Geoff Zimmerman

Geoff Zimmerman, CFP®, is a senior advisor who specializes in working with corporate executives and professionals, particularly with equity compensation issues.
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Recent Posts

Total Return: A Modern Approach to Retirement Income

Geoff Zimmerman / Jul 19, 2018 / Retirement Planning / Investments

A common goal expressed by clients phasing into retirement is a desire to invest to generate income to live on while leaving their principal intact. Why? They probably saw it used successfully in the past.

When many of our parents invested, they lived off the interest and dividends from their portfolios, replacing bonds as they matured and leaving their stock holdings untouched.

Why is this approach, often referred to as investing for income, or income-only investing, not necessarily the best idea for modern-day portfolios? 

Why might your advisor suggest a different tactic, and what should you keep in mind when it comes to generating retirement income?


Over 70 & Charitably-Minded? Here's How to Leverage the TCJA

Geoff Zimmerman / Apr 11, 2018 / Retirement Planning / Financial Planning

If you are a charitably-minded investor who is  age 70½ or older, and you have money in individual retirement accounts (IRAs),  the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA) may provide some worthwhile planning opportunities to cut your tax bill more so than in prior years. 

How can charitably-minded seniors leverage the TCJA? Let's walk through a few scenarios.


Tax Reform and the Alternative Minimum Tax for Couples and Individuals

Geoff Zimmerman / Mar 14, 2018 / Risk Management / Insurance

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) of 2017 has drastically altered the alternative minimum tax (AMT) landscape for 2018 and beyond.

The TCJA completely eliminated the AMT for corporations; while the AMT still exists under the TCJA for individuals and couples, several material changes affect middle and upper-middle class taxpayers, making it less likely for this population to be hit by the AMT. Despite this welcome change, certain taxpayers may end up with a larger tax bill under the new system.  Lastly, some high earners may still find advantages to falling in the “AMT sweet spot.”

Let’s take a closer look at what’s changed.


Does Earthquake Insurance Make Sense?

Geoff Zimmerman / Jun 1, 2017 / Risk Management / Insurance

According to the Los Angeles Times, only 17% of California’s homeowners have earthquake insurance. Knowing you are protected in case “the Big One” hits is a great thing for peace of mind, especially for those of us in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Until recently, available policies have had very high deductibles and very limited benefits for temporary housing and personal belongings.

Now, however, some highly-rated carriers are offering more generous policies that may be well-suited for clients with homes worth over $500,000. These more robust policies offer lower deductibles, a bigger pool of money for temporary housing and personal belongings, and even a cash out option (you can take the insurance money and opt out of rebuilding).

These new policies are expensive—at times quite a bit more expensive than previous options—but their coverage might be very beneficial as a way to protect your equity.

So: does earthquake insurance make sense? This article discusses practical considerations to keep in mind when it comes to evaluating earthquake insurance and your circumstances.


10 Investment Mistakes to Avoid

Geoff Zimmerman / Mar 23, 2017 / Investments

There are many ways to lose money. Who needs a pyramid scheme or a crooked money manager when you can lose money in the financial markets all by yourself? 

Sometimes, the best way to refine your process is to learn how *not* to do something. Here's a look at 10 proven ways to manage your investment portfolio into the ground in no time.


More Tax Today May be Your Best Alternative Minimum Tax Strategy

Geoff Zimmerman / Nov 22, 2016 / Tax Planning / Financial Planning

During your year-end tax planning, you might find that you’re going to be stuck paying the alternative minimum tax, an alternative method of calculating income tax that runs parallel to the regular tax system. If that’s the case, you should focus on reducing your income taxes in the years ahead.

Generally, you’d do that by increasing your level of ordinary income that is normally taxed at your highest federal marginal tax rate. This might seem like a counterintuitive way to reduce the sting of your tax liability, but it makes sense when you consider how the AMT works and the tax brackets associated with each tax system.


How the AMT works

Under the regular system, in which taxable income largely determines your bracket, the highest tax rate is 39.6%. Under the AMT system, the highest rate is 28%. The AMT has fewer tax brackets, but is more complicated because certain types of income, exemptions and itemized deductions factor into your taxable income. What is AMTI?  You calculate both your regular federal taxable income (RTI) and your alternative minimum taxable income (AMTI) to determine your tax liabilityunder each system, and then pay the higher of the two.


Reducing Your Income to Escape the Alternative Minimum Tax

Geoff Zimmerman / Oct 26, 2016 / Tax Planning / Financial Planning

If you got hit by the federal alternative minimum tax last year or think you might get hit this year, now is the time to think about your tax planning. There may still be some ways you can escape the AMT; talk to your tax professional about the best strategy for you. One way to avoid the AMT is to reduce your alternative minimum taxable income (AMTI) to the point where the AMT is less than the ordinary tax.


Manage Cash Flow in Retirement and Create Your Own Paycheck

Geoff Zimmerman / Sep 20, 2016 / Retirement Planning / Financial Planning

If you’ve recently retired or are approaching retirement, you may be wondering about the best way to turn your retirement savings into a monthly paycheck. It’s critical to manage cash flow when you retire, to ensure you don’t outlive your funds.

As a Californian, I’m used to drought and conservation, and when I think about how water is stored, where it flows from, and how it is used, I see how managing cash flow in retirement is a lot like managing water. This isn’t an exact metaphor, but it can help paint a picture of how the process of managing cash flow in retirement can work.

Your investment portfolio is like the snowpack in the mountains. As snow melts, water flows into a reservoir behind a dam. Mechanisms within the dam control the release of water to the water district and, ultimately, the consumer.

This fluid process involves three tiers:

  1. The investment portfolio (the snowpack)
  2. Reserves (the lake behind the dam)
  3. The checking account from which you pay monthly expenses (the water district and consumers)

Tax Tips for ESPP Stock

Geoff Zimmerman / Aug 30, 2016 / Tax Planning / Financial Planning

Tax rules for sales of Employee Stock Purchase Plan (ESPP) shares can be quite complex for ESPP plans that allow participants to purchase stock at a discount. This article outlines the rules of the road for dealing with ESPP stock purchases and sales, with several examples to help ESPP participants better understand the nuances of these plans. Our fictional sample ESPP participant is Jim Brook of Orange, Inc. We'll see how Jim's shares can be sold in several ways, and what happens in each scenario.


Alternative Minimum Tax: How to navigate that winding road

Geoff Zimmerman / Jul 14, 2016 / Tax Planning / Financial Planning

Tax season is over, but if you had to pay the federal Alternative Minimum Tax, the pain may linger long after you’ve filed.

Of course, the AMT is the road no one likes to travel — it’s the higher tax route. To develop appropriate planning strategies, it is important to first understand how the AMT works.


2 Portfolio Protection Strategies That Don't Work - and 2 That Do

Geoff Zimmerman / Jun 3, 2016 / Risk Management / Investments / Financial Planning

Since the start of the year, the stock market has been swinging wildly, and some investors may be willing to try just about anything to protect their portfolios, including strategies that don’t often work.

Two common portfolio protection strategies — stop-loss and put options — aren’t as good at protecting your capital and maximizing your earnings as the simple methods of diversification and rebalancing. Let's take a closer look at why.


Year End Stock Option Strategies

Geoff Zimmerman / Dec 14, 2015 / Tax Planning

With the end of the calendar year upon us, now is the ideal time to update existing strategies around company stock options, stock appreciation rights and restricted stock. Because holders of these instruments frequently find their portfolios highly concentrated in their own company stock, proper planning and management of these assets is often the key to successful wealth accumulation and preservation.


[Video] Qualifying Holding Periods for Incentive Stock Options

Geoff Zimmerman / Nov 11, 2015 / Employee and Government Benefits / Investments / Video

Geoff Zimmerman, CFP, Senior Advisor for Mosaic Financial Partners, Inc., discusses the basics of stock options in this recording from a webinar hosted by Mosaic Financial Partners.


[Video] What is an Incentive Stock Option?

Geoff Zimmerman / Sep 30, 2015 / Employee and Government Benefits / Investments / Video

Geoff Zimmerman, CFP, Senior Advisor for Mosaic Financial Partners, Inc., discusses the basics of stock options; the discussion revolves around what makes up Incentive Stock Options, also known as ISOs, and how they differ from Non-Qualified Stock Options in definition and tax treatment.


[Video] What is a Nonqualified Stock Option?

Geoff Zimmerman / Sep 23, 2015 / Employee and Government Benefits / Investments / Video
Geoff Zimmerman, CFP, Senior Advisor for Mosaic Financial Partners, Inc., discusses the basics of stock options in this recording from a webinar hosted by Mosaic Financial Partners.