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What is a Variable Annuity?

Variable annuities generally provide investors with downside protection for a fee (the insurance guarantee), while also providing market exposure that may give the investor upside potential. A variable annuity is characterized by offering market exposure, and the risk and upside potential that comes with it, in the form of “separate accounts” which are institutional-level mirrors of retail mutual funds. Typically a variable annuity will not deplete the amount of your initial investment with sales charges, and may even credit your annuity with an initial bonus amount of several percent. 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...

What is an Accountant’s Opinion?

What is an Accountant’s Opinion?

An Accountant’s Opinion, also called an Auditor’s Opinion, is a formal document signed by a certified accountant after a review of a company’s books. Companies may be required to have an audit from an independent and unbiased third-party accountant, perhaps annually before a report to shareholders or the submission of financial documents to regulatory bodies or lending institutions. At the conclusion of a review or audit, the auditor issues an Accountant’s Opinion (or Auditor’s Opinion) letter. The two outcomes that are most common: Qualified or Unqualified. Continue reading...

What is the minimum investment in a typical hedge fund?

What is the minimum investment in a typical hedge fund?

Hedge funds can require initial investments that are quite large. This may be somewhere between $250,000 to $10,000,000. They will generally only accept Accredited Investors, meaning high net worth individuals that pass SEC standards which exempt the fund from some reporting and disclosure requirements. While the minimum investment varies, most Hedge Funds will accept only so-called accredited investors. Continue reading...

What is Form 1099-Q?

IRS Link to Form — Found Here Distributions from qualified educational accounts such as 529s will be reported on a 1099-Q. This will be submitted by the institution serving as the custodian of the account. Qualified tuition programs (QTPs) might include Coverdell Educational Savings Accounts (ESAs) or 529 plans, and distributions from these plans are not taxable when used for qualified educational expenses, such as college tuition. Continue reading...

How can I invest in hedge funds?

How can I invest in hedge funds?

Fund managers are allowed to accept up to 35 non-accredited investors, but for the most part you will either need to satisfy the “accredited investor” requirement of the SEC to invest directly in a hedge fund. Otherwise, there are now hedge fund indexes and ETFs that track and mimic hedge fund strategies that are accessible to everyone. You should know now that the minimum initial investment requirement to participate in a hedge fund can be quite large, such as upwards of $1 million. Continue reading...

What is a Non-Current Asset?

A non-current asset is an asset on the balance sheet that is not expected to convert into unrestricted cash within a year’s time. Non-current assets may include such things as intellectual property and production/operations equipment - meaning they likely do not have a need to convert to cash. From a balance sheet standpoint, non-current assets are capitalized rather than expensed - meaning the company can allocate the asset’s cost of the asset over the number of years for which the asset will be used, instead of allocating it all in the year it was purchased. Continue reading...

Can I Take a Loan From my Cash-Balance Plan?

The IRS permits such loans, but it is rare to find a plan that allows it. In the vast majority of cases, you cannot. Though the IRS permits it, the administrative burden of a defined benefit plan is already significant for an employer, and it is much more likely that they will not make a provision for loans in the plan document. As far as the IRS is concerned, generally speaking, these plans have the same rules as other qualified plans. If a small partnership or LLC with a cash balance plan wants to put loan provisions into their plan document, they can do it. Continue reading...

What are My Self-Employed 401(k) Investment Options?

As with other retirement plans, this will mostly depend on the options available to you through your custodian. Solo 401(k)s will have an array of asset exposure available to you, but it may come only in the form of mutual funds. This is not unlike many larger 401(k)s. The way these plans are bundled as simple and straightforward products, without so many bells and whistles that they will attract the attention of the IRS, may cause them to be slightly more plain vanilla than the options available in some 401(k)s. Continue reading...

What Part of the Contribution into My IRA is Tax-Deductible?

Traditional IRAs can get interesting if you or a spouse is covered by a qualified plan at work. You are able to deduct all of your contributions into a Traditional IRA as long as you (or your spouse) are not a participant in an employer-sponsored retirement program. If either of you are, there are certain regulations you should be aware of. The amount of your contribution that can be tax-deductible is determined by your (and your spouse’s) modified adjustable gross income (MAGI). Continue reading...

What is the 'Non-Current Assets to Net Worth' Ratio?

The non-current assets to net worth ratio will give the analyst an idea of how much of a company’s value is tied-up in non-current assets. As a quick refresher, ‘non-current assets’ are those that most likely will not convert to cash within a year’s time, also known as a long-term asset. Where a company’s non-current asset to net worth ratio lies depends on the industry, but generally speaking a company wants to avoid having that ratio rise above 1 to 1.5. That means the company is highly illiquid, and could be vulnerable in the event of an economic shock. Continue reading...

What are the Tax Implications for Taking Money Out of a Roth IRA?

Distributions taken from a Roth during retirement are not subject any income taxes. Interestingly, the “cost basis” or contributions made to a Roth can be taken out at any time, including before age 59 ½, without tax or penalty. Contributions are recorded on IRS form 5498 and a copy is mailed to you, but you need to keep up with your contributions if you might want to tap into your Roth early. The earnings that accumulate must satisfy the 59 ½ requirement and the five year rule, or be used for first-time homebuyers expense, to avoid the 10% penalty and taxation. The five year rule says that the earnings in a Roth may be taxable if the Roth account is under 5 years old. Continue reading...

How Can I Establish a SIMPLE IRA?

A SIMPLE IRA must be established by an employer with fewer than 100 employees. An employer can establish a SIMPLE IRA if they have no more than 100 employees who earned $5,000 or more during the preceding calendar year. The employer cannot have any other type of qualified retirement plan going while a SIMPLE IRA is in effect. SIMPLEs should be established between Jan 1 and October 1 of the first year of the plan, unless the business started after that. Plans can be set up relatively quickly and can even use automatic enrollment if employees are given the ability to opt-out. Continue reading...

What is Accounts Payable for Accounting?

Accounts Payable is part of the Current Liabilities section of a company’s books. Accounts Payable are the short-term expenses and debts that a company must pay out in the near future. These might include utility bills and regular expenses, debt service, and bills to regular suppliers and vendors. The amounts that appear in the Payables, as they are also called, have not been paid out yet, but are scheduled to be paid within the current quarter, generally. Continue reading...

What is Accounts Receivable for Accounting?

Also simply called Receivables, the Accounts Receivable line on a General Ledger will contain the amounts owed to the company which are due to be received in the near future. If a company offers financing for the items it sells, or it has regular payments coming in for things such as rent, leases, monthly subscription or membership fees, and so on, they will have substantial numbers in their accounts receivable. Continue reading...

How Do Deductible and Non-Deductible IRAs Differ?

It is possible to make non-deductible contributions to an IRA, even if you have a qualified plan at work. Traditional IRAs are a good place to stash retirement money because of the tax treatment. Some people will choose to make contributions even when they are not deductible, which gives us two kinds of Traditional IRAs: deductible and non-deductible. Deductible IRAs provide a way to lower your taxes because you can deduct contributions to your IRA from your income. Nondeductible IRAs do not allow you to deduct your contributions, but they still retain their tax-deferred growth. Unlike a Roth, these after-tax contributions will be taxed upon withdrawal as income. Continue reading...

What is Cash and Cash Equivalents?

Cash and cash equivalents are negotiable instruments which have a stable value and are highly liquid. Cash and Cash Equivalents is a phrase used often in the financial world. Generally money market accounts are the most used cash equivalent. They are invested in currency, and their goal is to preserve the value of the the investor’s dollars. Money market accounts are basically completely liquid, and investors can even write checks and make ATM withdrawals from their money market accounts. Continue reading...

Where do I find a good CPA?

Where do I find a good CPA?

A good CPA can be a valuable ally. You should find one who works with clients similar to you and who is easy to talk to. Taxes and accounting are a part of nearly every financial instrument and consideration that people will be confronted with in their life. It can be very beneficial to work with a CPA who can advise you properly on the issues that affect you. It can also be detrimental to place too much trust in a CPA who isn’t really an expert in the areas he claims to be. Continue reading...

Can I Take a Loan From My Pension Plan?

Can I Take a Loan From My Pension Plan?

Generally this won’t be an option that your plan allows, but the IRS has approved it if the employer wants to. Generally speaking, you cannot. Hypothetically, if allowed in the plan document, and if the pension fund had enough of a surplus to handle such withdrawals, the IRS might find it permissible. The laws concerning such loans are the same for all qualified accounts, such as 401(k)s. An enrolled actuary would need to help you define when a loan might be allowable in particular deferred benefit plan. A Pension’s main goal is to pay out in retirement for the duration of the obligation, which may be your life and possibly the life of your spouse. Because of the massive liability they shoulder, pensions are inherently rigid and uncompromising when it comes to loans and withdrawals. Continue reading...

What is the Difference Between Cash-Balance Plans and Other Retirement Plans?

What is the Difference Between Cash-Balance Plans and Other Retirement Plans?

Cash Balance plans are Defined Benefit plans, but are not much like Pensions as you may know them, or other types of retirement plans, for that matter. On one side of the retirement isle you have defined contribution plans, such as 401(k)s and SEPs and so on, where the contributions are certain, or at least ascertainable, while the ending balance or benefit of each employee’s account is unknown, or at least does not have to be (and in most cases isn’t). Continue reading...