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As 2020 comes to an end, consider these tax and investment tips – The Arizona Republic

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Russ Wiles
 
| Arizona Republic

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How tax brackets affect what you pay in income taxes

Why being taxed, say 22% of your income, is a lot more complicated than you may assume. Here’s a breakdown of what you actually pay in income taxes.

As a most unusual year winds down, here are some of the investment, tax and other money considerations that should be on your radar. 

Some, but not all, were shaped by the COVID-19 pandemic and government efforts to ease the financial fallout.

Tax planning for a stimulus payment

A general income-tax planning tip is to defer income into the following year if you can, to delay tax payments if for no other reason. There might be another reason for doing so this month, because of the prospect for an additional round of stimulus payments.

Early in 2020, the Internal Revenue Service sent payments of up to $1,200 per person or $2,400 for married couples, plus $500 per qualifying child, to help stimulate the economy in the wake of COVID-19 business shutdowns and layoffs. The size of those payments phased out for people in certain income ranges.

For example, singles with no kids received the full $1,200 with adjusted gross income up to $75,000, with amounts phasing out 5% for income above that, ending entirely at $99,000. For married couples, those $2,400 payments started to phase out with income of at least $150,000 and ended at $198,000. Payments and phaseouts were based on 2019 income (or 2018 income for people who hadn’t yet filed their 2019 tax returns).

So why bring this up now? Because of the possibility of a second round of stimulus payments patterned at least somewhat on the first.

“It is conceivable that legislation could be delayed far enough into 2021 that the phaseout would be based on 2020 income,” noted tax researcher Wolters Kluwer. “Thus, it might be smart to delay income into 2021” to maximum the size of any new stimulus payments — and assuming you are near the possible income phaseout ranges, which aren’t yet known.

Holding out hope for a payment

For most of us, economic impact or stimulus payments are a distant memory. If we qualified, we were sent disbursements automatically or upon contacting the IRS at irs.gov. But for an untold number of Americans, the checks still haven’t arrived in the mail — or anywhere else.

As of Sept. 30, the IRS and Treasury had processed payments to 166 million people, including 26 million who aren’t required to file tax returns (mostly Social Security recipients). The IRS allowed non-filers to claim stimulus payments on its website, but the deadline for doing that has passed.

“It is not clear how many eligible individuals missed the deadline and remain at risk of not getting a payment in 2020,” said the Government Accountability Office in a recent report examining the IRS’ stimulus-payment program.

Many or most of these people likely won’t receive anything over the waning weeks of 2020. But all is not lost: Individuals still can claim their stimulus payment upon filing a tax return by next April 15. These people will want to claim the “recovery rebate credit,” which will be based on 2020 income as determined on tax returns filed next year.

Researching charity groups

This is the time of year when many people make donations to charity, whether to take advantage of tax deductions or just because they’re generous. If you’re going to the trouble, you might as well make sure your gifts go to organizations that use the money wisely.

Be aware that gifts are deductible only if made to qualifying charities, which means that donating to fake or unregistered groups can set you up for an audit down the road if you claimed a deduction.

The IRS has a “charities and nonprofits” section on its website where you can check to see if a group is properly registered.

As alternatives, Guidestar.org and CharityNavigator.org are two websites that provide financial and other information on nonprofits and are easier to use. You also may ask a nonprofit directly for evidence that it is allowed to accept deductible donations.

The big change this year is a new deduction, for 2020 only, of up to $300 for cash donations to charities. You may take the deduction even if you don’t itemize, which now describes about nine in 10 taxpayers.

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Looking ahead to December gains

November was hot for investors. Last month marked the best November for the Standard & Poor’s 500 index since 1928, the best month overall for the Dow Jones Industrial Average since 1987 and the best month ever for the small-stock Russell 2000 index, said LPL Financial.

Can the momentum continue, or are we due for a breather?

Ryan Detrick, chief market strategist at LPL Financial, believes the market can keep rolling, though he cautions that supercharged Novembers sometimes steal the thunder from the following Decembers. Still, the market tends not to reverse course all that quickly, which makes monthly gains of 10%-plus bullish, he said.

“A way-better-than-expected earnings season, a likely split Congress and major breakthroughs on the vaccine front all helped stocks soar last month,” explained Detrick in a prepared commentary. Those factors are still in play.

“The huge gains in November could actually be the start of something much stronger,” he continued. Following a sharp market retreat in late February and March, stocks also notched a 10%-plus monthly gain earlier this year, in April. The only other time that happened was in 1982, near the start of an historic bull market, he said.

Analyzing the political backdrop

Given the change of control in the White House, how might politics influence the investment climate? Assuming Republicans win at least one of the two special Senate runoff races in Georgia in January, Republicans would retain control of the Senate, guaranteeing a split Congress and likely relieving a lot of investors.

“We view a split Congress as market friendly because it probably would take (Joe) Biden’s most ambitious policy proposals off the table,” wrote Jeffrey Buchbinder, equity strategist at LPL Financial, in a post-election recap. “Tax increases to fund Biden’s green energy and infrastructure-investment programs may be nearly impossible to get through the Senate.”

Historically, the stock market has fared well when the two main political parties share power. Since 1950, the S&P 500 index has generated an average annual return including dividends of 15.9% during years when a Democrat sat in the White House and Congress was split, according to LPL Financial. The best combination has been a Democratic president and a Republican Congress (up 18.3% on average). The worst has been a Republican president and Democratic Congress (up 8.7% on average).

In years when Democrats controlled the White House and all of Congress, which would happen if both Georgia Senate seats go blue, the S&P 500 was up 13.2% annually.

Reach Wiles at russ.wiles@arizonarepublic.com.

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A new era of low-cost investing has arrived for Gen Z and millennials – The Globe and Mail

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Words they live by in the investment industry: Small accounts get small consideration.

So it follows that the record of investment firms in welcoming young people as customers was pretty terrible until recently. The rise of digital investing – taking orders and sometimes providing advice online or via mobile device – has changed all that for the better by making small accounts more economical to serve.

Suddenly, there are all kinds of ways for young adults to get started as investors while keeping their costs to a minimum. There’s a free stock-trading app, and another app with zero commissions for investing in exchange-traded funds. Several online brokers offer special pricing for young clients that can reduce their costs significantly, and there are also robo-advisers to consider.

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With a six-figure portfolio, paying $5 to $10 to buy stocks or exchange-traded funds is nothing to complain about. But for a young investor with a small portfolio, these costs are prohibitive. Biweekly purchases of a balanced ETF (more on these in a moment) at $9.95 per trade works out to an annualized fee of 1.7 per cent on a $15,000 account. For context, the bonds or bond funds in a portfolio might yield about 1 per cent these days.

Further costs for young investors might include annual administration fees of $100 or more for registered retirement savings plan accounts or $100 in account maintenance fees per year (often charged on a $25 per quarter basis).

Special deals for young investors are available at several online brokers, but they’re not well-publicized and thus easy to miss out on. Some examples:

  • For students, CIBC Investor’s Edge reduces its regular flat $6.95 commission for trading stocks and ETFs to $5.95 and waives the $100 annual fee on registered and non-registered accounts.
  • For investors 30 and younger, National Bank Direct Brokerage provides 10 free trades a year and then lowers its regular price of $9.95 per trade to $4.95; also, account admin fees are waived.
  • For investors aged 18 to 30, Qtrade Investor offers a flat commission of $7.75, down from the usual $8.75, as well as waiving quarterly admin fees.
  • For clients 25 and younger, Scotia iTrade will waive the $100 annual admin fee on RRSPs and the $100 per year maintenance fees on small non-registered accounts.
  • The Kick Start Investment Program at Virtual Brokers allows an investor to buy (or add to) up to five ETFs each and every month, for no commission. Normally, the cost is $50 a year for this service, unless you’re a student or have graduated within the past two years.

Do-it-yourself investing happens to make great sense for young investors. Investment advisers are notoriously uninterested in young clients for the most part, unless they happen to be the kids of rich clients. Also, the needs of young investors may be too small-scale to justify the fees advisers charge.

Bank mutual funds are an easy way to get started investing, and they’re friendly to rookie investors because they can be bought at no cost. On the negative side, bank mutual funds too often combine lacklustre returns and hefty fees.

The ideal product for young investors? Consider the balanced ETF, with fees as low as 0.2 per cent (mutual fund management expense ratios are typically in the 2-per-cent-plus range).

Balanced ETFs hold underlying funds that produce blends of stocks and bonds suitable for conservative, middle-of-the-road and aggressive investors. A twentysomething could easily choose an aggressive approach, with the understanding that there will be rotten years on the way to good long-term results. Long term, by the way, means 10 years or more.

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The Wealthsimple Trade app is a zero-commission way to buy and sell balanced ETFs, as well as other ETFs and stocks. The lack of commission costs invites frequent stock trading that eventually does more damage than good, but a disciplined investor could use it to stuff money into balanced ETFs on a regular basis.

TD GoalAssist, from Toronto-Dominion Bank, is another app for mobile devices that offers a cost-effective way for young people to invest. Pick one of TD’s own balanced ETFs and contribute money whenever you like with no commissions to pay. GoalAssist also lets you set investing goals and track how you’re progressing.

Robo-advisers are another way for young adults to get help in building diversified ETF portfolios. For a fee starting at roughly 0.5 per cent, a robo-adviser will assess your needs with an online questionnaire and then suggest a diversified grouping of ETFs. Investing is a simple matter of electronically transferring money to your robo-adviser, which then contributes it proportionally to the ETFs in your portfolio.

Robo-advisers typically have lower fees for larger accounts, but a young investor still gets a fair deal.

Stay informed about your money. We have a newsletter from personal finance columnist Rob Carrick. Sign up today.

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Enforcement Notice – Decision – IIROC Sanctions Montréal Investment Advisor Naghmeh Sabet – Canada NewsWire

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MONTRÉAL, Jan. 22, 2021 /CNW/ – On January 19, 2021, a Hearing Panel of the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC) accepted a Settlement Agreement, with sanctions, between IIROC staff and Naghmeh Sabet.

Mrs. Sabet admitted that she recommended the purchase and holding of securities that were unsuitable for a client, pursuant to this client’s investment objectives, and that she engaged in personal financial dealings with a client by accepting the offer of a short-term loan by the client for an imminent real estate transaction.

Specifically, Mrs. Sabet admitted to the following violations:

(a) In March and April 2016, the Respondent recommended the purchase and holding of securities that were unsuitable for a client, pursuant to this client’s investment objectives, thus contravening IIROC Dealer Member Rule 1300.1(q);

(b) In December 2015, the Respondent engaged in personal financial dealings with a client by accepting the offer of a short-term loan proposed by the client for an imminent real estate transaction, thus contravening IIROC Dealer Member Rule 43.

Mrs. Sabet agreed to the following penalties:

a) An aggregate fine in the amount of $25,000, as follows:

  • a $10,000 fine for Count 1;
  • a $15,000 fine for Count 2.

b) The obligation to pass the Conduct and Practices Handbook Course exam, within sixty (60) days following acceptance of this Settlement Agreement by the Hearing Panel.

c) Costs in the amount of $2,000 payable to IIROC.

The Settlement Agreement is available at:
http://www.iiroc.ca/documents/2021/7a39019a-2815-4091-b5e9-13b90167e182_en.pdf            

IIROC formally initiated the investigation into Mrs. Sabet’s conduct in August 2017. The alleged contraventions occurred while Mrs. Sabet was a registered representative with the Montréal branch of Scotia Capital Inc., an IIROC-regulated firm. Mrs. Sabet is still employed with Scotia Capital Inc.

Documents related to ongoing IIROC enforcement proceedings – including Reasons and Decisions of Hearing Panels – are posted on the IIROC website as they become available. Click here to search and access all IIROC enforcement documents.

*  *  *

IIROC is the pan-Canadian self-regulatory organization that oversees all investment dealers and their trading activity in Canada’s debt and equity markets. IIROC sets high quality regulatory and investment industry standards, protects investors and strengthens market integrity while supporting healthy Canadian capital markets. IIROC carries out its regulatory responsibilities through setting and enforcing rules regarding the proficiency, business and financial conduct of 175 Canadian investment dealer firms of varying sizes and business models, and their more than 30,000 registered employees. IIROC also sets and enforces market integrity rules regarding trading activity on Canadian debt and equity marketplaces.

IIROC investigates possible misconduct by its member firms and/or individual registrants. It can bring disciplinary proceedings which may result in penalties including fines, suspensions, permanent bars, expulsion from membership, or termination of rights and privileges for individuals and firms.

All information about disciplinary proceedings relating to current and former member firms is available in the Enforcement section of the IIROC website. Background information regarding the qualifications and disciplinary history, if any, of advisors currently employed by IIROC-regulated firms is available free of charge through the IIROC AdvisorReport service. Information on how to make investment dealer, advisor or marketplace-related complaints is available by calling 1 877 442-4322.

SOURCE Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC) – General News

For further information: Enforcement Contact: Claudyne Bienvenu, Vice-President, Québec and Atlantic, 514 878-2854, [email protected]; Media Contact: Andrea Zviedris, Manager, Media Relations, 416 943-6906, [email protected]

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www.iiroc.ca

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European start-ups are attracting record levels of investment – Innovation Origins

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Investments in European start-ups rose to record levels during the final three months of 2020. In the fourth quarter of last year, a total of US$14.3 billion was invested in European start-ups. This was revealed in a report brought out by KPMG.

Seventy percent growth

This figure corresponds to an increase of seventy per cent compared to the last three months of 2019. It also marks the highest quarterly increase in 2020, although the other three have also fared extremely well. Total investment in European start-ups reached US$49 billion last year, that was US$7 billion less in 2019.

However, emerging start-ups and even companies that are already generating a certain amount of turnover are struggling to raise funding.”
Karina Kuperus, KPMG

The figures highlight a number of developments. While investments were up, the number of deals made fell sharply, from around 7,500 in 2019 to just over 6,000 in 2020. “Investors have focused on technology-driven solutions and on start-ups that are highly capable of responding to the changing needs of employees and customers. This means that early-stage start-ups and even companies that are already generating some revenue experience great difficulties in securing funding,” says Karina Kuperus, a partner in KPMG’s Emerging Giants advisory group.

Late-stage start-ups are most in demand

Financiers have been particularly interested in late-stage start-ups that have a proven business model. In a number of sectors, including fintech, logistics technology and educational technology, this has led to consistently higher valuations. In general, technology, healthcare and biotechnology are popular with investors.

There is no shortage of funds. Due to the availability of a lot of ‘unused money’ among investors ( as a result of low interest rates, among other factors), there is a lot of competition. Although this is mainly concentrated on promising start-ups in their later stages. For example, during the last three months of 2020, a number of companies managed to attract more than US$100 million, including Germany’s ATAI Life Sciences (US$125 million).

Investments are also set to increase in 2021

Globally, there has also been an appetite for funding start-ups. KPMG tallies a total of US$300 billion that has been invested in start-ups around the world. That is US$18 billion more than in 2019. The tendency towards a decline in the number of deals also applies beyond Europe’s borders. By the way, the United States accounted for more than half of all global investments last year.

The volume of investments is unlikely to drop in 2021. “The pandemic has also revealed the pressing need to modernise key aspects of the existing healthcare system and to harness new technologies, such as artificial intelligence in the development of new medicines,” Kuperus stated.

More information can be found in the latest version of Venture Pulse, KPMG’s report on their research into global investments in start-ups. 

Atomico, another European tech investment company, also recently came to a similar conclusion.

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