PUT MORE IN YOUR POCKET WITH A LITTLE PLANNING
With the end of the year approaching, now is a good time to start your tax planning to help you maximize benefits and minimize taxes. Here are some tips you can use to save money when tax time rolls around next year.
1 | Donate to a good cause
Donating cash, property, clothing, household items or other goods is one way to trim your next tax bill. If you donate this year, you can deduct the amount when you pay your taxes in April 2016. Be sure to get your check in the mail or put the gift on a credit card before the end of the year to ensure you can write it off. Save your receipt, cancelled check or credit card statement so you can take full advantage of your charitable giving and get a written record from the charity if your donation is more than $250. An organization must be a qualified, so check the status of your charity of choice on IRS.gov.
2 | Spread the wealth
The gift of giving doesn't have to stop at contributing to organizations. Take advantage of eligible gifts such as making a gift for someone's education, funding medical bills for others, or gifting appreciated stocks and/or securities. You can give up to $14,000 per individual to as many people as you'd like and pay no gift tax. This amount doubles to $28,000 if you give a gift with your spouse. If you are funding a 529 plan, you can frontload five years worth and put $70,000 into a child’s account now. Just be sure that if you make a gift by check that the check clears by December 31, as the gift is considered "given" the year the check is cashed. This strategy does not provide a tax deduction on your tax return but will reduce your taxable estate, if any. If you make a gift to any one individual exceeding the $14,000 exempted amount, you must file Form 709 Gift Tax Return by April 15th.
3 | Speed up deductions
Making an extra mortgage payment or paying off outstanding medical bills is a great way to offset your tax bill before the year ends. Even if they aren't due until next year, any payments you make before December 31 are deductible on this year's tax return. This is especially smart if your income will be high this year. Just make sure you aren't subject to the Alternative Minimum Tax (which generally applies to high-income or upper-middle income households) and that you plan to itemize your deductions.
4 | Defer income
Deferring payments and income until next year is an option if you are close to a lower tax bracket. That will lower this year's taxable income. You could also take advantage of this potential tax break by requesting to receive your year-end bonus check after the new year or waiting to cash in mature savings bonds. If you are self-employed, defer payments by delaying billings until close to the end of the year. You won't be taxed this year on what you receive after January 1.
5 | Top off retirement accounts
Consider raising your 401(k) contributions to the maximum amount allowed to help reduce your tax liability. You can make contributions for this year through April 15 for both traditional and Roth IRAs. Check with your Legend Financial Professional for the traditional IRA deductibility and Roth IRA eligibility. For 2015 taxes, you can save $18,000 in a 401(k) plan, or $24,000 if you’re 50 or older. You can contribute $5,500 dollars to an IRA or $6,500 if you’re 50 or older. If you can’t swing it this year, think about raising your contribution rate now to make sure you hit the max next year. If you run your own business and want to save in a solo 401(k), you must adopt that plan by Dec. 31, though you can still fund it through your tax filing deadline, including extensions.
The bottom line on tax savings
Preparation is the key to having a tax season that is free of frustration and mistakes. It also helps to make sure that you receive all of the tax benefits for which you are eligible. Everyone's financial circumstances and needs are unique, so it's a good idea to carefully consider your choices and consult an experienced tax professional. But remember, if you want to keep more of your money next year, now is the time to think about ways you can reduce Uncle Sam's share of your income.
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Legend Equities Corporation does not provide tax, legal or estate planning advice.
Are you on track?
Contact your Financial Professional to review your plan and make sure you are on the right path to reach your retirement goals.
MARKET NEWS - September 2015
SHASHI MEHROTRA, CFA, President and Chief Investment Officer of Legend Advisory
ASK SHASHI | If you have any questions or concerns you would like Shashi to address, feel free to email them to your Legend Group Financial Professional.
Q: Is this recent market volatility normal and how could this fluctuation in the markets impact my investments?
A: I don’t think these market fluctuations are critical. Market volatility should never be a reason for an investor to change their portfolio because it is a short-term phenomenon. A portfolio allocation should be part of a longer-term investment strategy crafted with an investment professional. I don’t think a long-term strategy should be altered because of a short-term phenomenon.
Individual investors can, and should, ignore market volatility. As investment professionals managing portfolios, we don’t have the luxury to ignore those fluctuations. We regularly monitor the portfolios and allocate them to position our clients to take advantage of market opportunities.
My target for the S&P 500 continues to be positive for this year. We anticipate September and October to be volatile months and the news is portraying some potential landmines, namely the economic growth in China. I do expect the Federal Reserve (Fed) to raise interest rates at the end of the year. However, I think the Fed’s just going to do that to show that they want to raise rates but it may not have a huge impact. Raising interest rates from 0% to .25% or to .50% should not really matter. Those are still very, very low interest rates. It becomes a concern when long-term rates go beyond 4.5-5%. We’re a long way off from that. We are also in the third year of the election cycle, which is typically a very bullish year for the markets. That’s why I’m still anticipating the markets to continue to grow this year. That being said, it is entirely possible for the equity markets to continue their volatile spiral and see another 7-10% decline from current levels (S&P 500 at 1990, at the time of this writing) and then resume their uptrend.
We believe that for investors with the fortitude to look past the short-term uncertainty and focus on their long-term investment strategy, the current market environment may offer plenty of opportunities. With the disciplined and dynamic nature of our asset allocation programs, we believe investors will be well-positioned to overcome emotion and ride out the inevitable market gyrations.
Current market data is as of September 17, 2015. Information contained herein has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but is not guaranteed.
Shashi Mehrotra, Chartered Financial Analyst, is the President and Chief Investment Officer of Legend Advisory. The opinions and predictions expressed herein are those of Shashi Mehrotra solely and not necessarily the opinions or expectations of Legend Advisory or any of its affiliates. Such opinions and predictions are as of September 17, 2015 and are subject to change at any time based on market and other conditions. No predictions or forecasts can be guaranteed.
This material does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any specific security. Past performance is not indicative of future results. Investing involves risk, including the possible loss of a principal investment.
Investment in equities involves more risk than other securities and may have the potential for higher returns and greater losses. International investing involves risks not associated with U.S. investments. International investing involves additional risks, including the potential for limited liquidity, less government regulation and the possibility of substantial volatility due to adverse political, economic or other developments. These risks may be magnified in emerging markets. Bonds have interest rate risk and credit risk. As interest rates rise, existing bond prices fall and can cause the value of an investment to decline. Changes in interest rates generally have a greater effect on bonds with longer maturities than on those with shorter maturities. Credit risk refers to the possibility that the issuer of the bond will not be able to make principal and/or interest payments.
The S&P 500 Index is a market value weighted index of 500 leading companies in leading industries in the U.S. economy. You cannot invest directly in an index.
Advisory services offered through Legend Advisory, a registered investment adviser.
for parents of college students
Whether you have children who have just entered college for the first time or have been down this path before, helping young adult children manage the financial responsibilities that come with independence can be a challenge—especially when it comes to monthly cash flow. The following tips can assist students, as well as parents who are helping to foot the bill, keep a cap on spending.
Create a Budget. Work with your child to develop a realistic budget, taking costs such as text books, school supplies, clothing, food outside of a pre-paid meal plan, entertainment, personal care items, and laundry into account. Separate “wants” from “necessities” in prioritizing monthly spending. Determine how much your child will be responsible for contributing each month from prior savings or part-time work, and how much you will contribute.
Consider Incentives. Offering a small incentive when your child stays within the budget you had agreed on in a given month—a few extra bucks for pizza or a movie is enough to do the trick and will set you back far less than a single overdraft fee.
Consider Pre-Paid Credit or Debit Cards. Pre-paid cards enable you or your student to add money to the card at any time, while helping to prevent unbudgeted expenses or unauthorized spending sprees.
Weathering the storm of fluctuating markets
As we continue to weather fluctuations in the market, many are concerned with taking the appropriate measures to protect their investments. Keep in mind investing is a long-term process that has historically paid the greatest rewards to those adhering to a consistent and disciplined approach.
In fact, according to a recent report on investor behavior by a leading financial services market research firm, the largest investor losses occur after a market decline. Investors tend to sell after experiencing a paper loss and don’t begin investing again until after the markets have recovered their value. The result of this behavior is that investors participate in the downside of the market and are out of the market during its subsequent rise.
Remain focused on core investment disciplines and a long-term perspective. In particular, proper asset allocation and prudent securities selection based on a process, not headline news, can be essential to a comprehensive plan.
For investors pursuing long-term goals, a well-diversified portfolio with investments allocated across different asset classes can help reduce the risk of a downturn in any one investment or asset class. That can potentially help you stay on track toward your goals while continuing to benefit from the power of compounded earnings over time as you remain invested through different market cycles.
Reach out to your Financial Professional for a comprehensive investment analysis that examines all of your holdings to help strike a comfortable balance between risk and return and guide you in staying the course to achieve your goals.
 DALBAR 20th Annual Quantitative Analysis of Investor Behavior (QAIB) 2014
While diversification may help reduce volatility and risk, it does not guarantee future performance.