Here's what you saw on Good Day Alabama:
JEH JEH LIVE - It's the most wonderful time of the year at McWane Science Center! The Magic of Model Trains and Winter Wonderland returns to delight families throughout the holiday season. Coast down the Ice Slide and take a whirl across the room on the extended zip line. Climb aboard the McWane Train and go for a ride before checking out the Magic of Model Trains exhibit. Back for its 9th year in a row, the Magic of Model Trains has returned to spread some holiday cheer and amaze guests. Discover trains of every shape and size inside this popular exhibit which features over a dozen different train displays. Every set in the exhibit is designed to scale with the size of the trains. The meticulous detail of the scenery including covered bridges, downtown storefronts and of course, several train stations will keep your family entertained for hours! For more information go to www.mcwane.org.
HEALTH HEADLINES - There are a lot of popular milk choices: cow's, soy, and almond. But are they nutritional equals? Cow's milk has a lot going for it. It's naturally high in protein, calcium, phosphorus, potassium and selenium. If you're not a vegan vegetarian - no animal products! - and you're not allergic to casein - milk protein, milk is a nutritious choice. If you're lactose intolerant - you can't digest the carbohydrate in milk, lactose reduced milk is a good and effective choice for most people. And some good news if you don't like fat-free milk. Some evidence suggests that low-fat and full-fat milk may give you more heart health benefits than fat-free! The jury is not completely in on this one but it is probably safe to say that fat-free milk is not necessarily better for you than full fat – so either is a healthy choice! Soy Milk is a good alternative to milk if you're allergic to milk protein or you are vegan vegetarian, is soy milk. Soy milk is also very high in protein 8 grams and it's a very high-quality plant protein. It's also naturally high in folate, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus and vitamin C. The manufacturers add calcium, some B vitamins - B12 and riboflavin- and also vitamin D. I would say that soy and cow's milk are the most nutritious milk choices. Both have a broad array of naturally occurring nutrients plus a few that are added for other benefits. Flavored soy milk has some sugar added so be sure to check out the sugars.
Some have less, some have more than the natural sugar in milk - lactose. A lot of people are drinking almond milk but it's probably not as nutritious as you think. It only has one gram of protein compared to the eight grams of soy and cow's milk. Nor does it have all the nutrition that almonds have – so don't forgo your whole nuts for the milk. To make almond milk, the almonds are soaked in water and ground up and then more water is added. Then the mixture is strained – so much of the almond gets drained out. When you look at the almond milk label, most of the nutrients in almond milk are added – not a natural part of the almond. The calcium, vitamin E, zinc, vitamin A, vitamin D, and the B-vitamins are all added synthetically. As with soy milk, the flavored versions can have quite a bit of sugar added. If you are vegan or allergic to cow's milk, I definitely give a big nutritional edge to soy milk. One advantage to the plain almond milk - which is lightly sweetened - and the unsweetened is that they are low in calories – 30 and 60 respectively. But light soy milk and skim milk are also pretty low in calories – 60 and 85 respectively. Now, if you love the way almond milk tastes, then it is fine to drink it – just make sure you're getting your protein elsewhere. To me, taste always wins out! But if you're just looking at which one packs the biggest nutritional punch, I'd have to give the edge to soy and cow's milk over almond milk.
MONEY TUESDAY - The surprise election of Donald Trump has turned year-end income tax planning on its ear. Virtually everyone assumed that Hillary would win the election and she promised higher taxes on the highest income earners while trimming deductions. With Trump, the focus is on lower taxes in 2017 and this opens tax strategies you should consider before the end of the year. Accelerate expenses/postpone income. Small business owners have the best opportunity to take advantage of this strategy. look for expenses that will come due early next year and pay them this year. Likewise, consider postponing billing customers until January so that the income falls into 2017. If you have a home mortgage, make your January payment before year-end and get an extra interest payment deduction. Finally, while state income taxes are not due until April 15th, 2017, by paying them before year-end, you'll receive a federal income tax deduction for 2016. Tax loss harvesting. Special care should be taken when tax loss harvesting this year. The stock market has provided nice returns this year - up 10 percent as of this writing. If you have already sold stocks for a gain, look for unrealized losses to offset the profits. This is particularly true if you have large realized gains - sale of a business, property or large security sales. This is because the 3.8% Obamacare Surtax on net investment income will apply this year but Trump has vowed to eliminate it in 2017. Remember, up to $3,000 of net realized losses can be deducted from ordinary income this year.
Make charitable gifts. December is a time when lots of people make charitable gifts but this year you should also consider what gifts you plan to also make for 2017. If you're willing to make them 'in advance' before year end you'll have an opportunity to reduce your overall taxes for the combined 2016 and 2017 tax years. For example, a taxpayer in the highest marginal tax bracket gifting $100,000 this year would receive a tax benefit of $48,400. That same gift next year under the Trump tax plan would only be worth $38,000. By using appreciated stocks versus cash, you'll also avoid the capital gains tax. If you love the stock, use your cash to buy it back and you'll own the same number of shares but at a new higher cost basis.
Avoid buying mutual funds at year-end in taxable accounts. You can end up with a nasty tax surprise since all mutual funds must declare 90% of their gains before year-end. You could end up invested for a short time, have no gains but get hit with a taxable distribution.
Retirement plan contributions. If you have not maxed out your contributions to your company 401-k you can use the remaining paydays to increase your investment and income tax deduction at the same time. You'll need to contact your human resources department for their assistance in adjusting your payroll deduction. This year you can contribute up to $18,000 to your 401k or similar plan. If you are age 50 or older this year, you can contribute an additional $6,000 for a total of $24,000. At a minimum, calculate and capture your company's matching contribution! Are you eligible for a tax-deductible IRA? If so, this is another tax deduction worth considering.
Direct IRA transfers to charities. If you're 70 ½ or older, you're allowed to make direct transfers from your IRA account to a qualified charity -$100,000 limit- and the transfer satisfies dollar-for-dollar your Required Minimum Distribution. These distributions will be excluded from gross income.
Give a scholarship, get a tax credit. The Alabama Accountability Act allows you to, in effect, redirect up to half of your State of Alabama income taxes to a qualified Scholarship Granting Organization which provides scholarships for children of low-income families who are stuck in a failing public school. The parents use the scholarship funds to transfer the child to a designated private school or a non-failing public school. This costs you nothing but allows you to help a child who wants a better education. For more information, visit www.AlabamaKids.net.
MUSICIANS - Eric Dubose recorded for artists like Ruben Studdard, Jonny Gill, Mariah Carey, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. Currently, he is the touring guitarist for Patti Labelle for three years now. He has been playing guitar since he was four years old. He has been one of the musicians with the Faith Chapel Christian Center for four years. He is also a guitar teacher. John Mark Magaha is the Director of Worship at Faith Chapel Christian Arts Center. He studied music at the American Musical Dramatic Academy in New York. The actor and musician is currently the Music Director for Shades Mountain Christian School. This morning Eric and John perform Jingle Bells.