Summer 2020 Team Update – As Summer wraps up and transitions into Fall, we’re all looking forward to some relief from a hot, dry several months that has led to devastating wildfires. While kids kick off their new school year from the comforts of home, leaves have begun turning and cooler weather has begun to roll in. As we ramp up another election season, the markets will try to make heads or tails of the uncertainty that it brings. Meanwhile, we continue to meet with lots of new clients while working hard to further the planning and investment goals of everyone we work with.
What causes sudden market declines like we saw this week, seemingly out of nowhere? There often isn’t a concrete reason. It’s important to remember that stocks trade in a market like any other good: when there are more buyers than sellers, prices move higher; when buyers dry up, this can reverse quickly.
What would be the impact of a Biden Presidential election win, potentially including a Democratic takeover of the Senate? The impact of a potential new President on stock market returns is always a key question in the weeks prior to a general election. It’s important to keep in mind that, despite frequent worries around this time of year, and that financial markets may react in the shorter-term term to poll results and election outcomes (especially surprises), the longer-term effects of any administration’s policies appear to be disconnected from financial market results. Instead, stocks especially tend to follow earnings, which follow economic growth trends.
These days, it’s hard to talk about college without mentioning financial aid. Yet this pairing isn’t a marriage of love, but one of necessity. In many cases, financial aid may be the deciding factor in whether your child attends the college of his or her choice, or even attends college at all.
When it comes to federal income tax, there are few subjects capable of causing as much confusion as the Alternative Minimum Tax. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act substantially increased the Alternative Minimum Tax exemptions and exemption phaseout thresholds for 2018 to 2025. Here’s a quick guide to understanding the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT).
Even in normal times, it can be challenging for families to cover college expenses without borrowing money and/or risking their own retirement security. For the 2019-2020 academic year…
By definition, a crisis is a turning point, a time when you have to make crucial decisions (often suddenly) that will affect your future. Although smart planning is the key to effectively dealing with periods of crisis, you may find yourself suddenly dealing with an unexpected event that you didn’t prepare for, and you wonder what to do next. Whether you’re planning ahead or dealing with a crisis now, take control.
You want to retire comfortably when the time comes. You also want to help your child go to college. So how do you juggle the two? The truth is, saving for your retirement and your child’s education at the same time can be a challenge. But take heart — you may be able to reach both goals if you make some smart choices now.
Employers can offer 401(k) plan participants the opportunity to make Roth 401(k) contributions. If you’re lucky enough to work for an employer who offers this option, Roth contributions could play an important role in maximizing your retirement income.
If you’re a small business owner, you face many challenges in growing your company. One of them is recruiting and retaining the best talent for your needs. When your primary goals are managing costs and increasing revenue, how do you sufficiently entice new recruits and reward current staff members for continually putting their best efforts forward? One way is ensuring that you provide a competitive, cost-effective benefit package comprised of both traditional and not-so-traditional benefits.
Are health insurance premiums taking too big of a bite out of your budget? Do you wish you had better control over how you spend your health-care dollars? If so, you may be interested in an alternative to traditional health insurance called a health savings account (HSA).
Social Security benefits are a major source of retirement income for most people. Your Social Security retirement benefit is based on the number of years you’ve been working and the amount you’ve earned. When you begin taking Social Security benefits also greatly affects the size of your benefit.
Following a sharp 10% rise in the value of the U.S. dollar earlier in the year, most dramatically during the stock market meltdown in Q1, the dollar has sold off by nearly -10% since. This pattern is not abnormal during periods of uncertainty, and reflects dynamics on both sides of the equation (it’s important to remember that currency movements occur in both directions).
If your income hits a certain level, you may face an additional wrinkle in calculating your taxes: the net investment income tax (also referred to as the unearned income Medicare contribution tax). This 3.8% Medicare tax applies to some or all of your net investment income if your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) exceeds certain thresholds. The tax is in addition to any other income tax applicable to such income.
Understandably, many people put off planning for long-term care. But although it’s hard to face the fact that health problems may someday result in a loss of independence, if you begin planning now, you’ll have more options open to you in the future.
Buy-sell agreements are very important planning tools that can accomplish many things for a business with two or more owners. Sometimes referred to as a prenuptial or premarital agreement among business owners, a business continuation agreement, a stock purchase agreement, or a buyout agreement, a buy-sell is a legally binding contract that establishes when, to whom, and at what price an owner, partner, or shareholder can sell his or her interest in a business.
On June 8, 2020, the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), which has official responsibility for determining U.S. business cycles, announced that February 2020 marked the end of an expansion that began in 2009 and the beginning of a recession.1 This was no great surprise considering widespread business closures due to the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting spike in unemployment, but it was an unusually quick official announcement.
More women are working and taking charge of their own retirement planning than ever before. What does retirement mean to you? Do you dream of traveling? Pursuing a hobby? Volunteering your time, or starting a new career or business? Simply enjoying more time with your grandchildren? Whatever your goal, you’ll need a retirement income plan that’s designed to support the retirement lifestyle that you envision, and minimize the risk that you’ll outlive your savings.
On Friday, July 17th, the Oregon Employment Department launched a new online form for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) initial claims and weekly certifications. We wanted to pass along some additional information regarding the new form, per David Gerstenfeld, Acting Director of the Oregon Employment Department.
Are the financial markets (‘Wall Street’) and the real economy (‘Main Street’) disconnected? Although they may appear to be disconnected on the surface, and near-term outcomes are impossible to predict, they’re likely no more disconnected than usual. One of the more important considerations to keep in mind about financial markets is that they’ve always been forward-looking.
Massive computer hacks and data breaches are now common occurrences — an unfortunate consequence of living in a digital world. Once identity thieves have your information, they can use it to gain access to your bank and credit card accounts, make unauthorized transactions in your name, and subsequently ruin your credit. Now more than ever, it’s important to safeguard yourself against identity theft.
Even before your children can count, they already know something about money: it’s what you have to give the ice cream man to get a cone, or put in the slot to ride the rocket ship at the grocery store. So, as soon as your children begin to handle money, start teaching them how to handle it wisely.
Most Americans will eventually receive Social Security and Medicare benefits. Each year, the Trustees of the Social Security and Medicare Trust Funds release lengthy reports to Congress that assess the health of these important programs. The newest reports, released on April 22, 2020, discuss the current financial condition and ongoing financial challenges that both programs face, and project a Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for 2021.
In 2019, the Oregon Legislature passed Senate Bill 1049 (SB1049). The bill makes some changes to the Oregon PERS calculations in their quest to help keep the PERS system funded for current and future beneficiaries. While the bill was passed in 2019, components of the bill take effect at various times throughout 2020. For the most part, it is active PERS members who will be impacted by these changes. It’s important, if you are an active PERS member, to understand how these changes may impact you.
As more and more women earn college degrees, change in the workplace may be inevitable. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, women now earn 57% of bachelor’s degrees, 58% of master’s degrees, and 53% of doctoral degrees. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 71% of women with children under age 18 are in the labor force.
When it comes to your finances, “go with your gut” might not be the wisest adage to follow. In fact, it may work against you, particularly in periods of market turbulence. Before jumping to conclusions about your finances, consider what biases may be at work beneath your conscious radar.
On April 20, 2020, the price of a futures contract for West Texas Intermediate crude — the benchmark for U.S. oil prices — fell below zero for the first time in history, dropping more than 306% in trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange and ending the day at -$37.63 per barrel. Essentially, this meant that investors who would soon be obligated to take possession of a barrel of oil were willing to pay someone else to take it instead.
We all know men and women are different in some fundamental ways. But is this true when it comes to financial planning? Everyone wants financial security. But women often face unique obstacles that can affect their ability to achieve it. Let’s look at some of these potential headwinds.
Most are familiar with the old saying “never mix business with pleasure.” However, for business owners both large and small, keeping in mind the mantra to never mix business finances with personal finances will serve you well.
If you participate in a 401(k), ESOP, or other qualified retirement plan that lets you invest in your employer’s stock, you need to know about net unrealized appreciation — a simple tax deferral opportunity with an unfortunately complicated name.
Over the past two decades significant changes have been made to the taxation of an estate. In this article we take a look at how the federal gift and estate tax, as well as the federal generation-skipping tax have been impacted under the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 (the 2010 Tax Act), the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (the 2012 Tax Act), and the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. A chart at the end of the discussion summarizes the effects of this law.
You’ve worked hard your whole life anticipating the day you could finally retire. Well, that day has arrived! But with it comes the realization that you’ll need to carefully manage your assets to give them lasting potential.
You’ve worked hard over the years to accumulate wealth, and you probably find it comforting to know that after your death the assets you leave behind will continue to be a source of support for your family, friends, and the causes that are important to you. But to ensure that your legacy reaches your heirs as you intend, you must make the proper arrangements now. There are four basic ways of leaving a legacy: (1) by will, (2) by trust, (3) by beneficiary designation, and (4) by joint ownership arrangements.
The Retirement Confidence Survey conducted each year by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) took a slightly different tack in 2020. After completing its initial outreach in January — the 30th in its annual series — EBRI decided to conduct a second survey in late March to gauge how the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic were influencing worker and retiree perceptions, and compared those results with the earlier findings.
Due to the coronavirus tax filing extension, there’s still time to make a regular IRA contribution for 2019. You have until your tax return due date (not including extensions) to contribute up to $6,000 for 2019 ($7,000 if you were age 50 or older on December 31, 2019). For most taxpayers, the contribution deadline for 2019 is July 15, 2020.
Spring 2020 Team Update – With Spring in full effect, we continue to work through understanding our new normal with bated breath. During these unprecedented times, we are grateful for the continued trust and confidence that our clients place in us. As Summer approaches, we all look forward to the days of once again having the ability to sit down with our clients, face to face.
With U.S. short-term interest rates again reaching the zero bound (fed funds rate of 0.00-0.25%), debate has surfaced again about moving the target range further—to below-zero territory. Several developed nations, mostly in Europe, moved down this path years ago, and now remain entrenched in it, with global slowing causing central banks to continue down an easing path. This is despite apparent regrets by some about doing so…
Moments of crisis are times for people to come together and help one another. However, with the rise of record unemployment levels, unemployment fraud has taken hold of vulnerable targets.
Have some financial asset prices bounced back too far and too fast? This is never simple to evaluate, as current prices for rates and risk assets have a behavioral component, and appropriate price levels may only be obvious in hindsight.
Fraudsters and scam artists are always looking for new ways to prey on consumers. Now they are using the same tactics to take advantage of consumers’ heightened financial and health concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.
Market volatility has obviously been ramping up as of late, with one of the catalysts being the announcement of various layers of tariffs by the U.S. administration. This rhetoric has been targeted at China, which has responded with a series of their own retaliatory tariffs.
As we discussed in our special note last week, pullbacks are a normal component in the cycle of any market, with a few steps forward-one-step back pattern being the tendency of stock investments for the past several centuries. Read our take on this matter.
The 1000+ page tax reform plan, the largest in decades, has been passed by both legislative chambers and signed into law. It moved surprisingly quickly, with initial debate about various components turning into a package that looked very much like the original submission.
It’s impossible to speculate on the future prospects of Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies that have been gaining significant ground in recent months. But it’s important to remember the risks.