What financial, business, or life priorities do you need to address for 2020? Now is a good time to think about the investing, saving, or budgeting methods you could employ toward specific objectives, from building your retirement fund to managing your taxes. You have plenty of choices. Here are a few ideas to consider:
Can you contribute more to your retirement plans this year? In 2020, the contribution limit for a Roth or traditional individual retirement account (IRA) remains at $6,000 ($7,000 for those making “catch-up” contributions). Your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) may affect how much you can put into a Roth IRA: singles and heads of household with MAGI above $139,000 and joint filers with MAGI above $206,000 cannot make 2020 Roth contributions.1
Before making any changes, remember that withdrawals from traditional IRAs are taxed as ordinary income, and if taken before age 59½, may be subject to a 10% federal income tax penalty. To qualify for the tax-free and penalty-free withdrawal of earnings, Roth IRA distributions must meet a five-year holding requirement and occur after age 59½.
Make a charitable gift. You can claim the deduction on your tax return, provided you itemize your deductions with Schedule A. The paper trail is important here. If you give cash, you need to document it. Even small contributions need to be demonstrated by a bank record, payroll deduction record, credit card statement, or written communication from the charity with the date and amount. Incidentally, the Internal Revenue Service (I.R.S.) does not equate a pledge with a donation. If you pledge $2,000 to a charity this year, but only end up gifting $500, you can only deduct $500.1
These are hypothetical examples and are not a replacement for real-life advice. Make certain to consult your tax, legal, or accounting professional before modifying your strategy.
See if you can take a home office deduction for your small business. If you are a small-business owner, you may want to investigate this. You may be able to legitimately write off expenses linked to the portion of your home used to exclusively conduct your business. Using your home office as a business expense involves a complex set of tax rules and regulations. Before moving forward, consider working with a professional who is familiar with homebased businesses.3
Open an HSA. A Health Savings Account (HSA) works a bit like your workplace retirement account. There are also some HSA rules and limitations to consider. You are limited to a $3,550 contribution for 2020, if you are single; $7,100, if you have a spouse or family. Those limits jump by a $1,000 “catch-up” limit for each person in the household over age 55.4
If you spend your HSA funds for non-medical expenses before age 65, you may be required to pay ordinary income tax as well as a 20% penalty. After age 65, you may be required to pay ordinary income taxes on HSA funds used for nonmedical expenses. HSA contributions are exempt from federal income tax; however, they are not exempt from state taxes in certain states.
Pay attention to asset location. Tax-efficient asset location is an ignored fundamental of investing. Broadly speaking, your least tax-efficient securities should go in pretax accounts, and your most tax-efficient securities should be held in taxable accounts.
Asset allocation is an approach to help manage investment risk. Asset allocation does not guarantee against investment loss. Before adjusting your asset allocation, consider working with an investment professional who is familiar with tax rules and regulations.
Review your withholding status. Should it be adjusted due to any of the following factors?
* You tend to pay a great deal of income tax each year.
* You tend to get a big federal tax refund each year.
* You recently married or divorced.
* A family member recently passed away.
* You have a new job and you are earning much more than you previously did.
* You started a business venture or became self-employed.
These are general guidelines and are not a replacement for real-life advice. So, make certain to speak with a professional who understands your situation before making any changes.
Are you marrying in 2020? If so, why not review the beneficiaries of your retirement accounts and other assets? When considering your marriage, you may want to make changes to the relevant beneficiary forms. The same goes for your insurance coverage. If you will have a new last name in 2020, you will need a new Social Security card. Additionally, the two of you may have retirement accounts and investment strategies. Will they need to be revised or adjusted with marriage?
Are you coming home from active duty? If so, go ahead and check the status of your credit and the state of any tax and legal proceedings that might have been preempted by your orders. Make sure any employee health insurance is still there and revoke any power of attorney you may have granted to another person.
Consider the tax impact of any upcoming transactions. Are you planning to sell any real estate this year? Are you starting a business? Do you think you might exercise a stock option? Might any large commissions or bonuses come your way in 2020? Do you anticipate selling an investment that is held outside of a tax-deferred account?
Lastly, should you make 13 mortgage payments this year? If your house is underwater, this makes no sense – and you could argue that those dollars might be better off invested or put in your emergency fund. Those factors aside, however, there may be some merit to making a January 2020 mortgage payment in December 2019. If you have a fixed-rate loan, a lump-sum payment can reduce the principal and the total interest paid on it by that much more.
If you’re considering making 13 payments, consider working with a tax, legal, or accounting professional who is familiar with your situation.3
Vow to focus on being healthy and wealthy in 2020. And don’t be afraid to ask us for help.
Have a great weekend!
Source: MarketingPro, Inc.
Golf Tip of the Week
New Year’s Resolutions for Golfers
The new year means New Year’s resolutions. Instead of making general resolutions this year, make ones specifically focused on your game. Some fun and tactical examples include:
- Smile more. After all, you’re out there to have fun (even if you do shank the ball)!
- Visualize your name on your club’s Honor Board.
- Focus on your short game.
- Don’t lose your temper as easily.
- Lower your handicap.
- Improve your fitness. A well-played game happens on and off the course.
- Play more golf. This one’s simple.
- Take some lessons. Even the best golfers can benefit from some pro tips.
- Visit a new course. Bonus points if it’s in a totally different state or country.
- Golf with a new group of buddies.
- Increase your drive length.
- Nail your chip shots.
- Teach someone else how to play. We all started somewhere.
New Year’s resolutions are a chance for us to reflect on the past year and discover ways to be our best selves, both on and off the green.
Tip adapted from Golf Monthly i
Recipe of the Week
Champagne Gummy Bears
Get all the spritz and sparkle of champagne in gummy bear form with this DIY recipe.
[100 gummy bears]
- ½ cup champagne or sparkling wine
- 2 Tbsp. powdered gelatin
- 3 Tbsp. sugar
- A gummy bear mold (like this one)
- Pour the champagne in a saucepan over low heat and add the sugar and gelatin, whisking constantly. Continue until dissolved.
- Slowly pour the gelatin mixture into the gummy bear molds. Pro tip: use an eyedropper for more accuracy.
- Refrigerate or until the gummy bears have set, about 15 minutes.
Recipe adapted from Pinch and Swirlii
Health Tip of the Week
Intentions Versus Resolutions
As the new year rolls in, we hear a lot of talk about New Year’s resolutions. But resolutions might not be best for everyone. Instead, it might be beneficial to shift your thinking and view these opportunities as intentions.
But what’s the difference between resolutions and intentions? To some people, resolutions feel a bit judgmental. Your goal is to change some aspect of yourself, and there’s a lot of pressure to stick to resolutions, even if they turn out to not be the right fit.
In contrast, intentions are mindful decisions you can make to be the best version of yourself. For example, instead of setting a resolution to lose 15 pounds, set an intention to eat more real food and move your body a few times a week. Your intention is to live healthier and are a low-pressure commitment to yourself this new year.
Tip adapted from Nutritious Lifeiii
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1. thefinancebuff.com/401k-403b-ira-contribution-limits.html [7/16/19]
2. irs.gov/newsroom/charitable-contributions [6/28/19]
3. nerdwallet.com/blog/taxes/home-office-tax-deductions-small-business/ [1/22/19]
4. cnbc.com/2019/06/03/these-are-the-new-hsa-limits-for-2020.html [6/4/19]
This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.
The articles and opinions expressed in this newsletter were gathered from a variety of sources, but are reviewed by Ballentine Capital Advisors prior to its dissemination. All sources are believed to be reliable but do not constitute specific investment advice. In all cases, please contact your investment professional before making any investment choices.
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