Fall Items to Check Off Your List

Fall Items to Check Off Your List

With fall fast approaching, it’s time to take care of a few things before year end that can also set you up for the start of next year.

    • Retirement contributions and withdrawals – Just as it’s important to make the necessary contributions to your retirement plan based on your financial plan, you must also take your required minimum distribution (RMD) by December 31 to avoid any penalties if above age 70 ½ or own an inherited IRA. The Merriman Client Services team is hard at work making sure these are all completed for clients. Contributions: The deadline for 2018 Roth IRA and Traditional IRA contributions is April 15, 2020.

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How You Can Leave A Lasting & Meaningful Legacy

How You Can Leave A Lasting & Meaningful Legacy

I recently heard a TED Radio Hour story on NPR about Lux Narayan, an entrepreneur and data analyst. His organization spent two years analyzing the obituaries in The New York Times, looking for threads of commonality between the people who were featured. Then, his team created a word cloud of the text to show which words turned up most often.

One word showed up in large, bold type is help, because these people made a positive impact on the lives of others. They helped. (more…)

What JJ Watt Teaches us About Philanthropy

What JJ Watt Teaches us About Philanthropy

As football season is fully underway, many of us get swept up in the weekly excitement of watching our favorite teams take on their rivals. Maybe you’re closely watching the ups and downs of your Fantasy Football team and strategizing about who to start each week and what the most beneficial trades may be. It’s an exciting time of year for many fans. Let’s take this opportunity to highlight the work one football player is doing off the field. (more…)

Start Small, Dream Big

Start Small, Dream Big

In 2006, during the first football game played in New Orleans’ Superdome since Hurricane Katrina tore through the city the previous year, Steve Gleason, a safety for the Saints, blocked a punt against the Atlanta Falcons. The blocked punt resulted in a Saints touchdown and marked the beginning of the winningest season for the Saints up to that point. More than that, though, the blocked punt turned into a symbol for the resiliency of New Orleans. Looking at challenges Gleason has faced in his own life, it’s easy to view the blocked punt as a symbol of his own resiliency as well. (more…)

What’s Left for Itemized Deductions After the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act?

What’s Left for Itemized Deductions After the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act?

With the doubling of the standard deduction and elimination or reduction of several itemized deductions, you might think there aren’t many opportunities left to itemize. That isn’t the case at all, depending on your circumstances. With the recent tax reform, it’s never been a better time to figure out what you can still itemize in 2018 and in future tax years. To keep track of these deductible expenses, it’s important to be organized and maintain a box or folder to store your receipts throughout the year. This level of organization is necessary whether you work with a tax professional or prepare your own taxes.

Deductions fall into these categories:

  • Medical and dental expenses
  • Taxes you paid
  • Interest you paid
  • Gifts to charity
  • Casualty and theft losses
  • Other miscellaneous deductions

Certain categories, including medical and dental expenses, casualty and theft losses, are subject to a floor that only permits you to deduct expenses above certain thresholds, such as 7.5% of your adjusted gross income (AGI – IRS Form 1040, line 38). Your AGI is your total amount of income from all sources after subtracting certain deductions, such as alimony paid, HSA contributions, the deductible part of self-employment taxes, etc. For example, if your AGI is $100,000 and the threshold for medical expenses is 7.5%, then any qualifying expenses above $7,500 can be included and deducted. (more…)