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12 Days of Tax Tips

By David Frederick, J.D., LL.M., SVP/Director of Wealth Planning, First Bank Wealth Management The end of the year is a time for holidays, celebrations, family gatherings, and New Year’s resolutions. It is also the last opportunity to save on yearly taxes. There are a number of year-end tax strategies and maneuvers that taxpayers can use to potentially save themselves substantial tax, lower their tax bill, or raise their refund next spring. The following are a dozen tips that can help individual taxpayers save on taxes before the year ends. Maximize Retirement Savings Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) and Qualified Retirement Plans, like the 401(k), offer substantial present tax savings. A taxpayer may deduct current contributions to these savings plans and benefit from their investments growing tax-deferred, paying tax only when the plans distribute income in retirement. For 2018, an individual may deduct up to $18,500 in contributions to a Qualified Retirement Plan with an add ...

Market Month: November 2018

The Markets (as of market close November 30, 2018) November proved to be a very volatile month for stocks. By the third week of the month, the benchmark indexes listed here had given back just about all of the gains accumulated during the year. However, a spurt during the last week of November helped push stocks higher by the end of the month. Each of the indexes listed here outperformed their October end-of-the-month closing values, led by the large caps of the S&P 500 and the Dow, followed by the Global Dow and the small caps of the Russell 2000. The technology stocks of the Nasdaq edged higher by the close of November, and that index still maintains a sizeable lead year-to-date among the indexes listed here. Nevertheless, investors head into the last month of the year anxiously, as fears of a slowing economy and growing international trade tensions will likely temper expectations for steady stock gains moving forward. Energy stocks have been hit by falling oil prices, and the yield on 10-year Tre ...

2018 Year-End Tax Planning Basics

The window of opportunity for many tax-saving moves closes on December 31, so it's important to evaluate your tax situation now, while there's still time to affect your bottom line for the 2018 tax year. Timing is Everything Consider any opportunities you have to defer income to 2019. For example, you may be able to defer a year-end bonus, or delay the collection of business debts, rents, and payments for services. Doing so may allow you to postpone paying tax on the income until next year. If there's a chance that you'll be in a lower income tax bracket next year, deferring income could mean paying less tax on the income as well. Similarly, consider ways to accelerate deductions into 2018. If you itemize deductions, you might accelerate some deductible expenses like medical expenses, qualifying interest, or state and local taxes by making payments before year-end. Or you might consider making next year's charitable contribution this year instead. Sometimes, however, it may ...

Five Questions About Long-Term Care

  1. What is long-term care? Long-term care refers to the ongoing services and support needed by people who have chronic health conditions or disabilities. There are three levels of long-term care: Skilled care: Generally round-the-clock care that's given by professional health care providers such as nurses, therapists, or aides under a doctor's supervision. Intermediate care: Also provided by professional health care providers but on a less frequent basis than skilled care. Custodial care: Personal care that's often given by family caregivers, nurses' aides, or home health workers who provide assistance with what are called "activities of daily living" such as bathing, eating, and dressing. Long-term care is not just provided in nursing homes--in fact, the most common type of long-term care is home-based care. Long-term care services may also be provided in a variety of other settings, such as assisted living facilities and adult day care centers. 2. ...

November is National Family Caregivers Month

By presidential proclamation, November is National Family Caregivers Month. Each day, parents, children, siblings, and spouses selflessly sacrifice their time and energy to care for family members affected by illness, injury, or disability. Caregiving can exact an emotional, physical, and financial toll. It is important for caregivers to know that their labors of love are appreciated, and to recognize that they need care and support as well. Caregiving often involves providing for the needs of our older population. As the number of older Americans rises, so will the number of caregivers. While we take this time to recognize our caregivers, it's also a good time to consider planning for potential long-term care. According to recent U.S. Department of Health & Human Services information (www.longtermcare.gov), almost 52% of people over age 65 will need some type of long-term care during their lifetimes. Between the ages of 40 and 50, on average, 8% of people have a disability that could requir ...

Market Month: October 2018

The Markets (as of market close October 31, 2018) October truly was a scary month as stocks closed the month well below their end-of-September values. The tech-heavy Nasdaq lost over 9.0% by the end of October, while the small caps of the Russell 2000 fared even worse, losing almost 11.0%. The S&P 500 fell close to 7.0% — its largest monthly decline in over seven years. The Dow dropped 5.0%, and the Global Dow sank over 7.0%. A slide in internet stocks, coupled with investor concerns that global economic growth is slowing, helped amp up volatility during October. Yields on long-term bonds rose as prices fell, with the yield on 10-year Treasuries climbing about 8 basis points on the last day of the month. By the close of trading on October 31, the price of crude oil (WTI) was $64.95 per barrel, down from the September 28 price of $73.53 per barrel. The national average retail regular gasoline price was $2.811 per gallon on October 29, down from the September 24 selling price of $2.844 but $0.35 ...

What is a mutual fund?

What is a mutual fund? A mutual fund is an investment company that pools money from many people and invests it in stocks, bonds, or other securities. Each investor owns shares; each share represents a tiny portion of each individual security held by the fund. An investment professional handles the purchase and sale of individual securities in the fund, based either on an index or on his or her professional expertise. Investors may buy shares (or portions) directly from the fund or through brokers, banks, or financial planning or insurance professionals. With the majority of mutual funds, when you buy shares, you pay the current net asset value (NAV) (the value of one share in a fund), plus any sales charge (known as a sales load). As with individual stocks, the share price of mutual funds fluctuates and the value of an investment may be more or less than its original cost. Caution: Mutual funds are not guaranteed or insured by any bank or government agency--even mutual funds sold by banks. Before in ...

Third Quarter Market Overview

Market Summary Index Returns Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Indices are not available for direct investment. Index performance does not reflect the expenses associated with the management of an actual portfolio. Market segment (index representation) as follows: US Stock Market (Russell 3000 Index), International Developed Stocks (MSCI World ex USA Index [net div.]), Emerging Markets (MSCI Emerging Markets Index [net div.]), Global Real Estate (S&P Global REIT Index [net div.]), US Bond Market (Bloomberg Barclays US Aggregate Bond Index), and Global Bond Market ex US (Bloomberg Barclays Global Aggregate ex-USD Bond Index [hedged to USD]). S&P data © 2018 S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC, a division of S&P Global. All rights reserved. Frank Russell Company is the source and owner of the trademarks, service marks, and copyrights related to the Russell Indexes. MSCI data © MSCI 2018, all rights reserved. Bloomberg Barclays data provided by Bloomberg. FTSE fixed ...

Market Month: August 2018

The Markets (as of market close August 31, 2018)Stocks enjoyed a record-setting month in August as several of the benchmark indexes reached new all-time highs during the month. Of the benchmark indexes listed here, only the Global Dow lost value. Otherwise, indexes representing large caps, small caps, and tech stocks all posted noteworthy monthly gains. A strong employment situation, positive economic growth, and relatively stagnant inflation have contributed to investor confidence, despite ongoing global trade wars. Tech stocks soared in August, as the Nasdaq jumped almost 6.0% — its strongest August showing in 18 years. Following the Nasdaq was the Russell 2000, which gained over 4.0%. The large caps of both the Dow and S&P 500 also posted notable gains.By the close of trading on August 31, the price of crude oil (WTI) was $69.90 per barrel, up from the July 31 price of $68.43 per barrel. The national average retail regular gasoline price was $2.827 per gallon on August 27, down from the July 30 selling pri ...

Protecting Your Loved Ones with Life Insurance

How much life insurance do you need?Your life insurance needs will depend on a number of factors, including the size of your family, the nature of your financial obligations, your career stage, and your goals. For example, when you're young, you may not have a great need for life insurance. However, as you take on more responsibilities and your family grows, your need for life insurance increases.Here are some questions that can help you start thinking about the amount of life insurance you need:What immediate financial expenses (e.g., debt repayment, funeral expenses) would your family face upon your death?How much of your salary is devoted to current expenses and future needs?How long would your dependents need support if you were to die tomorrow?How much money would you want to leave for special situations upon your death, such as funding your children's education, gifts to charities, or an inheritance for your children? What other assets or insurance policies do you have? Types of life insurance policie ...

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Disclosure

All First Bank blog information and content is strictly informational. It is not intended to be specific investment, tax, or legal advice. If you need detailed financial, investment, or tax advice, please contact a First Bank qualified professional. Please note, First Bank occasionally shares third-party content we find to be relevant and helpful to our audiences.