An Unusual Constellation Of Economic Surprises
Stocks closed on Friday near an all-time high after a surprisingly strong employment report boosted hopes that the 10-year expansion— already six months longer than the longest expansion in modern U.S. history— would roar ahead, even as a third of economists reportedly predict a recession in 2020.
To be clear, a third of the 60 economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal in early November expect a recession in 2020 and nearly as many (29%) predict a recession by the end of 2021. Yet the economic data week after week for months keeps indicating that no recession is on the horizon.
An unusual constellation of economic fundamentals has aligned that's causing surprising changes that confound financial markets, providing unexpectedly good news for U.S. stock investors:
- inflation is trending at 1.4%, lower for years than the Fed expected
- negative interest rates in Germany are depressing U.S. interest rates
- the prospect of low yields and low inflation is forcing a revaluation in stocks and bonds
- the U.S. labor force is growing because more Americans 65 and older are returning to the labor force
- The Federal Reserve is better at reacting to financial markets and economic conditions
What's going on? What do all the changes mean? It's progress, according to the Standard & Poor's 500 index, which is widely believed to be the best benchmark of financial markets and the progress of civilization, and closed at 3,145.91 on Friday, just a hair off the record set on November 27th.
This article was written by a veteran financial journalist based on data compiled and analyzed by independent economist, Fritz Meyer. While these are sources we believe to be reliable, the information is not intended to be used as financial or tax advice without consulting a professional about your personal situation. Tax laws are subject to change. Indices are unmanaged and not available for direct investment. Investments with higher return potential carry greater risk for loss. No one can predict the future of the stock market or any investment, and past performance is never a guarantee of your future results.
Three Strategic Mid-Year Tax Tips
With summer 2019 now underway, here are three strategic mid-year tax planning tips.
Itemizing Strategically Is A Thing. In 2018, for the first time, the Tax Cut and Jobs Act (TCJA) nearly doubled the standard deduction to $12,000 for single filers and $24,000 for married couples filing jointly. The number of taxpayers eligible to itemize was slashed by 60% by the TCJA. Only about 12% of taxpayers are still eligible to itemize expenses for medical, dental, home-mortgage and other loan interest, charitable contributions and miscellaneous fees, including those for tax preparation and investment advice. With just a bit of forethought, you can plan to bunch deductions once every three years, or maybe two. Itemizing strategically may materially reduce your income tax bill. If you did not itemize deductions in 2018, bunching itemized deductions in 2019 may boost your total itemized deductions well beyond your standard deduction. If not, you may want to plan on bunching and itemizing next year. The near-doubling of the standard deduction was intended to simplify federal taxation but has actually complicated it. Millions of the nearly 20 million taxpayers no longer eligible for itemizing now must strategically plan to itemize every two or three years.
Donor Advised Funds. One of the ways to boost your deductions this year is by giving to charity, and one of the easy ways is to give through a donor advised fund (DAF). With a DAF, you can split gifts among different charities. You contribute securities or cash and claim the deduction that same year. If you know you will be taking a taxable capital gain on an investment before the end of 2019, it's wise to consider donating appreciated securities to a DAF. You receive a deduction on the amount you contribute and avoid paying a capital gains tax. In addition, the charity receives the full amount of your largesse. If you donate cash or securities to a DAF in 2019, you can take a deduction on your 2019 return but wait to grant the money to a charity next year, or in 2021, and can take the deduction. Brokerages offer with DAFs. They invest your donations but charge an investment management fee and administrative expenses. We offer strategic guidance and can answer your questions about this.
Large IRAs. If you live in a state with an income tax, you might want to consider setting up a non-grantor trust in a state with no income tax. Why? Say you have a $1 million IRA. Placing it in a non-grantor trust in a state with no income tax avoids state income taxes. That's big! At your death, under the SECURE Act bill expected to be enacted before the end of 2019, your heirs would be required to distribute the IRA you leave them within 10 years. According to Financial Advisor News Service, which we are licensed to distribute, placing your IRA in a non-grantor trust in a state with no income tax allows your beneficiaries to avoid paying state income tax on the distributions from the IRA. To be clear, capital appreciation and dividend income on your IRA can be free of state income tax by applying this strategy! A recent U.S. Supreme Court decision upheld the legal concept behind this strategy and out-of-state trusts are likely a device that retirees will hear about in the mainstream financial press in the months ahead.