How Do College Savings Affect Aid Eligibility?

Learn more about how savings contributions affect your student’s financial aid eligibility.

September 5, 2018

As you save for a child’s or grandchild’s future education, you might wonder what impact that saving will have on their chances of qualifying for financial aid. There are several types of financial aid (federal, state and institutional), but federal aid is the most widely dispersed and is based solely on financial need.

 

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Protecting Your Business from Cyberattacks

As the number of cyber breaches increases, efforts to safeguard your business should increase, too.

August 1, 2018

A recent report on data breaches says that 58% of malware attack victims are categorized as small businesses. And the attacks are increasing: 61% of small businesses have experienced a cyber breach in the past 12 months – up from 55% in 2016.

With this kind of data, it’s no wonder that the MAIN STREET (Making Available Information Now to Strengthen Trust and Resilience and Enhance Enterprise Technology) Cybersecurity Act of 2017 has been proposed. Once law, it will require the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to provide cybersecurity resources specifically geared for small businesses.

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Social Security Taps Trust Fund; Should You Be Worried?

For the first time since 1982, Social Security is dipping into its trust fund to pay benefits. What does this mean for future recipients?

June 11, 2018

The board of trustees for Social Security recently issued their 2018 annual report. Once again, this year’s report provided a dark reminder that the fiscal health of the program has further deteriorated. Like last year’s report, Social Security’s trustees said the program’s trust fund would be depleted in 2034. However, unlike last year, for the first time since 1982, Social Security has to dip into the fund to meet its obligations. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement that “lackluster economic growth in previous years” and an aging population have contributed to the shortage.

Double-Check Before Filing Your IRS Return

It may seem like common sense, but going back over the information you enter may be the most important part of your tax filing duties.

March 6, 2018

It’s tax time. And as you work with your advisor or tax preparer to maximize your refund, or at least minimize what you owe, keep in mind that one of the most important things taxpayers can do to limit errors is to double-check the information they input into software or a printed form.

It may seem like common sense, but going back over the information you enter may be the most important part of your tax filing duties. As you know, it’s very easy to put a figure on the wrong line – in fact, one of the most common errors is not putting in the right Social Security numbers for you, your spouse and your dependents. An error like that can cause a significant delay in the processing of your return or, even worse, could trigger an audit.

So do make an effort to recheck what you’ve entered before moving to the next line or screen. While you’re going back over your return for wrong entries and typos, take the time to look up numbers such as cost basis for investments sold and real estate tax paid, rather than estimating. And double-check your math, too, because simple miscalculations can commonly lead to errors as well.

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Benefit from Your Birthdays

The road to and through retirement is dotted with time-sensitive financial planning milestones.

January 23, 2018

Not all birthdays are about a driver’s license, getting to vote or toasting with a glass of wine. Some are important to your comfort in retirement, too. No matter who you are, the years leading up to and during retirement contain a number of key financial planning opportunities worth capitalizing on. You and your spouse may hit these dates at different times, so be sure to coordinate before making any decisions.

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Done Deal: Tax Bill Takes Effect

Ed Mills, Washington Policy Analyst, breaks down the major components of the new tax legislation.

January 11, 2018

The tax bill lowering the corporate tax rate and making a number of adjustments to the individual tax code was signed into law on December 22, 2017. The final tax bill sets a corporate tax rate of 21% starting January 1, 2018, and makes a number of changes to individual tax rates (including lowering the top individual to 37%). Key changes on the individual side include doubling the standard deduction ($12,000 for individuals and $24,000 for joint filers) but the bill reduces and/or removes many existing deductions. On the corporate side of the bill, businesses will have the benefit of 100% depreciation of qualified capital expenditures for the next five years, repeal of the corporate AMT, and a shift towards a territorial tax system (from a worldwide tax system). The bill also repeals the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). In this report, we review the changes to the corporate and individual tax code and cover next steps on tax legislation in 2018.

Done Deal: Tax Reform Passes Congress

Ed Mills, Washington Policy Analyst, breaks down the major components of the newly approved tax legislation.

December 20, 2017

The tax reform bill lowering the corporate tax rate and making a number of adjustments to the individual tax code has been approved by Congress and is set to become law. The final tax bill sets a corporate tax rate of 21% starting in 2018, a top individual rate of 37%, the repeal of the corporate AMT, a $1 million phase-out threshold inclusion for the individual AMT, a $750,000 mortgage interest deduction cap through 2025, a 20% deduction on pass-through income, an increase in the estate tax exemption (but not repeal), a $10,000 deduction for state, local, sales or property tax (SALT), 100% deduction of cap-ex for five years, maintaining the deductibility of interest from private activity bonds, and a repeal of the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). In this report, we review the effects of the final provisions and cover next steps for Congress as we head into 2018.

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What’s the Best Age to Claim Social Security?

By blogger, csquires

Congress has cut back some of the loopholes married couples once used to enhance their lifetime household Social Security benefits, restricting it to a dwindling pool of near-retirees. But that doesn’t mean claiming your Social Security benefits is a no-brainer.

By understanding how Social Security benefits and spousal benefits are calculated, you can make an informed decision when retirement comes. The Social Security Administration itself says there’s no “best age” to file, just the age that fits your retirement goals.

A few things to consider, and some links to Social Security’s helpful website:

Savvy Steps to Stay Cyber-Safe

Raymond James, Point of View. Defend yourself with simple, everyday practices that can help protect your identity, your accounts and your devices.

October 3, 2017

Americans lose tens of billions of dollars each year to financial fraud. In the digital frontier, many crimes – including identity theft, tax fraud and elder abuse – are committed by online outlaws, making cybersecurity all the more important. As cybercrime becomes more prevalent, learn how to defend yourself with simple, everyday practices that can help protect your identity, your accounts and your devices.

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