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Friday Financial Five – October 2, 2015

Friday, October 02, 2015


Good riddance to the 3rd quarter

The third quarter was unkind to equity investors in a variety of ways. Domestically, the S&P 500 experienced its first correction of 10 percent since 2011, while Apple fell over 12 percent for the three month period. Small company holdings, represented by the Russell 2000 index, also fell over 12 percent. After a solid first half of the year, emerging markets fell victim to a 29 percent drop in China’s Shanghai index. Fittingly, September 30th, a notoriously poor day for investors, ended the quarter on a positive note for U.S. holdings with over one percent gains.

House avoids government shutdown

The fiscal impasse that consumes Congress until the final hour on an almost yearly basis saw resolution on Wednesday in both the Senate and the House. The agreement provides another stop-gap solution allowing government officials to continue negotiations until December 11th. The funding of Planned Parenthood continues to be a major point of contention between the two political sides, but both parties hope discussions will lead to a longer term spending plan, possibly lasting until the end of 2017.

Trump tax plan revealed

The Tax Foundation conducted a review of the Trump tax plan. Their projection show dramatically decreased revenue, starting with four individual income tax brackets ranging from 0% to 25%. Capital gains and dividends would be taxed at either 0%, 15%, or 20% and the estate tax would be repealed. On the business side, the corporate tax rate would drop from 35% to 15% and companies would face a one time “repatriation” tax of 10%. This is money that was earned outside of the U.S. and remains in foreign countries for fear of double taxation. The Foundation anticipates the plan will reduce tax revenue by over $10 trillion over the next decade, while increasing after-tax income across all taxpayers by over 10%. 

IRS adjusts rules on estate closing letter

For those that lose loved ones, administering the decedent’s estate could be slightly more work thanks to a recent clarification from the IRS. Formerly, the IRS automatically issued closing letters four months after receiving the Form 706, which is the estate tax return. The IRS reviewed the form and upon acceptance, the letter got issued. Now, as of June 1st of this year, the estate’s executor or representative will need to request the estate closing letter, possibly delaying the estate’s closing. The administration of an estate, already an unenviable task, may be even more cumbersome.

Forbes 400 lists America’s richest people

Bill Gates continues to give away money and Bill Gates continues to be the richest person in America. For 22 straight years, Gates has topped the Forbes (no relation) list. Still sitting at number two is Warren Buffett, while Mark Zuckerberg broke into the top ten with an estimated wealth of over $40 billion. According to Forbes, this list of wealthy Americans is $50 billion wealthier than the top 400 a year ago. Not even paying $2 billion for the Clippers was enough to hurt Steve Ballmer’s standing as the country’s richest owner of a sports team. 

Dan Forbes, a CFP Board Ambassador, is a regular contributor on financial issues. He leads the firm Forbes Financial Planning, Inc in East Greenwich, RI and can be reached at [email protected]


Related Slideshow: Massachusetts Business Rankings

See how Massachusetts stacked up.

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Massachusetts has 2015's 28th highest insurance premium penalties for high risk drivers, according to a WalletHub report. 

Mass is behind Colorado and New Mexico who come in at 26 and 27 spots respectively while Mass is ahead of Tennessee and the District of Columbia who rank 29 and 30 respectively. 

Massachusetts ranks 14th overall in the category of DUI conviction annual premium increase with an amount of $756.

Massachusetts ranks 20th overall in the category of speeding over 20 mph annual premium increase with a total of $261 while ranking 21 overall in the category of  two accidents annual premium increase with a total of $1,364. 

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Massachusetts has been ranked as the 5th most eco-friendly state in the country, according to a recent study by WalletHub. 

Mass ranks tenth in environmental quality and fourth in Eco-Friendly Behaviors landing them in 8th overall. 

Mass is behind Minnesota and New York who are in the fourth and third spots respectively, and in front of Washington and New Hampshire  who come in at the six and seven spots. 

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The Economist

Small Business Friendliness Grade: D+

The Economist grades states on an A+ to F grading scale for its small business climate. Massachusetts ranks near the bottom of the nation, joining New Mexico and New York in receiving D+ grades.  9 states scored worse than a D+ in the Economist rankings. 

Overbearing bureaucracy and excessive licensing is stifling small business in America. 

Read More About The Economist Grade Here

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#25 CNBC

CNBC ranks each state in cost of doing business, economy, technology and innovation.

Massachusetts' unemployment rate as of May 2014 was 5.6 percent. The state added 9,100 jobs in the month of May.

Read More About CNBC Ranking Here

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#13 Forbes

Forbes ranks each state in business costs, economic climate, and growth prospects.

The most damning in the commentary:

Massachusetts’ business costs, including labor, energy and taxes, are the highest of the 48 contiguous states—only Hawaii is higher—at 20% above the national average.

Read More About Forbes Ranking Here

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#47 ChiefExecutive.net

ChiefExecutive.net ranks each state in taxations and regulations, workforce quality, and living environment.

The most damning in the commentary:

Taxation and regulation are always the key barometers. Massachusetts and Oregon are the worst.

Read More About ChiefExecutive.net Ranking Here

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Tax Foundation

#25 Tax Foundation

Tax Foundation ranks each state in corporate tax rank, sales tax rank, and unemployment insurance tax rank.

Massachusetts ranked #49 in unemployment insurance tax.

Read More About Tax Foundation Ranking Here

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Wallet Hub

#10 Wallet Hub

Wallet Hub ranks each state in ROI rank, state tax rank, and overall government services.

Massachusetts ranked #49 in worst roads and bridges, but ranked #7 in overall government services.

Read More About Wallet Hub Ranking Here

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#41 ALEC

ALEC ranks each state in economic performance and outlook.

Although Massachusetts ranked low in economic performance, a forward-looking forecast is based on the state’s standing in 15 important state policy variables. Some of these variables include top marginal personal income tax rate and sales tax burden.

Read More About ALEC Ranking Here

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Kauffman Foundation

#29 Kauffman Foundation

Kauffman Foundation ranks each state in entrepreneurship.

Entrepreneurial activity generally is highest in Western and Southern states
and lowest in Midwestern and Northeastern states.

Read More About Kauffman Foundation Ranking Here

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Free Enterprise

#18 Free Enterprise

Free Enterprise ranks each state in performance, exports, innovation + entrepreneurship, business climate, talent pipeline, infrastructure.

Massachusetts's reputation as a hotspot for science and technology endures in this year's rankings. The commonwealth is a center for STEM jobs and university research and development, ranking 4th and 2nd, respectively, in those two categories. It also ranks 6th as a center for high-tech establishments. Massachusetts is taking aggressive steps to bolster economic activity with high-impact university-industry R&D projects and new tools for tech-based startup companies.

Read More About Free Enterprise Ranking Here

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The Pew Charitable Trusts

#45 The Pew Charitable Trusts

The Pew Charitable Trusts ranks each state in job growth and job creation.

Massachusetts added 38,368 jobs in 2014.

Read More About The Pew Charitable Trusts Ranking Here


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