MWM Weekly Update

The Week of February 22, 2021

MWM Weekly Update

The Week of February 22, 2021

“If you look at what you have in life, you'll always have more.
If you look at what you don't have in life, you'll never have enough."

- Oprah Winfrey 

Greetings Everyone,

This is the time of year we all gather financial information to prepare our state and federal tax returns.  For the last few weeks we have published the schedule for Raymond James 1099s and other tax reporting.  If you have any questions or need our assistance do not hesitate to let us know how we can help.

We thought it might be useful to share tax information regarding a couple of the COVID pandemic relief measures that may affect you.  Anyone who distributed money from an IRA can fall under special rules even if you were under age 59 ½ if you were affected by Covid or the mandated restrictions.  Be sure to check with your tax advisor for rules that may apply.

Many people decided to defer taking full Required Minimum Distributions from their retirement accounts in 2020 – it was the only year we can remember that this was allowed.  In 2021, anyone who is required to take their RMD must do so before December 31st.  

PANDEMIC RELIEF MEASURES AND YOUR TAX RETURN

The special rules for charitable gift deductions enacted for 2020 have been extended through 2021. For those who itemize deductions, the limit on the charitable gift deduction increased to 100% of AGI for direct cash gifts to public charities. For nonitemizers, a new $300 charitable deduction for 2020 and 2021 direct cash gifts to public charities are available. For joint filers, this deduction increases to $600 for 2021 cash gifts to charitable organizations.

The floor for deducting medical expenses has been permanently lowered to 7.5% of AGI. (It was scheduled to increase to 10% in 2021.) And starting in 2021, there is no deduction for qualified tuition and related expenses. Instead, the modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) phaseout range for the Lifetime Learning credit was increased to be the same as the phaseout range for the American Opportunity credit ($80,000 to $90,000 for single filers; $160,000 to 180,000 for joint filers).

A temporary provision that allows taxpayers to exclude discharged debt for a qualified principal residence from gross income was extended through 2025, though the limit has been reduced from $2 million to $750,000. Also through 2025, employers can pay up to $5,250 annually toward employees' student loans as a tax-free employee benefit.

Yes, unemployment aid is taxable!

The number of unemployed workers spiked above 22 million in March 2020, and more than 9 million people were still out of work at the end of the year.1 Both relief bills expanded unemployment benefits and provided them to many workers who normally are not eligible (including the self-employed, independent contractors, and part-time workers).

Unemployment benefits, which sustained many families impacted by the pandemic, are considered taxable income, and many recipients may not have correctly withheld taxes from their 2020 payments. Avoiding a surprise tax bill typically requires opting into a 10% withholding rate and, in some cases, paying additional quarterly taxes during the year.

Last year was unpredictable, and your financial situation may have been far from normal. You should file your 2020 tax return by the April 15 deadline, even if you are worried that it is going to show a balance due. Being up to date on filing is generally required to pursue a payment agreement with the IRS. If you owe $50,000 or less, you may even be able to apply online for a short-term extension (up to 120 days) or a longer payment agreement. Paying as much as you can afford can help limit penalties and interest that accrue on unpaid amounts.


Judith McGee, L.H.D., CFP®, ChFC

Senior Lead Advisor

1) U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021
This information was developed by Broadridge, an independent third party. It is general in nature, is not a complete statement of all information necessary for making an investment decision, and is not a recommendation or a solicitation to buy or sell any security. Investments and strategies mentioned may not be suitable for all investors. Past performance may not be indicative of future results.

In the Markets

LAST WEEK
  • The stock market was closed last Monday in honor of Presidents' Day. Equities were mixed on the first day of trading last Tuesday. The Dow advanced 0.2% and the Global Dow gained 0.3%. The remaining benchmark indexes lost value, led by the Russell 2000, which fell 0.7%, followed by the Nasdaq (-0.3%) and the S&P 500 (-0.1%). Prices on 10-year Treasuries plunged, sending yields soaring. Crude oil prices climbed over $60 per barrel for the first time in several months. The dollar inched ahead 0.3%.Market sectors were mixed with energy, financials, and communication services climbing, while utilities, real estate, and health care fell.
  • The Dow reached a record high last Wednesday, a day that saw the remaining benchmark indexes lose value. Energy led several surging sectors on a day when only industrials, materials, and information technology fell. Yields on 10-year Treasuries continued to climb. Crude oil prices soared past $61 per barrel, and the dollar advanced nearly 0.5%. Inflationary pressures seem to be rising as producer prices advanced 1.3% in January and retail sales surged by more than 5.0%. As inflation nears the 2.0% mark, the Federal Reserve may scale back support and rethink the timeline for raising interest rates.
  • The Dow couldn't keep its streak of positive sessions alive last Thursday, closing down 0.4% by the end of trading. Overall, stocks plunged to the lowest levels in more than a week, as each of the major indexes finished in the red, with the small caps of the Russell 2000 taking the biggest hit, falling 1.7%. The Global Dow dropped 0.8%, followed by the Nasdaq, which fell 0.7%, and the S&P 500, which sank 0.4%. Money moved to bonds, driving prices higher and yields lower. Crude oil prices dropped, but remained over $60 per barrel. The dollar weakened. Among the sectors, only consumer discretionary and utilities posted gains, while energy slumped 2.3% on the day.
  • Stocks edged higher last Friday, with only the S&P 500 closing the day in the red. The Russell 2000 climbed 2.2%, the Global Dow advanced 0.5%, and the Nasdaq inched up 0.1%. The Dow was flat on the day. Materials, energy, industrials, and financials showed strong momentum, each gaining at least 1.0%. Utilities, consumer staples, health care, and communication services fell by at least 1.0%. The yield on 10-year Treasuries climbed higher, while crude oil and the dollar dropped.
  • Despite a late-week surge, stocks were mixed to lower last week. The Dow and the Global Dow closed ahead, while the Nasdaq, the Russell 2000, and the S&P 500 lost value. Treasury yields rose but the dollar, crude oil prices, and gold fell. Among the sectors, energy (3.1%) and financials (2.8%) led the way, while health care (-2.5%), utilities (-2.0%), information technology (-1.9%), and consumer staples (-1.1%) plunged. Investors seem to be keeping their collective eyes on the prospects of more stimulus and signs of inflation and rising interest rates.

Source: Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc.

THIS WEEK

The last week of February brings with it several important economic reports, led by the second estimate of the fourth-quarter gross domestic product. The initial, or advance, estimate saw the economy expand at an annual rate of 4.0%. Also out this week is the January issue of the personal income and outlays report. The personal consumption expenditures price index, an inflation indicator relied on by the Federal Reserve, showed that consumer prices rose 0.4% in December and advanced only 1.3% in 2020.

Articles & Education

Home Sales Spike as Millennials, Boomers Ditch City Living

Bill Geis, head of private client banking at Raymond James Bank, discusses this sudden reversal of prior trends.

Remember: RMDs Waived for 2020, Not 2021

The CARES Act suspended required minimum distributions for 2020, but the exemption hasn’t been extended. Keep relevant 2021 deadlines in mind.
Investment Term of the Week

Thought of the Week

These highlights should not be viewed as a recommendation, nor is this a notification of an impending change in asset allocation. For more information, please contact your advisor with any questions. Opinions expressed in the attached article are those of Judith McGee and are not necessarily those of Raymond James. All opinions are as of this date and are subject to change without notice.

U.S government bonds and Treasury notes are guaranteed by the U.S. government and, if held to maturity, offer a fixed rate of return and guaranteed principal value. U.S. government bonds are issued and guaranteed as to the timely payment of principal and interest by the federal government. Treasury notes are certificates reflecting intermediate-term (2-10 years) obligations of the U.S. government. Investing in oil involves special risks, including the potential adverse effects of state and federal regulation and may not be suitable for all investors.

Investment products are: Not deposits. Not FDIC or NCUA Insured. Not guaranteed by the financial institution. Subject to risk. May Lose Value.The information contained in this report does not purport to be a complete description of the securities, markets, or developments referred to in this material. This material is being provided for information purposes only and is not a complete description, nor is it a recommendation. The information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete. Any opinions are those of McGee Wealth Management and not necessarily those of Raymond James. There is no guarantee that these statements, opinions or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct. . Investing involves risk and you may incur a profit or loss regardless of strategy selected.  The S&P 500 is an unmanaged index of 500 widely held stocks that is generally considered representative of the U.S. stock market. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA), commonly known as “The Dow” is an index representing 30 stock of companies maintained and reviewed by the editors of the Wall Street Journal. The NASDAQ composite is an unmanaged index of securities traded on the NASDAQ system. Individual investor's results will vary. Past performance does not guarantee future results. This information is not intended as a solicitation or an offer to buy or sell any security referred to herein. Asset allocation and diversification do not ensure a profit or guarantee against loss.

Raymond James is not affiliated with any of the above listed organizations.

The Russell 2000 Index measures the performance of the 2,000 smallest companies in the Russell 3000 Index, which represent approximately 8% of the total market capitalization of the Russell 3000 Index. The Global Dow is an equal-weighted stock index. It is composed of the stocks of 150 top companies from around the world as selected by Dow Jones editors and based on the companies' long history of success and popularity among investors.

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