the Corporate Tax Dodging Prevention Act...

The For the 99.5% Act

  • Read the bill, here.
  • Read the bill summary, here.
  • Read the JCT score of the bill, here.
  • Read the letter of support of over 50 national organizations, here.

The Corporate Tax Dodging Prevention Act/p>

  • Read the bill, here.
  • Read the bill summary, here.
  • Read JCT score of the offshore portion of the bill, here.
Read more

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§7520 Rate for April is: 1.0%

Break down:


Assumed Federal Rates

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Difference of Opinion

Source: Internal Revenue Service (IRS)

Rock superstar Prince died on 4/21/16, leaving an estate that was valued (for estate tax purposes) at $82 million. The IRS has challenged the valuation techniques utilized by his administrator, upping the estate value at Prince’s death to $163 million. The IRS is asking for an additional $39 million in estate taxes and penalties above what Prince’s estate has already paid.

Estate Taxes

Source: IRS

The maximum amount that a deceased individual may pass onto his/her heirs federally estate-tax free (with proper planning) rises to $11.7 million in 2021, up from $11.58 million in 2020. The limit was $675,000 in 2001 or 20 years ago. Please consult a tax expert for details.

How Cheap?

Source: Freddie Mac

At the beginning of 2020, the all-time record low average interest rate nationwide for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was 3.31% set on 11/22/12. A new record low average rate was established during 16 separate weeks in 2020, the last taking place on 12/24/20 at 2.66%.

It Has Been Done Before

Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP)

Congressional Democrats are using “budget reconciliation” to move President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-relief plan through the Senate. “Reconciliation bills” are not subject to the “filibuster rule” that ends debate on a piece of legislation only after 60 senators agree to do so, i.e., it would take just 51 senators (instead of 60) to approve the COVID-relief bill. Congress has used the “budget reconciliation” process to enact 21 bills in the last 40 years.

It’s an Index

Source: U.S. Department of Labor (DOL)

Inflation, as measured by the “Consumer Price Index” (CPI), was up +1.4% for 2020. The category “food” within the CPI calculation was up +3.9% for the year, “medical care services” was up +2.8%, but “energy” was down 7.0% last year.

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New York residents are currently subject to a top state marginal tax rate of 8.82% at taxable income levels of $1.08 million for an individual return and $2.16 million for a joint return. NY Governor Andrew Cuomo has proposed raising that top marginal rate to 10.86% for the 2022 fiscal year beginning 4/01/21. NYC residents are also subject to a maximum city marginal tax rate of 3.876%, i.e., their total marginal rate could be as high as 14.736% during fiscal year 2022, the highest in the nation.

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Advisors Guide to Medicare and Medicaid


This course provides a detailed study of Medicare, Medigap and Medicaid. In each of these programs, the areas of eligibility, enrollment, benefits, deductibles, and co-payments are analyzed in great detail. This course also includes a chapter on Medicaid Planning discussing the issue of transferring assets during the "crisis stage," use of Trusts, qualifying Medicaid Annuities and Promissory Notes.

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2021 Federal Income Tax Guide

Our Tax Guide contains tax information such as:

  • Individual income tax rates
  • Estates and trusts tax rates
  • Roth IRA contribution limits and much more...

Download the Tax Guide below:


2021 Social Security & Medicare Reference Guide

Our Reference Guide contains information such as:

  • Social Security income limits
  • Medicare Parts A-D deductibles and premiums
  • Medicare surtaxes and much more...

Download the Reference Guide below:


Financial / Insurance Calculators & Websites

An extensive list of online calculators and informational websites.


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View updates by state, CE requirements and more by clicking on the link below.

View Updates

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BEST Online CE Courses

At BEST we provide you with a lot of CE credit. Courses are cost-effective, updated annually and nationally approved for state insurance and professional designation credits (CFP / CIMA / CPWA / RMA). Our CE courses are specifically designed for quick completion and include:

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Self-Study CE Course List

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Order CE courses toll free at: 1-800-345-5669 OR
send an email to

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