Paying taxes as a freelancer

The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, act as legal, financial or credit advice. See Lexington Law’s editorial disclosure for more information.

Paying taxes as a freelancer can be a bit more involved—and expensive—than paying taxes as a W-2 employee. When you’re a freelancer, you’re the boss. That’s great if you want some flexibility, but it also means you’re self-employed, so you are responsible for both the employer and employee parts of employment taxes.

When you work for someone else, your paycheck amount is your pay minus all appropriate deductions. That includes deductions for federal and state income taxes as well as Medicare and Social Security contributions.

But what you might not realize is that your employer covers part of the Medicare and Social Security amounts. As a self-employed individual, you have to pay the total amount yourself. That’s 12.4 percent for Social Security and 2.9 percent for Medicare—a total of 15.3 percent of your taxable earnings, not including federal and other income taxes.

When Do I Have to Start Paying Taxes as a Freelancer?

According to the Internal Revenue Service, if you earn $400 or more in a year via self-employment or contract work, you must claim the income and pay taxes on it. The threshold is even lower if you earn the money for church work. If you earn more than $108.28 as a church employee and the church employer doesn’t withhold and pay employment taxes, you must do so.

What Tax Forms Should I Know About?

Freelancers report their income to the IRS using a Form 1040, but they may need to include a variety of Schedule attachments, including:

  • Schedule A, which lists itemized deductions
  • Schedule C, which reports profits or losses from their freelancer business
  • Schedule SE, which calculates self-employment tax

These are only some of the forms that might be relevant to a freelancer filing federal taxes. Freelancers must also file a tax form for the state in which they live as well as with any local governments that require income tax payments.

If you’re planning to do your taxes on your own as a freelancer, it might be helpful to invest in DIY tax software. Look for options that cater specifically to home and business or self-employment situations. These software programs typically walk you through a series of questions designed to determine which forms you need to file and help you complete those forms correctly.

Six Tips for Doing Your Taxes as a Freelancer

As a freelancer, chances are you spend a lot of your time attending to clients and getting production work done. You may not have a lot of time for business organization tasks such as accounting. But a proactive approach to paying taxes as a freelancer can help you prepare to do your taxes and pay what can be a surprisingly big bill each year.

Here are six tips for handling taxes as a freelancer.

1. Keep Track of Your Income

Track your income so you know how much you may need to pay in taxes every year. Keeping track of your numbers also helps you understand whether your business is profitable and how you’re doing with income compared to past years.

You can track your income in a number of ways. Apps and software programs such as QuickBooks and Wave let you manage your freelance invoices and track income and expenses. Some also help you generate financial reports that might be helpful come tax time.

Alternatively, you can track your income in an Excel spreadsheet or even a notebook, as long as you’re consistent with writing everything down.

2. Set Money Aside in Advance

It’s tempting to count every dollar that comes in as money you can use. But it’s wiser to set money aside for taxes in advance. Depending on how much you earn as a freelancer, you could owe thousands in federal and state taxes by the end of the year, and if you didn’t plan ahead, you might not have the money to cover the tax bill.

That can lead to tax debt that comes with pretty stiff penalties and interest—and the potential for a tax lien if you can’t pay the bill.

3. Determine Your Business Structure

Make sure you know what your business structure is. Many freelancers operate as sole proprietorships. But you might be able to get a tax break if you operate as an LLC or a corporation. Talk to legal and tax professionals as you set up your business to find out about the pros and cons of each type of organization.

4. Know About Relevant Deductions

As a freelancer, you may be able to take certain federal tax deductions to save yourself some money. Tax deductions reduce how much of your income is considered taxable, which, in turn, reduces how much you owe in taxes. Here are a few common deductions that might be relevant to you as a freelancer.

Home Office

You can take the home office deduction if you’ve set aside a certain area of your home for use by the business. The IRS does have a couple of stipulations.

First, you have to regularly use the space for your business, and it can’t be something you use regularly for other purposes. For example, you can’t claim your dining room as a home office just because you sometimes work from that location.

Second, the home has to be your principal place of business, which means it’s where you do most business activity. You can’t claim the deduction if you normally work outside the home but sometimes answer work emails while you’re in the living room.

Equipment and Supplies

You can also deduct the cost of equipment and supplies that you buy for your business. That includes software purchases and relevant subscriptions, such as if you pay monthly for Microsoft 365 or annually for a domain name.

Make sure you have backup documentation for any business expenses you deduct. That means keeping receipts that show what you purchased so you can prove that the expenses were for business. You also have to be careful to keep business and personal expenses separate—art supplies for your child’s school project, for example, wouldn’t typically be considered valid business expenses.

Travel and Meals

Meals and travel expenses that are related to your business may be tax deductible. If you stay in a hotel, book a flight or incur other travel expenses that are necessary for the running of your business, you can claim them as a deduction. The same is true for 50 percent of the value of meals and beverages that you pay for as a necessity when doing business.

The IRS does set an “ordinary and necessary” rule here. For example, if you’re traveling to meet with a client and you need to eat lunch, that is likely to be considered necessary. But if you opt for a very lavish meal for no other purpose than to do so, it might not be allowed under the “ordinary” part of the rule.

Business Insurance

If you carry liability or similar insurance for your business, you can deduct it as a cost of doing business. You may also be able to deduct the cost of other insurance policies if they are necessary for your trade.

5. Estimate Your Taxes Quarterly

The IRS offers provisions for estimating your employment taxes on a quarterly basis. Self-employed individuals, including freelancers, can make these estimated tax payments, too. Paying as you go means you won’t owe a large sum every April, and if you overestimate, you may get a tax refund.

Quarterly payments are due in April, June, September and January. They can be mailed or made online. Depending on how much you earn, you may need to make quarterly estimated tax payments to avoid a penalty at the end of the year.

6. Consult a Tax Professional

As you can see just from the basic information and tips above, paying taxes as a freelancer can get complicated quickly. Consider talking to a tax professional to understand what all your obligations are and how best to reduce your tax burden using legal deductions. You might be missing a major deduction every year that could save you a lot of money.

And remember that as a freelancer, you’re running your own small business. That means paying attention to all your finances, including your credit report. If you ever want to take out a business loan or seek other funding to grow your business, you might need to rely on your good credit score.

Check your credit score, and if you find inaccurate negative information making an impact on your score, contact Lexington Law to find out how to get help disputing it.


Reviewed by Cynthia Thaxton, Lexington Law Firm Attorney. Written by Lexington Law.

Cynthia Thaxton has been with Lexington Law Firm since 2014. She attended The College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia where she graduated summa cum laude with a degree in International Relations and a minor in Arabic. Cynthia then attended law school at George Mason University School of Law, where she served as Senior Articles Editor of the George Mason Law Review and graduated cum laude. Cynthia is licensed to practice law in Utah and North Carolina.

Note: Articles have only been reviewed by the indicated attorney, not written by them. The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, act as legal, financial or credit advice; instead, it is for general informational purposes only. Use of, and access to, this website or any of the links or resources contained within the site do not create an attorney-client or fiduciary relationship between the reader, user, or browser and website owner, authors, reviewers, contributors, contributing firms, or their respective agents or employers.

Source: lexingtonlaw.com

The Average Cost of Home Insurance

We’ll get straight to the point: The cost of home insurance varies widely, but the average American homeowner pays $1,249 a year in premiums, according to the Insurance Information Institute’s 2018 figures, the most recent available.

(This is based on the HO-3 homeowner package policy for owner-occupied dwellings, 1 to 4 family units. It provides all risks coverage (except those specifically excluded in the policy) on buildings and broad named-peril coverage on personal property, and is the most common package written.)

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In this article

Home insurance premiums can vary widely in part because of:

  • Your location
  • Your history of claims
  • Your credit score
  • The age and condition of your home

However, there are ways that homeowners can save money on their insurance costs, which we’ll get into. We’ll also walk through which areas in the U.S. are the cheapest and most expensive, typical coverages and more.

[ Read: Home Insurance Quotes, Explained ]

How much does home insurance cost by state?

As you can see below, the average home insurance premium varies widely by state. As you might expect, weather events figure big in the average annual premium by state, although there are other factors, of course, such as your credit score and the age of the home. The figures in this table come from 2018 data provided by the Insurance Information Institute.

State Rank Average annual premium State Rank Average annual premium State Rank Average annual premium
Ala. 13 $1,409 Ky. 26 $1,152 N.D. 18 $1,293
Alaska 36 $984  La. 1 $1,987 Ohio 44 $874
Ariz. 46 $843 Maine 42 $905 Okla. 4 $1,944
Ark. 12 $1,419 Md. 32 $1,071 Ore. 51 $706
Calif. 31 $1,073 Mass. 10 $1,543 Pa. 40 $943
Colo. 7 $1,616 Mich. 38 $981 R.I. 5 $1,630
Conn. 11 $1,494 Minn. 14 $1,400 S.C. 19 $1,284
Del. 45 $873 Miss. 8 $1,578 S.D. 20 $1,280
D.C. 21 $1,264 Mo. 15 $1,383 Tenn. 23 $1,232
Fla. 2 $1,960 Mont. 22 $1,237 Texas 3 $1,955
Ga. 17 $1,313 Neb. 9 $1,569 Utah 50 $730
Hawaii 27 $1,140 Nev. 48 $776 Vt. 41 $935
Idaho 49 $772 N.H. 36 $984 Va. 34 $1,026
Ill. 28 $1,103 N.J. 24 $1,209 Wash. 43 $881
Ind. 33 $1,030 N.M. 30 $1,075 W.Va. 39 $970
Iowa 35 $987 N.Y. 16 $1,321 Wis. 47 $814
Kansas 6 $1,617 N.C. 28 $1,103 Wy. 25 $1,187

Based on the HO-3 homeowner package policy for owner-occupied dwellings, 1 to 4 family units. Provides all risks coverage (except those specifically excluded in the policy) on buildings and broad named-peril coverage on personal property, and is the most common package written.

Most expensive states in home insurance premiums

Below are the most expensive average home insurance premiums by state, according to the Insurance Information Institute’s figures from 2018. Premiums can vary widely within the state, and of course, there are more factors in your premium than the location of your home.

  • Louisiana: $1,987
  • Florida: $1,960
  • Texas: $1,955
  • Oklahoma: $1,944
  • Rhode Island: $1,630

Cheapest states in home insurance premiums

Below are the cheapest average home insurance premiums by state, according to the Insurance Information Institute’s figures from 2018. Premiums can vary widely within each state, and of course, there are more factors in your premium than the location of your home.

  • Wisconsin: $814
  • Nevada: $776
  • Idaho: $772
  • Utah: $730
  • Oregon: $706

What determines the cost of homeowners insurance?

The cost of an individual homeowners insurance policy is determined by a wide range of factors. Some of those factors are within your control, and some of them are not. 

For instance, home insurance can be more expensive in areas with a high risk of flooding or fires than in places where natural disasters are uncommon. Newer homes often cost less to insure than older dwellings — especially those in need of repairs. Insurance companies also look at your personal credit history before covering your home, so people with good credit histories could receive a lower premium than those with poor credit histories.

Every insurance company calculates rates differently. Some carriers place a higher value on credit score and claims history, while others look more closely at the condition and age of the home. Below is a more comprehensive list of the considerations that might determine your homeowners insurance premium.

[ Read: The Best Homeowners Insurance Companies ]

  • State, city and neighborhood: Some states are more prone to wildfires, earthquakes, and hurricanes than others.
  • Location of home: This information is pulled for crime and claim statistics in your home’s area.
  • Construction of the home: Is the home made out of wood, brick, or vinyl siding?
  • Heating system: Is the home heated with an HVAC or wood stove?
  • Security system: Homes with security systems might be less likely to be broken into.
  • Previous claims on the home: If the home has a history of water and electrical issues, then the homeowner may be more likely to file a future claim.
  • Homeowner’s previous claims: If the homeowner has a history with other insurance companies, he or she may be more likely file a claim again in the not-so-distant future.
  • Credit score: People with low credit scores may be more likely to file a claim.
  • Nearest fire station: The distance between your home and the nearest fire station can be a factor.
  • Marital status: Married couples are statistically less likely to file claims with insurance companies.
  • Replacement cost: The cost to replace an older home and bring it up to code can be more expensive than replacing a new home.
  • Pets: Certain animals might be considered a greater risk for liability claims.
  • Outside structures: Things like pools, sheds or greenhouses can also affect your policy rate.

Aside from these factors, the cost of an individual policy can also be determined by which features you chose to include in your coverage. A few of the options that can affect the cost are:

  • Deductible amount
  • Extra coverage add-ons
  • Bundled insurance policies
  • Discounts

[ More: Complete Guide to Home Insurance ]

Types of coverage

There are many different types of homeowners insurance coverage. Some coverages, like dwelling and liability coverage, can come standard with most policies. But insurance companies also often sell add-on policies that offer protection in certain areas. Here are some of the most common home insurance coverages you might find:

  • Dwelling coverage is insurance that covers qualified damages to the home itself. If the siding of your home tore off in a major storm, dwelling insurance might cover the cost of repairs. Insurance companies might sell add-ons for roof damage, water back/sump pump overflow, flood insurance and earthquake insurance.
  • Personal property coverage pertains to the cost of replacing possessions in your home, such as furniture. If someone broke into your home and stole personal items, personal property coverage might reimburse you. If you need to protect valuables, your agent might recommend you purchase a scheduled personal property endorsement for higher coverage limits.
  • Personal liability coverage protects against lawsuits for property damage or injury. If a delivery driver slipped and fell on your icy driveway, liability coverage might pay for their medical expenses and court costs if they sued you. Some insurance companies offer add-on policies that extend your liability coverage limits.
  • Loss of use coverage might cover additional living expenses you have after your home has been damaged. This might include hotel stays, groceries and gas while your home is being repaired. If your house is under construction after a covered claim, loss of use coverage might pay for your temporary hotel and food expenses up to your policy’s limit.

Generally speaking, your agent may recommend that your home insurance coverages be based on your lifestyle, where you live and the value of your assets.

Keep in mind that your agent may recommend you add coverage as time goes on. If you adopt a puppy six months after you purchase your home insurance policy, your agent may recommend you add pet coverage when the time comes. Or, if you take on a remote job, you can contact your insurance company and see if you should add home business coverage for a small fee.

Every home insurance coverage has a policy limit. A policy limit is the highest amount of money your insurance company will give you after a covered loss. For example, if your dwelling coverage limit is $400,000, that may limit how much is paid out if your home is damaged or destroyed by a covered peril to no more than $400,000, although factors like your deductible may come into play.

When you purchase a home insurance policy, you may be able to set your own policy limits. As a rule of thumb, you may be recommended to have enough dwelling coverage to rebuild your home in its current state, enough personal property coverage to cover the full value of your personal items and enough liability coverage to protect your personal assets.  

[ Read: What is Dwelling Insurance? ]

Reimbursement coverage types

There are three different coverage options commonly provided by home insurance companies. Each option affects your premium differently.

  • Actual cash value (ACV) is based on the current market value, or how much your home and personal property is worth, with depreciation factored in. Most home insurance policies offer ACV reimbursement by default. It can be the lowest option.  
  • Replacement cost value (RCV) works in the same way as ACV, but without depreciation factored in. That means you might get a higher payout after a covered claim. RCV home insurance policies can be more expensive than ACV policies, and you may need to purchase an endorsement to get it. Your agent may recommend this if you own valuables or have an expensive home.
  • Guaranteed replacement cost (GRC) is also referred to as extended replacement cost (ERC), and this option can cover the complete cost of rebuilding the home, even if that cost exceeds the policy limit. GRC can be the most expensive replacement cost type, and not all insurance companies offer it. Your agent may recommend this if you live in areas with extreme weather, wildfires, earthquakes or any place where home destruction is more likely. 

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Discounts and ways to save on home insurance

Homeowners insurance can be costly, so before selecting a plan, shop around to find the best deal based on your needs. It can be helpful to consult an insurance agent, read consumer reviews and check online insurance quotes to find companies with the lowest rates. Here are some other ways to save money on home insurance:

  1. Ask about available discounts: Some companies offer discounted policy rates if your home is in a gated community, if you bundle with your car insurance or if you’re part of a homeowner’s association.
  2. Bundle your insurance policies: Oftentimes, companies that sell home, auto and life coverage may deduct up to 15% off your premium if you buy two or more policies from them.
  3. Make your home safer: Some providers may offer a discount if you install fixtures that make your home safer, such as smoke alarms or a security system, that reduce the likelihood that damage or theft will occur in the first place.

How do past claims impact home insurance cost?

It depends on the nature of the claim. Just how much a claim raises your premium varies in part on the provider and the nature of the claim.

There are also further complications when you make the same type of claim twice. Not only can this increase what you pay each month, but, depending on you and your home’s history, it’s possible the provider may even decide to drop you.

Though your premium may increase if you are found at fault, it’s also possible for your monthly bill to increase even if you’re not found to be liable. Your home may be considered riskier to insure than other homes.

Home insurance cost FAQs

No, states do not require homeowners to get insurance when they purchase a home. However, if you choose to get a mortgage loan, most lenders will require you to have some insurance.

To determine how much coverage you should purchase, talk to your agent about your home inventory, your overall worth, and of course, comfort level. Also discuss factoring in the location of your home, and evaluate risks based on weather, fires and other events that could potentially damage or destroy your home.

There are a few ways to potentially get home insurance discounts. Discount options include things like:

  • Bundling your home insurance policy with another policy (such as auto).
  • Going claims free for extended periods of time.
  • Making certain home improvements.
  • Living in a gated community.
  • Installing a security system.

In 2018, 34.4% of home insurance losses were wind and hail related, 32.7% were fire or lightning related and 23.8% were water damage or freezing claims. Only 1% of claims were related to theft, and less than 2% of losses were liability claims. These figures are according to the Insurance Information Institute.

In Florida the most common claims may be related to hurricanes, wind damage, water damage and flooding. In California, earthquake, flood and wildfire claims may be more common. When you purchase insurance, talk to an agent about the specific risks in your area and ask about separate insurance policies you might need, like flood or earthquake coverage.

We welcome your feedback on this article. Contact us at inquiries@thesimpledollar.com with comments or questions.

Source: thesimpledollar.com

7 Ways Biden Plans to Tax the Rich (And Maybe Some Not-So-Rich People)

President Biden’s latest economic “Build Back Better” package – the $1.8 trillion American Families Plan – isn’t kind to America’s upper crust. It would provide a host of perks and freebies for low- and middle-income Americans, such as guaranteed family and medical leave, free preschool and community college, limits on child-care costs, extended tax breaks, and more. But to pay for all these goodies, the Biden plan also includes a long list of tax increases for the wealthiest Americans (and, perhaps, some people who aren’t rich).

Whether any of the president’s proposed tax increases ever make it into the tax code remains to be seen. Republicans in Congress will push back hard on the tax increases. And a handful of moderate Democrats will probably join them, too. So, don’t be surprised if a fair number of the plan’s revenue raisers are dropped or amended during the congressional sausage-making process…or even if some new tax boosts are added.

While we don’t know yet which – if any – of the proposed tax increases will survive and be enacted into law, wise taxpayers will start studying the plan now so that they’re prepared for the final results (any changes probably won’t take effect until next year). To get you going in that direction, here’s a list of the 7 ways the American Families Plan could raise taxes on the rich. But even if you’re not particularly wealthy, make sure you read closely to see if you might be caught up in any of the proposed tax hikes, since a few of them could snare some not-so-rich people in addition to the one-percenters.

1 of 7

Increase the Top Income Tax Rate

picture of a calculator with buttons for adding or subtracting taxespicture of a calculator with buttons for adding or subtracting taxes

The 2017 tax reform law signed by former President Trump lowered the highest federal personal income tax rate from 39.6% to 37%. According to the White House, this rate reduction gave a married couple with $2 million of taxable income a tax cut of more than $36,400. President Biden wants to reverse the rate change and bring the top rate back up to 39.6%.

For 2021, the following taxpayers will fall within the current 37% tax bracket:

  • Single filers with taxable income over $523,600;
  • Married couples filing a joint return with taxable income over $628,300;
  • Married couples filing separate returns with taxable income over $314,150; and
  • Head-of-household filers with taxable income over $523,600.

(For the complete 2021 tax brackets, see What Are the Income Tax Brackets for 2021 vs. 2020?)

President Biden has said many times that he won’t raise taxes on anyone making less than $400,000 per year. But there have always been questions and a lack of clarity as to what this exactly means. For instance, does it apply to each individual or to each tax family? We still haven’t received a crystal-clear answer to that question. As a result, we’re not entirely sure if the president wants to adjust the starting point for the top-rate bracket to account for his $400,000 threshold. According to a report from Axios, an unnamed White House official said the 39.6% rate would only apply to single filers with taxable income over $452,700 and joint filers with taxable income exceeding $509,300. That would satisfy the president’s promise for single people, but it’s a bit trickier for married couples filing a joint return.

If the 39.6% rate kicks in on a joint return when taxable income surpasses $509,300, a married couple could end up being taxed at that rate even if both spouses earn well under $400,000 per year. For example, if Spouse A makes $270,000 and Spouse B makes $260,000, their combined income ($530,000) is over the $509,300 threshold. Using the 2021 tax brackets, they wouldn’t even make it into the 37% bracket (they’d be in the 35% bracket). So, each spouse would face a tax increase under the Biden plan, even though neither one of them earn over $400,000 per year.

To be fair, this type of “marriage penalty” exists for the current 37% tax bracket, since the minimum taxable income for joint filers is less than twice the minimum amount for single filers. However, the current brackets weren’t set up with a pledge not to raise taxes on anyone making less than $400,000 per year in the background. Perhaps the Biden administration will recognize this and eventually adjust the brackets to fix the marriage penalty issue.

2 of 7

Raise the Capital Gains Tax

picture of computer screen with stock market charts showing market increasespicture of computer screen with stock market charts showing market increases

The American Families Plan also calls for an increase in the capital gains tax rate for people earning $1 million or more.

Currently, gains from the sale of stocks, mutual funds, and other capital assets that are held for at least one year (i.e., long-term capital gains) are taxed at either a 0%, 15%, or 20% rate. The highest rate (20%) is paid by wealthier taxpayers – i.e., single filers with taxable income over $445,850, head-of-household filers with taxable income over $473,750, and married couples filing a joint return with taxable income over $501,600. Gains from the sale of capital assets held for less than one year (i.e., short-term capital gains) are taxed at the ordinary income tax rates.

Under the Biden plan, anyone making more than $1 million per year would have to pay a 39.6% tax on long-term capital gains – which is almost double the current top rate. As noted above, that’s also the proposed top tax rate for ordinary income (e.g., wages). So, in effect, millionaires would completely lose the tax benefits of holding capital assets for more than one year. Plus, there’s the existing 3.8% surtax on net investment income, which would bump the overall tax rate up to 43.4% for people with income exceeding $1 million.

[Note: A summary of the American Families Plan states that application of the 3.8% surtax is “inconsistent across taxpayers due to holes in the law.” It then states that the president’s plan would apply the surtax “consistently to those making over $400,000, ensuring that all high-income Americans pay the same Medicare taxes.” No further details are provided, but this could mean expanding the surtax to cover certain income from the active participation in S corporations and limited partnerships.]

3 of 7

Eliminate Stepped-Up Basis on Inherited Property

picture of a last will and testamentpicture of a last will and testament

There’s another capital gains-related tax increase in the American Families Plan – eliminating the step up in basis allowed for inherited property. Under current law, if you inherit stock, real estate, or some other capital asset, your basis in the property is increased (“stepped up”) to its fair market value on the date that the person who previously owned it died. This increase in basis also means you can immediately sell the inherited property and avoid paying capital gains tax, because there’s technically no gain to tax. Why? Because gain is generally equal to the amount you receive from the sale minus your basis in the property. Assuming you sell the property for fair market value, the sales price will equal your basis…which results in zero gain (e.g., $1,000 – $1,000 = $0).

President Biden wants to change this result. Although details are scarce at this point, the president’s plan would nullify the effects of stepped-up basis for gains of $1 million or more ($2 million or more for a married couple) – perhaps by taxing the property as if it were sold upon death. There would be exceptions to the new rules for property donated to charity and family-owned businesses and farms that the heirs continue to operate. Other yet-to-be-determined exceptions could also be added, such as for property inherited by a spouse or transferred through a trust.

This is one of the tax changes that could impact Americans making less than $400,000 per year – perhaps only indirectly. Anyone, regardless of their own income level, can inherit property. If the heir’s basis is not adjusted upward any longer, that in essence is a tax increase on him or her. If the capital gains tax is levied before the property is transfer, that could mean there’s less to inherit – which could be considered an indirect tax on the person receiving the property. It can be a bit tricky, but there’s certainly the potential for someone inheriting property who makes less than $400,000 per year getting the short end of the stick because of this Biden proposal.

4 of 7

Tax Carried Interest as Ordinary Income

picture of investment fund manager looking at several computer screenspicture of investment fund manager looking at several computer screens

In certain case, an investment fund manager can treat earned income as long-term capital gain. Known as the “carried interest” loophole, this lets the fund manager take advantage of the long-term capital gains tax rates, which are usually lower than the ordinary income tax rates he or she would otherwise have to pay on the income.

The American Families Plan calls for the elimination of the carried interest rules. The Biden administration sees this change as “an important structural change that is necessary to ensure that we have a tax code that treats all workers fairly.”

For a fund manager, this change would result in a potential tax increase on the affected income of up to 19.6%. For example, assuming the income is high enough, he or she could go from a rate of 23.8% (20% capital gain rate + 3.8% surtax on net investment income) to 43.4% (39.6% ordinary tax rate + 3.8% surtax on NII).

One would think that most, if not all, fund managers earn at least $400,000 per year. But if there are any of them out there making less than that amount, then this change could raise taxes on someone making less than Biden’s $400,000 per year threshold. Yeah, it’s not likely…but it’s theoretical possible.

5 of 7

Curtail Like-Kind Exchanges

picture of several office buildings with a for sale sign in front of thempicture of several office buildings with a for sale sign in front of them

If you sell real property used for business or held as an investment and then turn around and buy other business or investment property that is the same type, you’re generally not required to recognize gain or loss for tax purposes under the “like-kind” exchange rules. Properties are of “like-kind” if they’re of the same nature or character. For example, an apartment building would generally be like-kind to another apartment building. This is true even if they differ in grade or quality.

The Biden plan would end this special real estate tax break for gains greater than $500,000. Since there are no income thresholds for the taxpayer, this change could potentially prevent someone making less than $400,000 per year (the $500,000 gain could be offset by other tax deductions, exemptions, or credits). Again, in most cases, wealthier people would be impacted by this change, but it’s possible that someone making less than $400,000 could also end up with a higher tax bill if this proposal became law.

6 of 7

Extend Business Loss Limitation Rule

picture of worried businessman looking at bad financial statementspicture of worried businessman looking at bad financial statements

Under the 2017 tax reform law, individuals operating a trade or business can’t deduct losses exceeding $250,000 ($500,000 for joint filers) on Schedule C. The excess losses may, however, be carried forward to later tax years. This rule is currently set to expire in 2027 (it was also generally suspended by the CARES Act for the 2018 to 2020 tax years).

President Biden’s American Families Plan calls for this business loss limitation rule to be made permanent. According to the plan summary, 80% of the affected business loss deductions would go to people making over $1 million. But, once again, someone making less than $400,000 could also incur a large business loss that wouldn’t be deductible after 2026 if the Biden proposal is adopted.

7 of 7

Increase Enforcement Activities

picture of yellow road sign saying "IRS Audit Ahead"picture of yellow road sign saying "IRS Audit Ahead"

Biden wants to increase tax enforcement activities aimed at high-income Americans – and give the IRS an extra $80 billion over a 10-year period to do it. While this really isn’t a tax increase, it certainly could result in wealthier Americans pay more in taxes. The idea is to “increase investment in the IRS, while ensuring that the additional resources go toward enforcement against those with the highest incomes, rather than Americans with actual income less than $400,000.” The IRS would also focus resources on large corporations, other businesses, and estates. The audit rate for Americans making less than $400,000 per year wouldn’t increase under the president’s plan.

The American Families Plan summary also states that financial institutions would be required to “report information on account flows so that earnings from investments and business activity are subject to reporting more like wages already are.” The income of wealthier Americans disproportionately comes from investments and small businesses, which are harder for the IRS to verify than other sources of income like wages. As a result, the Treasury Department estimates that up to 55% of taxes owed on some of these less visible income streams goes unpaid. And more of that unpaid tax is owed by people with higher incomes. The proposal would funnel additional information to the IRS about the hard-to-verify income without burdening taxpayers.

All-in-all, the White House claims that the increased tax enforcement efforts would raise $700 billion in revenue over a 10-year period.

Source: kiplinger.com

The Benefits of Working Longer

Financial planners and analysts have long advised workers who haven’t saved enough for retirement to work longer. But even if you’ve done everything right—saved the maximum in your retirement plans, lived within your means and stayed out of debt—working a few extra years, even at a reduced salary, could make an enormous difference in the quality of your life in your later years. And given the potential payoff, it’s worth starting to think about how long you plan to continue working—and what you’d like to do—even if you’re a decade or more away from traditional retirement age.

Larry Shagawat, 63, is thinking about retiring from his full-time job, but he’s not ready to stop working. Fortunately, he has a few tricks up his sleeve. Shagawat, who lives in Clifton, N.J., began his career as an actor and a magician. But marriage (to his former magician’s assistant), two children and a mortgage demanded income that was more consistent than the checks he earned as an extra on Law & Order, so he landed a job selling architectural and design products. The position provided his family with a comfortable living.

Now, though, Shagawat is con­sidering stepping back from his high-pressure job so he can pursue roles as a character actor (he’s still a member of the Screen Actors Guild) and perform magic tricks at corporate events. He also has a side gig selling golf products, including a golf cart cigar holder and a vanishing golf ball magic trick, through his website, golfworldnow.com. “I’ll be busier in retirement than I am in my current career,” he says.

Shagawat’s second career offers an opportunity for him to return to his first love, but he’s also motivated by a powerful financial incentive. His brother, Jim Shagawat, a certified financial planner with AdvicePeriod in Paramus, N.J., estimates that if Larry earns just $25,000 a year over the next decade, he’ll increase his retirement savings by $750,000, assuming a 5% annual withdrawal rate and an average 7% annual return on his investments.

Do the math

For every additional year (or even month) you work, you’ll shrink the amount of time in retirement you’ll need to finance with your savings. Meanwhile, you’ll be able to continue to contribute to your nest egg (see below) while giving that money more time to grow. In addition, working longer will allow you to postpone filing for Social Security benefits, which will increase the amount of your payouts.

For every year past your full retirement age (between 66 and 67 for most baby boomers) that you postpone retiring, Social Security will add 8% in delayed-retirement credits, until you reach age 70. Even if you think you won’t live long enough to benefit from the higher payouts, delaying your benefits could provide larger survivor benefits for your spouse. If you file for Social Security at age 70, your spouse’s survivor benefits will be 60% greater than if you file at age 62, according to the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.

Liz Windisch, a CFP with Aspen Wealth Management in Denver, says working longer is particularly critical for women, who tend to earn less than men over their lifetimes but live longer. The average woman retires at age 63, compared with 65 for the average man, according to the Center for Retirement Research. That may be because many women are younger than their husbands and are encouraged to retire when their husbands stop working. But a woman who retires early could find herself in financial jeopardy if she outlives her husband, because the household’s Social Security benefits will be reduced—and she could lose her husband’s pension income, too, says Andy Baxley, a CFP with The Planning Center in Chicago.

Calculate the cost of health care

Many retirees believe, sometimes erroneously, that they’ll spend less when they stop working. But even if you succeed in cutting costs, health care expenses can throw you a costly curve. Working longer is one way to prevent those costs from decimating your nest egg.

Employer-provided health insurance is almost always less expensive than anything you can buy on your own, and if you’re 65 or older, it may also be cheaper than Medicare. If you work full-time for a company with 20 or more employees, the company is required to offer you the same health insurance provided to all employees, even if you’re older than 65 and eligible for Medicare. Delaying Medicare Part B, which covers doctor and outpatient services, while you’re enrolled in an employer-provided plan can save you a lot of money, particularly if you’re vulnerable to the Medicare high-income surcharge, says Kari Vogt, a CFP and Medicare insurance broker in Columbia, Mo. In 2021, the standard premium for Medicare Part B is $148.50, but seniors subject to the high-income Medicare surcharge will pay $208 to $505 for Medicare Part B, depending on their 2019 modified adjusted gross income. Medicare Part A, which covers hospitalization, generally doesn’t cost anything and can pay for costs that aren’t covered by your company-provided plan.

Vogt recalls working with an older couple whose premiums for an employer-provided plan were just $142 a month, and the deductible was fairly modest. Because of their income levels, they would have paid $1,150 per month for Medicare premiums, a Medicare supplement plan and a prescription drug plan, she says. With that in mind, they decided to stay on the job a few more years.

The math gets trickier if your employer’s plan has a high deductible. But even then, Vogt says, by staying on an employer plan, older workers with high ongoing drug costs could end up paying less than they’d pay for Medicare Part D. “If someone is taking several brand-name drugs, an employer plan is going to cover those drugs at a much better price than Medicare.”

Even if you don’t qualify for group coverage—you’re a part-timer, freelancer or a contract worker, for example—the additional income will help defray the cost of Medicare premiums and other expenses Medicare doesn’t cover. The Fidelity Investments annual Retiree Health Care Cost Estimate projects that the average 65-year-old couple will spend $295,000 on health care costs in retirement.

Long-term care is another threat to your retirement security, even if you have a well-funded nest egg. In 2020, the median cost of a semiprivate room in a nursing home was more than $8,800 a month, according to long-term-care provider Genworth’s annual survey.

If you’re in your fifties or sixties and in good health, it’s difficult to predict whether you’ll need long-term care, but earmarking some of your income from a job for long-term-care insurance or a fund designated for long-term care will give you peace of mind, Baxley says.

And working longer could not only help cover the cost of long-term care but also reduce the risk that you’ll need it in the first place. A long-term study of civil servants in the United Kingdom found that verbal memory, which declines naturally with age, deteriorated 38% faster after individuals retired. Other research suggests that people who continue to work are less likely to experience social isolation, which can contribute to cognitive decline. Research by the Age Friendly Foundation and RetirementJobs.com, a website for job seekers 50 and older, found that more than 60% of older adults surveyed who were still working interacted with at least 10 different people every day, while only 15% of retirees said they spoke to that many people on a daily basis (the study was conducted before the pandemic). Even unpleasant colleagues and a bad boss “are better than social isolation because they provide cognitive challenges that keep the mind active and healthy,” economists Axel Börsch-Supan and Morten Schuth contended in a 2014 article for the National Bureau of Economic Research.

A changing workforce

Many job seekers in their fifties or sixties worry about age discrimination—and the pandemic has exacerbated those concerns. A recent AARP survey found that 61% of older workers who fear losing their job this year believe age is a contributing factor.  But that could change as the economy recovers, and trends that emerged during the pandemic could end up benefiting older workers, says Tim Driver, founder of RetirementJobs.com. Some companies plan to allow employees to work remotely indefinitely, a shift that could make staying on the job more attractive for older workers—and make employers more amenable to accommodating their desire for more flexibility. “People who are working longer already wanted to work from home, and this has helped them do that more easily,” Driver says. To make that work, though, older workers need to stay on top of technology, which means they need to be comfortable using Zoom, LinkedIn and other online platforms, he says.  

More-flexible arrangements—including remote work—could also benefit older adults who want to continue to earn income but don’t want to work 50 hours a week. Baxley says some of his clients have gradually reduced their hours, from four days a week while they’re in their fifties to three or two days a week as they reach their sixties and seventies.

That assumes, of course, that your employer doesn’t lay you off or waltz you out the door with a buyout offer you don’t think you can refuse. But even then, you don’t necessarily have to stop working. The gig economy offers opportunities for older workers, and you don’t have to drive for Uber to take advantage of this emerging trend. There are numerous companies that will hire professionals in law, accounting, technology and other fields as consultants, says Kathy Kristof, a former Kiplinger columnist and founder of SideHusl.com, a website that reviews and rates online job platforms. Examples include FlexProfessionals, which finds part-time jobs for accountants, sales representatives and others for $25 to $40 an hour, and Wahve, which finds remote jobs for experienced workers in accounting, insurance and human resources (pay varies by experience).

Job seekers in their fifties (or even younger) who want to work into their sixties or later may want to consider an employer’s track record of hiring and retaining older workers when comparing job offers. Companies designated as Certified Age Friendly Employers by the Age Friendly Foundation have been steadily increasing and range from Home Depot to the Boston Red Sox. Driver says age-friendly employers are motivated by a desire for a more diverse workforce—which includes workers of all ages—and the realization that older workers are less likely to leave. Contrary to the assumption that older workers have one foot out the door toward retirement, their turnover rate is one-third of that for younger workers, Driver says.

At the Aquarium of the Pacific, an age-friendly employer based in Long Beach, Calif., employees older than 60 work in a variety of jobs, from guest service ambassadors to positions in the aquarium’s retail operations, says Kathie Nirschl, vice president of human resources (who, at 59, has no plans to retire anytime soon). Many of the aquarium’s visitors are seniors, and having older workers on staff helps the organization connect with them, Nirschl says.

John Rouse, 61, is the aquarium’s vice president of operations, a job that involves everything from facility maintenance to animal husbandry. He estimates that he walks between 12,000 and 13,000 steps a day to monitor the aquarium’s operations.

Rouse says he had originally planned to retire in his early sixties, but he has since revised those plans and now hopes to work until at least 68. He has a daughter in college, which is expensive, and he would like to delay filing for Social Security. Plus, he enjoys spending time at the aquarium with the fish, animals and coworkers. “It’s a great team atmosphere,” he says. “It has kept me young.”

New rules help seniors save

If you’re planning to keep working into your seventies—which is no longer unusual—provisions in the 2019 Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act will make it easier to increase the size of your retirement savings or shield what you’ve saved from taxes.

Among other things, the law eliminated age limits on contributions to an IRA. Previously, you couldn’t contribute to a traditional IRA after age 70½. Now, if you have earned income, you can contribute to a traditional IRA at any age and, if you’re eligible, deduct those contributions. (Roth IRAs, which may be preferable for some savers because qualified withdrawals are tax-free, have never had an age cut-off as long as the contributor has earned income.)

The law also allows part-time workers to contribute to their employer’s 401(k) or other employer-provided retirement plan, which will benefit older workers who want to stay on the job but cut back their hours. The SECURE Act guarantees that workers can contribute to their employer’s 401(k) plan, as long as they’ve worked at least 500 hours a year for the past three years. Previously, employees who had worked less than 1,000 hours the year before were ineligible to participate in their employer’s 401(k) plan.

Delayed RMDs. If you have money in traditional IRAs or other tax-deferred accounts, you can’t leave it there forever. The IRS requires that you take minimum distributions and pay taxes on the money. If you’re still working, that income, combined with required minimum distributions, could push you into a higher tax bracket.

Congress waived RMDs in 2020, but that’s unlikely to happen again this year. Thanks to the SECURE Act, however, you don’t have to start taking them until you’re 72, up from the previous age of 70½. Keep in mind that if you’re still working at age 72, you’re not required to take RMDs from your current employer’s 401(k) plan until you stop working (unless you own at least 5% of the company).

One other note: If you work for yourself, whether as a self-employed business owner, freelancer or contractor, you can significantly increase the size of your savings stash. In 2021, you can contribute up to $58,000 to a solo 401(k), or $64,500 if you’re 50 or older. The actual amount you can contribute will be determined by your self-employment income.

chart that shows payoff from putting off retirement for a few yearschart that shows payoff from putting off retirement for a few years

Source: kiplinger.com

The Benefits of Working Longer

Financial planners and analysts have long advised workers who haven’t saved enough for retirement to work longer. But even if you’ve done everything right—saved the maximum in your retirement plans, lived within your means and stayed out of debt—working a few extra years, even at a reduced salary, could make an enormous difference in the quality of your life in your later years. And given the potential payoff, it’s worth starting to think about how long you plan to continue working—and what you’d like to do—even if you’re a decade or more away from traditional retirement age.

Larry Shagawat, 63, is thinking about retiring from his full-time job, but he’s not ready to stop working. Fortunately, he has a few tricks up his sleeve. Shagawat, who lives in Clifton, N.J., began his career as an actor and a magician. But marriage (to his former magician’s assistant), two children and a mortgage demanded income that was more consistent than the checks he earned as an extra on Law & Order, so he landed a job selling architectural and design products. The position provided his family with a comfortable living.

Now, though, Shagawat is con­sidering stepping back from his high-pressure job so he can pursue roles as a character actor (he’s still a member of the Screen Actors Guild) and perform magic tricks at corporate events. He also has a side gig selling golf products, including a golf cart cigar holder and a vanishing golf ball magic trick, through his website, golfworldnow.com. “I’ll be busier in retirement than I am in my current career,” he says.

Shagawat’s second career offers an opportunity for him to return to his first love, but he’s also motivated by a powerful financial incentive. His brother, Jim Shagawat, a certified financial planner with AdvicePeriod in Paramus, N.J., estimates that if Larry earns just $25,000 a year over the next decade, he’ll increase his retirement savings by $750,000, assuming a 5% annual withdrawal rate and an average 7% annual return on his investments.

Do the math

For every additional year (or even month) you work, you’ll shrink the amount of time in retirement you’ll need to finance with your savings. Meanwhile, you’ll be able to continue to contribute to your nest egg (see below) while giving that money more time to grow. In addition, working longer will allow you to postpone filing for Social Security benefits, which will increase the amount of your payouts.

For every year past your full retirement age (between 66 and 67 for most baby boomers) that you postpone retiring, Social Security will add 8% in delayed-retirement credits, until you reach age 70. Even if you think you won’t live long enough to benefit from the higher payouts, delaying your benefits could provide larger survivor benefits for your spouse. If you file for Social Security at age 70, your spouse’s survivor benefits will be 60% greater than if you file at age 62, according to the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.

Liz Windisch, a CFP with Aspen Wealth Management in Denver, says working longer is particularly critical for women, who tend to earn less than men over their lifetimes but live longer. The average woman retires at age 63, compared with 65 for the average man, according to the Center for Retirement Research. That may be because many women are younger than their husbands and are encouraged to retire when their husbands stop working. But a woman who retires early could find herself in financial jeopardy if she outlives her husband, because the household’s Social Security benefits will be reduced—and she could lose her husband’s pension income, too, says Andy Baxley, a CFP with The Planning Center in Chicago.

Calculate the cost of health care

Many retirees believe, sometimes erroneously, that they’ll spend less when they stop working. But even if you succeed in cutting costs, health care expenses can throw you a costly curve. Working longer is one way to prevent those costs from decimating your nest egg.

Employer-provided health insurance is almost always less expensive than anything you can buy on your own, and if you’re 65 or older, it may also be cheaper than Medicare. If you work full-time for a company with 20 or more employees, the company is required to offer you the same health insurance provided to all employees, even if you’re older than 65 and eligible for Medicare. Delaying Medicare Part B, which covers doctor and outpatient services, while you’re enrolled in an employer-provided plan can save you a lot of money, particularly if you’re vulnerable to the Medicare high-income surcharge, says Kari Vogt, a CFP and Medicare insurance broker in Columbia, Mo. In 2021, the standard premium for Medicare Part B is $148.50, but seniors subject to the high-income Medicare surcharge will pay $208 to $505 for Medicare Part B, depending on their 2019 modified adjusted gross income. Medicare Part A, which covers hospitalization, generally doesn’t cost anything and can pay for costs that aren’t covered by your company-provided plan.

Vogt recalls working with an older couple whose premiums for an employer-provided plan were just $142 a month, and the deductible was fairly modest. Because of their income levels, they would have paid $1,150 per month for Medicare premiums, a Medicare supplement plan and a prescription drug plan, she says. With that in mind, they decided to stay on the job a few more years.

The math gets trickier if your employer’s plan has a high deductible. But even then, Vogt says, by staying on an employer plan, older workers with high ongoing drug costs could end up paying less than they’d pay for Medicare Part D. “If someone is taking several brand-name drugs, an employer plan is going to cover those drugs at a much better price than Medicare.”

Even if you don’t qualify for group coverage—you’re a part-timer, freelancer or a contract worker, for example—the additional income will help defray the cost of Medicare premiums and other expenses Medicare doesn’t cover. The Fidelity Investments annual Retiree Health Care Cost Estimate projects that the average 65-year-old couple will spend $295,000 on health care costs in retirement.

Long-term care is another threat to your retirement security, even if you have a well-funded nest egg. In 2020, the median cost of a semiprivate room in a nursing home was more than $8,800 a month, according to long-term-care provider Genworth’s annual survey.

If you’re in your fifties or sixties and in good health, it’s difficult to predict whether you’ll need long-term care, but earmarking some of your income from a job for long-term-care insurance or a fund designated for long-term care will give you peace of mind, Baxley says.

And working longer could not only help cover the cost of long-term care but also reduce the risk that you’ll need it in the first place. A long-term study of civil servants in the United Kingdom found that verbal memory, which declines naturally with age, deteriorated 38% faster after individuals retired. Other research suggests that people who continue to work are less likely to experience social isolation, which can contribute to cognitive decline. Research by the Age Friendly Foundation and RetirementJobs.com, a website for job seekers 50 and older, found that more than 60% of older adults surveyed who were still working interacted with at least 10 different people every day, while only 15% of retirees said they spoke to that many people on a daily basis (the study was conducted before the pandemic). Even unpleasant colleagues and a bad boss “are better than social isolation because they provide cognitive challenges that keep the mind active and healthy,” economists Axel Börsch-Supan and Morten Schuth contended in a 2014 article for the National Bureau of Economic Research.

A changing workforce

Many job seekers in their fifties or sixties worry about age discrimination—and the pandemic has exacerbated those concerns. A recent AARP survey found that 61% of older workers who fear losing their job this year believe age is a contributing factor.  But that could change as the economy recovers, and trends that emerged during the pandemic could end up benefiting older workers, says Tim Driver, founder of RetirementJobs.com. Some companies plan to allow employees to work remotely indefinitely, a shift that could make staying on the job more attractive for older workers—and make employers more amenable to accommodating their desire for more flexibility. “People who are working longer already wanted to work from home, and this has helped them do that more easily,” Driver says. To make that work, though, older workers need to stay on top of technology, which means they need to be comfortable using Zoom, LinkedIn and other online platforms, he says.  

More-flexible arrangements—including remote work—could also benefit older adults who want to continue to earn income but don’t want to work 50 hours a week. Baxley says some of his clients have gradually reduced their hours, from four days a week while they’re in their fifties to three or two days a week as they reach their sixties and seventies.

That assumes, of course, that your employer doesn’t lay you off or waltz you out the door with a buyout offer you don’t think you can refuse. But even then, you don’t necessarily have to stop working. The gig economy offers opportunities for older workers, and you don’t have to drive for Uber to take advantage of this emerging trend. There are numerous companies that will hire professionals in law, accounting, technology and other fields as consultants, says Kathy Kristof, a former Kiplinger columnist and founder of SideHusl.com, a website that reviews and rates online job platforms. Examples include FlexProfessionals, which finds part-time jobs for accountants, sales representatives and others for $25 to $40 an hour, and Wahve, which finds remote jobs for experienced workers in accounting, insurance and human resources (pay varies by experience).

Job seekers in their fifties (or even younger) who want to work into their sixties or later may want to consider an employer’s track record of hiring and retaining older workers when comparing job offers. Companies designated as Certified Age Friendly Employers by the Age Friendly Foundation have been steadily increasing and range from Home Depot to the Boston Red Sox. Driver says age-friendly employers are motivated by a desire for a more diverse workforce—which includes workers of all ages—and the realization that older workers are less likely to leave. Contrary to the assumption that older workers have one foot out the door toward retirement, their turnover rate is one-third of that for younger workers, Driver says.

At the Aquarium of the Pacific, an age-friendly employer based in Long Beach, Calif., employees older than 60 work in a variety of jobs, from guest service ambassadors to positions in the aquarium’s retail operations, says Kathie Nirschl, vice president of human resources (who, at 59, has no plans to retire anytime soon). Many of the aquarium’s visitors are seniors, and having older workers on staff helps the organization connect with them, Nirschl says.

John Rouse, 61, is the aquarium’s vice president of operations, a job that involves everything from facility maintenance to animal husbandry. He estimates that he walks between 12,000 and 13,000 steps a day to monitor the aquarium’s operations.

Rouse says he had originally planned to retire in his early sixties, but he has since revised those plans and now hopes to work until at least 68. He has a daughter in college, which is expensive, and he would like to delay filing for Social Security. Plus, he enjoys spending time at the aquarium with the fish, animals and coworkers. “It’s a great team atmosphere,” he says. “It has kept me young.”

New rules help seniors save

If you’re planning to keep working into your seventies—which is no longer unusual—provisions in the 2019 Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act will make it easier to increase the size of your retirement savings or shield what you’ve saved from taxes.

Among other things, the law eliminated age limits on contributions to an IRA. Previously, you couldn’t contribute to a traditional IRA after age 70½. Now, if you have earned income, you can contribute to a traditional IRA at any age and, if you’re eligible, deduct those contributions. (Roth IRAs, which may be preferable for some savers because qualified withdrawals are tax-free, have never had an age cut-off as long as the contributor has earned income.)

The law also allows part-time workers to contribute to their employer’s 401(k) or other employer-provided retirement plan, which will benefit older workers who want to stay on the job but cut back their hours. The SECURE Act guarantees that workers can contribute to their employer’s 401(k) plan, as long as they’ve worked at least 500 hours a year for the past three years. Previously, employees who had worked less than 1,000 hours the year before were ineligible to participate in their employer’s 401(k) plan.

Delayed RMDs. If you have money in traditional IRAs or other tax-deferred accounts, you can’t leave it there forever. The IRS requires that you take minimum distributions and pay taxes on the money. If you’re still working, that income, combined with required minimum distributions, could push you into a higher tax bracket.

Congress waived RMDs in 2020, but that’s unlikely to happen again this year. Thanks to the SECURE Act, however, you don’t have to start taking them until you’re 72, up from the previous age of 70½. Keep in mind that if you’re still working at age 72, you’re not required to take RMDs from your current employer’s 401(k) plan until you stop working (unless you own at least 5% of the company).

One other note: If you work for yourself, whether as a self-employed business owner, freelancer or contractor, you can significantly increase the size of your savings stash. In 2021, you can contribute up to $58,000 to a solo 401(k), or $64,500 if you’re 50 or older. The actual amount you can contribute will be determined by your self-employment income.

chart that shows payoff from putting off retirement for a few yearschart that shows payoff from putting off retirement for a few years

Source: kiplinger.com

What is a Home Equity Line of Credit?

As housing prices continue to rise homeowners are looking into how they can leverage their home’s equity to receive low-interest financing. A home equity line of credit, or HELOC, is a great way to gain access to a line of credit based on a percentage of your home’s value, less the amount you still own on your mortgage.

The downsides are that if get yourself into a situation where you cannot repay your HELOC, the lender may force you to sell your home in order to settle the debt.

How a HELOC Works

Let’s say your home has an appraisal value of $400,000 and you have a remaining balance of $200,000 on your home’s mortgage. A lender typically allows access of up to 85% of your home’s total equity.

(Value X Lender Access) – Amount Owed = Line of Credit
$400,000 X 0.85 = $340,000
$340,000 – $200,000 = $140,000

Unlike home equity loans, your home equity line of credit will have a variable rate, meaning that your interest rate can go up and down overtime. Your lender will determine your rate by taking the index rate and adding a markup, depending on the health of your credit profile – Not sure how your credit profile stacks up? Need help improving your credit? Contact Credit Absolute for a consultation. 

Home Equity Line of CreditHome Equity Line of Credit

When a HELOC Makes Sense

Your home equity line of credit is best used for wealth building uses such as home upgrades and repairs, but may also be used for things like debt consolidation, or the cost of sending your kid off to college. While it may be tempting to use your HELOC for all sorts of things, such as a new car, a vacation, or other splurges, these don’t do anything to help improve your home’s value. To ensure that you will be able to pay back your loan, it’s important to focus on wealth-building attributes where you can.

Home Equity Line of Credit vs. Home Equity Loan

If you’re exploring various lending options, you’ve probably come across two different home lending terms, home equity line of credit and home equity loan.

While home equity loans give you all the flexibility and benefits of tapping into the value of your home when you need it, a home equity loan offers a lump-sum payment.

Depending on your situation, a lump-sum withdrawal may be better suited for your needs. Understanding the differences is the first step in making a loan decision that is best for you.

Home Equity Loan (HEL) – A home equity loan lets you borrow a fixed amount in one lump sum, secured by the equity of your home. The loan amount you will qualify for will depend on your Loan to Value ratio, credit history, verifiable income, and payment term. These types of loans have a fixed interest rate, which is often 100% deductible on your taxes.

Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) – A home equity line of credit is not so much a loan, but a revolving credit line permitting you to borrow money as you need it with your home as collateral. Applicants are typically approved based on a percentage of their home’s appraised value and then subtracting the balance owed on your existing mortgage. Things like credit history, debts, and income are also considered. Plans may or may not have regulations on minimum withdrawals and balances, as well as a variable interest rate.

Before tapping into your home’s equity, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of each type of loan for your situation. Because your home equity line of credit and loan involves your most important asset – your home – the decision should be considered carefully. Is a second mortgage better than a credit card or a secured loan? If you’re not 100% sure, talk to a finance specialist before putting your home at risk.

Source: creditabsolute.com

Medicare Will Not Cover These 6 Medical Costs

Doctor examining a senior patient's ear
didesign021 / Shutterstock.com

Turning 65 brings access to senior discounts galore, but there is no benefit of senior citizenship quite like Medicare.

The federal program extends subsidized health insurance primarily to folks age 65 and older. But, while Medicare coverage comes with numerous freebies, it is hardly free.

Medicare beneficiaries pay into the system via taxes withheld from their pay during their working years. Additionally, Medicare coverage is not all-inclusive: Beneficiaries must cover all or part of certain medical expenses.

If you are already on Medicare, you already know that — perhaps painfully well. But the costs associated with coverage can come as a surprise to folks who have yet to sign up for Medicare.

So, here’s a look at some of the most expensive, most common and most surprising health care costs that Medicare does not cover.

First, though, note that your out-of-pocket costs under Medicare will vary depending on your coverage type. When enrolling in Medicare, you’ll choose between two main types of Medicare:

  • Original Medicare (aka traditional Medicare), which is offered directly by the federal government’s Medicare program
  • Medicare Advantage plans (aka Medicare Part C plans), which are offered by private insurers that are approved by the Medicare program

Medicare Advantage plans must cover all the same services that Original Medicare covers. Some Medicare Advantage plans cover other expenses, too. So, as you read on, remember that some of the following costs may not apply with certain Medicare Advantage plans.

1. Care you receive outside the U.S.

Tourists on a street in Europe.
goodluz / Shutterstock.com

For many, retirement is a perfect time to see the world. Just be sure you first understand what your insurance will and won’t cover when you travel.

With a few limited exceptions, Original Medicare does not pay for health care that you receive while traveling outside of the United States or its territories. Medicare prescription drug plans — which are supplemental plans that people with Original Medicare can opt to buy — don’t cover prescriptions you buy outside of the U.S., either.

How to lower your costs: If you have Original Medicare, you have the option to buy a supplemental Medicare health insurance plan, also known as a Medigap plan, from a private insurer. Depending on the specific plan, it might cover any care you receive while traveling.

Another option is to buy travel insurance that includes coverage for health care.

2. Premiums

A senior lifts his eyeglasses in surprise at a bill while working at his kitchen table with a laptop computer
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You might be surprised to learn that even federally subsidized health insurance can have premiums, but that is the case with Medicare.

For 2021, the monthly premium for Part B — the component of Medicare plans that primarily covers services you receive outside of a hospital — is $148.50 or more, depending on your income. Usually, this premium is deducted from your Social Security benefits check.

Seniors with Medicare Advantage usually pay a premium for their plan in addition to the Part B premium.

One bit of good news: A vast majority of seniors do not pay a premium for Medicare Part A, which covers inpatient hospital services.

How to lower your costs: The Part B premiums are fixed. There’s nothing you can do about them.

Again, if you have Original Medicare, you could buy a supplemental Medigap policy, which would pay for some expenses that Original Medicare does not cover.

The Part B premium generally isn’t among the costs that Medigap plans cover, though. So, if you bought a Medigap plan, you will still have to pay the Part B premium — plus the Medigap plan premium.

Still, a Medigap plan is worth the extra cost in some cases — especially if you were to face big medical bills. To learn more, see “How to Pick the Best Medicare Supplement Plan in 4 Steps.”

3. Long-term care

Nursing Home
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Long-term care refers to medical and nonmedical services for people who are unable to perform basic daily tasks like dressing or bathing on their own. You may receive long-term care in your home, in the community or at an assisted living facility or nursing home.

Like most health insurance plans, Medicare generally does not cover long-term care costs, which are notoriously high.

The national median cost of long-term care ranges from $1,603 per month for adult day health care to $8,821 per month for a private room at a nursing home, as we report in “11 Huge Retirement Costs That Are Often Overlooked.”

How to lower your costs: Start by considering long-term care insurance. For help determining whether it would be a smart buy for you, check out Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson’s advice in “Should I Buy Long-Term Care Insurance?”

4. Dental care

Dental patient
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Some Medicare Advantage plans may cover some dental services. It depends on the specifics of the plan.

Original Medicare does not cover most dental care, procedures or supplies — including:

  • Cleanings
  • Fillings
  • Tooth extractions
  • Dentures
  • Dental plates
  • Other dental devices

There are some exceptions. For example, Original Medicare covers certain dental services that you get while in a hospital. But aside from exceptions, seniors on Original Medicare plans are stuck paying for 100% of their dental expenses.

How to lower your costs: Check out “5 Ways to Slash Dental Care Costs.”

5. Hearing aids

Otolaryngologist putting hearing aid in woman's ear
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Some Medicare Advantage plans may pay for hearing aids, but Original Medicare doesn’t cover them. So, if you have Original Medicare, you are responsible for 100% of the cost of hearing aids themselves and exams to fit hearing aids.

Original Medicare generally does cover 80% of the Medicare-approved cost of diagnostic hearing exams — meaning those that a health care provider orders to determine whether you need medical treatment. The patient or the patient’s Medigap plan pays the other 20%, though a deductible applies.

How to lower your costs: Check out “How to Save Hundreds of Dollars on Hearing Aids.”

6. Routine vision care

Older woman in eyeglasses
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Some Medicare Advantage plans cover some vision-related expenses, but Original Medicare typically does not cover eyeglasses or contact lenses or exams for eyeglasses or contacts. So, 100% of those costs is on you.

Original Medicare does cover eye exams for patients with diabetes. It also covers tests for glaucoma and macular degeneration. It even covers artificial eyes that your doctor orders. So, a senior on Original Medicare is responsible for only 20% of such expenses, after a deductible.

How to lower your costs: Check out “Lookin’ Good! How to Get a Killer Deal on Eyeglasses.”

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Source: moneytalksnews.com