News & Articles

When Should You Take Social Security Benefits?

Posted on Thu, Mar 04, 2021

If you're nearing retirement, you've likely paid into the Social Security system your entire career. It's only fitting that you finally cash in on the Social Security benefits that are rightfully yours. But when should you start receiving benefits — at the first available date, at the latest date or somewhere between those dates?

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Tags: Retirement, Social Security

Age-Related Tax and Financial Planning Milestones

Posted on Wed, Feb 12, 2020

In an era of uncertainty, you can count on one thing: Time marches on. While you can't beat Father Time, you can prepare for these age-related tax and financial planning milestones as you and your loved ones grow older.

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Tags: Retirement, Social Security, Retirement Planning, Kiddie Tax

Age Has its Privileges ... and Penalties

Posted on Mon, Mar 11, 2019

In an era filled with uncertainty, you can count on one thing: time marches on. Here are some important age-related financial and tax milestones to keep in mind for you and your loved ones:

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Tags: Benefits, Social Security

Handle with Care: The Nanny Tax Rules

Posted on Wed, Nov 22, 2017

When you hire a nanny, housekeeper or other domestic worker, pay close attention to the tax rules.

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Tags: Social Security, IRS, Independent Contractor, Taxes

Will You Have to Pay Tax on Social Security Benefits?

Posted on Wed, Nov 01, 2017

Some people are under the misconception that Social Security benefits are always free from federal income tax. However, depending on how much income you have from other sources, you may have to report up to 85% of your benefits as income on Form 1040 and pay the resulting federal income tax.

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Tags: Social Security, Income, Federal Income Tax

Maximize Social Security Benefits When You Retire

Posted on Wed, Sep 20, 2017

Get the most from Social Security. Younger retirees face a harsh penalty for working part-time. For every $2 earned over $16,920 in 2017 (up from $15,720 in 2016), you lose $1 in Social Security benefits. In the year you reach full retirement age, a higher earnings threshold applies. Your benefits will be reduced by $1 for every $3 of earnings only when earnings exceed $44,880 in 2017 if you reach full retirement age (up from $41,880 for 2016).

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Tags: Benefits, Retirement, Retirees, Social Security

Report Warns Retirees about Potential Downsides of Reverse Mortgages

Posted on Fri, Sep 15, 2017

Reverse mortgages have been around for years. But they're getting a new spin: Some senior homeowners are tapping into their home equity to "bridge the gap" until the time they're ready to apply for Social Security benefits.

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Tags: Retirees, Social Security, Consumer Alert, Mortgage

Compare and Contrast the Republican and Democratic Tax Reforms

Posted on Fri, Aug 12, 2016

With both major political party conventions finally behind us, it's time to focus on the upcoming national election. Among their many differences, the Republicans and Democrats have widely divergent tax platforms. While platforms are always relatively nonspecific and not necessarily synced with what the presidential candidates have in mind, it's still good to know what tax positions the two parties and their presidential candidates have staked out. Here's a quick summary.

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Tags: Tax, Affordable Care Act (ACA), Social Security, Tax Penalties, Marriage

FAQs about Social Security Retirement Benefits

Posted on Tue, Jul 19, 2016
For years, people have questioned the long-term viability of the Social Security system. In June, the Social Security Board of Trustees released its annual report on the long-term financial status of the Social Security Trust Funds. It projects that the combined asset reserves of the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Disability Insurance (OASDI) Trust Funds will become depleted in 2034. Additionally, the Disability Insurance Trust Fund will become depleted in 2023.

More generally, people approaching retirement age often have other questions about benefits they may be eligible to receive from the Social Security Administration (SSA). Here are the answers to several common inquiries.

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Tags: Benefits, Retirement, Social Security, Income Tax

Important Tax Figures for 2016

Posted on Tue, Jan 05, 2016

The following table provides some important federal tax information for 2016, as compared with 2015. Many of the dollar amounts are unchanged or have changed only slightly due to low inflation. Other amounts are changing due to legislation.

Social Security/ Medicare 2016 2015
Social Security Tax Wage Base $118,500 $118,500
Medicare Tax Wage Base No limit
No limit
Employee portion of Social Security 6.2% 6.2%
Individual Retirement Accounts 2016 2015
Roth IRA Individual, up to 100% of earned income $  5,500 $  5,500
Traditional IRA Individual, up to 100% of earned Income $  5,500 $  5,500
Roth and traditional IRA additional annual "catch-up" contributions for account owners age 50 and older $ 1,000 $  1,000
Qualified Plan Limits 2016 2015
Defined Contribution Plan limit on additions on Sections 415(c)(1)(A) $ 53,000 $ 53,000
Defined Benefit Plan limit on benefits (Section 415(b)(1)(A)) $210,000 $210,000
Maximum compensation used to determine contributions $265,000 $265,000
401(k), SARSEP, 403(b) Deferrals (Section 402(g)), & 457 deferrals (Section 457(b)(2)) $ 18,000 $18,000
401(k), 403(b), 457 & SARSEP additional "catch-up" contributions for employees age 50 and older $  6,000 $  6,000
SIMPLE deferrals (Section 408(p)(2)(A)) $ 12,500 $12,500
SIMPLE additional "catch-up" contributions for employees age 50 and older $   3,000 $   3,000
Compensation defining highly compensated employee (Section 414(q)(1)(B)) $120,000 $120,000
Compensation defining key employee (officer) $170,000 $170,000
Compensation triggering Simplified Employee Pension contribution requirement (Section 408(k)(2)(c)) $     600 $       600
Driving Deductions 2016 2015
Business mileage, per mile 54 cents
57.5 cents
Charitable mileage, per mile 14 cents
14 cents
Medical and moving, per mile 19 cents
23 cents
Business Equipment 2016 2015
Maximum Section 179 deduction  $500,000 $500,000
Phase out for Section 179  $2 million $2 million
Transportation Fringe Benefit Exclusion 2016 2015
Monthly commuter highway vehicle and transit pass $   255 $   250
Monthly qualified parking $   255  $  250
Standard Deduction 2016 2015
Married filing jointly $ 12,600  $ 12,600
Single (and married filing separately) $   6,300  $   6,300
Heads of Household $   9,300  $   9,250
Personal Exemption 2016 2015
Amount  $4,050 $   4,000
Personal Exemption Phaseout 2016 2015
Married filing jointly and surviving spouses Begins at $311,300 Begins at $309,900
Heads of Household Begins at $285,350 Begins at $284,050
Unmarried individuals Begins at $259,400 Begins at $258,250
Married filing separately Begins at $155,650

Begins at $154,950

Domestic Employees 2016 2015
Threshold when a domestic employer must withhold and pay FICA for babysitters, house cleaners, etc. $  2,000 $  1,900
Kiddie Tax 2016 2015
Net unearned income not subject to the "Kiddie Tax" $  2,100 $  2,100
Estate Tax 2016 2015
Federal estate tax exemption $5.45 million $5.43 million
Maximum estate tax rate 40% 40%
Annual Gift Exclusion 2016 2015
Amount you can give each recipient $14,000 $14,000
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Tags: Tax, Social Security, IRA