Some tax benefits will increase in 2016

Each year, the IRS announces inflation adjustments for more than 50 tax provisions. Knowing these numbers can help with your year-end tax planning. Changes for 2016 (for the tax returns you’ll file in early 2017) include an increased standard deduction when you file as head of household ($9,300 for 2016). The standard deduction amounts remain the same as they were for 2015 when you’re single or married filing separate ($6,300), or married filing jointly ($12,600). Please call us about other inflation adjustments.

Make use of your 2015 gift tax exclusion

This year you can give up to $14,000 to as many individuals as you want without any gift tax liability. If you’re married and your spouse joins in the gift, you can, as a couple, elect to give $28,000 to each person with no gift tax liability. Once December 31, 2015, has come and gone, your 2015 gift tax exclusion is also gone. If you plan to make gifts this year, remember that your gifts must be completed by then.

Need money to pay bills? Raiding your 401(k) is not a good idea

When you’re short of cash, raiding your 401(k) plan may seem like a good idea. Here are two reasons why it isn’t.

Penalties and taxes. If you’re not at least 59½ years old, you’ll be hit with a 10% penalty for early withdrawals except in certain limited cases, and the money you withdraw will be taxed at your regular tax rate.

Lost opportunity. If your 401(k) earns an annual return of 5% over the next 30 years, an account with a balance of $50,000 could grow to over $215,000. A withdrawal taken and spent today will cost you that growth.

Bottom line: If possible, find other ways to pay your bills, even if that means contributing less to your 401(k) in the short term. While it’s wise to match funds your company provides, you might consider temporarily reducing contributions that exceed the matching amount.

What about loans? A 401(k) loan also has drawbacks. Again, money that’s not in your account won’t grow. In addition, if you lose your job, you’ll have to repay the outstanding loan balance or face tax penalties.

If you need assistance with financial issues, give us a call.

2016 health care enrollment begins November 1

The health insurance Marketplace (www.healthcare.gov) “open enrollment period” began November 1 for 2016 individual health insurance coverage. Open enrollment is the annual period of time during which health insurance companies must accept your application regardless of your health history. Once open enrollment is over – January 31, 2016, for 2016 policies – you can only get coverage if you have circumstances that allow you to qualify for a special enrollment period.