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Healthcare Exchanges and other Affordable Care Act Provisions

Healthcare Exchanges, a key feature of the 2010 Affordable Care Act, began open enrollment on October 1st.  The exchanges, setup by individual states (or the federal government for states like Tennessee that did not setup their own exchanges) can be accessed online at www.healthcare.gov

While all the plans will meet the minimum coverage requirements, the prices will differ and they will be grouped into categories indicating the amount of out of pocket expenses they are designed to cover.   

 

 

Illustrative Monthly Premiums without Subsidy

Plan

Expected Out of Pocket Cost Coverage

Age: 30
Individual
No Dependents

Age: 40
Couple
2 Children

Age: 55
Couple
No Dependents

Bronze

60%

$123

$415

$484

Silver

70%

$167

$564

$657

Gold

80%

?

?

?

Platinum

90%

?

?

?

 

You can run your own estimate on the Kaiser Family Foundation Calculator Here:

Below are the topics we explore in this week’s addition to our blog:

  • Individual Coverage Mandate
  • How do Healthcare Exchanges Work
  • Premium Assistance Credit
  • Surtax on Investment Income (3.8%)
  • Surtax on wages (.9%)
  • Employee Notification Requirement (including sample forms)
  • Employer Mandate (update)
  • Credit for Small Employer Health Insurance Premiums
Read More...

President’s Proposed Tax Changes for 2014

The budget proposal released by President Obama on April 10 includes a substantial number of proposed tax changes impacting individuals, businesses, estate taxation, energy incentives, and international issues.  Although these are only proposals, they provide an insight into the administration’s thinking on tax reform.

Here are a few of the more significant proposals:

  • Limit Value of Deductions - Reduce the value of deductions such as: home mortgage interest, charity, retirement plan contributions, muni-bond interest exclusion, employer health insurance cost to 28% for families with income greater than $223,050.
  • Buffet Rule - Require taxpayers earning more than $1 million to pay no less than 30% of their income (after charitable contributions) in taxes.
  • College Education Credit - Permanently extend the American Opportunity Tax Credit worth up to $10,000 per student over the course of four years of college.
  • Limit Retirement Savings - Prohibit individuals from accumulating over $3 million in tax-preferred retirement accounts.
  • Small Business Depreciation - Make permanent the $500,000 Sec. 179 deduction for small business asset purchases.
  • Increase Estate and Gift Taxes - Beginning in 2018, return to 2009 levels the estate, generation-skipping transfer (GST), and gift tax exemptions and rates. Thus, the highest tax rate would be 45%, and the exclusion amount would be $3.5 million for estate and GST taxes and $1 million for gift taxes. 

Read the full article for more details on these and many other proposed tax changes for 2014.

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3 Technologies to Simplify Your Financial Life and Reduce Identity Theft

Most people today use their smartphones and/or tablets to keep up with emails, maintain calendars, and maybe even play a game or two. But did you know you can use these devices to help protect your personal and financial information? Experts recommend monitoring your account balances and getting statements online as one of the best ways to prevent identity theft.

Most financial institutions offer websites and mobile apps that make this easy to do. This, however, is only the tip of what technology can do to simplify and secure your financial life. We recommend the following 3 sites or apps to enhance your financial security. These tools seamlessly integrate your desktop, smartphone and tablet. They are all user-friendly and will make you wish you had known about them sooner!

  1. LastPass - password management
  2. Mint - account aggregation
  3. ShareFile - secure document storage
Read More...

Inheritances Can Be Tricky

The process of claiming an inheritance can be quite complex. It helps to understand the basics and to be aware of potential tax liabilities. Exactly how the estate is handled will depend upon whether the assets were owned individually or in a trust.  

 

The tax rate you pay on inheritances vary widely depending on the type of asset you inherit.  In very general terms, the following are the likely tax rates for various types of assets you might inherit:

 

Asset Type

Tax Rate*

Bank Accounts

0%

Capital Assets such as stocks and real estate

0%

IRA or other Qualified Retirement Funds

Up to 35%

Life Insurance Proceeds

0%

Annuities and Installment Sale Notes

Up to 35%

 

*There are many factors to consider and this summary provides very general information. Therefore, it is important to let us know if you are expecting an inheritance so that we can help you navigate the intricacies of the tax laws.

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Should You Refinance or Not?

With mortgage interest rates at near-record lows, you may be tempted to refinance an existing mortgage. Whether it makes “cents” or not depends on your circumstances.

Here are the steps for a quick analysis:

  1. Add up all your costs
  2. Determine your monthly savings
  3. Multiply your monthly savings by your tax rate
  4. Subtract this tax cost from your monthly savings
  5. Divide your total cost by your net monthly savings to find the number of months it will take to break even

We have several online calculators on our website that can provide a detailed assessment based on specific facts.  And, of course, we are always here to help you with financial decisions like this.

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What is Financial Planning?

Financial planning is the process of meeting your life goals through the proper management of your finances. Life goals can include buying a home, saving for your child’s education or planning for retirement.

The Financial Planning Process Consist of the Following Six Steps

  1. Establishing and Defining the Client-Planner Relationship.
  2. Gathering Client Data, Including Goals.
  3. Analyzing and Evaluating Your Financial Status.
  4. Developing and Presenting Financial Planning Recommendations and/or Alternatives.
  5. Implementing the Financial Planning Recommendations.
  6. Monitoring the Financial Planning Recommendations.

 

Be Sure You're Getting Financial Planning Advice

The government does not regulate financial planners as financial planners; instead, it regulates planners by the services they provide. For example, a planner who also provides securities transactions or advice is regulated as a stockbroker or investment adviser. As a result, the term “financial planner” may be used inaccurately by some financial advisers.

For over 20 years, we have offered personal financial planning advice to our clients.

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