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quarterly review

2018 1st Quarter Review: “Protectionists Hide in Your Wallet”

Market Commentary
It is often fun (at least for us) to go back and re-read some of our prior quarterly missives. One of our favorites from a couple of years ago was about “Andrew Jackson” and the parallels of his presidential bid in the late 1820’s to the then impending election. If you remember, he ran on an economic platform of: Protect the American people from the rich and powerful. Reduce the national debt and reduce the government. Strip the Second Bank of the United States of its central bank status and charter. Use protective tariffs to protect vital industries to the country’s…
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cryptocurrency

The Cryptocurrency Question

By Guides & Whitepapers
The most common financial question that we have been asked over the last six months or so relates to Bitcoin1 (or any type of other cryptocurrency). Is it real? How is it valued? Should we invest in it? Can it keep going up in price? The answers to these questions are not easily answered, are complex, and are dynamic over time. To start, Crypto comes from the Greek Kruptos, which means “hidden.” Because of the complexity of the subject matter, we would prefer to hide from making an opinion on cryptocurrencies in general. However, they (and the technology surrounding them)…
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tax law changes

After Tax Reform: What Will Your 1040 Look Like?

By and Blog
One of the most extensive tax code overhauls in decades is now law. Below is a brief outline of some of the major changes you may see on your Form 1040 for 2018 due to this tax reform (remember these changes have almost no impact on your 2017 return): Income Tax Rates and Brackets: The number of income tax brackets remains steady at seven, although some income shifted into lower brackets. Click here for a breakdown of the new brackets. Below are a few examples of how the tax reform would impact your 2018 return: For example, for a married…
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cybersecurity

Keep Your Identity to Yourself!

By and Blog, Guides & Whitepapers
With all the recent headlines from the hacking of consumer data at Equifax, combined with data breaches over the years at Target, JPMorgan Chase, Yahoo!, Sony, and many more, it is probably safe to assume that your personal financial data is not completely secure in our cyber world. Per a recent study by Javelin Research out of Pleasanton, California, about one out of every sixteen US consumers were a victim of identity theft in 2016, with damages close to $16 billion. Further, most victims are not even aware that they have been hacked for many months. Fraudsters using your basic…
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IRS Announces 2018 Inflation Adjustments

By Blog
Last week, the IRS announced its 2018 annual inflation adjustments. Below are the highlights for items that changed: Standard deductions: For married filing jointly, increases to $13,000 (up from $12,700 in 2017). For single taxpayers and married individuals filing separately, increases to $6,500 (up from $6,350 in 2017) For heads of households, rises to $9,550 (up from $9,350 for 2017). Personal exemption increases by $100 to $4,150. The exemption is subject to a phase-out that begins with adjusted gross incomes of $266,700 ($320,000 for married couples filing jointly). It phases out completely at $389,200 ($442,500 for married couples filing jointly.)…
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Equifax Data Breach – Suggested Next Steps

By Blog
There is much we still don’t know about the massive data breach that occurred at Equifax, one of the three credit reporting bureaus. As of now, it appears that over half of the adult population of the United States – about 143 million people – had their personal identification information stolen. This data could include social security numbers, names, addresses and dates of birth. In other words, all that a fraudster would need to impersonate you and open new accounts, credit cards, etc. Other information like credit card numbers and drivers licenses also seems to have been stolen from a…
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tax law changes

Tax Reform Proposals at a Glance

By Blog
The White House unveiled its highly anticipated tax plan yesterday. As expected, the plan proposes steep tax cuts across the board. Most of the items discussed are in line with Trump’s initial plan, and with the Blueprint proposed by Ways and Means Republicans last summer. Although the final law will look different than these initial proposals, some sort of tax reduction is almost certain given Republican control over Congress. It remains to be seen how steep the cuts will go and for how long they will last. While Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin vows that the plan will be financed by…
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cybersecurity

Identity Theft Prevention & Cybersecurity Best Practices

By and Blog
Years ago, careful watch over your wallet and important documents was sufficient protection against identity theft and fraud. Unfortunately, those days are long gone, as such theft is growing exponentially, and cybersecurity breaches impact millions of people each year. Each individual must take action in order to keep his or her information safe. It is a mistake to assume that the safeguards your financial institutions (banks, credit cards, financial advisor, etc.) have in place are all that is needed to protect you. Please note that this post is about preventative measures. If you have already been hacked, we recommend following…
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fiduciary

John Oliver & The Fiduciary Standard

By Blog
In his most recent episode, John Oliver did a great job uncovering several issues that plan sponsors and participants might find in their 401k plan.  We are proud to say our approach to advising retirement plans addresses all of these issues: Fiduciary– Many “financial advisors” do not act as a fiduciary to their clients, meaning they can act in a sales-like capacity (broker) rather than acting in their clients’ best interests.  Simply put – find someone who, both in practice and by law, must act in your best interest.  Sontag Advisory acts as a 3(38) ERISA fiduciary to our corporate retirement plan clients,…
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