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Market Update from SIMA Portfolio Manager, Ashley Vice, CFA, CFP®

Through the first half of the year, US stocks are mostly positive and are easily outpacing their international counterparts.  This is a reversal of last year’s trend, which saw international and emerging markets outperform the US by a fairly wide margin.  Part of the reason for this year’s divergence has been a stronger US dollar, which tends to favor domestic-focused small companies and hurt emerging market economies.  Since it is unclear if the dollar will be able to continue its recent run against other currencies, and since many areas outside the US are at more attractive valuations, we continue to...

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Reminder: Medicare Part D Notices Due by October 15

Notices Due to Medicare-Eligible Individuals Employers who sponsor group health plans that offer prescription drug coverage to Medicare-eligible individuals are reminded that they must provide a Medicare Part D Creditable or Non-Creditable Coverage Notice to those individuals by October 15. This notice serves to inform Medicare-eligible individuals whether the prescription drug coverage offered is "creditable," meaning it is expected to pay, on average, as much as the standard Medicare prescription drug coverage. For more information on this notice requirement, including links to downloadable model notices, click here. ...

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How TIGTA stymied an IRS impersonation scam

New technologies aided a massive phone scam, but investigators turned the tables on the scheme, which allegedly caused ‘hundreds of millions of dollars’ in taxpayer losses. On Nov. 24, 2014, a woman named Diana received a menacing phone call in Hernando, Miss., a small city nestled in the northwest corner of the state. A caller purporting to be an IRS agent claimed she owed back taxes and told her that agents were waiting to arrest her unless she paid up immediately. The caller was insistent, threatening, and urging her to act quickly. The demands eventually produced the desired result: After the "agent"...

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Clarification for business taxpayers: Payments under state or local tax credit programs may be deductible as business expenses

IR-2018-178, Sept. 5, 2018 WASHINGTON — Business taxpayers who make business-related payments to charities or government entities for which the taxpayers receive state or local tax credits can generally deduct the payments as business expenses, the Internal Revenue Service said today. Responding to taxpayer inquiries, the IRS clarified that this general deductibility rule is unaffected by the recent notice of proposed rulemaking concerning the availability of a charitable contribution deduction for contributions pursuant to such programs. The business expense deduction is available to any business taxpayer, regardless of whether it is doing business as a sole proprietor, partnership or corporation, as long...

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Critical HIPAA Compliance Gaps Exposed by HHS

Over the last couple of years, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) conducted "desk audits" of 166 covered entities and 41 business associates. These audits focused on select HIPAA privacy, security and breach notification requirements. HHS has not released its official findings from the audits yet, but it has identified serious compliance gaps in the following areas: Security risk analysis Security risk management Right of access to protected health information (PHI) Employers that sponsor group health plans should periodically review their compliance with HIPAA rules, including whether their security analysis and risk management for electronic PHI is up to date. Employers should also...

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2018 ACA Reporting Draft Forms Now Available

The IRS released draft 2018 forms for Affordable Care Act (ACA) reporting under Internal Revenue Code (Code) Sections 6055 and 6056. Draft instructions for 2018 have not yet been released. The 2018 draft forms are substantially similar to the final 2017 versions. However, the revised version of the Form 1095-C clarifies that the “Plan Start Month” box in Part II will remain optional for 2018. The IRS previously indicated that this box may have been mandatory for the 2018 Form 1095-C. Keep in mind that the 2018 draft instructions for these forms may include additional changes or clarifications, once released. Also, the...

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New Rule Eases Formation of Association Health Plans

Rule Permits Associations Based on Industry or Geography The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has issued a new rule that allows employers to join together as a single group to offer group health insurance coverage to employees, working owners (including those without other employees), and their spouses and dependents as part of an "association health plan." The rule allows association health plans to be formed on the basis of industry or geography, such as by state, city, county, or multi-state metropolitan area. The new rule subjects association health plans to the nondiscrimination rules currently applicable to large group coverage under the Health...

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Overview of Employer Responsibilities for Handling MLR Rebates

The Affordable Care Act's medical loss ratio (MLR) rules require group health insurance issuers to provide rebates if their MLR—the amount of health insurance premiums spent on health care and activities to improve health care quality—falls short of the applicable standard during a reporting year. Each year's rebates must be issued to plan sponsors by September 30 of the following year. As a result, plan sponsors should be looking for these rebates to arrive in the coming weeks. Employer Distribution The MLR rules provide that issuers must pay any rebates owed to persons covered under a group health plan to the policyholder,...

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SIMA presents Justin’s Drive for Independence

As so many of you know, our good friend and colleague, Justin Bennett, suffered a traumatic spinal cord injury in July 2016 that rendered him a quadriplegic at the age of 26. You can read Justin’s story here. Two years, multiple surgeries, countless hours of therapy, and a relentless number of prayers later, Justin is in the planning stages of coming back to work at SIMA, returning to the clients and colleagues to whom he has such close ties. Justin continues to show remarkable determination, perseverance and strength and manages to impress each of us on a daily basis; we are...

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SIMA Welcomes Ashley Vice, CFA, CFP®

We are excited to announce that Ashley Vice, CFA, CFP® joined our wealth management team as a Portfolio Manager earlier this summer. Ashley works with clients to identify their investment objectives and goals and to implement their portfolio investment strategy in accordance with the firm’s overall investment approach.  Working closely with the SIMA team, Ashley supports clients in assessing their comprehensive financial condition, including tax, trust and estate planning. Ashley began his career as a financial advisor at Merrill Lynch and was most recently a Client Advisor at Mercer Advisors – one of the largest independent fee-only advisory firms in the country. ...

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