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What is Publication 515, Withholding of Tax on Nonresident Aliens and Foreign Entities?

IRS Link to Publication — Found Here Publication 515 serves as a guide for employers with regards to the tax withholding requirements for nonresident alien employees. It also addresses income being paid to foreign corporations and partnerships, foreign trusts and estates, and foreign governments and international organizations. Income paid by companies to employees who are not US residents will have to follow regulations including withholding and filing requirements outlines in this Publication and the referenced forms. Continue reading...

What is IRS Publication 54, Tax Guide for US Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad?

IRS Link to Publication — Found Here Publication 54 is a guide for those earning income in a foreign country. There are several tax deductions which might be available and several forms and filing practices that one will need to be familiar with when taking employment elsewhere. US Citizens and long term resident green card holders will need to let the IRS know how much they are making even if they are employed in a foreign country. 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 a Home Lien?

A lien is a legal filing through which a third party lays claim to certain assets, such as a person’s home, until an amount owed to them is paid. There are mechanic’s liens, judgment liens, and tax liens, any of which could be applied to a person’s home. A lien is a document serving as notice that a significant amount of money is owed to a third party and that certain assets of the debtor may be used to cover the obligation, becoming the property of the lien-holder if the debt is not paid in time. Continue reading...

What is the “Period Income” Option on Annuities?

The Period Income option or Guaranteed Period option on Annuities means that the entire balance, plus some interest, will be paid out to you in equal amounts over the course of a set number of years. This option may fulfill a specific need for income in a certain time of life. It used to be slightly more attractive to investors when interest rates were higher, but, today, the low interest rate environment does not give insurers enough time to generate interest for these sorts of payouts. Continue reading...

Can I Start Collecting My Social Security Benefits If I’m Still Working?

Yes, you can start receiving social security benefits before you actually stop working, and your benefit amount will not be affected if you have attained normal retirement age, or NRA, which is determined based on the year of your birth. NRA is 67 for most people today. If you start to take benefits while working and before the normal retirement age, your benefit will be reduced. But there are a few caveats to consider if you start to receive the benefits before your normal retirement age. Continue reading...

How Does My Retirement Age Impact My Social Security Benefits?

Social Security benefits are calculated using the Normal Retirement Age (NRA), which is 67 for people born after 1960. If you take benefits early, your payment will be reduced by as much as 30% if taken at age 62. After NRA, your benefit will be increased by 8% for every year you defer benefits. You cannot defer taking Social Security past age 70. As a rule of thumb, the closer to age 70 you retire, the higher your Social Security benefits will be. Of course, there are some specific guidelines. Everyone has an NRA (Normal Retirement Age), which determines the age at which you can receive your full Social Security benefits. Continue reading...

If I Want to Establish a SIMPLE IRA, Do I Have to Establish One for All Employees of My Business?

In general, the answer is “Yes,” but there are a few exceptions. If you decide to establish a SIMPLE IRA, every eligible employee must be offered a SIMPLE IRA account. An employee is eligible if they have earned $5,000 in compensation during any two previous years, and are expected to earn $5,000 the current year. If an employee is unwilling to participate, the employer must open up a SIMPLE IRA on behalf of the employee. Continue reading...

What Should I Know About Roth IRAs?

Roth IRAs are a very popular and useful accumulation vehicle, and there are some things you should be aware of. Along with Traditional IRAs, Roth IRAs are very important retirement tools and should be taken into careful consideration while deciding upon the account that is right for you. The first thing you’ll want to know is whether you can contribute, based on income limitations, so check the current IRS website to find out. Continue reading...

How are Social Security Benefits Computed?

Social Security retirement benefits are computed by finding the average monthly income of a worker during the highest-earning 35 years of employment, and then it plugs that amount into a formula for to determine their full benefit at Normal Retirement Age (NRA). A person may then choose to take benefits before or after NRA, with applicable reductions or additions. There are different equations for spousal benefits, survivor’s benefits, and maximum family benefits. Continue reading...

How Much Does (and Will) Social Security Pay?

Social Security uses a formula that applies a factor to your average monthly income from the 35 years in which you earned the most. The benefit will be calculated for your Normal Retirement Age (67 for most people today), and you should receive statements in the mail keeping you updated on your projected or actual Social Security Retirement Benefits. Every year, you should get a statement from the Social Security Administration that provides you with exact numbers. The amount depends on the age at which you retire, and the contributions you made to Social Security over the years. The formula uses the 35 years in which you earned the most, and divides it by the total number of months in 35 years, which is 420, which leads to your Average Indexed Monthly Earnings (AIME). Continue reading...

Can I Rollover My 401(k) into an IRA?

Yes, in fact this is what most people do. This is a very popular choice. Because Traditional IRAs receive the same kind of tax treatment as 401(k)s, with pretax contributions, tax-deferred growth, and taxable withdrawals, the IRS allows you to move funds over without creating a taxable event. Of course, you need to have an IRA account to do so, but it can be as easy as opening an account online and telling the custodian company the account information for your old 401(k). 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...

How is a Roth 401(k) Different From a Regular 401(k)?

The main difference is that Roth contributions go in after tax and are not taxed on withdrawal. People sometimes don’t realize that Roth 401(k)s only exist as extensions of Traditional 401(k) plans. Some plans have been designed to also permit after-tax contributions, which become that employee’s Roth 401(k) account. This Roth side account has all of the same investment options as the rest of the plan on the traditional side. In fact, an employee can contribute to both the traditional 401(k) and Roth 401(k) with each payroll cycle. Continue reading...

What’s So Special about an IRA?

When compared to other methods of investing, there are benefits to using an IRA. An IRA provides tax deferred growth of your assets, and the result of such growth, over the years, can be quite remarkable in comparison with a regular savings account. Using an advanced calculator online – or asking an advisor or a CPA to run some calculations for you – can be an eye-opening experience. For most investors, mutual funds will be their best option for cost-efficient diversification. Holding mutual funds outside of an IRA or 401(k) means that the investor will have some taxes, whether long term gains or short term gains, passed on to him or her from the mutual fund company every year that the fund experiences gains. Continue reading...

Where do I Get Started in Saving for Retirement?

Your employer is usually the best place to start, but you can also open your own retirement account (an IRA or Roth IRA, for instance) at your bank or a major custodian (like Charles Schwab or Fidelity). In some cases, there are income limits for contributing to a retirement account, which a financial advisor can discuss with you. A smart idea is to set up an automatic contribution to your retirement account, such as 10% of your monthly income. That way you’re automatically saving, and saving regularly. Continue reading...

When are My IRA Withdrawals Penalty Free?

The surest way to make tax-free withdrawals is to wait until you are older than 59½, but there are a few other ways. If you are 59½ or older, you can make penalty-free withdrawals. Of course, you will need to pay income taxes on the amount you withdraw from your Traditional IRA. There is a 10% penalty assessed by the IRS on early withdrawals (withdrawals made before age 59½) and these are generally not a good idea. Continue reading...

Can I Leave My 401(k) With My Former Employer?

Generally a plan will allow you to leave your assets in there indefinitely, but this is probably not ideal for you. Most custodians will be happy to hold onto your account dollars as long as you’re willing to leave them there. They don’t have to spend any time servicing your account since you can’t make contributions and probably aren’t even able to reallocate your assets, and they will continue to make money on your account with the built-in fees. You may be charged inactive account fees or small account fees as well. Continue reading...

What are Required Minimum Distributions?

RMDs are withdrawals that are mandatory for an individual to take from an IRA or 401(k) after the person has reached 70 ½. The government created laws that help and encourage people to save for their retirement by deferring taxes on the growth on certain qualified retirement investment accounts. On Traditional IRAs and 401(k) accounts, they are only waiting to get the tax revenue from distributions/withdrawals that are fully taxable as income. Continue reading...

What are the Withdrawal Rules for My Keogh Plan?

Withdrawal rules for Keoghs will be essentially the same as rules for IRAs and 401(k)s. Once you are age 59½, you may begin to make penalty-free withdrawals and only pay income taxes on the amount you withdraw, similar to a traditional IRA. If you decide to withdraw money before age 59½, you may have to pay a 10% penalty fee in addition to income taxes on the amount of your withdrawal. Of course, there are exceptions. One exception for most qualified plans is for employees who separate from service at or after age 55: this is the early retirement exception, and the 10% penalty will not apply. Keoghs will technically use the early withdrawal rules for 401(k)s and not IRAs, which differ slightly. Continue reading...

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