Goldilocks Returns

Domestic stocks leapt ahead last week as the latest jobs report inspired renewed confidence in our economic standing.  The S&P 500 added 3.54%, and the Dow gained 3.25%.  The NASDAQ erased its losses from February’s market correction to hit a new record close while growing 4.17% for the week.  International stocks in the MSCI EAFE increased by 1.79%.

Click here to read the full article.

Volatile Markets Continue

Volatility continued last week as markets posted their 1st weekly loss in 3 weeks.  Despite some recovery on Friday, the S&P 500 dropped 2.04%, the NASDAQ slipped 1.12%, and the Dow lost 3.05% for the week.  Internationally, the MSCI EAFE fell 2.91%.

Click here to read the full article.

Tips for Tax Deduction and Credit Planning

The countdown to tax day has begun. December 31, 2017 closed the books on the old year and started the 15 week clock to the federal tax filing day on April 17, 2018. Officially set for April 15 of every year, the IRS moved this year’s date to April 17, a Tuesday. April 15 this year is a Sunday, and April 16 is Emancipation Day, which is celebrated as a federal holiday.[1]

The close of 2017 brought some major legislative changes to the tax code, which means taxpayers will have to rethink how they prepare their taxes to take advantage of the various credits and deductions.

While President Trump’s “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” significantly slashed both individual and corporate tax rates, making it the most radical overhaul of tax law in more than 30 years, most of the changes won’t apply to filers this year. This year’s returns are based on the 2017 tax year, which is governed by the previous rules. However, there are a few minor distinctions you should monitor as you prepare your taxes.

Here we lay out tips for deductions and credit planning to optimize your return.

Understanding Credits

The IRS offers 2 types of tax credits:[2] nonrefundable and refundable. The nonrefundable credit allows you to obtain a refund only up to the amount of taxes you owe. A refundable credit provides a refund, even if it’s more than the taxes you owe.[3]

Here are some of the top tax credits:

  • Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC): The maximum EITC is $6,318[4] for taxpayers who file jointly and who have at least 3 children. The number rises to $6,444 for tax year 2018. Although this credit is designed to help lower-income people, only about 25% of eligible taxpayers use this credit.[5] It is also available to middle-class and higher-income workers who may have faced financial setbacks, such as job losses, pay cuts, or work-time reductions.
  • Child & Dependent Care Credit: The $3,000 to provide care for a dependent child remains the same for tax years 2017 and 2018.[6] The figure is $6,000 to care for two or more children. The credit amount is 20-35% of your allowable expenses and depends on your adjusted gross income.
  • Adoption Credit: You can claim a credit for expenses in adopting a child.[7] It’s $13,570 per child.[8] If your modified gross income is $203,541-$243,539 for 2017, your credit is reduced. The 2018 range is $207,580-$247,580.[9]
  • Lifetime Learning Credit: The IRS offers a credit of up to $2,000 per year for qualified tuition and enrollment fees at an educational institution.[10] To qualify for this credit, your modified adjusted gross income must be $65,000 or less ($130,000 or less for married filing jointly) for tax year 2017.[11] The credit is $57,000 for individuals and $114,000 for joint filers in 2018.[12]
  • Premium Tax Credit: If you bought health insurance from a federally organized or state-based Health Insurance Marketplace, you may be able to claim this credit.[13] The credit is based on your estimated income, which must be between 100% and 400% of the federal poverty level.[14] The level is based on household size.[15] The purpose of this credit was to help offset insurance premium costs.[16]

Doing the Deductions

Deductions help lower your taxable income. The more than 45 million taxpayers who itemized their tax returns were able to claim $1.2 trillion in deductions.[17] Those who took the standardized deductions were able to claim $747 billion.

You will still be able to itemize deductions for mortgage interest, tuition, and contributions to charity and nonprofits. Here are several other deductions you can use. Some will change for the 2018 tax year.

  • State Sales Tax: This helps those who live in states that do not have income taxes. You must choose between deducting state and local income taxes, or state and local sales taxes.[18] This deduction helps those who made large purchases during tax year 2017, such as cars or boats. The IRS provides a sales tax calculator to help you with your taxes.[19] The new tax code for the 2018 tax year caps the deduction at $10,000, which applies during tax filing in early 2019.[20]
  • Business Travel Expenses: This allows you to deduct expenses for business travel.[21] Expenses include transportation, lodging, dry cleaning, meals, business calls, and more.
  • Student Loan Interest: You can take this deduction if you’re paying interest on a qualified student loan.[22] You may deduct $2,500 or the interest amount you paid in 2017, whichever is lowest. You can claim this deduction even if you don’t itemize. This deduction continues under the new tax bill.
  • Sale of Your Home: If you sold your home in 2017 and generated a capital gain of up to $250,000 (or $500,000 if you’re filing a joint return with your spouse), you may qualify to exclude the amount of the sale from your income.[23]

The IRS provides a wide variety of opportunities to lower your tax bills. Consult with a tax preparer or tax professional to learn more about what’s available. If you have questions, we would be happy to talk with you. We’re also able to connect you with qualified tax professionals if you need additional support.

Kind Regards,

Brad Connors

Footnotes, disclosures, and sources:

These are the views of Platinum Advisor Strategies and not necessarily those of the named representative, Broker dealer or Investment Advisor, and should not be construed as investment advice. Neither the named representative nor the named Broker dealer or Investment Advisor gives tax or legal advice. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. Please consult your financial advisor for further information.

We have not independently verified the information available through the following links. The links are provided to you as a matter of interest. We make no claim as to their accuracy or reliability.

Opinions expressed are subject to change without notice and are not intended as investment advice or to predict future performance.
























Interest Rates, Treasuries, and Inflation

Last week, the Presidents’ Day holiday meant markets were only open for 4 trading days, and during that time, we received comparatively few economic reports.  Nonetheless, major domestic indexes showed considerable volatility and posted losses for 3 straight days.  By Friday, however, stocks rebounded and ended the week in positive territory.  For the week, the S&P 500 gained 0.55%, the Dow added 0.36%, and the NASDAQ was up 1.35%.  International stocks in the MSCI EAFE lost ground, dropping 0.50%.

Click here to read the full article.

Stocks Rebound

Markets rebounded last week, posting sizable gains and moving back into positive territory for the year.  All three domestic indexes experienced their largest weekly growth in years, despite losing some ground on Friday after news of additional indictments in the Russia investigation.

Click here to read the full article.

Understanding Recent Market Volatility

Our Analysis of the Recent Market Turbulence

The markets started 2018 with the wind in their sails, and investors watched as indexes continued their nearly straight-up trajectory from 2017.

Then, after the S&P 500’s best January performance since 1997, stocks took a dive at the beginning of February.[1] On Monday, February 5, the Dow and S&P 500 each lost more than 4%, and the NASDAQ’s drop was nearly as significant.[2] The next day, all 3 indexes posted positive returns.[3]

We understand how unnerving these fluctuations can feel—especially as headlines shout fear-inducing statistics. Our goal is to help you better understand where the markets stand today and how to apply this knowledge to your own financial life.

Putting Performance Into Perspective

When markets post dramatic losses or whipsaw back and forth, many people wonder what causes the turbulence—and may assume negative financial data is to blame. However, the recent selloff and volatility don’t have the culprits you might expect.

No negative economic update or geopolitical drama emerged to spur the selloff February 5–6. Instead, emotion-driven investing may have combined with computer-generated trading to fuel the decline. In particular, after the latest labor report showed wage growth picking up more than expected, some investors began to worry about increasing inflation.[4] Higher wages can mean companies have to raise their prices to support their labor costs, a cycle that can cause inflation to grow.[5]

While concerns about inflation and interest rates may be to blame for the market fluctuations, it may not be the only detail to focus on. Another key point is important to remember as an investor: Volatility is normal.

Volatility Facts

Knowing Where to Go From Here

Over short periods of time, the market trades on fear, anxiety, greed, and emotion. Over the long term, however, economic fundamentals drive the markets.

Thankfully, a variety of data indicate that the economy continues to grow:

  • Labor Market: The economy added 200,000 new jobs in January and beat expectations. Average hourly wages also increased, bringing 2.9% growth in the past 12 months—the largest rise since 2008–2009.[13]
  • Corporate Earnings: The majority of S&P 500 companies who have reported their 4th quarter results have beaten their earnings estimates.[14]
  • Service Sector: The latest reading of the ISM Non-Manufacturing Index (which tracks performance and expectations for service-sector businesses) hit its best level since 2005.[15]
  • Consumers: The most recent data indicates that personal income and spending are on the rise.[16]

As investors try to determine whether inflation is on the rise and higher interest rates are imminent, volatility could continue. After last year’s smooth sailing in the markets, these fluctuations may feel harder to withstand. The reality is that equities don’t move in a straight line.

Even if volatility is here to stay, we know that price changes can provide new market opportunities. We agree with the economists at First Trust who assert that, “More economic growth will ultimately be a tailwind for equities, not a headwind.”[17]

We encourage you to focus on your long-term goals, rather than short-term fluctuations. As you do, avoid allowing emotions to derail your plans. We also want you to feel comfortable in your financial journey. If your thoughts on risk have changed, call us so we can help you find the best path forward.

As always, we are here to provide you with clarity, perspective, and support during every market environment. Thank you for the confidence you place in our abilities. We consider it a privilege to be good stewards of the assets you entrust to our care.


Kind Regards,

Brad Connors, President


Insert your broker/dealer disclosures here. i.e. Securities offered through “Your B/D Name Here,” Member FINRA/SIPC.

Opinions, estimates, forecasts and statements of financial market trends that are based on current market conditions constitute our judgment and are subject to change without notice.

This material is for information purposes only and is not intended as an offer or solicitation with respect to the purchase or sale of any security.

Investing involves risk including the potential loss of principal. No investment strategy can guarantee a profit or protect against loss in periods of declining values.

Indexes cannot be invested in directly, are unmanaged and do not incur management fees, costs and expenses.

Opinions expressed are not intended as investment advice or to predict future performance.

Past performance does not guarantee future results.

Consult your financial professional before making any investment decision.

All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. Please consult your financial advisor for further information.

These are the views of Platinum Advisor Strategies, LLC, and not necessarily those of the named representative or named Broker dealer, and should not be construed as investment advice. Neither the named representative nor the named Broker dealer gives tax or legal advice.

We have not independently verified the information available through the following links. The links are provided to you as a matter of interest. We make no claim as to their accuracy or reliability.








[6] First Trust, Staying the Course, 12/31/17





[10] First Trust, S&P 500 Performance After Its Worst Days, 6/17

[11] First Trust, S&P 500 Performance After Its Worst Days, 6/17

[12] First Trust, S&P 500 Performance After Its Worst Days, 6/17






Special Update: Understanding Volatility

After months of relative calm, market fluctuations are causing many investors to wonder what is happening to the economy.  Last week, the S&P 500 lost 5.16%, the Dow dropped 5.21%, and the NASDAQ declined 5.06%.  The MSCI EAFE also gave back 6.19%.  These losses pushed all four indexes into negative territory for the year.  In addition, the weekly performance included significant volatility, as stocks had large fluctuations both within days and from one day to the next.  The Dow, for example, lost over 1,000 points twice during the week-and also twice gained over 300 points.

During times like these, viewing events in their proper context is imperative.  This week, we are going beyond our typical market update in an effort to provide you with clarity and perspective.

Click here to read the full article.

Markets Slide as Bond Yields Rise

After 4 straight weeks of gains, the markets have slipped.  As of Friday, the S&P 500 lost 3.85%, the Dow dropped 4.12%, and the NASDAQ decreased by 3.53%.  International stocks in the MSCI EAFE also took a 2.78% hit.  Domestically, the losses spanned sectors and asset classes.  For the S&P 500, all 11 of the index’s  industries lost ground last week.  This decline came after the S&P 500 had its best January performance in over 20 years.

Click here to read the full article.

Stocks Jump Again

Stocks had an impressive week yet again, as each of the domestic indexes reached record highs and gained at least 2%.  The S&P 500 added 2.23%, the Dow increased 2.09%, and the NASDAQ grew 2.31%.  International stocks in the MSCI EAFE joined the growth, adding 1.49%.

Click here to read the full article.

Stocks Up as Shutdown Looms

We’re only a few weeks in 2018, and stocks are showing quite a strong performance so far.  last week, major domestic indexes posted gains yet again, with all 3 up at least 5% this year.  By Friday, the S&P 500 had added another 0.86%, and both the Dow and NASDAQ were up 1.04%.  All 3 indexes hit new record highs at least once during the week.

Click here to read the full article.