Tax Breaks Brought Back From the Dead

Federal lawmakers will simplify tax planning for many by making certain tax breaks permanent — including one for charitably inclined older investors. Many tax breaks expire after a year or so, requiring an act of Congress to briefly extend them again. That has made tax strategizing difficult, because people don’t know if Congress will let an expired deduction or credit lapse for good or revive it at the last minute. As part of the omnibus spending bill that the U.S. …

Uncle Sam Bolsters Support of State-Sponsored Retirement Plans

The U.S. Department of Labor is paving the way for states to sponsor retirement plans for millions of private-sector workers who don’t have such programs on the job. About 68 million U.S. workers don’t have access to a 401(k) or similar workplace account, according to the Labor Department, even though studies show that employees are more likely to save for retirement if their employer offers a savings plan. More than half of the 50 states are either developing retirement savings …

Federal Agencies Team Up to Help Workers Make Smarter Retirement Decisions

Workers are often confused about Social Security, which can lead them to shortchange themselves later when claiming benefits. A new report by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) cites studies that find only 1 in 5 preretirees know their full retirement age for Social Security. (For anyone born after 1942, the age is 66 to 67 years old.) And only 1 in 8 understand how benefits would change if they claimed them before, at or after their full retirement age. Simple …

Medicare Releases Official 2016 Part B Premiums

After months of speculation, Medicare’s standard Part B premiums for 2016 have been officially announced. About 70 percent of beneficiaries will continue to pay the same amount that has been charged for the past three years: $104.90 a month. Others will pay $121.80 a month, or more for higher-income beneficiaries who already pay higher premiums. As previously reported, the double standard arises from a quirk in the law that occurs only when there is no Social Security cost of living …

At Your Fingertips: A Trove of Data on Boomers and Americans 50-Plus

We are a data-driven society. We need data to address the challenges and opportunities facing the 50-plus population. I am pleased to announce that today AARP’s Public Policy Institute launched the AARP DataExplorer, a free website tool that provides a rich collection of data on issues relevant to people age 50 and older. The 50-plus group accounts for a third of the United States’ population, with about 110 million people. People in the baby boom generation make up 80 million …

Stocks for the Long Run? Really?

Most of us have heard that stocks have outperformed bonds in the long run. But what is the definition of long run? So far this century, have stocks really outperformed? To answer that question, I decided to look at how three different asset classes have performed in the new millennium. I examined the performance of stocks vs. bonds from Dec. 31, 1999 through June 30, 2015. I compared the total returns of U.S. stocks, international stocks and investment grade U.S. …