Starting Retirement Early

Here’s An Easier Way To Start Moving From Broke To Comfortable As You Age

Article by Marilyn Geewax | Featured on NPR

The Federal Reserve estimates that nearly a third of workers have no pensions and no retirement savings.

Going from young and broke to retired and comfortable is a long, tough road.

So the Obama administration on Wednesday rolled out a simple, no-risk retirement account to help people start that journey. It’s called the myRA — or “my retirement account.”

President Obama first outlined this program in his State of the Union address last year.

Since then, his administration has been working with a few dozen employers to test what works.

Now, the myRA program is being rolled out nationwide. The accounts are designed to help people who lack access to a retirement savings plan at work, and can afford to set aside only small amounts of money.

The goal is “getting people into a cycle of saving,” Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew told reporters on a conference call.

“MyRA has no fees, no risk of losing money SB Game Hacker Download and no minimum balance or contribution requirements,” he said.

Traditionally, Americans could save without the help of their employers by using a tax-deferred individual retirement account, or IRA. But Lew said many workers are intimidated by IRAs, fearing such accounts would be too complicated or risky or loaded with fees.

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Shrinking Financial Aid Curbs Impact of Slowing College Tuition Increases

Shrinking Financial Aid Curbs Impact of Slowing College Tuition Increases

By Douglas Belkin | Featured on WSJ

Relatively modest rise in 2015-2016 amplified by near-zero inflation and pullback in grants

Tuition increases at U.S. colleges have plateaued after decades of steep growth, but stagnant wages, near-zero inflation and a slight pullback in grants have amplified this year’s relatively modest rise.

Published tuition for the 2015-16 academic year rose 2.9% for in-state students at four-year public schools—the same increase as last year. But adjusted for inflation, the gain was 2.7% this year, compared with 0.9% last year, according to a report released Wednesday from the College Board, a New York nonprofit that tracks university costs.

In-state students attending public four-year institutions are now paying $19,548 on average for tuition, fees and room and board, up from $18,931 in 2014-15. Private-school costs rose $1,476 to $43,921 over the year.

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Health Insurance Premiums

Obamacare Prices Increase for Those Who Don’t Get Subsidies

Article by | Featured on CNBC

“For people who are on the outside of subsidies, what had been a very expensive market has become even more expensive,” says a researcher at an insurance comparison site.

“Cheap” could cost you more for Obamacare next year.

People who buy the cheapest health plans on the biggest Obamacare exchange without getting financial assistance are facing the largest increases for premiums and out-of-pocket costs in 2016, new analyses show.

Average prices of the so-called bronze plans on the HealthCare.gov marketplace are rising 11 percent for nonsubsidized customers over 2015 prices. Average deductibles for individuals are increasing by the same percentage, to $5,731, according to a study by HealthPocket.com, an insurance comparison site.

Average premiums for the most popular types of plans, known as “silver plans,” are going up nearly as much — 10 percent — for HealthCare.gov customers who are unsubsidized, HealthPocket found.

Silver plan deductibles, however, are rising more modestly next year, by 6 percent for an individual, to $3,117.

The Avalere Health consultancy, in its own analysis, found that the average price of the lowest-cost bronze plan in HealthCare.gov states was rising by an average of 16 percent. Avalere said the average price of the lowest-cost silver plan was rising by 13 percent, compared to the 3.2 percent rise that was seen for 2015 plans.

Both HealthPocket and Avalere found wide variation in premium price changes across individual states. Some states saw far higher price hikes, while other states saw less dramatic spikes.

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Demanding tax season likely ahead, IRS commissioner tells AICPA

Demanding tax season likely ahead, IRS commissioner tells AICPA

Article Featured on Journal of Accountancy | By Paul Bonner

The 2016 tax filing season promises to be challenging for the IRS, Commissioner John Koskinen told attendees at the AICPA National Tax Conference in Washington on Tuesday.

Koskinen made a similar prediction a year ago in his first address to CPAs in the same forum. That prediction was borne out, and for some of the same reasons he cited again this time: Congress’s tardiness in acting on a raft of currently expired temporary Code provisions and last year’s cuts in the IRS’s budget, coming on top of several previous years of cuts. Despite those problems, filing of returns went relatively smoothly for most taxpayers last year, he said, although the IRS’s level of service to taxpayers and practitioners sank to “totally unacceptable” levels.

In addition, this year significant provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, P.L. 111-148, and reporting requirements under the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), P.L. 111-147, take full effect, as well. Add to that certification requirements under the new Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) accounts and Congress’s recent reauthorization of the Sec. 35 health coverage tax credit for displaced workers, and the IRS has more than its share of largely unfunded new legislative mandates to carry out—with the specter of further budget cuts, he said.

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The Trouble With Financial Bubbles

The Trouble With Financial Bubbles

Article by  | Featured on Project Syndicate

Very soon after the magnitude of the 2008 financial crisis became clear, a lively debate began about whether central banks and regulators could – and should – have done more to head it off. The traditional view, notably shared by former US Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, is that any attempt to prick financial bubbles in advance is doomed to failure. The most central banks can do is to clean up the mess.

Bubble-pricking may indeed choke off growth unnecessarily – and at high social cost. But there is a counter-argument. Economists at the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) have maintained that the costs of the crisis were so large, and the cleanup so long, that we should surely now look for ways to act pre-emptively when we again see a dangerous build-up of liquidity and credit.

Hence the fierce (albeit arcane and polite) dispute between the two sides at the International Monetary Fund’s recent meeting in Lima, Peru. For the literary-minded, it was reminiscent of Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels. Gulliver finds himself caught in a war between two tribes, one of which believes that a boiled egg should always be opened at the narrow end, while the other is fervent in its view that a spoon fits better into the bigger, rounded end.

It is fair to say that the debate has moved on a little since 2008. Most important, macroprudential regulation has been added to policymakers’ toolkit: simply put, it makes sense to vary banks’ capital requirements according to the financial cycle. When credit expansion is rapid, it may be appropriate to increase banks’ capital requirements as a hedge against the heightened risk of a subsequent contraction. This increase would be above what microprudential supervision – assessing the risks to individual institutions – might dictate. In this way, the new Basel rules allow for requiring banks to maintain a so-called countercyclical buffer of extra capital.

But if the idea of the countercyclical buffer is now generally accepted, what of the “nuclear option” to prick a bubble: Is it justifiable to increase interest rates in response to a credit boom, even though the inflation rate might still be below target? And should central banks be given a specific financial-stability objective, separate from an inflation target?

Jaime Caruana, the General Manager of the BIS, and a former Governor of the Bank of Spain, answers yes to both questions. In Lima, he argued that the so-called “separation principle,” whereby monetary and financial stability are addressed differently and tasked to separate agencies, no longer makes sense.

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Utilities Sue Department of Energy

9 Public Utilities Sue the Oregon Department of Energy

Article Featured on Willamette Week

A long-simmering dispute between a group of public utilities and the Oregon Department of Energy boiled over into a lawsuit in Marion County Circuit Court this week.

The utilities, which provide electricity mostly to rural areas, pay an annual fee to the department called the “energy suppliers’ assessment” or ESA. That fee generates about $13 million a biennium and accounts for about a third of the agency’s budget.

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The Missing Boom in Small-Business Sales

The Missing Boom in Small-Business Sales

Photo: Gary Morrison, 60 years old, wants his Skokie, Ill., printing company to hit certain growth and sales goals before selling it. PHOTO: Taylor Glascock for Wall Street Journal

By RUTH SIMON | Featured on WSJ

An expected rush in sales of small firms by the baby boomer generation has yet to materialize

Some baby boomers are having a tough time letting go.

Despite predictions that a flood of small businesses would be coming up for sale as owners of a certain generation ready themselves for retirement, many are holding on longer than expected.

According to a U.S. Census Bureau count of owners of incorporated firms, people age 55 and older accounted for 38% of business owners in 2013, the most recent data available, up from 29% in 2005.

The holdouts have many reasons. In some cases, younger family members aren’t interested in taking the reins, complicating succession planning. Others haven’t yet recovered financially from the recession.

“The world has changed and lifespans have changed,” says Judy Habib, the 61-year-old co-founder and chief executive of KHJ Brand Activation, a Boston-based marketing firm with 50 employees. “Baby boomers are so not dead yet,” she adds. “Do we really think we will fade off into the sunset? No.”

Ms. Habib hopes to mentor successors to allow her to take on an advisory role, but she hasn’t yet figured out what will happen to ownership of her 30-year-old company.

Sales of small firms are on pace to drop 3% this year, after increasing in 2014 to their highest levels since at least 2007, according to BizBuySell.com, an online marketplace for buying and selling small companies. Brokers reported 1,814 business changing hands in the third quarter, the company says, down 5% from the previous quarter and 9% from the same period a year earlier.

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Does More Money Make You Happier When You Retire? Not Always

Does More Money Make You Happier When You Retire? Not Always

Article Featured on AICPA

Many of us imagine a future in retirement when we leave the obligations and stresses of our work life behind; but few of us take the time to create a plan for what we will actually do when we retire and who will share that life with us.

CPA financial planners help clients achieve their financial retirement goals, but there’s more to retirement planning than making sure there’s enough money in the bank. The biggest challenge is ensuring there’s financial stability along with investing in developing a meaningful social network that will create a fulfilling retirement.

Here are some things you can share with your clients so they can create a well-rounded plan.

1. For those of us who are savers, the good news is that data from a nationwide Health and Retirement Study states that financial wealth does make us happier, and the effect is generally linear—higher wealth groups are significantly happier, but there’s a limit. At about $3.5 million of savings, retirees actually become less satisfied. This may be because they have more money than they could ever spend in retirement, and essentially feel burdened with the additional stress of managing it.

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S.E.C. Releases Data on Fund Advisers

S.E.C. Releases Data on Fund Advisers

Original Article By LIZ MOYER | Featured on NYTimes | Mark Van Scyoc / Shutterstock.com

The Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday released its first set of statistics on more than 2,600 private fund advisers as part of an effort to make it easier for investors to evaluate them.

The data include information from regulatory filings by private advisers of funds — hedge funds and private equity funds — with $150 million or more in assets. The data, which are available on the agency’s website, cover the first quarter of 2013 through the fourth quarter of 2014.

“It is clear that both current and future rules must focus closely on how threats to the financial system could impact our mandates of investor protection, fair, orderly and efficient markets and facilitating capital formation,” Mary Jo White, the S.E.C. chairwoman, said Friday at a Manhattan conference run by the Managed Funds Association, a hedge fund trade group.

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Navigating Today’s IRS Examination With Fast Track Settlement

By Thomas A. Warnshuis, CPA, MSA, Grand Rapids, Mich. (former IRS revenue agent) | Article featured on Tax Advisor

Editor: Howard Wagner, CPA | Image Credit: g0d4ather / Shutterstock.com

At the end of an IRS audit many taxpayers are left to decide how to proceed, especially when faced with a proposed adjustment that they disagree with. Before pursuing an appeal, Fast Track Settlement may provide a viable alternative to consider.

IRS Appeals

The mission of the IRS Appeals team is to resolve tax controversies in a fair and impartial manner without litigation. Appeals frequently settles cases by reducing an adjustment by a particular percentage that the taxpayer will choose to accept. Appeals has no specific quota on the number of cases it can recommend for litigation, but there is significant pressure to settle cases and avoid litigation unless a case is egregious.

Most taxpayers do not understand the Appeals process or how Appeals resolves cases. Appeals gets involved when a taxpayer does not agree to the adjustments proposed by the IRS examination team. Appeals acts as an independent party to the examination and takes a fresh look at each case before it. Unresolved cases are closed from the examination field team and assigned to Appeals. It should be noted that most examiners complete a Form 4665, Report Transmittal, that is addressed to Appeals. The purpose of this letter is for the examination team to communicate any specific details it wants Appeals to be aware of. This could be a description of questionable taxpayer behavior, tactics the taxpayer or its adviser could use to disrupt the examination team’s pre-Appeals conference presentation, or any other pertinent information.

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