It seems like wealthy people everywhere are talking about picking up and moving to Florida to get away from the lack of SALT deductions in so many states. However, UBS financial advisors say it isn’t as easy as it is made to sound. Firstly, there are significant residency rules—it is not as if you can just buy a place in Florida and make it your tax home without really leaving your high tax state. And secondly, even for those who do actually want to move, the issue is that the wealthy suburban home market is very soft at the moment, and these residents are having a hard time selling their primary home, which means they are stuck.
FINSUM: Moving is not nearly as simple as the idea of “retiring in Florida” sounds. We do think this will cause a migration, but it will not be a flood.
Financial advisors are a conservative bunch, so we know that there has been some very anxious feelings over the last couple of weeks as would-be Democrat presidents have announced their intentions for big tax hikes. How about 70% top tax rates and major wealth taxes? Some, like Bernie Sanders and Chuck Schumer, have also recently posed putting restrictions on buybacks. With all this in mind, here is a list of stocks that would be most in trouble from the Democrat plans that are currently on the table. According to Barron’s, the most at risk are Citigroup, Whirlpool, American Airlines, Union Pacific, and Boeing, but Walmart and Harley-Davidson could also be exposed.
FINSUM: This list was rather simply done—the companies that had reduced headcount the most and also bought back shares. However, as we move towards the election, it is time to start considering the risks to different stocks.
Real estate across northern cities is taking a pummeling right now. There appears to be a significant exodus of wealthy homeowners leaving high-tax northern states like New York and New Jersey in favor of sun belt areas with lower taxes. The big catalyst for the move has been the elimination of SALT deductions above $10,000. Florida, for instance, has no state income tax and no estate tax. Accordingly, Miami, as well as other sun belt cities like Las Vegas and Phoenix, have seen real estate markets holding up well compared to the trend across the north.
FINSUM: Northern states are going to have to adjust (assuming the federal government doesn’t change policy) as the logic is just too simple for people right now: “should I live in a cold place with high taxes, or a warm place with great weather and low taxes?”.
Advisors need to be worried about 2020 because some major changes may be on the way. Some of the most prominent Democrats, including presidential candidates are putting forth incredibly progressive proposals which call for heavy tax hikes. For instance, Elizabeth Warren, who will be running for president in 2020, is calling for a wealth tax of 2-3% on those with over $50m of assets. Economists say such a measure would raise almost $3 tn over a decade. Democratic party darling Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Ortez (D-N.Y.) has put forward a plan calling for up to 70% tax rates on the wealthiest Americans.
FINSUM: In our view, the specific plans are not as important at the moment as the overall direction of the Democratic party and its candidates. While this is very divisive policy, it is a reflection of how polarizing national politics have become. It is also notable because this kind of major plan is the type of platform that can really drive Democratic policy going forward. This may become a rallying cry for the party.
Few would argue that the tax cut passed in late 2017 was one of the main drivers of the strong economy we saw this year. Corporate earnings have been stellar, the economy is expanding at a good clip, and the labor market is tight. However, the IRS looks about to undermine the benefit of the tax cuts. The agency just announced a new policy for 2019 regarding how it accounts for inflation. The move will undermine much of the value of the tax cuts by raising tax bills for almost all Americans. The new policy will increase tax revenue for the government by $133.5 bn over the next decade.
FINSUM: This is the kind of policy that is going to hurt more over time. That said, the current deficit is huge, so from a fiscal responsibility view it is hard to argue this is unnecessary.