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News and Information

The following is intended as general information and does not represent legal or tax advice. The information presented is the view of the author and not necessarily the view of Keystone Human Services. Individual circumstances vary - please consult your legal and tax advisors about your specific situation.

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January, 2018

Do all the good you can, By all the means you can, In all the ways you can, In all the places you can, At all the times you can, To all the people you can, As long as ever you can.

John Wesley

Five tough topics to bring up with aging family members
On paper, it makes perfect sense. Sit down with your loved one and discuss the growing concerns about changed behaviors and how to better ensure a safe future. The reality, however, is that raising questions can appear more threatening than helpful. Before broaching the subjects of health, welfare, and future, have a game plan. Make sure the entire family and extended friends are unified in your concerns. Denial from another family member or friend can create greater frustrations (and confusion) for those with cognitive impairment as they tend to minimalize the issues, often times creating more secrecy or feelings of shame. Read more.

Five ways the tax bill will affect your retirement
The $1.2 trillion tax overhaul that was signed into law by President Trump will affect your retirement in a number of ways. The tax plan no longer includes lowering contribution limits on retirement accounts or nixing traditional individual retirement accounts in lieu of Roth individual retirement accounts (which would have shifted when retirement savers pay taxes on their savings), but it does address individual retirement accounts and increases the standard deduction (by almost double), which could affect the way people itemize their charitable donations. These changes would be for next year’s taxes, to be filed in 2019 — 2017 tax returns are due on April 17. Read more.

7 Online security steps to take this holiday season
Online crooks seek to turn stolen data into quick cash, either by draining financial accounts, charging credit cards, creating new credit accounts or even using stolen identities to file a fraudulent tax return for a refund.The following seven steps can help you improve your online safety this holiday shopping season, as well as protect the tax returns you'll file and refunds you'll receive in 2018. Read more.

Five Things to Remember about Hobby Income and Expenses
From scrapbooking to glass blowing, many Americans enjoy hobbies that are also a source of income. A taxpayer must report income on their tax return even if it is made from a hobby.
However, the rules for how to report the income and expenses depend on whether the activity is a hobby or a business. There are special rules and limits for deductions taxpayers can claim for hobbies. Here are five things to consider:

What Happened to Mom?
Time and obligations have a way of interfering with the best laid plans of family members. Trips to visit an aging parent or relative become more and more infrequent.  Finally, a visit is possible, and the door to their home is opened by a very frail parent. “What happened to Mom?” is a question I hear quite frequently these days.
An elderly person may sound great on the phone while hiding health issues. Your loved ones don’t want you to worry about them. They might also be nervous that you will suggest they move into a retirement home. Or they may be unaware that they need help. Read more.

Splitting retirement accounts is tricky for DIY divorce
If you are trying to have a low-cost, do-it-yourself divorce, it may seem reasonable to just split up the retirement assets and each go your separate ways.
While many couples dissolve their marriages without significant legal involvement, divvying up retirement accounts, particularly pensions, is thorny. Doing it without a proper legal agreement could stick you with a hefty tax bill and penalties. In some cases, one party may end up with nothing.
How much could a retirement mistake cost you? Read more.

Treasury To Withdraw Hated Estate Tax Valuation Rules
In its final report on burdensome tax regulations, the Treasury Department has called for the withdrawal of Obama-era valuation rules that family business owners said would wreak havoc on their legacy plans. The proposed rules, issued in August 2016, “Restrictions on Liquidation of an Interest for Estate, Gift and Generation-Skipping Transfer Taxes” under Section 2704, would have curbed valuation discounts and meant increased estate taxes on the deaths of owners of family businesses. The Treasury has now concluded that “the proposed regulations’ approach to the problem of artificial valuation discounts is unworkable.” The report says that Treasury plans to publish a withdrawal of the proposed regulations in the Federal Register shortly. Read more.

The Coming Family Caregiver Crunch: 8 Tips To Survive
Nine out of ten non-professional caregivers are contributing to and/or coordinating finances for their loved ones. That includes paying bills, monitoring bank accounts, handling insurance claims, filing taxes and even managing investments. On average, they’re spending $7,000 a year out of pocket. Then, there’s the aftermath of caregiving: months or years of dealing with the estate, outstanding bills and collecting insurance.
Do your parents have a financial caregiving plan? Hint: it’s you. It all adds up to a caregiving crunch: It all adds up to a caregiving crunch. Read more.

Working in Retirement: What You Need to Know
Planning on working during retirement? If so, you're not alone. Recent studies have consistently shown that a majority of retirees plan to work at least some period of time during their retirement years. Here are some points to consider.
Why work during retirement? What about my social security benefit? How will working affect my pension? Read more.

HSAs: Spend or Save It?
HSAs are available to workers who have high-deductible health insurance plans (HDHPs). The accounts can be used to meet deductible and other out-of-pocket health care costs. This year, plans can have a maximum out-of-pocket cost of $6,550 for individuals and $13,100 for families. Last year, 26 percent of employers helped offset those costs with contributions to the accounts averaging $868, according to Devenir, a consulting firm that works with HSA providers and employers. Workers also can make pretax contributions—this year, up to a combined total of $3,400 for individuals and $6,750 for workers with family insurance coverage.
HSA contributions are tax deductible, investment growth and interest are tax deferred, and withdrawals spent on qualified medical expenses also are tax free. The triple tax benefit increases buying power, especially when compared with the benefit of drawing down from a 401(k), which is subject to ordinary income tax on contributions and investment gains. Benway calculates that a worker earning $60,000 would need to save 25 percent less to meet medical expenses by splitting annual contributions to a 401(k) and HSA. Read more.

 

For more information or a confidential discussion of your charitable options, please email or call Ann Moffitt at 717 232-7509 ext. 133.

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