Financial Insights- March 15, 2022
MEDICARE PREMIUMS ARE ON THE RISE
For most of us on Social Security, Medicare premium payments for Part B (doctors and other non-hospital related services) and Part D (drugs) are deducted from our monthly Social Security check. Therefore, many folks do not realize the sizable premium increases that occurred from 2021 to 2022. According to Medicare, the lowest tier Part B premiums increased a whopping 14.5% and if your income is above certain thresholds your premiums likely increased even more.
For 2022, the IRS and Social Security used your 2019 income as the baseline to determine how much you will pay in Medicare premiums. What if you had a life-changing event like retirement or the sale of a significant asset, and your income changed dramatically? You can ask for a waiver if you can prove that you had such an event, but you will need to complete form SSA-44 and provide accompanying documentation.
TAXES AND LONG-TERM CARE
As you are preparing your tax return over the next month (perhaps longer if using an extension), don’t forget about deducting medical expenses. They are deductible to the extent they exceed 7.5% of taxable income. While we all think about doctors, hospitals, and medicine, there are two ways to deduct part of the expenses associated with long-term care.
If you have purchased a long-term care insurance policy that is “tax-qualified,” you can include the paid premiums as a medical expense. The IRS bases the deductible amount on your age and provides a maximum amount as shown in the table below. In addition, if you, your spouse, or a dependent, is chronically ill and in need of long-term care that is medically necessary, these costs can also be included as a medical cost. Unreimbursed costs associated with a long-term care facility certainly qualify, but so do assisted living and in-home costs. You should talk to your tax professional to make sure you are properly calculating your medical expenses.
Attained Age Before Close of Taxable Year 2022 / 2021 Limit
40 or less $ 450
More than 40 but not more than 50 $ 850
More than 50 but not more than 60 $1,690
More than 60 but not more than 70 $4,510
More than 70 $5,640
SO HOW IS BITCOIN HOLDING UP?
To say 2022 has been a tumultuous year thus far is an understatement. We won’t waste your time rehashing the top headlines that have tossed markets back and forth, but it’s been a wild ride that most of us wish would end already. The volatility has impacted asset classes disproportionately, and has been a good reminder on the importance of diversification. With that said, these last few months have been an interesting test for what many consider to be the newest asset class, cryptocurrencies.
Bitcoin is roughly half of the crypto market and is a good barometer on the asset class. Bitcoin is down approximately 17% this year, faring worse than the equity markets (represented by the S&P 500) which are down 11% and bonds (represented by the Bloomberg U.S. Aggregate Bond index) down 5%. As expected during inflationary periods, hard assets such as gold (+9%) and oil (+41%) have performed well. While the verdict is still out on how to value Bitcoin (and other cryptocurrencies) and what it’s use case is, it has certainly proven to be a poor inflation hedge.
NO MORE PRIVACY WITH PRIVATE PAYMENT APPS
If you were surprised that you got a 1099-K from PayPal and/or Venmo, then you must be a heavy user. For 2021, any user who had over 200 transactions for services and/or goods or had more than $20,000 paid to them should have received a 1099-K form. You likely will need to report any gains on the sales as ordinary income. Should the IRS come knocking you will need to justify the payments. In 2022, you will receive a 1099-K if you have more than $600 in transactions for goods and services. The good news is that payments from relatives and friends will not count.
WHAT IS AHEAD FOR HOUSING PRICES?
Over the past several years, housing prices for both individual and multi-family residences have risen dramatically. Home prices increased 17.3% in 2021 while rents were up 12.5%. In the Southeast, the numbers were even higher. Most of these price increases are a result of an undersupply, which is a hangover from the financial crisis and the Great Recession when home building came to a virtual halt.
With the Federal Reserve expected to raise rates beginning this week and multiple times in 2022, it will make home ownership more difficult. We expect prices to continue to rise, but at a much slower rate. For those who have owned a home for more than a few years, these price increases look good on a net worth statement. Though you may feel richer with your house value being higher on Zillow, it usually doesn’t translate into usable wealth.
If you think about selling today, you will be selling high and buying high. Okay, so maybe it works for those that are leaving the Northeast and moving to a sunnier climate, but those staying in place don’t have the cash unless they want to refinance and take out equity. Usually, this is not a good idea. (Source: Kiplinger Letter)
MARCH DESIGNATED AS NATIONAL WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH
The Nationwide Retirement Institute just released its 2021 Advisor Authority Study finding that women investors became more proactive with their financial lives last year. Despite the numerous challenges women have faced professionally and personally during the pandemic, they are taking steps to prepare for their financial futures.
• 83% have a strategy to generate guaranteed income
• 73% plan to take a more active approach to investing over the next 12 months
• 72% have a strategy to help outlive their savings
• 59% have a strategy to help protect assets against market risk
The month of March is designated as National Women’s History Month and we are encouraged and inspired to see women taking positive steps in their financial lives.