Asset Planning, Inc Blog

The latest from the team.

IRA Contributions

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.

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Earned Income and Social Security Tax

We came across an article on 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.


Click here to read the full article



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IRA & 401k Contributions Increase for 2019

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:

  • Single taxpayers covered by a work retirement plan, can fully deduct if modified Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) is below $64,000. A partial deduction is allowed if modified AGI is between $64,000 to $74,000
  •  Married Joint taxpayers, where the spouse making the IRA contribution is covered by a workplace retirement plan, can fully deduct if modified AGI is below $103,000. A partial deduction is allowed if modified AGI is between $103,000 to $123,000
  • Married Joint taxpayers, where the spouse making the IRA contribution is not covered by a workplace retirement plan, but the other spouse is, can fully deduct if modified AGI is below $193,000. A partial deduction is allowed if modified AGI is between $193,000 to $203,000

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.

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2019 Medicare and Social Security Changes

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

Medicare Premium Chart 2019

Social Security announced that in 2019 there will be a 2.8% Cost of Living Adjustment(COLA).

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Trump's Proposes to Extend RMD Age

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.

Read Here

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Ebook: Tips to Planning a Successful Retirement

Check out our new Ebook! In it you will find some valuable tips and guidance for retirement planning from our CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERS®.


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Time for a Financial Checkup

After the hustle and bustle of the holidays and the start of a new year, most people start to look ahead and like the idea of a fresh start. Take advantage of this motivation by applying it to your finances as well and giving yourself a financial checkup.  Yes, I know that taking a good hard look at your finances is not always something that you look forward to. But being realistic about your current financial situation, making some goals and putting an action plan together will put you on the right track to having a successful retirement with less to worry about and more time to enjoy yourself.

I found an article in the December 2017/January 2018 edition of AARP magazine written by Michelle V. Rafter, that outlines some steps to get you started on your financial check up journey. Check it out by clicking the link below.

May 2018 be your most financially fit year ever!


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My Social Security Account

In an effort to go green, the Social Security Administration is now only mailing Social Security statements to workers 60 years old and over who are not receiving Social Security benefits. They do however offer a convenient online service that allows you to access your benefit information, earnings records and statements as well as complete a number of other services with the Social Security Administration. You will need to create a My Social Security Account to do so. I have included some instructions taken directly from their site to set up your account along with some detailed information on the benefits of using their online services.

Go to

Click on Sign In or Create Account

My Social Security Account 2

What does a my Social Security account let me do?

If you do not receive benefits, you can:

  • new Request a replacement Social Security card if you meet certain requirements;
  • new Check the status of your application or appeal.
  • Get your Social Security Statement, to review:
    • Estimates of your future retirement, disability, and survivors benefits;
    • Your earnings once a year to verify the amounts that we posted are correct; and
    • The estimated Social Security and Medicare taxes you’ve paid.
  • Get a benefit verification letter stating that:
    • You never received Social Security benefits, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Medicare; or
    • You received benefits in the past, but do not currently receive them. (The letter will include the date your benefits stopped and how much you received that year.); or
    • You applied for benefits but haven’t received an answer yet.

If you receive benefits or have Medicare, you can:

Thank you for Going Green!


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Sandy in the Amazon

During my 30 year career I have encouraged  clients to carefully save and prepare for retirement. Now I want you to reach beyond your comfort zone and embrace something new, something exciting, possibly scary. I was recently in the Galapagos and loved that portion of the trip but I also signed up for an Amazon rainforest extension that pushed my boundaries. This self-declared "prissy girl" was going to a very remote part of the world, completely off the grid. No cell, wifi, satellite, news or electricity- which was great for my daughter to be unconnected. We had dim light by solar, hunidity, heat, lots of bugs, birds, snakes, caimans and creatures. I was in a swamp with the Shaman, a medicine man, a healer of the community. To appreciate what we have, go to where they have not. View the world as exciting and try a new hobby, volunteer, give back, get involved. YOLO means "you only live once" and I have lived by that attitude for years. Take the road less traveled. Take a leap.

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Reasons Why People Put Off Saving for Retirement

Retiring comfortably is a dream for most people. Unfortunately a lot of people are not adequately saving for their retirement or, even scarier; they are not saving at all. What is preventing them from saving? Usually it’s a mind block that gets in the way. Retirement seems too far off to think of or it’s uncomfortable to talk about. Here are a few reasons that most people delay saving and some tips to overcome these excuses.

Paying off debt and paying for current living expenses - With a lot of people burdened with a mound of student debt after college and paying for current living expenses, the idea of putting anything extra towards retirement savings can seem daunting. While it is important to pay off your debt it is also important to save for your future. Even the smallest amount that you can spare is better than nothing at all.

Instant Gratification- Spending money on items or trips that you want to go on now is highly more satisfying then putting money into a retirement account that you can’t touch for a long time. Sure everyone loves a new purse or a shiny new set of golf clubs. But one thing to ask yourself; are these items worth my future financial security?

Unsure of where to start- A big reason people put off saving for retirement is that they do not know how to get started. There are also many online resources that offer retirement calculators and tips to guide you through the process. You can also contact a financial advisor to help you assess your retirement needs and set up a customized plan to get you started on the right track to a successful retirement.

Procrastination- The mindset of “I’ll do it tomorrow” and then never actually doing it can be one of the biggest disadvantages off all to your retirement savings. Most people do not understand the concept of compounding interest when it comes to savings. Basically, the sooner you start saving, your principal will not only earn interest but over time you’ll earn interest on top of previous years interest and therefore the compounding effect can be huge. If you put off starting to save until you are in your 30s instead of starting in your 20s your money will miss a decade of compounding. The end result is you will have to save significantly more money every month to get to your desired retirement goals then if you had started earlier. The easiest way to get started is through your company if they offer a 401k plan or by setting up an IRA account. With both of these options you can have contributions set up to automatically come out of your paycheck or account. The less you have to think about it the more likely it is that you will do it.

The bottom line is that there are a lot of excuses that people make as to why they can’t save for retirement. The sooner you get started, no matter how much you start with, the better. When you get ready to retire you will not regret taking those first steps you made to invest in yourself and your future.

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Medicare Premiums


The law requires an increase to your monthly Medicare Part B & D premiums if you have “higher Income”. The higher your income, the more you pay. Most people do not pay the higher premium but we want you to be aware that this might happen if you sell a home or stocks with large capital gains or take large distributions from your IRA accounts because it will increase your AGI. Your 2017 Medicare premium will be based on your Adjustable Gross Income (AGI) from your 2015 tax return. Each year the premium is re-evaluated based on your taxes. If you have a large windfall in one year you will only have to pay the increase for one year and then the premium will go back down.

The following is a table that shows the income amounts that were used in 2016:

Medicare Premiums Income Limits

The Social Security cost of living increase and Medicare premium increase have not been announced yet but is expected to be less than 1%. The open enrollment period to change your Medicare plan is from October 15-December 7.

It is also that time of year for Open Enrollment if you are employed with benefits. Make sure you review all the benefit options you have and choose what is right for you. Take advantage of Flexible Savings accounts for healthcare or childcare. Has your income increased – did you also increase your 401K contributions?

Note: You can dispute the increase if your income has decreased substantially. The number one reason is due to death of spouse or divorce. The Medicare website has a list of what reasons are acceptable and what you need to do to dispute the increase.


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Full Retirement Age

API received an email from Asolute Capital that contained this tidbit of information we wanted to share with you: 


NOT IN ANY HURRY - 66 is the "full retirement age" (FRA) to receive unreduced retirement benefits in 2015. 43% of men and 37% of women take their Social Security retirement benefits at their FRA or older (source: Social Security Administration).

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Increases to Retirement Contributions Beginning in 2015

The IRS recently announced that taxpayers can put more away for retirement in 2015. These changes are taking place because the cost-of-living index met specific thresholds that triggered the adjustments. The changes are outlined below:

401(k), 403(b), most 457 & Thrift Savings Plans

  • The elective deferral (contribution) limit for employees is being increased from $17,500 to $18,000.
  • Catch-up contributions for those 50 and older has been increased from $5,500 to $6,000.


  • The annual contribution limit is remaining unchanged at $5,500.
  • Catch up contributions for those 50 and older also remains unchanged at $1,000.

Roth IRAs

  • The adjusted gross income phase out for taxpayers making contributions is:
    • Singles & Heads of Household: $116,000 to $131,000
    • Married couples filing jointly: $183,000 to $193,000
    • Married filing separate: $0 to $10,000

Tax Deductions

  • The modified adjusted gross income phase out limits are:
    • Singles & heads of household who are covered by workplace retirement plan: $61,000 to $71,000
    • Married filing jointly where the contributing spouse is covered by workplace retirement plan: $98,000 to $118,000
    • Married filing jointly where the contributing spouse is not covered by workplace retirement plan, but is married to someone who is covered: $183,000 to $193,000
    • Married individual filing separate who is covered by workplace retirement plan: $0 to $10,000
  • The adjusted gross income limits for the saver’s credit for low and moderate-income workers:
    • Singles and married filing separately: $30,500
    • Heads of households: $45,750
    • Married filing jointly: $61,000
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Helping Seniors with Daily Living Activities

A recent survey done by AARP estimated that 10 million American seniors need help with daily activities. The same survey showed that family members find themselves responsible for 80% of such care giving, many of which are overwhelmed or live far away.

Organizations such as Rally Round Non-Medical Home Care can help with services that enable seniors to remain in their homes, while keeping their independence and dignity. These services reduce the burden on the adult children and allow them to spend quality time with their parents. They include:

  • Companionship
  • Respite or relief for family
  • Meal preparation
  • Light housekeeping
  • Errand services
  • Grocery shopping
  • Recreational activities such as walks
  • Medication reminders
  • Personal Care
  • Incidental transportation
  • Mail assistance and organization
  • Pet care (pet walking, clean-up, vet visits, grooming visits)
  • Computer Services (setting up online bill pay system, minor computer troubleshooting, email, new computer set-up,
  • software installation)
  • Professional grooming (hair and nails)
  • Electronics set-up, troubleshooting
  • Secure Web access to Activities of Daily Living reports (Future Service)
  • Discussion Forum

Rally Round Non-Medical Home Care caregivers complete a training program that helps them understand the challenges seniors faces. They are insured, bonded and hold Red Cross approved certifications in both CPR and First Aid. Many of them have cared for their parents or grandparents and want to help others. For more information or to request a complimentary in person assessment of needs go to

I have personal knowledge of this company and the owners. I find them to be honest, compassionate and trustworthy- the best qualities to have when working with seniors.


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Medicare Premiums Update and Medicare Surtax


Medicare Part B premiums are remaining unchanged for 2014 ($104.90 per month).  Those seniors who had an adjusted gross income of over $170,000 for married couples or $85,00 for all others, there will be an increase in rates for Part B and Part D premiums.  The adjusted gross income will be taken from the 2012 tax returns that were filed.  Total surcharges are phased in by adjusted gross income levels but will not be greater than $300.10 a month.  If you would like more information on the rate breakdown or how this might affect you, please follow the link below to the document provided by the Social Security Administration.

As part of the Affordable Care Act there is a new Medicare surtax that is being imposed on singles earning over $200,000 or couples earning over $250,000 for 2013.  This new surtax only applies to the earnings over the thresholds listed above.  This new surtax is only paid by the employee and does not change the employer portion of the Medicare tax.  This adds 0.9% to the amount of Medicare tax that is being paid and employers have been instructed to withhold the extra 0.9% of Medicare tax on any employee whose earnings exceed $200,000 regardless of filing status.

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Retirement Contribution Limits for 2014

The Kiplinger Letter published a great summary of the changes to Retirement Contribution Limits and it is below:


“Several dollar ceilings on retirement plans are heading up this year:

  • The pay in limitation for defined contribution plans increases to $52,000.  That’s a $1,000 hike for Keogh plans, profit sharing plans, and similar arrangements.
  • Retirement plan contributions can be based on up to $260,000 of salary. 
  • And the benefit limit for pension plans is rising to $210,000 in 2014.
  • The income ceilings on Roth IRA pay ins go up.  Contributions phase out at AGIs of $181,000 to $191,000 for couples and $114,000 to $129,000 for singles. 
  • The deduction phase outs for pay ins to regular IRAs start at higher levels, from AGIs of $96,000 to $116,000 for couples and $60,000 to $70,000 for singles.  If only one spouse is covered by a plan, the phase out zone for deducting a contribution for the uncovered spouse begins at $181,000 of AGI and finishes at $191,000.
  • And the partial credit for retirement plan pay ins phases out at higher levels.  For marrieds…at over $60,000.  Household heads…$45,000.  Singles…$30,000.

Several key items won’t change.  The 401(k) pay in limit remains $17,500.  Folks born before 1965 can put in an extra $5,500.  Ditto for 403(b) and 457 plans.  The ceiling on SIMPLEs stays $12,000…$14,500 for folks age 50 or older this year.  Pay in caps for IRAs and Roths remain $5,500 plus $1,000 for anyone 50 and up this year.”


The Kiplinger Letter January 3, 2014

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How to Collect Social Security on an Ex-Spouse’s Record

 As long as the former ex-spouse is eligible to receive benefits, you can collect a spousal benefit if you meet the following conditions:


                -You have not remarried

                -Your marriage lasted at least 10 years

                -You are 62 or older


If your ex-spouse has not yet applied for his benefit, you have to hold off until you have been divorced for two years. As long as you are full retirement age, your spousal benefit will be equal to one-half of your ex-spouse’s full retirement benefit. The benefit will be less than one-half if you’re younger than full retirement age when you start collecting. Your spousal benefit will not include any delayed retirement credits that your ex-spouse may receive. If you remarry, you generally cannot collect spousal benefits on your former spouse’s record unless your later marriage ends in death or divorce.  




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Personal Financial Plans

In a recent study by deVere Group, one of the world's largest independent financial consultancy groups, they asked clients with investable assets over $1,000,000 what was their number one financial regret. The top 3 answers:

  1. Not putting in place a regular reviewed personal financial plan earlier in life. (57%)
  2. Not consistently scrutinizing personal investments (18%)
  3. Taking on too much unnecessary debt. (13%)

While this survey only surveyed high-net worth families, I think middle-class families would answer the question with similar results.  It is clear the benefits of long-term financial planning and routinely reviewing or revising the plans help keep families on-track to reach their financial goals. 


It is interesting to note that all those surveyed have done well financially, but the regret is that it might have been less stressful if they had a plan in place and were monitoring it consistently.


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Withdrawing Funds From IRA’s, Trusts, and Individual Accounts

Need money from your IRA or Trust accounts? No problem; securities, mutual funds and bonds can all be sold on the same day and the cash is settled into your account in approximately four business days; however, giving your financial advisor prior notice can get you more money from the sale of your investments.

If you need more than $15,000 in cash, it is advisable to give your advisor a one month notice to take advantage of market sales. This means your advisor tries to sells the investments when markets hit a high price in order to get the greatest amount of cash from the sale of from a stock, bond or mutual fund. Once the investments are sold it does take time for the cash to settle into your accounts. Mutual funds for example, can be sold on the same day but the cash doesn't settle into your account until the next business day. Stocks can too be sold on the same day; however, the cash takes three days to settle. Bond sales are unique since they are placed on a bond trading desk and wait for a reasonable bid. In our case, we would wait for the highest bidder.

Giving your advisor a month's time notice not only facilitates the selling process, but also allows us to search for the best selling prices for your investments, providing you with more cash.

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President’s Budget Would Cap Retirement Accounts

President Obama's budget proposal would cap multimillion-dollar tax-favored retirement accounts. The budget plan would prohibit tax payers from accumulating more than $3 million over all IRA accounts. The proposal would generate $9 billion in revenue for the Treasury over the next decade.

According to Ed Slott, an IRA specialist and certified public accountant, IRAs have evolved from a retirement-planning technique into an estate-planning tool for some wealthy families because tax laws allow the accounts to be passed onto heirs. The cap would apply to the total of all of an individual's tax-favored retirement accounts.

The plan was unveiled on April 10 as part of the proposed budget for 2014.

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