Friday, December 23, 2016

Happy Holidays from NFS


Your friends at Northeast Financial Strategies want you to know how much your loyalty and friendship are appreciated this year and in all years past. At the holiday season, our thoughts turn gratefully to those who have made our success possible. It is in this spirit we say ... thank you and best wishes for the holidays and a happy new year.

From all of us here at NFS, THANKS!!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Tax Aspects of Divorce and Separation


When it comes to legal separation or divorce, there are many complex situations to address. A divorcing couple faces many important decisions and issues regarding alimony, child support, and the fair division of property. While most courts and judges will not factor in the impact of taxes on a potential property settlement or cash payments, it is important to realize how the value of assets transferred can be materially affected by the tax implications.

Dependents

One of the most argued points between separating couples regarding taxes is who gets to claim the children as dependents on their tax return, since joint filing is no longer an option. The reason this part of tax law is so important to divorcing parents is that the federal and state exemptions allowed for dependents offer a significant savings to the custodial parent, and there are also substantial child and educational credits that can be taken. The right to claim a child as a dependent from birth through college can be worth over $30,000 in tax savings.

The law states that one parent must be chosen as the head of the household, and that parent may legally claim the dependents on his or her return.

Example: If a couple was divorced or legally separated by December 31 of the last tax year, the law allows the tax exemptions to go to the parent who had physical custody of the children for the greater part of the year (the custodial parent), and that parent would be considered the head of the household. However, if the separation occurs in the last six months of the year and there hasn't yet been a legal divorce or separation by the year's end, the exemptions will go to the parent that has been providing the most financial support to the children, regardless of which parent had custody.

A non-custodial parent can only claim the dependents if the custodial parent releases the right to the exemptions and credits. This needs to be done legally by signing tax Form 8332, Release of Claim to Exemption. However, even if the non-custodial parent is not claiming the children, he or she still has the right to deduct things like medical expenses.

Child support payments are not deductible or taxable. Merely labeling payments as child support is not enough -- various requirements must be met.

Alimony

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving from NFS



From All of us here at

Northeast Financial Strategies, Inc.

WE GIVE THANKS...

... For Our Families
... For Our Friends
... Four Our Clients
... For Our Communitiy
... For You

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Wrentham Thanksgiving, Wrentham Outlets, Wrentham Black Friday

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

How to Avoid an IRS Tax Refund Delay; Plan Ahead

WASHINGTON – As tax filing season approaches, the Internal Revenue Service is reminding taxpayers about steps they can take now to ensure smooth processing of their 2016 tax return and avoid a delay in getting their tax refund next year.

The IRS reminds taxpayers to be sure they have all the documents they need, such as W-2s and 1099s, before filing a tax return. You may also need a copy of your 2015 tax return to make it easier to fill out a 2016 tax return. Beginning in 2017, taxpayers using a software product for the first time may need their Adjusted Gross Income amount from a prior tax return to verify their identity. Learn more about how to verify your identity and electronically sign your tax return at Validating Your Electronically Filed Tax Return. The IRS will begin accepting and processing tax returns once the filing season begins.

Under the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 (PATH Act), any Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITIN) issued prior to 2013 or that haven’t been used for tax-years 2013, 2014 and 2015 will no longer be valid for use on a tax return as of Jan. 1, 2017. Individuals with expiring ITINs who need to file a return in 2017 will need to renew their ITIN. This process typically takes 7 weeks to receive an ITIN assignment letter, but the process can take longer - 9 to 11 weeks if taxpayers wait to submit Form W-7 during the peak filing season, or send it from overseas. Taxpayers who do not renew an expired ITIN before filing a tax return next year, could face a delayed refund and may be ineligible for certain tax credits. For more information, visit the ITIN information page on IRS.gov.

If you claim the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) on your tax return, the IRS must hold your refund until February 15. This new law requires the IRS to hold the entire refund — even the portion not associated with EITC or ACTC. This change helps ensure that you receive the refund you are owed by giving the agency more time to help detect and prevent fraud.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Happy Veterans Day From NFS





Ask About Our HERO'S DISCOUNT
$30 Off Income Tax Preparation Year-Round

Thursday, November 3, 2016

New Law Sets Jan. 31 W-2 Filing Deadline; Some Refunds Delayed Until Feb. 15

A new federal law moves up the W-2 filing deadline for employers and small businesses to Jan. 31.

The new law makes it easier for the IRS to find and stop refund fraud. It also delays some taxpayer refunds. Those taxpayers claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit or the Additional Child Tax Credit won’t see refunds until Feb.15, at the earliest.

Here are some key points to keep in mind:

  • Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act. Enacted last December, the new law means employers need to file their copies of Forms W-2  by Jan. 31. These forms also go to the Social Security Administration. The new deadline also applies to certain Forms 1099. Those reporting nonemployee compensation such as payments to independent contractors submitted to the IRS are due Jan. 31. Employers have long faced a Jan. 31 deadline in providing copies of these forms to their employees. That date won’t change.
  • Different from past deadline. Employers normally had until the end of February, if filing on paper, or the end of March, if filing electronically, to send in copies of these forms. The IRS is working with the payroll community and other partners to spread the word.  
  • Helps stop fraud or errors. The new Jan. 31 deadline will help the IRS to spot errors on returns filed by taxpayers. Having these W-2s and 1099s sooner will make it easier for the IRS to verify legitimate tax returns and get refunds to taxpayers eligible to receive them. The changes will allow the IRS to send some tax refunds faster.
  • Some refunds delayed. Certain taxpayers will get their refunds a bit later. By law, the IRS must hold refunds for any tax return claiming either the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) until Feb. 15. This means the whole refund, not just the part related to the EITC or ACTC.
  • File tax returns normally. Taxpayers should file their returns as they normally do. The IRS issues more than nine out of 10 refunds in less than 21 days. However, some returns may need further review. Whether or not claiming EITC or ACTC, the IRS cautions taxpayers not to count on getting a refund by a certain date. Consider this fact when making major purchases or paying debts.
  • Use IRS.gov online tools. Starting Feb. 15, the best way to check the status of a refund is with the Where's My Refund? tool on IRS.gov or the IRS2Go Mobile App.


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

IRS Announces 2017 Pension Plan Limitations; 401(k) Contribution Limit Remains Unchanged at $18,000 for 2017

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today announced cost of living adjustments affecting dollar limitations for pension plans and other retirement-related items for tax year 2017. The IRS today issued technical guidance detailing these items in Notice 2016-62.

Highlights of changes for 2017

The income ranges for determining eligibility to make deductible contributions to traditional Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs), to contribute to Roth IRAs, and to claim the saver’s credit all increased for 2017.

Taxpayers can deduct contributions to a traditional IRA if they meet certain conditions.  If during the year either the taxpayer or their spouse was covered by a retirement plan at work, the deduction may be reduced, or phased out, until it is eliminated, depending on filing status and income. (If neither the taxpayer nor their spouse is covered by a retirement plan at work, the phase-outs of the deduction do not apply.)    Here are the phase-out ranges for 2017:

  • For single taxpayers covered by a workplace retirement plan, the phase-out range is $62,000 to $72,000, up from $61,000 to $71,000.
  • For married couples filing jointly, where the spouse making the IRA contribution is covered by a workplace retirement plan, the phase-out range is $99,000 to $119,000, up from $98,000 to $118,000.
  • For an IRA contributor who is not covered by a workplace retirement plan and is married to someone who is covered, the deduction is phased out if the couple’s income is between $186,000 and $196,000, up from $184,000 and $194,000.
  • For a married individual filing a separate return who is covered by a workplace retirement plan, the phase-out range is not subject to an annual cost-of-living adjustment and remains $0 to $10,000.

The income phase-out range for taxpayers making contributions to a Roth IRA is $118,000 to $133,000 for singles and heads of household, up from $117,000 to $132,000.  For married couples filing jointly, the income phase-out range is $186,000 to $196,000, up from $184,000 to $194,000.  The phase-out range for a married individual filing a separate return who makes contributions to a Roth IRA is not subject to an annual cost-of-living adjustment and remains $0 to $10,000.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

8 Estate Planning Mistakes to Avoid




















Estate planning can be complicated, and it’s not uncommon for people to make mistakes with their plans. But financial advisors make errors, too, so here are the most common mistakes we have encountered from other financial and estate planners.

1. Improper beneficiary designations

I frequently see advisors improperly completing beneficiary designations. Examples: not changing the beneficiary due to divorce or a death, or listing a special needs child or grandchild directly as a beneficiary, rather than a trust FBO (for benefit of), thereby affecting their eligibility for Social Security disability benefits.

2. Not changing asset titles to trusts

Incorporating revocable living trusts into a client’s estate plan but forgetting to update all the account titling to the name of the trust. Not changing titles creates problems that include having to pay additional probate costs, losing the private nature of settling the estate, etc.

3. Incorrectly assuming clients’ goals

Many advisors assume a client’s main goal is to save estate taxes, for example. However, when really connecting with a client, we might find that taxes are only a small aspect of their objectives. Sometimes, in listening to the client, we realize that their fears are more about their heirs’ ability to manage the inheritance as well as decisions such as trustees, etc.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Halloween Safety Tips from NFS


Halloween Safety Tips to Have a safe and fun Halloween!

KNOW THE RULES

1. Instruct your older children to TAKE FRIENDS when “Trick or Treating.”

2. Make sure a TRUSTED ADULT, an older child, or you accompany your younger children when “Trick or Treating.” A trusted adult is a person parents/guardians have come to rely on and with whom they and their children feel comfortable. Discuss with your child who will accompany him or her and make sure you are both comfortable with the choice.

3. Accompany, or make sure a trusted adult accompanies, your younger children to the door of every home they approach. Become familiar with each home your child visits and the people who are providing Halloween treats to your children.

4. Teach your children to only enter homes with your prior permission and only approach homes that are well-lit both inside and outside.

5. Teach your children to NEVER approach a vehicle unless they are accompanied by you, even if it appears no one is inside the vehicle.

6. Make sure your children wear reflective clothing and carry a flashlight or glow stick when traveling during the evening hours.

7. Make sure your children are able to see and breathe properly and easily when using facial masks.
All costumes and masks should be clearly marked as flame resistant.

8. Teach your children to always stay in well-lit areas, never take shortcuts, and never go into isolated areas.

9. Teach your children to stay alert for any suspicious incidents and report anything unusual to you and/or law enforcement. Teach your children if anyone tries to grab them to draw attention to themselves and loudly yell “This person is trying to take me,” or “This person is not my father/mother.” Instruct your children to make every effort to escape by walking, running, or pulling away; yelling; kicking; attracting attention; and/or otherwise resisting. Consider organizing or attending parties at home, in schools, or in community centers as a good alternative to “Trick or Treating.”

Have a Safe & Fun Halloween!!

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Friday, October 28, 2016

Reminder: Employers Face New Jan. 31 W-2 Filing Deadline; Some Refunds Delayed Until Feb. 15

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today reminded employers and small businesses of a new Jan. 31 filing deadline for Forms W-2. The IRS must also hold some refunds until Feb. 15.

A new federal law, aimed at making it easier for the IRS to detect and prevent refund fraud, will accelerate the W-2 filing deadline for employers to Jan. 31. For similar reasons, the new law also requires the IRS to hold refunds involving two key refundable tax credits until at least Feb. 15. Here are details on each of these key dates.

New Jan. 31 Deadline for Employers

The Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act, enacted last December, includes a new requirement for employers. They are now required to file their copies of Form W-2, submitted to the Social Security Administration, by Jan. 31. The new Jan. 31 filing deadline also applies to certain Forms 1099-MISC reporting non-employee compensation such as payments to independent contractors.

In the past, employers typically had until the end of February, if filing on paper, or the end of March, if filing electronically, to submit their copies of these forms. In addition, there are changes in requesting an extension to file the Form W-2. Only one 30-day extension to file Form W-2 is available and this extension is not automatic. If an extension is necessary, a Form 8809 Application for Extension of Time to File Information Returns must be completed as soon as you know an extension is necessary, but by January 31. Please carefully review the instructions for Form 8809, for more information.

"As tax season approaches, the IRS wants to be sure employers, especially smaller businesses, are aware of these new deadlines," said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. "We are working with the payroll community and other partners to share this information widely."

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Choosing the Right Business Entity

When you decide to start a business, one of the most important decisions you'll need to make is choosing the right business entity. It's a decision that impacts many things--from the amount of taxes you pay to how much paperwork you have to deal with and what type of personal liability you face.

Forms of Business

The most common forms of business are Sole Proprietorships, Partnerships, Limited Liability Companies (LLCs), and Corporations (C-Corporations). Federal tax law also recognizes another business form called the S-Corporation. While state law controls the formation of your business, federal tax law controls how your business is taxed.

What to Consider

Businesses fall under one of two federal tax systems:

  1. Taxation of both the entity itself on the income it earns and the owners on dividends or other profit participation the owners receive from the business. C-Corporations fall under this system of federal taxation.
  2. "Pass through" taxation. This type of entity (also called a "flow-through" entity) is not taxed, but its owners are each taxed (more or less) on their proportionate shares of the entity's income. Pass-through entities include:
    • Sole Proprietorships
    • Partnerships, of various types
    • Limited liability companies (LLCs)
    • "S-Corporations" (S-Corps), as distinguished from C-corporations (C-Corps)

The first major consideration when choosing a business entity is whether to choose one that has two levels of tax on income or one that is a pass-through entity with only one level directly on the owners.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Hold On to Your Tax Returns


You should always keep a copy of your tax return for your records. You may need copies of your filed tax returns for many reasons. For example, they can help you prepare future tax returns. You'll also need them if you have to amend a prior year tax return. You often need them when you apply for a loan to buy a home or to start a business. You may need them if you apply for student financial aid.

If you can't find your copies, the IRS can provide a transcript of the tax information you need or a copy of your tax return. Here's more information, including how to get your federal tax return information from the IRS:

  • Transcripts are free and you can get them for the current year and the past three years. In most cases, a transcript includes the tax information you need.
  • A tax return transcript shows most line items from the tax return that you filed. It also includes items from any accompanying forms and schedules that you filed. It doesn't reflect any changes you or the IRS may have made after you filed your original return.
  • A tax account transcript includes your marital status, the type of return you filed, your adjusted gross income and taxable income. It does include any changes that you or the IRS made to your tax return after you filed it.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Lending Money? Make it a Tax-Smart Loan

Lending money to a cash-strapped friend or family member is a noble and generous offer that just might make a difference. But before you hand over the cash, you need to plan ahead to avoid tax complications down the road.

Let's say you decide to loan $5,000 to your daughter who's been out of work for over a year and is having difficulty keeping up with the mortgage payments on her condo. While you may be tempted to charge an interest rate of zero percent, you should resist the temptation. Here's why.

When you make an interest-free loan to someone, you will be subject to "below-market interest rules." IRS rules state that you need to calculate imaginary interest payments from the borrower. These imaginary interest payments are then payable to you and you will need to pay taxes on these interest payments when you file a tax return. Further, if the imaginary interest payments exceed $14,000 for the year, there may be adverse gift and estate tax consequences.

Exception: The IRS lets you ignore the rules for small loans ($10,000 or less), as long as the aggregate loan amounts to a single borrower are less than $10,000 and the borrower doesn't use the loan proceeds to buy or carry income-producing assets.

In addition, if you don't charge any interest, or charge interest that is below market rate (more on this below), then the IRS might consider your loan a gift, especially if there is no formal documentation (i.e. written agreement with payment schedule) and you go to make a nonbusiness bad debt deduction if the borrower defaults on the loan--or the IRS decides to audit you and decides your loan is really a gift.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Income Tax Extension Deadline – October 17th, not the 15th this year

Taxes are normally due on April 15th every year, but taxpayers are eligible to file for an automatic extension if they need more time to prepare their tax return.

If you filed for a federal tax extension in April, your tax forms need to be filed by TODAY, October 17th. Usually, the extension deadline is October 15th, but because the 15th falls on a Saturday this year, it is moved to the next business day.

Please contact our office if you are having trouble completing your returns today and need help getting them done by midnight tonight.





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Friday, October 14, 2016

When A Loved One Dies...

In order to relieve loved ones of additional stress, anxiety and expense at the time of a death in the family, consider recording as much information as possible in advance and providing copies to family members. Using our When a Loved One Dies Life Guide, you'll be able to record and share the following information:


  • Names and contact information of your professional advisors.
  • Your vital statistics.
  • Your specific funeral instructions.
  • Historical information for your obituary.
  • People and organizations to be notified about a death.
  • Locations of vital documents.
  • Important banking and insurance information.
  • Your wishes for the disposition of personal property.
  • Any special requests and/or instructions.



In addition, this Life Guide provides information and suggestions on the actions to take immediately following a death in the family, as well as in the days, weeks and months to follow.

Click here for your free copy of the NFS "When a Loved One Dies" Life Guide.

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Thursday, October 13, 2016

Back By Popular Demand - College Planning Workshop with NFS & Paul Hemphill

College Planning Workshop - ONE WEEK AWAY!!

Fiske Public Library, Wrentham MA
Thursday, October 20th, 2016
7:00 pm to 8:00 pm


"How To Pay A Whole Lot Less For College" hosted by NFS and presented by local Author and College Expert Paul Hemphill. This exciting workshop will help you to reduce your stress about college planning including what to expect from colleges, how to afford college and how to minimize your costs. AND, as an added bonus, if you bring your high school Sophomore or Junior with you to the seminar, you will receive a take away valued at $95! Register for this great session HERE.

Is Canceled Debt Taxable?


When that debt is forgiven, negotiated down (when you pay less than you owe), or canceled you will receive Form 1099-C, Cancellation of Debt, from your financial institution or credit union. Form 1099-C shows the amount of canceled or forgiven debt that was reported to the IRS. If you and another person were jointly and severally liable for a canceled debt, each of you may get a Form 1099-C showing the entire amount of the canceled debt. Give the office a call if you have any questions regarding joint liability of canceled debt.

Creditors who forgive $600 or more of debt are required to issue this form. If you receive a Form 1099-C and the information is incorrect, contact the lender to make corrections.

If you receive a Form 1099-C, don't ignore it. You may not have to report that entire amount shown on Form 1099-C as income. The amount, if any, you must report depends on all the facts and circumstances. Generally, however, unless you meet one of the exceptions or exclusions discussed below, you must report any taxable canceled debt reported on Form 1099-C as ordinary income on:

  • Form 1040 or Form 1040NR, if the debt is a nonbusiness debt;
  • Schedule C or Schedule C-EZ (Form 1040), if the debt is related to a nonfarm sole proprietorship;
  • Schedule E (Form 1040), if the debt is related to non-farm rental of real property;
  • Form 4835, if the debt is related to a farm rental activity for which you use Form 4835 to report farm rental income based on crops or livestock produced by a tenant; or
  • Schedule F (Form 1040), if the debt is farm debt and you are a farmer.

Exceptions and Exclusions

If you've had debt forgiven or canceled this year and receive a Form 1099-C, you might qualify for an exception or exclusion. If your canceled debt meets the requirements for an exception or exclusion, then you don't need to report your canceled debt on your tax return. Under the federal tax code, there are five exceptions and four exclusions for tax year 2016. Here are the five most commonly used:

Friday, October 7, 2016

8 Financial Must-Dos for Newlyweds

First, just talking about your financial goals and the bigger picture is the biggest step. Open communication between you and your new spouse about your joint financial goals is one of the most important things you can do so you can avoid financial surprises down the road. Once you know where you stand and where you want to go you can take the proper steps to get there. Here are some tips for you.

1. Set up a joint checking account: Even if y
ou plan to keep your finances somewhat separate, it is very helpful to have a joint checking account that you both have access to.

2. Set a budget: Make sure you are on the same page about how much you are saving and spending on a monthly basis. You will also want to evaluate the debt you each have and set up plan in your monthly budget to pay off the highest interest rate debt first.

3. Coordinate benefits at work: Figure out if joining a spouse’s medical or dental insurance plan offers better coverage and/or pricing than what you currently have. Also make sure you are both taking advantage of company matches in your retirement plans.

4. Re-evaluate your overall investment allocation: Now that you have joint goals, you should make sure your investments aren’t counteracting each other. You want to make sure you are not unnecessarily taking risk by being too overweight in a certain area.

5. Protection plans: Someone else is now relying on you and your income. Make sure you have the proper amounts of disability insurance and life insurance in place so if something terrible does happen it won’t financially ruin the other.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

The Home-Based Business: Basics to Consider

More than 52 percent of businesses today are home-based. Every day, people are striking out and achieving economic and creative independence by turning their skills into dollars. Garages, basements, and attics are being transformed into the corporate headquarters of the newest entrepreneurs--home-based businesspeople.

And, with technological advances in smartphones, tablets, and iPads as well as a rising demand for "service-oriented" businesses, the opportunities seem to be endless.

Is a Home-Based Business Right for You?

Choosing a home business is like choosing a spouse or partner: Think carefully before starting the business. Instead of plunging right in, take the time to learn as much about the market for any product or service as you can. Before you invest any time, effort, or money take a few moments to answer the following questions:

  • Can you describe in detail the business you plan on establishing?
  • What will be your product or service?
  • Is there a demand for your product or service?
  • Can you identify the target market for your product or service?
  • Do you have the talent and expertise needed to compete successfully?

Before you dive head first into a home-based business, it's essential that you know why you are doing it and how you will do it. To succeed, your business must be based on something greater than a desire to be your own boss, and involves an honest assessment of your own personality, an understanding of what's involved, and a lot of hard work. You have to be willing to plan ahead and make improvements and adjustments along the way.


While there are no "best" or "right" reasons for starting a home-based business, it is vital to have a very clear idea of what you are getting into and why. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Are you a self-starter?
  • Can you stick to business if you're working at home?
  • Do you have the necessary self-discipline to maintain schedules?
  • Can you deal with the isolation of working from home?

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Back By Popular Demand - College Planning Workshop with NFS & Paul Hemphill

College Planning Workshop
Fiske Public Library, Wrentham MA
Thursday, October 20th, 2016
7:00 pm to 8:00 pm


"How To Pay A Whole Lot Less For College" hosted by NFS and presented by local Author and College Expert Paul Hemphill. This exciting workshop will help you to reduce your stress about college planning including what to expect from colleges, how to afford college and how to minimize your costs. AND, as an added bonus, if you bring your high school Sophomore or Junior with you to the seminar, you will receive a take away valued at $95! Register for this great session HERE.

IRS Tax Tips for Starting a Business

When you start a business, a key to your success is to know your tax obligations. You may not only need to know about income tax rules, but also about payroll tax rules. Here are five IRS tax tips that can help you get your business off to a good start.

1. Business Structure.  An early choice you need to make is to decide on the type of structure for your business. The most common types are sole proprietor, partnership and corporation. The type of business you choose will determine which tax forms you will file. We can help you to choose the right entity for your situation.

2. Business Taxes.  There are four gener
al types of business taxes. They are income tax, self-employment tax, employment tax and excise tax. In most cases, the types of tax your business pays depends on the type of business structure you set up. You may need to make estimated tax payments. If you do, use IRS Direct Pay to pay them. It’s the fast, easy and secure way to pay from your checking or savings account. We can set up all of these tax payment systems for you.


Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Changing Jobs? Don't Forget your 401(k)

One of the most important questions you face when changing job is what to do with the money in your 401(k). Making the wrong move could cost you thousands of dollars or more in taxes and lower returns.

Let's say you put in five years at your current job. For most of those years, you've had the company take a set percentage of your pre-tax salary and put it into your 401(k) plan.

Now that you're leaving, what should you do? The first rule of thumb is to leave it alone because you have 60 days to decide whether to roll it over or leave it in the account.

Resist the temptation to cash out. The worst thing an employee can do when leaving a job is to withdraw the money from their 401(k) plans and put it in his or her bank account. Here's why:

If you decide to have your distribution paid to you, the plan administrator will withhold 20 percent of your total for federal income taxes, so if you had $100,000 in your account and you wanted to cash it out, you're already down to $80,000.

Furthermore, if you're younger than 59 1/2, you'll face a 10 percent penalty for early withdrawal come tax time. Now you're down another 10 percent from the original amount of $100,000 to $70,000.

Also, because distributions are taxed as ordinary income, at the end of the year, you'll have to pay the difference between your tax bracket and the 20 percent already taken out. For example, if you're in the 33 percent tax bracket, you'll still owe 13 percent, or $13,000. This lowers the amount of your cash distribution to $57,000.

But that's not all. You might also have to pay state and local taxes. Between taxes and penalties, you could end up with little over half of what you had saved up, short-changing your retirement savings significantly.

What are the Alternatives?

Monday, October 3, 2016

Fall Financial Tidbits

Summer has come to an end. Now that the hottest days, family vacations and back-to-school rush are behind us, it’s a great time to give some attention to your personal finances. Prepare for the coming months – and the holidays on the horizon – with these fall tips:

  • Pay quarterly estimated taxes. If you’re self-employed or you have extra income you haven’t reported on your W-2, now’s the time to make sure you’re paying both state and federal quarterly estimated income taxes so you don’t get stuck with a big bill from Uncle Sam in April. September 17th was the deadline to pay your third quarter estimates, but don’t let that stop you from sending something in anyway.
  • Prepare for the cooler months. Although you may still have summer on your mind, staying warm gets expensive when winter hits. Many utility companies offer “budget billing” plans that allow you to spread your heating costs over the year while avoiding a surprisingly large bill for a particularly cold month. Also, winterizing your home this fall conserves energy and saves money.
  • Start saving for the holidays. It may sound excessive to start thinking about the holidays in October, but Christmas is a less than 90 days away. Now is a great time to create a holiday spending plan. For instance, if you plan to spend $300 on gifts, you should start saving $3-4 per day to get there. Stashing away cash in advance allows you to buy gifts for everyone on your list without taking on debt. Resolve to start a “Christmas Club” savings account in the New Year to jump-start your savings habit.
  • Teach children to save. When kids return to school, they often have a renewed sense of focus and determination. Schools across the country are incorporating financial literacy into the classroom. Take this opportunity to talk to your children about money and the importance of saving. Your efforts will be rewarded as your child develops an understanding of financial principles and positive financial habits. We have a great FREE guide entitled "Money Doesn't Grow on Trees...Teaching Kids About Money". Please feel free to request one by clicking here.
  • De-clutter and donate. As summer winds down and you start spending more time inside, take a hard look at all the stuff you’ve been stockpiling. Sorting through clothes you no longer wear along with electronics and unused household items can free-up space and even make you a little cash. Sell items at a local consignment shop or donate them (by making a tax-deductible contribution).
  • Conquering the Clutter in your Financial Closet. You need only to keep credit card receipts, ATM transactions, and deposit and debit card receipts until you verify the transaction on your monthly statements and then you can shred them. Always remember that any financial transaction, receipt or account statement should be shredded. NEVER throw them in the trash.

PERMANENT items you may want to keep:

  • Educational records
  • Employment records
  • Health records
  • Retirement and Pension Plan information
  • Contents of your safe deposit box


CURRENT items, which need to be reviewed every 3-6 years, before deciding whether to continue keeping or shredding them include:

  • Cancelled checks
  • Bank statements
  • Insurance policies
  • Home purchase, repair and improvement records
  • Warranties
  • Income tax records

If you need any additional information, please do not hesitate to contact our office.

Wrentham, Norfolk, Plainville, Franklin


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Friday, September 30, 2016

Life Insurance Awareness Month Comes to an End



As we have presented this September, life insurance can do some pretty amazing things for people. It can buy loved ones time to grieve. It can pay off debts and loans, providing surviving family members with the chance to move on with a clean slate. It can keep families in their homes and pre-fund a child’s college education. It can keep a family business in the family. It can provide a stream of income for a family to live on for a period of time. Life insurance can do all of these wonderful things for your family…there’s just one small catch. You need to own life insurance.

There’s a growing crisis of too many Americans not having adequate life insurance protection. According to the industry research group LIMRA, 30 percent of US households have no life insurance whatsoever. Today there are 11 million fewer American households covered by life insurance compared with six years ago. Here’s the bottom line: A majority of families either have no life insurance or not enough, leaving them one accident or terminal illness away from a financial catastrophe for their loved ones.

What if you were suddenly gone and your family had to manage on their own? When was the last time you did the math to make sure your loved ones would be OK financially? Have you checked with your employer to find out what kind of life insurance benefit you have through work and whether you have the option to increase your coverage? When was the last time you had your life insurance needs reviewed by an insurance professional? Northeast Financial Strategies is here to help!





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Thursday, September 29, 2016

Think Life Insurance


Do you want your family to have enough funds to survive without you? Contact our office today to make sure you have enough coverage.


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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Financial Priorities: Are They Out of Sync?

Here are some interesting info tidbits on the perceived cost of insurance:


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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

3 Life Changing Events That May Change Your Insurance Needs

Your life insurance coverage should be reviewed on a regular basis to ensure you have adequate coverage, but a major life change is a particularly important time to assess your life insurance needs. Here are three life events when you should review your life insurance policy:

1) A change in family situation: Did you get married, divorced, have a baby, adopt children, or change jobs? Any of these life events are likely to change the amount of life insurance coverage you need.

2) An upward change in your income: A big promotion or a raise may be a good reason to review your coverage. Life insurance is often purchased to replace the income of the breadwinner in a family. If your income increases, you may need to review the face value (the amount paid to beneficiaries at the policyholder's death) of your life insurance policy.

3) Retirement: If retirement is just around the corner, it may be time to assess your life insurance policy. According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), life insurance can keep surviving spouses from receiving reduced Social Security benefits. For example, those who begin collecting 
Social Security survivors benefits at age 60, rather than at the full-benefit age of 66 or 67, receive a permanently reduced Social Security benefit. Having life insurance coverage in place may prevent your spouse from having to live on less.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Think Life Insurance


Life Insurance isn't as expensive as you think - contact us today to find out how much coverage is for you.
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Friday, September 23, 2016

Life Happens



No one knows what the future holds. Hopefully, only good things are in store for you.

But realistically, bad things will happen too.

Even if you don’t consider yourself a cautious person, you take little steps every day to improve the odds that good things will happen and guard against the possibility of bad things happening.

You wear seat belts.

You lock your doors when you leave home.

You try to eat well and exercise.

In other words, you may not be able to control the future, but you can stand up to it. You don’t have to get wet when it rains. You can carry an umbrella.

True, it’s easy to take these little steps. The bigger steps, though, can require contemplating some pretty unpleasant things.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Key Tax Tips on the Tax Effects of Divorce or Separation

Income tax may be the last thing on your mind after a divorce or separation. However, these events can have a big impact on your taxes. Alimony and a name change are just a few items you may need to consider. Here are some key tax tips to keep in mind if you get divorced or separated.

  • Child Support.  If you pay child support, you can’t deduct it on your tax return. If you receive child support, the amount you receive is not taxable.
  • Alimony Paid.  If you make payments under a divorce or separate maintenance decree or written separation agreement you may be able to deduct them as alimony. This applies only if the payments qualify as alimony for federal tax purposes. If the decree or agreement does not require the payments, they do not qualify as alimony.
  • Alimony Received.  If you get alimony from your spouse or former spouse, it is taxable in the year you get it. Alimony is not subject to tax withholding so you may need to increase the tax you pay during the year to avoid a penalty. To do this, you can make estimated tax payments or increase the amount of tax withheld from your wages.
  • Spousal IRA.  If you get a final decree of divorce or separate maintenance by the end of your tax year, you can’t deduct contributions you make to your former spouse's traditional IRA. You may be able to deduct contributions you make to your own traditional IRA.
  • Name Changes.  If you change your name after your divorce, notify the Social Security Administration of the change. File Form SS-5, Application for a Social Security Card. You can get the form on SSA.gov or call 800-772-1213 to order it. The name on your tax return must match SSA records. A name mismatch can delay your refund. 

Health Care Law Considerations

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Life Insurance: Why Do I Need It? What Does It Do?


So, why do you need life insurance?

What often comes to mind when thinking about life insurance is that you can use it to pay final expenses. You've seen the commercials: Funeral expenses, burial costs and medical bills can add up to a hefty amount. The last thing you want is for your loved ones to shoulder this extra burden. Life insurance can be used to plan for these final expenses. Permanent life insurance is available in various amounts, so you can pick a death benefit that meets your needs.

But there are other considerations to keep in mind. You can use life insurance …

As mortgage protection. Whether you live by yourself, with a spouse or significant other, you may want to buy life insurance as mortgage protection. Think about it: You don’t want the person you live with to be homeless if you die unexpectedly, do you? Term life insurance can be used to pay off an outstanding mortgage balance. Just select a term that matches the length of your mortgage payment period. Some companies even offer decreasing term insurance, which means the death benefit decreases along with your mortgage balance.

For income replacement. You and your significant other may have planned for a future based on two incomes, but what if one of you passes away unexpectedly? Life insurance can be used to replace the lost income so the survivor can maintain the same standard of living.

For college funding. Yeah, I know. You don’t have kids, so this one only applies if you do or if you have grandchildren you want to help. Have you seen the tuition rates lately? Life insurance can help fund a college education. If you die, the death benefit may be invested and potentially grow to the needed amount by the time your children or grandchildren reach college age. If you have permanent policies, the cash value may be used to help fund tuition costs. Feel better knowing that you helped prepare for their future—even if you are not there to see it.

Are You Ready to be a First Time Home Buyer?

Now, more than ever, is a great time to be a first time home buyer. Housing costs are low, interest rates are at a record low, and you don’t own a home that you have to worry about selling and most likely lose a profit. However, just because it is an ideal time to make that next step, you need to ensure that buying a home is the right choice for you and your current situation.

Buying a home can be fun, exciting, liberating, and a great investment, but it comes with great responsibility, is labor intensive, and a large financial commitment. Once a purchase is made, you are responsible for anything that goes wrong in the house. A new roof, plumbing, new appliances, cutting the lawn, and snow removal now lay in your hands, not a landlord’s.

A few steps to take to figure out if you are ready to be a first time home buyer include:

  • Check selling prices in the area you want to live. This will give you some good insight as to how much you will have to pay for the size house that you will need to accommodate you and your lifestyle. Zillow is a great site to see for how much homes in the area have recently sold.
  • See how much you can afford. A great tool to use is a mortgage calculator. This allows you to enter the price of the home, the interest rate, the loan term, as well as the property taxes. This will give you a good idea as to how much your monthly housing expenses will be and if it is something you can or cannot afford.
  • Get an idea as to how much you will pay in closing costs. This area gets confusing for most. You will see a lot of banks advertise: “No points, no closing costs.” If this is the case, you are paying a slightly higher rate, so that the loan officer gets paid more, so that he or she can use that extra money to pay your closing costs. If you don’t want to pay a chunk of money out of pocket, this may be a good option for you. Otherwise, you can choose to receive the lowest interest rate possible and pay the closing costs out of pocket. The fees that are included in closing costs are: Origination fees charged by the lender, title and settlement fees, taxes and prepaid items such as homeowner’s insurance or homeowner’s association fees.
  • Look at your budget. Fannie Mae recommends that buyers spend no more than 28% of their income on housing costs.
  • Pick up the phone. Make some calls to your local banks and see who is offering the lowest interest rate. Most will be in the same range, but a few points can make a big difference. Ask questions.
  • Make sure your credit is in good standing. One of the largest factors of getting a good interest rate is having good credit. The better the credit score, the lower the rate. The worse your credit score is the higher rate you will receive. In some cases if your credit is so bad, you won’t qualify for a loan at all.
  • Inquire about different loan programs. There are several programs out there now that help you to qualify for a home loan. A few include: Mass Housing, FHA, and Veteran’s loans. These are all great programs if you qualify and may more affordable than a conventional loan.

If you follow these basic guidelines then you should successfully be on your way to being a first time home buyer. Here at Northeast Financial Strategies, Inc., we have seamlessly guided thousands of home owners and business people through the buying and selling process. We work with a great local network of realtors, mortgage advisors, closing attorneys and home inspectors. Check out our Events Page to register for our next First Time Home Buyer Seminar happening tonight Wednesday 09/21/2016. If you have any questions regarding the purchase of your first home or would like us to guide you through, please feel free to contact us at: 800-560-4637.


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