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As 2016 draws to a close, take time to reflect on the changes that have occurred in the past 12 months and how they might affect all aspects of your life -- including your investment risk tolerance.


Recent research has found that when it comes to collecting Social Security benefits, the income replacement rate for two-income couples has been declining steadily for a number of years.


Under certain circumstances, the IRS is now allowing individuals who miss the 60-day window to roll over assets from qualified retirement accounts to avoid paying the potential early distribution taxes.


Be vigilant about naming beneficiaries on retirement accounts -- and avoid hardship for loved ones.


While saving money is important, there are many other considerations when planning for college.


Planning and a dose of common sense can guide you through some of the key financial traps of life.


What distinguishes an active investment style from a passive style -- and what benefits may active management provide in a volatile market?


The key to pursuing longer-term financial goals, such as retirement and education funding, is to have a well-thought-out plan that assigns actual dollar amounts to each goal -- and a timetable for getting there.


For homeowners contemplating refinancing their mortgages or tapping the value of their home via home equity borrowing, carpe diem may be the message to be heeded.


Dividend-paying stocks can provide investors with tangible returns on a regular basis regardless of market conditions.


This article offers common sense information and advice about financial planning for single parents.


The potential benefits and drawbacks of prepaid tuition certificates and CollegeSure® CDs are explained in this article.


IRAs are one of the most popular retirement savings vehicles in use today. If you own an IRA, be sure you are familiar with all the latest rules governing them, including contribution limits, tax deductibility rules, and distribution guidelines.


If you are thinking about borrowing money to make improvements to your home or to pay off high-interest debt, home equity loans and lines of credit are two options you'll want to explore.


College planning is a major financial goal for countless American families, and it can be a source of much anxiety and confusion. This "Test Your Knowledge" quiz can serve as a refresher course for some, or an introduction for others, to the world of financial aid and 529 college savings plans.


This article provides an overview of the different tax-advantaged accounts available to help fund an education.


This article profiles charitable giving strategies available to affluent individuals and their families.


Choosing a distribution method from your retirement plan when you change jobs or retire can have significant tax implications.


March is considered a low-season travel month to Europe. That's the time of year when tourists are scarce, attractive destinations such as London, Paris, and Rome are quiet, and hotels and airfares are at some of their lowest rates.


Time and again, statistics have shown that remaining invested through the market's inevitable up and down cycles has been the wiser choice for long-term investors.


The rule applies to all of an individual's IRAs -- whether traditional or Roth -- in aggregate, not separately as some may have previously assumed.


Because all investments entail risk, you may want to review your mix of stocks, bonds, and cash investments with an eye toward creating a risk/return profile that is appropriate for your situation.


Fixed-rate annuities can be costly, complex, and most won't keep pace with inflation.

Financial services companies are keenly aware of the potential security risks posed by online money transfer.


The IRA is a popular retirement savings vehicle, yet it is often overlooked by investors when assessing their overall financial planning strategy.


While indexes are good methods of gauging how a mutual fund performs in relation to the overall market, they shouldn't be the deciding factor in determining if a fund may meet your needs and objectives.


Investors looking to avoid a value mistake may want to compare a stock's recent trend with a peer group or with a broad market index.


If you bought an investment because it was the hot ticket at the time and now realize that it's not suitable for you, it's probably best to let it go.


The self-directed IRA is often used to complement, rather than replace, a more traditional IRA.

Most 529 savings plans offer a menu of age-based portfolios, and some also offer a small selection of stock and bond funds.


A sizeable inheritance can represent a life-changing opportunity. Here are six tips to help you prudently manage your windfall.


Thinking about transferring some of your wealth to your child? Here's a simple way to do it.


Retirement will likely be one of the biggest expenses in your life, so it's important to calculate whether you are on track to meet your goal. Here's how.


A target-date fund is a type of investment designed to provide investors with a convenient way to select and maintain a portfolio's long-term asset allocation. This article explains how target-date funds work and the role they can play in helping readers pursue important financial goals.

It can take years for your credit score to bounce back from a delinquency or default. Find out how to improve yours.

Have a 529 plan set up for your child? Know which distributions qualify for tax-free withdrawal status and which do not.

Income-minded investors seeking protection from the volatile markets may find that dividend-paying stocks offer an attractive mix of features and warrant a place in their equity portfolios.

Who will make critical decisions regarding your health care if you are unable to do so? This article discusses the legal mechanisms and issues that can help you answer this question.

Life insurance typically is an important part of a well-crafted estate plan. It may increase the amount of wealth bequeathed to heirs and provide a ready source of cash for financial obligations.

Reinvesting your dividends can help to grow your account balance over time.

Many investors look to sector funds to gain exposure to industries that may appear to offer exceptional potential.


Entrepreneurs can use trusts to provide incentives to those heirs who commit to helping carry on a family business.

For same-sex couples, the prospect of marriage brings with it many financial benefits. But such benefits remain well below those enjoyed by traditional couples, and there may also be drawbacks.


Outliving one's assets is a major risk that retirees face. Determining a sustainable annual asset withdrawal rate and strategic use of taxable investments can help lessen that risk. 

 


Worries about inflation have been cropping up more frequently lately, largely due to escalating commodity prices, which are pushing up consumer prices, both in the United States and abroad.


For those newly stepping into a role of retirement plan governance or for those who need a refresher on how their plan should be administered, this article provides an overview of key considerations.



As uncertainty at home and abroad roils the financial markets, income-minded investors seeking protection from the bumpy road ahead may find dividend-paying stocks offer an attractive mix of features and warrant a place in their equity portfolios.


Prolonged market volatility has left many investors, especially those investing for retirement, searching for strategies to cope with the situation. If you have a traditional IRA, you may want to consider converting to a Roth IRA.

Some factors that influence your retirement savings results, such as the types of investments available to you through your plan and the performance of the financial markets, can't always be controlled. But there are some factors you can influence that can help keep your portfolio on track.

The recession -- and subsequent slow recovery -- has caused millions of Americans to focus even more closely on living within their means. If you are ready to face up to your own financial realities, one crucial step is to set out a plan of action.

Buying on the dips is a favorite strategy of committed stock investors. But when looking for investment bargains, it's important to avoid a value trap.

The following frequently asked questions about retirement income should help those nearing retirement know if they are on track to meet their income needs.

It certainly comes as no surprise to parents that raising a child can be expensive. But just how expensive?

If you've changed jobs a few times over the years, you could have several accounts housed in different employers' plans. While it is certainly acceptable to leave money in an old plan, in some instances it may be a better idea to consolidate your assets.

Asset allocation is a concept many investors are familiar with, but less familiar is the concept of correlation. Find out what correlation is and how it can impact your portfolio.

Reducing debt is a good thing, we are told. But paying off your mortgage as you grow older may not be in your best interest.

As more and more adult children opt to stay at home longer, parents can face new challenges in making ends meet.

The U.S. economy can't find its footing -- and every piece of bad news, whether at home or abroad, has the potential to send the markets reeling. All that volatility can make it tough on investors to stay the course.

As health care costs continue to rise, consumers must find ways to ensure that they have the funds to pay for medical expenses not covered through their insurance. One way to save specifically for health care costs is to fund a health savings account, or HSA.

Nearly one-in-three Americans will become disabled for more than 90 days at some point during their working careers. Yet most workers don't give a second thought to the need for disability insurance. Do you have enough?

Given the current weakness of the U.S. dollar, it is critical that U.S. investors understand the risks (and potential rewards) involved in foreign currency diversification -- and take steps to protect their portfolios.

If you’ve got your personal finances under control and in great shape, read no further. If you’re confident and happy with the state of your finances, don’t waste your time here. On the other hand, if you’d like to improve your financial situation, avoid some of the more common money management mistakes, and achieve your financial dreams, take a few moments to consider the following tips for skirting the financial potholes of life.

One of the best gifts grandparents can give their grandchildren is to help pay for their college education. A 2003 survey by AIG SunAmerica Mutual Funds found that 54 percent of grandparents were already helping pay college costs or planned to do so. Yet many grandparents don’t realize the most effective ways of going about it, say financial planners.

If you’re considering swapping an existing variable annuity (“VA”) for a new one, or you’ve been approached to switch VAs, think twice before doing so, caution financial planners and regulators.

The smell of rising inflation is in the wind, and some investors are taking a second look at a type of investment they’ve generally ignored during these low-inflation times: inflation-adjusted government bonds.

Small business taxation, corporate tax rates, and changes to popular deductions are just some of the many complex changes to the Tax Code being debated in Congress. At the time this article was posted, the Senate is expected to approve, along party-lines, a sweeping overhaul of the Tax Code written by Senate Republicans. The House has already approved its tax bill, also along party-lines. If the Senate passes a tax bill, House and Senate conferees will seek to resolve differences between the two bills. Conferees will likely aim to reach an agreement quickly to send a bill to the White House before year-end.


As an economic incentive for individuals to save and invest, gains from the sale of capital assets held for at least one year unless offset by losses, as well qualified dividends received during the year, may be taxed at rates lower than ordinary income tax rates. The tax rate on long-term capital gains and qualified dividends for individuals is 20 percent, 15, percent, or 0 percent depending on their income tax bracket.


Information reporting has become a growing part of IRS’s enforcement and compliance strategy. Data matching, or even the inference that the IRS has the data to do so, statistically has increased overall income reporting nine-fold. Use of information returns, either in the form of Forms W-2, 1098s or 1099s, is here to stay, and growing.


Life insurance proceeds are received tax-free. However, any interest earned on life insurance proceeds, usually referred to as its cash value, is subject to tax. Special rules apply to transfers of ownership in a life insurance policy, accelerated death benefits, and viatical settlements.


The method and systems by which a taxpayer calculates the amount of income, gains, losses, deductions, and credits and determines when these items must be reported, constitute the taxpayer's method of tax accounting. Although the Tax Code and the regulations authorize the use of several accounting methods, and permit certain combinations of methods, a taxpayer must use the accounting method on the basis of which the taxpayer regularly computes book income. Further, the method must be used consistently and must clearly reflect income.


As an individual or business, it is your responsibility to be aware of and to meet your tax filing/reporting deadlines. This calendar summarizes important federal tax reporting and filing data for individuals, businesses and other taxpayers for the month of December 2017.


An attractive benefit package is crucial to attract and retain talented workers. However, the expense of such packages can be cost-prohibitive to a small business. Establishing a tax-advantaged cafeteria plan can be an innovative way to provide employees with additional benefits without significantly adding to the cost of your overall benefit program.


Q. A large portion of my portfolio is invested in Internet stocks and with the recent market downturn, I've accumulated some substantial losses on certain stocks. Although I think these stocks will eventually turn around, I'd love to use some of those losses to offset gains from other stocks I'd like to sell. From a tax standpoint, can I sell stock at a loss and then turn around and immediately buy it back?


Q. The recent upturn in home values has left me with quite a bit of equity in my home. I would like to tap into this equity to pay off my credit cards and make some major home improvements. If I get a home equity loan, will the interest I pay be fully deductible on my tax return?


Probably one of the more difficult decisions you will have to make as a consumer is whether to buy or lease your auto. Knowing the advantages and disadvantages of buying vs. leasing a new car or truck before you get to the car dealership can ease the decision-making process and may alleviate unpleasant surprises later.


Q. Last year I underwent a number of elective surgical procedures and would like to deduct the cost of these expensive procedures on my personal tax return. What are the criteria for medical expenses to be deductible? Do they have to exceed a certain dollar amount?


Q. I've seen a lot of advertisements lately that tout the benefits of donating your car to charity. I have an old car that is sitting in my driveway and I haven't had time to try to sell it. Would I just be better off contributing it and getting a big write-off on my tax return?


You're 57 years old and as part of an early retirement package, you've just been offered a large cash bonus and salary continuation, along with a lump sum payment from the company retirement plan and continuing medical benefits. Is this a dream come true or a potential financial nightmare?


The benefits of owning a vacation home can go beyond rest and relaxation. Understanding the special rules related to the tax treatment of vacation homes can not only help you with your tax planning, but may also help you plan your vacation.


Limited liability companies (LLCs) remain one of the most popular choice of business forms in the U.S. today. This form of business entity is a hybrid that features the best characteristics of other forms of business entities, making it a good choice for both new and existing businesses and their owners.


Maintaining good financial records is an important part of running a successful business. Not only will good records help you identify strengths and weaknesses in your business' operations, but they will also help out tremendously if the IRS comes knocking on your door.


With home values across the country at the highest levels seen in years, you may find that you could actually have a gain from the sale of your home in excess of the new IRS exclusion amount of $500,000 ($250,000 for single and married filing separately taxpayers). In order to determine your potential gain or loss from the sale, you will first need to know the basis of your personal residence.


I have a car that I would like to donate to my church. Can I just claim the amount shown as the value of the car per the Kelly Blue Book (about $6,500) on Schedule A of Form 1040?