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2021 Q1 Market Commentary: Then vs. Now

Last year when I sat down to write my first quarter market commentary, lockdowns had just started and we were all adjusting to a new world of mask-wearing and social distancing. It’s been a long twelve months since then, and it’s hard to comprehend all that has changed in that time. We are not out of the woods yet and the alarming COVID case counts coming from some parts of the world should give us pause, but at least we can finally see the light at the end of this tunnel. Let’s take a look at where we were twelve months ago compared to where we are now in a few important areas.

2021 Tax Filing Dates

The IRS has announced an extension of the tax filing deadline for 2020 individual tax returns to May 17, 2021, and most states have followed suit. They did NOT extend the due date for 2021 first quarter estimated tax payments or fiduciary and gift tax returns. Maryland announced a different extended deadline of July 15, 2021. All these changes has caused some confusion so we though we'd summarize what is due when here

Stimulus Payment Summary

With the IRS in the process of issuing a third round of checks to many taxpayers, we thought it might be helpful to summarize each of the stimulus payments in one place. The three different checks each had their own rules surrounding phaseouts and and who qualifies. If you did not qualify for the first two payments based on your tax return on file at the time, you might be eligible for a credit with your 2020 return. The third payments going out now will also be based on your most recently filed tax return. If your 2020 tax return shows lower income than 2019 but is filed after the initial checks are issues, the IRS will re-evaluate your eligibility prior to September 1, 2021. As with the first two checks, if you still don't receive anything, you will have the option to claim a credit on your 2021 tax return, if your 2021 income puts you below the phaseout thresholds.

Forecasting The Human Element

If we understand that we’ll never come up with a precise forecast of the future, we can try to be “roughly right” instead. This allows us to set the direction of the financial plan, but we’ll never be able to draw the exact map. As we like to say, your financial plan is a compass, not a GPS. Without it, you wouldn’t know where to go, but even with it, you’ll need to make course corrections along the way. Accepting this inability to precisely forecast the future will enable you to ignore the crazy market swings we see on a regular basis. And maybe it will give you a little more sympathy for that meteorologist who was calling for too much snow.

2020 Q4 Market Commentary: Hindsight is 2020

2020 will go down as one of the most challenging years in many of our lives. The COVID-19 pandemic took a toll on everyone. Hundreds of thousands lost their lives, leaving behind grieving family members who couldn’t say a proper goodbye. Countless others missed out on major life events, with weddings postponed and graduations held virtually. Our kids have missed out on a year of their short childhood, going to school online without any social interaction. We’ve all been in some stage of lockdown over the past year with many unable to see and touch their family and friends. As the year came to a close, it felt like we could all use a collective hug and some positive news.

Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021

In March, Congress moved quickly as COVID-19 spread across the country and shut down our economy. They passed a massive stimulus package called the CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act) that provided economic relief payments to millions of taxpayers, expanded unemployment benefits, and created a forgivable loan program for small businesses (Paycheck Protection Program)...