Important HB Financial Planning Updates

By Todd Hall


The reaction to the spread of the Coronavirus in the market and the economy has been both swift and significant. In response to this, we have seen several important actions from various levels of government and wanted to make sure you are aware of changes that may impact you. The items listed below are based on legislation such as The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (signed into law on March 18), The Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act (signed into law March 27), and other emergency actions not included in legislation.

NOTE: All information and recommendations below are based on our understanding as of March 31, 2020.

For Individuals

  1. The Federal income tax return due date is automatically extended to July 15. Taxpayers can also defer any tax payments that would normally be due on April 15 until July 15 with no interest or penalties. This includes any payments you need to make with your 2019 return, as well as first quarter 2020 estimated payments. No extension form or other paperwork is needed to obtain an extension. Georgia has announced they will mirror the actions taken at the federal level, and most other states have also decided to the same or something similar. Please contact your client service team if you have questions about your specific state.

HB Recommendation: In general, if you expect to get a refund, consider filing your taxes as soon as possible to get your refund sooner. If you will owe additional taxes for 2019, consider delaying until July.

  1. Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) have been waived for retirement accounts. This waiver applies to Traditional IRAs, Inherited IRAs, SEP IRAs, and SIMPLE IRAs, as well as 401(k), 403(b), and Governmental 457(b) plans.

HB Recommendation: Consider delaying any distributions from retirement plans until next year unless one of the following situations applies to you: 1) you need additional cash to cover expenses, 2) you would like to make a Qualified Charitable Distribution, or 3) you would like to convert some of your IRA to a Roth IRA while values are low due to the market downturn.

  1. Coronavirus Relief Payments are being sent to taxpayers in the near future. Payments will be $1,200 for individuals and $2,400 for married couples, plus $500 for each child under 17 years old claimed as a dependent. Payments will be phased out beginning at income limits of $75,000 for individual filers and $150,000 for joint filers. While the rebate is technically a 2020 tax credit, the IRS will initially base eligibility on your 2019 income tax return if you have filed it, otherwise they will use your 2018 return.

Importantly, if the amount you receive is less than you are entitled to based on your 2020 income, you can claim the shortfall when you file your 2020 return. On the other hand, if the amount you receive is more than you would be entitled to, no repayment is required.

HB Recommendation if you made less in 2019 than you did in 2018, and the difference would result in a higher relief payment, consider filing your 2019 return as soon as possible. This would be particularly important if your 2018 income would be above the phase out range and 2019 income was below the phaseout range.

Benefits phase out if adjusted gross income (AGI) is over $150,000 for joint filers ($75,000 if single) and totally phase out by $198,000 for joint filers ($99,000 if single). Even if income is over these limits, you may still be eligible to receive $500 per child under 17.

  1. Congress waived the 10% penalty on early retirement plan distributions made in 2020. Individuals under the age of 59 ½ who are impacted by the Coronavirus may withdraw up to $100,000 from retirement accounts without the normal penalty that would otherwise apply. Withdrawals can be made from IRAs, employer-sponsored retirement plans, or a combination both. Taxpayers who take these withdrawals will be able to choose whether to recontribute the withdrawn funds within three years of taking the withdrawal, or pay tax on the amount withdrawn (either way, no 10% penalty applies). Taxpayers who choose to pay tax on the amount withdrawn can opt to recognize all the income in 2020, or spread it evenly over three years (2020, 2021, and 2022).
  2. Charitable contribution limitations are temporarily relaxed in two ways. Taxpayers who do not itemize deductions will be eligible to donate up to $300 to a qualified charity and have this count as an “above the line” reduction of adjusted gross income. In addition, the 60% of AGI limitation which normally applies to cash donations will be suspended for 2020 for cash contributions (except for donations to private foundations, donor advised funds, and supporting organizations). However, in order for taxpayers to be able to deduct over 50% of AGI in any year (including 2020), gifts will need to be almost entirely made in cash to public charities (excluding Donor Advised Funds). Taxpayers making gifts consisting of a combination of cash, non-cash, and securities are still limited to the old 20%, 30%, and 50% AGI limits.
  3. Federal pandemic unemployment compensation of $600 per week is available to unemployed persons in addition to the amount of unemployment benefits they would normally receive from the state (typically about 62% of prior compensation, but not to exceed $380 per week).

For Businesses

  1. The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) enables business with fewer than 500 employees to obtain potentially forgivable loans administered by the Small Business Administration (SBA).
    • Loans can be up to 2½ times the qualifying payroll costs, capped at $10 million.
    • The intent of the PPP is to provide a short-term lending vehicle for employers to help keep their employees in place. Loan forgiveness eligibility will be based on two criteria:
      • Funds must be spent on covered expenses during an 8-week period beginning on the loan closing date.
      • Forgiveness will be reduced if borrowers lay off employees. The loan forgiveness is tied to number of employees at the end of the 8-week period divided by the number you had before.
    • Covered expenses include payroll (includes amounts paid to independent contractors, but excludes any compensation in excess of $100,000) and some benefits (group HC, retirement plan contributions, paid leave) as well as state/local tax on employees and rent.
    • Any amount forgiven is not included in taxable income.
    • Loans will be administered by 800 existing SBA-certified lenders, including banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions and will carry interest rates of less than 4% (if not forgiven).

HB Recommendation: Any business that might benefit from this program should begin the application process immediately. Going through your existing banking relationships will be most efficient in most cases, especially if you already have an SBA loan. Your bank may have their own website with details on how to apply. You can also get some additional information here:

  1. The Employee Retention Credit is available for businesses (regardless of size) whose business is partially or fully suspended by orders from a governmental authority due to the Coronavirus, or who has substantial decline in revenue due to the virus.
    • This is a refundable payroll tax credit of up to 50% of qualified wages (including health insurance premiums) paid after March 12. 
    • For eligible employers with 100 or fewer full-time employees, all employee wages paid qualify for the credit, whether the employer is open for business, the employees are working from home, or the business is subject to a shutdown order.
    • The qualified wages to be taken into account may not exceed $10,000 of compensation, including health benefits, paid to an eligible employee in a calendar quarter.
    • There are rules preventing “double dipping” with this credit and other available benefits.
  2. Employers can defer payment of payroll taxes. This deferral enables employers (including the self-employed) to delay paying the employer portion of certain payroll taxes through the end of 2020. Half of the employer 6.2% social security tax for 2020 can be deferred to December 31, 2021, and the other half can be deferred to December 31, 2022. 
  3. Net Operating Loss (NOL) Rules have been relaxed. Previously, the ability of a taxpayer to use the taxpayer’s NOL carryforwards were subject to an annual limitation based on the taxpayer’s taxable-income and could not be carried back to reduce income in a prior tax year and obtain a refund for taxes paid in the earlier period. Legislation signed on March 27, 2020 amends the Code so that an NOL arising in a tax year beginning in 2018, 2019, or 2020 can be carried back five years and used to offset taxable income during that five-year period, producing a refund that would be paid to the taxpayer. The legislation temporarily removes the percentage of taxable income limitation enacted as part of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) and allows an NOL to fully offset the taxpayer’s taxable income. Although these changes will allow a more tax-efficient use of NOLs by taxpayers, they will also require that companies amend prior tax returns in order to capture the benefit of the NOL carryback.
  4. Recent legislation also provides a technical correction to the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) for qualified improvement property. Because of an unintended technical glitch in the TCJA, “qualified improvement property” (certain leasehold improvements, restaurant property, and retail property improvements) did not qualify for 100% bonus depreciation. The CARES Act fixes that.


Tips for Families Staying At Home During The Virus Shutdown

By: Todd Hall



During this time of uncertainty, social distancing, and strange work environments, Homrich Berg would like to share some helpful resources with you and your loved ones. Like many of you, our employees are adjusting to the need to work remotely and, in many cases, to home-school their kids at the same time.

We encourage you to share this blog with anyone who may find it helpful. Please do not hesitate to contact us for anything at this time.


Grocery Delivery and Pick-Up Services:

Publix Grocery Delivery                    

Kroger Grocery Delivery                    

Kroger Grocery Pick-Up                       

Target Pick-Up                                        

Wal-Mart Grocery Delivery              

Amazon Prime Now Grocery Delivery

Costco Grocery Delivery:     


Food Delivery Services:

Uber Eats 





Official websites to keep up with rapidly evolving efforts to fight the virus and protect the economy

Federal Government multiple agency information site:

CDC updates:

IRS updates:

State of Georgia COVID-19 Webpage:


Tips for Working at Home:


Ideas and Free Educational Materials for Kids at Home:

  • Crash Course YouTube Channel – Online courses on various subjects from Astronomy to US History and Anatomy & Physiology
  • Crash Course Kids Youtube Channel – This bi-weekly show from the producers of Crash Course is all about gradeschool science.
  • Smarter Every Day YouTube Channel – An entertaining channel dedicated to exploring the world using science.
  • Scholastic Learn at Home— Daily projects for kids in pre-K through grade 9.
  • Epic— A digital library for kids up to age 12.
  • Khan Academy— Short online courses in subjects ranging from world history to economics, along with sample daily schedules to help get kids on a routine.
  • Outschool— Live online classes for kids ages 3 to 18.
  • BrainPop— Lessons in all subjects for kindergarten through grade 8; some school districts are supplying parents with passwords to log in free of charge.
  • Org— Online coding classes.


Things are changing rapidly on all fronts. If you liked this post please feel free to sign up for future blog updates here.

If you have questions don’t hesitate to reach out to your HB team. If you do not have an HB service team, click here to contact us or click here to learn more about Homrich Berg.

Better Odds than the Lottery: Escheatment?

By Tom Houle and Kayte Tarantino


As simple as clicking a few buttons on your PC, you may claim your portion of the over $4 billion in unclaimed assets held in Escheatment. A term more commonly used during the medieval times to reference land falling out of the possession of a family and being given to the overlord, today the term is used to denote the transfer of a person’s property to the state when unclaimed.

Per the NY Times, state agencies returned $3.235 billion in cash to owners in 2015. Agencies received $7.763 billion in new unclaimed assets the same year¹. With billions going unclaimed, you could be missing out on a cash payout of YOUR own money.

Forgotten about an old retirement account, insurance policy, or check from a past employer? If so, that money might now be sitting in the care of the state government, just waiting on you to claim it. This act is referred to as Escheatment – the process by which abandoned assets get turned over to the state. After some time the state becomes the owner of the unclaimed accounts and/or property.

The good news is that the money doesn’t directly go into the government’s pockets for them to do whatever they want. You have the legal right to claim what is yours, or at least the cash value of it. States only hold on to securities and other assets for a certain amount of time and then liquidate them to keep money from the sale; however, not every state has the same rules. Additionally different accounts have different rules for how long firms can wait to turn over assets and property to a state. Generally speaking, the state must wait between one and five years before escheatment begins.

There are many reasons you would lose track of money or property. You took the money in your checking account to a new bank, but forgot about the savings account. The time you changed jobs but didn’t roll over your 401(k). Or you possibly received a life insurance payout but didn’t realize it. The financial institution holding your money is required to try and find the account owner. But if you’ve moved or updated your contact information since the account was opened, they may have a hard time tracking you down. If they are unable to find you and the account remains inactive for five years, the escheatment process begins, and the institution will turn over that money to the state government.

Take a few minutes, go to the website below, and identify if you have any unclaimed assets. It is your chance to claim your part of the $4 billion available.

How to find old accounts and property

  • If you’re looking to see if you have any unclaimed property, you can browse the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA). This site has a database of every state’s unclaimed property programs. NAUPA maintains the search to find each state’s program, but every state manages its own programs.
  • Every state has its own escheatment rules, including a time limit on making escheatment claims. For the most part, you should be able to verify the account was yours. It is also allowed to claim property as an heir.

How to avoid Escheatment

Financial institutions are required to escheat if they’ve failed to contact the rightful owner. But you can prevent escheatment from occurring if you take a few steps:

  • Regularly check up on all your accounts, including checking, savings, investments and insurance accounts. If you have got a retirement account through work, make sure to move it over to your new work investment account or an independent one, like an IRA.
  • Update your information.
  • Cash in on dividends.


Authority Magazine interviews CIO Stephanie Lang for their Female Leaders of Finance series

Authority Magazine interviews CIO Stephanie Lang as part of a series on strong female finance leaders. Read the full Q&A here!

Homrich Berg Names Kyle Glenn, CFA as Chief Operating Officer

ATLANTA – February 11, 2020 – Homrich Berg is pleased to announce that Kyle Glenn, CFA has joined the HB executive team as Chief Operating Officer. Kyle started his career at Homrich Berg as a financial advisor before completing his MBA and working with Bain & Company as a Manager in the Atlanta office.

“As we continue to grow in metro Atlanta and across the country, we were excited to have the opportunity to welcome Kyle back to HB and add his capabilities to our executive team,” said Andy Berg, CEO and co-founder of Homrich Berg. “I have known Kyle since the beginning of his career and am excited to have a Chief Operating Officer on our team who understands the keys to delivery of our high touch HB client service approach.”

As COO, Kyle will be focused on the core operations, technology, and management processes underlying the day-to-day success of HB. “I started my career at HB because of my belief in the firm and its focus on fiduciary, fee-only comprehensive wealth management services for their clients,” said Kyle. “As HB wraps up celebrating its 30th anniversary, I am excited about the opportunity to rejoin the Homrich Berg team and be part of the next 30 years of the HB success story.”

Kyle holds a BS degree in Management with Highest Honors from Georgia Tech, and an MBA with Honors from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. He is a CFA Charterholder and has a wide range of expertise in M&A, growth strategy, organizational process design, and performance improvement.

About Homrich Berg
Founded in 1989, Atlanta-based Homrich Berg is a national independent wealth management firm that provides fiduciary, fee-only investment management and financial planning services, serving as the leader of the financial team for our clients including high-net-worth individuals, families, and not-for-profits. Homrich Berg manages over $7 billion for over 1800 family relationships nationwide. For more information, please visit

Four Ways an HSA Can Fortify Your Retirement Savings

By: James White


When it comes to retirement planning most of us think firstly of our 401k, Pension, and maybe our Roth IRA. However, many never consider saving for one of retirement’s biggest costs with the most tax-advantaged vehicle under the IRS code. Saving for healthcare costs with a Health Savings Account (HSA) can potentially be your retirement plan’s fortifying feature. Homrich Berg believes that after contributing to your 401k, up to the company match, the next best place for retirement savings could be in a HSA up to its limits for those who are eligible (more on eligibility below)… The following are four reasons your HSA can be more advantageous than other savings vehicles:

  1. Increased Tax Benefits – HSA contributions are pre-tax, meaning they reduce your taxable income, they grow tax-free, and are distributed tax-free for eligible expenses. No other savings vehicle has as many tax advantages.
  2. Medicare and Private Insurance Eligibility – your HSA can distribute assets tax-free to pay for Medicare, private healthcare insurance, and long term care insurance premiums during retirement.
  3. Funding Unexpected Medical Bills – Under a 401k, for example, all distributions in retirement are taxed at Ordinary Income rates. The combined state and federal tax rate can be over 35% for some people. An unexpected $5,000 medical bill can require a withdrawal of $7,700 including taxes. If you have a funded HSA account, these withdrawals are tax-free, thereby reducing the gross amount of savings needed for unexpected distributions.
  4. Penalty-Free Distributions Before Age 59 ½ — There are no penalties for early withdrawals in a HSA. In fact, you can contribute, receive credit for the pre-tax income deduction, and immediately distribute the contribution for an eligible healthcare cost. If 401k savings money were needed before age 59 ½ there would be a 10% penalty plus taxes.

You must be enrolled in a Qualified High Deductible Healthcare Plan in order to be eligible to make HSA contributions. In 2020, contribution maximums are $3,550 for single filers and $7,100 for those married filing jointly. If over the age of 55, you are allotted a catch-up contribution of an additional $1,000. Consult with your tax advisor or CPA regarding eligibility and appropriateness of this strategy. Some risks may include the inability to maintain tax-advantages for non-spouse beneficiaries, a 20% penalty and loss of tax advantages for non-qualified distributions, as well as limitations on investing HSA savings. Some accounts offer significantly more investment options than others, so be sure to ask your financial advisor which account is best for you.

Andy Berg Named To Atlanta Magazine 500 Most Powerful Leaders In 2020

ATLANTA – January 24, 2020 – Homrich Berg is pleased to announce that CEO Andy Berg was named to Atlanta Magazine 500 Most Powerful Leaders in 2020.

Andy is co-founder and chief executive officer of Homrich Berg. He founded the firm with the belief that high-net-worth individuals needed access to conflict-free financial planning and investment advice. He developed HB’s model for serving clients’ wealth management needs on a fiduciary, fee-only basis.  Andy offers his diverse clientele hands-on counsel and oversees the management and operations of the firm. Andy’s expertise spans the wealth management profession and includes financial and estate planning, taxation, and investment strategy.

About Homrich Berg

Founded in 1989, Atlanta-based Homrich Berg is a national independent wealth management firm that provides fiduciary, fee-only investment management and financial planning services, serving as the leader of the financial team for our clients including high-net-worth individuals, families, and not-for-profits. Homrich Berg manages over $6 billion for over 1800 family relationships nationwide. For more information, please visit

One Financial Habit That Trumps All the Resolutions

By: Tana Gildea


Most of us look to the new year as an opportunity to “start again,” clean up our bad habits, make big changes, and reach for the stars! We’ll exercise! Lose weight! Save more! And then Monday comes. It’s another start to another week that feels exactly like those that have come before it. The thrill of the promise crumbles when faced with the reality of packing a lunch, forgoing a latte, or passing up those great sales in favor of a workout.

According to James Clear (Atomic Habits), BJ Fogg (Tiny Habits), and Charles Duhigg (The Power of Habit), creating a habit is the clear path to lasting success regardless of what we are trying to change or improve in our lives. So what financial habit is the keystone habit? Track your spending.

When we work with clients, we occasionally help them create a pie chart called Live, Give, Owe, Grow, and Can’t Say No. It takes spending over some time period and divides it into these categories. By making a pie chart, everyone can see how the pie divides which can lead to some great discussions around how the client feels about where the money is going. That can be a great “look back” exercise to help you identify things you want to change. The categories should be those that are important for you but keep it to a few so as not to get overwhelmed.

Analyzing what happened provides some insight, but tracking problem areas “in the moment” is what creates awareness and change.

Here are some things to try:

  • Track a particular category of spending.
    • Identify your problem area and track it. Eating out tends to be a trouble spot for a lot of people so, for example, every time you eat out, get in the habit of writing it down. This could be the notes section on your phone, a little notepad, or the back of an envelope in the sun visor of the car. Whatever works for you is the best tool. When you know that you are writing it down, you are being accountable to yourself and perhaps to your significant other.
    • It may be helpful to jot down the circumstances like “left lunch in the fridge” or “traveling” or “overslept and went through the drive-through.” You might see patterns of when the spending is happening. This helps you develop strategies to counter these situations.
  • Learn from the data that you are collecting.
    • Have a spirit of curiosity and learning around what is happening instead of judgment and condemnation. We don’t thrive when we beat ourselves up mentally so seek understanding and solutions.
    • Don’t expect perfection! Developing a habit and changing behavior is a process and will have ups and downs.
    • Keep trying – knowing what doesn’t work helps us figure out what does work.
  • Identify behavior triggers that lead to certain types of spending.
    • Duhigg describes the “habit cycle,” and it’s clear that a trigger leads to a behavior. If we can identify the trigger and replace the undesirable behavior with a different behavior, we can change a bad habit into a good one or at least a neutral one. For example, if a frantic day at the office triggers the desire for a fast food fix on the way home, recognize that, and create a new “if I have a frantic day at the office” behavior: “then I’ll go to the gym” or “then I’ll call a friend on the way home.”

Whatever financial goal you have will benefit from having a clear picture of where the money is going. The backward look helps you see what happened and identify what you want to change.  Tracking helps you be mindful and aware as it is happening or about to happen. Developing this one habit and looking at it with curiosity and interest can lead you toward a lot of ways to make small, consistent changes that will last long after the resolution has been forgotten.

A Buyer For Your Business Is On The Line- Do You Answer The Call?

By: Tom Houle


As a former business owner, I found myself on the receiving end of that phone call at least five times a week, so much so that I stopped answering any of the calls. But, what if there was an opportunity that would benefit my stakeholders, or would be advantageous for my family?

When determining whether to answer the call, I asked myself many of the questions that I am sure have crossed your mind. I hope my comments will help you with your answer.

How did they find me?

It is not hard to find a list of business owners, either by location, industry, or SIC code. Competitors and suppliers are also sources of information. If you are running a successful business, you are well known to those both in or outside of your industry.   The caller will usually not possess any information that is not in the public domain. Yet there is a treasure trove of information available.

Does the caller REALLY have a buyer?

Most likely, the caller does not have a specific buyer in hand. However, many business brokers and financial intermediaries have relationships, whether formally or informally, with private equity firms, serial acquirers or actual companies that are looking for opportunities. The easiest way to determine the legitimacy of the call is to ask the caller the specific entity they are representing. If they are not straightforward in identifying their firm and their affiliations, it would be best to leave them with a dial tone.

With the large amount of capital committed to private equity firms, the limiting factor is the lack of target companies willing to sell, not buyers lacking cash. Legitimate firms are calling companies to gauge interest. Before giving any information, check out the caller with your financial advisor, banker, lawyer or accountant.  Your professional team will be able to help in this area.

With these considerations in mind, most of your quality financial intermediaries will likely come from personal referrals, or industry relationships developed over a number of years. A friendly competitor might also inquire.

Other questions to consider.

Is the business capable of keeping up with the changes occurring in the industry? These could be innovation, technology or compliance demands, all of which require management and financial resources.

Am I losing business to more efficient providers, or are we losing to a profit destructor?  Am I a mid-tier manufacturer taking price from larger more efficient organization, or am I a niche player who can set price?

If I expand, am I now competing with a different group of competitors?

Do I want to take on additional personal guarantees to expand facilities or add additional equipment?

Is our product or service part of a growing category, or are we competing in a flat or declining market?

Is there a family member or key employee that I am grooming to be part of the next generations of leadership?

Are my financial records accurate and up to date?

Am I ready to sell the business or am I having a bad day?

Do I have enough financial resources to retire, with or without the proceeds of the sale?

I have found that, as an owner, if you start listening some part of you wants to explore a sale. I would take a step back and give thought to your professional and personal reasons for exploring a sale. Your team should go through a thorough SWOT analysis, and answer these and other strategic questions.

The long term profitability of your business maybe out of your control, it might be the right time to maximize value.

So, do you answer that call from someone looking to buy your business? The answer, unfortunately, is maybe.  But understanding what you want and why you want it are critical before answering the call.

It is my experience that business owners can get caught up in the process of the sale, and overlook many important factors that will determine long term positive outcomes for themselves and their family. Also, going through the process of a sale can result in a lack of focus on the business itself, causing irreparable harm. I would make a rational decision to engage after consulting with my full financial and legal team. After you have made the informed decision, it might be time to answer that call.


Tom is the director of business development for Homrich Berg, an independent Registered Investment advisor based in Atlanta, Georgia. He successfully purchased and sold two manufacturing businesses based in Jacksonville, Fl.

Homrich Berg Names Michael D. Landsberg as Principal

ATLANTA – 1/10/2020 – Homrich Berg (HB) is pleased to announce the appointment of Michael (Mike) D. Landsberg, CPA, CFP®, CPWA, PFS, as the newest Principal for the firm. “Mike has consistently exhibited dedication to HB and his clients,” said Andy Berg, co-founder and CEO of Homrich Berg. “My partners and I are proud to welcome him as the newest owner of HB.”

Mike has been with Homrich Berg for over seven years, and holds a B.A. in Accountancy from the University of Notre Dame and went on to earn a Masters of Taxation from Arizona State University. Mike serves as a member of both the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants – Personal Financial Planning Division (AICPA PFP) and the Georgia Society of CPAs. He sits on the board of Ur Worth It! as Finance Chair and was selected to the AICPA PFP Executive Leadership Committee. He also volunteers as a Financial Coach for the Catholic Charities of Atlanta.