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Crowdfunding & Taxes

Information for those giving, receiving, and organizing.    Have you donated money to a crowdfunding campaign this year? You probably have. You may be wondering how the Internal Revenue Service treats these donations. Do the common tax rules apply?  The I.R.S. may or may not define such donations as charitable contributions. It depends not only on who the crowdfunding is for, but also who has organized the campaign. A donation to a qualified non-profit organization – a 501(c)(3) – is tax deductible if it is properly documented and itemized on Schedule A. Donations to crowdsourcing efforts administered by 501(c)(3)s are, likewise, tax deductible.1  If an individual sets up a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for another individual or a cause or project, it is highly unlikely that a 501(c)(3) organization is in place to accept the donations. (An organization can attain such status faster these days, thanks to the Internet, but

Enjoy the Rally, But Prepare for the Retreat

Investors may be lulled into a false sense of security by this market. Will the current bull market run for another year? How about another two or three years? Some investors will confidently say “yes” to both questions. Optimism abounds on Wall Street: the major indices climb more than they retreat, and they have attained new peaks. On average, the S&P 500 has gained nearly 15% a year for the past eight years. Stocks will correct at some point. A bear market could even emerge. Is your investment portfolio ready for either kind of event?

Will You Be Prepared
When the Market Cools Off?

Markets have cycles, and at some point, the major indices will descend.   We have seen a tremendous rally on Wall Street, nearly nine months long, with the S&P 500, Nasdaq Composite, and Dow Jones Industrial Average repeatedly settling at all-time peaks. Investors are delighted by what they have witnessed. Have they become irrationally exuberant?    The major indices do not always rise. That obvious fact risks becoming “back of mind” these days. On June 15, the Nasdaq Composite was up 27.16% year-over-year and 12.67% in the past six months. The S&P 500 was up 17.23% in a year and 7.31% in six months. Performance like that can breed overconfidence in equities.1,2    The S&P last corrected at the beginning of 2016, and a market drop may seem like a remote possibility now. Then again, corrections usually arrive without much warning. You may want to ask yourself:
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Active & Passive
Investment Management

What do each of these terms really mean? Investment management can be active or passive. Sometimes, that simple, fundamental choice can make a difference in portfolio performance. During a particular market climate, one of these two methods may be widely praised, while the other is derided and dismissed. In truth, both approaches have merit, and all investors should understand their principles. How does passive asset management work? A passive asset management strategy employs investment vehicles mirroring market benchmarks. In their composition, these funds match an index – such as the S&P 500 or the Russell 2000 – component for component. As a result, the return from a passively managed fund precisely matches the return of the index it replicates. The glass-half-full aspect of this is that the investment will never underperform that benchmark. The glass-half-empty aspect is that it will never outperform it, either.

Beware of Emotions
Affecting Your Money Decisions

Today’s impulsive moves could breed tomorrow’s regrets. When emotions and money intersect, the effects can be financially injurious. Emotions can cause us to overreact – or not act at all when we should. Think of the investors who always respond to sudden Wall Street volatility. That emotional response may not be warranted, and they may come to regret it. In a typical market year, Wall Street can see big waves of volatility. This year, it has been easy to forget that truth. During the first third of 2017, the S&P 500 saw only 3 trading days with a 1% or greater swing – or to put

Robo-Advisors vs. Human Advisors

If an investor chooses a non-human financial advisor, what price could they end up paying? Investors have a choice today that they did not have a decade ago. They can seek investing and retirement planning guidance from a human financial advisor or put their invested assets in the hands of a robo-advisor – a software program that maintains their portfolio. Why would an investor want to leave all that decision making up to a computer? In this era of cybercrime and “flash crashes” on Wall Street, doesn’t that seem a little chancy? No, not to the financial firms touting robo-advisors. They are wooing millennials, in particular. Some robo-advisor accounts offer very low
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America Saves Week

How much are you setting aside on behalf of your goals? “Set a goal, make a plan, and save automatically.” This is the motto of America Saves Week, which begins on February 27. America Saves – a project of the American Savings Education Council – calls on Americans to do all three of those things to try and improve their finances. Each winter, it surveys Americans to see how well (or poorly) they are saving. The survey is in its tenth year, and perhaps some recent trends will be reversed in the 2017 edition. Last year, 52% of Americans said that

What to Do With an Inheritance

When a loved one dies, it’s already an emotional time, and receiving an unexpected windfall only complicates things. An inheritance can completely change your lifestyle or at least bolster your financial outlook, but only if you make sound decisions. The most important thing to keep in mind when dealing with an inheritance is to create a plan for its use. Because of the emotional circumstances surrounding your inheritance, it may be best to wait before making any decisions so you have time to process your thoughts and develop a coherent plan.