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Zach Abraham

Zach Abraham Featured on MSN Last Week

By | In The Headlines, News, Stock Market

On Monday, March 22nd, stocks finished higher as the 10-year U.S. Treasury yield was slightly down compared to its recent highs.

Bond yields recently have been rising on investor concern that a stronger economic rebound will lead to higher inflation. However, the Federal Reserve said that, although as pandemic recedes and the economy recovers prices will be pushed up, there was no sign yet that this will deliver unwanted inflation.

In fact, the Fed has said it believes an increase in inflation in 2021 will be temporary given COVID-19’s disruption to the labor market.

Bulwark CIO Zach Abraham watches trends closely, and implements investment strategies to help take advantage of all market conditions. His comments were published by MSN last week:

“The recent rise in rates should continue to compress multiples on high flyers and stocks with rich valuations,” said Zach Abraham, principal and chief investment officer of Bulwark Capital Management. “A rise in inflation should also result in a much more friendly environment for value stocks and dividend payers.

“We’ve had a historic run in growth. But the time for value has come. This rotation has a lot of kegs and should run for a while,” Abraham added.

 

Read the original story on MSN here:

https://www.msn.com/en-us/money/markets/stocks-rise-as-tech-gains-lead-wall-street-higher-nasdaq-up-17percent/ar-BB1eQbSu

The article was also picked up by The Street:

https://www.thestreet.com/markets/stock-market-dow-jones-nasdaq-bond-yields-032221

 

Interest rates, bond prices and inflation are related. Here’s how.

By | Bonds

The Federal Reserve

“Part of the mission given to the Federal Reserve by Congress is to keep [consumer] prices stable–that is, to keep prices from rising or falling too quickly. The Federal Reserve sees a rate of inflation of 2 percent per year–as measured by a particular price index, called the price index for personal consumption expenditures–as the right amount of inflation.

“The Federal Reserve seeks to control inflation by influencing interest rates. When inflation is too high, the Federal Reserve typically raises interest rates to slow the economy and bring inflation down. When inflation is too low, the Federal Reserve typically lowers interest rates to stimulate the economy and move inflation higher.”  ~The Federal Reserve of Cleveland

Interest Rate Risk

In general, low interest rates can be good for mortgage and other consumer loans because you will pay less to borrow money. However, low interest rates are not so good when you’re looking at the low interest credited on savings accounts and CDs.

But the main reason interest rate risk is considered a risk has to do with bond prices.

About Bonds

Bonds are basically fixed-rate loans with set maturity dates. Buying or selling them before maturity, when current interest rates might be higher or lower than the bond’s face value interest rate, is what affects their price.

In general, when interest rates go up, bond values go down. As bond prices increase, bond yields fall. Interest rate risk is common to all bonds, even U.S. Treasury bonds.

“The most important difference between the face value of a bond and its price is that the face value is fixed, while the price varies. The face value remains the same until the bond reaches maturity. On the other hand, bond prices can change dramatically.” ~Investopedia

Why You Should Care

Pre-retirees and retirees with money invested in the stock market often have the majority of their investments held in bonds after they reach age 50+ because in general, bonds are often considered “safer” than stocks.

A common principle used by some stockbrokers and bankers called “the Rule of 100” uses age to determine how much of their client portfolios are held in bonds versus stocks. The rule works like this: When you are 60, 60% of your portfolio will be in bonds versus 40% in stocks, when you’re 70, 70% will be in bonds versus 30% in stocks, etc. going up from there.

This shift to more bonds and less stocks as you get older happens automatically in many 401(k) “target date” funds as well.

Bonds Versus Bond Funds

Because the term “bonds” is often used interchangeably with “bond funds,” it’s important to know that some Wall Street experts consider bond funds to be correlated with stock market risk, and therefore not “safer.”

“A bond fund is simply a mutual fund that invests solely in bonds… An investor who invests in a bond fund is putting his money into a pool managed by a portfolio manager. Most bond funds are comprised of a certain type of bond, such as corporate or government bonds, and are further defined by time period to maturity, such as short-term, intermediate-term, and long-term. Some bond funds comprise of only one type…Still, other bond funds have a mix of the different types of bonds in order to create multi-asset class options.

“The types of bond funds available include: US government bond funds, municipal bond funds, corporate bond funds, mortgage-backed securities (MBS) funds, high-yield bond funds, emerging market bond funds, and global bond funds…Typically, a bond fund manager buys and sells according to market conditions and rarely holds bonds until maturity.

“In other words, bond funds are traded on the market, and the market prices on bonds change daily, just like any other publicly-traded security.” ~Investopedia

 

What’s Happening Now: The Headlines

 

  • Inflation Fears

“Inflation is near a decade low and well below the 2% level the Federal Reserve targets as ideal. The usual conditions for rising inflation—tight job markets and public expectations of rising prices—are glaringly absent. Yet anxiety about inflation is at a fever pitch, among economists and in markets, where long-term interest rates have been grinding higher since President Biden unveiled plans for huge new fiscal stimulus.” ~Wall Street Journal

  • Rock Bottom Interest Rates

“The Federal Reserve’s emergency rate cut back in March [2020], which dropped the benchmark interest rate to zero, is likely here to stay…the Fed publicly stated that even if inflation starts to pick up again amid the economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, it doesn’t expect to raise interest rates any time soon as the labor market rebounds. Wall Street economists predict that these rock-bottom rates may be around for the next several years. In fact, after the 2008 Global Financial Crisis, the Fed kept benchmark rates low for seven years. While this means that borrowing becomes cheaper for those who can get approved for loans, it’s not such good news for savers.” ~CNBC

  • Bond Yields Higher

“The 10-year U.S. Treasury yield climbed back above the 1.5% level on Thursday [3/4/21] after Fed Chair Jerome Powell said there was potential for a temporary jump in inflation and that he had noticed the recent rise in yields. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note rose to 1.541% shortly in afternoon trading. The yield on the 30-year Treasury bond pushed higher to 2.304%. Yields move inversely to prices.” ~CNBC

“If you hear that bond prices have dropped, then you know that there is not a lot of demand for the bonds. Yields must increase to compensate for lower demand.” ~The Balance

  • Long-Term Bonds Face Nearly Zero Upside

“Buffett is bearish on bonds. Why does [Warren] Buffet think that “bonds are not the place to be these days”? Yields on Treasurys are near historical lows, and investors locking in these low returns by investing in long-term bonds face nearly zero upside with significant downside if rates rise.” ~Think Advisor

 

To Recap: Interest Rate Risk / Bond Risk / Inflation Risk

  • Bond Risk: In general, when interest rates go up, bond values go down. Interest rate risk is common to all bonds, even U.S. Treasury bonds. A bond’s maturity and coupon rate generally affect how much its price will change as a result of changes in market interest rates.
  • Inflation Risk: Inflation risk is the risk that rising costs will undermine purchasing power over time. The Fed will raise interest rates if inflation rises.

 

Inflation risk, bond risk, and interest rate risk can be managed through strategies like portfolio diversification, insured solutions that offer inflation adjustments, and by proper financial and retirement planning.

It’s more important than ever to make sure you are protected from multiple risks as you get closer to or are already in retirement. If you have any questions about your situation, please don’t hesitate to call us. You can reach Bulwark Capital Management at 253.509.0395. 

 

 

Sources:

https://www.clevelandfed.org/en/our-research/center-for-inflation-research/inflation-101/why-does-the-fed-care-get-started.aspx#

https://www.investopedia.com/terms/b/bond-yield.asp

https://www.investopedia.com/ask/answers/013015/how-does-face-value-differ-price-bond.asp

https://www.cnbc.com/select/what-happens-when-interest-rates-go-down/

https://www.cnbc.com/2021/03/04/us-bonds-treasury-yields-lower-ahead-of-fed-chair-powells-speech.html

https://www.thinkadvisor.com/2021/03/03/is-buffett-right-to-be-bearish-on-bonds/

https://www.investopedia.com/terms/b/bondfund.asp

https://www.wsj.com/articles/is-inflation-a-risk-not-now-but-some-see-danger-ahead-11614614962

 

 

7 Tips to Resolve Financial Issues Between Couples

By | Financial Planning

No matter how long you have been together, financial issues can wreak havoc on a committed relationship. According to Investopedia, some of the top money issues between partners include money/personality style clashes, debt, personal spending, children, and extended family differences.

When couples don’t agree about spending and saving habits, it can lead to stress, arguments and resentment. Here are seven ways you can address financial issues positively, preferably before they arise.

  1. Understand Your Money Styles

Think of some extreme examples of money styles in your circle. Like your friend, the foodie, who won’t touch a bottle of wine that costs less than $75. Your sister who constantly surfs Amazon with boxes showing up at the doorstep day and night. Your mom who washes aluminum foil, folds and reuses it. And your stepdad who always insists on buying everything for the grandkids, fixing his own 30-year-old car, and keeping his handwritten savings ledger to the penny.

Everyone has a money style, and it’s helpful to talk about it without any name-calling or labeling involved. Understanding your partner’s spending habits often involves a deep-dive into money fears, scarcity memories and childhood traumas. Empathizing with your partner while freeing yourselves from negative patterns can be done if you work together. The most important thing is to come up with a spending plan that works for both of you, and hold yourselves accountable to work the plan together.

It’s also very important to check any power plays that may be happening at the conscious or subconscious level. The biggest money-earner shouldn’t think they have the largest say or the only right to dictate how the money gets spent; a marriage should be equally balanced. The partner who earns less and the partner who earns more both need to cooperate as a team to create a spending plan that’s fair for both of them.

So, check your ego at the door. It’s true that money is power, and few things build resentment faster than being made to feel inferior. The person earning more should take great care to act with empathy while taking care of their own needs reasonably rather than selfishly.

  1. Decide How to Divvy Up Bills…and Save for Future Goals

There are several ways to pay the bills. You can both put all your earnings in a joint account and pay everything out of that. You can divide bills based on a percentage of your earnings. Or you can split bills down the middle and keep the rest of your own earnings for yourselves.

Once you have decided how the bills get paid, you need to devise a plan for saving for your long-term goals—like purchasing a home or securing your retirement. Remember that you need to work closely together as life changes arise—such as one of you losing a job, cutting back on hours to care for a parent, or one of you becoming disabled. If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that contingency plans are always advisable. Putting together a financial plan for your future is a great first step toward a financially healthy future.

  1. Create Personal Spending Allowances…That Stay Personal

Having some personal money that’s designated just for you each month can really help how you feel about your relationship. It can also help avoid relationship-ruining behavior like “financial infidelity,” when one spouse hides money or purchases from the other. The personal spending allowance gives each partner the chance to spend their money however they wish, no questions asked—including gifts to each other, a new pair of shoes, or coffee every day on the way to the office. In most cases, the personal monthly spending allowance amount should be equal for both of you so that resentments can’t arise.

  1. Compromise on Spending for Children and Family Members

On average, it costs $233,610 to raise a child to age 18, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That doesn’t include expenses for grown children, helping them with the purchase of cars or homes, or funding other (expensive) needs that might arise for them.

Furthermore, spending related to the extended family on both sides can also be tricky, especially as your expectations can be very different from your spouse’s when it comes to helping family members out or getting involved with costly family vacations or activities.

Addressing these discretionary expenses and agreeing on them before to committing to children or other family members is critical.

  1. Face and Eliminate Undesirable Debt

Some debt may be necessary or even advisable depending on your tax situation, for instance, some people need or want a mortgage interest write-off. Other debt should be paid off following a plan that you both agree upon—be it credit card, car loan or student loan debt.

In most states, debts brought into a marriage stay with the person who incurred them and are not extended to a spouse, but debts incurred together after marriage are owed by both spouses. Debts incurred individually married are still owed by the individual, with the exception of child care, housing, and food, which are all considered joint debt no matter what.

There are nine states where all debts (and property) are shared after marriage regardless of individual or joint account status. These states include Arizona, California, Nevada, Idaho, Washington, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, and Wisconsin. In these states you are not liable for most of your spouse’s debt that was incurred before marriage, but any debt incurred after the wedding is automatically shared—even when applied for individually.

Both partners should have an honest discussion about curtailing bad spending or financial habits. Couples should also employ a strategy to pay off debt—such as paying off the higher-interest debt first or paying off the smallest loans first (the snowball method).

  1. Set a Budget You Can Both Live With

One of the best ways to keep in sync with your partner when it comes to finances is to have a budget as part of your overall financial plan. The budget includes your household bills, your personal spending allowance, your debt-paying strategy, and your monthly budget for long-term goals like retirement.

  1. Communicate Honestly

Lack of communication is the source of many marital issues, and talking regularly, honestly, and without judgment is where the hard work of marriage comes in. Some couples may even find it helpful to actually schedule a time once a month or once a quarter to revisit short- and long-term goals with each other, and meet at least once a year to discuss objectives with their financial advisor.

Don’t talk about things when you’re tired, angry or have had too much to drink—organize and adhere to clearheaded discussions for success. Honest communication can help you both face and conquer the financial challenges of life, changing course and adjusting along the way.

 

If you have any questions, or would like to review your finances together as a couple, call us! You can reach Bulwark Capital Management at 253.509.0395. 

 

Sources:

https://www.investopedia.com/articles/pf/09/marriage-killing-money-issues.asp

https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2017/01/13/cost-raising-child

https://www.kiplinger.com/personal-finance/602036/a-marriage-starter-plan-for-finances-even-if-youre-late-to-the-party

https://www.marriage.com/advice/finance/how-to-overcome-financial-conflict/#:~:text=Married%20couples%20fighting%20over%20financial,couples%20fail%20to%20do%20so.

 

 

Zach Abraham Featured on Fox News

By | Geopolitical Affairs, In The Headlines, On TV, Social Security

Zach Abraham, Chief Investment Officer and founder of Bulwark Capital Management, recently appeared on Fox News to discuss the recent stock market furor over Reddit retail investors.

Here is a brief summary of some of Zach Abraham’s comments:

Hedge funds have been making money for 20 years by betting on potential stock market losses. Now retail investors—like the recent Reddit investors in GameStop—have the same capability.

Zach encouraged Schwab, TD Ameritrade and the SEC to step away and let the market work itself out. “It will build more faith in the markets,” he said.

 

Watch the segment—Zach starts at 1:53 minutes:

https://www.fox5dc.com/video/894564.amp

Silver Gets the GameStop Treatment: MarketWatch and Morningstar Feature Zach Abraham

By | Geopolitical Affairs, In The Headlines, News, On TV, Stock Market

Silver rallied by as much as 13% on Monday, February 1st to their highest intraday level since 2013, as a buying frenzy attributed to a post on Reddit last week suggesting a short squeeze on the precious and industrial metal continued. Silver futures for March delivery climbed to as high as $30.35 an ounce on Comex.

MarketWatch covered the rally on silver in a story that was also picked up by Morningstar. They spoke with Zach Abraham and several others familiar with what was taking place. Here are Zach’s comments:

 

The moves for the metal are “incredibly unusual — fair to say it’s unprecedented,” Zach Abraham, chief investment officer at Bulwark Capital Management, told MarketWatch.

“But we need to see if it can be done again. Remember, GME [GameStop] was a deeply undervalued and unique situation,” he said.

So far, what’s happened to silver in the last few days is “not even close” to what happened with the Hunt brothers, said Bulwark Capital’s Abraham, referring to the brothers who famously tried to corner the silver market four decades ago. During the Hunt brothers’ accumulation of the silver, prices of silver bullion rose from $11 an ounce in September 1979 to $49.45 an ounce in January 1980.

“In addition, they don’t control anything,” he said, referring to the Reddit crowd. “I think for this reason alone, going after a commodity like silver is futile.”

Still, many analysts had already been touting upbeat prospects for silver even before the Reddit-induced frenzy.

Abraham said his company invested in silver on expectations that a short squeeze in silver would occur, and didn’t take the Reddit WallStreetBets forum into consideration when investing.  

“Silver is still cheap. Not a bad idea to buy some for the long haul,” he said. “Might make sense to buy silver miners as well. Just know both can be extremely volatile.”

He believes that $100 silver prices aren’t out of the question during the next run for the metal. “Silver is horrifically undervalued, on a historical basis, compared to financial assets.”

 

Original article links:

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/silver-gets-the-gamestop-treatment-rallies-by-as-much-as-13-11612203674

https://www.morningstar.com/news/marketwatch/20210201476/silver-gets-the-gamestop-treatment-rallies-by-as-much-as-13

Zach Abraham Speaks Out About Robinhood, Reddit and GameStop

By | In The Headlines, News, On TV, Stock Market

Headlines recently exploded on the topic of hedge funds and stock trading, as a group of day traders on the social media platform called “reddit” drove up stock prices for GameStop, Bed Bath & Beyond, AMC, Nokia and other historically-unloved stocks. GameStop gained as much as 1,000% in just two weeks. The volatile market action resulted in massive losses for some hedge funds.

Brokerages, including Robinhood, Interactive Brokers, TD Ameritrade and others, reacted by restricting users’ ability to trade certain stocks on Thursday amid the extreme volatility.

This caused public outrage, especially toward Robinhood, an online brokerage app named after a folk hero who steals from the rich to give to the poor and whose mission is to “democratize finance for all.”

Zach Abraham Comments

In an article titled, “Critics view Robinhood restricting GameStop trades as ‘an absolute travesty’,” featured on several news sites (including CNBC and MSN), Zach Abraham is featured prominently.

“Robinhood’s decision underscores some people’s belief that the deck is stacked against them,” says Zach Abraham, founder and chief investment officer of Bulwark Capital Management, where he advises retail investors.

Abraham characterizes platforms restricting trades for retail investors as “an absolute travesty,” noting that many of the Redditors’ moves weren’t just some “troll,” but calculated based on their own research. The hedge funds made “bad calls,” he says, and retail investors caught them on it.

“This is only going to perpetuate the wealth gap, and that the rich play by different rules,” says Abraham, whose firm sold its positions in GameStop last week. “If the roles were reversed, nobody would be saying a thing.”

Buyer Beware

At the same time, the situation has morphed into a dangerous game for other retail investors who read into the recent hype but don’t understand the risks involved in trading, Abraham says.

The stocks are currently “way over-priced,” says Abraham. Getting in now on the news-making names of the past few days would be akin to gambling.

“I could not emphasize more clearly for retail investors: Take those names off your screen and look elsewhere,” Abraham says. He predicts GameStop and other stocks will “blow up” in the coming days. “You just don’t want to be messing around with these names today.”

Original story links:
https://www.cnbc.com/2021/01/28/critics-call-robinhood-restricting-gamestop-trades-travesty.html
https://www.msn.com/en-my/money/savingandinvesting/critics-view-robinhood-restricting-gamestop-trades-as-an-absolute-travesty/ar-BB1dbINe

 

Watch Zach’s Appearance on Cheddar, a video news website covering Wall Street issues:

“In our view, they’re delivering a shot of democracy to the markets.” – Zach Abraham

The Inauguration’s Effect on the Stock Market: Zach Abraham Featured in Newsweek

By | Geopolitical Affairs, In The Headlines, Investments, On TV

In an article published on January 19th, 2021 in Newsweek, “Stock Market on Best Election Day to Inauguration Run Since World War II,” Bulwark Capital Management Chief Investment Officer, Zach Abraham, gave his insights into the Biden presidency along with the Federal Reserve’s policies and their potential future effect on the stock market.

He was featured along with analysts from Goldman Sachs, the chief investment strategist at CFRA in New York, and the U.S. Chief Economist at S&P Global Ratings.

Here are Zach’s comments:

“I think the stock market will continue to go higher, perhaps much higher.”

“The only two times we’ve had valuations anywhere close to this were in 1929, when the markets dropped 85% over the next two years, and 1999, when the Nasdaq dropped 85% over the next two years,” he said. “I don’t think a selloff that dramatic is going to happen again because of the underwriting by the Fed and the US government.”

Last year, the Fed’s action and stimulus spending approved by Congress injected about $8 trillion into the economy,” Abraham said. “The amount of cash that’s been poured into this market is mind-boggling.”

But to be clear, it’s the Fed that’s driving the market, he said.

“If the Fed continues to do that, stocks will keep going up. If it stops doing that, they won’t,” Abraham said. ” All that money injected into the system last year had to go somewhere. Part of it ran headlong into a stock mania that had been 13 years in the making, since the financial crisis of 2007-2008. It’s just gone ballistic.”

Read the full article here:

https://www.newsweek.com/stock-market-best-election-day-inauguration-run-since-world-war-ii-1562707

5 Highlights of the New Stimulus Package

By | Legislation

What the latest round of funding may mean for you.

 

The $900 billion Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 (2021 CAA) was signed into law by President Trump on December 28th as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact employers and employees. The new package resembles March’s $2.2 trillion CARES Act, but will only be $920 billion, with roughly half of that—$429 billion—being paid for with unspent CARES funds.

 

Here’s a quick recap of five key highlights:

 

  1. Stimulus Checks

The new law authorized a second round of $600 checks for people with income that meets the criteria. The checks start to phase out for individuals who earned at least $75,000 in 2019 and $150,000 for married, joint filers.

Each dependent child under age 17 is also eligible for the $600 stimulus payment to the taxpayer claiming them on their taxes. But just like the CARES Act, adult dependents are left out—such as college students and disabled adults—amounting to an estimated 15 million people.

 

  1. Unemployment Benefits

The law provides up to $300 per week in federal benefits on top of state benefits through March 2021. The enhanced benefits also extend to self-employed individuals and gig workers.

An additional $13 billion has been put into SNAP benefits and food banks, among other programs, during one of the biggest hunger crises the U.S. has seen in years.

 

  1. Student Loan Repayment

The 2021 CAA extends the CARES Act provision that allows employers to repay up to $5,250 annually towards an employee’s student loan payments. The payments are tax-free to the employee. There is no data yet about how many employers have actually implemented this benefit.

 

  1. Small Businesses

The 50% limit on the deduction for business meals has been lifted. Business meal expenses after December 31, 2020, and before January 1, 2023, may now be fully deductible. Please consult your tax, legal, or accounting professional for more specific information regarding this provision.

 

  1. PPP Loans

The new law contains $284 billion in relief for a second round of Payment Protection Program loan funding, with some loans eligible for forgiveness. Businesses with 300 or fewer employees may be eligible for a second loan. “Second-draw” loans are available through March 31, 2021.

The bill also includes $20 billion in grants for companies in low-income areas and money set aside for loans from community-based and minority-owned lenders.

 

 

 

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This article is as accurate as our research sources (below), but it is to be used for informational purposes only and is not intended as financial advice. Consult with your tax, legal and accounting professionals before taking any action based on this information.

Like with any new legislation, as 2021 gets underway expect additional guidance from regulators on 2021 CAA. Our office will keep an eye out for updates and pass information as it becomes available.

Call us if you have any questions. You can reach Bulwark Capital Management in the Seattle area at 253.509.0395.

 

 

 

 

 

Sources:

https://www.usatoday.com/in-depth/news/2020/12/31/covid-stimulus-how-compares-other-coronavirus-aid/3922144001/

https://www.forbes.com/advisor/personal-finance/do-adult-dependents-get-the-second-stimulus-check

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/12/21/stimulus-checks-unemployment-aid-and-more-in-900-billion-coronavirus-relief-plan.html

Zach Abraham Discusses the Stimulus Package

By | In The Headlines, Legislation

Chief Investment Officer Zach Abraham discusses markets, the economy, and the new coronavirus aid package signed into law in December on Cheddar.com.

 

Some points discussed:

  • The Fed has already told Congress that they literally can’t put too much money into stimulus aid relief in order to help the economy.

 

  • The $900 billion stimulus package is not big enough, a full economic recovery will require much more; Congress will need to do another round, plus investment in infrastructure.

 

  • The pandemic was a Black Swan event. These bills are much more than just a stimulus; this is like government paying damages after a major disaster in order for our nation to recover.

 

  • No matter which side of the aisle you’re on, depending on what happens in the Senate runoff in Georgia we will see more economic relief happen more quickly or more slowly, based simply upon who is in power. This will dictate our 2021 investment strategy for our clients. As one small example, if Democrats win the majority in the Senate, we could expect the clean energy sector to take off based on Biden’s platform moving forward.

 

Watch the whole show:

Your Annual Financial To-Do List

By | Financial Planning

Things you can do for your future as the year unfolds.

What financial, business, or life priorities do you need to address for the coming year? Now is an excellent 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 2021, the contribution limit for a Roth or traditional individual retirement account (IRA) is expected to remain 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. With a traditional IRA, you can contribute if you (or your spouse if filing jointly) have taxable compensation, but income limits are one factor in determining whether the contribution is tax-deductible.

Remember, 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 starting again in 2021 because the CARES Act ends December 31, 2020. Roth IRA distributions must meet a five-year holding requirement and occur after age 59½ to qualify for tax-exempt and penalty-free withdrawal. Tax-free and penalty-free withdrawals from Roth IRAs can also be taken under certain other circumstances, such as a result of the owner’s death.

Keep in mind, this article is for informational purposes only, and not a replacement for real-life advice. Also, tax rules are constantly changing, and there is no guarantee that the tax landscape will remain the same in years ahead.

 

Make a charitable gift. You can claim the deduction on your tax return, provided you follow the Internal Review Service (I.R.S.) guidelines and itemize your deductions with Schedule A. The paper trail is important here. If you give cash, you should consider documenting it. Some contributions can 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 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.  You must write the check or make the gift using a credit card by the end of December.

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 record-keeping approach or your strategy for making charitable gifts.

 

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 write off expenses linked to the portion of your home used to 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 home-based businesses.

  

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 $3,600 contribution for 2021 if you are single; $7,200 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.

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.

 

Review your withholding status. Should it be adjusted due to any of the following factors?

* You tend to pay the federal or state government at the end of each year.

* You tend to get a federal tax refund each year.

* You recently married or divorced.

* You have a new job, and your earnings have been adjusted.

These are general guidelines and are not a replacement for real-life advice. Make certain to consult your tax, human resources, or accounting professional before modifying your withholding status.

 

Did you get married in 2020? If so, it may be an excellent time to consider reviewing the beneficiaries of your retirement accounts and other assets. The same goes for your insurance coverage. If you are preparing to have a new last name in 2021, you may want to get a new Social Security card. Additionally, retirement accounts may need to be revised or adjusted?

 

Consider the tax impact of any upcoming transactions. Are you planning to sell any real estate this year? Are you starting a business? Might any commissions or bonuses come your way in 2021? Do you anticipate selling an investment that is held outside of a tax-deferred account?

 

If you are retired and in your 70s, remember your RMDs. In other words, Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) from retirement accounts. Under the SECURE ACT, in most circumstances, once you reach age 72, you must begin taking RMDs from most types of these accounts.

 

Vow to focus on your overall health and practice sound financial habits in 2021. And don’t be afraid to ask for help from professionals who understand your individual situation. Give us a call if you would like to discuss. You can reach Bulwark Capital Management in the Seattle area at 253.509.0395.

 

 

Sources:

https://thefinancebuff.com/401k-403b-ira-contribution-limits.html

https://money.usnews.com/money/retirement/iras/articles/what-is-the-secure-act

https://www.irs.gov/publications/p590b

https://www.azcentral.com/story/money/business/consumers/2020/11/22/these-tax-laws-charitable-donations-were-changed-help-pandemic/6295115002/

https://www.investopedia.com/articles/tax/09/self-employed-tax-deductions.asp

https://www.investopedia.com/articles/personal-finance/082914/rules-having-health-savings-account-hsa.asp#:~:text=You%20can%20only%20open%20and,as%20a%20catch%2Dup%20contribution.

https://www.thinkadvisor.com/2020/11/29/10-tax-tips-to-take-by-year-end/