Elderly Feed

When I started working, a handful of companies still offered their workers a pension plan. I'm talking a real pension plan, one where the business alone set aside some money that you could collect each month after you retired. Back then, financial planners regularly referred to pensions as one leg of the three-legged retirement planning stool: pension payments, personal savings and Social Security benefits. Those three retirement components account for this week's By the Numbers figure. But retirement planning has gotten much more complicated in recent years. Two wobbly legs: We continue to hear about Social Security's financial troubles. Whether... Read more →

The ringleader of a South Florida identity theft ring that filed $11.7 million worth of fraudulent federal income tax refunds was sentenced last week to more than 26 years in prison and $1.9 million in restitution. At the sentencing of Alci Bonannee, 36, of Fort Lauderdale, federal prosecutors said the scheme was one of the biggest and most successful they've seen. It was so convincing, noted the trial judge, that the Internal Revenue Service approved some $4.5 million of the requested refunds. It also is a prime example of what federal proscutors called a tax fraud "epidemic" that is more... Read more →

Monday is April Fools' Day, but it's no joke for some septuagenarians. April 1 is the deadline for some folks age 70½ to take money out of their tax-deferred retirement accounts. You know these savings plans: traditional IRAs, traditional workplace 401(k)s and several popular self-employment retirement plans. Earnings in these retirement vehicles grow tax-deferred. But Uncle Sam won't wait for his cut of your nest egg forever. So when you turn 70½, you must start taking out some of your traditional IRA et al money. These withdrawals are known as required minimum distributions, or RMDs. And for some who hit... Read more →

Pardon me for detouring from strict tax topics, but an article in today's New York Times about widows in foreclosure floored me. Homeowners over age 50 are facing the loss of their homes at the fastest pace of any age group. Women are a big part of that statistical segment because, reports the paper, they tend to outlive their spouses and are unable to cope with cuts in their pensions, ballooning medical costs and the fine print on their mortgages. Elderly women walking by Michael Cohen via Flickr OK, I see not saving enough; that's a problem for every age... Read more →

Alabama, Arkansas, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia and West Virginia collect state sales tax on food. In Georgia, Louisiana and North Carolina, food sales are subject to local taxes. I understand that everyone eats, except for maybe the stray super model. That makes tacking a few cents onto a grocery bill an appetizing way for states and local governments to get much-needed money. But precisely because everyone must eat to live, taxing such a necessity just doesn't seem right to me. Food or not? Plus, the determination of what is "food" and what... Read more →

Once we're out of our teens, most of us don't look forward to getting older. But at tax time, being a taxpayer of a certain age does have its advantages. Filers age 65 or older get a bigger standard tax deduction amount simply by checking a box on Form 1040 or 1040A. A larger standard deduction amount also is available for taxpayers of any age who are legally blind. Again, all it takes is a quick tick of a box on their tax returns. Today's Daily Tax Tip looks at how qualifying taxpayers can get a standard deduction that could... Read more →

A couple of years ago -- Yikes! Has it been that long!? -- I asked in a post Are you ready for a Roth conversion? It looked at the elimination of the income limit on converting a traditional IRA to a Roth account. Back then, my fellow personal finance blogger and Twitter pal JoeTaxpayer. was among those who offered some answers to that question so I invited him to elaborate. He graciously agreed to write a guest post then and now he's updated it with 2011-2012 tax data. Today, I'd like to offer a look at what it would take... Read more →

Today is a somber anniversary. But it also coincides this year with a much happier celebration, Grandparents Day. So while we remember those who died on Sept. 11, 2011, today's tax focus is on the country's older filers. There are, of course, many young grandfathers and grandmothers. But the more senior Maw-maws and Grampas get today's attention. The reason? Readily available Internal Revenue Service data breaks out taxable retirement income. Specifically, for the 2008 tax year, the latest complete tax filing info, slightly more than 15 million taxpayers reported taxable Social Security income. And that precise number of filers is... Read more →

Many of you are at the same point in your lives as I am. As you're joining the "of a certain age" club, you also have an older parent whom you're helping out in any way you can. That's what New Jersey resident Anthony Olivo was doing. He provided nearly full-time care to his mother from 1994 to 2003, basically giving up his legal practice during those years. Following his mother's death, Olivo became administrator of her estate. He filed a tax return for the estate and claimed a deduction of $1.24 million as a debt he said the estate... Read more →

Wisconsin city overcharges elderly widow's property taxes for 24 years

Here's another reason to pay close attention to your property tax bill. Angie France's modest Racine, Wisc., home was overvalued by city tax assessors, resulting in her getting -- and paying -- too high of a property tax bill for 24 years. The 84-year-old widow discovered the incorrect assessment when, following her husband's death, she went ot the city to inquire about possible ways she could lower her tax obligation given her new single situation. That's when city officials discovered that back in 1987 the original property inspector and tax assessor assumed that a pair of upper windows in her... Read more →

Retiring later, taxing more earnings and picking the perfect domestic tax haven

Retirement is a hot topic right now. Those of us near a certain age are wondering what changes might be in the offing regarding Social Security now that the prez has indicated he's willing to include the government retirement program in budget/debt ceiling talks. Younger people have for many years been skeptical of the program. Many believe that it's impossible to make enough changes to guarantee them any Social Security benefits when they're ready to retire. Those concerns were part of a recent hearing by the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security. The July 8 session examined Social... Read more →

It never hurts to be prepared. That's the thinking of freshman Rep. Daniel Webster. The Florida Republican has introduced the Prioritize Spending Act of 2011 (H.R. 2402) to, he says, "ensure America's priorities are preserved in the event that the debt ceiling is reached." "It is important that while we fight for true spending transformations," said Webster in announcing the bill, "we also prepare to prevent any default by protecting our priorities." So just what does Webster think should be paid with the actual dollars Uncle Sam will have on hand if there's no debt ceiling deal? First, the U.S.... Read more →

Happy Father's Day 2011

I got a bit of a head start on Father's Day last Wednesday with the Weekly Tax Tip about tax help in taking care of dad as he gets older. Those of us lending a hand to aging parents will need all the financial assistance we can get, according to a new report that says Americans who take time from work to look after (or even just look in on) an older dad or mom lose an estimated $3 trillion in wages, pension and Social Security benefits. The MetLife Study of Caregiving Costs to Working Caregivers: Double Jeopardy for Baby... Read more →

Tax help when you help out your aging dad (or mom)

Father's Day is Sunday. Cards will be mailed, special dinners prepared and a variety of gifts presented to the men who mean so much to us. Many of us also will be dealing with things that go beyond one special day. Some folks with an aging dad are helping him out on a more regular, and in some cases daily, basis. Others soon will be providing that extra attention. If you are or expect to be caring for an elderly dad (or mom), the tax code offers some help. And that's this week's (#8) Weekly Tax Tip. Some things you'll... Read more →

Americans are more pessimistic about the economic recovery. A report late last month from the Conference Board, a business research association, found that consumer confidence fell in May to its lowest level since last November. "Consumers are considerably more apprehensive about future business and labor market conditions as well as their income prospects," said Lynn Franco, Director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center. "Inflation concerns, which had eased last month, have picked up once again." I see those inflation concerns on every grocery shopping trip I make with my mother. She's a senior citizen living primarily on Social Security... Read more →

I am officially old. OK, dear hubby who's a year older than I, how's this? Time is marching on at bit more rapid pace. I've become more aware of this temporal inevitability over the last couple of months as I've helped my mom relocate. Since I've been grown, we've lived apart anywhere from 135 or so miles while I was in college to almost 1,300 miles when the hubby and I were in Florida. Now, Mom and I are just 50 miles from each other. The good news is that she's just about an hour away. The bad news is... Read more →

In the Your Money column today, Ron Lieber predicts there's a class war coming to the world of government pensions. The battleground, says New York Times writer Lieber, will pit state and municipal retirees with "seemingly guaranteed and ever-escalating monthly pension benefits [that] are breaking budgets nationwide" against taxpayers whose 401(k)s or individual retirement accounts have taken a real beating in recent years. "And soon, many of those people will be paying higher taxes or getting fewer state services as their states put more money aside to cover those pension checks," writes Lieber. He cites a Pew Center on the... Read more →

Recovering Social Security overpayments

That headline is not what Uncle Sam wants to see today. The New York Times reports that this year the Social Security system will pay out more in benefits than it receives in payroll taxes. That wasn't supposed to happen, per government estimators, until 2016. Stephen C. Goss, chief actuary of the Social Security Administration, tells the paper that the economy is a big reason for the earlier-than-expected arrival of this crucial tipping point. Social Security payments have risen more than expected during the downturn because people lost jobs applied for benefits sooner than they had planned. While that was... Read more →

Last week I got a call from my mom. Usually she just wants to chat about how her life is going, what's up with me and dish some dirt on relatives. Just kidding dear extended family members! Just wanted to see if y'all were still reading the ol' blog! This time, though, she had a tax question. She wasn't sure about this Schedule M and what is this recovery payment it wanted to know about? She swore she never got a check last year. As it turned out, my mom, along with millions of other Social Security recipients, did get... Read more →

Willard Scott would love New Mexico. The state allows an added exemption for taxpayers who are 100 or older. That's right. Age does have its tax advantages in the Land of Enchantment. The earnings of a person 100 years old or more is exempt from the state's income tax. You must have celebrated that momentous birthday by the end of the tax year for which you claim the exemption. And you'll need to fill out Form PIT-ADJ to make sure the department of Taxation and Revenue knows you're in the tax clear. You also must be a self-sufficient centenarian. If... Read more →