The COVID19 outbreak has torn throughout the globe and impacted nearly every area of life. This amount of change and uncertainty can be very unsettling and we remain steadfast in our commitment to help our clients through this period. Many clients have asked if we are still taking new clients right now. The answer is an emphatic yes and we have been hard at work helping many new people as well. Please do introduce us to anyone you know who is seeking guidance at this time.
To all those suffering health or economic hardship right now, we extend our thoughts and prayers. To all those doing their part, be it big or small, to help fight this virus we give our thanks.
After dropping to recent lows in record time, the market has rallied strongly in recent weeks. Many are wondering if the current market levels will hold, if we’re headed back down, and what they can be doing right now. Remember the following:
- Being balanced has helped buffer you against the worst of the market volatility. We also have been rebalancing many of your accounts during our conversations, which can help you actually capitalize on the market volatility in the long run.
- Similarly, while you don’t see all the activity on a daily basis the portfolio managers of the funds you own will have been using this time to upgrade their portfolios and buy companies or bonds that they believe will be poised to succeed on the other end.
- Having a plan is only worthwhile if you stick with it. Remain calm and know that we plan not only for today but for your long term success.
- This can still be a great time to add money. You can still make 2019 IRA contributions through July 15 or add money to other accounts.
For those interested in a more in-depth look at the markets and where we may go from here, we suggest the following article from Clearbridge Investments: Will Shock and Awe Be Enough?
Hightlights of Recent Federal Relief Programs
In March the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES” Act) was passed, featuring more than $2 Trillion of aid across multiple areas of our economy. Here are some highlights that may affect you:
- Federal Income Tax Deadline: Federal income tax deadline extended to July 15 from April 15. This includes both filing and paying taxes due. All state income tax deadlines have been extended as well.
- IRA Contributions: IRS has extended 2019 IRA contributions to July 2020.
- Recovery Rebate “Checks”: Individuals will receive checks of up to $1,200 ($2,400 per married couple), plus $500 for every child
- Individuals who made more than $75,000 or a head of household who earned $112,500 as in 2019 and couples who file joint tax returns who earned more than $150,000 in 2019 will be excluded from the relief provision.
- Above those income thresholds, the payment decreases by $5 for every $100 earned until it stops altogether for single people earning a minimum of $99,000 or married people who have do not have children and earn a minimum of $198,000.
- We have a payment estimator on our website here
- Temporary Waiver of Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) Rules: Waives RMD rules for all types of defined contribution plans (including 401(k), 403(b), and governmental 457(b) plans) and IRAs for calendar year 2020.
- Temporary Student Loan Payment Suspension: Automatically suspends federal student loan payments, including interest, through September 30, 2020. It does not apply to federal loans held by private lenders.
- Partial Above-the-Line Deduction: Allows partial above-the-line deduction for charitable cash contributions in 2020 permitting taxpayers to deduct up to $300, whether they itemize their deductions or not. The above-the-line deduction provision explicitly excludes contributions to donor-advised funds.
- Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loans: Employers who maintain their payrolls during the COVID emergency are eligible for cash-flow assistance. SBA Paycheck Protection can cover the costs of employing individuals and running a business, including mortgages, rents, interest, salaries, payments related to health insurance, retirement benefits, taxes, and utilities. The maximum loan size is 250% of an employer’s active monthly payroll, but not more than $10 million.
Increased Scam Threat During COVID-19
An increased amount of online activity combined with heightened corporate and government communications has led to an increase in online scams and identity theft plots. Here are a few best practices to help protect yourself:
- Consider using two-step authentication. Two-step authentication, which involves using a text or email code along with your password, provides another layer of protection for your information.
- Think twice before clicking. Beware of emails containing links or asking for personal information. Never click on a link in an email or text unless you know the sender and have a clear idea where the link will take you.
- Be careful when you shop. When shopping online, look for the secure lock symbol in the address bar and the letters https: (as opposed to http: ) in the URL. Avoid using public Wi-Fi networks for shopping, as they lack secure connections.
- Beware of robocalls. Criminals often use robocalls to collect consumers’ personal information and/or conduct various scams. Newer “spoofing” technology displays fake numbers to make it look as though calls are local, rather than coming from overseas. Don’t answer calls when you don’t recognize the phone number. If you mistakenly pick up an unwanted robocall, just hang up.
- Be on the lookout for tax-related identity theft. Tax-related identity theft occurs when someone uses your Social Security number to claim a fraudulent tax refund. You may not even realize you’ve been the victim of identity theft until you file your tax return and discover that a return has already been filed using your Social Security number, or the IRS sends you a letter indicating it has identified a suspicious return using your Social Security number. If you believe that you are the victim of tax-related identity theft, contact the Internal Revenue Service at irs.gov.
Congratulations to Sandy Thompson!
After 23 years of dedicated care and service to her clients, Sandy Thompson will be retiring at the end of June. Sandy has been a source of light and wisdom around the office, contributing to our financial planning and investment committee operations in addition to serving her clients.
Join us in wishing her the best as she embarks on the next journey in her life! A retirement party is in the works, but plans have been delayed due to the current situation.