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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...

What is a 529 Plan?

529 plans are accounts designed to help families save for the future college expenses of young family members. A 529 Plan is designed to help you save money now to pay your child’s college expenses later. Investment companies who design a plan, which looks similar to a retail mutual fund account or IRA, will partner with state governments to offer the state’s official 529 plan. Families can invest in a 529 and gain access to an array of mutual funds. Continue reading...

Will Having a 529 Plan for My Child Impact His/Her Eligibility For Financial Aid in the Future?

It will be factored in when considering financial aid eligibility. Unfortunately, having a 529 Plan may affect your child’s eligibility for financial aid in the future. If a parent owns the account, in 2016 the financial aid office will take 5.64% of the account’s value (and all other non-retirement investment accounts) into consideration when determining how much financial aid a student can receive. Continue reading...

How Can I Use the Money From My 529 Plan?

You can technically use it however you see fit if you are willing to pay the 10% IRS penalty. Money from 529 Plans can be used for tuition, books, supplies, room and board and, as of recently, computers and electronic necessities. Always check if you’re not sure that an expense is covered by the 529 plan. Money used for anything other than the specified costs will be subject to federal income taxes and a 10% penalty on the earnings. You can also transfer the account to another beneficiary or yourself if you or someone else will need the money for college one day, without incurring any penalties or taxes. Continue reading...

What is the Lifetime Learning Credit?

The Lifetime Learning Credit is a federal tax credit to offset expenses associated with higher education. There is no age limit and the credit can be applied to part-time student courses, even if it is only one class. The credit is for 20% of the related expenses up to a maximum of a $2,000 credit per household. Tax credits are a dollar-for-dollar reduction of taxes due. The Lifetime Learning Credit can be used for higher education expenses, regardless of the age of the student, but there is a household limit per year. 20% of educational expenses up to a household maximum of $2,000 can be applied as an income tax credit. The credit exists to make it easier for Americans to increase their skill-set and education. Continue reading...

How Can I Use the Money From My Coverdell ESA?

Coverdell ESA accounts can be used to cover educational expenses. Similarly to a 529 Plan, the money from a Coverdell ESA can only be used for qualified educational expenses. However, the definitions for “qualified” are broader with this plan, and can be used for educational expenses from Kindergarten through high school, in addition to postsecondary (college) expenses. The downside is that Coverdell’s have a low contribution limit of only $2,000 per year. Continue reading...

When Can I Access Money in My Roth IRA?

Roth IRAs have some interesting provisions that make them a little more liquid than other retirement accounts. Roth IRAs contain after-tax contributions that actually remain accessible to you at any time, without tax or penalty. The stipulations on withdrawals are only concerned with earnings in the account, not the principal amount. In order to withdraw earnings without paying a 10% penalty and income taxes, you must be at least 59½ and five years must have passed since you first began contributing. Continue reading...

What are the Contribution Limits For My 529 Plan?

Parents and family members, or actually anyone, can contribute up to the annual gift tax exclusion limits, and beyond. Several people can fund 529 plans for the same person or child, and any one person can maintain as many 529 plans as they would like. Each person can contribute up to the annual gift tax exclusion amount, which in 2016 is $14,000, per beneficiary. 529 plans have a special provision that allows the owner of the account to exceed the gift tax exclusion by contributing up to $70,000 at once – but no contributions can be made for 5 years after that, because this provision is really just allowing you to accelerate the contributions. Continue reading...

What is a Coverdell ESA?

A Coverdell ESA is an account which can be used to save for educational expenses. These used to be called Educational IRAs until someone realized that didn’t make sense. A Coverdell Educational Savings Account (ESA) allows you to save money for your child’s future education costs. As opposed to a 529 Plan, which is limited to post-high school education, money from an ESA can be used as early as Kindergarten. Continue reading...

What are the Contribution Limits For My Coverdell ESA?

Coverdell ESAs have low contribution limits, and an income limit that may keep you from contributing at all. Currently, in order to contribute to an ESA at all, you and your spouse must make less than $220,000 per year (combined). The annual contribution limit to an ESA is $2,000, and the contributions made to an ESA are not tax-deductible. These limits have not been adjusted for inflation in years, and these plans are quickly becoming obsolete. Continue reading...

How Can the Money in My Coverdell ESA be Invested?

You have about as many investment choices in a Coverdell as you would in a personal IRA account. Money in a Coverdell ESA can be invested in financial instruments such as mutual funds. You can establish a Coverdell ESA at any major brokerage or bank, and the investment choices will vary depending on the institution. The account will grow tax-deferred, and the withdrawals are not taxed as long as they are used for appropriate educational expenses. Continue reading...

What Qualifies You as a "Trader," and How Do You Report Income and Expenses?

If you buy and sell securities, you may qualify for tax status as a ‘trader,’ which importantly may qualify you for certain business tax breaks. The rules governing this status can be confusing, however, making it difficult to determine whether you qualify as a trader, investor, or dealer. Let’s take a closer look at the qualifications for traders as defined by the IRS, as well as how to report income and expenses if qualified. Continue reading...

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 Provisions Should a Long-Term Care Policy Contain?

Long-term care insurance policies can be structured in any number of ways, depending on your desired coverage. More coverage equals more premium cost, but may save you money later in life if you use your policy for a number of years. There are a variety of provisions (also known as riders) to consider, including but not limited to the dollar amount of your daily benefit (usually $200 - $500), whether it is a reimbursement or paid in full, which facilities qualify for coverage, what kind of assistance you’ll provided, whether or not it includes a nurse on duty 24 hours a day, access to a doctor, whether you’ll have a room to yourself or not, and so on. Continue reading...

At What Age Should I Buy Long-Term Care Insurance?

Generally speaking, the earlier you purchase long-term care insurance the less expensive it will be in terms of monthly premium. Investors in good health should start thinking about long-term care insurance as part of their overall financial plan around their late 40’s/early 50’s. Medical history also plays a role. If your parents needed daily medical care later in life, then you should consider purchasing a long-term care policy sooner than later. Continue reading...

What Does Medicaid Cover?

Medicaid will cover many things, but it is reserved for those without enough assets to get such care on their own or to pay for other coverage. Some examples of covered services include checkups and childbirth for low income pregnant women, and nursing home care for low-income elderly people with long term care needs. Medicaid covers a very wide range of medical costs, including hospital expenses, visits to the doctor, nursing home expenses, and so on. Continue reading...

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 Medicare Part A?

Medicare Part A is the standard, baseline hospital coverage that comes at no cost as part of everyone’s Medicare benefits. It will pay for inpatient stays at hospital and skilled care facilities, but only for a certain number of days. Medicare Part A is hospitalization and inpatient care insurance. It will pay fully for about 20 days of care, but only if there is an inpatient procedure first and the patient appears to be convalescing. If the patient is not gradually recovering, their Medicare benefits will be suspended. 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...

What is a Form 2106: Employee Business Expense?

IRS Link to Form — Found Here Form 2106 is the long-form way to request deductions for unreimbursed business expenses incurred by an employee in the course of work. This can include professional affiliation dues, continuing education, insurances, vehicle mileage and depreciation, and other possible deductions. Often, employees are not reimbursed for every out-of-pocket expense they incur in the course of their work. This might include wear and tear on a vehicle, professional dues, travel expenses, business meals, and many more items. For any amount to go towards a tax deduction, the itemized unreimbursed expenses must be over 2% of adjusted gross income. Continue reading...

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