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IRA Archives

IRS Changes Policy on Identity Theft

Identity thieves not only steal credit cards in victims' names, they often file fraudulent tax returns in hopes of receiving refunds. The IRS has changed its policy and it should become less difficult to learn the truth.

How to Support Charitable Goals Through Bequests and Donations

There are tax breaks to be had while you are living and those that can benefit your heirs after you have passed. Knowing which ones work at what time is key to help mitigate tax liability. While you are living, giving appreciated assets held in a taxable account is a good way to go. When you are making bequests, consider designating your IRA or tax-deferred retirement plans for the most impact. For example, if a person wants to give $10,000 to her favorite charity this year, she can donate $10,000 worth of stock that she bought for $2,000. As long as her holding period is one year or more, she'll get a full $10,000 charitable deduction, even if those shares are worth less than $10,000 on the open market. These kinds of strategies are big for retirement planning and estate planning benefits. Here's another example: a prosperous business owner has $1 million of securities: $500,000 in a taxable account and $500,000 in a traditional IRA. He wants to leave half to charity and half to a daughter who is already in a high income tax bracket because of her own successful business. If his daughter inherits the IRA, she will have to take distributions, which will be taxed highly. An alternative: leave the entire IRA to charity, which is tax exempt. The daughter inherits the $500,000 taxable account and won't owe income tax on any money she withdraws. She also won't owe any capital gains if she sells the securities in the accounts right away, before they gain more value because she gets a cost basis step-up to market value on those assets.

Retirement Savings Options for Self-Employed

Unlike people who work for an employer and can set automatic deductions for their IRA accounts, self-employed people need to set up and contribute to retirement accounts. Two of the most frequently used accounts are the Simplified Employee Pension (SEP-IRA) and the Solo 401(k). Contributions to both are tax-deductible, allowing the entrepreneur to obtain tax-deferred growth and cut taxes.

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