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March 2018

Rewriting the Rules – Will Seniors Bear the Brunt of Deregulation and Rules Changes?

Washington Watch

 

The frenetic pandemonium of Donald Trump's first year as president has overshadowed his administration's efforts through executive orders and regulation changes to reshape American life. Stymied by his failure to win congressional approval for most of his big-ticket campaign promises like a border wall with Mexico or the total repeal of President Barack Obama's signature healthcare reform, Trump has turned to administrative action for his successes.

 

As he learned with the tax cuts, working with Congress on legislation often takes time. But a swipe of the pen in the form of an executive order from the White House can often enact broad changes in government policy and practices quickly.

 

Whether or not you agree with his goals, or the way he goes about governing – and of course, whether you like or dislike Trump himself – this is how he is getting things done. His administration has rewritten the rules for all kinds of industries from energy to airlines, and on issues from anti-discrimination protections for transgender students to campus sexual assault. He has remade the justice system, rewritten environmental rules, overhauled public lands policy and put in place advocates who will guarantee this ideological vision for decades to come.

 

It is these less-noticed regulations and executive orders that may cause even bigger difficulties for everyday Americans, particularly seniors.

 

One of those would roll back or delay Obama-era rules and regulations that protected retirement savings from unscrupulous financial advisers. Known as the fiduciary rule, a financial adviser who acts as a fiduciary would be required to take the time to learn about a client's circumstances before making financial planning or investment recommendations, to make sure the advice is in the client's best interests.

 

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How Some Key Elements of the Tax Reform Bill May Affect Seniors

 

The long awaited, hotly debated tax reform bill finally passed and was signed into law on December 22. During the months of debate between the House and Senate versions of the bill, there was a lot of confusion about what was proposed, what was eliminated, and what made the final cut. The IRS even published the changes that were anticipated and relied upon, but are now changed.

 

Known as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), it affects most everyone in various ways. Here are several parts of the final bill that will affect everyone who files tax returns, and some that will affect seniors more than most.

 

Personal and dependency exemptions and standard deductions.

 

Beginning in 2018 there is no such thing as a personal and dependency exemption, as these are eliminated. (In 2017 these exemptions were $4,050.) Standard deductions nearly doubled. They are:

  • $12,000 for singles (up from $6,350 in 2017)

 

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