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Hey Joel! Answers From a Former Practicing ERISA Attorney

Hey Joel, When does the five-year clock start for Roth withdrawals? -Tick Tock in Tennessee Dear Tick Tock, For most investors, it’s important to know that there is a five-year waiting period for tax-free withdrawals of earnings, and it is applied differently, depending on if you made Roth IRA contributions, converted a traditional IRA to a Roth, rolled over Roth 401(k) assets or inherited the Roth account. The five-year clock starts with your first contribution to any Roth IRA…

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Tips for Preventing Uncashed Retirement Checks

Managing uncashed retirement checks may be considered a nuisance by plan administrators. Nevertheless, the employer still has fiduciary responsibility when a former employee fails to cash their distribution. Search efforts to locate a missing plan participant consume time and money and may fail to locate the participant. Likewise, going through the process of turning over dormant accounts to the state can also consume time and resources. Decrease the burden of uncashed checks by: Discussing with terminating employees during the…

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How and When to Pay Plan Expenses With Plan Assets

Some retirement plan expenses can be paid for with plan assets — but many can’t. Which are the “reasonable and necessary” retirement plan expenses that can be paid out of plan assets? Generally, services required to maintain the plan’s compliance and administration can be paid from plan assets. Obvious examples include the annual nondiscrimination testing and preparation of the annual Form 5500. Another example is a plan amendment or restatement that is required because a legislative change. Optional services…

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What is the difference between a tax deduction and a tax credit?

Tax deductions and credits are terms often used together when talking about taxes. While you probably know that they can lower your tax liability, you might wonder about the difference between the two. A tax deduction reduces your taxable income, so when you calculate your tax liability, you’re doing so against a lower amount. Essentially, your tax obligation is reduced by an amount equal to your deductions multiplied by your marginal tax rate. For example, if you’re in the…

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I received a large refund on my tax return this year. Should I adjust my withholding?

You must have been pleasantly surprised to find out you’d be getting a refund from the IRS — especially if it was a large sum. And while you may have considered this type of windfall a stroke of good fortune, is it really? The IRS issued over 112 million federal income tax refunds, averaging $2,895, for tax year 2016.1 You probably wouldn’t pay someone $240 each month in order to receive $2,900 back, without interest, at the end of…

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Protect Your Heirs by Naming a Trust as IRA Beneficiary

Often, tax-qualified retirement accounts such as IRAs make up a significant part of one’s estate. Naming beneficiaries of an IRA can be an important part of an estate plan. One option is designating a trust as the IRA beneficiary. Caution: This discussion applies to traditional IRAs, not to Roth IRAs. Special considerations apply to beneficiary designations for Roth IRAs. Why use a trust? Here are the most common reasons for designating a trust as an IRA beneficiary: Generally, inherited…

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Going Public: An IPO’s Market Debut May Not Live Up to the Hype

An initial public offering (IPO) is the first public sale of stock by a private company. Companies tend to schedule IPOs when investors are feeling good about their financial prospects and are more inclined to take on the risk associated with a new venture. Thus, IPOs tend to reflect broader economic and market trends. And not surprisingly, 2017 was the busiest year for the global IPO market since 2007.1 Company insiders who have been waiting for the opportunity to…

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Quiz: Financial Facts That Might Surprise You

If you have a penchant for financial trivia, put your knowledge to the test by taking this short quiz. Perhaps some of the answers to these questions will surprise you. Questions 1)  The first organized stock market in New York was founded on Wall Street under what kind of tree? a. Maple b. Linden c. Buttonwood d. Elm 2)  Who invented the 401(k)? a. Congress b. Ted Benna c. The IRS d. Juanita Kreps 3)  Which three U.S. bills…

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Can the federal funds rate affect the economy?

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) is the policymaking branch of the Federal Reserve. One of its primary responsibilities is setting the federal funds target rate. The FOMC meets eight time per year, after which it announces any changes to the target rate. The Federal Reserve (the Fed), through the FOMC, uses the federal funds rate as a means to influence economic growth. If interest rates are low, the presumption is that consumers can borrow more and, consequently, spend…

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What is the federal funds rate?

The federal funds rate is the interest rate at which banks lend funds to each other from their deposits at the Federal Reserve (the Fed), usually overnight, in order to meet federally mandated reserve requirements. Basically, if a bank is unable to meet its reserve requirements at the end of the day, it borrows money from a bank with extra reserves. The federal funds rate is what banks charge each other for overnight loans. This rate is referred to…

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