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03-14-2019 Columns

Put together a professional team to help reach your goals As you work toward achieving your goals in life, you will need to make moves that contain financial, tax and legal elements, so you may want to get some help – from more than one source. Specifically, you might want to put together a team comprised of your financial advisor, your CPA or other tax professional, and your attorney. Together, this team can help you with many types of financial/ tax/ legal connections. For starters, you may decide, possibly upon the recommendation of your financial advisor, to sell some investments and use the proceeds to buy others that may now be more appropriate for your needs. If you sell some investments you’ve held for a year or less and realize a capital gain on the sale, the gain generally will be considered short-term and be taxed at your ordinary income tax rate. But if you’ve held the investments for more than a year before selling, your gain will likely be considered long-term and taxed at the lower, long-term capital gains rate, which can be 0%, 15% or 20%, or a combination of those rates. On the other hand, if you sell an investment and realize a capital loss, you may be able to apply the loss to offset gains realized by selling other, more profitable investments and also potentially offset some of your ordinary income. So, as you can see, the questions potentially raised by investment sales – “Should I sell?” “If so, when?” “If I take some losses, how much will they benefit me at tax time?” – may also be of importance to your tax advisor, who will need to account for sales in your overall tax picture. As such, it’s a good idea for your tax and financial advisors to communicate about any investment sales you make. Your tax and financial advisors also may want to be in touch on other issues, such as your contributions to a retirement plan. For example, if you are self-employed or own a small business, and you contribute to a SEP-IRA – which is funded with pre-tax dollars, so the more you contribute, the lower your taxable income – your financial advisor can report to your tax advisor (with your permission) how much you’ve contributed at given points in a year, and your tax advisor can then let you know how much more you might need to add to move into a lower tax bracket, or at least avoid being bumped up to a higher one. Your financial advisor will be the one to recommend the investments you use to fund your SEP-IRA. Your financial advisor can also help you choose the investment or insurance vehicles that can fund an estate-planning arrangement, such as an irrevocable living trust. But to establish that trust in the first place, and to make sure it conforms to all applicable laws, you will want to work with an attorney experienced in planning estates. Your tax professional may also need to be brought in. Again, communication between your various advisors is essential. These are but a few of the instances in which your financial, tax and legal professionals should talk to each other. So, do what you can to open these lines of communication – because you’ll be one who ultimately benefits from this teamwork. Edward Jones, its employees and financial advisors cannot provide tax or legal advice. You should consult your attorney or qualified tax advisor regarding your situation. This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Gas tax hike? Last week Gov. Gretchen Whitmer unveiled her budget recommendation for the next fiscal year. As you have no doubt read by now, she has proposed a historic gas tax increase within her budget to fix our state’s roads. At 45 cents, the governor’s gas tax increase would place Michigan in the unceremonious position of having the highest gas tax in the nation — by far. You’ve seen the stories of how much more per fill-up this would cost our families. It’s a real concern that would make a significant impact on our individual budgets. But I fear this gas tax hike would have a far deeper impact. Gas stations and businesses in border communities like here in Southwest Michigan would likely see an immediate decrease in business activity — people will simply buy their gas and other necessities in Indiana or Ohio. Another concern is the broader impact that the gas tax hike will have, specifically on Michigan’s vital tourism economy. Consider how much more it will cost to haul a boat or camper to the lake or up north. It is very likely that folks will simply stay home because of the added cost, and that will have a negative impact on local economies, including in our coastal communities here in Southwest Michigan that rely and thrive on tourism. The downsides of this gas tax proposal are serious and realistic. My office has been flooded with messages from concerned residents with their disapproval. I share their concerns. I am not convinced a gas tax increase — especially one of this magnitude — is necessary to fix our roads. Everyone agrees that Michigan’s roads are bad, and we all want to find a way to make them better. We have already dedicated billions of dollars for roads in recent years, but we must come together to find a sensible and long-term solution that respects Michigan drivers while building roads that last. I look forward to the challenge. I appreciate hearing your thoughts on the important issues facing Southwest Michigan. You can reach me at 517-373-6960 or

Responsible budgeting On Tuesday, March 5 Governor Whitmer presented her first executive budget of her tenure. After an intense campaign season full of promises to repair our crumbling infrastructure, I was truly hoping that the Governor had a plan that would fix our roads while protecting our taxpayers. Unfortunately, the Governor’s proposal would raise taxes on Michigan motorists by 2.5 billion dollars per year. We would be paying the highest gas tax in the Midwest as well as the highest auto insurance rates in the nation. Michiganders would have to take out two loans just to operate their vehicles — one to purchase it, and the other to operate it. The Governor’s plan would also raise taxes on 100,000 small businesses that have been the driving force behind our state’s economic comeback. After implementing policies that have created over 500,000 new private sector jobs and driven unemployment down to its lowest record in almost two decades, the Governor wants to take a giant step backward. Taxing family businesses will cost our state jobs and hit Michigan consumers right in the wallet. Everyone can agree Michiganders deserve better roads, good schools, and safe drinking water. Michigan isn’t Washington D.C., and our residents deserve a functioning state government that looks out for the interests of our citizens. I look forward to finding common ground with Governor Whitmer to make Southwest Michigan an even better place to live, work, and raise a family. I am eager to hear the thoughts and suggestions of residents throughout our community. If I can ever be of assistance to you, you can reach me via email at, or by phone at 517-373-1403. You can also visit my website at, or follow me on Facebook at @RepWendzel. I am truly honored to serve as your Representative, and I look forward to hearing your feedback.

HPV Vaccination Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States. HPV is gotten by having oral, vaginal, or anal sex with someone who has the virus. It is most commonly spread during vaginal or anal sex. HPV can be passed even when an infected person has no signs or symptoms. Anyone who is sexually active can get HPV, even if they have had sex with only one person. A victim can develop symptoms years after having sex with someone who is infected making it hard to know when they first became infected. In most cases, HPV goes away on its own and does not cause any health problems. But when HPV does not go away, it can cause health problems like genital warts and cancer. HPV can cause cervical and other cancers including cancer of the vulva, vagina, penis, or anus. The following are things to do to lower the chances of getting HPV: Get vaccinated – HPV vaccines are safe and effective. They can protect males and females against diseases (including cancers) caused by HPV when given in the recommended age groups. HPV vaccines are given in three shots over six months; it is important to get all three doses. Get screened for cervical cancer – Routine screening for women aged 21 to 65 years old can prevent cervical cancer. All boys and girls ages 11 or 12 years should get vaccinated. Catch-up vaccines are recommended for males through age 21 and for females through age 26, if they did not get vaccinated when they were younger. For more information on HPV and the vaccination, contact the Berrien County Health Department at (269) 926-7121 or visit them online at

Protecting funding for the Great Lakes Earlier this week, the Trump Administration released its proposed Fiscal Year 2020 budget, a starting point for the appropriations process in the Congress. Unfortunately, once again, the budget proposal included a massive cut to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, reducing it by $270 million. The GLRI is a vital program that helps to strengthen and preserve our Great Lakes both environmentally and economically. To be clear, protecting our natural resources – whether they be the Great Lakes, parks, or clean water – is a federal responsibility and one of my top priorities. So, for the third year in a row, I will once again join colleagues on both sides of the aisle to fight the Administration’s proposed budget cuts to the GLRI. We have fought tooth and nail to stop these cuts before. You can expect a strong, bipartisan, Michigan-led effort to once again protect every penny of this critical program, and we will prevail. Putting funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative on the chopping block is a terrible idea and will not stand. To learn more about important legislative issues, please visit my website: or call my offices in Kalamazoo (269-385-0039), St. Joseph/ Benton Harbor (269-982-1986), or Washington, D.C. (202-225-3761).

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