When can a someone get Social Security spousal benefits based on the record of their spouse?

A person may be eligible for a monthly benefit up to one half (½) of their spouse’s retirement or Social Security disability amounts. This spousal benefit is subject to limitations as to the total amount that can be paid to an entire family

A person who is sixty-two (62) years or older may be eligible for spousal benefits if the other spouse is drawing a retirement or Social Security disability.

Further, a person who is any age, may be eligible for spousal benefits if that person is caring for a child if the other spouse is drawing a retirement or Social Security disability benefit. That child must be younger than sixteen (16) years of age or disabled and that child must be entitled to benefits on the other spouse’s record.

Kent DeJean

 

 

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Key Tax Tips on the Tax Effects of Divorce or Separation

Income tax may be the last thing on your mind after a divorce or separation. However, these events can have a big impact on your taxes. Alimony and a name change are just a few items you may need to consider. Here are some key tax tips to keep in mind if you get divorced or separated.
• Child Support. If you pay child support, you can’t deduct it on your tax return. If you receive child support, the amount you receive is not taxable.
• Alimony Paid. If you make payments under a divorce or separate maintenance decree or written separation agreement you may be able to deduct them as alimony. This applies only if the payments qualify as alimony for federal tax purposes. If the decree or agreement does not require the payments, they do not qualify as alimony.
• Alimony Received. If you get alimony from your spouse or former spouse, it is taxable in the year you get it. Alimony is not subject to tax withholding so you may need to increase the tax you pay during the year to avoid a penalty. To do this, you can make estimated tax payments or increase the amount of tax withheld from your wages.
• Spousal IRA. If you get a final decree of divorce or separate maintenance by the end of your tax year, you can’t deduct contributions you make to your former spouse’s traditional IRA. You may be able to deduct contributions you make to your own traditional IRA.
• Name Changes. If you change your name after your divorce, notify the Social Security Administration of the change. File Form SS-5, Application for a Social Security Card. You can get the form on SSA.gov or call 800-772-1213 to order it. The name on your tax return must match SSA records. A name mismatch can delay your refund.
Health Care Law Considerations
• Special Marketplace Enrollment Period. If you lose your health insurance coverage due to divorce, you are still required to have coverage for every month of the year for yourself and the dependents you can claim on your tax return. Losing coverage through a divorce is considered a qualifying life event that allows you to enroll in health coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace during a Special Enrollment Period.
• Changes in Circumstances. If you purchase health insurance coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace you may get advance payments of the premium tax credit in 2015. If you do, you should report changes in circumstances to your Marketplace throughout the year. Changes to report include a change in marital status, a name change and a change in your income or family size. By reporting changes, you will help make sure that you get the proper type and amount of financial assistance. This will also help you avoid getting too much or too little credit in advance.
• Shared Policy Allocation. If you divorced or are legally separated during the tax year and are enrolled in the same qualified health plan, you and your former spouse must allocate policy amounts on your separate tax returns to figure your premium tax credit and reconcile any advance payments made on your behalf. Publication 974, Premium Tax Credit, has more information about the Shared Policy Allocation.
For more on this topic, see Publication 504, Divorced or Separated Individuals. You can get it on IRS.gov/forms at any time.
Each and every taxpayer has a set of fundamental rights they should be aware of when dealing with the IRS. These are your Taxpayer Bill of Rights. Explore your rights and our obligations to protect them on IRS.gov.
Additional IRS Resources:
• Publications 590-A, Contributions to Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs)
• Publication 555, Community Property
• Publication 974, Premium Tax Credit
• Publication 5152: Report changes to the Marketplace as they happen English | Spanish

The Lifestyle Choices That Affect Alzheimer’s Risk

There are no guarantees when it comes to aging, but a new study helps clarify the lifestyle choices that affect our risk for Alzheimer’s disease, for better and for worse. The team from the University of California, San Francisco culled thousands of previous studies on Alzheimer’s risk and protective factors, and arrived at 323 studies that provided high-quality data. They found, as other studies have, that there are some key elements that are largely within our power to integrate or avoid, in order to reduce the risk of the brain disease that affects some 5 million people in the U.S. today.
The factors that appear to be protective against Alzheimer’s include many of the things that we already know to be good for us: Eating a healthy diet; healthy intake of folate, vitamin C, and vitamin E; coffee consumption; fish consumption; light-moderate drinking; and staying cognitively active. There were also some links between medications and reduced Alzheimer’s risk, including estrogen, cholesterol lowering drugs (statins), blood pressure meds, and anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
The nine factors associated with higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s were:
• Obesity
• Depression
• Carotid artery narrowing
• Low educational attainment
• High levels of homocysteine (a compound that builds up, in part when B vitamin levels are low)
• High blood pressure and low blood pressure
• Frailty
• Current smoking (in the Asian population)
• Type 2 diabetes (in the Asian population)

Many of the connections have been known for some time, but it’s helpful to have them confirmed by newer, large-scale analyses. Keep in mind, of course, that the study only arrives at correlations between these factors and Alzheimer’s – it doesn’t prove that one or more actually cause or prevent the other. And genetic factors still play a strong role in the development of Alzheimer’s. But the researchers say that assuming causality is at play, if the population avoided the nine risk factors listed above, up to two-thirds of Alzheimer’s cases could also be avoided. That’s quite a high percentage. We may not be able to do all good things for ourselves all the time, but when it comes to the brain, the more we can do, the better.

Alice G. Walton ,CONTRIBUTOR

Video Taping The Execution Of A Will

Under Louisiana law, there is no legal requirement that the execution of a will be video taped. Further, there is no such thing as a video will. Louisiana law has specific form requirements for wills. Video taped wills is not one of those approved forms.

However, video taping of wills may be very useful in certain limited situations. Let’s say that it is anticipated that the capacity of the person executing the will may be contested in the subsequent succession. This would be a situation where it would be useful to video tape the execution of the will.

Video taping would show that the person executing the will understood what it meant, consented to the will and was under no duress. It would also be helpful to interview the person executing the will by asking open ended questions about why the bequests were made as well as to show capacity.

So video taping is not a will in and of itself. However, it can provide valuable evidence to show that the person executing the will possessed legal capacity to sign it.

Should you have any questions on wills, you should consult an experienced estate planning attorney. Kent S. DeJean

Top 10 Tips about Tax Breaks for the Military

If you are in the U. S. Armed Forces, special tax breaks may apply to you. For example, some types of pay are not taxable. Certain rules apply to deductions or credits that you may be able to claim that can lower your tax. In some cases, you may get more time to file your tax return. You may also get more time to pay your income tax. Here are the top 10 IRS tax tips about these rules:
1. Deadline Extensions. Some members of the military, such as those who serve in a combat zone, can postpone some tax deadlines. If this applies to you, you can get automatic extensions of time to file your tax return and to pay your taxes.
2. Combat Pay Exclusion. If you serve in a combat zone, certain combat pay you get is not taxable. You won’t need to show the pay on your tax return because combat pay is not part of the wages reported on your Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement. If you serve in support of a combat zone, you may qualify for this exclusion.
3. Earned Income Tax Credit or EITC. If you get nontaxable combat pay, you can include it to figure your EITC. Doing so may boost your credit. Even if you do, the combat pay stays nontaxable.
4. Moving Expense Deduction. You may be able to deduct some of your unreimbursed moving costs. This applies if the move is due to a permanent change of station.
5. Uniform Deduction. You can deduct the costs of certain uniforms that you can’t wear while off duty. This includes the costs of purchase and upkeep. You must reduce your deduction by any allowance you get for these costs.
6. Signing Joint Returns. Both spouses normally must sign a joint income tax return. If your spouse is absent due to certain military duty or conditions, you may be able to sign for your spouse. In other cases when your spouse is absent, you may need a power of attorney to file a joint return.
7. Reservists’ Travel Deduction. If you’re a member of the U.S. Armed Forces Reserves, you may deduct certain costs of travel on your tax return. This applies to the unreimbursed costs of travel to perform your reserve duties that are more than 100 miles away from home.
8. ROTC Allowances. Some amounts paid to ROTC students in advanced training are not taxable. This applies to allowances for education and subsistence. Active duty ROTC pay is taxable. For instance, pay for summer advanced camp is taxable.
9. Civilian Life. If you leave the military and look for work, you may be able to deduct some job search expenses. You may be able to include the costs of travel, preparing a resume and job placement agency fees. Moving expenses may also qualify for a tax deduction.
10. Tax Help. Most military bases offer free tax preparation and filing assistance during the tax filing season. Some also offer free tax help after April 15.
For more, refer to Publication 3, Armed Forces’ Tax Guide. It is available on IRS.gov/forms at any time.

7 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Deciding to Retire

Few Americans save enough for retirement. Whether due to financial issues or a lack of foresight, a lot of people either don’t give much thought to retirement or are unable to save up enough to help them fund their elder years.

In fact, only 13 percent of people who haven’t retired yet say they’ve given a lot of thought to financial planning for retirement, according to a survey conducted by the Federal Reserve Board. Nearly 40 percent say they have given little to no thought to retirement planning.

Mapping out your retirement takes more than asking yourself, “When should I retire?” Consider these seven questions to help you better plan for financial and personal obstacles in retirement.

Read: What Retirement Without Savings Looks Like

1. What kind of lifestyle do I want?

Before figuring out how much money you need to retire, you need to consider what sort of lifestyle you want to have in retirement, said John Sweeney, Executive Vice President of Retirement and Investing Strategies at Fidelity.

Do you want to stay in your current home or downsize? Will you want to move to a bigger city or someplace warmer? Maybe you want to travel the world.

No matter how you envision your retirement, you’ll need to plan ahead to fund it. Depending on your goals, you might need to save more than you originally planned. If you’re married, you’ll need to speak with your spouse to make sure your retirement plans are aligned.

2. What will my expenses in retirement be?

Sweeney said most people can expect to spend about 85 cents in retirement for every dollar spent before retirement. Depending on your health, however, you might need to save more to cover medical expenses. If you have a chronic condition or mobility issues, over time you might end up needing to spend more money to maintain your quality of living.

To help you project rough estimates of your retirement costs, you can use an online retirement income calculator. With a financial planner, you can get a detailed cash-flow analysis and help managing taxes.

3. Will I have enough savings to cover my expenses?

Less than half of all workers say they’ve ever tried to calculate how much money they will need to save to live comfortably in retirement, according to The 2015 Retirement Confidence Survey conducted by the Employee Benefit Research Institute. Scott Bishop, Director of Financial Planning at STA Wealth Advisors in Houston, recommends comparing your current monthly expenses with how much income you’ll have in retirement.

If your retirement savings can’t sustain your mortgage, insurance and other typical costs, you might want to reconsider your current savings plan. You will also want to calculate your Social Security benefit to determine how it will affect your monthly budget. When considering whether you’ll have enough income in retirement, assume you’ll be in retirement for 25 years and have access to four percent of your savings annually.

In retirement, you’ll want to revisit your withdrawal percentage, adjusting for your actual spending, said Bishop. Your retirement portfolio, which should include numerous asset types, should also be structured to outpace inflation. Sweeney recommends you have a mix of stocks — about 55 percent — in your early years of retirement to maintain growth, and fixed income, such as bonds, to guard against market volatility.

4. What impact will taxes have on my retirement income?

Taxes don’t disappear when you stop working. In fact, your tax bill can take a big bite out of your retirement income.

Up to 85% of your Social Security benefits might be taxable if you have income in addition to your benefits. Withdrawals from tax-deferred retirement accounts, such as traditional IRAs and 401(k)s, are also taxed. So, if you need $5,000 a month to cover expenses in retirement, you might need to withdraw up to $6,000, said Bishop.

Higher-income taxpayers will have to pay taxes on profits from the sale of stocks, bonds, mutual funds and other investments not held in tax-deferred retirement accounts. States have their own rules for taxing retirement income, so depending on where you live, you could be hit with an above-average tax bill.

The states that impose the highest taxes on retirees include California, Connecticut, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont, according to a 2014 analysis of state taxes conducted by Kiplinger, a publisher of business forecasts and personal finance advice. A financial planner can help you figure out how taxes will impact you in retirement and what strategies you can use to minimize your tax bill.

5. Where will I get my health care?

Chances are your employer won’t continue providing health care coverage for you in retirement. Only 28 percent of companies with 200 or more employees offer retiree health coverage, according to the 2013 Kaiser/HRET Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Benefits.

You are eligible for Medicare when you turn 65. You likely won’t need to pay a premium for Medicare Part A, which covers inpatient hospital stays, care at nursing facilities, hospice care and some home health care. If you want extended health benefits, however, you’ll need to pay a monthly premium for Medicare Part B, which covers most doctor and outpatient services. Medicare Part B typically costs around $104.90 each month.

If you retire early, you’ll have to get an insurance policy on your own. Couples who retire at 62 can expect to pay $17,000 a year for health insurance premiums and out-of-pocket costs until they’re eligible for Medicare, according to Fidelity. A retiree can expect to pay an average of $220,000 in medical expenses over the course of their retirement.

You also need to factor in long-term medical care, which could wipe out your retirement savings if you’re not prepared. The median annual cost of care in an assisted living facility is $43,200, and the average cost of a private nursing home room is more than double that, according to the Genworth 2015 Cost of Care Survey. To curb these types of costs, you can look into long-term care insurance.

6. How much debt do I have?

The more debt you carry into retirement, the more retirement income you’ll need to pay off what you owe. When you’re deciding when to retire, you need to figure out how long it will take to pay off your existing debts. You should pay off any high-interest debts that aren’t tax-deductible first, such as credit card balances, said Bishop. If you have good credit, refinance any high-interest debt that’s tax-deductible, such as a mortgage, to get the lowest rate possible.

7. Am I emotionally ready to retire?

Ask yourself what you will do once you retire. If you don’t know — and most people don’t — you might have a problem, said Bishop. Around 22 percent of people surveyed by the Federal Reserve Board say they plan to stop working entirely in retirement.

You need to figure out before you retire whether you want to continue working in some capacity. If you initially choose not to work in retirement, you might have a harder time becoming employed after being out of the workforce for a while.

Deciding to retire, much less knowing how to map out a retirement plan, takes work and careful thought. Consider meeting with a financial planner to help you determine how to decide when to retire and to create an action plan for retirement. Knowing how and when you will retire will allow you to look forward to retirement.

Powers of Attorney: Always Have A Plan B!

The decision on who should be your agent for your power of attorney is usually a fairly easy one. Most people will usually select their spouse or a close friend or family member. However, the more difficult question is who does a person want to serve as the successor agent in the event that the agent is unwilling or unable to serve.

It is strongly advised that you name a successor agent in the event that the agent is unwilling or unable to serve. Your agent may die, become incapacitated or simply not wish to serve for any reason. If your agent is unwilling or unable to serve, an interdiction proceeding will have to be filed to appoint you a guardian to administer your person and property if you failed to name a successor agent.

Therefore, always name a back up successor agent in your power of attorney. Never assume that an agent will be willing or able to serve as your agent when and if you lose capacity.

If you have any questions concerning powers of attorney, consult an experienced estate planning attorney. Kent S. DeJean

Don’t Go Broke in a Nursing Home

Mr. Pete Losavio will be speaking at a  free workshop at Sunrise of Baton Rouge 8502 Jefferson Hwy. Baton Rouge, LA 70809  on Saturday June 27, 2015 at 9:30 am to discuss his new book he co-authored ” Don’t Go Broke in a Nursing Home”.  Please call 1-880-426-6104 to attend.

Don’t Miss Filing Deadlines Related to Foreign Income and Assets

All U.S. citizens and residents must report worldwide income on their federal income tax return. If you lived outside the U.S. on the regular due date of your tax return, the extended filing deadline for your 2014 tax return is Monday, June 15, 2015. Similarly, the deadline to report interests in certain foreign financial accounts is the end of June. Here are some important tips to know if these reporting rules apply to you:
• FATCA Requirements. FATCA refers to the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act. In general, federal law requires U.S. citizens and resident aliens to report any worldwide income. You must report the existence of and income from foreign accounts. This includes foreign trusts, banks and securities accounts. In most cases you must report the country where each account is located. To do this file Schedule B, Interest and Ordinary Dividends with your tax return.
You may also have to file Form 8938, Statement of Special Foreign Financial Assets with your tax return. Use the form to report specified foreign financial assets if the aggregate value of those assets exceeds certain thresholds. See the form instructions for details.
• FBAR Requirements. FBAR refers to Form 114, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts. If you must file this form you file it with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCEN. FinCEN is a bureau of the Treasury Department. You generally must file the form if you had an interest in foreign financial accounts whose aggregate value exceeded $10,000 at any time during 2014. This also applies if you had signature or other authority over those accounts. You must file Form 114 electronically. It is available online through the BSA E-Filing System website. The FBAR filing requirement is not part of filing a tax return. The deadline to file Form 114 is June 30.
• View the IRS Webinar. You can get help and learn about FBAR rules by watching the IRS webinar on this topic. The title is “Reporting of Foreign Financial Accounts on the Electronic FBAR.” The presentation is one hour long. You can find it by entering “FBAR” in the search box of the IRS Video Portal home page. Topics include:
o FBAR legal authorities
o FBAR mandatory e-filing overview
o Using FinCEN Form 114; and Form 114a
o FBAR filing requirements
o FBAR filing exceptions
o Special filing rules
o Recordkeeping
o Administrative guidance
You can access IRS forms, videos and tools on IRS.gov at any time

The Health Care Law and Employers: The ACA Basics for Applicable Large Employers

Some of the provisions of the Affordable Care Act only affect your organization if it’s an applicable large employer. An applicable large employer is generally one with 50 or more full-time employees, including full-time equivalent employees.
• Applicable large employers have annual reporting responsibilities; you will need to provide the IRS and employees information returns concerning whether and what health insurance you offer to your full-time employees.
• If you’re an applicable large employer that provides self-insured health coverage to your employees, you must file an annual return reporting certain information for each employee you cover.
• You may have to make an employer shared responsibility payment if you do not offer adequate, affordable coverage to your full-time employees, and one or more of those employees get a premium tax credit. Learn more about the employer shared responsibility provision.
• You may be required to report the value of the health insurance coverage you provided to each employee on their Form W-2.
• If you’re an applicable large employer with exactly 50 employees, you can purchase affordable insurance through the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP).
For more information, see the Affordable Care Act Tax Provisions for Employers page on IRS.gov/aca.