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"Money Matters"
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                                            "Money Matters" with Dee Lee

Before I begin this month's column on personal finance I would like to remind you that I will be at the school in Orlando. We will again present The Individual Retirement Program.

It will be a 2-day commitment. The course is all about helping you create a personal financial plan for your retirement and if you would like to bring your spouse, a partner or a friend (registered as a guest) they are most welcome. I will be teaching on Monday and then on Tuesday we’ll have Social Security Planning with Kurt Czarnowski who will update you on the new changes for Social Security benefits; All About DROP Plans with Chuck Jeroloman; and a new segment on estate planning with Peter Rivellini, an estate planning attorney from Clearwater.

As trustees, you worry and fret over the pension plan but who is helping you personally to plan your retirement? This program will help you get ready for retirement.

The program will be limited to the first 50 individuals who sign up.


Tax Reform

There has been lots of controversy about the new tax plan, so I thought I would cover what I believe to be good about it. There is definitely stuff I don’t like about it, but it is now the law. Many of these changes expire in 2025. Not the lower corporate tax rate though!!!! That will remain at 21%. Time will tell whether corporations bring their companies back to the US and increase salaries of employees.

1.      Tax brackets:  The number of brackets has not changed but some of the rates are lower. The brackets revert to 2017 levels in 2025.

 2.       Qualified Distribution from 529 Plans: This program has been limited for college only expenses but the new law allows plans to be used for elementary and secondary education tuition expenses up to $10,000 per beneficiary per year. Expires after 2025.

 3.       Estate Tax: For 2017 the exemption for Federal Estate tax was $5.49 million and with some planning a married couple could exempt $10.98 million. The new law doubles the exemptions. Expires after 2025.

 4.       Charitable Contributions: Deductions were allowed with some limitations. The new law did not take away this deduction. Charities rely on the good will of individuals but most individuals like getting a deduction for doing good.

 5.       Medical Expense Deduction: medical expenses were deductible once they exceeded 10% of adjusted gross income (AGI). The new law reduces the threshold back to 7.5% for 2017 & 2018 and then reverts to 10%. I don't understand this one!

 6.       Standard Deduction: The standard deduction for taxpayers who did not itemize was $6,350 for singles and twice that for those married filing jointly. The standard deduction has increased to $12,000. for singles and $24,000 for married filing jointly. This may help lots of folks in that their tax return will be easier to fill out.

 7.       Child Tax Credit: It was up to $1000, but often phased out for higher income limits. It has been changed to $2000 with more reasonable phaseout levels. But it also expires in 2025.