EagleStone is Proud to Announce Joseph Lager, CPA, CDFA and ESTWA’s Director of Tax & Accounting, Has Earned the Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) Credential

EagleStone Tax & Wealth Newsletter – August 2017

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?

Obviously, if you work during retirement, you’ll be earning money and relying less on your retirement savings, leaving more to grow for the future. You may also have access to affordable health care, as more and more employers offer this important benefit to part-time employees. But there are also non-economic reasons for working during retirement. Many retirees work for personal fulfillment, to stay mentally and physically active, to enjoy the social benefits of working, and to try their hand at something new.

What about my Social Security benefit?

Working may enable you to postpone claiming Social Security until a later date. In general, the later you begin receiving benefit payments, the greater your benefit will be. Whether delaying the start of Social Security benefits is the right decision for you depends on your personal circumstances.

One factor to consider is whether you want to continue working after you start receiving Social Security retirement benefits, because your earnings may affect the amount of your benefit payment.

If you’ve reached full retirement age (66 to 67, depending on when you were born), you don’t need to worry about this — you can earn as much as you want without affecting your Social Security benefit. But if you haven’t yet reached full retirement age, $1 in benefits will be withheld for every $2 you earn over the annual earnings limit ($16,920 in 2017). A higher earnings limit applies in the year you reach full retirement age. If you earn more than this higher limit ($44,880 in 2017), $1 in benefits will be withheld for every $3 you earn over that amount, until the month you reach full retirement age — then you’ll get your full benefit no matter how much you earn. Yet another special rule applies in your first year of Social Security retirement — you’ll get your full benefit for any month you earn less than one-twelfth of the annual earnings limit ($1,410 in 2017) and you don’t perform substantial services in self-employment.

Not all income reduces your Social Security benefit. In general, Social Security only takes into account wages you’ve earned as an employee, net earnings from self-employment, and other types of work-related income such as bonuses, commissions, and fees. Pensions, annuities, IRA payments, and investment income won’t reduce your benefit.

Even if some of your benefits are withheld prior to your full retirement age, you’ll generally receive a higher monthly benefit starting at your full retirement age, because the Social Security Administration (SSA) will recalculate your benefit and give you credit for amounts that were withheld. If you continue to work, any new earnings may also increase your monthly benefit. The SSA reviews your earnings record every year to see if you had additional earnings that would increase your benefit.

One last important point to consider. In general, your Social Security benefit won’t be subject to federal income tax if that’s the only income you receive during the year. But if you work during retirement (or you receive any other taxable income or tax-exempt interest), a portion of your benefit may become taxable. IRS Publication 915 has a worksheet that can help you determine whether any part of your Social Security benefit is subject to income tax.

How will working affect my pension?

Some employers have adopted “phased retirement” programs that allow you to ease into retirement by working fewer hours, while also allowing you to receive all or part of your pension benefit. However, other employers require that you fully retire before you can receive your pension. And some plans even require that your pension benefit be suspended if you retire and then return to work for the same employer, even part-time. Check with your plan administrator.

Kickstart Your College Fund with a 529 Plan

If you’re looking to save money for college, one option to consider is a 529 college savings plan. Created over 20 years ago and named after the section of the tax code that governs them, 529 plans offer a unique combination of features that have made them the 401(k)s of the college savings world.

How do 529 plans work?

529 college savings plans are individual investment-type accounts specifically made for college savings. People at all income levels are eligible. Plans are offered by individual states (you can join any state’s plan) but managed by financial institutions designated by each state.

To open an account, you select a plan and fill out an application, where you will name an account owner and beneficiary (there can be only one of each), choose your investment options, and set up any automatic contributions. You are then ready to go. It’s common to open an account with your own state’s 529 plan, but there may be reasons to consider another state’s plan; for example, the reputation of the financial institution managing the plan, the plan’s investment options, historical investment performance, fees, customer service, website usability, and so on.

A plan’s investment options typically consist of portfolios of various mutual funds that vary from conservative to aggressive in their level of risk. Depending on the market performance of the options you’ve chosen, your account will either gain or lose money, and there is the risk that the investments will not perform well enough to cover college costs as anticipated.

Benefits

So why bother going to the trouble of opening a 529 account when you could choose your own mutual funds (or other investments) in a non-529 account?

Federal tax benefits: Contributions to a 529 plan accumulate tax deferred, which means no income tax is due on any capital gains or dividends earned along the way. Later, earnings are completely tax-free when a withdrawal is used to pay the beneficiary’s college expenses — a benefit that could be significant depending on how your investment options perform. States generally follow this federal tax treatment and may offer an income tax deduction for contributions. That’s why it’s important to know what 529 tax benefits your state offers and whether those benefits are contingent on joining the in-state 529 plan.

Contributions: You can contribute a lot to a 529 plan — lifetime contribution limits are typically $300,000 and up. Compare this to the small $2,000 annual limit allowed by Coverdell Education Savings Accounts. In addition, 529 plans offer a unique lump-sum gifting feature that some may find particularly compelling: Individuals can contribute a lump-sum amount of up to five years’ worth of the $14,000 annual gift tax exclusion — a total of $70,000 in 2017 — and avoid gift tax if they make a special election on their tax return and avoid making any other gifts to that beneficiary during the five-year period. Married couples, such as grandparents who want to contribute to their grandchild’s college fund, can make a joint lump-sum gift up to $140,000 that is tax-free.

College account on autopilot: For college savers who are too busy or inexperienced to choose their own investments or change their asset allocation over time, a 529 college savings plan offers professional money management. And by having a designated account for college savings, you segregate those funds and possibly lessen the temptation to dip into them for a non-college purpose — a scenario that may be more likely if you are using a general savings account to save for college. Finally, by setting up automatic monthly contributions to your 529 account, you can put your savings effort on autopilot.

Tradeoffs

Non-college use of funds: The federal tax benefits of 529 plans can be great if you use the funds for college. If you don’t, then the earnings portion of any withdrawal is subject to federal income tax at your rate and a 10% federal penalty.

Changing investment options: With a 529 plan, you’re limited to the investment options offered by the plan. Plans generally offer a range of static and age-based portfolios with different levels of risk, fees, and investment goals. (Age-based portfolios generally have a “glide path” where the underlying investments automatically become more conservative as the beneficiary approaches college age.) If you’re unhappy with the performance of the options you’ve chosen, under federal law you can change the investment options for your futurecontributions at any time, but you can change the options for your existingcontributions only twice per calendar year. This rule can make it difficult to respond to changing market conditions. However, also under federal law, once every 12 months you can roll over your existing 529 plan account to a new 529 plan without having to change the beneficiary, which gives you another option if you’re unhappy with your current plan’s investment options or returns.

Test Your Investing IQ

How much do you know about market basics? Put your investing IQ to the test with this quiz on stocks, bonds, and mutual funds.

Questions

1. What does it mean to buy stock in a company?

a. The investor loans money to the company
b. The investor becomes a part owner of the company
c. The investor is liable for the company’s debts

2. Which of the following statements about stock indexes is correct?

a. A stock index is an indicator of stock price movements
b. There are many different types of stock indexes
c. They can be used as benchmarks to compare the performance of an individual investment to a group of its peers
d. All of the above

3. What is a bond?

a. An equity security
b. A nonnegotiable note
c. A debt investment in which an investor loans money to an entity

4. What kind of bond pays no periodic interest?

a. Zero-coupon
b. Floating-rate
c. Tax-exempt

5. What is a mutual fund?

a. A portfolio of securities assembled by an investment company
b. An investment technique of buying a fixed dollar amount of a particular investment regularly
c. A legal document that provides details about an investment

6. What is the difference between mutual fund share classes?

a. The investment advisers responsible for managing each class
b. The investments each class makes
c. The fees and expenses charged by each fund class

Answers

1. b. The investor becomes a part owner of the company. Stocks are often referred to as equities because they represent an ownership position. As part owners, shareholders assume both the potential financial risks and benefits of this position, but without the responsibility of running the company.

2. d. All of the above. A stock index measures and reports value changes in representative stock groupings. A broad-based stock index represents a diverse cross-section of stocks and reflects movements in the market as a whole. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, NASDAQ Composite Index, and S&P 500 are three of the most widely used U.S. stock indexes. There are also more narrowly focused indexes that track stocks in a particular industry or market segment.

3. c. A debt investment in which an investor loans money to an entity.Unlike shareholders, bondholders do not have ownership rights in a company. Instead, investors who buy bonds are lending their money to the issuer (such as a municipality or a corporation) and thus become the issuer’s creditors.

4. a. Zero-coupon. Unlike many types of bonds, zero-coupon bonds pay no periodic interest. They are purchased at a discount, meaning the purchase price is lower than the face value. When the bond matures, the difference between the purchase price and that face value is the investment’s return.

5. a. A portfolio of securities assembled by an investment company. A mutual fund is a pooled investment that may combine dozens to hundreds of stocks, bonds, and other securities into one portfolio shared by many investors.

6. c. The fees and expenses charged by each fund class. A mutual fund may offer various share classes to investors, most commonly A, B, and C. This gives an investor the opportunity to select a share class best suited to his or her investment goals.

Mutual funds are sold by prospectus. Please consider the investment objectives, risks, charges, and expenses carefully before investing. The prospectus, which contains this and other information about the investment company, can be obtained from your financial professional. Be sure to read the prospectus carefully before deciding whether to invest.

How do the economic milestones of young adults today compare with prior generations?

If you’re the parent of a young adult who is still living at home, you might be wondering whether this situation is commonplace. According to a recent U.S. Census Bureau study, it is: One in three young people (ages 18 to 34) lived in their parents’ home in 2015.

The Census Bureau study examines how the economic and demographic characteristics of young adults have changed from 1975 to 2016. In 1975, for example, less than one-fourth of young adults (ages 25 to 34) had a college degree. Young adults in 2016 are better educated — more than one-third hold a college degree (or higher) — but student loan debt has made it more difficult for them to obtain financial stability, let alone establish homes of their own in their 20s.

More young adults in 2016 had full-time jobs than their counterparts did in 1975. In particular, young women ages 25 to 34 are experiencing economic gains, with more than two-thirds in the workforce compared with less than half in 1975. Young women today are also earning more money than they did in 1975 — their median incomes have grown from nearly $23,000 in 1975 to more than $29,000 in 2016 (in 2015 dollars).

Despite the educational and economic advances that young adults have made over the last 40 years, many are postponing traditional adult milestones. In fact, a majority of young adults are not living independently of their parents. Of the 8.4 million 25- to 34-year-olds still living at home, one in four are not attending school or working. It’s important to note, though, that this could be because they are caring for a family member or have health issues or a disability.

Compared to 40 years ago, the timing and accomplishment of milestones on the path to adulthood are much more diverse and complex today. To view the full report, visit census.gov.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, “The Changing Economics and Demographics of Young Adulthood: 1975-2016,” April 2017

Chart: Young Adult Milestones, 1975 vs. 2016

The following pie charts compare four common milestones of adulthood — getting married, having children, working, and living independently — achieved by young adults ages 25 to 34 in 1975 and 2016. The data indicates that the experiences of young people today are more diverse, with fewer accomplishing all four milestones in young adulthood. Instead, many young adults are delaying or forgoing some experiences (marrying and having children) in favor of others (living independently and gaining work experience).

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, “The Changing Economics and Demographics of Young Adulthood: 1975-2016,” April 2017

 

IRS Circular 230 disclosure: To ensure compliance with requirements imposed by the IRS, we inform you that any tax advice contained in this communication (including any attachments) was not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding tax-related penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any matter addressed herein.

Prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. Copyright 2017

footerlogo

Securities offered through DAI Securities, LLC. Member FINRA/SIPC. Advisory Services offered through EagleStone Tax & Wealth Advisors. EagleStone Tax & Wealth Advisors is not affiliated with DAI Securities. Financial planning, investment and wealth management services provided through EagleStone Wealth Advisors, Inc. Tax and accounting services provided through EagleStone Tax & Accounting Services.

Download our Form CRS (Client Relationship Summary) by clicking here.

Download our ADV brochure by clicking here.

Download our ADV Part 2A brochure by clicking here.

Click here to learn more about our Information Security Program.

Investment products & services are only available to residents of CO, DC, FL, KS, KY, MA, MD, NC, NY, PA, SC, VA & WA.

Licensed to sell insurance and variable annuities in the following States: DC, DE, FL, MD, ME, MI, NC, NJ, NY, PA, SC, & VA.