With the passage of the Taxpayer Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014, the qualified charitable distribution (QCD) from your IRA is available through the end of the year under normal rules. This means that you can, if you’re age 70½ or older, make direct distributions from your IRA to a qualified charity or charities, not counting the distribution as income and not itemizing the charitable contribution.
Those of us who are parents know this conflict very well – should we put aside money for retirement, or for college saving? It may come as a surprise, but a general rule of thumb with regard to this conflict is to put money aside for retirement first, and college second.
The reason behind this is that there are many ways to pay for college, such as grants, scholarships, work-study programs, student loans, parent loans, etc.. With this plethora of choices, it becomes clear that your student’s college funding needs can be met from quite a few angles, none of which should have a dramatic impact on your overall net worth (or your student’s).
On the other hand, no one will give you a scholarship to retire. It is solely up to you and your savings (coupled with Social Security and any available pensions).
As the end of the year approaches many employers will pay and many employees will receive year-end bonuses. While often the icing on the cake for a productive year employee should be aware of the tax consequences of their bonus.
Percent vs. Aggregate Method
When it comes to taxing the bonus an employer may choose the percentage method versus the aggregate method. Under the aggregate or wage holding bracket method the employer will use the withholding tables generally used for the employee normal paycheck. Then, the supplemental wages are aggregated with the employee’s normal pay and taxes are withheld accordingly.
The Holiday season is the time of year when we get into the spirit of giving and start our lists of who’s been naughty and nice. With Black Friday and Cyber Monday over, there are still plenty of days left to shop for friends and loved ones.
It can be tempting to get caught up in the spirit of giving so much that after the Holidays are over we’ve put ourselves in a financial bind. The following are five tips to consider this Holiday season to avoid overspending.
Every year, the College Board releases its Trends in College Pricing and Trends in Student Aid reports that highlight current college costs and trends in financial aid. While costs can vary significantly depending on the region and college, the College Board publishes average cost figures, which are based on its survey of nearly 4,000 colleges across the country.
Following are cost highlights. Total cost figures include tuition and fees, room and board, and a sum for books, transportation, and personal expenses. Together, these expenditures are officially referred to as the “total cost of attendance.”
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Most of you have one or more types of defined contribution retirement plans, such as a 401(k), 403(b), 457, IRA, SEP-IRA, or any of a number of other plans. Each type of plan has certain characteristics that are a little different from other plans, but most of them have the common characteristic of deductibility from current income and deferred taxation on growth.
1. Each dollar you defer is worth more than a dollar. It’s true. As you defer money into your retirement account, each dollar that you defer could be worth as much as $1.66. How, you might ask?
Since you are not taxed on the dollar that has been deferred into the retirement account, your “take home” pay only reduces by the amount that is left over after taxation. For example, if you’re in the 25% bracket, generally your income will only reduce by 75¢ for every dollar that you defer into your retirement plan. Therefore, the 75¢ that you’ve effectively “spent” is worth 33% more ($1.00) in your retirement account. For every dollar that you defer, you effectively have set aside $1.33 (for the 25% bracket).
If you happened to be in the upper-most 39.6% tax bracket, this works out to a 66% increase in the value of each dollar deferred. This doesn’t even take into account the potential for matching dollars from your employer! Keep reading…
For many folks, attaining age 70 ½ means the beginning of required minimum distributions (RMDs) from their 401k, 403b as well as traditional IRAs. There are however, some individuals that will continue to work because they want to or (unfortunately) have to and still want to save some of their income.
At age 70 ½ individuals can no longer make traditional IRA contributions. They are allowed to make contributions to a Roth IRA as long as they still have earned income. Earned income is generally W2 wages or self-employment income. It is not pension income, annuity income or RMD income.
The end of the year, especially around the holidays, is a time when many folks’ thoughts turn to charitable giving. Many opportunities present themselves, from the gentleman with the bell and the red kettle to our local food and coat drives. With this in mind, the IRS recently published their Special Edition Tax Tip 2014-13 which details six tips for charitable giving. The actual text of the Tip is listed below.
In addition to those tips, I’ll offer one more: if you are interested in utilizing the Qualified Charitable Distribution option from your IRA – presently this option has not been extended for tax year 2014. It’s possible that it might be extended yet this year, so check back here – we’ll keep you posted.
It’s hard to imagine but another year is almost over. Soon, 2014 will make way for 2015. As you prepare for the end of the year here are some good tips to keep in mind before January 1st.
Today’s message is about Safety – but not things like “don’t run with scissors” or “wait a half hour after eating to go swimming”. What we’re referring to is the old concept of having an emergency fund. The primary thing that you should take away from this Safety discussion is Peace Of Mind.
An emergency fund is a vital component of your overall financial toolkit. You should have 3 to 6 months’ worth of expenses set aside in a liquid, stable account, such as a bank passbook savings account or a money market account. By “liquid” we mean that the funds are easily valued and withdrawn as necessary. By “stable”, we mean that the funds are not at risk due to market volatility, but also that there is some return in the form of interest to the account, however small.
Sometimes when we need more money for a specific goal in the future such as retirement, college, a down payment on a home or an emergency fund we may feel that before these things can happen we need to make more money. We may feel that once our incomes are up to a certain level that we’ll be able to afford to save for those goals.
It may not be necessary to earn more in order to achieve the above goals. For many folks the solution is simply to prioritize between wants and needs. In other words, learning to distinguish between the wants and the needs in your life and then reallocating your money to fund retirement or college goals without having to ask for a raise or get a second job.
As you plan and save for your retirement, it’s nice to have multiple types of taxation for your income sources. You may have a pension, Social Security, and a traditional IRA, all of which are taxed to some degree or another. Adding to this list you might have a Roth IRA which generally will provide you with tax-free income in retirement. The problem with the Roth IRA is that you have some strict limits on the amounts that you can contribute, and typical Roth Conversion strategies are costly and complicated. With the recent pronouncement from the IRS in Notice 2014-54, there is a brand new, sanctioned method, to fund your Roth IRA.
Listed below are a few time-honored maxims that we’ve all heard. Perhaps we’ve even heard these from very trusted sources – like our Mothers. As you’ll see, it’s not always good advice… In the interest of full disclosure, my own Mother did not give me any of this advice. She tended to stay with the “wait an hour after eating to go swimming” variety of advice. One of my favorites was always given as I was leaving the house during my younger years: “Have fun. Behave!” I once pointed out to her the fallacy involved there but she didn’t see the humor. :-) At any rate, those rules have served me well through the years – thanks, Mom!Keep reading…
When considering investing with a particular financial planning firm or mutual fund consider looking at what benchmark they’re comparing their returns (disclosure: the funds we use are the benchmarks).
It’s pretty easy for a mutual fund company or adviser to tout their funds when they have beaten the benchmark over a certain period of time. For example, I had the opportunity to look at a client’s investment performance report that they had with another company. Written across the top in the adviser’s handwriting was the phrase, “Looks like we beat the benchmark.”
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Individual Retirement Arrangement (IRA). In 1974 via the ERISA law, Congress made this new type of retirement plan available for employees whose employers who could not provide them with the traditional type of retirement plan. In 1981, the plans were made generally available to all taxpayers. The Tax Reform Act of 1986 limited the deductibility of IRAs by income.
1997 saw the launch of the Roth IRA, as a part of the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997. This type of IRA came with no deductibility, but earnings (and contributions) would be tax free upon distribution, following the rules associated with the accounts.
With the exception of changes to limits of contributions, income limits, and catch-up provisions, little has changed for these accounts since 1997, with the exception of the introduction of the Roth-IRA-like myRA account that was established in 2014 for the 2015 tax year.
According to information from the Employee Benefit Research Institute, as of the most recent data available (2012), 19.9 million Americans had at least one IRA account, and the total amount of money held in those accounts was approximately $2.09 trillion.
The IRS recently published their Special Edition Tax Tip 2014-21 which details some of the steps you could take now to avoid these surprises.
Still Time to Act to Avoid Surprises at Tax-Time
Even though only a few months remain in 2014, you still have time to act so you aren’t surprised at tax-time next year. You should take steps to avoid owing more taxes or getting a larger refund than you expect. Here are some actions you can take to bring the taxes you pay in advance closer to what you’ll owe when you file your tax return:
At some point in almost everyone’s lifetime they have gone through the process of changing jobs. Many times those jobs offered retirement plans such as 401(k)s 403(b)s, etc. Conventional wisdom would say that for most employees it may make sense to roll their employer sponsored plan into an IRA. Based on a request from a reader (thanks David!), I thought I would go over some of the issues to consider before rolling your employer sponsored plan to an IRA.