GOAL IS SMOOTH
Just a week ago, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued its first-ever travel warning for a destination inside the United States. The warning was related to several Zika infections in the north Miami neighborhood of Wynwood, where 17 cases of the virus have so far been reported.The state’s tourism agency, Visit Florida, reported earlier this year that 105 million tourists visited the state in 2015 and spent $82 billion. If the virus should spread beyond its currently known location, it could threaten some of the state’s largest tourist attractions, like DisneyWorld and Universal Orlando, along with beachfront cities along the east coast like Palm Beach and Port St. Lucie.
JetBlue airlines will allow refunds to travelers who are concerned about traveling to “Zika-impacted areas confirmed by the CDC.” Other airlines, including American, Delta, Southwest and Spirit have adopted guidelines for refunds, but it is not clear whether those apply to Florida as well as international destinations where the virus is found.When the CDC issued its warning last week, director Tom Frieden said:
With the new information that there are active mosquitoes still in the area and additional Zika infections, we conclude that pregnant women should avoid this area – and make every effort to prevent mosquito bites if they live or work there. We apply the same criteria within and outside of the United States, and are working closely with the State of Florida and Miami health departments to provide preventive services, including mosquito control.
Florida governor Rick Scott requested that the CDC send an emergency response team to help the state’s health department respond to the threat.The potential impact on the state’s massive tourism industry could be significant. Some portion of travelers will avoid the state altogether, while the state and federal governments have a thin line to walk: making the public aware of the dangers of the virus without scaring it away.The Zika virus is particularly dangerous to pregnant women. The CDC travel guidance recommends that pregnant women not travel to the identified area and that pregnant women and their partners living in the area should follow steps to prevent mosquito bites and sexual transmission of the infection. Look here for the full list of CDC recommendations. The virus causes microcephaly, a birth defect that causes the baby’s head to be smaller than expected compared with other babies of the same sex and age
Key moves that may help reduce your 2016 tax bill
When it comes to tax planning, procrastination can be costly; the deadline for implementing most investment-related strategies to help reduce your tax bill for this year is December 30, 2016.
We have assembled a number of valuable tips you may be able to implement before the year ends to help reduce the amount you send the IRS.
Capital losses can offset capital gains
Include year-end long-term capital gain distributions from mutual funds when estimating your 2016 gains.
Determine if you can take advantage of the 0% long-term capital gain tax rate.
Sell by year-end to realize losses. If you want to repurchase the position, talk with your Financial Advisor about strategies that will help avoid a wash sale. Pay attention to potential dividend or capital gain distribution reinvestment that could create a wash sale.
The last day to double up your position (purchase replacement shares ahead of the sale establishing the loss) and still claim a 2016 tax loss (without triggering a wash sale) is Tuesday, November 29, 2016.
Excess capital losses can reduce up to $3,000 of other types of taxable income each year.
Give gifts to help increase deductions
Generally, contributions to charities must arrive by calendar year-end.
For gift fund contributions, the account must be open and deposit completed before calendar year-end to qualify as a 2016 gift.
Be aware of the phase-out rules regarding itemized deductions.
Evaluate the tax benefits of gifting long-term appreciated stock versus cash.
If you are taking required minimum distributions (RMDs) from an IRA, consider the potential benefits of a qualified charitable distribution (QCD). For taxpayers over age 70½, distributions from a traditional IRA of up to $100,000 are tax free if sent directly to a charity. Discuss your situation with your tax advisor.
Develop a strategy early for managing company stock benefits
Exercising incentive stock options (ISOs), nonqualified stock options (NSOs), or restricted stock grants could have significant tax consequences, including alternative minimum tax (AMT) implications.
Work with your tax professional before year end to develop a tax-efficient near-term and long-term strategy.
Evaluate the impact of an upcoming change to the medical expense deduction
In 2016, anyone age 65 or older may deduct medical expenses that exceed 7.5% of adjusted gross income (AGI). In 2017, that threshold will jump to 10% of AGI resulting in a smaller deduction or none at all.
Anticipate medical expenses for 2016 and 2017. Talk with your tax advisor to determine if it would be beneficial to accelerate elective expenses into 2016 or postpone expenses to 2017.
Deductible medical expenses can include out-of-pocket costs for dental treatments, eyeglasses, hearing aids, some insurance premiums, etc. For a detailed listing, see IRS Publication 502.
Save on taxes while saving for education
Contributions to Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) or 529 plan accounts can grow tax-deferred.
529 plan contributions must be invested with the vendor in time to be reportable on a 2016 account statement to be considered a 2016 contribution.
ESA contributions for 2016 can be made up to April 18, 2017.
Distributions must occur in the same tax year as the payment of qualified education expenses for both types of accounts to be eligible for tax-free treatment.
Consider the tax benefits of retirement plan strategies
In 2016, you can defer $18,000 ($24,000 if you’re age 50 or older) of your compensation by the calendar year-end deadline for many employer-sponsored retirement plan accounts.
If available, consider starting or increasing contributions to your employer’s nonqualified deferred compensation (NQDC) plan.
Evaluate Roth conversion opportunities.
Take advantage of employer-provided tax-advantaged benefit programs
Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) and Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) typically require annual re-enrollment.
Review 2016 out-of-pocket expenses and adjust 2017 contribution amounts accordingly.
Consider funding an FSA for dependent care expenses if you have a child in day care.
Download the Guide
Not sure where to start? Turn to your advisors today.
Schedule an appointment with your tax professional to discuss your situation and review your 2016 tax projection.
Follow-up with your Financial Advisor to evaluate your portfolio strategies and any investment changes that may help lessen your 2016 tax bill.
Go beyond tax planning and create or update your Envision® investment plan profile. With an Envision plan, you can easily make adjustments to account for tax planning considerations or changes in your life (births, deaths, marriages, divorces, etc.). If you’re nearing retirement, your Financial Advisor can also include income projections using the Income Center.
A new growth industry: Helping individuals stay in their homes as they age. Homes that are accessible and familar are seen as an alternative to assisted living facilities and nursing homes, especially as costs for them grow. Among options contractors are being called on to provide: Access ramps to replace bathtubs plus elevators and chair lifts. Other fixes are easier to make and less costly, including adding lights and installing raised height appliances
MANFACTURING IS UP
FACEBOOK EARNINGS CONTINUE TO RISE
Fraud tied to Sandy persists in New Jersey. New Jersey officials are still addressing a flood of fraud complaints related to superstorm Sandy four years after it slammed ashore. Prosecutors are investigating or have filed criminal charges in 161 cases involving more than $15 million in alleged fraud stemming from the storm, according to the state attorney general's office and prosecutors in Ocean County, one of the counties hit hardest by the storm. More than a third of the criminal charges brought by state prosecutors were filed in 2016. Many of the investigations have focused on building contractors accused of cheating their customers, but hotel operators, car dealers, and home owners have been charged with stealing disaster relief money and other crimes.
The global market share of Alphabet Inc.’s (NASDAQ: GOOGL) Android rose to 88% last quarter, further cornering Apple Inc.’s (NASDAQ: AAPL) iOS. Sales of the iPhone 7 are Apple’s only way out of the dilemma, and its numbers are not growing briskly enough to solve the problem. Android has the built-in advantage of its presence on smartphones made by an army of manufacturers, led by Samsung.
According to Linda Sui, director at Strategy Analytics, the overall market is healthy:
Global smartphone shipments grew 6 percent annually from 354.2 million units in Q3 2015 to 375.4 million in Q3 2016. This was the smartphone industry’s fastest growth rate for a year. Modest smartphone regrowth is being supported by emerging markets with relatively low smartphone penetration across Asia and Africa Middle East, particularly countries such as India and South Africa.
The firm’s pessimism for Apple is clear. According to Neil Mawston, executive director at Strategy Analytics:
Android’s domination of global smartphone shipments remained strong in Q3 2016, with a record 88 percent of all smartphones now running Google’s OS. Android’s gain came at the expense of every major rival platform. Apple iOS lost ground to Android and dipped to 12 percent share worldwide in Q3 2016, due to a lackluster performance in China and Africa. BlackBerry and Microsoft Windows Phone have all but disappeared due to strategic shifts, while Tizen and other emerging platforms softened as a result of limited product portfolios and modest developer support.
One of Apple’s major disadvantages, which is not going to change, is that it will not license iOS to other manufacturers. It is stuck on its own island as the water rises.
AT&T HAULTS GALAXY 7 EXCHANGES
KEY MOVES TO REDUCE YOUR 2016 TAX BILL
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FORD TO WORK WITH TRUMP
Ford Motor Co Chief Executive Mark Fields issued a warning about President elect Donald Trump's proposed trade policies saying haigh tariffs on automobiles and other products coming into the US would be a blow to the auto industry and broader US economy. Mr Fields, speaking with reporters on the sidelines of the Los Angeles auto show on Tuesday dais Ford has talked to Mr Trump's transition team and believes the company can work with the new administration. During a separate interview he said " We all share the same objective we want a vibrant and healthy US economy
Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) reported its third-quarter financial results after the markets closed on Wednesday. The company had $1.09 in earnings per share (EPS) and $7.01 billion in revenue. Thomson Reuters had consensus estimates calling for $0.97 in EPS and $6.92 billion in revenue. The same period from last year had $0.57 in EPS and $4.5 billion in revenue.
During the quarter, Daily active users (DAUs) totaled 1.18 billion on average for September 2016, an increase of 17% year-over-year. Mobile DAUs were 1.09 billion on average for September 2016, an increase of 22%.
Monthly active users (MAUs) came out at 1.79 billion at the end of the quarter, an increase of 16% from the same period last year. Mobile MAUs were 1.66 billion, an increase of 20%.
Apparently, Facebook is still kicking you know what on mobile ad dominance. Mobile advertising revenue represented 84% of advertising revenue for the third quarter of 2016, up from roughly 78% of advertising revenue.
On the books, Facebook’s cash and equivalents totaled $26.14 billion, versus $18.43 billion at the end of 2015.
Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder and CEO, is likely to say much more detail on the conference call. He commented only very briefly:
We had another good quarter. We’re making progress putting video first across our apps and executing our 10 year technology roadmap.
Facebook options traders were bracing for about a 5% earnings swing.
Shares of Facebook closed Wednesday down 1.7% at $127.26, with a consensus analyst price target of $156.76 and a 52-week trading range of $89.37 to $133.50.
Following the release of the earnings report, the stock was initially up 0.6% at $127.90 in the after-hours trading session before going slightly negative in the after-hours reaction. Until getting into the conference call and hearing the general commentary ahead investors should probably consider this reaction very tentative. In fact, it seems like unfinished business until hearing commentary from Zuckerberg and Sandberg
HURRICANE SANDY FRAUD
(Reuters) - AT&T Inc said on Sunday it will stop exchanging Samsung Electronics' Galaxy Note 7 following reports of fires from the replacement devices.
"Based on recent reports, we're no longer exchanging new Note 7s at this time, pending further investigation of these reported incidents," an AT&T spokesman said in a emailed-statement to Reuters on Sunday.
A Southwest Airline flight was evacuated earlier this week after a replacement model of the fire-prone Samsung Note 7 smartphone began smoking inside the plane.
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said it had confirmed a Samsung phone had caused the smoke and was investigating the incident, putting pressure on the Korean company as it struggles with the global scandal which has hurt its reputation.
CDC WARNS OF FLORICA ZIKA RISKS
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York has released its Empire State Manufacturing Survey for the month of November. It managed to show a small gain, as opposed to a prior loss and expectations for a slight loss.Bloomberg had projected a −2.3 reading for November, and the actual report showed a gain of 1.5. It was better than all economists were expecting, as the Econoday range was −6.4 to −1.0. October’s report was −6.8.What seems to be happening here is a rekindled growth reading after recent weak trends. After all, November was the first positive reading since July.
New orders were up at 3.1 in November, although the unfilled orders were in negative territory, down at −12.7. Shipments were up at 8.5, and that reverses two prior months of decline.Some weakness persisted in employment. Labor market conditions remained weak, with the number of employees and average workweek indexes both at −10.9.Inflation trends might be abating as businesses reported that their input costs and selling prices were up but were seen as moderating. This is suggesting a slower pace of growth in both input prices and selling prices.
The Empire Fed’s six-month outlook was down 7.1 points to 29.9.New orders and shipments were quite positive. These rose to 3.1 and 8.5, respectively.The inventories index fell 11 points to −23.6, pointing to a marked decline in inventory levels.After the strong retail sales and after the election, some of the gains here might be less enthusiastic, because it is the Federal Reserve region around New York rather than a national reading. Either way, this reversed prior weakening trends. It also just may be one more move to give the Federal Reserve cover to raise interest rates in December
ANDROID PLUMMELS APPLE