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How Does the Money in My 401(k) Get Invested?

Employers sponsoring 401(k) plans are required to give employees the information and ability to manage their own accounts, using the investment options provided to them by the plan administrator and custodian. Sometimes employers and 401(k) custodians will provide employees with simplified systems by which to determine what kinds of investments appeal to them, and how they would like to allocate their portfolio in pursuit of their retirement goals. Continue reading...

When Can I Take Money Out of My 403(b)?

403(b)s have essentially the same distribution rules as 401(k)s. The advice given for 401(k) accounts still applies here: taking money out of a retirement account before retirement is strongly discouraged. You may withdraw your money penalty-free at age 59½, and you must begin taking annual withdrawals that satisfy RMD requirements on April 1st of the year you turn 70½. If you withdraw money before age 59½, you will be subject to a 10% penalty in addition to regular income taxes. Continue reading...

How Do I Invest Money in My 403(b)?

Investing in a 403(b) is done by making contributions via payroll deductions and selecting investment options from among the available choices with your custodian. Payroll deductions on a pretax basis are routed into your 403(b) account with your consent. This can be done by telling the payroll department what percentage of your compensation you would like to send there, or by telling the plan custodian company, who tells your payroll department. Continue reading...

What is a C-Corporation?

C-corps are generally the larger, more established companies in the country – most publicly-traded companies are C-corps. C-Corporations are companies which, as opposed to S-Corporations, are subject to federal income tax entirely separately from their owners. In addition, the earnings (or losses) are distributed among the shareholders (usually as dividends) and will appear on their individual income tax reports. This is the double-taxation for which C-corps are infamous. Continue reading...

How Can I Establish a Self-Employed 401(k)?

Establishing an Individual 401(k) might only take you a matter of minutes. You can establish a Self-Employed 401(k) by going to an Individual 401(k) provider, or asking your Financial Advisor for help and/or recommendations. However, make sure that you are satisfied with the conditions your provider offers. There are dozens of choices available to you, all with different investment options and fee structures. There are plenty of good ones without annual plan fees, lost cost investment options, and a wide variety of investment choices. Continue reading...

How Does a 401(k) Work?

You may know that a 401(k) allows you to make payroll-deducted contributions to a retirement account before taxes are taken out, but how does it work? Employees can either become participants in a 401(k) by voluntary enrollment or by automatic enrollment with the ability to opt-out. Contributions go in before taxes are taken out, and this can reduce an individual’s taxable income or even income bracket for the year. Continue reading...

If I Want to Establish a Money Purchase/Profit Sharing Plan, Do I Have to Establish One for All Employees of My Business?

Eligible employees have to be included in money-purchase and profit-sharing arrangements. If an employer established a Money Purchase/Profit Sharing Plan, all eligible employees must have employer contributions deposited into an account for them. Normally an employee will agree to open an account to hold his or her employer contributions, but in some cases an employee will not want it. An employer must follow specific IRS instructions to open an account for such employees, to keep the plan compliant with ERISA and other regulations. Continue reading...

What are My SIMPLE IRA Investment Options?

SIMPLE IRAs will have various kinds of investment options, depending on the trustee company that holds the plan assets. SIMPLE IRA investments are determined by the financial institution at which your SIMPLE IRA is established. When opening a SIMPLE IRA, be sure to check what investment options the financial institution offers as well as the fee structure. Standard ERISA rules apply, meaning that all employees must be offered the same thing. SIMPLE IRAs can only be held at trustee companies whose business model is on the IRS’s list of approved SIMPLE Trustees. Continue reading...

What are the Forms of Ownership of a Corporation in the United States?

There are many different forms of ownership of a company in the United States. This subtopic describes some of them. Corporations can be privately held or publicly traded. There are also C-Corporations (C-corps), which are the typically large companies controlled by a board of directors, and S-Corporations (S-Corps), which are smaller and have some of the characteristics of LLCs. LLC is an abbreviation for Limited Liability Company, which is a pass-through entity for partnerships or sole proprietors which shields the private assets of the owners from the liabilities of the business. LLCs are almost entirely regulated by state law, and while they can issue stock, it depends on the state. Continue reading...

Who Administers a 401(k)?

A 401(k) plan Administrator will usually be an officer of the Employer sponsoring the plan. A 401(k) plan document will specify who is the Administrator of the plan, but it is generally an executive or officer of the company sponsoring the plan. 401(k)s can be sold in packages that are essentially the same from employer to employer. When the design is well-established, and there are systems in place to enroll employees and maintain the plan, such as an employee website, a company’s CFO or human resources department chair may wear the Administrator hat. Some plans require a special administrator, and this may be a requirement of the broker-dealer acting as Custodian, especially if the plan has been designed from an open architecture, and there are many moving parts. Continue reading...

What is Income Tax Payable?

Income Tax Payable is an account on a company’s ledger where they reserve amounts that will be used to pay the tax liability in the current quarter or year. This account tends to be separate from payroll taxes and sales taxes. This account will typically be empty at the end of the fiscal year. Corporations must pay income taxes based on their gross income, and the funds to pay them are held in the Income Tax Payable account on their company ledger. Continue reading...

What are the 403(b) Contribution Limits?

The contribution limits are increased over time with cost-of-living adjustments. 403(b) contribution limits are currently the same as 401(k) limits, and are adjusted for inflation at the same rate. As of 2016, if you are under age 50, you may contribute up to $18,000. If you’re over 50, you can also make a catch-up contribution of up to $6,000, for a total of $24,000 for the year. 403(b)s also allow an additional form a catch-up for employees who have been at the job for over 15 years and whose contributions in the past average out to less than $5,000 per year. These catch-ups are called Fifteen Year Cap Expansion Option or just service-based catch-ups. Continue reading...

What is a Corporation?

A corporation is a business entity which has filed articles of incorporation. Unlike a Sole Proprietorship or a Partnership, a corporation is a legal entity that is separate from its owners. They are often referred to as C-corporations or C-corps, to distinguish them from S-corps, which are named after the subchapter which describes them in the law (though technically speaking, S-corps are corporations, too). Continue reading...

What is a Matching Contribution?

Employers can contribute to an employee’s 401(k) on a matching basis. Some employers will make additional contributions to your 401(k) based on the amount of your own contributions. Matching can be done on a dollar-for-dollar basis, meaning that for every dollar you contribute to your account, they will add a dollar as well. It can also be done using a factor, such as ½, meaning they will contribute a dollar every time you contribute two. Continue reading...

What is Form 6781: Gains and Losses from Section 1256 Contracts and Straddles?

IRS Link to Form — Found Here Form 6781 is used to calculate and report gains and losses due from Section 1256 contracts, which covers futures on commodities and indexes, as well as their derivatives, and from straddles, which are options strategies defined under Section 1092. 6781 is used to report positions in futures and options at the end of the year even if no gains or losses were realized through trades. The value of the positions will be marked-to-market at the end of the year, and these will serve to compute the gains and losses for these purposes. Continue reading...

How is a 403(b) Different From a 401(k)?

403(b)s are essentially the same as 401(k)s but there are a few notable differences. A 403(b) is extremely similar to a 401(k); the main difference is the type of employer than can offer each. 403(b)s are offered by public educational institutions, non-profit hospitals, non-profit organizations, religious groups and some government organizations. Due to the negotiating powers of many of those institutions, and their non-profit status, the administrative fees are smaller and they are not subject to some of the administrative oversight imposed on 401(k)s. Most 403(b)s are not subject to ERISA, which means they don’t have to satisfy as many auditing and reporting requirements. Continue reading...

Should I Buy a Medigap Policy?

There are pros and cons to buying so-called Medigap coverage, and it can depend on how much medical care and services you anticipate needing. They cover all or nearly all of the out-of-pocket costs left over by Part A and Part B, but they don’t offer Part D coverage. Obviously, buying a Medigap policy will mean additional costs. If you have the means and you’re looking to extend your medical insurance to areas not covered by Medicare Part A and B (original Medicare), it might be a good option. Continue reading...

What is IRS Publication 513, Tax Information for Visitors to the United States?

IRS Link to Reporting Guidelines — Found Here Despite how it sounds, this publication is not meant for tourists to the US, but rather for non-US-citizen workers who might be considered either resident aliens or nonresident aliens, or dual-status if they can be considered both within the same year. Non resident aliens do not have to file a return if they did not earn more than the standard annual deduction amount. This guide is relatively short by IRS Publication standards, at only about 20 pages. Continue reading...

What is Form 8282: Donee Information Return?

IRS Link to Form — Found Here Non-cash contributions to a charity which are valued at over $5,000 must be reported on a Form 8282 by the organization receiving the donation. The organization does not have to include publicly traded securities on this form, or items used in the course of the organization’s mission, such as medical supplies. Non-profit organizations must report non-cash contributions that they receive from donors if the value of the item is over $5,000. These items will also need to be reported by the donor or form 8283, Section B. Continue reading...

What are Sector ETFs?

Sector ETFs hold a portfolio of stocks and other securities that represent a specific sector of the market. Sector ETFS are managed portfolios of securities which are representative of a specific industry or market sector. They might passively track a sector index or be actively seeking alpha over the sector benchmark. The word “sector” is a broad term for a grouping of companies in the market, but the word “industry” is sometimes used interchangeably. There are 10 sectors in the S&P 500: healthcare, financials, energy, consumer staples, consumer discretionary, utilities, materials, industrials, information technology, and telecommunications (telecom) services. Continue reading...