Will I have to pay a penalty tax if I don’t have qualifying health insurance?

 

Will I have to pay a penalty tax if I don't have qualifying health insurance?It depends. One of the main objectives of the health-care reform law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), is to encourage uninsured individuals to obtain health-care coverage. As a result of the ACA, everyone must have qualifying health insurance coverage, qualify for an exemption, or pay a penalty tax. This requirement is generally referred to as the individual insurance or individual shared responsibility mandate.

 

Health insurance plans that meet the requirements of the ACA generally include employer-sponsored health plans, government health plans, and health insurance purchased through state-based or federal health insurance exchange marketplaces.

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I owe a large amount of money to the IRS. Can I pay what I owe in installments?

 

I owe a large amount of money to the IRS. Can I pay what I owe in installments?Unfortunately, not everyone gets a refund during tax season. If you are in the unenviable position of owing a large amount of money to the IRS, you may be able to pay what you owe through an installment agreement with the IRS.

 

With an installment agreement, the amount of your payment will be based on how much you owe in unpaid taxes and your ability to pay that amount within the agreement’s time frame. Although you are generally allowed up to 72 months to pay, your plan may be for a shorter length of time.

 

To request an installment agreement, fill out Form 9465, Installment Agreement Request, and attach it to your tax return, or mail it by itself directly to your designated Internal Revenue Service Center. If your balance due is not more than $50,000, you can apply for an installment agreement online at IRS.gov.

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How Does Your 529 Plan Stack Up Against the Competition?

How Does Your 529 Plan Stack Up Against the Competition?If you’re one of the millions of parents or grandparents who’ve invested money in a 529 plan, now may be a good time to see how your plan stacks up against the competition. Mediocre investment returns, higher-than-average fees, limited investment options and flexibility–these factors might lead you to conclude that you could do better with another 529 plan or a different college savings option altogether. You can research 529 plans at the College Savings Plans Network website at collegesavings.org. If you discover that your 529 plan’s performance has been sub-par, what options do you have?

 

Roll over funds to a new 529 plan

One option is to do a “same beneficiary rollover” to a different 529 plan. Under federal law, you can roll over the funds in your existing 529 plan to a different 529 plan (college savings plan or prepaid tuition plan) once every 12 months without having to change the beneficiary and without triggering a federal penalty.

 

Once you decide on a new 529 plan, the rollover process is fairly straightforward. Call your existing 529 plan to see what steps are required; some plans may impose a fee for a rollover, so make sure to ask. Then call your new 529 plan and establish an account; your new plan should have a process in place to accept rollover funds. You must complete the rollover to the new 529 plan within 60 days of receiving a distribution from your former 529 plan to avoid paying a penalty.

 

If you want to roll over the funds in your existing 529 plan to a new 529 plan more than once in a 12-month period, you’ll need to change the designated beneficiary to another qualifying family member to avoid paying a federal penalty. As a workaround, you can change the new beneficiary back to the original beneficiary later.

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When Your Child Asks for a Loan, Should You Say Yes?

 

When Your Child Asks for a Loan, Should You Say Yes?You raised them, helped get them through school, and now your children are on their own. Or are they? Even adult children sometimes need financial help. But if your child asks you for a loan, don’t pull out your checkbook until you’ve examined the financial and emotional costs. Start the process by considering a few key questions.

 

Why does your child need the money?

Lenders ask applicants to clearly state the purpose for the loan, and you should, too. Like any lender, you need to decide whether the loan purpose is reasonable. If your child is a chronic borrower, frequently overspends, or wants to use the money you’re lending to pay past-due bills, watch out. You might be enabling poor financial decision making. On the other hand, if your child is usually responsible and needs the money for a purpose you support, you may feel better about agreeing to the loan.

 

Will your financial assistance help your child in the long run?

It’s natural to want to help your child, but you also want to avoid jeopardizing your child’s independence. If you step in to help, will your child lean on you the next time, too? And no matter how well-intentioned you are, the flip side of protecting your child from financial struggles is that your child may never get to experience the satisfaction that comes with successfully navigating financial challenges.

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Retirement Withdrawal Rates

 

During your working years, you’ve probably set aside funds in retirement accounts such as IRAs, 401(k)s, and other workplace savings plans, as well as in taxable accounts. Your challenge during retirement is to convert those savings into an ongoing income stream that will provide adequate income throughout your retirement years.

 

Your retirement lifestyle will depend not only on your assets and investment choices, but also on how quickly you draw down your retirement portfolio. The annual percentage that you take out of your portfolio, whether from returns or the principal itself, is known as your withdrawal rate. Figuring out an appropriate initial withdrawal rate is a key issue in retirement planning and presents many challenges.

 

Why is your withdrawal rate important?

Take out too much too soon, and you might run out of money in your later years. Take out too little, and you might not enjoy your retirement years as much as you could. Your withdrawal rate is especially important in the early years of your retirement, as it will have a lasting impact on how long your savings will last.

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