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Did You Know These 8 Things Are Taxable?

Did You Know These 8 Things Are Taxable?

Jan 2021

Every April, Americans face the often-dreaded ritual of filing their taxes. The prospect of a larger-than-expected tax bill is one common source of anxiety, but so is the possibility of making a mistake that runs the taxpayer afoul of the IRS. Here are some things that many people don’t realize are taxable.

1. Unemployment income. Yes, the unemployment income you receive after a job loss is taxable. And unfortunately, this is one issue that will affect many 2020 taxpayers. You can elect to withhold taxes from your benefits, but if you didn’t realize your unemployment was taxable, you might be in for an unpleasant surprise when you go to file.


2. Gambling winnings. Even when Lady Luck shines upon you, Uncle Sam still wants a piece of the action. Whether your earnings are from online fantasy football or the racetrack, those earnings are, in fact, taxable.


3. Forgiven debt. You may be fortunate to have a creditor forgive your debt, but that goodwill also triggers a tax liability. From the point of view of the IRS (the only one that matters when it comes to taxes), you received income when that debt was forgiven. Therefore, that amount is taxable except under certain conditions, such as a bankruptcy ruling.


4. Social Security. Social Security benefits can be taxable depending on your level of income from other sources. If you want a smaller tax bill, you can elect to withhold taxes from your Social Security or make estimated payments on a quarterly basis.


5. Severance pay. After losing a job, you might be in for a little more bad news. If you receive a compensation package after separating from a job, your severance pay — just like the income you received from your employer — is taxable.


6. Freelance income. If you work a side hustle on Fiver or Upwork to help make ends meet, you’re responsible for taxes on that income just as you are for the money in your company paycheck. However, since most people have taxes withheld from their employee compensation, but not from freelance earnings, you may end up owing more than you expected on this type of income.


7. Profits on a sale. If you sell your rare Claude the Crab Beanie Baby for a profit, then you may be surprised to learn that you owe taxes on the profit you made — even if the sale was to a friend or family member.


8. Awards, prizes and contest winnings. Did you hit the Powerball jackpot or draw the winning ticket at the church raffle? You guessed it — those winnings are taxable in the eyes of the IRS.


Your individual circumstances may impact your tax liabilities, so always consult a qualified tax professional to see what qualifies as income in your case and what tax deductions you might be entitled to.

 

Sources:

https://www.investopedia.com/articles/personal-finance/031416/10-surprising-taxable-items.asp

https://turbotax.intuit.com/tax-tips/fun-facts/10-things-you-wont-believe-are-taxed/L3tQz7kej

https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p4128.pdf

https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/irs-unemployment-compensation-is-taxable-have-tax-withheld-now-and-avoid-a-tax-time-surprise

https://www.kiplinger.com/article/taxes/t055-c032-s014-selling-your-stuff-the-tax-dimension.html

Managing Investment Risks

Managing Investment Risks

Sep 2021

In my opinion, it is impossible to predict future stock market returns. Investment models can produce hypothetical returns but they can’t account for future events. So, in my opinion, investors who manage their investments based on market performance or what they perceive as opportunities for better returns have very little control over the outcome.

On the other hand, there may be market risk, interest rate risk, inflation risk and taxation risk. If your investment portfolio is not vulnerable to market risk it may be vulnerable to interest rate or inflation risk. In my opinion, over the long term, taxes may impede returns and portfolio performance. If it were possible to control the risks to your portfolio, then you could try to improve the long-term performance of your investments.

Understanding all Risks

Some investors understand the concept of risk and reward. The risk of loss associated with the stock market is called “market risk”.

In my opinion, the investors who were rattled from the steep declines in the market during the 2008 crash, and more recently in the August 2011 plunge, may have decided they have little tolerance left for market risk, and some of them may have moved their money to “less risky” investments. The problem for these investors is they have now left their portfolio vulnerable to other adverse risks. Effectively managing all of your risks entails allocating your investments along a mix of assets that can act as counter-weights to the various types of risk. * Inflation Risk There is going to be inflation. When there hasn’t been inflation, there could have been deflation or stagflation, which some would consider to more dangerous conditions for investments. When investors shift their assets to low yielding or fixed yield investments to avoid market risk, they may be exposing them to inflation risk.

Interest Rate Risk

We also know that interest rates may rise; and they could fall. Unlike changes in the direction of the stock market, changes in interest rates could come with some forewarning. For instance, when the economy slows down as it has these last few years, the Federal Reserve may lower interest rates to try to stimulate economic activity. Conversely, when the economy begins to overheat, the Feds may increase rates to try to contain inflation. Generally, when interest rates rise, the prices of debt securities decrease, and in a declining interest rate environment their prices will increase.

People who stash their money in fixed yield vehicles could also be vulnerable to interest rate changes.

Taxation Risk

At one time or another, the IRS will collect its share of your investment earnings. But, as imposing as the tax code is, it may allow investors to use means to minimize taxes. Deferring taxes, which can be done using qualified retirement plans and annuities, enables your earnings to compound unimpeded by taxes so they can accumulate more quickly; however, there is usually a tax consequence when you eventually access those funds. Understanding investment taxation, such as capital gains, loss carry forward, investment income, etc., may affect the longterm growth of your assets.

In my opinion, an effective way to manage and potentially minimize investment risks is through the broad diversification of assets under a long-term investment strategy. Investors should consider their long-term objectives and overall tolerance for risk when selecting investments.

* Diversification does not necessarily produce results.

Tags: risk management, investment risks

Securities may be offered through Kestra Investment Services, LLC (Kestra IS), member FINRA/SIPC. Investment Advisory Services may be offered through NFP Retirement, Inc. Kestra IS is not affiliated with NFP Retirement Inc., a subsidiary of NFP.

This material was created to provide accurate and reliable information on the subjects covered but should not be regarded as a complete analysis of these subjects. It is not intended to provide specific legal, tax or other professional advice. The services of an appropriate professional should be sought regarding your individual situation.

NFP retirement, Kestra IS and Kestra AS do not provide tax or legal advice. For informational purposes only. Please consult with your tax or legal advisor regarding your personal situation.

NFPR-2019-88 ACR#324839 09/19

Understanding Investment Risk

Understanding Investment Risk

Sep 2021

All investors – be they conservative, moderate or aggressive – need to understand that the level of returns they expect to generate is directly related to the amount of risk they are willing to assume – the higher the return, the higher the amount of risk one needs to take. It probably doesn’t dawn on most people that, regardless of where you put your money, you assume some element of risk. For instance, if you focus solely on keeping your money safe from the possibility of loss, you risk not accumulating enough money to meet your goal. In this case, trying to avoid “market risk” increases your exposure to other types of risk, such as “inflation risk” or “longevity risk.”

Essentially, you need risk in order to generate the level of returns you will need to achieve financial independence. However, risks can be managed far more effectively than investment performance. You can’t predict the direction of the financial markets, or which mutual fund will outperform the others; however, you can manage risk and even have it work for you through proper asset allocation and portfolio diversification. While there is no guarantee that a diversified portfolio will enhance overall returns or outperform a non-diversified portfolio, by including a mix of assets and securities that act as counterweights to one another, a risk aware portfolio can potentially help returns wherever they might occur while reducing overall portfolio volatility.

Understanding the different types of risks and how they can individually and collectively impact your long-term investment performance is crucial to constructing a well-conceived portfolio that seeks to maximize your returns while reducing your overall risk.

Different Types of Investment Risk

Market Risk: The risk that most people associate with investing is market risk, the possibility of losing money due to the price fluctuations of the markets. Because it is difficult to know which way prices will move, investors can lose money if the market moves against them. However, losses are only realized if the investment is actually sold.

Inflation Risk: Many risk adverse investors and savers prefer the safety of savings accounts, CDs and government bonds. The risk they face is that the growth of their secured savings doesn’t keep pace with the rate of inflation which will, in effect, reduce the value of their money in the future.

Interest Rate Risk: The prices of interest-bearing securities, such as government and corporate bonds fluctuate in response to the movement of interest rates. As interest rates rise, the prices of these securities will decline. So, it is still possible to lose money. If the bonds are held to maturity, which can be as long as 20 or 30 years, the investor receives the full-face value of the bond.

Taxation Risk: With the possible exception of some tax-exempt bonds, all investments will trigger a tax consequence, either as a result of income earned or capital gains realized from the sale of an investment. Over a long period of time, taxes can adversely impact the return on investment. Additionally, tax laws do change, so if an investment was based on its tax treatment, it could change at some point in the future.

Liquidity Risk: Investors who are concerned with having immediate access to their money need to be aware of liquidity risk. The safest of investments, such as CDs, have some liquidity risk because if it is redeemed too early the investor could lose a part of his principal to early redemption fees. And, even though stocks and bonds can generally be liquidated at any time, investors may be reluctant to do so if they are in a loss position.

When investing, all possible risks should be evaluated against your overall tolerance for risk. The most effective way to manage risk is to invest with your specific goals in mind. Also, having a long-term investment horizon may allow your investments to work through the inevitable down and up cycles of any market.

Tags: risk management, risk, investments

Warren Buffet Retirement Planning Rules: What Would Warren Buffet Do?

Warren Buffet Retirement Planning Rules: What Would Warren Buffet Do?

Sep 2021

Everyone can learn some valuable lessons from Warren Buffet, arguably the most successful investor of all time. Buffet has two strict rules about investing that anyone would find, well, frustratingly simplistic. The first – “don’t lose money,” and the second – “don’t forget rule number one.” But for Buffet, winning can only happen in the stock market. Obviously, when your money sits in low yielding savings accounts it is impossible to win. In fact, if your money is earning below two percent interest, you lose each day to inflation. Over a twenty-year period, your dollars are worth just a fraction of what they were.

What Does Buffet Know that We Don’t?

Over time, Warren Buffet has graciously imparted bits and pieces of his knowledge with us average investors, and for those who really paid attention, they have managed to gain many of the advantages of his practices. See, Buffet adheres to history and he doesn’t fight the facts, while average investors tend to let their emotions guide their decisions. Buffet will be the first to tell you that emotions and investing don’t mix.

  • Fact #1: Bear markets do happen – but then, so do bull markets
  • Fact #2: The average duration of a bear market is 11 months as compared to 32 months for a bull market
  • Fact #3: The average bear market decline is 27 percent; the average bull market gain is 119 percent
  • Fact #4: Since WWII there has been as many bear markets as there have been bull markets, yet the stock market has still managed to advance more than 100-fold.

The takeaway for investors is that the losses of the bear markets have only been temporary while the gains of the bull markets are permanent. With each bull market, the losses of the preceding bear market decline were made up and the gains of the prior bull market were extended. In that perspective, bear markets are nothing more than a temporary interruption of a longer term uptrend. So, the real risk is not in the next market decline of 27 percent; the real risk is not being in the next 100 percent market increase.

How to Invest Like Buffet

The most notable successful investors, such as Buffet, are long term strategists with almost super-human patience. They believe in diversification, buy-and-hold, investing in value with a focus on wealth preservation, not wealth building – apparently a lot easier said than done for most people.

But, there are enough successful high net worth investors around from which we can glean the best practices that, when applied by any investor, can provide the edge that everyone seeks.

  • First: Develop clear and meaningful investment objectives. Many investors focus on investment performance, and, consequently, they often find themselves chasing it by trying to time the markets and making risky buy and sell decisions. Successful investors focus only on their specific objectives and use them as their sole benchmarks as opposed to some irrelevant stock market benchmark.
  • Second: Building and preserving wealth is as much about managing risk as it is managing investment performance. The key is to diversify your asset classes in a way that they act as counter weights to the various forms of risk, such as market risk, inflation, risk and interest rate risk. Periodically your portfolio should be rebalanced to ensure that the exposure to any one risk as not increased due to changes in your portfolio values.
  • Third: Buy stock insurance. Buffet and other successful investor hedge their portfolios with financial instruments called put options that limit their losses when stocks decline. The average investor, especially those closer to or in retirement might be better off by hedging their portfolio and their retirement income with annuities. With fixed indexed annuities a portion of your portfolio can still have access to stock market gains without having to endure the losses.
  • Fourth: Surround yourself with qualified and trusted advisors who have your sole interests in mind when providing you with guidance. The most successful investors rely on a team of advisors that provide unbiased advice in formulating the most appropriate investment strategy to meet their needs.

Not everyone has the courage or the patience (or the billions) that Buffet has to stay fully invested in the stock market, yet constant exposure to equities is vital if you are to have any chance of a secure retirement. And no one can pick individual stocks like Buffet either, nor should they try. Buffet has a fully diversified portfolio of hundreds of stocks invested across many industries, global regions and asset classes. You can achieve the same diversification with index funds or exchange-traded funds with the ability to allocate your assets broadly to reduce risk and volatility. Then, if you can exercise the same level of discipline and patience as Buffet, and hedge your portfolio and retirement income with annuities, you too can win by not losing.

Tags: retirement income, retirement planning, retirement

Securities are offered through Kestra Investment Services, LLC (Kestra IS), member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services are offered through NFP Retirement, Inc., a subsidiary of NFP Corp. (NFP). Kestra IS is not affiliated with NFP Retirement Inc. or NFP.

This material was created to provide accurate and reliable information on the subjects covered but should not be regarded as a complete analysis of these subjects. It is not intended to provide specific legal, tax or other professional advice. The services of an appropriate professional should be sought regarding your individual situation. NFP Retirement Kestra IS and Kestra AS do not provide tax or legal advice. For informational purposes only. Please consult with your tax or legal advisor regarding your personal situation

Trading option security contracts involves risk and may result in potentially unlimited losses that are greater than the amount you deposited with your broker. Because of the leverage involved and the nature of option contract transactions, you may feel the effects of your losses immediately. Under certain market conditions, it may be difficult or impossible to liquidate a position. Under certain market conditions, it may also be difficult or impossible to manage your risk from open options positions by entering into an equivalent but opposite position in another contract month, strike price, through another market, or in the underlying security. You may be required to settle certain option contracts with physical delivery of the underlying security. All option contracts involve risk, and there is no trading strategy that can eliminate it. You should thoroughly read and understand the customer account agreement with your brokerage firm before entering into any transactions in trading security option contracts.

1. http://www.stowefinancialplanning.com/blog/planning-new-normal-retirement

NFPR-2019-86 ACR#324841 09/19

Three Tax Tips That Can Help As You Approach or Begin Retirement

Three Tax Tips That Can Help As You Approach or Begin Retirement

Sep 2021

Retirement is a whole new phase of life. You’ll experience many new things, and you’ll leave other things behind. One thing that won’t disappear, however, are taxes. If you’ve followed the advice of retirement plan consultants, you’re probably saving in tax-advantaged retirement accounts, like 401(k)s or IRAs. These types of accounts defer taxes until withdrawal, and you’ll probably be withdrawing funds from them in retirement. Also, you may have to pay taxes on other types of income, like Social Security, pension payments, or salary from a part-time job. With that in mind, it makes sense for you to develop a retirement income strategy. Here are three tips:

Consider when to start taking Social Security.

The longer you wait to start taking your benefits (up to age 70), the greater your benefits will be. Remember, though, that currently up to 85 percent of your Social Security income is considered taxable if your income is over $34,000 each year.

Be cognizant of what tax bracket you fall into.

You may be in a lower tax bracket in retirement, so you’ll want to monitor your income levels (Social Security, pensions, annuity payments) and any withdrawals to make sure you don’t take out so much that you get bumped into a higher bracket.

Think about your withdrawal sequence.

Generally speaking, you should take withdrawals in the following order:

  • Required minimum distributions (RMDs) from retirement accounts. You’re required to take these, so start here first.
  • Taxable accounts. You should use these up.

Remember:

  • If you sell investments, you’ll need to pay taxes on any capital gains.
  • Tax-exempt retirement accounts like Roth IRAs or 401(k)s.
  • Saving Roth accounts for last makes sense.
  • You can take withdrawals without tax penalties, for example for a large medical bill. You can also use them for estate planning, since your heirs won’t pay any taxes on their distributions, either.

All these factors are complex, and you may want to consult a tax professional to help you apply these tips to your own financial situation. You can test different strategies and see which ones can help you minimize the taxes you’ll pay on your savings and benefits.

Tags: retirement income, retirement


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