Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Protecting Your Financial Records From Disaster

Among other worthy causes, July is Bioterrorism/Disaster Education and Awareness Month. With all of the unexpected happenings in the world, it is important that we are prepared for an emergency disaster. Take this time to educate yourself and your whole family on what to do in any type of disaster. Get a plan ready and have needed supplies handy if you ever need them.

Identification. If you suddenly find yourself standing in a pile of rubble that was once your home and your worldly possessions, establishing your identity will be of paramount importance. Access to personal identification documents such as your Social Security card, driver's license, marriage license, birth certificate, passport and any citizenship papers will help you quickly establish your identity and speed up the co-ordination of your efforts with insurance companies, construction contractors, bankers and other entities involved in rebuilding and recovery.

Create a Backup Set of Records Electronically. Individuals and businesses should keep a set of backup records in a safe place. The backup should be stored away from the original set. Keeping a backup set of records - including, for example, bank statements, tax returns, insurance policies, etc. - is easier now that many financial institutions provide statements and documents electronically, and much financial information is available on the Internet. Even if the original records are provided only on paper, they can be scanned, which converts them to a digital format. Once documents are in electronic form, taxpayers can download them to a backup storage device, like an external hard drive, or burn them onto a CD or DVD.

You should also consider online backup, which is the only way to ensure data is fully protected. With online backup, files are stored in another region of the country - so if a hurricane or other natural disaster occurs in your area, documents remain safe.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Include a Few Tax Items in Your Summer Wedding Checklist

If you’re preparing for summer nuptials, make sure you do some tax planning as well. A few steps taken now can make tax time easier next year. Here are some tips from the IRS to help keep tax issues that may arise from your marriage to a minimum:

Change of name. All the names and Social Security numbers on your tax return must match your Social Security Administration records. If you change your name, report it to the SSA. To do that, file Form SS-5, Application for a Social Security Card. The easiest way for you to get the form is to download and print it on SSA.gov. You can also call SSA at 800-772-1213 to order the form, or get it from your local SSA office.

Change tax withholding. When you get married, you should consider a change of income tax withholding. To do that, give your employer a new Form W-4, Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate. The withholding rate for married people is lower than for those who are single. Some married people find that they do not have enough tax withheld at the married rate. For example, this can happen if you and your spouse both work. Use the IRS Withholding Calculator tool at IRS.gov to help you complete a new Form W-4. See Publication 505, Tax Withholding and Estimated Tax, for more information. You can get IRS forms and publications on IRS.gov/forms at any time.

Changes in circumstances. If you receive advance payments of the premium tax credit you should report changes in circumstances, such as your marriage, to your Health Insurance Marketplace. Other changes that you should report include a change in your income or family size. Advance payments of the premium tax credit provide financial assistance to help you pay for the insurance you buy through the Health Insurance Marketplace. Reporting changes in circumstances will allow the Marketplace to adjust your advance credit payments. This adjustment will help you avoid getting a smaller refund or owing money that you did not expect to owe on your federal tax return.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Same-Sex Marriage

In a 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court held in Obergefell v. Hodges that the 14th amendment requires all states to license a marriage between two persons of the same sex, and to recognize same-sex marriages validly performed out of state.

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion, and was joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan. Chief Justice John Roberts filed a dissenting opinion, in which Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas joined. Scalia, Thomas and Alito also filed their own dissenting opinions, in which other justices joined.

In reversing the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, Justice Kennedy wrote: “No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions.  They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.”

“Today’s ruling will provide both same-sex and opposite-sex married couples with the same rights across all 50 states and the District of Columbia,” said Gail Cohen, vice president and general trust counsel for Fiduciary Trust Company International.

Monday, June 1, 2015

What to Do If You Haven't Filed an Income Tax Return

Filing a past due return may not be as difficult as you think.

Taxpayers should file all tax returns that are due, regardless of whether full payment can be made with the return. Depending on an individual's circumstances, a taxpayer filing late may qualify for a payment plan. It is important, however, to know that full payment of taxes upfront saves you money.

Here's What to Do When Your Return Is Late

Gather Past Due Return Information

Gather return information and come see us. You should bring any and all information related to income and deductions for the tax years for which a return is required to be filed.

Payment Options - Ways to Make a Payment

There are several different ways to make a payment on your taxes. Payments can be made by credit card, electronic funds transfer, check, money order, cashier's check, or cash.

Payment Options - For Those Who Can't Pay in Full

Taxpayers unable to pay all taxes due on the bill are encouraged to pay as much as possible. By paying as much as possible now, the amount of interest and penalties owed will be lessened. Based on the circumstances, a taxpayer could qualify for an extension of time to pay, an installment agreement, a temporary delay, or an offer in compromise.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Last Day of Disability Insurance Awareness Month



Today is May 31st, the last day of "Disability Insurance Awareness Month"...Let's end the month off with a story about Valerie King and how Disability Insurance Saves a Family—Twice.

When Valerie King transitioned from her medical residency to practicing as an emergency room physician, her group disability plan was going about to terminate so she converted her plan to an individual disability policy. Although Valerie never thought she would need it, a condition called ulcerative colitis made the decision for her. The disease and a series of surgeries made it impossible for her to carry out her duties, and she found herself unable to practice the profession she loved. It was her disability insurance that allowed her to survive financially and care for her three young daughters who she was raising as a single mother.

Life also had a second chapter for Valerie. She met and married Tim, also a divorced parent. They looked forward to raising their blended family together and sought the advice of insurance professional Larry Ricke, CLU, ChFC. In addition to the life insurance he had recommended, Larry made sure Tim understood the importance of disability insurance. Tim didn’t believe he’d ever need it, but with Valerie’s urging he finally agreed to get coverage.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Think Disability Insurance


Contact Our Office Today to Get Your Protection - 800-560-4637

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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Safeguarding Your Income From the Impact of a Disability


Decades ago, the traditional family unit consisted of a husband and wife with 2.5 children. Most women were stay-at-home mothers, able to call on extended family members in case illness or injury affected their abilities to care for their children.

But these days, there is no longer a “traditional” family unit (and by extension, an extended support network), as the following figures attest:

  • In 2010, 43.6% of all U.S. residents 18 and older were unmarried—more than half of them women—while the elderly comprised 16.5% of all unmarried and single people 18 and older.
  • 45% of households nationwide were maintained by unmarried men or women, while number of single parents living with their children in 2010 reached 11.7 million. (Almost a third of grandparents are raising their grandchildren.)
  • There were 6.5 million unmarried-partner households, which included 581,300 same-sex couples.
  • Finally, the number of people who lived alone totaled 31.4 million in 2010, comprising 27% of all households—up from 17% in 1970.

What does this mean to you? Well, if you fall into one of the above categories—a single parent or grandparent raising a child, an adult living alone, or an unmarried couple—you need to do a little “worst case scenario” thinking. Specifically: should you experience an illness or injury that results in a disability (temporary or permanent), what type of impact will that have not only on your finances, but also on anyone who depends on you?