There is now a whole section of Flexible Spending Account eligible items available on Amazon. In case you don't know what an FSA is, it is an account that you put pre-tax money into that you use to pay out-of-pocket health care costs with. The limit per person each year is $2,650 and most plans require that you use up that amount each year. Even though there is a limit of $2,650 a year you are not required to contribute that much. You can estimate what you think you spend per year and only contribute that amount. People use their FSA accounts to pay for copays, deductibles and prescriptions but there is a lot of over the counter products that meet the eligibility requirements ranging from blood pressure testers all the way to sunscreen and lotion.
Most of the time FSA owners will pay for these out of pocket expenses and then submit a claim form to be reimbursed but there is another option. You can now request a debit card for your FSA and pay directly for these expenses using that card. If you would like to order from Amazon, you would enter your FSA credit card information and select that card as your form of payment. When I was looking on Amazon I simply searched for FSA eligible items and was amazed at all of the products that were available and that I would be able to use for my family on a daily basis. This is a great way to use up the funds in your FSA account.
If you do not have a Flexible Spending Account, it may be something to look into. Not all employers offer them, but it doesn't hurt to ask your human resources department. Remember whatever you do contribute will reduce your taxable income because the contributions are made pre-tax. It's really a great way to pay for your out-of-pocket health care costs.
When googling FSA eligible products, I noticed that there were a lot of other stores that offer them as well. I just love the convenience and delivery options of Amazon, especially if you're a Prime member.
When browsing the internet and logging into certain sites, it's become almost habit to look for the little green padlock to make sure that you are entering a secure website. well, unfortunately a lot of phishing sites have started using the green padlock as well to try to fool the average user. These phishing sites try to copy a legitimate site, pose as an online retailer or other trusted site. Their goal is for you to trust them and enter your personal information, so it can be sold on the dark web and used for identity theft. It's important to always remember to look for the https:// displayed in front of the web address. The padlock by itself means nothing.
While we are deep in the midst of tax season, we thought it was a good idea to remind our clients to get in their 2018 IRA contributions. If you are planning on dropping off a check to us the deadline to get them in is Wednesday, April 10th. This will ensure that your contribution is made before the April 15th tax deadline.
2018 contribution limits are $5,500 or $6,500 if you are over the age of 50
Also, now is as good a time as any to get in your 2019 contributions especially because the limits have been increased. The sooner you get these in the longer they have to grow in your IRA which means more retirement funds for you!
2019 contribution limits are $6,000 or $7,000 if you are 50 years of age or older
When it comes to non-deductible IRA contributions please be sure that you are keeping a record of these contributions by completing tax form 8606 for each year you make a non-deductible contribution. We have run into a few cases where no record is kept, and our clients are left scrambling to find that information when it is time to take distributions from their IRAs. This information will be needed to figure out what amount of your distributions will be counted as taxable income to you, so it is very important.
If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to call us.
Check out the new earthquake app called ShakeAlertLA. This new app gives you an alert 20 seconds before an earthquake hits in L.A. County.
The app doesn't predict earthquakes, but it does know when an earthquake happens and when it's on its way to you and every second counts!
The app is available to Apple and Android users.
Here are a couple images of what the alerts look like.
Apparently there is a new scam going around in Orange County. Imposters are calling and claiming that they are from the Orange County Superior Court. They are claiming that you will be facing prosecution for missing jury duty and attempt to obtain your social security number. Read here for more details
The bottom line is, never ever under any circumstances give out any of your personal information such as social security number, birth date etc. to anyone who is calling you that you do not recognize. No reputable company is going to call you out of the blue to ask you for this information. Scammers will stop at nothing to get this valuable information from you so be vigilent in protecting it.
Just a quick reminder that the deadline for Medicare's Open Enrollment is today. If you were planning on making any changes to your plans today is the last time to do that until next October.
Here is a chart with a quick summary of the changes you can make. For more details click on this link.
Dear Clients with TD Ameritrade accounts
Please read the below announcement from TD Ameritrade detailing the changes to advisorclient.com especially the part about the new two-step security log in option.
Please be aware the updates to the website have caused some log in problems. TD Ameritrade technical support is aware and working on correcting the issues. You may not be able to log in temporarily.
New Two-Step Security Feature
The new AdvisorClient site can be set as your default view by clicking "Set as default" from the green banner on top of the screen.
Let us know if you have any questions about the new AdvisorClient website. Just call TD Ameritrade Institutional Technology Services at 800-400-3500 option 3 and they'll be able to help.
We came across an article on InvestmentNews.com written by Mary Beth Franklin. It gives a great explanation as well as examples and limits on how Social Security benefits are taxed if you are planning on working while collecting social security. Definitely worth a read if you have any income from other sources while collecting Social Security.
2019 annual contribution limits for eligible tax filers:
401(k), 403(b), most 457 plans, and Thrift Savings Plan is increased from $18,500 to $19,000.
IRA contributions increased from $5,500 to $6,000 per year. The age 50+ catch-up contribution limit remains at $1,000.
Tax deduction and Income limitations for 2019:
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 2019:
If single or joint married taxpayers are not covered by a work retirement plan, they may fully deduct traditional IRA contributions. Other tax filers may partially or fully deduct contributions if they meet the below exceptions:
The Modified AGI phase-out range for Roth IRA contributions is $122,000 to $137,000 for singles and heads of household, $193,000-203,000 for married couples filing jointly.
Medicare just released the new premiums, deductibles and coinsurance amounts for 2019.
The standard monthly premium for Medicare Part B enrollees will be $135.50 for 2019, an increase of $1.50 from $134 in 2018.
The annual deductible for all Medicare Part B beneficiaries is $185 in 2019, an increase of $2 from the annual deductible $183 in 2018.
If your modified adjusted gross income as reported on your IRS tax return from 2 years ago is above a certain amount, you'll pay the standard premium amount and an Income Related Monthly Adjustment Amount (IRMAA)
Here is a chart for reference
Social Security announced that in 2019 there will be a 2.8% Cost of Living Adjustment(COLA).
From left to right-Kimberly, Dexter, me, Kat, Luke, Jorge, Kyle
The highlight of my summer was the wedding of my youngest daughter, Kat, to my new son-in-law, Luke. They were married at Old Ranch Country Club in Seal Beach and it was a beautiful day! He is from Australia and we had quite a fun wedding with the visiting Aussie relatives. The whole family was involved in the wedding, even Dexter (our dog) – he was the flower dog! The planning and details that go into planning a wedding are intense and if you ever need any referrals for photographer, florist, etc. just let me know. We had a great team.
President Trump issued an executive order directing the Treasury Department to extend the age for required minimum distributions from retirement accounts. Currently the age is 70 1/2. His reasoning is that people are working and living longer. This can be good news for some of our clients who don't necessarily need to take the withdrawals at 70 1/2. Here is an articles from Forbes with some pros and cons to the proposed change.
I just found out about a very useful service that the United States Postal Service offers and one that Sandy has been using for a while. It is called Informed Delivery and it sends you a daily email with an image of the mail you will be receiving each day. It is completely free and easy to sign up. I went to USPS.com, logged into my existing account (If you do not already have an account you will need to create one) and under user preferences you can opt into the service. They do verify your identity so no one else can sign up to see your mail. They ask specific questions about you, where you have previously lived etc. This is a great way to know if anything ever goes missing from your mailbox. They even have a link in your daily email to report a piece of missing mail.
Here's an example of my dashboard on the site.
Signing up for this service is another way to stay one step ahead of identity theft that is so prevalant right now.
Have a great Holiday Weekend!
Not Just Tourists is a non-political, non-religious, volunteer run program that collects unused medical supplies for those in countries who can't afford them. They collect these supplies from hospitals, clinics, medical suppliers and individuals, pack them in a suitcase and send them with a person traveling to a country in need. The travelor checks the suitcase in on their flight and then delivers the suitcase to a local clinic in the country that they are traveling to. When we heard about this program we just knew that we would have clients who would be interested in helping out during their travels.
Ways you can help:
Donate Medical Supplies
We will be collecting suitcases at our office to donate to the Orange County Chapter of Not Just Tourists. They prefer donations of full-sized suitcases, but they welcome carry-on size as well. Suitcases should be clean, not too heavy or large, close easily and not be broken or badly torn.
The deadline to drop off your suitcases to our office is Thursday, August 30th.
Asset Planning, Inc
10833 Valley View St, Ste 470
For more information about the program or to sign up to take a suitcase of supplies with you please go to their website Not Just Tourists.
There you will find detailed FAQ page with any questions you may have.
Back in June we notified you of a new Federal act that goes into effect October 1, 2020. This act will require anyone boarding domestic flights, entering military bases or federal facilities to have a REAL ID. It can either be a REAL ID driver license or a REAL ID identification card and they are issued by the California DMV.
We are being told by clients that appointments to get a new REAL ID are now being scheduled two months out. I just tried to schedule my appointment this morning and the next available appointment is not until October 1st. That's not even including the time it will take for the ID to get to you in the mail.
We strongly urge you to take a moment to schedule your appointment today. You probably won't realize how many places you will need this ID to get into until the act goes into effect. Better to be safe than sorry!
We had an absolute blast catching up with our clients at our ice cream social on Tuesday. The weather was beautiful, the ice cream was delicious and the company was fantastic! Thank you for all of you who attended. We love the moments when we can sit and chat with you all. Our photo booth pictures were so much fun! Hope to see you all at the next one.