Planned Giving News and Information
December, 2017
The following is intended as general information and does not represent legal or tax advice. The information presented is the view of the author. Individual circumstances vary - please consult your legal and tax advisors about your specific situation. To return to the general planned giving pages, please close this browser window. This News and Information section has been compiled by Future Focus.

What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.

Albert Pike

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7 online security steps to take this holiday season
Online crooks seek to turn stolen data into quick cash, either by draining financial accounts, charging credit cards, creating new credit accounts or even using stolen identities to file a fraudulent tax return for a refund.The following seven steps can help you improve your online safety this holiday shopping season, as well as protect the tax returns you'll file and refunds you'll receive in 2018. Read more.

Five Things to Remember about Hobby Income and Expenses
From scrapbooking to glass blowing, many Americans enjoy hobbies that are also a source of income. A taxpayer must report income on their tax return even if it is made from a hobby.
However, the rules for how to report the income and expenses depend on whether the activity is a hobby or a business. There are special rules and limits for deductions taxpayers can claim for hobbies. Here are five things to consider:

What Happened to Mom?
Time and obligations have a way of interfering with the best laid plans of family members. Trips to visit an aging parent or relative become more and more infrequent.  Finally, a visit is possible, and the door to their home is opened by a very frail parent. “What happened to Mom?” is a question I hear quite frequently these days.
An elderly person may sound great on the phone while hiding health issues. Your loved ones don’t want you to worry about them. They might also be nervous that you will suggest they move into a retirement home. Or they may be unaware that they need help. Read more.

Splitting retirement accounts is tricky for DIY divorce
If you are trying to have a low-cost, do-it-yourself divorce, it may seem reasonable to just split up the retirement assets and each go your separate ways.
While many couples dissolve their marriages without significant legal involvement, divvying up retirement accounts, particularly pensions, is thorny. Doing it without a proper legal agreement could stick you with a hefty tax bill and penalties. In some cases, one party may end up with nothing.
How much could a retirement mistake cost you? Read more.

Treasury To Withdraw Hated Estate Tax Valuation Rules
In its final report on burdensome tax regulations, the Treasury Department has called for the withdrawal of Obama-era valuation rules that family business owners said would wreak havoc on their legacy plans. The proposed rules, issued in August 2016, “Restrictions on Liquidation of an Interest for Estate, Gift and Generation-Skipping Transfer Taxes” under Section 2704, would have curbed valuation discounts and meant increased estate taxes on the deaths of owners of family businesses. The Treasury has now concluded that “the proposed regulations’ approach to the problem of artificial valuation discounts is unworkable.” The report says that Treasury plans to publish a withdrawal of the proposed regulations in the Federal Register shortly. Read more.

The Coming Family Caregiver Crunch: 8 Tips To Survive
Nine out of ten non-professional caregivers are contributing to and/or coordinating finances for their loved ones. That includes paying bills, monitoring bank accounts, handling insurance claims, filing taxes and even managing investments. On average, they’re spending $7,000 a year out of pocket. Then, there’s the aftermath of caregiving: months or years of dealing with the estate, outstanding bills and collecting insurance.
Do your parents have a financial caregiving plan? Hint: it’s you. It all adds up to a caregiving crunch: It all adds up to a caregiving crunch. Read more.

Working in Retirement: What You Need to Know
Planning on working during retirement? If so, you're not alone. Recent studies have consistently shown that a majority of retirees plan to work at least some period of time during their retirement years. Here are some points to consider.
Why work during retirement? What about my social security benefit? How will working affect my pension? Read more.

Supercharge Your Nest Egg With A Health Savings Account
More than 20 million Americans---double the number in 2010--are now enrolled in high deductible health insurance plans that qualify them for Health Savings Accounts. If you’re eligible for an HSA, you have a great way to save for retirement and you may not even realize it.
This year, you can put up to $6,750 for a family or $3,400 for a single into an HSA. That contribution is made pretax, meaning it reduces your taxable income. Withdrawals from an HSA are also tax free, provided the money is used for health expenses. (The contribution limits are set to go up to $3,450 and $6,900 for 2018, but they could double under the Republicans’ ACA repeal and replace legislation.) Read more.

Making the Most out of Miscellaneous Deductions
Miscellaneous deductions are tax breaks that generally don’t fit into a particular tax category. They can help reduce taxable income and the amount of taxes owed. For example, some employees can deduct certain work expenses like uniforms as miscellaneous deductions. To do that, they must itemize their deductions instead of taking the standard deduction on their tax return. Here are several tips from the IRS about miscellaneous deductions: Read more.

What are some tips for reviewing my Medicare coverage during Medicare Open Enrollment?
During the Medicare Open Enrollment Period that runs from October 15 through December 7, you can make changes to your Medicare coverage that will be effective on January 1, 2018. If you're satisfied with your current coverage, you don't need to make changes, but it's a good idea to review your options.
During Open Enrollment, you can: Read more.

IRS Issues Urgent Warning to Beware IRS FBI Themed Ransomware Scam
The Internal Revenue Service today warned people to avoid a new phishing scheme that impersonates the IRS and the FBI as part of a ransomware scam to take computer data hostage.
The scam email uses the emblems of both the IRS and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It tries to entice users to select a “here” link to download a fake FBI questionnaire. Instead, the link downloads a certain type of malware called ransomware that prevents users from accessing data stored on their device unless they pay money to the scammers. Read more.

Wise giving in the wake of Hurricane Harvey
It’s heartbreaking to see people lose their lives, homes, and businesses to the ongoing flooding in Texas. But it’s despicable when scammers exploit such tragedies to appeal to your sense of generosity.
If you’re looking for a way to give, the FTC urges you to be cautious of potential charity scams. Do some research to ensure that your donation will go to a reputable organization that will use the money as promised.
Consider these tips when asked to give: Read more.

HSAs: Spend or Save It?
HSAs are available to workers who have high-deductible health insurance plans (HDHPs). The accounts can be used to meet deductible and other out-of-pocket health care costs. This year, plans can have a maximum out-of-pocket cost of $6,550 for individuals and $13,100 for families. Last year, 26 percent of employers helped offset those costs with contributions to the accounts averaging $868, according to Devenir, a consulting firm that works with HSA providers and employers. Workers also can make pretax contributions—this year, up to a combined total of $3,400 for individuals and $6,750 for workers with family insurance coverage.
HSA contributions are tax deductible, investment growth and interest are tax deferred, and withdrawals spent on qualified medical expenses also are tax free. The triple tax benefit increases buying power, especially when compared with the benefit of drawing down from a 401(k), which is subject to ordinary income tax on contributions and investment gains. Benway calculates that a worker earning $60,000 would need to save 25 percent less to meet medical expenses by splitting annual contributions to a 401(k) and HSA. Read more.


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Please note, individual financial circumstances will vary. The information on this site is meant as general information and does not represent legal or tax advice. The information presented is the view of the author. As with all tax and estate planning, please consult your attorney or estate specialist. All material is copyrighted and is for viewing purposes only. This News and Information section has been compiled by Future Focus. Please report any problems to webmaster.