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You can find reports from our Investment and Research team, timely and informative financial planning topics from our Wealth Management team, and deeper dives on various important topics in our white papers from any team member. Read online, share with friends, or download for your convenience.

The S&P 500 just did something that is hasn’t done in 15 months - it went down. February’s - 3.6% return was the first monthly decline since October 2016, marking the end of the longest monthly winning streak in the history of the index. The previous record streak was a 10-month period during the roaring 90s.

Overview
In January the IRS released withholding tables to reflect updated calculations under the new tax law. Most employees should have noticed a change in Federal tax withholdings by their mid-February paycheck. Using the new withholding calculator available on the IRS website will allow employees to double check their withholdings and request changes to their current withholdings if necessary.

Presented by Benjamin W. Jones, CFP®, AIF®
Chief Investment Officer, Principal

On March 1, 2018, President Trump announced that the U.S. plans to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. Markets around the world were shocked by the news, with major U.S. indices declining more than 1 percent just when it looked like they were recovering from the February downturn. Why did markets react so strongly? Is this a more serious threat going forward? In a word, yes.

First, let’s define what’s going on and why it matters.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

In honor of President’s Day, we focus on this quote as one of the timeless elements of the American story.

The new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act could change the way IRA owners take their Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) once they reach age 70 ½. Although the Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD) already was a viable option before the tax proposal became law in late 2017, the act does make QCDs a more attractive choice now than before for some people.

Although it can be difficult to plan for aging, it’s important to give consideration to how you would like to receive care in the event of a dementia diagnosis. According to a recent study, the lifetime risk of dementia at age 70 is 30.8% for men and 37.4% for women1.  Taking steps to create or clarify your plan before a dementia diagnosis occurs is important for your physical, emotional, and financial well-being.

Heckerling Institute on Estate Planning

This past week, I had the distinct pleasure of attending the 52nd Annual Heckerling Institute on Estate Planning. For those unfamiliar with the Heckerling Institute, The University of Miami School of Law is host to this conference, and it is the nation's leading conference for estate planning professionals. Among those attending are attorneys, trust officers, accountants, wealth management professionals, elder law specialists, educators and non-profit advisors who are familiar with and work in estate planning.

Brad McMillan CFA

For those of you who were unable to join us for our Quarterly Market Update at Selby Gardens on January 25th, we had the pleasure of hearing a presentation from Commonwealth’s Chief Investment Officer, Brad McMillan CFA®, CAIA, MAI. Brad is a frequent commentator on financial markets, U.S. economic policy, and the global economy for a range of media outlets, including the Wall Street Journal, CNBC, CNN International, Barron’s, and Bloomberg News. Brad’s presentation, entitled “Beyond the Numbers,” covered a range of topics, primarily examining the current state of the U.S. economy and what the next couple of years may look like.

College Savings

The recent Tax Cuts and Jobs Act adds exciting new options for owners and beneficiaries of 529 College Savings Accounts.  These accounts may now be used to pay for K-12 private education expenses in addition to qualified college expenses. Additionally, 529 account balances may now be transferred to 529ABLE accounts, designed for disabled beneficiaries to use without impacting government funded benefits such as Medicaid, through a tax-free rollover.