News & Insights

New Cancellation for Federal Student Loans: Think you may not be eligible? Scenarios to consider--

by Laurie Barrett on Sep 8, 2022

September 2022- Do you have a Federal Student Loan or family members with student loans? The new Student Debt Relief Plan announced late last month will cancel $10,000 in federal student loan debt for individual borrowers whose income was below $125,000 ($250,000 for married couples) in 2020 or 2021, plus another $10,000 for Pell Grant recipients. Think you may NOT be eligible? Here are some considerations: --> First, to the extent an individual is a business owner and still has the ability to make deductible contributions to a retirement plan for 2021 (e.g., a self-employed person contributing to their own SEP IRA), if those contributions, and the corresponding deductions, reduce AGI enough to get under the applicable threshold, such contributions should be carefully considered. --> In addition, if the thresholds for single filers are also applied to married individuals who file separate returns, married couples with student debt should evaluate whether filing separate returns for 2021 makes sense, even if they normally file joint returns. If the debt forgiveness available to one spouse exceeds the additional tax burden (plus any other applicable costs, such as tax prep fees) created by filing separately, it could be a net win. Please read on to learn more and call us so we can help!

Mid-Quarter Market Update

by Laurie Barrett on Sep 2, 2022

September 2022- Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s tough talk about bringing inflation down threw cold water on the markets this week, effectively ending the relief rally that started at the end of June. Powell strongly emphasized the central bank’s focus on inflation reduction, even at the cost of economic growth and unemployment, with this telling comment, “While higher interest rates, slower growth, and softer labor market conditions will bring down inflation, they will also bring some pain to households and businesses.  These are the unfortunate costs of reducing inflation. But a failure to restore price stability would mean far greater pain.”  These comments fueled fears that the Fed’s policies would lead to even weaker economic growth, rising unemployment, and lower corporate profits. Some of the recovery in equity prices since June was born of the belief that the Fed would begin lowering interest rates once the economy weakened.   Powell’s crystal clear declaration disabused investors of this Goldilocks scenario.

Seascape Capital Supports the Cross Roads House

by Laurie Barrett on Aug 22, 2022

August 2022- The Seascape Capital Team spent a beautiful Volunteer Day at the Cross Roads House.  We support their mission to meet the immediate needs of homeless families and individuals, and to provide them with the tools and guidance they need to successfully return to permanent housing.  This transitional shelter has helped homeless families and individuals get back on their feet for forty years.  It has been our pleasure to support this great organization for most of the nearly twenty years we've been in business.

Inflation Reduction Act: What You Should Know

by Laurie Barrett on Aug 22, 2022

August 2022- The Inflation Reduction Act, signed into law on August 16, 2022, includes health-care and energy-related provisions, a new corporate alternative minimum tax, and an excise tax on certain corporate stock buybacks. Additional funding is also provided to the IRS. Please read on to learn about some significant provisions in the Act that you should know.

Market Recap -- Q2 2022

by Laurie Barrett on Jul 27, 2022

July 2022- Rising inflation, increasing fears of a recession, the ongoing war on Ukraine, and the Federal Reserve’s aggressive tightening have continued to shock markets. Developed market equities fell over 20% turning in their worst first six months in over 50 years. To make matters worse, asset class diversification didn’t work this quarter. Equites and bonds rarely fall in tandem since bonds are the safe harbor investors seek in a storm. However, rapid interest rate increases hit government and investment grade bonds nearly as hard as equities. Fixed income securities fell 10%-20% depending on the maturity. Though generally in line with benchmarks over the quarter, portfolios experienced this pain as well.

IRS Releases 2023 Key Numbers for Health Savings Accounts

by Laurie Barrett on Jun 27, 2022

June 2022- The IRS has released the 2023 contribution limits for health savings accounts (HSAs), as well as the 2023 minimum deductible and maximum out-of-pocket amounts for high-deductible health plans (HDHPs). An HSA is a tax-advantaged account that's paired with an HDHP. An HSA offers several valuable tax benefits: (1) You may be able to make pre-tax contributions via payroll deduction through your employer, reducing your current income tax; (2) If you make contributions on your own using after-tax dollars, they're deductible from your federal income tax (and perhaps from your state income tax) whether you itemize or not; (3) Contributions to your HSA, and any interest or earnings, grow tax deferred; (4) Contributions and any earnings you withdraw will be tax-free if used to pay qualified medical expenses. Read on to see the key tax numbers for 2022 and 2023.

Mid-Quarter Market Update

by Laurie Barrett on Jun 9, 2022

June 2022- A challenging market environment continues in the second quarter. Though most risk assets have recovered somewhat over the past few weeks, volatility remains ahead. The economic slowdown induced by central bank tightening has begun. While we are closer to the bottom in equity markets, we are not out of the woods just yet. 

Grantor Retained Annuity Trust (GRAT)

by Laurie Barrett on May 23, 2022

May 2022- Grantor retained annuity trusts (GRAT) are estate planning instruments in which a grantor locks assets in a trust from which they earn annual income. Upon expiry, the beneficiary receives the assets with minimal or no gift tax liability. GRATs are most useful to wealthy individuals who face significant estate tax liability at death. In such a case, a GRAT may be used to freeze the value of their estate by shifting a portion or all of the appreciation onto their heirs. Please read on to learn more and call us so we can help!

Market Recap -- Q1 2022

by Laurie Barrett on Apr 27, 2022

April 2022- Surging inflation, the war in Ukraine, and recession fears made for a difficult start to the year for both equities and fixed income. Equities are experiencing their first correction since March 2020. The S&P 500 has dropped nearly 13% and the NASDAQ over 20%. Volatility remains the dominant force as the market digests Federal Reserve rate hikes, geopolitical turmoil, and continuing macroeconomic imbalances. Bonds, faced with sharply higher and rising interest rates, failed to fulfill their traditional role as defensive ballast. The average bond, as measured by the Barclay’s US Aggregate Index, is down 9% year to date.