Monday, January 14, 2013

How does the fiscal cliff affect the Series 65 exam or Series 66 exam?

I've received many concerned emails asking how the Series 65 exam and Series 66 exam will change due to the "debt ceiling" or the "fiscal cliff." First, it's unlikely the exam expects anyone to know the exact tax brackets currently in use. However, the exam might want you to know that ordinary income rates are usually higher for investors compared to the tax rates on qualified dividends and/or long-term capital gains. None of that changed with the new legislation Congress passed. The new legislation keeps the 10%, 15%, 25%, 33%, and 35% brackets, then it adds a 39.6% bracket on the income above $400,000 or so. I can't see how that leads to a test question. Qualified dividends and long-term capital gains are still taxed at just 15% . . . except for folks who hit that top 39.6% tax bracket--they have to pay 20%. Which stinks for them, but also means the testable point remains the same--their long-term cap gains and qualified dividend tax rates are only about 1/2 their marginal rate. Of course, I wouldn't say that to their face or anything.
What's really wild is that the maximum contribution to a Coverdell account would have dropped to just $500 if Congress had not acted, proving they do get a lot of things right on Capitol Hill, in spite of appearances. That remains at a whopping $2,000 per-child per-year. So, even that factoid did not change.Bottom line--the recent shenanigans on Capitol Hill do not appear to impact your exam much. They may, however, impact your tax situation, which is, of course, not our department. Pass the 65 Now!