IRS Provides Stimulus Check Details: Payments to Start Within Three Weeks

The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced Monday  that distribution of economic impact payments will begin in the next three weeks and will be distributed automatically, with no action required for most people.  However, some seniors and others who typically do not file returns will need to submit a simple tax return to receive the stimulus payment.

Who is eligible for the economic impact payment?

Tax filers with adjusted gross income up to $75,000 for individuals and up to $150,000 for married couples filing joint returns will receive the full payment. For filers with income above those amounts, the payment amount is reduced by $5 for each $100 above the $75,000/$150,000 thresholds. Single filers with income exceeding $99,000 and $198,000 for joint filers with no children are not eligible.  Eligible taxpayers who filed tax returns for either 2019 or 2018 will automatically receive an economic impact payment of up to $1,200 for individuals or $2,400 for married couples. Parents also receive $500 for each qualifying child.

How will the IRS know where to send my payment?

The vast majority of people do not need to take any action. The IRS will calculate and automatically send the economic impact payment to those eligible.  For people who have already filed their 2019 tax returns, the IRS will use this information to calculate the payment amount. For those who have not yet filed their return for 2019, the IRS will use information from their 2018 tax filing to calculate the payment. The economic impact payment will be deposited directly into the same banking account reflected on the return filed.

The IRS does not have my direct deposit information. What can I do?

In the coming weeks, Treasury plans to develop a web-based portal for individuals to provide their banking information to the IRS online, so that individuals can receive payments immediately as opposed to checks in the mail.

I am not typically required to file a tax return. Can I still receive my payment?

Yes. People who typically do not file a tax return will need to file a simple tax return to receive an economic impact payment. Low-income taxpayers, senior citizens, Social Security recipients, some veterans and individuals with disabilities who are otherwise not required to file a tax return will not owe tax.

How can I file the tax return needed to receive my economic impact payment?

IRS.gov/coronavirus will soon provide information instructing people in these groups on how to file a 2019 tax return with simple, but necessary, information including their filing status, number of dependents and direct deposit bank account information.

I have not filed my tax return for 2018 or 2019. Can I still receive an economic impact payment?

Yes. The IRS urges anyone with a tax filing obligation who has not yet filed a tax return for 2018 or 2019 to file as soon as they can to receive an economic impact payment. Taxpayers should include direct deposit banking information on the return.

I need to file a tax return. How long are the economic impact payments available?

For those concerned about visiting a tax professional or local community organization in person to get help with a tax return, these economic impact payments will be available throughout the rest of 2020.

Where can I get more information?

The IRS will post all key information on IRS.gov/coronavirus as soon as it becomes available.  The IRS has a reduced staff in many of its offices but remains committed to helping eligible individuals receive their payments expeditiously. Check for updated information on IRS.gov/coronavirus rather than calling IRS assistors who are helping process 2019 returns.

IRS Provides FAQs on 2019 Federal Income Tax Deadline Extensions

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) last week announced special federal income tax return filing and payment relief in response to the ongoing Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) emergency.  Today the IRS released some answers to frequently asked questions related to the relief. Below are a few of the questions that are likely to be of interest to federal employees and retirees.

The answers to these questions provide responses to general inquiries and are not citable as legal authority,” the IRS said. “Accordingly, the Treasury Department and the IRS are continuing to consider additional IRB guidance on these issues addressed in these FAQs.”  See the end of this article for a link to the complete list of updated FAQs on the IRS website.

Who is eligible for the extension?

Any person with a Federal income tax return or payment due on April 15, 2020, is eligible for relief under the Notice. “Person” includes any type of taxpayer, such as an individual, a trust, an estate, a corporation, or any type of unincorporated business entity. The payment due refers to both 2019 Federal income tax payments (including payments of tax on self-employment income) and 2020 estimated Federal income tax payments (including payments of tax on self-employment income), regardless of the amount owed. The return or payment must be due on April 15, 2020 – this relief does not apply to Federal income tax returns and payments due on any other date.

Do I have to actually be sick, or quarantined, or have any other impact from COVID-19 to qualify for payment relief?

No, you do not have to be sick, or quarantined, or have any other impact from COVID-19 to qualify for relief. You only need to have a Federal income tax return or payment due on April 15, 2020, as described above.

What are the form numbers of the specific federal income tax returns whose filing deadlines have been postponed?

The Notice postpones the filing and payment of Federal income taxes reported on the following forms: 

Form 1040, 1040-SR, 1040-NR, 1040-NR-EZ, 1040-PR, 1040-SS 
Form 1041, 1041-N, 1041-QFT
Form 1120, 1120-C, 1120-F, 1120-FSC, 1120-H, 1120-L, 1120-ND, 1120-PC, 1120-POL, 1120-REIT, 1120-RIC, 1120-SF
Form 8960
Form 8991

With respect to Form 990-T, if that Form is due to be filed on April 15, then it has been postponed to July 15 under the Notice. For taxpayers whose Form 990-T is due on May 15, that due date has not been postponed under the Notice.

With respect to returns due on March 16, 2020, which include Form 1065, Form 1065-B, Form 1066, and Form 1120-S for calendar year taxpayers, the filing of those returns has not been postponed.

Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs)

Does this provide me more time to contribute money to my IRA for 2019?

Yes. Contributions can be made to your IRA, for a particular year, at any time during the year or by the due date for filing your return for that year. Because the due date for filing Federal income tax returns has been postponed to July 15, the deadline for making contributions to your IRA for 2019 is also extended to July 15, 2020. For more details on IRA contributions, see Publication 590-A, Contributions to Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs).

Does this provide me more time to contribute money to my HSA or Archer MSA for 2019?

Yes. Contributions may be made to your HSA or Archer MSA, for a particular year, at any time during the year or by the due date for filing your return for that year. Because the due date for filing Federal income tax returns is now July 15, 2020, under this relief, you may make contributions to your HSA or Archer MSA for 2019 at any time up to July 15, 2020. For more details on HSA or Archer MSA contributions, see Publication 969, Health Savings Accounts and other Tax-Favored Health Plans.

I haven’t filed my 2019 federal income tax return yet, but I expect to file it by July 15. What do I need to do?

Nothing, except file and pay any tax due with your return by July 15. You don’t need to file any additional forms or call the IRS to qualify for this automatic Federal tax filing and payment relief. If you expect a refund, you are encouraged to file your return as soon as you can so that you can receive your refund. Filing electronically with direct deposit is the quickest way to get refunds. If you need more time beyond July 15 to file your return, request an automatic extension of time to file as described next.

What if I am unable to file my 2019 federal income tax return that would have been due on April 15 by July 15, 2020?

If you are an individual, you can request an automatic extension to file your Federal income tax return if you can’t file by the July 15 deadline. The easiest and fastest way to request a filing extension is to electronically file Form 4868 through your tax professional, tax software, or using the Free File link on IRS.gov. Businesses, including trusts, must file Form 7004.

You must request the automatic extension by July 15, 2020. If you properly estimate your 2019 tax liability using the information available to you and file an extension form by July 15, 2020, your tax return will be due on October 15, 2020. To avoid interest and penalties when filing your tax return after July 15, 2020, pay the tax you estimate as due with your extension request.

Does this apply to state income tax liabilities?

No, this relief applies only to Federal income tax payments. State filing and payment deadlines vary and are not always the same as the Federal filing and payment deadline. We urge you to check with your state tax agencies for those details. More information is available at https://www.taxadmin.org/state-tax-agencies.

Full List of Updated IRS FAQs

The IRS said these questions and answers will be updated periodically and “are designed to be a flexible tool to communicate information to taxpayers and tax professionals in this changing environment.” To view the complete list of FAQs, go to:  https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/filing-and-payment-deadlines-questions-and-answers

Social Security Closes Local Offices, But Continues Critical Services and Benefit Payments

The Social Security Administration announced that all of its local Social offices will be closed to the public for in-person service effective   March 17, 2020.  The agency said the decision protects the population they serve — older Americans and people with underlying medical conditions — and their employees during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.  It will, however, still provide critical services during this time.

“Our secure and convenient online services remain available at www.socialsecurity.gov,” the agency said. “Local offices will also continue to provide critical services over the phone. We are working closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), state and local governments, and other experts to monitor COVID-19 and will let you know as soon as we can resume in-person service.”

Social Security Benefit Payments Will Continue As Normal

“I want you to hear directly from me how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting our services. The first thing you should know is that we continue to pay benefits,” said Andrew Saul, Commissioner of Social Security on March 18. “To protect you and help stop the spread of this coronavirus, we cannot accept visitors in our offices at this time.”

Beware of Scams

Saul also warned beneficiaries of potential scams. “Be aware that scammers may try to trick you into thinking the pandemic is stopping your Social Security payments but that is not true,” Saul said. “Don’t be fooled.”

Online and Phone Services Available

The agency provided direction on how to access help from Social Security below:

First, please use our secure and convenient online services available at www.socialsecurity.gov/onlineservices. You can apply for retirement, disability, and Medicare benefits online, check the status of an application or appeal, request a replacement Social Security card (in most areas), print a benefit verification letter, and much more – from anywhere and from any of your devices. We also have a wealth of information to answer most of your Social Security questions online, without having to speak with a Social Security representative in person or by phone. Please visit our online Frequently Asked Questions at www.socialsecurity.gov/ask.

If you cannot conduct your Social Security business online, please check our online field office locator for specific information about how to directly contact your local office. Your local office still will be able to provide critical services to help you apply for benefits, answer your questions, and provide other services over the phone.

If you already have an in-office appointment scheduled, we will call you to handle your appointment over the phone instead. If you have a hearing scheduled, we will call you to discuss alternatives for continuing with your hearing, including offering a telephonic hearing. Our call may come from a PRIVATE number and not from a U.S. Government phone. Please remember that our employees will not threaten you or ask for any form of payment.

If you cannot complete your Social Security business online, please call our National 800 Number at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778). Our National 800 Number has many automated service options you can use without waiting to speak with a telephone representative. A list of automated telephone services is available online at www.socialsecurity.gov/agency/contact/phone.html.

 

Coronavirus Impact (COVID-19)

Our Valued Clients:

The health and safety of our NAMCOA (Naples Asset Management Co, LLC)  family, partners, advisers and investors are a top priority. We are incredibly grateful for your loyalty and take our responsibility to you and our team very seriously. It is clear that the world is facing a challenging business environment amid concerns relating to the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Our goal is to assist our clients during these trying times.

We hope the information outlined below will help limit disruptions for you.

Day-To-Day Operations. We understand that during this time many teams are working remotely and practicing social distancing. We have appropriate technology to ensure limited interruption to our daily business operations. Virtually all of the NAMCOA Portfolio Managers are accustomed to working remotely, so there is not, nor is there expected to be any impact to our Day-To-Operations.

  • Our processes and procedures have always allowed for electronic processing to help complete business transactions in a timely manner.
  • We have videoconferencing technology that we can use at any time to discuss client needs and portfolio updated via a virtual meeting.

Internally

  • We are limiting non-essential travel in accordance with CDC and WHO guidelines.
  • We have postponed all NAMCOA (Naples Asset Management Co, LLC) sponsored events until further notice.
  • Most of our team members work remotely now  but will work to ensure as much social distancing as possible.

As we navigate this rapidly changing environment, know that we will continue to do our part to ensure there is minimal interruption to meeting our client needs.

If you have questions, please contact your NAMCOA (Naples Asset Management Co, LLC)  Portfolio Manager, Relationship Manager or Financial Planner.

 

 

Federal Income Tax Payment Deadline Extended to July 15, 2020

The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service are providing special payment relief to individuals and businesses in response to the COVID-19 Outbreak.

The filing deadline for tax returns remains April 15, 2020.

The IRS urges taxpayers who are owed a refund to file as quickly as possible. For those who can’t file by the April 15, 2020 deadline, the IRS reminds individual taxpayers that everyone is eligible to request a six-month extension to file their return.

What the Federal Tax Payment Relief Includes

Individuals: Income tax payment deadlines for individual returns, with a due date of April 15, 2020, are being automatically extended until July 15, 2020, for up to $1 million of their 2019 tax due.

This payment relief applies to all individual returns, including self-employed individuals, and all entities other than C-Corporations, such as trusts or estates.

IRS will automatically provide this relief to taxpayers. Taxpayers do not need to file any additional forms or call the IRS to qualify for this relief.

Corporations: For C Corporations, income tax payment deadlines are being automatically extended until July 15, 2020, for up to $10 million of their 2019 tax due.

Estimated Taxes:  This relief also includes estimated tax payments for tax year 2020 that are due on April 15, 2020.

Penalties and interest will begin to accrue on any remaining unpaid balances as of July 16, 2020. If you file your tax return or request an extension of time to file by April 15, 2020, you will automatically avoid interest and penalties on the taxes paid by July 15.

The IRS reminds individual taxpayers the easiest and fastest way to request a filing extension is to electronically file Form 4868 through their tax professional, tax software or using the Free File link on IRS.gov. Businesses must file Form 7004.

State Income Tax Payments

This relief only applies to federal income tax (including tax on self-employment income) payments otherwise due April 15, 2020, not state tax payments or deposits or payments of any other type of federal tax.

Taxpayers also will need to file income tax returns in 42 states plus the District of Columbia.  State filing and payment deadlines vary and are not always the same as the federal filing deadline.

The IRS urges taxpayers to check with their state tax agencies for those details. More information is available at https://www.taxadmin.org/state-tax-agencies.

For more information, see the Treasury Department’s website here: https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/sm948

Medicare Expands Telehealth Benefits for Beneficiaries During COVID-19 Outbreak

The Trump administration yesterday announced expanded Medicare telehealth coverage that will enable beneficiaries to receive a wider range of healthcare services from their doctors without having to travel to a healthcare facility.

Beginning on March 6, 2020, Medicare — administered by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) — will temporarily pay clinicians to provide telehealth services for beneficiaries residing across the entire country.

“The Trump Administration is taking swift and bold action to give patients greater access to care through telehealth during the COVID-19 outbreak,” said Administrator Seema Verma. “These changes allow seniors to communicate with their doctors without having to travel to a healthcare facility so that they can limit risk of exposure and spread of this virus. Clinicians on the frontlines will now have greater flexibility to safely treat our beneficiaries.”

Prior to this announcement, Medicare was only allowed to pay clinicians for telehealth services such as routine visits in certain circumstances.

For example, the beneficiary receiving the services must live in a rural area and travel to a local medical facility to get telehealth services from a doctor in a remote location. In addition, the beneficiary would generally not be allowed to receive telehealth services in their home.

A range of healthcare providers, such as doctors, nurse practitioners, clinical psychologists, and licensed clinical social workers, will be able to offer telehealth to Medicare beneficiaries.

Client Note December 2019

December was another strong month for US (+2.8%) and global equity markets (1.8%). Junk bonds gained 1.1% in price while treasury bonds were off, giving the Aggregate Bond Index a slight decline.   Federal Reserve intervention, beginning early September, as a result of the overnight inter-bank lending drying up, has totaled some $400billion.   The rate of additions to the Fed balance sheet, is faster than in QE 2 (Nov 2010-June 2011) which took 8 months to add a similar amount.  QE 3 was larger, adding $1.7 trillion, over 2 years.   Central bank liquidity is the primary driver of 4th quarter equity market gains.  Economic data and earnings growth remain slow and near zero.

Portfolios gained across the board in December averaging approximately 2%; owing largely to our individual stock holdings and exposure to gold and miners.  Bonds were muted and were a drag.  Bonds look best posed to gain in the near term. Gold can extend further, and stocks have hit a speed bump with the turmoil in Iraq/Iran and may be slightly choppy in the immediate term.

Gold and gold miners gained 3.6% and 8%, respectively, in December.  Both bottomed November 26th and earned most gains in the last week of December, prior to the assassination of the Iranian general.  International stock markets have outpaced US stock markets since 10/15 (as forecast in October’s Note).  Commodities, ex-US equities and gold have gained significantly since the US Dollar peaked October 1, and its most recent lower high, on 11/27.    The dollar has broken down and may find support another 1% lower, matching its level in late June, which would be 3% decline off its high on October 1.  A small change in the value and direction of the US $ can have large impacts on metals and other natural resources.

The decline in the US Dollar corresponds well to the Feds telegraphing its intentions to refrain from raising rates in 2020.  The dollar can fall/rise relative to other currencies for a variety of reasons.   The current decline is not getting much attention.  Most finance headlines are full of talk about “reflation”.  Given the SP500 is off its all time high by a mere .75%, its not a reference to stock prices.

Reflation, is the topic du jour.  This term refers to economic data.  Federal reserve interventions impact the markets first with a much longer lag to the general economy.  China’s recent modest liquidity injections are: 1) much smaller than in 2017 and 2014 and take about 6-9 months to impact the US/global economy. Positive economic data from central bank actions will take at least one quarter to begin to show up.  Easing amongst central banks is as significant today as during QE 2.  CBs have completely discarded the concept of ‘normalization’ over the next year.

The biggest risk I see in the immediate term is the start to earnings season.  Earnings estimates for the 4th quarter, as usual, have declined substantially over the past year.  IF stocks can ‘beat by a penny’ reduced earnings estimates, we should get through with only minor stock market fluctuations.  Conversely, if companies’ lower guidance and/or miss low estimates, we could see a more general ‘correction’.  Bonds appear to have completed a 4-month consolidation and any more gain will give it some momentum, while stocks consolidate 4th quarter gains.

Slow economic growth, questionable earnings growth and the ever present geo-political risk are risks to the stock market.  With bonds and gold looking up for a variety of reasons, diversifying across asset classes (into areas not correlated with the stock market) is always a prudent approach.

Adam Waszkowski, CFA

The Yield Curve Un-Inverting Is Not Your Friend

I have talked about this phenomenon before and must do it again today.  All over the news recently is how the previously inverted yield curve is now no longer inverted.

Yield curve inversion is when short term Federal Funds Rate, set by the Federal Reserve, has a higher yield than longer term rates.   The most common curve-inversion metric is the Fed Funds rate versus the 10-year Treasury bond.  One can also make comparisons between the 30yr, 10yr, 5yr, 2yr and 1yr Treasury yields.  Inversion is regarded as an indicator of a higher risk of recession in the near future.

The chart below shows, in blue, the spread between the US 10 year Treasury yield and the Fed Funds Rate.  The orange is the Fed Funds rate, set by the Federal Reserve.  Red is the 10-year Treasury.

We can see without a doubt that the past 3 recessions (grey bars) were preceded by a decline in the 10-year yield to BELOW the Fed Funds Rate.  Longer term bonds carry higher rates of interest primarily due to inflation expectations.  The natural state is to have the longest-term bonds pay more than shorter term bonds.

When the 10-year is below the Fed Funds rate, the curve is said to be inverted, as its expected longer-term rates are normally higher than short term rates (the Fed Funds rate is an overnight rate).  The curve un-inverts when the 10-year yield goes back above the Fed Funds rate.

The financial media have spilled a lot of digital ink on this topic.  When it first inverted, reports were based on a recession indicator.  Now that it has normalized slightly, I’m seeing reports that the recession risk has passed.

The chart below clearly indicates that the past 3 recessions began as the curve un-inverted. Recessions are the grey vertical bars.

resteepening 11 2019

The process the last 3 times this has occurred was that; 1) market-driven yield on the 10-year bond went down, generally due to deteriorating economic conditions. 2) the 10-year gets below the Fed Funds rate (blue line under the 0% level), inversion. 3) The Fed begins to lower rates to stimulate the economy. It continues to lower rates basically until the recession is over (orange line).  4) The 10-year Treasury bond yield remains flat or vacillates some as the Fed lowers its Fed Funds rate below the Fed Funds rate, un-inverting.

The problem lays in that the Fed is doing the ‘un-inverting’, not market forces.  Had the Fed left rates alone at 2.5% and the 10-year market-driven rate had gone up (due to increasing economic activity)—THAT would be healthy and a good sign for earnings and the economy. 

It is important to remember that stock prices and the economy are only loosely tied together in the short term, stock prices can rise and remain elevated in the early stages of a recession.  Also, it is possible that the curve inversion is falsely predicting a recession, however this indicator has a very high success rate.

Adam Waszkowski, CFA

Client Note October 2019

November 3, 2019

After a week September, equity markets came back to life in October with the S&P 500 gaining about 2.2%, Euro Stoxx 600 up almost 6% (equal now to April ’19, but still 11% below all-time high from Jan 2018), emerging market stocks gained 4% (remain under April ’19 level, and about 20% below Jan 2018). Aggregate bond index was flat on the month, gold gained 2.5% but remains sideways over the past couple of months.    Portfolios gained across the board, .75% to about 2% on the month.   Our recently added individual stocks continue to do well supporting our core ETF holdings.

Stocks appear to be moving up out of the range we have seen the past several months on the hopes of a trade deal with China and that the current earnings recession is about to end.

Open Interest in gold futures has declined by about 20% as prices have gone sideways and media attention has waned.   At the same time prices have gone sideways and appear to have consolidated enough to provide another base from which to stage another modest rally.

Market driven interest rates have climbed, fallen and climbed again, since August and are consolidating.  With economic numbers (showing the recent past month) have begun to slow their decline (still contracting in durable good, manufacturing) the Fed is indicating less willingness to commit to additional rate cuts.  If data remains ‘less-bad’ I don’t expect a rate cut in December.

Recently we’ve seen very low expectations in employment, earnings and economic data come in ‘less-bad’.  Employment gains were expected at 75k (very weak) to 128k (middling, barely keeping pace with population growth); earnings decline for Q3 year over year at -1% (expected at -3%) and manufacturing PMI slip to 48.3, but greater than expected 47.8 (both indicate contraction).   So, with data not being worse than feared appears to have given market participants confidence that this year may be similar to 2015/2016 and that this bout of weakness will pass.

Western economies grow with credit growth.  In my October Observations, we see how China’s credit impulse impacts US economic data. China’s credit impulse has gone from declining to flat which I believe is the source of our no-longer-falling-but-still-weak economic data.  The Fed restarted a form of QE in September putting in substantial liquidity (comparted to the drain previously) and should give rise to good data in December and January.  If this is temporary remains to be seen.

The US dollar has broken down and may signal an end to its climb (and some decline) which should bode well for commodities which have been added to portfolios.  Oil is on the sidelines still as its in the middle of its 12-, 6-, and 3-month ranges!   We may also see (as mentioned previously) outperformance in ex-US equities (affirmative past 90 days).

 

Adam Waszkowski, CFA