January 29, 2013 by Courtney Redfern
If your clients are anything like you, they’re more than likely getting bombarded with emails on a daily basis – emails that they delete. If your current marketing plan relies largely on online marketing, you may want to consider adding direct mail to your marketing mix.
According to the 2012 Response Rate Report released by the Direct Marketing Association, mail campaigns elicit better overall response than online campaigns.1 So, how can you add direct mail to your existing marketing efforts?
Download 10 Direct Mail Ideas to learn tips to pique your audience’s curiosity and urge them to read your message.
Using these tips for your next direct mail campaign can help increase the likelihood that your letter will get opened and read by your audience. And that’s the first step to getting a response.
1Marketing Charts, Direct Mail Tops Email for Response Rates; Cost Per Lead Similar, June 15, 2012.
January 24, 2013 by Bill McCarty
What can your clients expect now?
In the nick of time, Congress ended their fiscal cliff debate to pass the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (ATRA). While there still may be more tax reform to come, the following is a brief summary of some of the tax changes your clients may experience in 2013.
For most taxpayers, income tax brackets will remain unchanged as most of the 2001 and 2003 tax rates and cuts were permanently extended. Only the top income tax rate was permanently increased from 35 percent to 39.6 percent. This new rate goes into effect in 2013 for single filers with taxable incomes above $400,000 and joint filers with taxable income above $450,000.
The 2010 Tax Relief Act of 2010 temporarily reduced the Social Security payroll tax rate by 2%, setting the temporary rate to 4.2%. With ATRA, the employee-portion of Social Security taxes has been restored to 6.2%. This will mean a reduction in take-home pay for taxpayers with annual incomes up to $113,700.
Capital gains and dividends
ATRA permanently extends the 0% and 15% tax rates for long-term capital gains and qualified dividends for single filers with taxable incomes below $400,000 and joint filers with taxable incomes below $450,000. For filers with taxable incomes above these thresholds, the top rate will permanently increase to 20%.
The 3.8% Medicare tax has been enacted under the healthcare law. This means that single filers with modified-AGI above $200,000 and joint filers with modified-AGI will pay an additional 3.8% tax on investment income.
The Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) “patch”, which helps tax rates from increasing too quickly, was permanently extended. The AMT thresholds will be adjusted annually for inflation.
The fiscal cliff provision for estate taxes would have decreased the exemption to $1 million and increased the tax to 55%. However, Congress modified this provision to bring estate taxes up by 5% (2012) to just 40. ATRA also outlines an exemption level of the first $5 million of an individual’s estate or $10 million of a family’s estate.
Roth IRA conversions
Looking to increase revenues for the Federal government, Congress eased the ability of individuals to covert 401(k), 403(b), 457, and other retirement plans to Roth IRAs. Depending on an individual’s goals and tax situation, this may give some clients the ability to pay taxes now rather than during retirement.
In addition to the changes outlined here, the child, earned-income, and college-tuition tax credits in President’s 2009 stimulus package were extended for another five years.
This article presents some of ATRA’s highlights. For more complete details, please refer to the Tax Policy Center’s brief, “Tax Provisions in the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (ATRA)” which can be found at: http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/publications/url.cfm?ID=412730 You can also read the complete list of provisions at the Joint Committee on Taxation’s web site at: https://www.jct.gov/publications.html?func=startdown&id=4497
The information and opinions in these article are provided by third parties and have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed by Brokers International. It is given for informational purposes only and is not a solicitation to buy or sell any products mentioned. The information is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions, nor should it be construed as advice designed to meet the particular needs of an individual’s situation.
January 21, 2013 by Randy Timm
With the beginning of each New Year, we tend to stop and reflect on the ‘events’ of the past year. This is no different in the financial services industry.
According to the 2012 3rd quarter report released by LIMRA1, sales for variable and fixed annuities were down by 7% and 12%. The same report stated fixed index annuities sales were up by 6%. In fact, fixed index annuities are on track for their best year on record.
Couple record-low interest rates with consumer uncertainty and fixed index annuities will more than likely continue to gain market share into 2013. Rising concern over the tax implications of the Fiscal Cliff help make the tax deferral provided by fixed index annuities an attractive feature to consumers. In addition, FIAs also offer:
- Principal Protection
- Minimum Guarantees
- Potential to Avoid Probate
- Income Options
- Upside Interest Potential
AnnuitySpecs.com reports that over 50% of all fixed indexed annuities purchased will include an elected income rider2. Income riders can help provide flexibility, so retirees can decide when they turn on payments under the terms of the rider. It also lets them decide how they receive the income – monthly, quarterly, semi-annual, or annually.
When searching for an annuity and income rider suitable for your client’s needs, contact our Sales Team. We can help you find options that meet the criteria you provide us and provide you with the forms you need to present it to your client. Plus, we’ll provide you with a pre-paid overnight UPS label to send your application to our New Business Team. Simply call us during business hours at 800.362.1097.