ABLE Disability Benefits

There are some very positive enhancements for taxpayers with disabilities among the many changes brought about by the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) .

Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) accounts were originally designed to help those with disabilities.  The savings are intended for expenses incurred as a result of the disability. Some typical examples of these types of expenses include housing, education, transportation, health and wellness along with assistive technology costs.  Contributions to these accounts are not tax deductible. However, distributions and earnings are tax-free when used to pay for these types of qualified expenses.

With the TCJA, eligible individuals can put more money into their ABLE account.  Traditionally, the annual contribution total equalled the annual gift-tax exclusion amount.  At present time, this amount is $15,000. Beginning in 2018, if the ABLE account beneficiary is employed, they may contribute an additional $12,140.  The one exception to this new ruling occurs if the beneficiary’s employer already contributes to a workplace retirement plan on their behalf. In that case, the additional contribution is not allowed.

Going forward, ABLE account holders may roll money from qualified tuition programs, such as 529 plans, into their ABLE accounts as well.  A final enhancement brought about by the TCJA means that moderate to low income ABLE account employees may qualify for the Saver’s Credit.  The IRS link provides information on this credit, what it does, and who is eligible.  The impact to ABLE account holders is contributions up to $2,000 may qualify for this credit.  The Saver’s Credit is claimed on Form 8880 at tax time.


“From Consult to Closing, Team Claire Cares”

We are pleased to introduce Jennifer Fields!  She is beginning her first year in the real estate business as a realtor with The Claire Chivington Team.  Claire’s team is affiliated with RE/MAX Patriots in Lancaster, PA.  Prior to beginning her real estate career, Jennifer completed her real estate courses through Real Estate Express.  This course work included a 30-hour course pertaining to real estate Fundamentals in addition to a 30-hour course specifically geared towards PA real estate practices.  Taking online courses provided great flexibility in scheduling making this new career a possibility.

Jennifer loves her career in real estate because she gets to meet new people and educate them on homes and the nuances of home ownership. As a former teacher, she finds she is able to use many of the same skills, just in a different fashion.  Jennifer is thankful she found Team Claire and RE/MAX Patriots during her affiliation search. She shares that she felt it was extremely important to find an environment that focuses on highly skilled agents and top notch client service, all while fitting the needs of her family. Jennifer found all of those elements with Claire Chivington’s Team and RE/MAX Patriots.

RE/MAX Patriots offers clients a plethora of resources to assist in the home
buying/selling process with a concierge level of service from realtors, and the brand recognition to support it.  Team Claire offers a full-service experience whether you are buying or selling a home. As a team they have over 20 years of experience in the real estate business with specialties in the areas of buyer’s representative, staging, short sales, foreclosures, new construction, and assisting veterans as they transition to civilian life.

Jennifer’s advice to potential realty clients is to always do your homework when looking for a realtor. Many people use the first agent they speak to whether or not it is a good fit. It is essential to feel comfortable working with your realtor, and likewise for your realtor to be comfortable working with you. Clients should never feel locked in with an agent if it’s not the right fit. Buying and selling a home is a journey that can last for months. You want to be working with someone who you most importantly trust, but also someone who cares about your
best interests. Team Claire truly invests in their clients which is why their motto is,
“From Consult to Closing, Team Claire Cares”.

The best way for potential clients to reach Jennifer is on her direct cell number @ 717.804.4776 or email address jennifer.fields@teamclaire.net.  Jennifer can be found on Facebook through a search @JenniferFieldsPARealEstate.  She is on Twitter @JenniferMFields and LinkedIn as well https://www.linkedin.com/in/jennifermfields/.


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“ITP, LLC is supporting local small business owners through this post.  The experiences described are personal to particular users, and may not necessarily be representative of all users of the products and/or services.  We do not claim, and you should not assume, that all users will have the same experiences. Your individual results may vary. We are not affiliated with the organization referenced and are not paid or compensated for this publication.”


Saving for Retirement in 2019: 401Ks, IRAs, and Social Security

Saving for retirement is getting just a little bit easier in 2019.  As the cost of living increases, the IRS has announced higher contribution limits to 401Ks and IRAs.  These changes attempt to mirror the rise in cost of living expenses.  Technical guidelines are many and can be found in Notice 2018-83.  The major highlights for these 2019 changes include an increase from $18,500 to $19,000 for 401(k), 403(b), most 457 plans, and the federal government’s Thrift Savings Plan.  Contributions to IRAs have not seen an increase since 2013, but are now shifting from $5,500 to $6,000. Also of note, there are certain conditions which allow deductions from traditional IRAs.  For example, if the taxpayer or spouse is covered by a retirement plan at their work, the IRS allows for a reduction or phase out of the deduction until eliminated.

Cost of living increases are having a positive impact on Social Security benefits in 2019 as well.  The Consumer Price Index measures cost of living increases based on changes in prices paid on consumer goods and services.  Social Security benefits will see a 2.3% increase in direct proportion to the CPI increase this past year. Of course, this increase in social security benefits will be covered by an increase in taxes in 2019.  The Social Security contribution will increase by around 3%.

If you are saving for retirement, 2019 will be a good time to add a little bit more to your nest.  At the same time, plan for the increase to come at tax time on social security contributions. If you are looking for additional information on changes to retirement saving and investing, we can help!


Just Because Gives: Greeting Cards for Worthy Causes

If you are looking for a unique gift this holiday, you’ve come to the right place!  Just Because offers whimsical greeting cards featuring real, live animals.  Their adorable designs utilize no photo shopping and star Pearl, a curious wild chipmunk who loves peanuts.  Pearl willingly poses for the camera in creative scenes designed to celebrate nature and fun. Pearl’s babies, Chip and Salsa, love free food but have not yet shown the same willingness to pose for pictures.

Just Because was created by Bethany, who has spent three decades working in the nonprofit world.  During that time she has worked to help prevent human trafficking, child sexual abuse, and homelessness.  The greeting card business allows her to balance a life seeking justice and fairness for everyone with taking time to just relax and be.  Just Because allows her to give back to causes that she believes in while pursuing other hobbies and enjoying nature. For every Just Because purchase, 50% of the profit is passed on to one of several charities committed to making the world a better place.  Among these worthy organizations are Hope International, International Justice Mission, Preemptive Love, and Samaritan Safe Places.  These organizations share a common bond of working to create safe and fair conditions for all people.

In addition to Pearl’s greeting cards, Just Because has teamed up with Freiman Stoltzfus.  As a friend and local artist, Freiman paints the gorgeous Freedom Dancer cards for Bethany to sell in conjunction with her own creations.  An equal portion of proceeds from these cards benefits the same worthy organizations.  

Pearl’s greeting cards will bring a smile to anyone’s face. To see available designs, please visit   https://justbecause.gives/cards/.  Five retail store fronts also offer the cards around Lancaster County and those locations can be found online at https://justbecause.gives/retail-locations/.  To view the latest Just Because happenings and creations, check them out on instagram, youtube, and facebook.  To contact Bethany directly, she can be reached at justbecausegives@gmail.com.

 

 

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“ITP, LLC is supporting local small business owners through this post.  The experiences described are personal to particular users, and may not necessarily be representative of all users of the products and/or services.  We do not claim, and you should not assume, that all users will have the same experiences. Your individual results may vary. We are not affiliated with the organization referenced and are not paid or compensated for this publication.”