Don’t miss the opportunity to save on your taxes
This time of the year, many people start thinking about year end tax planning. An often-integral part of tax planning involves the potential for tax-loss harvesting in your taxable portfolio. What we are going to discuss below can only be done in taxable accounts (i.e. individual, joint, UTMA’s, Trusts) and does not apply to IRA or other tax deferred accounts.
We continue to see back and forth trade posturing between the United States and foreign trading partners and expect this to continue throughout the remainder of 2018. With that being said, the U.S. and Canada reached a deal after a lengthy negotiation. The new “United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement” (USMCA) is a reworking of NAFTA and hopes to bring more jobs into the U.S. Despite this trade uncertainty in quarter 3, the American economy advanced. In the 3rd quarter of 2018, U.S. stocks once again performed well seeing momentum from U.S. growth and strong earnings reports. The trade concerns and other political uncertainty has continued to put pressure on international markets. Emerging market stocks slid slightly while Europe continues to struggle as the United Kingdom’s negotiations to “Brexit” from the European Union leads to continued uncertainty for the region. Fixed income markets remain a challenging place to invest as interest rates continue to rise.
Expertly Riding the Waves of Volatility
We have prepared this piece to reiterate what we should all know, understand, and believe if we are going to own stocks in our portfolios. We look forward to continuing to educate you to help you stay well-informed and continue to watch our financial markets closely.
Why do we invest in stocks?
Quite simply, the reason we invest in stocks is because over the last 100 years they have illustrated again and again that if you invest for the long-term that you will, on average, receive about a 10% annual average return. This 10% return is about 40-50% higher than the return from bonds and about 50-60% higher than the returns from cash over that same 100 year period. Arguably, the excess returns over bonds and cash will be higher in the low interest rate environment we have become accustomed to for some time now.
Easing the burden of paying for education
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 will expand the use of 529 Plans to allow savers to accumulate money and pay for education on a tax-free basis. Before we discuss the changes let’s review the basics. A 529 Savings Plan is an education savings plan operated by a state or educational institution designed to help families set aside funds for future college costs. You are not required to use the 529 in your domicile state and your plan, regardless of which state is the sponsor, can be used for any college in any state. Contributions to a 529 Plan are invested and grow tax deferred. If the funds are ultimately used for education, distributions come out federally tax-free. Contributions to the plan qualify for the $15,000 annual gift tax exclusion. The Plan has to have a named donor and a designated beneficiary. The donor of a Plan retains control indefinitely and only the donor can request withdrawals and can close the account at any time. However, if the funds are used for anything other than education, the earnings portion of the account is subject to income tax plus a 10% penalty. Most plans allow for lifetime contributions of $300,000 or more.