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Resources / Education

January 2019 Retirement Report

Six Easy Steps to Keep Your Plan Assets Safe Joel Shapiro, JD, LLM, Senior Vice President, ERISA Compliance Cyber fraud is a growing concern globally. Individuals are typically very careful to keep their bank account and email authentication information safe, but they aren’t always smart with the rest of their personal information. Participants need to be vigilant with their retirement savings accounts as well. In the past year we’ve seen a slew of cases of attempted fraud – some…

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Can a flexible work schedule help you stay in the workforce after having children?

Yes, it just might be the key. Your job is the foundation for general financial security, including retirement. In addition to providing you with a steady salary and valuable employee benefits, it typically brings with it the ability to save in a tax-advantaged employer-sponsored retirement plan like a 401(k), and if you’re lucky, a pension. It also allows you to start qualifying for Social Security retirement benefits. Women and men may start out on relatively equal financial footing in…

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Women: Are you planning for retirement with one hand tied behind your back?

Women can face unique challenges when planning for retirement. Let’s take a look at three of them. First, women frequently step out of the workforce in their 20s, 30s, or 40s to care for children — a time when their job might just be kicking into high (or higher) gear. It’s a noble cause, of course. But consider this: A long break from the workforce can result in several financial losses beyond the immediate loss of a salary. In…

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Four Tips for Planning a Career Change

Changing careers can be rewarding for many reasons, but career transitions don’t always go smoothly. Your career shift may take longer than expected, or you may find yourself temporarily out of work if you need to go back to school or can’t immediately find a job. Consider these four tips to help make the financial impact of the transition easier. 1. Do your homework Before you quit your current job, make sure that you clearly understand the steps involved…

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Key Retirement and Tax Numbers for 2019

Every year, the Internal Revenue Service announces cost-of-living adjustments that affect contribution limits for retirement plans and various tax deduction, exclusion, exemption, and threshold amounts. Here are a few of the key adjustments for 2019. Employer retirement plans Employees who participate in 401(k), 403(b), and most 457 plans can defer up to $19,000 in compensation in 2019 (up from $18,500 in 2018); employees age 50 and older can defer up to an additional $6,000 in 2019 (the same as…

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Famous People Who Failed to Plan Properly

It’s almost impossible to overstate the importance of taking the time to plan your estate. Nevertheless, it’s surprising how many American adults haven’t done so. You might think that those who are rich and famous would be way ahead of the curve when it comes to planning their estates properly, considering the resources and lawyers presumably available to them. Yet there are plenty of celebrities and people of note who died with inadequate (or nonexistent) estate plans. Most recently…

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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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