Coldstream News – Retreat, Celebration, & Events

Building Connections & Fostering Growth

At Coldstream, we believe that our people and our culture are key components to our success. This September we hosted an all-company retreat in Seabrook, WA, focused on strengthening ties between our teams. Over the course of two days, we engaged in a variety of team building activities that helped us get to know each other better and create memorable experiences. We find that when we build connections between employees, we develop a stronger foundation from which to better serve you.

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Preparing for Year-End Tax Planning

Year-end tax planning may be especially challenging this year because Congress has yet to act on a host of tax breaks that expired at the end of 2014. Some of these tax breaks may be retroactively reinstated and extended, but Congress may not decide the fate of these tax breaks until the very end of this year (and, possibly, not until next year).

For individuals, these tax breaks include:

  • the option to deduct state and local sales and use taxes instead of state and local income taxes
  • the above-the-line-deduction for qualified higher education expenses
  • tax-free IRA distributions for charitable purposes by those age 70-1/2 or older

For businesses, tax breaks that expired at the end of last year and may be retroactively reinstated and extended include:

  • 50% bonus first year depreciation for most new machinery, equipment and software
  • the $500,000 annual expensing limitation
  • the research tax credit

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Will a Broader Fiduciary Definition Help Us Save for Retirement?

 

In 1974 the Department of Labor passed the Employees Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) to protect pension plan investors, which eventually came to govern 401(k) plans and other similar defined–contribution plans. The retirement savings landscape has changed significantly over the past forty years, characterized by a shift from defined benefit pension plans to defined contribution plans, which put the retirement savings onus on individual savers and investors. More recently, the DOL’s has proposed a Conflicts of Interest Rule, or more commonly called the “Fiduciary Rule,” to better protect retirement savers by modernizing ERISA and expanding the definition of fiduciary.

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Things that Go Bump in the Night

Concern over slowing global growth and the strength of the US dollar caused a steep decline in global markets in the third quarter, erasing gains made over the prior twelve months. The S&P 500 ended down 6.4% for the quarter and -5.3% in nine months ended September.  International markets fared far worse with International markets, as measured by the MSCI EAFE index, was down 10.23% for the quarter and 5.28% for the year to date through September. Looking under the global hood, Germany down 10.2% in the June to September period, Japan off 14.1% for the quarter and Chinese A shares falling over 28% in the quarter to post a nearly flat return for the year.

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Buy the Umbrella before the Storm: The Importance of Flood Insurance

When thinking about risk management, floods – and by association, flood insurance – are often dismissed as a wasted expense or optional add-on. Buyers rationalize that flash floods and damage from rainfall are things that only happen to “other people.” It brings to mind Noah’s ark, surging rivers, and tsunami waves crashing on the coast.  Sadly, however, this is actually something that every person should be thinking about. Damage from elements, particularly water, can have a serious effect on your life.

The top three causes of flooding are:

  1. Too much rain
  2. Broken water main
  3. Clogged/blocked external drains

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Washington’s GET Program Updates Explained

Many parents in the Pacific Northwest choose to start saving early for their children’s education, including participating in Washington state’s Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET) program. However, as tuition starts lowering with the College Affordability Act, the state felt it was necessary to reevaluate the GET program. Board members announced this August that they would be implementing steps to protect participants who bought into the program and assumed tuition would rise. The plan, which goes into effect on August 19th, includes the following:

  • Refunds on amortization fees for investors who purchased credits after 2011
  • Reimbursements for GET credits bought after July 1st, 2015, and
  • Two-year suspension of new enrollments in the program.

Looking to find out how these updates affect you and your savings? The GET Committee provided the following frequently asked questions about what lower tuition means for the program:*READ MORE

© 2018 Coldstream Capital Management, Inc. & Rainier Group Investment Advisory LLC d.b.a. Coldstream Wealth Management. All data shown includes information from combined entities. All Rights Reserved.