FA Insights is a daily newsletter from Business Insider that delivers the top news and commentary for financial advisors.
Less than half of Americans have been inside a bank in the past month (Bankrate)
Bankrate’s December Financial Security Index found 33% of Americans haven’t been to a bank in the past year. Additionally, just 45% of Americans have stepped inside a bank branch in the past month. So who is going to the bank? Bankrate’s chief financial analyst, Greg McBride, says “The likelihood of having visited a branch in the previous 30 days declines with income.” Specifically, 54% of those with an income of at least $75,000 have been to the bank in the past month, compared to just 40% of those who make less than $30,000 per year.
Spain’s prime minister lost his majority (Business Insider)
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s People’s Party won 123 out of 350 seats, losing its majority. Though still a victory, the results were a disappointment from the 186 seats the party claimed in the previous election. Rajoy must now form a coalition government. The anti-austerity Podemos, or We Can, party made big gains, winning 69 seats.
The most searched investing term of 2015 (Business Insider)
According to Investopedia, “smart beta” was the most searched investing term on its site during 2015. The site says, “Smart beta defines a set of investment strategies that emphasise the use of alternative index construction rules to traditional market capitalisation based indices.” One example of such an investing approach would be to engage in “factor-based investing,” or buying a basket of stocks based on performance or financial measures other than just the size of the company as is done when trying to benchmark the S&P 500.
3 tax deductions that raise your chance of being audited (The Motley Fool)
Now that 2015 is winding down it’s time to start thinking about filing your taxes. While everyone likes to pay as little as possible, no one wants to raise the suspicion of the Internal Revenue Service. According to Dan Caplinger’s article on The Motley Fool, taking home office deductions, charitable deductions and un-reimbursed business expenses leave you at higher risk of an audit. For the home office deduction, make sure you can document the area of your home used for exclusive business use. When claiming charitable deductions, be aware “claiming large amounts for donated items like cars or used clothing has been a frequent area of abuse among taxpayers.” Finally, make sure to only claim un-reimbursed business expenses that are legitimately business-related to avoid suspicion.
The new spending bill made some tax cuts permanent (Think Advisor)
Last week, President Obama signed the $1.1 trillion spending bill that will fund the government through September 2016. The bill also made $650 billion of charitable tax breaks permanent. Anyone aged 70.5 or older will be able to make tax-free charitable donations of up to $100,000 from their individual retirement accounts, according to Think Advisor. Additionally, land owners who give up developmental rights on their property for natural resources will be allowed to reduce their taxable income. Finally, food donations to qualifying charities can be used to lower taxable income.
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