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As Build Back Better Moves Forward, Taxes Top Concern for Investors

Columbus, OH — Debate around the current presidential administration’s proposed reconciliation package has investors, particularly those of high income, bracing for potential tax impacts. The proposed reconciliation package, which includes plans to boost the nation’s social safety net and provide a framework to fight climate change, will likely be paid for in part from a surtax placed on the country’s wealthiest individuals – particularly those with income levels at $10 and $25 million.

According to our seventh annual Advisor Authority study, powered by the Nationwide Retirement Institute®, year-over-year, investors say taxes are one of their top three biggest financial concerns. In fact, investors’ concerns about taxes have nearly doubled in 2021 vs 2020 (27% vs 15%). When looking at wealthy investors, taxes move up on the list of concerns. High Net Worth (HNW) investors’ (those with household investable assets ranging from $1 million to less than $5 million) concerns about taxes nearly tripled year-over-year from 2021 to 2020 (27% vs 9%). And for the Ultra High Net Worth (UHNW) investors (those with household investable assets of $5 million or more), taxes are one of their top concerns this year (32%), increasing from 26% from 2020.

While the Build Back Better bill does have tax implications for some Americans, many may be overestimating this risk unless they are of extreme wealth. Given that some of the more ambitious plans announced early in the process of the bill’s development have since hit the cutting room floor, most Americans will not see significant tax increases from this plan.

“Under the current proposed reconciliation plan, income taxes would increase only for very high-income individuals—not most Americans,” said Eric Henderson, President, Nationwide Annuity. “Financial professionals have a chance to provide clarity for clients who may be bracing for the worst without understanding how the package has been scaled back. This bill would increase tax rates for high earners, which is why many are already thinking about how they can manage their tax exposure – and they will be looking to their advisor or financial professional to help them navigate this challenge. For these clients, investment vehicles such as life insurance and annuities can be useful tools for tax deferral and managing future taxes.”

Investors and Financial Professionals Brace for Potential Tax Impact on Investments
Advisors and financial professionals say that taxes (26%) are among the top five macro factors that will most adversely impact their clients’ portfolio over the next 12 months. Other top macro factors include the COVID-19 pandemic (39%), inflation (36%), global instability (28%) and rising interest rates (27%). They also believe that taxes (21%) are among the top factors that would most likely cause market volatility in the next 12 months, and 79% of advisors/financial professionals, along with 61% of investors, anticipate volatility will ramp up in general over that time period.

With the unpredictability of the market and ongoing discussions around tax policy in Washington, financial professionals and investors are bracing for any possible impact to investments. To prepare for unpredictability, 66% of investors and 93% of advisors/financial professionals have a strategy in place to protect their assets against market risks. Financial professionals say they use diversification/non-correlated assets (64%), fixed annuities (48%) and fixed indexed annuities (46%) as some solutions to help protect their clients’ assets against market risks. Similarly, investors also say they use diversification/non-correlated assets (56%), fixed annuities (29%) and fixed indexed annuities (23%) as some solutions to help protect their assets against market risks.

Advisors are substantially more likely than investors to say that tax hikes will cause them to increase their use of tax-deferred annuities. In fact, under the current proposed tax plan, roughly half of advisors/financial professionals, compared to less than one third of investors, said an increase in income tax (49% vs 31%) will make them more likely to adopt annuities.

Financial Professionals Poised to Guide Investors Through Change
According to the Advisor Authority study, 63% of investors work with an advisor or financial professional. Moreover, 37% of investors said the main reason they work with an advisor or financial professional is to feel more confident in their financial future and 5% said it is to help manage their taxes.

With taxes being a concern for many investors, it is no surprise that one in four (26%) advisors/financial professionals said they are most interested in integrating tax optimization tools into their practice in the next 12 months so they can meet those needs.

“Knowledge established from navigating previous policy changes puts advisors and financial professionals in a great position to help investors understand potential tax changes and prepare for the future with confidence,” said Henderson.

For additional insights on this survey data, financial professionals can download the latest infographic from the seventh annual Advisor Authority study.

The Nationwide Retirement Institute offers a variety of tax efficient retirement income resources for financial professionals.

Nationwide’s seventh annual Advisor Authority study powered by the Nationwide Retirement Institute® explores critical issues confronting advisors, financial professionals and individual investors—and the innovative techniques that they need to succeed in today’s complex market. This is the third in a series of ongoing releases from the seventh annual study.

About Advisor Authority: Methodology
The seventh annual Advisory Authority Survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of Nationwide from July 22 – August 17, 2021 among 1,632 advisors and financial professionals and 839 investors, ages 18+. Among the 839 investors, there were 210 Mass Affluent, 210 Emerging High Net Worth, 210 High Net Worth and 209 Ultra High Net Worth. Investors are weighted where necessary by age by gender, race/ethnicity, region, education, income, marital status, household size, investable assets and propensity to be online to bring them in line with their actual proportions in the population. Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Poll surveys. Because the sample is based on those who were invited to participate in Harris Poll online research, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

About The Harris Poll
The Harris Poll is one of the longest running surveys in the U.S. tracking public opinion, motivations and social sentiment since 1963 that is now part of Harris Insights & Analytics, a global consulting and market research firm that delivers social intelligence for transformational times. We work with clients in three primary areas: building twenty-first-century corporate reputation, crafting brand strategy and performance tracking, and earning organic media through public relations research. Our mission is to provide insights and advisory to help leaders make the best decisions possible. To learn more, please visit www.theharrispoll.com.

About Nationwide

Nationwide, a Fortune 100 company based in Columbus, Ohio, is one of the largest and strongest diversified insurance and financial services organizations in the United States. Nationwide is rated A+ by both A.M. Best and Standard & Poor’s. An industry leader in driving customer-focused innovation, Nationwide provides a full range of insurance and financial services products including auto, business, homeowners, farm and life insurance; public and private sector retirement plans, annuities and mutual funds; excess & surplus, specialty and surety; pet, motorcycle and boat insurance. For more information, visit www.nationwide.com. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Nationwide Investment Services Corporation (NISC), member FINRA, Columbus, OH. Nationwide Retirement Institute is a division of NISC.