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Retirement Accounts401(k) and 403(b) PlansIndividual Retirement Accounts (IRA)SEP and SIMPLE IRAsKeogh PlansMoney Purchase/Profit Sharing PlansSelf-Employed 401(k)s and 457sPension Plan RulesCash-Balance PlansThrift Savings Plans and 529 Plans and ESA
Personal FinancePersonal BankingPersonal DebtHome RelatedTax FormsSmall BusinessIncomeInvestmentsIRS Rules and PublicationsPersonal LifeMortgage
Corporate BasicsBasicsCorporate StructureCorporate FundamentalsCorporate DebtRisksEconomicsCorporate AccountingDividendsEarnings

What is a Dividend?

A dividend is an income-like payment to an investor who holds stock. Dividends tend to be paid by companies who are well established and are not retaining their earnings for capital projects. There are several kinds of dividends, but the most common is the cash dividend. You are not likely to see dividends paid by companies whose stocks are categorized as Growth stocks. Growing companies are going to be ploughing money back into their company for years. Well-established companies tend to distribute some of their profits as dividends because it allows them to retain loyal shareholders and keep the price of the stock fairly steady. Continue reading...

What is a Run Rate?

Run rate is a term that can be applied to a certain type of accounting and management estimation or to the depletion of equity options. The first kind is when a current metric (such as sales revenue for a quarter) is assumed to extend out to the end of the year or accounting period for estimation or valuation purposes. The second kind uses the average dilution from the past three years, generally, to show the effect that convertible securities are having on the share price of a company. Continue reading...

What is FICA?

FICA (Federal Insurance Contributions Act) taxes are handled by the Social Security Administration, as they are payroll withholdings that go toward Social Security and Medicare funds. Most people will have half of their FICA paid by their employer, but self-employed people must pay it all on their own, which is called the “Self-Employment Tax.” FICA is a tax on employees and employers that funds the Social Security and Medicare programs of the United States. Continue reading...

What Are the Contribution Limits For My Thrift Savings Plan?

Contribution limits for the TSP are the same as regular 401(k)s. Employees and employers using the TSP will have the same contribution limits as 401(k) plans. An employee can defer up to $18,000 a year in 2016, plus a $6,000 catch-up deferral if the employee is over 50 years old. The employer can contribute up to a maximum total balance of $53,000 (or $59,000 if the employee is over 59 ½), including employee deferrals. There is a standard 1% employer flat contribution, and some Federal employees will also receive a match. 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 the Contribution Limits for My SIMPLE IRA?

SIMPLEs allow higher employee deferrals than most retirement accounts. Employees are only able to make salary reduction contributions. As of 2016, they are able to defer up to $12,500 a year, but if an employee is over 50, they may defer an additional $3,000 as a “catch-up” contribution. However, an employee may choose not to contribute anything to their SIMPLE IRA. Employers, on the other hand, are required to make either a dollar-for-dollar matching contribution of 3%, or a non-elective contribution of 2% of the employee’s pay. The 3% match can be reduced to 1% in two out of five years if employees are notified before they make contributions. Continue reading...

What Are the Contribution Limits for My SEP IRA?

SEPs contain only employer contributions, and they must contribute the same percentage of every employee’s compensation. As of 2016, an employer may contribute the lesser of either 25% of an employee’s compensation or $53,000 annually. An important thing to note is that the employer decides whether to contribute to the employees’ SEP IRA each year; the employer is not required to make continuous yearly contributions. The equal treatment of all employees with respect to the retirement plans is a fundamental principle of all employer-sponsored retirement programs. Continue reading...

What is a SEP IRA?

A SEP is like a profit-sharing plan that uses some Traditional IRA rules. A SEP IRA is a benefit for employees that uses employer contributions to fund retirement investment accounts for each employee. Contributions are made on a pre-tax basis, the account grows tax-deferred, and the withdrawals are taxed as income. The employer contributions are immediately vested to the employees, who can exercise discretion with investment choices and allocations, among the investment options available in the plan. Continue reading...

How Can I Establish a Keogh Plan?

A Keogh plan will primarily need a plan document and a way to invest. A Keogh plan can be established by any self-employed individual of a sole proprietorship, partnership, and Limited Liability Company (LLC). A plan document must be put together by the sponsor, or the standard plan document from a prototype plan at a broker-dealer or trustee institution can be used. It is not necessary to submit the document to the IRS, but if you have any employees, it is required that you use this document and any other printed information necessary to fully explain and disclose their rights in regards to the plan. Continue reading...

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

All employees that meet minimum eligibility criteria must be included in a SEP IRA arrangement. If you decide to establish a SEP IRA, every eligible employee must be given a SEP IRA account to receive employer contributions. An employer is able to expand eligibility but cannot ignore the minimum eligibility rules. If an employee is over 21, has worked at the business in 3 of the last 5 years, and has earned over $600 in the most recent year. Continue reading...

How Can I Establish a SEP IRA?

SEP IRAs do not have to be established until taxes are filed for the year, and it can be done quickly. SEP IRAs require very little paperwork or trouble to establish. One form will notify the IRS that SEP contributions are being made for the year, and the amount. The only other documentation needed is a plan document, which establishes and outlines the eligibility rules for a particular plan, but this document only has to be kept on file at the business, and does not have to be submitted to the IRS or any regulatory authority. Continue reading...

What is the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP)?

In 2009 the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) commissioned the HARP program to help Americans upside-down on mortgages to get approved for mortgage refinancing. This is only available to people whose mortgages are already owned by Freddie Mae and Freddie Mac. Many Americans find themselves upside-down, or underwater, on their home mortgages, particularly after the housing bubble popped in 2008. To be underwater means that there is more owed on the loan than the home can serve as collateral for. Continue reading...

What is the Equity Multiplier?

The Equity Multiplier is a number used to compare companies, arrived at by dividing total assets by owner’s equity, and it gives an idea of what proportion of the company’s assets have been financed through equity vs debt. In general a low Equity Multiplier is a good sign because it means that a higher proportion of equity has been used to acquire assets, as opposed to funding assets with debt. However, the absence of significant debt could mean that the company lacked the credit rating to issue debt or take out loans. Continue reading...

What is a SIMPLE IRA?

SIMPLE IRAs are like safe-harbor 401(k)s for small businesses. A SIMPLE IRA is a type of retirement plan for small businesses. A business can only start a SIMPLE IRA if they have fewer than 100 employees who earned $5,000 or more in compensation for the year. As the name implies, a SIMPLE IRA provides an easier method for making contributions to both employees’ and the employers’ retirement accounts. Employees may choose to make salary reduction contributions to their SIMPLE IRA while employers are required to make either matching or non-elective contributions. Continue reading...

What is Corporate Equity?

Corporate equity is retained earnings plus common shares outstanding. On a corporate balance sheet, the retained earnings and the outstanding common stock capitalization combined would be considered the corporate equity, also called shareholder’s equity / owner’s equity. Of the total corporate equity, the portion representing common stock equity is only the capital raised through the issuance of shares in an IPO (initial public offering), where payment for those shares was paid to the company. Subsequent trading in those shares does not affect the common stock equity on the company books. Continue reading...

What is Shareholders Equity?

In the standard accounting equation, when all company liabilities are subtracted from company assets, the remainder is called shareholders equity. What this means is that in the event that the company were liquidated, all debts would be serviced first, including bonds issued by the company, and the remaining balance would be divided amongst shareholders. If a company has a respectable debt-to-equity ratio, it can improve the appeal of a company’s stock and lead to a higher market price for the shares. Continue reading...

What is Return on Equity?

Return on Equity refers to the return on shareholder’s equity, which is like looking at the compounding effects of profits. Shareholder’s equity, in the standard accounting equation, is the amount of assets and retained earnings in a company over and above the company’s liabilities. Return on Equity is a ratio which divides the net income of a company by the total shareholder’s equity in a company, which is effectively looking at the profitability of the profits of a company. Continue reading...

What is a Buyback?

When a company decides to use excess cash to purchase its own shares from the market, it is called a buyback or “share repurchase program.” There are only so many things a company can do with earnings in excess of their projections; among these are issuing a dividend, paying off debts, expanding, acquiring another company, or buying back shares of its own stock. Buybacks are also known as Stock Repurchase Agreements. There may be guidelines in state law or the company’s contracts or buy laws that determine what options they have and how many shares can be repurchased. Continue reading...

How is a 457 Plan Different From a 401(k)?

A 457 is only slightly different than a 401(k), but the differences can be important. Although the two plans are similar in practice, there are some very important differences. Former employees can withdraw from their accounts penalty-free after they have separated from service, even if they are under 59 ½. 457 plans must also be offered to independent contractors, which 401(k)s do not. 457 plans are offered to state and local public workers and employees of certain nonprofits.Top-hat 457 plans can also be offered to highly compensated employees without being offered to other employees, at both non-profit and for-profit businesses. Continue reading...

What is a Home Debtor?

In contrast to the term “home owner,” home debtor is reserved for those who will seemingly never be able to pay off the mortgage(s) on their home, or who have already defaulted. Most Americans live in homes that they pay on, but are still primarily owned by the bank that loaned them money. Banks have insurance to protect them against mortgage defaults. Home mortgage loans are the primary way that Americans by homes today. Continue reading...