Retirement Feed

Still working through the retirement changes that were part of 2019's SECURE Act? Get ready. SECURE 2.0 is on its way. The Ways and Means Committee (W&M) today, May 5, unanimously — yes, Republicans and Democratic representatives agreed on something! — to send this latest set of retirement (and tax) law changes to the House floor. First round retirement law review: Provisions in the first SECURE, or Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement, Act took effect Jan. 1, 2020. It was the largest retirement reform bill since the Pension Protection Act back in 2006. Among the major changes in... Read more →


Millions of Americans rely on their workplace benefits to cover then health care and other needs. Most of them also are paying even more attention to those job-based benefits this year in light of the persistent COVID-19 pandemic. Medical insurance is a top priority. But other benefits also are getting added attention during this annual fall period, during which many U.S. companies allow workers to enroll in or change their benefits for the coming coverage year. Many of the office-based benefits also offer some tax advantages. Here are five questions with an Internal Revenue Service-inspired perspective to ask yourself as... Read more →


Free tax-preparation and filing help is offered ever tax season through groups community groups nationwide, like this Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program run by the Summit-Medina, Ohio, United Way. As the COVID-compromised 2020 and 2021 tax filing seasons demonstrated, most taxpayers needed some help to make sure they got all the tax breaks they were entitled to, as well as just file their annual returns. That need for tax assistance isn't going away, even if we do (fingers and toes tightly crossed) get to a more normal tax season next year. And volunteers who've received the Internal Revenue Service... Read more →


The Social Security Administration (SSA) gave retirees and other recipients of the program's payments good news this week. Next year, they'll bet the biggest benefits bump in decades. Some higher earners, however, aren't so happy. That government benefits announcement also noted that the amount of income subject to payroll taxes also is going up in 2022. This amount, known as the Social Security wage base, is the maximum earnings, by both salaried workers and the self-employed, that are subject to that retirement portion of the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) tax. In 2021, the wage base is $142,800. On Jan.... Read more →


Many Social Security recipients are celebrating the announcement that their benefits will increase in 2022. But if you get other income to help you enjoy your retirement, you could owe tax on your government benefits. There's some good news for the around 72 million people who receive Social Security benefits, either as retirees or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients (or both). The Social Security Administration announced* on Wednesday, Oct. 13, that they will see a 5.9 percent increase in their benefit checks in 2022. It's the largest increase to the government benefits, which primarily go to retirees, in nearly four... Read more →


With the financial situation of Uncle Sam's retirement benefits program getting more dire, a recurring suggestion — raise the Social Security payroll tax wage base — is getting some traction this year. Labor Day typically marks the end, at least unofficially, of summer. After the early September long weekend, most schools are back in session, albeit still in remote/real classroom combos due to the Delta COVID-19 variant. Workers, many also still in hybrid coronavirus cubicle/Zoom formats, tend to focus on their jobs. Those jobs are critical not just to the employees, but the economy as a whole and to two... Read more →


It's fitting that I just learned today, late in the day, that Aug. 10 is National Lazy Day. I definitely will note this date on next year's calendar, if I can muster the energy, so I make the most of it in 2022. National Day Calendar, which keeps track of the myriad special designations for our 365 (plus one in a Leap Year), doesn't have much information on National Lazy Day. That would require some work, which is antithetical to the day's commemoration. But it does say that Aug. 10 is the day where we are given permission to relax... Read more →


More older Americans are going into debt. For many, it seriously undermines their ability to save for a comfortable retirement. (Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko via Pexels) It's no secret why personal finance folks urge us to save early and often. It takes a lot to live like you want when you retire. If you don't have enough stashed after you're done with the 9-to-5 grind, it could be because you are like the individuals in a recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) study. They went into more debt as they aged. The government auditing agency's analysis found that older Americans held... Read more →


When it comes to funding a comfortable retirement, most of us look at every possible revenue stream. For some, however, the searching is more difficult. They are the owners of unclaimed retirement savings accounts. When enough time passes, the accounts essentially are lost. And it's a substantial amount that's sitting around waiting to be claimed. Recent studies published by the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Center for Financial Security found that in 2016, there were an estimated 70,000 unclaimed retirement accounts across the United States. These accounts totaled $38 million. Those numbers jibe with other analyses of lost retirement accounts. Investment manager... Read more →


The 2020 tax return filing deadline for most U.S. taxpayers literally is just days away. If you're scrambling to meet the May 17 due date, don't be in such a hurry that you cheat yourself out of some tax savings. You can claim deductions, either by itemizing if that gives you more than your standard deduction amount or by claiming some income adjustments, most of which are still referred to (by me, at least!) as above-the-line deductions, that reduce the amount of income that's taxed. There also are tax credits, which are even better because they directly reduce what you... Read more →


Enjoying a comfortable retirement later means planning for and contributing to nest eggs now. For some, the Saver's Credit offers an added tax incentive. Some lawmakers want to make the credit even better. I'm a big believer in saving for retirement because, well, I'm a big believer in retiring. Specifically, in retiring when and how I want. And that takes money. Uncle Sam apparently shares my pro-nest-egg point of view. In addition to the tax breaks available for those who take advantage of myriad retirement saving options, the Internal Revenue Code also offers a double reward for some with the... Read more →


Reviewed and updated May 15, 2021 Tax Day 2021 for most U.S. taxpayers is just a week away. Procrastinators' focus obviously is on finishing up those 1040s. But there are some other tax tasks that, if they apply to your tax situation, you should take care of or at least consider by May 17. 1. Contribute to an IRA: Putting as much as you can into an individual retirement arrangement, or account as most of us call it, is always a smart move. The IRA will grow over the years, giving you some cash when you're ready to call the... Read more →


Even before 2017's Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) greatly increased the standard deduction amounts, most people chose to use the standard deduction amount. But one thing that the latest tax reform law didn't change is the ability for many to get some added deductions without itemizing. These used to be called, at least by the tax community, above-the-line deductions. They got that moniker because pre-TCJA they appeared in the last section of the old long Form 1040, just above the last line of that form's first page where your adjusted gross income (AGI) was entered. (A handful also were... Read more →


Feeling adrift as the May 17 tax filing deadline approaches? Here are some tax moves to make this month that could serve as lifelines. May Day arrived over the weekend, but millions of taxpayers today are sending out filing mayday distress signals. The delayed May 17 Tax Day is just two weeks away. Two weeks, however, is plenty of time to get your taxes done. Or postpone them — at least the form filing part — for five more months. Those are the top two tasks on the following list of seven tax moves to make this month. Since time... Read more →


Are you a retiree constantly checking your bank account for your third COVID-19 economic impact payment? The IRS says you should get it next week. The Internal Revenue Service has some good news for the around 30 million Social Security recipients anxiously awaiting the latest COVID relief money You should get your $1,400 economic impact payment, dubbed EIP3, next week. The IRS' precise projection is that most of the third relief amounts, dubbed EIP3, will be sent electronically and show up in the recipients' accounts on April 7. Perpetual payment challenge: Getting coronavirus relief amounts to older individuals has been... Read more →


You've kept a close eye on your nest egg. If some of it is in tax-deferred accounts, required minimum distributions are back in 2021. If you're an older retirement account owner and freaking out because the April deadline for your first required minimum distribution is almost here, take a breath. The convergence of coronavirus pandemic tax considerations and a major retirement law's changes mean that there's no April 1 required withdrawal in 2021. No fooling. But you'll still have to make your regular 2021 RMD by the end of the year. RMD refresher: Let's start with a quick refresher on... Read more →


With the expansion of available COVID-19 vaccines, many workers are looking forward to shutting down their home offices and soon heading back to their offices. Others, however, have left the workforce for good. Unfortunately, the work status change for some recent retirees didn't happen quite as they had planned. More than two-thirds, or 68 percent, of individuals who responded to Allianz Life's 2021 Retirement Risk Readiness survey said they retired earlier than expected. That's a significant increase from the 50 percent who took early retirement last year. The coronavirus pandemic has underscored that much of life is beyond our control.... Read more →


I've always done my taxes. When the hubby and I married, I continued this annual task, now filing our joint return. The only change is that every tax season the hubby periodically peers over my shoulder as I work on our return and chants, "Deduct! Deduct! Deduct!" Although taxes aren't his thing, he's right. Deductions can help lower taxes. And for most of our marriage, we've found it better to itemize deductions on Schedule A. But even then, we've been able to use now and then what are known as above-the-line deductions. Back when these write-offs got that name, they... Read more →


We got our first tax statement yesterday. It's our mortgage lender's Form 1098 with details on potentially tax-deductible amounts like loan interest and property taxes. This is just one of the documents that millions of taxpayers are awaiting so they can file their returns. In addition to tax-related home transactions, the various documents that are or soon will be on their way include documents detailing income, be it from wages, contract work or retirement accounts; investments; winnings and/or gambling proceeds; and in some cases, health care information. A handful of these documents must be submitted with Form 1040. Most, however,... Read more →


One of the many U.S. Capitol ornaments that adorn our Christmas tree each year. (Photo by Kay Bell) We all have our holiday traditions. That includes Congress. Almost every year, Representatives and Senators return to Washington, D.C. in December to take care of must-pass legislation. This year, there are two big items on the legislative to-do list. One is to approve federal government funding for the remainder of the 2021 fiscal year. Without that money, Uncle Sam's offices nationwide will shut down (again). That's definitely the Congressional equivalent of Santa putting coal in stockings! The other issue is another COVID-19... Read more →


We need to follow Santa Claus' example this month. Just as he checks his naughty or nice list, we need to check on tax moves to make by Dec. 31. It's December. 2020 and its craziness is almost over! Are you ready? Specifically, are you ready for the holidays? For those of us still committed to pandemic precautions, it's going to be a different, and yes, a bit less jolly, season. But one thing is the same as in previous Decembers. We still need to make some tax moves before Jan. 1. Some December tax moves will demand a little... Read more →