Skeptical Yet Vulnerable
Older people who encounter fraud are less likely to lose money than younger people, but those who do lose money tend to have higher losses. The Federal Trade Commission received almost 1.7 million fraud reports in 2019, and about half of reports included consumer age information. This chart shows the percentage of those who reported a fraud loss and their median loss, by age group.
Source: Federal Trade Commission, 2020
Mid-Year Is a Good Time to Fine-Tune Your Finances
The first part of 2020 was rocky, but there should be better days ahead. Taking a close look at your finances may give you the foundation you need to begin moving forward. Mid-year is an ideal time to do so, because the planning opportunities are potentially greater than if you waited until the end of the year.
Renew Your Resolutions
At the beginning of the year, you may have vowed to change your financial situation, perhaps by saving more, spending less, or reducing your debt. Are these resolutions still important to you? If your income, expenses, and life circumstances have changed since then, you may need to rethink your priorities.
While it may be difficult to look at your finances during turbulent times, review financial statements and account balances to determine whether you need to make any changes to keep your financial plan on track.
Take Another Look at Your Taxes
Completing a mid-year estimate of your tax liability may reveal planning opportunities. You can use last year’s tax return as a basis, then factor in any anticipated adjustments to your income and deductions for this year.
Check your withholding, especially if you owed taxes or received a large refund. Doing that now, rather than waiting until the end of the year, may help you avoid a big tax bill or having too much of your money tied up with Uncle Sam.
You can check your withholding by using the IRS Tax Withholding Estimator at irs.gov. If necessary, adjust the amount of federal or state income tax withheld from your paycheck by filing a new Form W-4 with your employer.
More to Consider
Here are some other questions you may want to ask as part of your mid-year financial review.
Review Your Investments
Review your portfolio to make sure your asset allocation is still in line with your financial goals, time horizon, and tolerance for risk. Look at how your investments have performed against appropriate benchmarks, and in relationship to your expectations and needs. Changes may be warranted, but be careful about making them while the market is volatile.
Asset allocation is a method used to help manage investment risk; it does not guarantee a profit or protect against investment loss. All investing involves risk, including the possible loss of principal and there is no guarantee that any investment strategy will be successful.
Check Your Retirement Savings
If you’re still saving for retirement, look for ways to increase retirement plan contributions. For example, if you receive a pay increase this year, you could contribute a higher percentage of your salary to your employer-sponsored retirement plan, such as a 401(k), 403(b), or 457(b) plan. If you’re age 50 or older, consider making catch-up contributions to your employer plan. For 2020, the contribution limit is $19,500, or $26,000 if you’re eligible to make catch-up contributions. If you are close to retirement or already retired, take another look at your retirement income needs and whether your current investment and distribution strategy will provide enough income.
Read About Your Insurance Coverage
What are the terms of your homeowners, renters, and auto insurance policies? How much disability or life insurance coverage do you have? Your insurance needs can change; make sure your coverage has kept pace with your income or family circumstances.
Four Questions on the Roth Five-Year Rule
The Roth “five-year rule” typically refers to when you can take tax-free distributions of earnings from your Roth IRA, Roth 401(k), or other work-based Roth account. The rule states that you must wait five years after making your first contribution, and the distribution must take place after age 59½, when you become disabled, or when your beneficiaries inherit the assets after your death. Roth IRAs (but not workplace plans) also permit up to a $10,000 tax-free withdrawal of earnings after five years for a first-time home purchase.
While this seems straightforward, several nuances may affect your distribution’s tax status. Here are four questions that examine some of them.
1. When does the clock start ticking?
“Five-year rule” is a bit misleading; in some cases, the waiting period may be shorter. The countdown begins on January 1 of the tax year for which you make your first contribution.
Roth by the Numbers
2. Does the five-year rule apply to every account?
For Roth IRAs, the five-year clock starts ticking when you make your first contribution to any Roth IRA.
With employer plans, each account you own is subject to a separate five-year rule. However, if you roll assets from a former employer’s 401(k) plan into your current Roth 401(k), the clock depends on when you made the first contribution to your former account. For instance, if you first contributed to your former Roth 401(k) in 2014, and in 2020 you rolled those assets into your new plan, the new account meets the five-year requirement.
3. What if you roll over from a Roth 401(k) to a Roth IRA?
Proceed with caution here. If you have never previously contributed to a Roth IRA, the clock resets when you roll money into the Roth IRA, regardless of how long the money has been in your Roth 401(k). Therefore, if you think you might enact a Roth 401(k) rollover sometime in the future, consider opening a Roth IRA as soon as possible. The five-year clock starts ticking as soon as you make your first contribution, even if it’s just the minimum amount and you don’t contribute again until you roll over the assets.1
4. What if you convert from a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA?
In this case, a different five-year rule applies. When you convert funds in a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA, you’ll have to pay income taxes on deductible contributions and tax-deferred earnings in the year of the conversion. If you withdraw any of the converted assets within five years, a 10% early-distribution penalty may apply, unless you have reached age 59½ or qualify for another exception. This rule also applies to conversions from employer plans.2
1You may also leave the money in your former employer’s plan, roll the money into another employer’s Roth account, or receive a lump-sum distribution. Income taxes and a 10% penalty tax may apply to the taxable portion of the distribution if it is not qualified.
2Withdrawals that meet the definition of a “coronavirus-related distribution” during 2020 are exempt from the 10% penalty.
Telemedicine: The Virtual Doctor Will See You Now
Widespread smartphone use, loosening regulations, and employers seeking health cost savings are three trends that have been driving the rapid expansion of telemedicine. And that was before social distancing guidelines to help control the spread of COVID-19 made the availability of remote medical care more vital than anyone anticipated.
Easy Interaction with Health Professionals
Telemedicine offers a way for patients to interact with doctors or nurses through a website or mobile app using a secure audio or video connection.
Patients have immediate access to advice and treatment any time of the day or night, while avoiding unnecessary and costly emergency room visits. And health providers have the ability to bill for consultations and other services provided from a distance.
Telemedicine can be used to treat minor health problems such as allergies and rashes, or for an urgent condition such as a high fever. It also makes it easier to access therapy for mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.
In other cases, doctors can remotely monitor the vital signs of patients with chronic conditions, or follow up with patients after a hospital discharge. Telemedicine can also fill gaps in the availability of specialty care, especially in rural areas.
Offered by Many Health Plans
In 2019, nearly nine out of 10 large employers (500 or more employees) offered telemedicine programs in their benefit packages, but many workers had not tried them out.
Only 9% of eligible employees utilized telemedicine services in 2018 (the most recent year for which data is available), even though virtual consultations often have lower copays and are generally less expensive than in-person office visits, especially for those with high deductibles. 1
If your health plan includes telemedicine services, you might take a closer look at the details, download the app, and/or register for an online account. This way, you’ll be ready to log in quickly the next time your family faces a medical problem.
1Mercer National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans, 2019
IRS Circular 230 disclosure: To ensure compliance with requirements imposed by the IRS, we inform you that any tax advice contained in this communication (including any attachments) was not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding tax-related penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any matter addressed herein.
Prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. Copyright 2020