As I sit and watch the lightning, I reflect on the summer

As I sit and watch the lightning, I reflect on the summer that has almost passed. It seems like a couple weeks ago that we were opening the pool with plenty of family time ahead. Since then we have enjoyed cook outs with friends, relaxing mornings on the deck with coffee, and hours of family swim time. But how fast the time flies. The kids went back to school this week and in less than two years from now one of them will be starting high school. It’s crazy how fast the world turns. How little regard it has for us and the time that we cherish so much. It seems impossible to hang on to these good moments and just as impossible to get the bad times to leave. We are blessed as a family and I thank God for all the moments. 

As I sit and watch the lightning, I reflect on the summer

As I sit and watch the lightning, I reflect on the summer that has almost passed. It seems like a couple weeks ago that we were opening the pool with plenty of family time ahead. Since then we have enjoyed cook outs with friends, relaxing mornings on the deck with coffee, and hours of family swim time. But how fast the time flies. The kids went back to school this week and in less than two years from now one of them will be starting high school. It’s crazy how fast the world turns. How little regard it has for us and the time that we cherish so much. It seems impossible to hang on to these good moments and just as impossible to get the bad times to leave. We are blessed as a family and I thank God for all the moments. 

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

NEW PHONE SCAM FOR EFTPS USERS!

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

www.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.  

Citations.

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]