End of Summer News!

Wow, hard to believe that Labor Day is upon us!!! And, just like we're not quite ready to know how many months, days, hours and minutes it is to Christmas, we have to start thinking about how the New Year will be upon us, and it will be tax time again!!!

This year will be even more beguiling because at this moment, we don't know how or if the tax reform will be passed!  We have had times when they change the tax laws in December!!  I can assure you that I am watching this very closely, so as the time rolls nearer, I am knowledgeable to prepare tax returns for the 2017 tax year. 

In the meantime, I will be taking my Annual Filing Season Program "AFSP"test.  This is a voluntary program for tax preparers who are not a CPA, Attorney or Enrolled Agent. Through this program, we have to maintain CPE credits pertaining to current and past tax law, and follow IRS Circular 230, which pertains to the expected requirements of tax professionals.

As a member of the IL Chapter of the National Association of Tax Professionals (NATP),  I have access to great education and research capabilities.

I am able to provide tax preparation services nationwide thanks to the Internet!!!  So, if you're thinking of making a change next year, contact me.  We can discuss your individual needs.

In the meantime, enjoy Labor Day!!!

Does Your Tax Preparer Do This?

Judy McNeely is Cordially Inviting You To A

Ballroom Blitz Tea Room Dance

101 E. Mulberry St Bloomington, IL 61701

Entrance is on Northside of Building

Featuring Wayne and Jennifer Wright, Instructors

Sunday 2-5 March 10, 17 or 24

Limit 10 people per date $4.00 per person

(fun and refreshments will be provided)

Please call Judy or Jason to secure your spot!!

309.405.0009 or 309.585.4117

Deadline to Purchase Tickets:  Friday, March 2, 2018


IRS & Private Debt Collection - Will you get a letter?

In an effort to collect on back taxes owed, the IRS will use the following private collection agencies to help them:  CBE Group of Cedar Falls, Iowa, Conserve of Fairport, NY, Performance of Livermore, CA and Pioneer of Horseheads, NY.  First, we have to assume that this action will cause the unscrupulous to come up from their lowlands to take advantage of this.

First, and foremost, the IRS will send you a letter letting you know which agency will be handling your case.  Second, the responsible agency will send you a letter. Do not give out any personal information until you know to whom you are talking to.  The IRS is very serious about keeping your information safe - you need to be extremely careful also.

Accounting Basics Plus is able to assist you in these matters.  If you have been throwing notices from the IRS into a drawer, the time to act is now!!  Before a collection agency calls you.  Taxes owed can be negotiated - you just need to start the process.

There are many ways to contact me!!!  Don't procrastinate.  The IRS has been short handed and busy, but now they have the means to collect on those past due taxes.

Authored by Judy McNeely, AFSP

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7 Changes To Social Security For 2018.......Things to consider Regarding

Things to Consider Regarding Your Benefits

Social Security is a critical component of the retirement plans of many Americans, making it critical to keep up with annual changes in the program. None of the changes for 2018 are as substantial as the recent tax code overhaul, but it still pays to review the changes at the beginning of the year to verify their effect – or lack thereof– on your situation. Consider these seven Social Security changes for 2018.

1. Increase in Full Retirement Age (FRA) – You can claim Social Security benefits at age 62, but your FRA is the age at which you can claim full benefits without a monthly reduction. The FRA is in gradual transition from 66 for those born in 1954 and earlier to 67 for those born in 1960 or later. Two months have been added to the FRA for each birth year from 1955 to 1960. As the FRA is extended, benefits of those claiming early are decreased a bit further. Take this into account as you plan your retirement strategy.

2. Higher Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) – The one upside of inflation is an automatic increase in Social Security benefits via a COLA. While still low compared to the 3.8% average COLA since 1975, the 2% increase for 2018 is the most in six years because of relatively low inflation experienced during the economic recovery. Unfortunately, the increase may be wiped out for many seniors through premium increases for Medicare Part B.

3. Higher Taxable Earnings Cap – In 2017, wage income was subject to Social Security tax only up to a $127,200 threshold. In 2018, the taxable earnings threshold rises to $128,700. Higher-wage earners receive a slight break.

4. Higher Earnings Limits – When you claim Social Security before your FRA, you can work and receive income up to a certain threshold without reducing your benefits. For 2018, the threshold earnings value is $17,040. With income beyond that point, retirement benefits are reduced by $1 for every extra $2 that you earn.

The rules are slightly different for the year in which you reach your FRA. If you will achieve FRA during 2018, the earnings limit is $3,780 per month for all months that you remain below the FRA. Income above that threshold is reduced by $1 for every extra $3 that you earn.

For those receiving Social Security Disability benefits, the monthly earnings threshold that can be earned without affecting benefits rises to $1,970 for those who are blind and disabled, and $1,180 for the non-blind disabled.

5. Higher Beneficiary Payments – It may be swallowed up by other expenses, but at least the average benefits check is larger. The Social Security Administration (SSA) expects the average paycheck to increase by $27 per month to $1,404 for individuals and $46 to $2,340 for couples. The maximum benefit has also increased from $2,687 per month to $2,788 per month – a 3.7% increase.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability monthly payments are set to increase to $750 for individuals and $1,125 for couples. (Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) payments are scaled to work records, as with regular Social Security payments.)

6. Social Security Credit Increase – To be eligible for Social Security, you must earn 40 earnings credits over a lifetime with no more than four in any one year. As of 2018, each credit requires $1,320 in earnings.

7. Online Accounts – The SSA used to mail out paper statements to show past annual earnings and estimate Social Security benefits, but most workers will no longer receive paper statements after 2017. Only those who are over 60 and aren't receiving Social Security benefits will receive paper statements, and that's if they do not have a my Social Security account. With a my Social Security account, you can check your earnings statements and review your estimated benefits at any time regardless of your age.

Contact Jason today to discuss new strategies for your retirement plan.  309.585.4117 or email jbramley@mbi.agency


The IRS is warning people to beware of a new scam linked to the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS), where fraudsters call to demand an immediate tax payment through a prepaid debit card. This scam is being reported across the country, so taxpayers should be alert to the details.

In the latest twist, the scammer claims to be from the IRS and tells the victim about two certified letters purportedly sent to the taxpayer in the mail but returned as undeliverable. The scam artist then threatens arrest if a payment is not made through a prepaid debit card. The scammer also tells the victim that the card is linked to the EFTPS system when, in fact, it is entirely controlled by the scammer. The victim is also warned not to contact their tax preparer, an attorney or their local IRS office until after the tax payment is made.

EFTPS is offered free by the U.S. Department of Treasury and does not require the purchase of a prepaid debit card. Since EFTPS is an automated system, taxpayers won’t receive a call from the IRS.

Hockey Night - What a great time!

I want to thank all of you who came out to make hockey night a great time for Catholic families.  Catholic Financial life was great, the donated tons of shwag, drinks, and of course subsidized the tickets down to $2.  We sold just under 350 tickets to our event and took over the party deck.  It was great to see all the families skating on the ice with the team after the game.

When should you apply for Social Security??

Should You Apply for Social Security Now or Later?


When should you apply for benefits? Consider a few factors first.


Provided by Jason Bramley, MBI Agency


Now or later? When it comes to the question of Social Security income, the choice looms large. Should you apply now to get earlier payments? Or wait for a few years to get larger checks?


Consider what you know (and don’t know). You know how much retirement money you have; you may have a clear projection of retirement income from other potential sources. Other factors aren’t as foreseeable. You don’t know exactly how long you will live, so you can’t predict your lifetime Social Security payout. You may even end up returning to work again.


When are you eligible to receive full benefits? The answer may be found online at socialsecurity.gov/retire2/agereduction.htm.


How much smaller will your check be if you start receiving benefits at 62? The answer varies. As an example, let’s take someone born in 1955. For this baby boomer, the full retirement age is 66 years and 2 months. If that boomer decides to retire in 2017 at 62, his or her monthly Social Security benefit will be reduced about 26%. That boomer’s spouse would see a 30% reduction in monthly benefits.1,2


Should that boomer elect to work past full retirement age, his or her benefit checks will increase by 8.0% for every additional full year spent in the workforce. So, it really may pay to work longer.2


Remember the earnings limit. Let’s put our hypothetical baby boomer through another example. Our boomer decides to apply for Social Security at age 62 in 2017, yet stays in the workforce. If he/she earns more than $16,920 in 2017, the Social Security Administration will withhold $1 of every $2 earned over that amount.3


How does the SSA define “income”? If you work for yourself, the SSA considers your net earnings from self-employment to be your income. If you work for an employer, your wages equal your earned income.3


Please note that the SSA does not count investment earnings, interest, pensions, annuity income, and government or military retirement benefits toward the current $16,920 earnings limit.3


Some fine print worth noticing. If you are self-employed, did you know that the SSA may define you as retired even if you aren’t? (This amounts to the SSA giving you a break.)


For example, if you are eligible to receive Social Security benefits in 2017, yet remain under full retirement age for the whole year, the SSA will consider you “retired” if a) you work 45 hours or less per month at your business or work between 15-45 hours a month at a business in a highly skilled occupation, b) your monthly earnings from such self-employment are $1,410 or less.4


Here’s the upside of all that: if you meet the two tests mentioned in the preceding paragraph, you are eligible to receive a full Social Security payment for any whole month of 2017 in which you are “retired” under these definitions. You can receive that monthly payment no matter what your earnings total for 2017.4


Learn more at socialsecurity.gov. The SSA website is information packed and user friendly. One last, little reminder: if you don’t sign up for Social Security at your full retirement age, make sure that you at least sign up for Medicare at age 65.


Jason Bramley may be reached at 309.585.4117 or jbramley@mbi.agency



This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note - investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.  


1 - blog.ssa.gov/2017-brings-new-changes-to-full-retirement-age/ [1/6/17]

2 - fool.com/retirement/general/2016/04/25/3-facts-you-need-to-know-about-social-security-spo.aspx [4/25/16]

3 - ssa.gov/planners/retire/whileworking2.html [4/12/17]

4 - ssa.gov/planners/retire/rule.html [4/12/17]

Working 'Til You Die Is a Lousy Financial Plan



Dan Kadlec

Jan 12, 2017


Wall Street and the financial press have been harping for decades on the retirement savings crisis. But it seems that for some young people the wrong message is getting through.

A large group of millennials have decided to punt on retirement altogether: One in eight plan to work until they die, according to Manpower Group. Some young workers simply feel they have no choice: According to Merrill Edge, one in five say they would need to win the lottery to retire and, partly because they have little faith in Social Security, 83% plan to work in at least some of their retirement years.

Working past a traditional retirement age in your mid-60s may indeed be a financial imperative. Just don’t assume that means you can go light on saving in a 401(k) or other accounts. That is a misguided and dangerous conclusion.

The reality is that many people are forced to leave the workforce before they would like. Three in 10 retirees quit work sooner than expected, Transamerica found. A quarter of those were forced to quit for health reasons and 11% quit to deal with family responsibilities. Two-thirds quit for employment-related reasons, including job elimination. Half of Americans wind up retiring between ages 61 and 65.

So even if you plan or want to work into your 80s, say, you may not be able. If that’s the case, you will look back to your 20s and 30s and wish you had been saving more diligently.

That’s not to say that millennials aren’t saving for retirement, even while many of them are saddled with college loans. The average millennial began saving at age 22, remarkably young, and is more likely than a Gen Xer or boomer to consider a company 401(k) plan his or her most valuable benefit.

Yet even those who are saving are not saving nearly enough. The average young worker is saving just 6% of pay, according to a report from BlackRock. That same report concludes that they need to save 25% of pay in what is likely to be a slow economy for decades to come, if they want to retire at 65. Other reports reach only slightly more optimistic conclusions.

Part of the problem is that millennials generally distrust the financial community and take their cues from poor role models. Generally lacking financial know-how, a third of millennials rely most on financial advice from friends and family, according to Fisher Investments. In a Fisher survey, four of five millennials flunked a 401(k)-plan quiz.

Overwhelmed by the oppressive 25%-of-income saving target that BlackRock recommends? Then aim at least for 15%, which will give you a solid cushion and may prove enough to quit at 70 or 72.

Besides, even if you are fortunate enough to be able to work as long as you want, you may find that 40 years from now you will have changed your mind and wouldn’t mind calling it quits—or at least downshifting to a less demanding job.

You may even want to try starting your own company. You can’t know how you will feel four decades from now. By saving along the way you will build insurance against involuntary job loss and create flexibility to change your mind.

Life Insurance Before Age 40

Millennials have good reasons to obtain coverage now.

Provided by Jason Bramley

Do you plan to buy life insurance before you turn 40? Maybe you should. You may save money in the long run by doing so.

At first thought, the idea of purchasing a life insurance policy in your thirties may seem silly. After all, young adults are now marrying and starting families later in life than past generations did, and you and your peers are likely in excellent health with a good chance of living past 80.

In fact, LIMRA – a life insurance research and advocacy group – recently surveyed millennials and found that 30% thought saving for a vacation mattered more than buying life insurance coverage. The perception seems to be that insurance is something to purchase when you start a family or when you hit your forties or fifties.1

Getting a policy before you marry or start a family may be a great idea. The reasons for doing so might be compelling.

Your premiums will be lower. The older you become, the more expensive life insurance becomes. Data compiled last summer by Life Happens, a non-profit life insurance education effort, confirms this.

Life Happens asked several prominent U.S. insurers to supply their preferred premium rates for healthy non-smokers aged 25, 35, 45, and 55 buying a $250,000 whole life policy (the kind designed to build cash value with time). The average preferred premium rates for 25-, 35-, and 45-year-olds fitting this description were:

25-year-old male: annual premium of $1,987

35-year-old male: annual premium of $2,964

45-year-old male: annual premium of $4,747

25-year-old female: annual premium of $1,745

35-year-old female: annual premium of $2,531

45-year-old female: annual premium of $3,947

The numbers starkly express the truth – whole life insurance premiums more than double between age 25 and age 45.2

Premiums on term life policies are even lower. Term life insurance is essentially coverage that you “rent” for 10, 20, or 30 years – it cannot build any cash value, but in some cases, a term policy can be adapted or exchanged for a whole life policy when the term of coverage ends.

If you are young, term coverage is remarkably cheap. NerdWallet recently researched term life premiums for healthy 30-year-olds. It found the following sample rates for 20- and 30-year term policies valued at $250,000:

30-year-old male: annual premium of $156 for a 20-year term policy, $240 for a 30-year term policy

30-year-old female: annual premium of $141 for a 20-year term policy, $206 for a 30-year term policy

The downside of term coverage is that you are “renting” the insurance. Just as you cannot build home equity by renting a house, you cannot build cash value by “renting” a policy.3

A whole life policy may become quite valuable. As Life Happens notes, the average such policy bought at 25, 35, or 45 may have a guaranteed cash value of anywhere from $100,000-200,000 when the policyholder turns 65, assuming the policy is kept in force and no loans are taken from it. Universal life policies permit tax-deferred growth of the cash value.1,2

Make no mistake, a whole life policy is a lifelong commitment. It must be funded every year or it will lapse. That should not scare you away from the value and utility of these policies – the cash inside the policy can often be borrowed or withdrawn. Sometimes families use cash value to fund college educations or help with medical expenses or retirement. Such withdrawals can lessen the death benefit of the policy, but what is left is often adequate. Cash withdrawals from a whole life policy are usually exempt from taxes, just like the death benefit.1   

Maybe this is the time to put time on your side. Age-wise, life insurance will never be cheaper than it is for you today. Getting coverage now – even if you are single – may be a money-smart move as well as a great life decision.  

Jason Bramley may be reached at 309-585-4117 or jbramley@mbi.ageny.



This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note - investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.





1 - cnbc.com/2016/10/17/think-about-life-insurance-sooner-rather-than-later.html [10/17/16]

2 - lifehappens.org/product-selector/comparing-the-cost-permanent-and-term-life-insurance/ [1/26/17]

3 - nerdwallet.com/life-insurance#basic [1/26/17]