Category Taxes

Doubling Your Tax Break: Giving Appreciated Assets to PTA and PIE

[Note – this was written with Palo Alto CA public schools in mind, and specifically a pair of charitable organizations which help support those schools.  It applies just the same to any 501c3 charitable organizations, including similar organizations associated with other school systems as well as other types of charities altogether.] It’s annual appeal time […]

Required Minimum Distributions – What You Need To Know

Many types of retirement accounts offer enormous tax advantages.  For example, if you make contributions to an IRA or 401k, you may be able to deduct those contributions (i.e., not pay income taxes on the income you use to fund those accounts) now — and, instead, let the money grow — with no taxes due […]

Free Money! Which, sadly, only 25% of those eligible are taking…

Now that I have your attention, let’s try that again. Free Money! What we’re talking about here is the “Retirement Savings Contributions Credit”.  It was first created as part of the 2001 tax cut package called the “Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001” and was made permanent as part of the 2006 […]

How are Social Security benefits computed, and what are WEP and GPO?

Social Security. Perhaps the most successful government program ever, Social Security was put in place as a form of “social insurance” in order to protect against people who’d worked their entire lives ending up in poverty in their old age. Before diving into various details about benefits, there are a few things to clear up […]

What You Need To Know About Property Taxes in California

What You Need To Know About Property Taxes in California   Property taxes in the US are generally proportional to the value of one’s property.  The more valuable the property, the higher the taxes…   Except in California.  This is because in 1978, California enacted Prop 13 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_Proposition_13_(1978)&gt; which limited increases in the taxes on […]

2015 IRA, 401(k) and other retirement plan contribution limits announced

By law certain retirement plan limits get adjusted every year, not exactly tracking inflation (i.e., not by the CPI) but rather in “chunks” which approximate it. For 2015, the following limits have been announced: IRA Contributions (combined limit across Roth and Traditional): $5,500IRA Catch-Up Contributions (for folks over 50): $1000[Both unchanged from 2014 and, actually, […]

FINRA warns about 401(k) Rollovers – Let’s talk again about conflicts of interest!

  FINRA, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, is the securities industry’s self-reglatory organization.  They do the various test, deal with broker and advisor registration and monitoring, etc. And FINRA has recently started cracking down on advisors and brokers who are giving questionable advice to investors about how to deal with their 401(k)s and rollovers.  In […]

Forbes/NAPFA iConference virtual conference – going on right now.  (Michael Kitces is talking about fascinating research into a whole new way to think about asset allocation glide-paths in retirement – with *increasing* rather than decreasing equity allocations!) So far, though, it’s a great conference, just like last year. The session on tax planning for 2013 […]

A Powerful Tool for Charitable Gifts

A Powerful Tool for Charitable Gifts  – the Donor-Advised Fund Year-end is a time that many of us think of charity.  And while the tax code encourages giving gifts to charity, if you want to take advantage of the tax break on this year’s taxes, you need to make the gift before year-end. Many of […]

58.7% increase in tax rates at the beginning of 2013 for income above $11,950

Yes, you read that right.  There was a 58.7% increase in tax rates on taxes paid by certain taxpayers as of the beginning of 2013. That’s the increase in capital gains taxes for folks in the highest ordinary tax brackets, due to the increase in the capital gains rate from 15% to 20%, and the […]