Author: 16783607

Your Plans This Summer May be Eligible for Itemized Deductions

These activities can be itemized as deductions if you have plans to sell or buy a home this summer or to donate some old items. Here are some examples:

If you are refinancing your home this summer, you can deduct some of your mortgage interest. However, there are some limits to these deductions. According to the IRS, the deduction is limited to interest paid on a loan secured by the taxpayer’s main or second home. When refinancing, you must use the loan to buy, build, or substantially improve your main or second home.

If you buy a new home this summer, you can deduct mortgage interest if you pay $750,000 in qualifying debt for a first and second home or $375,000 when married and filing separately.

Summer is a great time to sift through your things and donate old clothes, furniture, or home goods you no longer need. If you itemize the deductions and provide proof of the donations, these donations may qualify for a tax deduction.

In addition to donating items, you can deduct mileage on your vehicle for services performed for a qualifying charity.

*This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific, individualized tax advice. We suggest that you discuss your specific tax issues with a qualified tax professional.

Tip adapted from IRS.gov9

Footnotes and Sources

  1. IRS.gov, April 5, 2023

Weekly Market Insights: Market Enjoys Gains, Reacting to Major Reports

Stocks notched a solid gain last week, driven by the Fed’s decision, May’s inflation report, and Apple’s AI-related news.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose 1.58 percent, while the Nasdaq Composite picked up 3.24 percent. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, which has lagged most of the year, slid 0.54 percent. The MSCI EAFE Index, which tracks developed overseas stock markets, fell 1.44 percent for the week through Thursday’s close.1

S&P 500, Nasdaq Lead; Dow Lags

Market leadership took a familiar form. The tech-heavy Nasdaq led while the Dow trailed for the second week (and four out of the past six weeks).2

Stocks trended higher at the start of the week as investors cheered an artificial intelligence update from Apple.3,4

By midweek, the market had split, with the Nasdaq and S&P 500 moving higher while the Dow lagged. Investors were upbeat after learning that consumer prices rose less than expected in May and that the Fed decided to keep rates steady. However, some investors were unsettled after learning Fed officials had shifted their outlook and now only penciled in a single rate cut between now and year-end. A few months ago, the Fed had indicated as many as three cuts were possible.5

Busy Week for News

Last week was chock full of market-moving events. Between Apple’s AI update, inflation, and the Fed, it was a toss-up which one influenced sentiment the most.

AI’s outsized role in driving market momentum continued last week. OpenAI’s deal with Apple arrived at the start of last week, and the news followed OpenAI’s deal earlier this year with Microsoft. (These companies are mentioned for illustrative purposes only; it is not a recommendation to buy, sell, or hold this or any security.)6

Wednesday morning, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) was announced. A few hours later, the Federal Open Market Committee updated its monetary policy. Those pieces of news have only arrived together 13 times since 2008.

The FOMC kept rates steady at the current 5.25-5.50 percent target range, a widely expected decision. However, the tame CPI report caused some volatility as investors grappled with how the report may influence Fed policy.7,8

Footnotes and Sources

  1. The Wall Street Journal, June 14, 2024
  2. The Wall Street Journal, June 14, 2024
  3. The Wall Street Journal, June 10, 2024
  4. CNBC.com, June 12, 2024
  5. The Wall Street Journal, June 10, 2024
  6. The Wall Street Journal, June 10, 2024
  7. The Wall Street Journal, June 10, 2024
  8. MarketWatch.com, June 10, 2024

When Was the Last Time You Checked Your Withholding Status?

Most people check their withholding status at the end of the year or as filing season arrives, but the middle of the year may be as good of a time as any to double-check your withholding status and confirm its accuracy. The IRS has a handy tool called the Tax Withholding Estimator, which can help you assess the tax withheld from your wages.

The tool can also help you determine if you must complete a new W-4 to submit to your employer, complete a new W-4P, or make additional payments to the IRS. It does this by estimating your annual income, factoring in any children you may have and earned income tax credit, and accounting for other items that may affect your yearly taxes.

Before using the Tax Withholding Estimator, gather all necessary documents; this includes your W-2 from your employer, any 1099 forms you have from banks and other payers, and any other forms you need. Gathering as much information as possible will be helpful because the estimator will only be as accurate as the information you enter.

*This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific, individualized tax advice. We suggest that you discuss your specific tax issues with a qualified tax professional.

Tip adapted from IRS.gov5

Footnotes and Sources

  1. IRS.gov, January 10, 2024 

Weekly Market Insights: Solid Week Despite Mixed Reports

Stocks rose last week despite conflicting stories from economic reports.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average inched up 0.29 percent while the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index powered ahead 1.31 percent. The Nasdaq Composite led, picking up 2.38 percent. The MSCI EAFE Index tracks developed overseas stock markets and rose 1.29 percent for the week through Thursday’s close.1

All Eyes on the Jobs Report

Weak manufacturing data prompted declines early in the week, reflecting investor concerns over the economy’s strength. But stocks rallied in anticipation of the jobs report on Friday.

However, the market reaction was mixed when the stronger-than-expected jobs report finally came. The S&P 500 touched a record high intraday before profit-taking late in the session.2,3

The Catalyst That Wasn’t

The week closed with a jobs report that underscored the economy’s resilience while highlighting the data’s mixed nature.

The 272,000 jobs added in May were higher than the 190,000 economists expected. At the same time, wages rose 4.1 percent from a year ago. The strong jobs report and surprise wage increase supported the narrative that the Fed may now wait longer before considering a move on interest rates.4

Although inflation now exceeds the central bank’s 2 percent target, the jobs report suggests that economic growth remains powerful despite higher short-term rates.4

Footnotes and Sources

  1. The Wall Street Journal, June 7, 2024
  2. CNBC.com, June 6, 2024
  3. The Wall Street Journal, June 7, 2024
  4. The Wall Street Journal, June 7, 2024

Tax Season May be Over, but the Taxpayer Bill of Rights Applies Year-Round

Although filing season might be over for most taxpayers, the IRS is available year-round for any questions. They also have a Taxpayer Bill of Rights, which promises the level of service and information you will receive when working with the IRS.

Here are the ten fundamental rights you have as a taxpayer when interacting with the IRS:

  • The right to be informed: As a taxpayer, you must know what is required to comply with tax laws.
  • The right to quality service: You will receive prompt, courteous, professional assistance.
  • The right to pay no more than the correct amount of tax: You only pay what is legally due, including interest and penalties.
  • The right to challenge the IRS’ position and be heard: You can object to IRS actions and provide further justification with documentation.
  • The right to appeal an IRS decision in an independent forum: Taxpayers are entitled to a fair and impartial administrative appeal of most IRS decisions, including certain penalties.
  • The right to finality: You have the right to know how much time you have to challenge an IRS position and how soon the IRS must audit your taxes.
  • The right to privacy: All IRS inquiries, examinations, and enforcement will not be more intrusive than necessary.
  • The right to confidentiality: Taxpayers have the right to expect that their tax information will remain confidential.
  • The right to retain representation: Taxpayers have the right to retain an authorized representative of their choice to represent them in their interactions with the IRS.
  • The right to a fair and just tax system: Taxpayers have the right to expect fairness from the tax system; this includes considering all facts and circumstances that might affect their liabilities and their ability to pay or provide information in a timely fashion.

*This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific, individualized tax advice. We suggest that you discuss your specific tax issues with a qualified tax professional.

Tip adapted from IRS.gov4

Footnotes and Sources

  1. IRS.gov, May 1, 2023

Weekly Market Insights: Stocks Sag on Downbeat Economic Indicators

Stocks edged lower in the final week of May as fresh news on economic growth and inflation failed to inspire investors.

Stocks Slide

Markets shrugged off news that the Q1 Gross Domestic Product was revised lower to 1.3 percent from the initial estimated 1.6 percent. Despite concerns that the economy was cooling faster than expected, investors didn’t believe the update was enough to influence the Fed’s decision about adjusting short-term rates.1

On Friday, investors were on edge waiting for the update on inflation. The Fed’s preferred inflation indicator, called the personal consumption and expenditures (PCE), rose 0.2 percent in April, which was in line with forecasts.2

Stocks rose slightly in pre-market trading on the news but were under pressure throughout the day as investors digested the inflation update. But in the last hour of trading, stock staged a powerful rally led by the Dow, which had its best day of the year.

Is Bad News Good News?

On the economic front, last week’s news was generally disappointing. The update on Q1 GDP was a bit discouraging, and several Fed officials gave seemingly more hawkish updates. Also, the Fed’s “Beige Book” revealed modest economic growth nationwide.

Yet despite the drumbeat of bad news, stocks were resilient and closed only slightly lower for the holiday-shortened week.3

Footnotes and Sources

  1. CNBC.com, May 30, 2024
  2. CNBC.com, May 31, 2024
  3. Investors Business Daily, May 30, 2024

Employee vs Independent Contractor: Classifying Those Who Work for You Appropriately

Classifying workers as independent contractors or employees is essential for several tax reasons. The basis for this classification has two primary considerations: control and relationship.

Control refers to how much of the person’s work you control; this encompasses the completed work, its execution, and whether you control the financial aspects of the person’s job. In this manner, “control” means both behavioral and financial control.

Another critical factor is the relationship between the employer and the worker. How both parties perceive this relationship can guide you in determining the worker’s status. Some factors that influence relationships include the following.

  • Written contracts that describe the relationship the parties intended to create.
  • Whether the business provides the worker with employee-type benefits, such as insurance, a pension plan, vacation, or sick pay.
  • The permanency of the relationship.
  • The extent to which services performed by the worker are a pivotal aspect of the company’s regular business.
  • The extent to which the worker has unreimbursed business expenses.

Classifying your workers is essential because independent contractors and employees face different tax needs and implications.

*This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific, individualized tax advice. We suggest that you discuss your specific tax issues with a qualified tax professional.

Tip adapted from IRS.gov5

Footnotes and Sources

  1. IRS.gov, January 24, 2023

Weekly Market Insights: AI Rules Big Week for Tech Stocks

Last week’s stock performance was mixed, following investors’ reaction to the Fed’s May meeting minutes, while a handful of mega-cap tech companies created a buzz with their news.

Market Splits

Stocks began trading in a narrow band last week. Still, mega-cap tech names rallied in anticipation of the Q1 corporate report from a key company that makes semiconductors for artificial intelligence (AI). The enthusiasm lifted the Nasdaq to fresh records.

Federal Reserve news mid-week unsettled investors, who reacted to Federal Open Market Committee meeting notes that stated some Fed officials worried over the lack of progress on inflation.1

Technology was the sole winning group for the whole week, with all other Standard & Poor’s 500 industry sectors ending in the red.2

Bucking the Trend?

One of the handful of companies bucking the trend last week was Nvidia.

The semiconductor maker – the fifth largest company in the S&P 500 by market capitalization, thanks to their prominent role in AI – reported that its Q1 sales tripled from a year ago. The company also announced a 10-to-1 stock split. The news pushed its market cap to over $2 trillion.3

The companies mentioned are for informational purposes only. It should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of the securities.

To some on Wall Street, Nvidia is the bellwether for the AI industry. By one estimate, the entire AI market is nearly $300 billion for this year – more than 3X the market’s size of $95 billion just three years ago. By 2030, that estimate may reach $1.8 trillion.4

Remember that forecasts rely on assumptions and may undergo revisions over time. Financial, economic, political, and regulatory issues may cause the actual results to differ from the expectations expressed in the forecast.

 

Footnotes and Sources

  1. The Wall Street Journal, May 22, 2024
  2. Sectorspdrs.com, May 24, 2024
  3. The Wall Street Journal, May 22, 2024
  4. Statista.com, May 24, 2024

Starting a New Hobby? These Tips Can Help You Understand the Tax Situation

Whether you pick up painting or cook new concoctions in your kitchen, starting a new hobby is always fun and a great avenue to learn something new. However, there are some important tax considerations when starting a new hobby, especially if you are considering turning your newfound passion into a business.

Taxpayers must report any income earned from hobbies, even if it does not involve a licensed business. While businesses should make a profit, hobbies are primarily recreation. The following nine factors can guide you in determining whether a hobby could also be considered a business, according to the IRS:

  • Whether you execute the activity in a businesslike manner and maintain complete and accurate books and records.
  • Whether you have personal motives in performing the activity.
  • Whether the time and effort you expend in the activity indicate that you intend to make it profitable.
  • Whether you depend on income from the activity for your livelihood.
  • Whether your losses are due to circumstances beyond your control (or are normal in the startup phase of your type of business).
  • Whether you or your financial professional understand how to parlay the activity into a successful business.
  • Whether you successfully made a profit through similar activities in the past.
  • Whether the activity will make a profit in some years and how much profit it will make.
  • Whether you can profit from appreciating the assets used in the activity.

You can also deduct some of the expenses associated with your hobby. Within certain limits, taxpayers can typically deduct ordinary and necessary hobby expenses. An ordinary expense is common and accepted for the activity, while a necessary expense is appropriate.

*This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific, individualized tax advice. We suggest that you discuss your specific tax issues with a qualified tax professional.

Tip adapted from IRS.gov6

Footnotes and Sources

  1. IRS.gov, November 15, 2023

Weekly Market Insights: Investors Anticipate Fed Rate Change

Stocks notched a solid gain last week in a mega-cap, tech-led rally bolstered by positive inflation news.

Dow 40,000

The week began quietly as market averages traded in a tight range, awaiting fresh inflation news.

On Tuesday, markets rose steadily throughout the day after digesting a mixed wholesale inflation report.1

The next day, a cooler-than-expected Consumer Price Index (CPI) report sparked a broad-based rally as the upbeat news raised investors’ hopes for a rate cut. The Nasdaq Composite and Standard & Poor’s 500 (which ended above 5300 for the first time) closed the day up 1.4 percent and 1.2 percent, respectively. Meanwhile, the bellwether 10-year Treasury yield fell to 4.35 percent.2,3

Investors took a break as the week ended, mostly yawning at mixed economic data. Notably, the Dow closed just above 40,000 on Friday.

Footnotes and Sources

  1. CNBC.com, May 14, 2024
  2. The Wall Street Journal, May 15, 2024
  3. CNBC.com, May 17, 2024