Friday, July 20, 2012

InSights Has a New Location

InSights from Petersen Hastings has a new location! If you are not auto-redirected within 10 seconds, please click here.

Friday, July 6, 2012

What Does the Supreme Court Ruling on the Health-Care Reform Law Mean for You?

On June 28, 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, in a landmark decision, that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), including the provision that most Americans carry health insurance or pay a penalty, is constitutional.

The ACA, signed into law in 2010, made sweeping reforms to health-care coverage in the United States. Many provisions of the law have already taken effect. A number of other provisions are scheduled to take effect in subsequent years, including the requirement that most Americans and legal residents have qualifying health insurance (exceptions apply) or pay a penalty in the form of a tax. Here's a summary of some of the important provisions that are already in place, and those that are on their way by 2014.

In effect now

Children can no longer be denied insurance coverage because of pre-existing conditions

Payment of $250 rebate to Medicare Part D beneficiaries subject to the coverage gap (beginning January 1, 2010) and gradually reducing the beneficiary coinsurance rate in the coverage gap from 100% to 25% by 2020

Insurers will not be able to impose lifetime caps on insurance coverage

All plans offering dependent coverage will be required to allow children to remain under their parents' plan until age 26

Insurers cannot cancel or deny coverage if you are sick except in cases of fraud

Adults with pre-existing conditions will be able to buy coverage from temporary high-risk pools until 2014, when coverage cannot otherwise be denied for pre-existing conditions

 Key provisions effective on or before January 1, 2014

Increasing the medical expense income tax deduction threshold to 10% of adjusted gross income, up from the current 7.5% (January 1, 2013)

Increasing the Medicare Part A tax rate by 0.9% on wages over $200,000 for individuals ($250,000 for married couples), and assessing a new 3.8% tax on some or all of the net investment income for these higher-income individuals (January 1, 2013)

All Americans must carry health insurance or face a penalty (in the form of a tax) of up to 2.5% of household income on individuals, with exceptions for economic hardship, religious beliefs, and other situations (January 1, 2014)

Adults with pre-existing conditions cannot be denied coverage or have their insurance cancelled due to pre-existing conditions (January 1, 2014)

A requirement that states establish an American Health Benefit Exchange that facilitates the purchase of qualified health plans and includes an Exchange for small businesses; also requires employers that contribute toward the cost of employee health insurance to provide free choice vouchers to qualified employees for the purchase of qualified health plans through Exchanges (January 1, 2014)

Tax credits will be available to qualifying families to offset the cost of health insurance premiums (January 1, 2014)

Employers with more than 50 employees must offer health insurance for their employees or be fined per employee (January 1, 2014)

Imposing taxes or fees on health insurance providers and drug companies, while doctors and hospitals will receive less compensation from government sources (January 1, 2014)

 So is this it?

While the Supreme Court has ruled the ACA constitutional, it may still face challenges as Congress may seek to repeal the law. The ultimate fate of the health-care reform law may be determined by the outcome of the November elections.

IMPORTANT DISCLOSURESBroadridge 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.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Death of Equities, Revisited

A recent article appearing in the Financial Times caught our eye—or perhaps we should say ear. At first glance it was unremarkable—just one among dozens of recent think pieces suggesting that investors were losing interest in stocks as markets around the world continued to stagnate.

But the tone of the article sounded remarkably familiar. We dug out our copy of the "Death of Equities" article appearing in BusinessWeek on August 13, 1979, to have a fresh look. Similar? You be the judge:

BusinessWeek, 1979: "This 'death of equity' can no longer be seen as something a stock market rally—however strong—will check. It has persisted for more than ten years through market rallies, business cycles, recession, recoveries, and booms."
Financial Times, 2012: "Stocks have not been so far out of favor for half a century. Many declare the 'cult of the equity' dead."

BusinessWeek, 1979: "Individuals who are not gobbling up hard assets are flocking to money market funds to nail down high rates, or into municipal bonds to escape heavy taxes on inflated incomes." 
Financial Times, 2012: "The pressure to cut equity exposure is being felt across the savings industry. … In the US, inflows to bond funds have exceeded equity inflows every year since 2007, with outright net redemptions from equity funds in each of the past five years."

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Thursday, June 14, 2012

Farming for Your Financial Future: Growing the Crop

All plans, no matter what issue is being addressed, start with a single decision. It is the decision that the topic at hand is important enough to dictate attention and explore options.

According to the Center for Rural Affairs:

-Half of all current farmers are likely to retire in the next decade.
-US farmers over the age of 55 control more than half of the country’s farmland.

In farming, which may be best described as a “seasonal job,” all tasks are typically part of a cycle. Where does retirement planning fit into the rotation? Retirement planning should be…

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Friday, June 1, 2012

When to take Social Security?

 Unfortunately, there is no easy answer when it comes to choosing the right age to begin collecting your benefits. There are several things that affect each individual’s decision about this issue especially since the total amount of benefits could change according to the age at which the payments are first collected.

How your benefits are affected by when you start taking them:

It is important to realize that the dollar amount you receive each month, and the length of time that you will receive payments, is directly affected by when you begin...

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Friday, May 25, 2012

Farming for Your Financial Future: Planting the Seed

As baby boomers have started retiring in large numbers, there has been increased attention across all segments of society on issues surrounding retirement and succession planning. Lawmakers have responded to this increased focus on retirement planning by putting more time and effort into policies that surround this topic. Tax initiatives from the past several years have added incentives for individuals to save for retirement.

There are approximately 1.6 million family farms in the United States. For farm families, retirement, estate, and, especially, succession planning, are of tremendous importance. There are also many reasons to believe that these families are impacted in a different manner than other households by savings and retirement policy decisions. First, principal farm operators are much...

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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

50 percent of Americans are not contributing to their 401(k), IRA

Half of Americans say they aren’t contributing to a retirement plan, but more specifically 56% of Americans ages 18-34 are more likely to be among those not saving, according to a recent LIMRA survey.

"The findings from this survey were disturbing," says Matthew Drinkwater, associate managing director, LIMRA Retirement Research. "Given that...

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