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Resources / Education

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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Building Confidence in Your Strategy for Retirement

Each year, the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) conducts its Retirement Confidence Survey to assess both worker and retiree confidence in financial aspects of retirement. In 2018, as in years past, retirees expressed a higher level of confidence than today’s workers (perhaps because “retirement” is less of an abstract concept to those actually living it). However, worker confidence seems to be on the rise, while retiree confidence is on the decline. A deeper dive into the research reveals lessons…

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Tax Benefits of Homeownership After Tax Reform

Buying a home can be a major expenditure. Fortunately, federal tax benefits are still available, even after recent tax reform legislation, to help make homeownership more affordable. There may also be tax benefits under state law. Mortgage interest deduction One of the most important tax benefits of owning a home is that you may be able to deduct the mortgage interest you pay. If you itemize deductions on your federal income tax return, you can deduct the interest on…

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