Tag Archives: Stephen Ahern

Medicare open enrollment period starts 10/15/2013

What is the Medicare open enrollment period?

The Medicare open enrollment period is the time during which people with Medicare can make new choices and pick plans that work best for them. Each year Medicare plans typically change what they cost and cover. In addition, your health-care needs may have changed over the past year. The open enrollment period is your opportunity to switch Medicare health and prescription drug plans to better suit your needs.

When does the open enrollment period start?

The Medicare open enrollment period begins on October 15 and runs through December 7. Any changes made during open enrollment are effective as of January 1, 2014.

During the open enrollment period you can:

  • Join a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan
  • Switch from one Medicare Prescription Drug Plan to another Medicare Prescription Drug Plan
  • Drop your Medicare prescription drug coverage altogether
  • Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage Plan
  • Switch from a Medicare Advantage Plan to Original Medicare
  • Change from one Medicare Advantage Plan to a different Medicare Advantage Plan
  • Change from a Medicare Advantage Plan that offers prescription drug coverage to a Medicare Advantage Plan that doesn’t offer prescription drug coverage
  • Switch from a Medicare Advantage Plan that doesn’t offer prescription drug coverage to a Medicare Advantage Plan that does offer prescription drug coverage

What should you do?

Now is a good time to review your current Medicare plan. There are some factors you may want to consider as part of that evaluation. For instance, are you satisfied with the coverage and level of care you’re getting with your current plan? Are your premium costs or out-of-pocket expenses too high?

Has your health changed, or do you anticipate needing medical care or treatment? Now is the time to determine if your current plan will cover your treatment and what your potential out-of-pocket costs may be. If your current plan doesn’t meet your health-care needs or fit within your budget, you can switch to a plan that may work better for you.

What’s new in 2014?

Most Medicare Prescription Drug Plans have a temporary limit on what a particular plan will cover for prescription drugs. In 2014, this gap in coverage (also called the “donut hole”) begins after you and your drug plan have spent $2,850. It ends after you have spent $4,550 out-of-pocket, after which catastrophic coverage begins. However, part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) gradually closes this gap by reducing your out-of-pocket costs for prescriptions purchased within the coverage gap. In 2014, you’ll pay 47.5% of the cost for brand-name drugs in the coverage gap and 72% of the cost for generic drugs in the coverage gap. Each succeeding year, out-of-pocket prescription drug costs within the coverage gap continue to decrease until 2020, when you’ll pay 25% for covered brand-name and generic drugs within the gap.

Health Exchanges (Marketplaces)

Health Exchanges, or Marketplaces, which are part of the ACA, are available for people to shop for health insurance coverage. The Exchanges are scheduled to open October 1, 2013. The ACA also includes an insurance mandate, which requires most individuals to have health insurance or face a penalty. However, if you have Medicare, neither provision applies to you. As a Medicare recipient, you won’t face penalties for being uninsured. Also, Exchanges do not provide information on Medicare plans, and you can’t purchase Medicare coverage through an Exchange.

Where can you get more information?

Determining what coverage you have now and comparing it to other Medicare plans can be confusing and complicated. Pay attention to notices you receive from Medicare and from your plan, and take advantage of help available by calling 1-800-MEDICARE or by visiting the Medicare website, www.medicare.gov. Your financial professional can also help you find the information you need to make decisions about Medicare.

 

 

 

 

 

No Rendering of Advice The information contained within this website is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to substitute for obtaining accounting, tax, or financial advice from a qualified professional accountant.Presentation of the information is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, an accountant-client relationship. Internet subscribers, users, online and other readers are advised not to act upon this information without seeking the service of a professional accountant.Any U.S. federal tax advice contained in this document is not intended to be used for the purpose of avoiding penalties under U.S. federal tax law.Accuracy of Information While we use reasonable efforts to furnish accurate and up-to-date information, we do not warrant that any information contained herein or made available through our website is accurate, complete, reliable, current or error-free. We assume no liability or responsibility for any errors or omissions in the content of this website or such other materials or communications.

Disclaimer of Warranties and Limitations of Liability This document is provided on an “as is” and “as available” basis. Use of this or our website is at your own risk. We and our suppliers disclaim all warranties. Neither we nor our suppliers shall be liable for any damages of any kind with the use of this website.
Copyright 2006-2013 Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved

 

IRS and Treasury Department Provide Guidance on Same-Sex Marriage

The U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) have announced that same-sex couples who are legally married in jurisdictions that recognize same-sex marriage will be treated as married for all federal tax purposes. Guidance has been provided in the form of a Revenue Ruling (Rev. Rul. 2013-17) and associated Frequently Asked Questions.

State granting marriage is key, not state of residence

If a same-sex couple is legally married in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage, the couple will be treated as married for all federal tax purposes. This is true even if the couple resides in a state that does not recognize same-sex marriage. So, a same-sex couple legally married in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage, but residing in a state that does not recognize same-sex marriage, will be treated as married for federal tax purposes even though it’s possible the couple may not be treated as married for state tax purposes. Recognition also applies to same-sex couples legally married in the District of Columbia, a U.S. territory, or a foreign country.

Registered domestic partnerships, civil unions, and other formal relationships recognized under state law do not qualify–only couples legally married under state law will be treated as married for federal tax purposes.

Applies for all federal tax purposes

Legally married same-sex couples are treated as married for all federal tax purposes. This applies for federal estate and gift tax purposes, and for federal income tax purposes, including:

  • Filing status issues
  • Personal and dependency exemptions
  • Standard deductions
  • Employee benefits
  • IRA contributions and deductions
  • The earned income tax credit (EITC)
  • The child tax credit

2013 tax year implications

If you are legally married on the last day of the year, you generally have to file your 2013 federal income tax return as a married individual. That means same-sex couples treated as married for federal income tax purposes will generally have to choose whether to file their 2013 federal income tax return as married filing jointly, or as married filing separately.

Prior tax years

If you were married prior to 2013, you may also amend prior year federal income tax returns, choosing to be treated as married for federal income tax purposes (assuming that you were legally married on the last day of the tax year(s) being amended). You’re only able to file an amended return, however, for any tax year still open under the statute of limitations. Generally, the statute of limitations for filing a refund claim is three years from the date a return was filed, or two years from the date tax was paid, whichever is later. For most individuals, that means claims can still generally be filed for tax years 2010, 2011, and 2012. You are not required to amend a prior year return, however.

It’s important to note that if you choose to amend a prior year federal income tax return in order to be treated as married, all items on the return must be adjusted to consistently reflect your marital status (i.e., married filing jointly or married filing separately). That is, if you amend a prior year tax return to be treated as married, you are treated as married for all items and issues related to the return.

Note: If your employer provided health coverage for your same-sex spouse and included the value of that coverage in your adjusted gross income (AGI), amending your prior year return to reflect your status as a married individual may allow you to recover the income taxes paid on the value of this coverage. Similarly, if you paid premiums for health-care coverage for your same-sex spouse with after-tax dollars, you may be able to reduce your income by these premium amounts.

Note: For tax year 2012, same-sex spouses who filed their federal income tax returns before September 16, 2013 (the effective date of the Revenue Ruling) may choose–but are not required–to amend their 2012 federal income tax returns to file as married (i.e., married filing jointly or married filing separately). Same-sex spouses who file an original federal income tax return for the 2012 tax year (or for any prior tax year, for that matter) on or after September 16, 2013, will not have a choice–if legally married for the tax year, they will generally have to file their federal income tax return as married filing jointly or married filing separately.

No Rendering of Advice The information contained within this website is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to substitute for obtaining accounting, tax, or financial advice from a qualified professional accountant.
Presentation of the information is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, an accountant-client relationship. Internet subscribers, users, online and other readers are advised not to act upon this information without seeking the service of a professional accountant.
Any U.S. federal tax advice contained in this document is not intended to be used for the purpose of avoiding penalties under U.S. federal tax law.
Accuracy of Information While we use reasonable efforts to furnish accurate and up-to-date information, we do not warrant that any information contained herein or made available through our website is accurate, complete, reliable, current or error-free. We assume no liability or responsibility for any errors or omissions in the content of this website or such other materials or communications.
Disclaimer of Warranties and Limitations of Liability This document is provided on an “as is” and “as available” basis. Use of this or our website is at your own risk. We and our suppliers disclaim all warranties. Neither we nor our suppliers shall be liable for any damages of any kind with the use of this website.

Prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. Copyright 2013.

 

Signs of a housing recovery?

According to a well-known gauge of the U.S. housing market, home prices have been on an upswing. The latest S&P/Case-Shiller 20-City Composite Home Price Index, which was released in May, posted its biggest gain in seven years. This improvement has spurred renewed optimism about housing’s role in the country’s economic recovery.

What does the latest S&P/Case-Shiller home price index reveal about home prices?
The 20-city index–one of several S&P/Case-Shiller housing indices–showed a 10.9% gain between March 2012 and March 2013, the highest increase since 2006. In addition, all 20 cities tracked by the index had gains for three straight months.While the numbers certainly give homeowners and real estate investors cause to be optimistic, it’s important to note that not all cities saw the same price increases. Both San Francisco and Phoenix saw large price jumps of more than 20%. However, New York and Boston had smaller gains of 2.6% and 6.7%, respectively. What factors are driving the recovery, and what do rising home prices mean for the economy as a whole?A variety of factors are driving home prices up, such as low housing inventory, low mortgage rates, and a decline in foreclosures/short sales.As for the economy as a whole, rising home prices often serve as an indicator that the economy is performing better since it generally demonstrates increased consumer confidence. And while this latest report is good news for homeowners looking to sell, it also provides welcome news to underwater homeowners who may now see an increase in their home equity.

It is important to note, however, that other economic data–such as the large number of institutional investors buying properties to rent–suggests that there is still a ways to go in terms of a full-fledged housing recovery.

Could this all lead to another housing bubble?Today’s economic environment is different than the one that led to the housing bubble burst in 2006. Those differences include a tighter mortgage lending environment and houses that are still undervalued at prices that are significantly lower than they were at their 2006 peak.

IMPORTANT DISCLOSURES Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. does not provide investment, tax, or legal advice. The information presented here is not specific to any individual’s personal circumstances. To the extent that this material concerns tax matters, it is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by a taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed by law. Each taxpayer should seek independent advice from a tax professional based on his or her individual circumstances. These materials are provided for general information and educational purposes based upon publicly available information from sources believed to be reliable—we cannot assure the accuracy or completeness of these materials. The information in these materials may change at any time and without notice.

Market Nosebleed? Time to re-balance?

With the Markets daily hitting new highs with little pullback, it may make you remember the “go-go” late 90’s. Then the “new paradigm” of stock valuations justified the high prices despite zero or negative earnings. The market went so high most of us ended up with ”nosebleeds”. This time is very different.

Most substantial bull markets are accompanied by new theories trying to explain the market and why traditional valuations using P/E multiples no longer seem to be valid valuation metrics. In the current rally, P/E multiples on stocks remain in-line with historic average levels. The market is hitting new highs, but valuation multiples are not! Thus, we believe the fear of nosebleeds at this market level might be a bit premature. We would expect P/E’s to rise dramatically if we were going to see a significant drop, but currently stocks seem to be fairly priced.

If the muddle-through economy continues, stocks should continue up on a reasonably trajectory. We still have some worries about the weakening effect that the sequestration and cutbacks in government spending will have on our nascent recovery, but this is precisely why we re-balance portfolios and stay invested in our asset allocation to reduce overall portfolio risk.

We have received several inquiries from clients about re-balancing their portfolio now that the market is reaching new highs. Rest assured that as part of our normal process, we review each portfolio at specific intervals and recommend re-balancing when the portfolios are out of alignment with each client’s long-term goals. Even when markets are volatile, we keep an eye on the allocation drift and, as we monitor it, we may make a recommendation to re-balance the portfolio more than our customary semi-annual re-balance.

It is important to note that a proper re-balance strategy is done at set intervals and must balance the need to keep things in alignment with the need to keep transaction costs low. The near-impossibility of perfectly timing a market bottom or top is why we stick to our knitting and follow the plan. Remember, you must have a long term perspective to be in the market. A reasonable approach to asset allocation and re-balancing will do well for the vast majority of investors and help avoid the fears of nosebleeds and market crashes.

If you are having a market “nosebleed”, give us a call at 877-448-3400 and we can help you with the proper cure!