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Can I Hold Bitcoins and other Cryptocurrencies in an IRA?

It is becoming increasingly popular today to have an IRA just for bitcoin. If you create a Self-Directed IRA, you can hold almost anything you want within it, if you can find a custodian and trustee willing to facilitate it. This isn’t overly difficult to do since many new companies are jumping at the opportunity to facilitate bitcoin and cryptocurrency IRAs. Examples of assets that can be held within a self-directed IRA include real estate, cryptocurrencies, precious metals, intellectual property, private businesses, hedge funds, private equity, tax lien certificates, livestock, and more. Continue reading...

Do I Have to Pay Taxes on My Bitcoins?

The IRS currently requires that bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies be reported as personal property and capital assets. The IRS has published guidance that, yes, you do have to report gains/losses/income in the form of bitcoin and other “convertible virtual currencies.” Generally, the IRS treats bitcoin as property, instructing taxpayers to follow the existing IRS guidelines for personal property taxation. You can claim them as a capital asset, allowing you to treat them as stocks, essentially, with the ability to only pay long-term capital gains taxes on them if you hold them for a while. You can get paid in bitcoin by your employer, but employers must still withhold the usual amount of taxes, and you must report your bitcoin income the same way you would your regular income. 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...

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...

What is a Distributed Ledger?

A distributed ledger is a records system in which the same information is held redundantly across many nodes in a network, and is essential to blockchain technology. Centralized databases used to be the primary way that important records of transaction histories and so forth were held.  Databases validate the identity of those requesting access to the records by asking for and retaining personally identifying information. If that office building were to lose power, was hacked, or was destroyed, it is possible for all of the information to be lost or given over to hands of bad actors. Even with cloud storage backups, the security and financial risk to any one of these storage depositories remain a problem. 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 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...

What is Ether?

Ether is the currency that powers the Ethereum network, which is a platform of distributed blockchain computing on which transactions, smart contracts, and distributed applications operate. Ethereum is a blockchain code environment through which distributed applications, smart contracts, and financial transactions using the Ethereum protocol are tested, validated, and added to distributed ledgers by the mining computers acting as nodes in the network. Ether is the currency, or token, in the Ethereum world which is used to pay the miners and transaction fees which are specific to its blockchain. Continue reading...

How do Bitcoin Transactions Work?

Two words: blockchain technology. Transactions in bitcoin are encoded, packed into a block of other transactions, and all of these are sent out to thousands of computers running blockchain computations, known as hashes. All of these computers are running similar algorithms designed to force honest work and to take time for the computers to complete. The purpose of this step is merely forcing the blockchain to require time, energy, and effort, and to be randomized and decentralized when it is validating transactions. Whichever computer solves it first receives an incentive reward, and the entire blockchain, comprised of all computers running bitcoin client software, then updates the ledger to include the most recent validated transactions. 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...

What is Ethereum?

Ethereum is an open-source, public, blockchain-based distributed computing platform. Ethereum provides a cryptocurrency known as ether. Ethereum is a decentralized platform that runs what are known as “smart contracts.” Smart contracts are applications that run on custom built blockchain, which functions on its own accord through rules programmed into the protocol, and which also makes decisions and keeps records based on consensus throughout a peer-to-peer network. A blockchain oversees its own activities without requiring any trust in a central authority or the other parties involved. 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 is Bitcoin?

Bitcoin is a digital currency that is secured and maintained by a peer-to-peer network of millions of users online, making it a decentralized, fast, secure, cheap, and efficient as a digital currency. Bitcoin is a digital currency that can be acquired via traditional currency, trades, or work, and can be used for transactions in an ever-expanding network of users and merchants. It is legitimized and maintained by a peer-to-peer network of millions of users online, making it a decentralized, fast, secure, cheap, and efficient digital currency that exists independent of any centralized gatekeepers such as governments, regulated markets, or corporations. Continue reading...

How Can I Buy Bitcoin?

The most common way to buy Bitcoin is through online services such as Coinbase, Bitpanda, Bitquick, Localbitcoins, and Spectrocoin, where customers can use credit cards, bank accounts, and various other payment methods to convert cash into coin. Transfers are based on frequently updated rates of exchange and may involve a combination of flat fees and percentages that go to the service. There are also some physical locations where you can perform these transactions, such as Bitcoin ATM machines and convenience stores that can help you transfer money through the same machines that add funds to prepaid phones. Each of these methods offers different advantages in terms of convenience, anonymity, and security. Continue reading...

Who is Satoshi Nakamoto?

The pseudonymous inventor(s) of bitcoin and blockchain technology, Satoshi Nakamoto, likely walks among us today. Satoshi Nakamoto was the pen-name of the author(s) who anonymously gave the world the design and code for bitcoin and blockchain technology. Penning a white-paper entitled “Bitcoin: a Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System,” the author(s) described the need for a decentralized digital currency and proposed blockchain technology as the way to validate digital transactions with a distributed ledger. Continue reading...

What Can You Buy with Bitcoin?

With every day that passes, bitcoin is becoming a more usable and accepted form of payment for a variety of goods and services, even those in the mainstream economy. To be sure, it’s arguably a long way off from being able to use bitcoin for small purchases at your local coffee shop or for big purchases like buying a house, but it is not unfathomable. The financial company Visa (ticker: V) has been working with bitcoin wallet services and various cryptocurrency exchanges to make cryptocurrency debit cards easy to acquire and use. These cards are known by names such as the Shift Card, Bitwala, BitPay, and others, partially depending on the region of the world in which they can be used. These cards allow users to transfer funds from Bitcoin wallets and immediately convert them into spendable fiat currency wherever Visa debit cards are accepted. Customers can also withdraw national currencies from Visa debit ATM machines based on bitcoin and cryptocurrency exchange rates, which often fluctuate wildly. Continue reading...

What is Form 1099-R?

IRS Link to Form — Found Here Sources of retirement plan income, such as pensions, annuities, and IRAs, will be associated with a 1099-R filing. The form is filed by the company making the distribution. The taxpayer uses the information on it for when filing income taxes. The IRS receives Form 1099-R from the companies making distributions from retirement plans. They have categorized all annuity contracts as retirement plans by default, so those are included, as are pensions, profit sharing plans, other forms of employer-sponsored retirement plans, cash-value life insurance distributions, and individual retirement accounts (IRAs). The company making the distribution sends the 1099-R to the IRS and the account owner. Continue reading...

Who Can Put Money into an IRA?

There are some income limits and contribution limits on who can contribute to an IRA. Generally speaking, as long as you or your spouse is earning taxable income, you can contribute money to an IRA, be it a Roth or a Traditional IRA. There are limits at which you cannot contribute to a Roth IRA (in 2016, the limit is $132,000 for a single filer and $194,000 for a married couple). There are also income limits at which you are no longer able to deduct contributions to a Traditional IRA, but these are only applicable if you or your spouse has a qualified retirement plan at work. Continue reading...

What is the Difference Between Public and Permissioned Blockchains?

Blockchain technology does not always have to be implemented in a public peer-to-peer system. Blockchains rely on a network of computers, representing nodes, that collaborate and distribute the information required for the blockchain to function. The nodes in some blockchains can be established by any computer willing to run the client software for the network. Bitcoin and most cryptocurrencies are intended to function this way: as a public, open-source, permission-less, and trust less network. The nodes are used indiscriminately by the rest of the network as long as the node is performing the functions required of nodes, and this is called a proof-of-work system.  When Satoshi Nakamoto coded the first blockchain, his intention was to keep the network functioning with only one tier: “one CPU, one vote.”  That vision has encountered obstacles in the form of ASIC mining and other unforeseen circumstances that have empowered some nodes and groups of users over others. Continue reading...

What is a Traditional IRA?

A Traditional IRA holds money tax-deferred until retirement. An Individual Retirement Account (IRA) is an account which allows tax-deferred growth of assets. As its name implies, an IRA has to be opened in the name of the individual. A person can contribute to one, up to the annual limit, and deduct the entire amount from his or her taxes unless they are prevented from taking deductions due to participation in a workplace retirement plan and having income that exceeds certain limits. Continue reading...