Newsletter for May-June

Check out our latest newsletter here:
Helpful information on all these subjects:
Estate Planning:
Let’s Talk Estate Strategy Q&A
 • What tax-efficient strategies can individuals use to pass assets to adult children?
 • How can individuals let family members know where to access important documents in case of disability or death?
Protecting your child:
Mother’s Day and Father’s Day give us the opportunity to show Mom and Dad how much we appreciate them. But could moms and dads be doing more to protect their children? If you’re the parent of a minor child, you can help ensure your child’s future by naming a legal guardian and having sufficient life insurance.
General Interest:
A moving experience
 • Moving to a new home can be both physically and financially draining. We offer some tips to help make the move less stressful.
Lost and found
 • If a loved one dies and no life insurance policy is found, how can you determine if one exists? We list some strategies legal representatives can use to find the answer.
By the numbers: total annual college charges
How much does it cost to go to college? Here’s a look at some 2014 statistics from the   College Board.
 • The smart way to pay for college
Borrowing to pay for college is sometimes unavoidable. But a smarter and less expensive way to pay for your child`s education is to build a college fund through investing.
 • Thoroughly modern money
Technology has made managing finances a lot easier. There are now many options that can help you budget, deposit checks and pay bills more efficiently.
Good health = lower premiums
Looking for a way to lower your life insurance premiums? By making a few healthy lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, exercising and quitting smoking, you may be able to qualify for lower insurance rates.
Let’s Talk Insurance Q&A
• Should first-time homeowners buy life insurance?
• Why are life insurance premiums generally higher for men than for women?
Retirement Planning:
Get your retirement account in shape
Is your retirement account as healthy as you’d like it to be? To help you get your investments in shape, we list some common mistakes to avoid.
Let’s Talk Retirement Q&A
• How much do retirement plan contributions reduce an individual’s income taxes?

Let’s Talk Retirement Q&A
• What is the difference between an assisted living facility and a nursing home?
• Why is the term” activities of daily living” important to understand when searching for a long-term care facility?
When what you leave behind matters
May is Older Americans Month. It’s the time we celebrate the accomplishments of individuals ages 65 and older. As a member of that generation, what’s important to you? Is it leaving your loved ones a financial legacy? You may not be able to if you haven’t factored medical and long-term care expenses into your retirement strategy.
Small Business:
Let’s Talk Business Q&A
• Are individual retirement accounts still protected by federal bankruptcy laws?
• How can employers increase participation in their retirement plans?
Spring into May with a healthy outlook
If it’s been a while since you reviewed your finances, now would be a good time for a checkup. We discuss some items that can get both your business and personal finances on the right track.
Is your investing strategy fiscally fit?
May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month. You know exercise and a healthy lifestyle can help keep you physically fit. But what can you do to ensure you’re fiscally fit? A review of your investments can help you determine if your current investing strategy is still in line with your goals.
Let’s Talk Investments Q&A
 • What is a target date retirement fund’s glide path?
Pamper yourself with a secure retirement
 • Mother’s Day is the day your children recognize you for all you do. But sometimes the things you do, such as taking time out of the work force to care for children or an elderly parent, can affect your ability to invest for retirement. By starting early, maxing out your contributions and opening a spousal IRA, you can help build a financially secure retirement.

Let’s Talk Money Online

The November issue of our newsletter is now available for viewing here:

Subjects include:

Estate Planning:

More than taxes

When you first developed your estate strategy, your primary goal may have been to mitigate taxes. But there’s more to an effective estate strategy than taxes alone. An updated strategy can help provide financial protection for you and your loved ones and management for your assets when you can’t or don’t want to manage them yourself.

General Interest:

Keep the happy in your holidays

Shopping during the holidays doesn’t have to be stressful. Sticking to a budget, looking for bargains and watching out for scams can help you save money and reduce stress.

Secrets of successful investors

To be financially successful, you need to invest money on a regular basis. We offer some tips to help you invest more.

Give yourself the gift of lower taxes

Even though the year is quickly coming to a close, you still have time to reduce your income-tax liability for 2013. We list some ways you may be able to lower your tax bill.

Keep or toss?

You finally cleaned out your filing cabinet and have a pile of old tax documents ready for the shredder. Not so fast. If the documents support items shown on your return and the period of limitations for that return hasn’t run out, the IRS requires that you keep them.

By the numbers: average monthly spending

In which month do you think Americans spend the most on average? Here’s a look at the highest and lowest months for spending according to a Gallup poll.


Talking term insurance

With various options to choose from, buying the right type of life insurance can seem like a daunting task. If you want an affordable option that provides coverage for a set period of time, term life insurance may be what you’re looking for.

Tips for year-end charitable giving

With the holiday season upon us, you may be thinking about sharing your good fortune with others by giving to charity. We offer some tips to help you maximize the tax benefits from your donations.

Retirement Planning:

Retirement hopes versus reality

Like most Americans, you probably hope you’ll have enough money to live on in retirement. But your hopes for your future may be very different than reality. There are several steps you can take to help make your retirement more secure.

Spousal IRA one-two punch

Investing for retirement can be hard for a stay-at-home spouse. But even when one spouse does not have access to an employer-sponsored retirement plan, there is another investing option worth considering: a spousal individual retirement account.


Prioritize your protection

Are you one of those people who thinks only the elderly need long-term care protection? Think again. Anyone can suffer a disability that could require long-term care services. Taking the time now to assess your possible long-term care needs, along with your disability income and life insurance needs, can help ensure your family’s financial security is protected.

Small Business:

A year-end checkup for small businesses

An annual financial review can help keep your business healthy and growing. As part of your review, make sure your business has the insurance coverage it needs.

Put your plan on autopilot

Setting money aside for retirement is important. Unfortunately, not all your employees may think so. To raise your company retirement plan’s participation rate, you might want to consider introducing an automatic enrollment feature.


Find out if you’re still in the zone

Have your investing goals changed over the past year? If they have, then now is a good time to review your investment strategy to determine whether it’s still appropriate for your other goals and time frame.


Got money for retirement?

Women have a harder time accumulating money for retirement than men. Why? They tend to live longer, typically earn less and may take time out from the work force for caregiving. But don’t let those factors fool you into thinking you can’t have a financially secure future. We list some steps women can take to improve their finances in retirement.

IRS Issues Proposed Rule on the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit for SHOP

On Aug. 26, 2013, the IRS issued proposed regulations addressing the small business health care tax credit in 2014 and beyond, which incorporate previously issued guidance from previous years. The IRS webpage dedicated to the tax credit has been updated, including revised Q&As.

 As background, the small business health care tax credit applies to certain small employers that offer health insurance coverage to their employees. The tax credit has been available since 2010, but some important changes occur starting in 2014:

  • · The maximum credit amount increases from 35 percent to 50 percent of premiums paid (from 25 percent to 35 percent for eligible small tax-exempt employers);
  • · The coverage must be offered through a Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) exchange (employers must contribute a uniform percentage of at least 50 percent of premiums);
  • · The credit can be claimed for only two consecutive years beginning on or after 2014, and cost-of living adjustments may be made to the average annual wage phase-out amounts.

 Here are some highlights of the proposed regulations:

 Eligible Small Employers

The tax credit is available only for eligible small employers, which are those with no more than 25 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees whose average annual wages are less than $50,000, as adjusted for inflation starting in 2014. Controlled group rules apply to aggregate employers under common control.

Two-Consecutive-Year Limit

Starting in 2014, an employer may claim the credit for only two consecutive taxable years, starting with the first year for which the employer files a Form 8941 claiming the credit, even if the employer is only eligible to claim the credit for part of the first year. There is a transition rule for an employer with a noncalendar-year plan that allows the 2014 credit to be calculated for the entire 2014 taxable year so long asthe employer switches to SHOP coverage as of the first day of the plan year beginning in 2014. Years prior to 2014 for which the employer claimed the credit do not count in determining the two-year limit. The proposed regulations incorporate employment tax rules to prevent avoidance of the two-year limit through the use of successor entities.

Determining Employees Taken Into Account

All employees are generally taken into account when determining FTE employees and average annual wages, including part-time employees, former employees who terminate midyear, and employees who are not offered, or do not enroll in, health coverage. Certain individuals are excluded for purposes of the credit, including independent contractors, sole proprietors, partners in a partnership, more-than-2 percent shareholders in an S corporation, and more-than-5 percent owners of other businesses (and certain amily members of some owners). Seasonal workers are not counted for determining FTE employees and wages, but premiums paid on behalf of a seasonal worker are counted in determining the amount of the credit. The rules for determining FTEs are generally the same as those in earlier IRS notices—employers choose among counting actual hours or using an equivalency and divide all aggregated hours by the number of employees. The proposed regulations and the IRS Q&As provide detailed examples.

 Uniform Percentage Requirement

Employers must pay a “uniform percentage” of at least 50 percent of the premium for each employee enrolled in SHOP coverage. The proposed regulations explain the rules (with examples) for a variety of situations, including both list billing and composite billing arrangements for QHP premiums, offering tiers of coverage in addition to self-only coverage (such as self-plus-one or family coverage) and offering more than one QHP. Premiums paid through salary reductions or employer-provided flex credits under a cafeteria plan are not treated as employer-paid premiums for purposes of the tax credit. Amounts made available by an employer under an HRA or health FSA, or contributed by an employer to an HSA, are also not counted as employer-paid premiums.

Obamacare notices must be sent to employees by October 1

“Affordable Care Act” employer notices must be mailed to employees by Oct 1 but now DOL says no penalty if your company forgets (the penalty prior to this bulletin was $100 per day). See the bullitin here: