June 1, 2019
Social Security: News, Tips and Trends thumbnail

Social Security: News, Tips and Trends

There are a number of threats that both retirees and pre-retirees are facing right now when it comes to drawing Social Security benefits. For example, there’s a new scam this year. Seniors are being solicited by callers who claim to be with the Social Security Administration (SSA). The caller says he regrets to inform that the elderly person’s Social Security payments have been suspended. The caller says it’s either because the beneficiary has been involved in a crime or there has been suspicious activity related to their benefit. Here’s the interesting part: the caller then requests that the senior repay a certain amount of his benefit to Social Security by gift card. The scammer is then able to use this […]
June 1, 2019
Enhanced Funding for Shooting Practice and Bulletproof Vests thumbnail

Enhanced Funding for Shooting Practice and Bulletproof Vests

Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act (H.R. 1222 – The Pittman-Robertson Act, passed in 1937, imposes an excise tax on the sale of firearms, archery gear and ammunition. Those proceeds are used to fund hunter education programs, land acquisition and improvement of wildlife habitat. This new bill allocates a higher portion of these federal funds to cover the cost for construction and expansion of public target ranges. The act is designed to encourage states to develop additional shooting ranges for marksmanship training. It was introduced on Feb. 14 by Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI), passed in both the House and Senate and was signed into law by the president on May 10. To Reauthorize the Bulletproof Vest Partnership Grant Program […]
May 1, 2019
5 Ways to Get a Jump on Next Year's Taxes thumbnail

5 Ways to Get a Jump on Next Year’s Taxes

Yes, tax season is officially over. And you might be kicking back and relaxing, putting off thinking about next year’s taxes as long as you can. However, smart taxpayers know that the more you plan ahead, the better chance you have of reducing the amount you pay next time around. Here are a few easy ways to get a handle on your financial future – aka next year’s taxes. Understand Claiming Dependents. When you know the rules, it can be a game changer. Let’s start with the basics. You can take a $4,000 exemption for each dependent. You also can claim their related expenses such as child care and medical costs, along with tuition payments. However, if you share custody […]
May 1, 2019
What To Expect From 10G Data Speed thumbnail

What To Expect From 10G Data Speed

When it comes to smartphones, speed and connectivity is generally referenced by generation. For example, the industry is currently focused on creating 5G networks. However, in the cable industry the G refers to gigabits. Over the past two years, this industry has expanded the availability of 1 gigabit broadband Internet from 4 percent to 80 percent of U.S. households. Now that the foundation for gigabit expansion exists, the cable industry is looking to increase speeds by tenfold and make it accessible to more homes and businesses globally. The new focus is on 10G technology, which also is expected to reduce transfer latency, provide greater security and enhance the ability to host a wide range of immersive skills and applications – […]
May 1, 2019
HSA Accounts and Their Incredible Long-term Benefits thumbnail

HSA Accounts and Their Incredible Long-term Benefits

Pretty much everyone has heard about 401(k) plans, but beyond these – Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) also can be great retirement vehicles. HSAs are tax-advantaged savings accounts for those with high-deductible health plans (HDHPs). The idea is that since those with HDHPs generally have lower premiums but higher out-of-pocket expenses, they need a way to save for such expenses. Few eligible taxpayers take full advantage of HSAs. The Employee Benefit Research Institute estimated a few years ago that out of the approximately 17 million people eligible, only about 13.8 million opened HSA accounts, leaving almost 20 percent without one. The survey also revealed that very few people maximize their contributions – and nearly everyone takes current distributions, leaving balances far […]
May 1, 2019
CPI and Consumer Spending: How Will It Affect Stocks in 2019? thumbnail

CPI and Consumer Spending: How Will It Affect Stocks in 2019?

With the price of lettuce increasing by 15 percent over the past 12 months at the end of February, and television prices dropping 17 percent during the same period, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these statistics show the dynamism of consumer goods. Since consumer spending continues to make up approximately two-thirds of the U.S. economy, according to the St. Louis Fed, understanding how it impacts company earnings and future stock market movements is essential. Surveying Consumer Spending Based on the March 29 Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) release, consumers are facing more financial pressure. For the month of January, individual income fell by one-tenth of 1 percent, or $22.9 billion. The same month saw disposable personal income, or […]
May 1, 2019
How to Budget for Estimated Tax Payments thumbnail

How to Budget for Estimated Tax Payments

According to a March 22 Internal Revenue Service News Release, 2018 federal tax filers might be able to have any penalties for an underpayment of estimated tax removed. This could be possible if they’ve paid at least 80 percent of their 2018 tax obligations through either quarterly estimated payments, income tax withholdings or a combination of both during the 2018 calendar year. This new level was established after the 90 percent payment requirement was reduced to 85 percent of estimated tax obligations on Jan. 16. With paying estimated taxes a legal requirement for many taxpayers, let’s examine how this works for individuals and business entities. Individuals and Organizations Responsible to Pay Estimated Taxes For the most part, corporations are required […]
May 1, 2019
Coverage and Tax Considerations For Work-Sponsored Life Insurance thumbnail

Coverage and Tax Considerations For Work-Sponsored Life Insurance

While employers have cut back on pensions and their 401(k) plans do not offer the same level of retirement income security, they have stepped up in the area of life insurance. The majority of Americans (68 percent) have a life insurance policy through their employer. In fact, more people get it through work rather than purchasing a policy on the market for the first time in history. Most employers offer term life insurance typically at a coverage rate of anywhere from one to three times a worker’s annual salary. Term life policies lock in a fixed rate for a specific period of time, usually from 10 to 30 years. One of the biggest perks of getting life insurance through work […]
May 1, 2019
Vetoes, Resolutions and Recognition thumbnail

Vetoes, Resolutions and Recognition

Relating to a national emergency declared by the President on February 15, 2019 (H.J.Res. 46) – This resolution was an effort to block the national emergency declared by President Trump to redirect funds to build a wall at the Mexico border. It was introduced on Feb. 22 by Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX), passed in both the House and Senate but was then vetoed by the president on March 15. An attempt to override the president’s veto failed in the House on March 26. A joint resolution to direct the removal of United States Armed Forces from hostilities in the Republic of Yemen that have not been authorized by Congress (S.J.Res. 7) – This joint resolution was designed to prevent the […]
April 1, 2019
3 Tax Woes and How to Survive Them thumbnail

3 Tax Woes and How to Survive Them

The tax deadline is roughly two weeks away. But if you’re going to be late in filing, can’t pay all of what you owe or have the fear that you might be audited, don’t panic. We’ve got you covered with some smart ways to handle these three, potentially scary scenarios. Late Filing Of course, if you owe, make every effort to file as soon as possible to avoid penalties and interest. But the good news is, if you’re owed a refund, there’s no penalty for filing late. More good news: For those who qualify, Free File is still available on IRS.gov through Oct. 15 to prepare and file returns electronically. There’s more: If you have a history of paying on […]
April 1, 2019
How 3D Printing Can Enhance Your Business thumbnail

How 3D Printing Can Enhance Your Business

There will likely always be a need for a traditional paper printer, but there’s also a growing case that 3D printers may one day become commonplace in the average small business office. Consider the way that desktop publishing became mainstreamed, allowing small business owners to create their own marketing materials. New 3D printers offer a similar advantage by producing physical objects customized with your message. 3D printing places complex manufacturing techniques and machinery right at your desktop. As the technology grows less sophisticated and less expensive, we will see more small businesses taking advantage of it. A desktop 3D printer can create objects of up to 5.5-inches-by-5.5-inches-by-5.5-inches in size, on a platform built within the device, in a variety of […]
April 1, 2019
Trump Tax Law Makes Now the Perfect Time for the Roth Conversion Retirement Trick thumbnail

Trump Tax Law Makes Now the Perfect Time for the Roth Conversion Retirement Trick

Converting a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA takes some fortitude and faith in the future numbers because this change can accelerate your tax bill. The current market and tax rate cuts from President Trump’s plan, however, are creating an environment ripe for conversions and making the move much more palatable. Together, these two factors are essentially creating new groups of taxpayers for whom a conversion makes good sense. IRA Basics Revisited Contributing to a traditional IRA gets you a tax deduction now, at the time of your contribution and allows your money to grow tax free. You’ll also need to begin withdrawing your annual required minimum distributions (RMDs) once you hit age 70½, with whatever you take out taxed […]
April 1, 2019
What is the Forecast for Job Creation in 2019? thumbnail

What is the Forecast for Job Creation in 2019?

According to a March 12, 2019 publication of the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ TED: The Economics Daily, the February employment report did not report show a lot of jobs for the U.S. economy. Based on the report and averaging all sectors, only 20,000 jobs were gained during February 2019. Looking deeper at the individual sectors, the picture is more varied. “Professional and business services gained ” 42,000 jobs during February. Similarly, “wholesale trade employment” maintained it’s positive gains of 11,000 jobs during the same time-frame. However, the construction industry saw a loss of 31,000 jobs during February, despite gaining 53,000 jobs during in January 2019. Other sectors, such as retail, mining and the government, saw limited movement in job gains […]
April 1, 2019
How to Determine a Business' Health by its Net Profit Margin thumbnail

How to Determine a Business’ Health by its Net Profit Margin

When it comes to figuring out a company’s net profit margin, this calculation gives a business and its financial officers a much better picture of the company’s profitability. Defining Net Profit Margin Net profit margin determines the percentage of revenue that ends up as profit after expenses are accounted for. Represented as a percentage, it’s calculated by taking the company’s net profit and dividing it by the entire revenue. Looking at the Formula Itself When it comes to calculating the net profit, it goes beyond the gross margin calculation, which only factors in the “cost of goods sold” – or how much the input materials and direct labor cost the company to produce saleable goods. Determining net profit includes factoring […]
April 1, 2019
Elderly Caregiver Facts and Figures thumbnail

Elderly Caregiver Facts and Figures

These days, people who live to age 65 can expect to live at least another 20 years. That means many are likely to require some form of assisted caregiving. According to aging experts, the following guidelines describe characteristics of those most likely to need long-term care: Age – Risk increases as people get older Gender – Women are at higher risk because they tend to live longer than men Marital status – Single people are less likely to have family resources and will therefore need to pay for caregivers Lifestyle – People who do not eat a healthy diet and exercise are more likely to have debilitating health conditions Family history – People with compromised genetics are at higher risk […]
April 1, 2019
Blocking Emergency Funds, Protecting Land, Withdrawing Troops, Spying on Russia thumbnail

Blocking Emergency Funds, Protecting Land, Withdrawing Troops, Spying on Russia

Relating to a national emergency declared by the President on Feb. 15 (H.J.Res. 46) – This resolution was an effort to block the national emergency declared by President Trump for the purpose of using funds previously allocated for other initiatives to build a border wall along the southern border shared with Mexico. The resolution, which was introduced on Feb. 22 by Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX), represents the first ever Congressional challenge to the 1976 National Emergencies Act. The initiative passed in both the House and the Senate but was then vetoed by the President on March 15. John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management and Recreation Act (S. 47) – This bill (renamed from Natural Resources Management Act) sets forth provisions […]
March 1, 2019
8 Good Things to do with Your Tax Refund thumbnail

8 Good Things to do with Your Tax Refund

Getting a tax refund is always a great feeling. But what should you do with it? While the first thing you might be tempted to do is spend it on a splurge for yourself, here are a few other things you might want to consider. Start an Emergency Fund. If you don’t have one, this kind of account is critical. If you already have one, add to it. Online savings accounts that are interest bearing or money market accounts are your best bets. You can’t control the future, which is why being prepared is your best defense. Pay Off Debt. Whether it’s a credit card, student loan or car loan, paying on – or eliminating – the account with the […]
March 1, 2019
New Electronic Business Tools For 2019 thumbnail

New Electronic Business Tools For 2019

The 2019 Consumer Electronics annual tech convention in Las Vegas showcased popular new options for business owners looking to boost employee productivity. Check out some of this year’s favorites. Laptops Dell Latitude 7400 2-in-1 The new Dell Latitude includes two innovative security features – a fingerprint reader and a contactless smart card reader. The 14-inch laptop combines an infrared camera with Windows Hello facial recognition software to unlock the device as a familiar user approaches. The new feature, called ExpressSign-In, also automatically locks the laptop when the user steps away. However, users might be even more impressed by its new long-life battery – up to 24 hours on a single charge. HP EliteBook x360 830 G5 The new HP EliteBook […]
March 1, 2019
Winners and Losers of the Tax Bill thumbnail

Winners and Losers of the Tax Bill

In 2018 when President Trump and the Republican Congress rewrote the tax code, everyone knew there would be winners and losers. Exactly how this will play out is just starting to be seen – it closes loopholes while opening others and takes away some perks while creating new ones. Let’s see who the winners and losers really are by looking at the results of the tax law now and over time. Winners and Losers Will Change Over Time Almost all taxpayers get some type of tax cut; for example, the Tax Policy Center estimates that only about five percent of families will face an increased tax obligation in 2019. This sounds great! Initially, measured as a percentage of their total […]
March 1, 2019
Understanding Targeted Longer-Term Refinancing Operations thumbnail

Understanding Targeted Longer-Term Refinancing Operations

With speculation of a third round of Targeted Longer-Term Refinancing Operations (TLTROs), understanding how they’ve been implemented and how they’ve performed is essential to see just how this program might be extended. According to the European Central Bank, TLTROs “are Euro system operations that provide financing to credit institutions for periods of up to four years.” Their purpose, according to the ECB, is to help European countries’ banks provide more lending to all segments of the economy. TLTRO Origins As a reaction to the sovereign debt crisis, the ECB created the TLTRO program to help increase liquidity and reduce the chances of European sovereign debt defaults. One notable takeaway of the proposal for TLTRO III is to base the interest rate […]
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