A Different Degree of Wealth

How Taxes Work on Social Security

You may not know it, but Social Security income is taxed! However, your tax burden isn’t simply a gross income tax, and there are unique factors that dictate your tax rate and overall tax liability.

First, not all Social Security income is taxed. Only a portion of your benefits may be subject to tax, depending on your taxable and overall supplemental income and filing status. The amount of your Social Security benefits that are subject to tax is determined by what is known as the “combined income” formula. This formula considers your adjusted gross income, tax-exempt interest, and half of your Social Security benefits. If your combined income is below a certain threshold, none of your benefits will be taxed. If it is above the threshold, a portion of your benefits may be taxed at either 50% or 85%.

The thresholds for taxation of Social Security benefits vary depending on your filing status. For single filers, the threshold for the 50% tax rate is $25,000 and the threshold for the 85% tax rate is $34,000. For married couples filing jointly, the thresholds are $32,000 and $44,000, respectively. For married individuals filing separately, the thresholds are lower at $25,000 and $34,000.

It’s important to note that the combined income formula only applies to federal taxes. Some states also tax Social Security benefits, but the rules for taxation vary from state to state. In some states, all Social Security benefits are exempt from state tax, while in others, the same combined income formula used for federal taxes is applied.

Overall, your tax burden on Social Security income will depend on your combined income, filing status, and state of residence. It’s a good idea to consult with a tax professional or use tax preparation software to determine your tax liability on Social Security benefits.

5 Ways Inflation Affects Your Retirement and 3 Steps for Protecting Against it

If you’re in retirement or strategizing for it, inflation is likely one of the main concerns you’re looking to address and protect against. These five expenses may be the main culprits of a ballooning budget while inflation remains high.

1) Inflation increases your grocery bill.

2) Housing costs usually rise.

3) Expect to pay more at the gas pump.

4) Travel often becomes more expensive.

5) Healthcare costs increase.

So, What Can You Do About It?

1) Revisit Your Investment Strategy

There may be ways in which you can strategize your investment portfolio to increase your income amounts or the income potential so that you have enough to cover your monthly expenses. You may also look for strategies that provide inflation protection by adjusting interest rates or payouts based on inflation levels.

2) Adjust Your Monthly Expenses

Inflation rarely affects all goods and services in the same way. There may be ways to cut back on the items that inflation is affecting the most. That way, you can effectively reduce the effect inflation has on your wallet without completely changing your lifestyle

3) Talk to us for Clarity and Direction

It’s hard to expect to stay on top of inflation data and financial news. In addition, it takes experience and knowledge to wield all the financial tools you have available to you, let alone know about them and how they change each year. 

We are honored to help our clients navigate strategies to maximize retirement choices.

Have a great weekend!

Source: Ballentine Capital Advisors 

Golf Tip of the Week

How Making These 2 Key Changes Can Fix Your Chipping, Quickly

If you’re looking to improve your short game, there’s a simple place to start, says Sara Dickson. Dickson, who is on our Golf Digest Best Young Teachers list and is the Director of golf at Wilderness Country Club in Naples, Fla., says you should take a look at your setup.

“The biggest mistake I see people make is that they stick to their full-swing setup when they get closer to the green,” Dickson says. “What happens here is that I’m able to make too big of a backswing, causing me to decelerate on the way through.”

2 quick setup fixes

The two key elements to change are the width of your stance and where you grip the club.

  1. Set up with your feet one clubhead width apart. “From this setup, I’m not balanced enough to make a big swing,” Dickson explains.
  2. Move your hands towards the bottom of the grip, which will give you greater control over the club and help you make a shorter swing.

Thanks to these adjustments, you’ll see Dickson makes a swing that’s hip high going back and finishes hip high coming through. Taking the club back a shorter distance means you’ll be less likely to decelerate coming through, which will produce better contact.

Tip adapted from golfdigest.comi

Recipe of the Week

Fall Nachos

6-8 Servings


Brussels Sprouts:

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 3 cups shredded Brussels sprouts
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper


  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 pound bulk chicken sausage
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle chile powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

Apple Pico:

  • 1/2 cup brine from a jar of pickled jalapenos
  • 1 Gala apple, cut into small dice
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, cut into small dice
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro


  • One 14-ounce bag multi-colored veggie tortilla chips
  • Squash Cheese Sauce, recipe follows
  • One 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed

Squash Cheese Sauce:

  • One 4-ounce block pepper jack cheese, grated
  • One 4-ounce block sharp Cheddar, grated
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 4 cups diced butternut squash (about 1 medium butternut squash; 1-inch dice)
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • 1 cup whole milk


  • For the Brussels sprouts: Place a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the oil and heat until shimmering. Add the Brussels sprouts, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until wilted and browned in spots, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  • For the sausage: Add the oil to a saute pan and heat over medium-high heat until shimmering. Crumble the sausage into the pan. Add the salt, sage, chipotle chile powder and allspice and cook, breaking apart the sausage with a spatula, until browned, about 8 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  • For the apple pico: Combine the pickled jalapeno brine with the apples in a bowl. Stir in the cilantro.
  • For the nachos: Spread half of the chips in an even layer on a serving platter. Sprinkle half of the sausage over the chips. Pour half of the Squash Cheese Sauce over the sausage and chips. Top with the remaining chips, then the remaining sausage and cheese sauce.
  • Top with the black beans and Brussels sprouts. Spoon the apple pico over the nachos and serve immediately.

Squash Cheese Sauce:

  • Toss the cheeses with the cornstarch in a large mixing bowl. Place a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the butter and melt. Add the squash, chipotle chile powder and salt. Cook until the squash caramelizes a bit, about 5 minutes. Add 1 cup water, cover and bring to a simmer. Simmer until very tender, another 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the milk and use an immersion blender to blend until silky and smooth. Add the cheese mixture, return to the heat and cook, whisking, until the cheese melts, 5 to 7 minutes. Season with additional salt as needed.



Recipe adapted from Foodnetwork.comii

Health Tip of the Week

Allergy Or Intolerance: Understanding The Difference In Infants

In your baby’s first year of life, you’re figuring out what makes them tick – and what doesn’t. These early months and years are when kids are likely to show signs they have a food allergy or intolerance, because their immune and digestive systems are still developing. 

Although both cause health issues for your baby, a food allergy and a food intolerance aren’t the same thing. It’s important to know the difference so you know how to approach feeding your baby.

Food Intolerance

An intolerance to a food affects the digestive system. It means your baby has trouble digesting a certain food or food group. Your baby might have a food intolerance if their body doesn’t have any or enough of a certain enzyme to digest a food fully. 

Examples include:

  • Lactose intolerance, which means they have a hard time digesting dairy products
  • Gluten intolerance, which causes discomfort after foods with wheat, rye, or barley
  • Fructose intolerance, which makes it hard to fully absorb sugar in fruits and vegetables

A food intolerance reaction usually doesn’t happen right away. The symptoms are uncomfortable, but they aren’t life-threatening. 

Typically, a food intolerance causes:

  • Diarrhea
  • Tummy pain
  • Mild skin rashes and itching
  • Gas
  • Bloating

Testing for Food Intolerance

Your pediatrician will want to rule out a food allergy before testing for food intolerance to be sure it’s not more serious. They may refer you to a GI specialist or nutritionist to help pinpoint what’s causing a reaction. 

A helpful tool for discovering what’s causing an intolerance is a food diary. You’ll record everything your child eats (and/or everything you eat, if you are breastfeeding your child) along with any symptoms that show up. As you identify potential triggers, you can start to eliminate those foods and see if the symptoms get better. 

You can’t treat a food intolerance, but you can help ease some symptoms. Ask your pediatrician about trying over-the-counter lactase enzyme drops that can help relieve discomfort from lactose intolerance. 

Food Allergy

When your child is allergic to a food or food group, their immune system treats the food as a foreign invader. Your baby’s body makes antibodies for that food. The next time that food enters your baby’s system, the immune system releases these antibodies along with a chemical called histamine. 

Once histamine is in your child’s body, within minutes to hours, they can have some or many of the following reactions:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Cramps

As well as serious, sometimes life-threatening symptoms, including: 

  • Hives
  • Swelling
  • Eczema
  • Itching or swelling of the lips, tongue, or mouth
  • Itching or tightness in the throat
  • A hard time breathing
  • Wheezing
  • Lowered blood pressure

These symptoms are called anaphylaxis and require medical attention right away with a shot of epinephrine (EpiPen) and a follow-up trip to an emergency room. If anaphylaxis isn’t treated right away, it can be fatal.

The most common food allergens include:

  • Peanuts
  • Tree nuts
  • Eggs
  • Shellfish
  • Fish
  • Milk
  • Soy
  • Wheat

Some babies can outgrow their food allergies, but it depends on which allergens affect them. It’s more common for kids to outgrow allergies to cow’s milk, egg, soy, and wheat. They’re less likely to grow out of an allergy to peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish.

Testing for Food Allergies

Your baby’s pediatrician will review your baby’s symptoms and history with you before testing. Then your baby may need a blood test and/or a skin prick test to see if their body is producing antibodies for certain foods.

  • Blood test. A doctor, nurse, or technician will draw a vial of blood from your baby using a syringe and send it off to a lab to test for the antibodies.
  • Skin prick test. Your doctor will use a tiny, sharp surgical instrument filled with a small amount of the allergen to prick your child’s skin. If a bump shows up in 15-30 minutes, that’s a sign your child likely has an allergy.

Things to Think About While Breastfeeding

Breast milk doesn’t typically cause an allergic reaction for breastfeeding infants. If your breastfed baby is having an allergic reaction, it’s most likely due to the cow’s milk in their mother’s diet. This happens in about two to three out of every 100 exclusively breastfed babies.

Signs of a dairy allergy include: 

  • Severe colic
  • Tummy discomfort
  • Skin rash (such as eczema or hives)
  • Vomiting
  • Severe diarrhea, sometimes with blood
  • Trouble breathing after breastfeeding

If you notice any of these symptoms, call your pediatrician right away. 

Breastfed babies may show discomfort after nursing if their mother’s diet has spicy foods that cause gas, such as fiber-filled foods. This isn’t an allergy or intolerance. Mothers can temporarily avoid these foods to see if it stops the problem. If it doesn’t, talk to your doctor about whether your baby might have colic. 

Figuring Out Formula

Formula-fed infants can show symptoms of intolerance or allergy to milk or soy in formula. Ask your pediatrician for guidance on which formula is best. 

Most formula-fed infants who are allergic or intolerant to dairy can tolerate formula labeled “hypoallergenic.” There are three kinds:

  • Partially hydrolyzed. This formula is made with cow’s milk proteins that are already broken down into small pieces, making them easier to digest. This option isn’t for babies with a milk allergy because the proteins are not small enough to prevent a reaction. This can be a good option for babies who are lactose intolerant.
  • Extensively hydrolyzed. The process for this formula involves breaking down the milk protein even smaller than it is in partially hydrolyzed formula. Babies with milk allergies can try this option. 
  • Amino acid-based. This formula option contains only milk proteins broken down completely into their amino acid form. This gives babies all the nutrition they need without triggering their immune system. 


Tip adapted from WebMD.comiii 

Copyright (C) 2021.  Ballentine Capital Advisors.  All rights reserved.

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Ballentine Capital Advisors
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Greenville, SC 29607


Ballentine Capital Advisors is a registered investment adviser. The advisory services of Ballentine Capital Advisors are not made available in any jurisdiction in which Ballentine Capital Advisors is not registered or is otherwise exempt from registration.

Please review Ballentine Capital Advisors Disclosure Brochure for a complete explanation of fees. Investing involves risks. Investments are not guaranteed and may lose value.

This material is prepared by Ballentine Capital Advisors for informational purposes only. It is not intended to serve as a substitute for personalized investment advice or as a recommendation or solicitation or any particular security, strategy, or investment product.

No representation is being made that any account will or is likely to achieve future profits or losses similar to those shown. You should not assume that investment decisions we make in the future will be profitable or equal the investment performance of the past. Past performance does not indicate future results.

Advisory services through Ballentine Capital Advisors, Inc.


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