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Knocking Down Some Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) Misconceptions

Category: Financial and taxes in retirement

July 4, 2020 — Our friend Robert Powell at TheStreet.com just wrote a very helpful article for people who worked for governments or non profits and did not pay into Social Security for much of their work lives. They are usually concerned that they won’t get Social Security retirement payments. In “Did You Work for a Government and Not Pay Social Security“, Powell writes to straighten out some misconceptions.

The Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) reduces your Eligibility Year (ELY) benefit amount before it is reduced or increased by early retirement, delayed retirement credits, cost of living adjustments (COLA), or other factors. If applied, your Social Security retirement payments will be lowered.

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Posted by Admin on July 4th, 2020

More RMD Relief Available

Category: Financial and taxes in retirement

July 1, 2020 – Bummed out that for once in your life you were early, and took out your 2020 Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) earlier this year? Well, relief is in site. The IRS announced On June 23 that all investors who already took RMDs in 2020 have an extension to be able to roll back those distributions. The new deadline for RMD rollbacks is August 31, 2020. That replaces the previous requirement of rolling them back within 60 days of the distribution, or by July 15 for certain distributions.

The CARES Act also allows another benefit to those affected by COVID. If you, your spouse, or a dependent is diagnosed with the disease you may be able to distribute up to $100,000 from an IRA or employer-sponsored plan in 2020. The distributions are not subject to the normal 10% early withdrawal penalty, and normal taxation of those proceeds can be spread over three years, or even reinvested.

For more information:
What the CARES Act Means for You (Vanguard)

This article also discusses the advantages of a ROTH conversion this year.

Posted by Admin on June 30th, 2020

Estate Planning: Is It Fair to Leave Different Amounts?

Category: Financial and taxes in retirement

June 23, 2020 — Note: This article starts with the premise that it is crucial for every person of retirement age (and younger) to have a will and/or an estate plan, no matter how small the assets you own. If you don’t have a legal document, you are going to leave a huge mess for your heirs to clean up, you will waste money on probate expenses, and perhaps end up with a result you wouldn’t like.

Every family is different in so many ways. Couples might have children that are equally successful and get along well. But for family like that there are those with a child who has had a hard time, a disability, or other issue. Families with stepchildren face additional challenges. Many people worry about a child they feel is not responsible, and who might squander any bequest on drugs, gambling, etc. There might be a family business where one or more siblings, but not all, are actively working. It can get very complicated. And, your children probably know if have already substantially helped one child financially more than the others.

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Posted by Admin on June 23rd, 2020

Mad Because You Took Your RMD Early This Year? You Might Be OK.

Category: Financial and taxes in retirement

Note: July 2020 – This deadline has been extended. April 24, 2020 – Are you kicking yourself because you took some or all this year’s Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) from your IRA or 401(k) earlier this year? Now that the Cares Act has eliminated RMDs for 2020, you have reason to be upset, especially because all of your distribution is taxable income. Fortunately, there might be some relief.

Act before July 15

The CARES Act just passed as part of the coronavirus relief package has a provision that eliminates all required minimum distributions (RMDs) for 2020. Unfortunately, if you took RMD in January of this year, you probably can’t reverse that decision without jumping through a lot of hoops. But, if you took one on or after February 1 and May 15, 2020, you can still roll it back, if you act by July 15. The rollback option isn’t available if the plan was inherited. Issued on April 9, IRS Notice 2020-23 provides limited relief by allowing an extension of the 60-day rollover period. You cannot rollback any taxes you had withheld, although you can probably get a refund or adjustment when you pay your 2020 taxes. There is only one IRA rollback every 365 days.

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Posted by Admin on April 23rd, 2020

Will This Recession Put Out the FIRE Movement?

Category: Financial and taxes in retirement

April 7, 2020 – The FIRE Movement, Financial Independence Retire Early, got a huge boost from the roaring stock market from 2019 through Feb. 2020. People who had been cutting way back on their expenses and investing that extra money saw their portfolios go way up. For that matter, anybody with a 401(k) or retirement portfolio was feeling pretty good. Many young people in their 40s and 30s even “hit their number”, quit their jobs and planned to live on their savings and non-traditional income sources, such as side gigs or rental income. Then the coronavirus hit, throwing a bucket of cold water on FIRE flames.

In just a few weeks during March stocks were down as much 40%. While that would not be fatal for a person with 20 or more working years or who did not have a big equity position, it would be devastating for someone who based their retirement on a booming stock market. Not only would they have less money to take out of their portfolio to live on each year, but they also wouldn’t have the steady income of a job to help them rebuild those savings. What’s more, studies show that the longer someone is out of the job market, the harder it is for someone with to yesterday’s skills to re-enter it. Folks who built their dream on renting out an Airbnb or rental property are probably seeing their revenues go to zero in 2020, while expenses continue.

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Posted by Admin on April 6th, 2020

Yes: Social Security Recipients Will Get Stimulus Check!

Category: Financial and taxes in retirement

March 27, 2020 — The good news for people who get Social Security retirement or disability (SSI) benefits is that most of them are about to get a nice check as part of the stimulus package signed today. Social Security recipients are included in the bill to get $1200 (payable in the next month or so), provided they did not earn more than $75,000 on their latest tax return (a married couple gets $2400 with an income below $150,000). If a single person’s income is over $75,000 that benefit starts to be reduced, eventually going to $0 with an income of $99,000 or more (the limit is $198,000 for couples). This one time benefit is not taxable.

The payments will be made through the Treasury Department, not the SSA. Early indications are that if you receive your SS through direct deposit, that is how you will get the supplement. If you haven’t file any tax returns lately, you might have to apply for the benefit.

How to spend it?

This is certainly good news for retirees who don’t have a big income source, as most people won’t have any trouble spending a little windfall. We would be curious to see how you intend to spend yours – help out adult children who have lost their job or income, donate some of it to a charity, or spend it on something you have needed for a long time? Please let us know in the Comments section below.

We retirees in some ways are in better shape than those younger than us who are still working – at least most of don’t have to worry about losing our jobs! The point of the stimulus package is to get money back in circulation and rebuild the economy. So, if you will forgive a little editorialization, we hope you spend yours quickly in some way. Your local store owners and businesses are probably hurting. But most will probably deliver whatever you want, or have it waiting at their door. If we all spend the money quickly, it should help get things back to normal.

Posted by Admin on March 27th, 2020

The Corona Virus and Your Retirement Portfolio: Sell, Hold, Buy?

Category: Financial and taxes in retirement

March 2, 2020 — Last week featured one of the biggest stock market sell-offs since the Great Depression. Panic set in as market professionals and plain old investors tried to sort out just how serious the impact of the Corona Virus – COVID 19 – will be on world trade and the economy. Could widespread shortages, school and factory closings, and forced quarantines throw the world into economic chaos? No one really knows, and that uncertainty was felt in the U.S. and world stock markets last week.

Some investors told their brokers to sell everything. Many advisors urged stay the course, particularly those who have the long view. Still others suggested maybe it was time to buy. Since this website is about retirement, our outlook is different from investors with a shorter time from. Last week we solicited Comments from several members on a related blog, and are reprinting them here. Please let us what you are thinking and doing about it.

Comments———-

I am sure on edge about my investments after the losses of this week. I wS told to stay the course, but at this point, I am not sure what to do. I have a gut feeling this is going to get worse before it gets better. I am very worried now. —- Maimi

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Posted by Admin on March 1st, 2020

So You Want to Change Your State Residency: Be Wary!

Category: Financial and taxes in retirement

February 11, 2020 — More and more baby boomers in high tax states are tempted by the notion of retiring to greener pastures. The urge to move to a low tax, less expensive, and possibly warmer state has grown even stronger recently, because of the $10,000 limit on state and local tax deductions. But before you make the leap – make sure you do it right!

A domicile is where an individual maintains his or her permanent abode, and where that person intends to return from any absence. You can only have one domicile at a time. In “How to Become a Florida Resident” we outlined the basic steps you need to change your domicile and become a resident of a new state. Follow those and you are on a good path, but not necessarily free of all trouble. Snowbirds who continue to maintain a residence in their old state are particularly at risk. Here are some of the most basic steps to take:

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Posted by Admin on February 10th, 2020

Hackers Have a New Target: Your Retirement Accounts

Category: Financial and taxes in retirement

January 28, 2020 — Having tried to cheat you out of your money in dozens of other ways, hackers are now targeting retirement accounts. Unfortunately it can be very easy for them, and even worse than that, you might not get your money back if they steal it.

With retirement funds being one of their biggest assets, the stakes are huge for retirees.  This article will review some of the best ideas for protecting your accounts.

Email is the way most hackers use to break into your accounts. The usual methods include tricking you into downloading something, asking you to provide personal information to “solve a problem” with your account, or leading you to a dangerous site. The email might seem real and alarming, telling you there is a problem with your account.

A big problems is that the scammer might already have some of your personal information, stolen from a compromised site and subsequently sold on the dark web.  They probably already have your username, email and password for one site. Betting that you reuse the same password or a close variant of it , they can keep plugging in various combinations and sooner or later hit pay dirt. 

4 things to protect your retirement account. 

Rule #1: If an email even looks even faintly suspicious, don’t open it up. Never reply with any personal information or click on a suspicious link.

#2: Read all your statements every month. Look for unusual activity and amounts or transactions you don’t recognize.  Call your provider immediately if you do.

#3: Have virus software on your computer. Inexpensive products such as those from Norton will alert you to suspicious web pages and block most malware and other dangers. Keep the software up to date.

#4: Use different passwords for different sites – never reuse the same one. That way if one of your accounts is compromised you can contain the damage. Use a password manager to generate and/or store your passwords – Roboform and Lastpass are two popular ones. The safest but also the clumsiest way is to write all of them down in a notebook that you hope doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. The worst plan is to try try to hide them somewhere on your computer. To simplify things you might combine nonsense words that you can remember easily, such as Catdogfish222. But you must mix things up or the hackers will figure out your system.

Comments?  Have you been hacked ?  If so, how bad was it, and what did you do to recover ?  What systems do you use to stay safe ?  Please share your experiences in the Comments section below.

For further reading: USA Today article by Paul Gores:  “Cybercrooks Targeting Retirement Accounts”

Posted by Admin on January 27th, 2020

3 Social Security Rules to Know and Live By

Category: Financial and taxes in retirement

BULLETIN: SOFTWARE GLITCH MIGHT HAVE UNSUBSCRIBED ALL SUBSCRIBERS!

We are sorry to burden you with this, but it appears the company that sends out our newsletter might have accidentally UNSUBSCRIBED ALL of our Best Places Newsletter subscribers! If you would like to continue getting our free newsletter, please go to this signup form and resubscribe. Thanks so much!

December 28 , 2019 — Social Security is the single most important source of retirement income for most people. So it is crucial that you understand how the rules apply to your situation.  Here are three important things you need to understand about how Social Security works.

1. Know when to claim

The earliest you can claim is age 62.  Your Full Retirement Age (FRA) is somewhere between 66 and 67, depending on your birth year (if born before 1954 it is 66 and increases one month per year after that up to 67). Your benefit maxes out at age 70; there is no advantage in waiting past that.  if you file at age 62 you will only get 75% of what you would get if you wait to your FRA. If you claim between your FRA and 70 your benefit will increase by 8% a year.  You can file for your benefits online or in person.

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Posted by Admin on December 28th, 2019