Social Security Halts Tax-Refund Grab to Recover Old Debts

Update: The Social Security Administration says it will immediately stop collecting old debts by grabbing taxpayers’ refunds. In a statement, Carolyn W. Colvin, the acting commissioner of the agency, says: “I have directed an immediate halt to further referrals under the Treasury Offset Program to recover debts owed to the agency that are 10 years old and older pending a thorough review of our responsibility and discretion under the current law to refer debt to the Treasury Department. “If any Social Security …

Same-Sex Couples Still Waiting for Equal Financial Treatment

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled the law that prevented same-sex spouses from enjoying federal benefits was unconstitutional nearly a year ago, yet the financial repercussions for these couples are still being worked through. Federal agencies have been updating their regulations to comply, and some have moved faster than others. And even among agencies that have acted, how they handle same-sex marriage differs. The IRS, for instance, says same-sex spouses now must file federal returns as joint filers or as married …

Pension Plan Tweak May Elude Most

The federal agency that insures private pensions is proposing a rule change that would add greater protection for workers who roll 401(k) money into a traditional pension. Workers for years have been able to transfer money from their employer’s 401(k) to its traditional pension plan to buy themselves a bigger lifetime benefit – if the employer allowed it. The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation says its new proposal will remove fear among these workers that the amount they roll over from …

Payday Loan Fees Often Exceed the Amount Borrowed

If you need more evidence that payday loans can be a debt trap, look no further than today’s report by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The agency found that 4 out of 5 payday loans are renewed or rolled over within two weeks after the end of their term. In half of these cases, the borrower renews the loan at least 10 times in a row. And repeat borrowing may be more expensive than many borrowers may realize. Fees in …

Senate Deal on Jobless Benefits Won’t Bring Fast Relief for Unemployed

One of the hurdles blocking the extension of unemployment insurance benefits for about 2 million long-term unemployed workers has been eliminated. A small group of Republicans and Democrats in the Senate on March 13 reached an agreement that would extend benefits for another five months – gathering enough support to prevent a filibuster by opponents. The extension would be retroactive to Dec. 28, 2013, when benefits expired. Legislators who have been against extending benefits cite the cost, which runs about …

Estate Benefits of Roth IRAs Curtailed in Obama Budget

Buried in the details of President Barack Obama’s 2015 budget are tax changes that could upend many people’s estate and retirement planning. The president is proposing significant changes to the Roth IRA, which has become a popular way for higher-income investors to leave money to heirs tax-free. “The Obama team put this out in an effort to simplify tax law when it comes to retirement accounts,” says Matt Curfman, a financial planner with Richmond Brothers Inc. in Jackson, Mich. “Thank …