5 Potential IRA Mistakes

Look out IRA investors because the IRS looks like it will be turning its attention to taxpayers who make mistakes with their IRA accounts. (source: www.wsj.com)    This includes matching distributions to your tax returns, stepped up audits, and tighter reporting overall when it comes to scrutinizing IRA accounts.    As I have shared for the last couple of years on Your Smart Money Moves, the Government is in dire need to increase revenue to balance the budget and pay off our voluminous debt.    One way to do this is to crack down on the mistakes that we make as taxpayers.   Nobody likes coming home and getting a letter in the mail from the IRS.  So here are five mistakes you might be making for the IRS to take a closer look at your tax return. Contributions To Roth IRA Accounts –   While some of you did Roth IRA conversions back in 2010 (and some are still converting), a Roth ‘conversion’ and ...

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Are My Withholdings For Taxes Correct?

Since tax season has just passed, you are probably in one of two states of minds.   Either a) you love your CPA because you got a big refund, or b) you hate your CPA because you owed money.   It generally falls into one of those two camps when returns are filed.   Remember, if you get a tax refund that means you essentially gave an interest free loan to the Government.    Some people see this as an effective way to force savings during the year, but you really lose out on the opportunity cost of having these resources in your hands during the course of the year. As of April 27, the Internal Revenue Service had authorized more than 99.1 million refunds for the 2011 tax year—up about 1% a year earlier. It also represents more than three-fourths of all the individual income-tax returns processed by the IRS by that date. The total dollar amount of refunds this year was about ...

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Is Your Homeowner’s Insurance Going To Cost You More Than A Few Shingles?

If you live in the state of Georgia, you may notice a big jump in your Homeowners Insurance here in 2012.   Often, people don’t really look closely at their homeowner’s policies because their mortgage payments are tied together with their principal, interest, real estate taxes, and homeowner’s insurance all paid at one time.  Even though you might get a statement from your insurance company, I’ve seen people not reviewing these statements closely on a year to year basis.   This can be especially true as people quickly scurry to the refinance window trying to lock in the incredibly low long term interest rates. After rising steadily for the past few years, homeowner insurance premiums are expected to jump another 5% this year to $1,004, according to the Insurance Information Institute. That’s the biggest yearly increase since the market downturn and will mark the first time the national average premium is above $1,000. (source: www.wsj.com) Premiums will rise even higher in some ...

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The Government Likes Annuities Now?

As all of us know, the idea of working for one company for 20 or 30 years is a dream most of won’t ever realize in our lifetimes.   Historically, if you worked for one company for your whole career, you could retire with a pension.   A pension is really another similar term for the word annuity which means that you would receive a consistent stream of income for the rest of your life that you could not outlive.   In many cases, you can also get a spousal option to have the annuity continue upon your death to your spouse even if for a reduced amount of income. As pension plans have largely been replaced over the past 25 years with the 401(k) savings plan, the combination of employee/employer savings rates and overall rates of return have led many people to having a 201(k) at this point in their lives.   With ‘retirement’ lurking in the not too far distant future, many ...

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Should you buy a ‘combined’ insurance policy?

As technology changes, we are always looking for the latest and best upgrades so we are on the cutting edge.  Just like the technology sector,  the world of insurance policy design and implementation is constantly changing.  One of the most recent designs to hit the market is buying something called a combined insurance policy.    This kind of insurance policy is typically a cash value type life insurance policy combined with a long-term care rider.    Is this a good idea to combine both into one policy, or should you be looking at two separate policies to cover these risk management needs within your financial plan? Families have always bought life insurance (term or permanent insurance) over the years to cover for the short and long term needs in the event of a premature death of one of the partners our spouses in a family unit.  The amount of insurance a family needs has been long debated, but it’s best to use ...

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Do I Need Pet Insurance?

A few years ago, my sister ran into a truly awful situation. She had to face the music that part her family might pass way. One of her cats was going in and out of the doctor’s office using every medical procedure possible to keep her cat alive. The bills piled up, and inevitably her cat died. I remember one year during open enrollment time that I saw a new benefit on the docket called Pet Insurance. I actually chuckled at first thinking was this some gimmick or trick for the insurance companies to make more money? Quite the contrary to my surprise as Americans spent $20 billion on veterinary bills in 2010 — an 8.5% increase from a year earlier and more than double the amount spent just a decade ago. (source: wsj.com) Owning a pet is a serious financial decision these days because beyond your pet’s regular care, you need to consider the best way to plan for ...

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Estate Tax To Stay At 3.5 Million?

Now that the elections are done, there are some really large looming financial questions that the new mix of Republicans and Democrats need to decide before the year ends.  As the band Rush wrote in one of their songs, “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice”.  It would be great to see some movement made on this estate tax issue so we don’t see some faux Billy Crystal actor throw momma from the train before the end of 2010. For those that don’t remember where the estate tax was at before 2010, in 2009 the exemption was 3.5 million with a 45% tax above the 3.5 million threshold.  For a couple, this meant roughly a 7 million dollar exemption.  With only 3 out of every 1,000 estates (source: www.wsj.com) having an estate above this 7 million dollar threshold, the level set in 2009 only affected a minute number of American citizens. Basically, there are three ...

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