November 29, 2016

Deducting Medical and Dental Expenses

If you’re planning on deducting health care expenses on your federal taxes, you should know about the following rules: The amount of allowable medical expenses you must exceed before you can claim a deduction is 10% of your adjusted gross income (AGI), unless you or your spouse are age 65 or older. In this case, the AGI threshold is 7.5%. This exception will be valid through December 31, 2016. Beginning January 1, 2017, the threshold will be 10% for all taxpayers. You should also keep in mind that only expenses paid in 2016 are eligible for deductions on 2016 taxes. If you paid by check, you can consider the day you mailed or delivered the check to be the date of payment. You can only claim medical or dental expenses if you itemize deductions on your federal tax return. Tip courtesy of Mike Patton | Forbes.com
November 29, 2016

Many Reasons to Give Thanks

During a week while many were thankful, the markets gave us much to be thankful for. Through the four-day trading week, the S&P 500 was up 1.44%, the Dow gained 1.51%, the NASDAQ added 1.45%, and the MSCI EAFE increased 1.26%. What Happened This Week? The S&P 500, Dow, and NASDAQ hit all-time highs: For the third straight week, the three major domestic indexes increased – and they all reached record highs. By market close on Friday, November 25, the S&P 500 was at 2,213.33, the Dow reached 19,152.14, and the NASDAQ was up to 5,398.92. Each of the indexes is now up over 7% for the year. U.S. Dollar/Euro move closer together: A combination of positive news in the United States and ongoing economic challenges in Europe have moved the dollar and euro increasingly closer together for the past three weeks. In fact, Deutsche Bank now predicts parity between the two currencies by the second quarter of 2017- and the dollar to be worth more than the euro by the third quarter. The two currencies have not had equal value since November 2002. At the euro’s highest in July 2008, it was worth more than 1.6 times as much as […]
November 22, 2016

Taxable Rental Income

If you have a rental property or rent rooms in your residence, there are a few things you should know. Here’s how to navigate taxable rental income: Rental property income includes all advance and current rental payments, as well as penalty fees, e.g., fees charged for late payments. Should a tenant cancel their lease, the money forfeited from security deposits is still rental income. You should also report any property or services you receive in lieu of rent at their fair market value. For more information about rental income, speak to a tax professional or read IRS Topic 414 – Rental Income and Expenses. Tip courtesy of IRS.gov
November 22, 2016

Stocks Up, Fed Increase Likely

For the second straight week, the major domestic indexes all ended in positive territory: The S&P 500 was up 0.81%, the Dow increased 0.11%, and the NASDAQ added 1.61%. While American indexes performed well, MSCI EAFE’s international equities declined 1.58%. Stocks are up, fed increase likely. With the long, drawn-out presidential election behind us, investors are beginning to look past politics and pay closer attention to the economic fundamentals. As we’ve shared in recent market updates, the economy shows many signs of strength and growth. In the past few weeks alone: GDP beat expectations. Hourly earnings increased. The Dow reached an all-time high. New unemployment claims hit a 43-year low. Housing starts increased 25.5%. Of course, the economy is far from perfect – and growth is still slower than we’d like – but the overarching message is that the economy is doing well. Thus, we were not surprised this week when Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said an interest rate hike “could well become appropriate relatively soon.” Despite what talking heads might warn on television, you should not be afraid of increasing interest rates. The last increase, which took place in December 2015, may have contributed to the volatility we experienced […]