With the holiday season upon us and the end of the year approaching, we pause to give thanks for our blessings and the people in our lives. It is also a time when charitable giving often comes to mind. The tax benefits associated with charitable giving could potentially enhance your ability to give and should be considered as part of your year-end tax planning.
Every year, the College Board releases new college cost data and trends in its annual report. The figures published are average cost figures based on a survey of approximately 4,000 colleges across the country.
Over the past 20 years, the average price for tuition, fees, and room and board has increased 38% at public colleges and 29% at private colleges over and above increases in the Consumer Price Index, straining the budgets of many families and leading to widespread student debt.
Here are cost highlights for the 2023–2024 year.
Premiums, deductibles, and coinsurance amounts for Original Medicare generally change every year. Here's a look at some of the costs that will apply in 2024.
Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) costs for 2024
- Premium for those who need to buy coverage: As much as $505 per month (down from $506 in 2023); however, most people don't pay a premium for Medicare Part A
- Deductible for inpatient hospitalization: $1,632 per benefit period (up from $1,600 in 2023)
- Inpatient hospital coinsurance: $408 per day for days 61 through 90, and $816 per "lifetime reserve day" after day 90, up to a 60-day lifetime maximum (up from $400 and $800 in 2023)
- Skilled nursing facility coinsurance: $204 per day for days 21 through 100 for each benefit period (up from $200 in 2023)
The Markets (as of market close October 31, 2023)
Stocks declined for the third straight month in October, with each of the benchmark indexes listed here ending the month notably lower. The Nasdaq and the S&P 500 endured their worst October since 2018. The S&P 500, down for three straight months, had its worst three-month performance since the period ended June 2022. The Nasdaq also had its worst October since 2018, down about 11.0% over the past three months, marking its poorest three-month performance since the August-October period in 2022. This was not a good month for the Dow, which suffered its worst October since 2020.
Consumer spending accounts for about two-thirds of U.S. gross domestic product (GDP), so it plays an outsized role in driving economic growth or slowing it down.1 For the last 18 months, U.S. consumers have kept the economy strong despite high inflation and rising interest rates. The question now is whether consumers can maintain this momentum through the holiday season and into 2024.
In considering this, it's important to keep in mind that the Federal Reserve is trying to cool spending through higher interest rates, in their effort to combat inflation. So a moderate slowdown in spending is not necessarily bad for the economy. But throwing it into full reverse could lead to a recession, making it a delicate balance.
Here are some things to consider as you weigh potential tax moves between now and the end of the year.
1. Defer income to next year
Consider opportunities to defer income to 2024, particularly if you think you may be in a lower tax bracket then. For example, you may be able to defer a year-end bonus or delay the collection of business debts, rents, and payments for services. Doing so may enable you to postpone payment of tax on the income until next year.
If you are covered by Medicare, it's time to compare your current coverage with other available options. Medicare's Open Enrollment period begins on October 15 and runs through December 7. Medicare plans can change every year, and you may want to switch to a health or prescription drug plan that better suits your needs or your budget.
The Markets (third quarter through September 29, 2023)
The positive momentum of the first two quarters of the year did not carry over to the third quarter. Inflation continued to prove stubborn throughout the third quarter, moderating somewhat, but not enough to curb the Federal Reserve's hawkish monetary policy. Crude oil and gasoline prices soared during the summer. Job gains, while steady, declined throughout the third quarter. The housing sector slowed on rising mortgage rates and dwindling inventory. The third quarter saw most of the market sectors decline from the second quarter. Utilities, real estate, information technology, consumer staples, and consumer discretionary fell the furthest, while energy rose by more than 16.0%.
As September comes to a close, the U.S. government seems headed for a shutdown, which would begin on October 1. Although it is possible that a last-minute agreement could keep the lights on, that becomes less likely with each passing day. Here's a look at the federal funding process, the current situation in Congress, and the potential consequences of a failure to fund government operations.
In a pivotal move, LSC Communications has made the difficult decision to terminate its pension plan, a decision driven by the plan's significant underfunding and the company's financial constraints. The LSC Communications pension plan's underfunding has been exacerbated by a multifaceted web of challenges. The printing industry's decline, coupled with the escalating costs associated with providing pension benefits, has created a perfect storm.