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As you gear up for tax season, make sure you have your ducks in a row. Here’s a quick checklist that may make your tax prep less painful for you and for your tax preparer this year. Items to gather prior to preparing last year’s tax return1: All income reporting forms which may include: W-2(s), K-1(s), All 1099(s) (from Custodian(s), bank(s), employer(s), etc.) Detailed list (and receipts if needed) for itemized deductions such as: Form 1098 to report mortgage interest Closing statement if you purchased or refinanced your home last year Charitable donation receipts (cash/check or non-cash donations) Investment management fees Unreimbursed employee expenses Medical and dental expenses Other forms/items that may affect you: Form 5498: you may receive this form if you made any IRA, HSA, or other contributions last year Form 1095-A: if you purchased health care through the Health Care Exchange, you should receive this from the Marketplace by early February Tuition statements from your University State income tax refunds Planning items you might want to consider before filing your taxes: There may still be time to Read on! →
The US economy started 2014 slow but accelerated throughout the year. US GDP growth accelerated after a negative 1st Quarter to reach 4.4% and 5% GDP growth respectively, in the 2nd and 3rd quarters. Plunging oil prices, low inflation, low interest rates, growing consumer confidence and a strong US dollar all fueled stronger US growth. US investors continued to climb a wall of worry during the year which included; the early 2014 winter storms, , Russia invading Ukraine, the end of Quantitative Easing (easy monetary policy), mid-term elections, Ebola contagion and the collapse of oil (good for consumers, bad for energy companies). Most experts think the Federal Reserve will start raising rates this year but rate hikes in 2015 will only make the Fed “less loose”, not tight in historical terms. We believe a continued strong dollar and productivity growth, when coupled with a banking system that is maintaining tighter lending standards, signals that inflation should remain subdued. Looking Ahead into 2015 The famous investor Sir John Templeton pontificated once that “bull markets are born in pessimism, grow on skepticism, Read on! →
With tax issues already swirling, don’t lose sight of other planning techniques that may affect you in 2015. As you recap on the prior year and look forward to 2015, consider if you have been, or will be affected by any of the following: In Service Rollover Opportunities If you are at least 59 ½ and still employed, you may be able to complete an in-service rollover of the assets in your 401(k) to an IRA. Many employer plans allow in-service rollovers for their employees. If you are unhappy with the investment choices your 401(k) offers or would just like to have these assets within your direct control, this may be an option within your employer plan. Because you are still employed, your 401(k) plan will remain active following the transfer and will still be able to accept your continuing deferrals and employer matches. It simply allows for a transfer of what is already in the 401(k) (subject to employer restrictions) to transfer to a Rollover IRA that can then be invested as you or your Financial Advisor choose. Inherited Read on! →
As you reflect on the year you’ve had personally, professionally, and financially in 2014, are you any closer to reaching your goals? Whether or not you view 2014 as a success, the year-end presents an opportunity to reflect and start anew with a clean slate for the year ahead. If you’re wondering what steps you can take to get ahead in the New Year, here are 5 simple financial to-dos that won’t leave you feeling like you’ve bitten off more than you can chew. Review your net worth and check in on your goals The number one way to start 2015 off on solid footing is to know where you stand financially. Reflect on the past year and assess your current financial situation compared to where you’d hoped you would be at the end of 2014. And what’s the best way to do that? Create a balance sheet, otherwise known as your net worth statement. This statement is a snapshot in time of all your current assets versus your liabilities/debt. If you have a handle on your finances and know Read on! →
2014 is quickly coming to an end but financial moves you make in the next two weeks could make a difference in the financial aid your child may receive in the 2015/2016 academic year. Because college financial assistance is based primarily on the previous year’s income and assets, be certain of the financial impact before selling an investment, receiving gifts, spending on big ticket items or borrowing to make improvements to your home. Financial Aid Forms The amount of need-based financial aid a student may receive stems from information parents provide The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA and the CSS/Financial Aid Profile. The new FAFSA form will be available beginning January 1 at FAFSA.ed.gov and the CSS form is available now at collegeboard.org. The somewhat less familiar CSS form, typically used to seek financial assistance directly from the school, is often used for private universities to gather more information about your family. It uses much of the same information provided to FAFSA but goes further requesting data such as three years of income history. CSS also allows families Read on! →