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Post-Election Year-End Financial Planning: myStockOptions Provides Updated Guidance

December 1, 2020 — Year-end is a key time for financial and tax planning, especially for the millions of employees who have stock compensation or holdings of company shares. The results of the 2020 election present uncertainty about the future of tax laws that affect financial- and tax-planning strategies. Meanwhile, tax changes introduced in 2018 by the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act continue to affect year-end-planning decisions.

To help, myStockOptions.com provides education and guidance on major issues, choices, and innovative financial-planning strategies for the end of 2020 and the start of 2021. This content is available in the website's section Year-End Planning and through content licensing.

Tax Strategies After The 2020 Election: New myStockOptions Article

"The standard year-end-planning strategy is to defer income into the next year and accelerate deductions into the current year," observes Bruce Brumberg, the Editor-in-Chief of myStockOptions.com. "But tax planning for year-end 2020 could change now that Joe Biden has won the presidency and Democrats may gain complete control of Congress. Biden's tax plan calls for tax increases on high earners."

However, the outlook for tax increases under President Biden is very uncertain. It depends largely on which party holds the majority of the US Senate, which will not be determined until the special runoff election for both of Georgia's US Senate spots in early January, after the end of the year-end-planning season. "Even if Democrats do win Senate control to go along with their majority in the House of Representatives, many experts say tax-law changes are unlikely to be a focus of Biden’s first year," says Mr. Brumberg. "Nevertheless, some financial advisors and estate planners are still expecting higher taxes at some point under the Biden administration and would factor those into multi-year planning."

Sound confusing? It can be. A new article at myStockOptions presents insights from financial advisors and tax pros on ways to think about tax strategies after the election: Post-Election Year-End Planning: What Financial Advisors And Tax Pros Are Advising Clients About Uncertain Tax Changes.

Tax Brackets And Rates Affect Year-End Planning For Equity Compensation And Company Shares

Financial planning at year-end 2020 is more important than ever for employees with equity compensation who are:

  • evaluating whether to exercise stock options
  • planning to sell shares acquired from restricted stock, restricted stock units, or an employee stock purchase plan (ESPP)
  • donating company stock to charities

Multi-year planning for income from stock compensation and stock sales is especially crucial. "You can control the timing of stock sales and option exercises, and you know when restricted stock/RSUs will vest," notes Mr. Brumberg. "Employees with equity grants, employee stock purchase plans, and company shares should be aware of the 2020 and 2021 thresholds for higher tax rates on compensation income and capital gains, the additional Medicare tax on compensation income, and the Medicare surtax on investment income." These employees, for example, may want to consider keeping their income below those known thresholds, if possible, while evaluating whether there is enough withholding to cover the taxes owed.

"A big restricted stock/RSU vesting could push your income above the level that triggers the highest capital gains tax rate of 20% and/or the Medicare surtax of 3.8% on investment income," continues Mr. Brumberg. "If your income in the next calendar year will be less than the level that triggers those higher rates, waiting until 2021 to sell stock could give you a capital gains tax rate of just 15% and no Medicare surtax."

However, tax rates should not be the only consideration, cautions Mr. Brumberg. "Even if you predict that you will be in a lower tax bracket in the future, many experts maintain that tax rates should never be the main reason for exercising options or selling shares, or waiting to do so, at the end of the year. Instead, make investment objectives and personal financial needs, not tax considerations, the driver of your decisions."

Year-End Content Provides Education And Guidance

At myStockOptions.com, the section Year-End Planning has been fully updated for 2020, including revisions for what's different after tax reform. This content includes the following articles and FAQs.

Articles

FAQs

Alongside the core year-end articles and FAQs, other FAQs in the year-end section answer advanced tax-related questions, including:

All of these questions, and many others, are answered in the section Financial Planning: Year-End Planning. In addition, the calculators and modeling tools at myStockOptions.com allow users to play out various "what if" scenarios with different tax rates and stock prices.

For similar education and guidance on year-end planning for nonqualified deferred compensation, employees can turn to myNQDC.com, a separate sibling publication of myStockOptions.com. Key year-end content there includes the following FAQs:

Corporate Licensing Available

For companies, education is vital for ensuring that stock compensation motivates and retains highly valued employees and executives. The expert yet reader-friendly content at myStockOptions.com is ideally suited for licensing by companies and stock plan providers for their stock plan participants. A customized version of the website's award-winning content can be seamlessly woven into companies' HR, benefits, and/or compensation portals. Accessible through any internet browser, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, licensed content from myStockOptions.com lets stock plan participants answer their own questions about their stock grants whenever they need to learn more—saving time for the stock plan staff and costs for the company. For more information, visit http://mystockoptions.com, email sales@mystockoptions.com, or call 617-734-1979. Content from myNQDC.com on nonqualified deferred compensation plans is also available for licensing.

About myStockOptions.com

With exclusive articles, 800+ FAQs, podcasts, videos, the Tax Center, interactive quizzes, the Learning Center with courses for CE credit, the Global Tax Guide, an extensive glossary, a smartphone app for iOS and Android devices, and dynamic patented tools, myStockOptions.com is the premier online resource of educational content and tools on stock options, restricted stock, restricted stock units, performance shares, stock appreciation rights, and employee stock purchase plans. myStockOptions.com is written and managed by leading experts in equity compensation, and is produced by a company with a long history of successful publications explaining complex legal and financial subjects in plain English.

The accounting journal CPA Wealth Provider selected myStockOptions.com among companies "that have taken the lead through innovation, efficiency, initiative, or growth in the financial-planning area." The Specialized Information Publishers' Foundation honored MSO Pro with one of its Editorial Excellence Awards in the category of Best Interactive Content among niche publishers. The influential consumer magazine PC World has ranked myStockOptions.com among "the most useful sites ever" that "deliver top-notch information, support, and services."

myStockOptions.com has also received extensive favorable coverage in the media, including BusinessWeek, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, and The Boston Globe, and on CNN, National Public Radio, PBS, Money.com, and MarketWatch.com.

myStockOptions.com has a related site on nonqualified deferred compensation at http://www.myNQDC.com. The staff also created the successful insider trading prevention video series Think Twice, available at http://www.insidertradingvideos.com.


For more information, please contact Bruce Brumberg and Matt Simon at editors@mystockoptions.com or 617-734-1979.

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