Larriva

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About Mike Larriva

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So far Mike Larriva has created 16 blog entries.

Congress Finalizing Tax Reform Bill

The U.S. House and Senate have each passed different tax reform bills and are working together to reconcile the differences. The goal is to deliver a final tax reform bill to the president before Christmas.

“Both bills are big improvements to America’s out-of-date tax code,” wrote Adam Michel, a policy analyst for the Heritage Foundation, in a recent article comparing the two packages. “Both bills cut taxes for individuals and businesses, largely repeal the state and local tax deduction, and allow businesses to invest more in the American economy through temporary expensing.”

Though nothing has been finalized as of this writing, a common theme seems to be allowing fewer itemized deductions for individuals and to balance that by increasing standard deduction amounts. For example, the personal exemption of $4,050 for income taxes would be eliminated and offset with a higher standard deduction of $12,000 for individuals and $24,000 for married couples. (The current standard income tax deduction is about half that – $6,350 for individuals and $12,700 for married couples.) Deductions for state and local income and sales taxes (SALT) will likely be capped at $10,000. In contrast, the child tax credit is expected to increase from $1,000 currently to $1,600 or more.

In anticipation of potential changes, those who typically itemize on their income tax returns may want to consider accelerating deductible expenses in 2017. For example, they could pay second-half property taxes and/or make a January mortgage payment before year-end. They could also make their fourth-quarter estimated state income tax payment by year-end.

By |December 18th, 2017|Current Affairs, Taxes|

Shopping for Auto Insurance

Mike Larriva, CFP shares personal insights on shopping for auto insuranceShopping for auto insurance is something I put off for years. I was happy with my existing company, and comparing new policies and rates was a hassle I just wouldn’t prioritize. My priorities changed recently, as my teen son is getting his driver’s license soon and I know teen drivers are expensive to insure. I had to bite the bullet and do some comparison shopping. Fortunately, I was pleasantly surprised how easy it is to get quotes now. Most companies were able to provide online quotes, which were emailed to make it easy to compare.

Most states require minimum coverage for bodily-injury and property-damage liability, to protect others when you are the driver at fault in an accident. But it’s wise to purchase more than the minimum required.

Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage is especially important because it protects you if another driver with minimum or no insurance causes an accident and you incur costly injuries and repairs. This happened to me in 2000. I was involved in a rollover accident. Our SUV was totaled and the young man who hit me only had minimum coverage. My underinsured coverage protected us by helping pay for a replacement vehicle and medical expenses. A typical level for this type of coverage is $100,000 or more in benefits.

There are additional coverage options to consider, as well. Collision coverage helps pay for repairs to your vehicle when involved in a collision. Medical coverage helps with medical expenses that might not be covered by bodily-liability coverage. Comprehensive coverage is for repairs not caused by collision (such as theft, vandalism or hail damage).

As you are shopping for auto insurance, be sure to ask about any discounts that may be available. When I added my son to my policy, I learned many companies offer discounts for students who get good grades (B average) and who’ve taken defensive driving classes.

Consider comparing your auto insurance rates every few years. I did and made some changes that will help reduce costs for our family.

 

By |July 31st, 2017|Financial Planning, Insurance|

Two Small Financial Planning Steps

The New Year has begun and many resolutions have already been abandoned. When we decide to make changes, it’s easy to think big, look 10 steps ahead and become overwhelmed. Sometimes this causes us to give up and make no changes at all. Start small. Two small, yet often overlooked or neglected, financial planning steps everyone can and should make is to start saving and address estate planning.

Save Today

My biggest suggestion for the New Year is to put your savings on autopilot. Set up automatic savings from either your payroll or your checking account (401k contributions, straight to IRA, or emergency account).

Taking that first step is important. In 2015, the median household income was $55,775 or about $28 per hour, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Just $5 a day is equivalent to about 11 minutes per day toward your personal savings. Investing 10 to 30 minutes of your work per day for yourself is a worthwhile investment. After a few months you’ll adjust to the smaller amount deposited in your checking accounts and hardly miss what you are saving.

Plan for Tomorrow

The next important step you should take is to address your estate planning. This is an uncomfortable subject for many, I know. However, after having recent family experiences with Alzheimer’s disease and cancer, and now caring for a parent with ALS, I have a great appreciation for the importance of estate planning.

An easy first step is to simply review the beneficiaries listed on your IRA, 401k and life insurance policies. You can do this today in just a few minutes (check your files or look online). Are the people listed still appropriate? If not, make a change. A year ago, I found one small IRA that still listed my sisters as beneficiaries instead of my wife and children.

Always list a primary beneficiary and a contingent beneficiary. If you don’t, then your state’s intestacy laws could supersede your wishes. Next, talk with your advisor and make plans to have your will, power of attorney and possibly trust documents created or updated. Take the time to create your estate plan this year, and communicate it to others. Your loved ones will appreciate your diligence, and it can greatly simplify an already difficult time in their lives.

By |January 23rd, 2017|Estate Planning, Financial Planning|

Arizona Tax Credits Help the Community

Arizona tax credits help the community through programs like PetSmart Charities emergencyNovember 29 is Giving Tuesday this year, Arizonans who pay state income tax have a unique and easy opportunity to give by directing where some of those dollars are spent. Arizona tax credits help the community. The state offers a number of dollar-for-dollar credits you can specify on your income-tax return to benefit schools, registered charitable organizations and military families.

  • Public schools: You can donate up to $400 married ($200 for singles) to any public or charter school in Arizona for after-school activities. Effective in 2016, donations can be made up to April 15 of the next year (Use Form 322).
  • Private school tuition organizations: You can give up to $1,090 married ($545 single) to a tuition organization that awards scholarships for children in Arizona private schools (Form 323). If you wish to donate more than the Form 323 maximum, you can give up to another $1,083 married ($542 single), but this must be claimed on Form 348. Donations can be made up to April 15 of the next year. Click here for more information.
  • Qualified Charitable Organization (formerly Working Poor): You can donate up to $800 married ($400 single) to any Arizona-registered charity that helps the poor (Form 321, organization must be approved by the Department of Revenue). You must also itemize your deductions on your Arizona form to claim this credit. Effective in 2016, donations can be made up to April 15 of the next year. Click here for more information.
  • Military family relief: You can contribute $400 married ($200 single) to benefit Arizona service members and their families. The assistance goes to those who are deployed or to the families of those injured or killed. The credit is capped at $1 million annually so it’s important to get this money in as early as possible. Any money received after $1 million is reached (usually sometime in December) is returned (Use Form 340). Click here for more information. 
By |November 29th, 2016|Charitable Giving, Taxes|