Social Security Increases Benefits by 2.80% for 2019

A 30-second read by Nicholas Scheibner:  Social Security will begin increasing payments beginning in January of 2019. 

Why did this happen – because October 11th is the date when the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics releases its report of inflation. Social Security uses the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) as their measure of inflation. 

Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) is Social Security’s term for inflation. Social Security uses the CPI-W to determine if an adjustment is needed to Social Security benefits. 

(Note: Social Security benefits do not go lower if inflation decreases)

You can read the official press release from Social Security here: https://www.ssa.gov/news/press/releases/2018/#10-2018-1

Contact your Baron Team for more information on social security benefits.

Important Update Regarding Freezing Your Credit

A 30-second read by the Baron Team: This is an update to our September 2017 blog post concerning the Equifax data breach that occurred in September of 2017.  Due to the data breach, we advised considering freezing your credit reports to stop thieves from opening new credit cards or loans in your name. Freezing your report also prevents you from opening new accounts, so each time you apply for a credit card, mortgage or loan, you need to lift the freeze a few days beforehand. 

Now, you can freeze and unfreeze your credit at the three major credit bureaus for free, thanks to a new federal law that took effect on September 21, 2018.

In addition, the law extends the length of time a fraud alert remains on your credit report to one year, from the previous period of 90 days.

You will need to contact all three credit bureaus to place a freeze on your credit report:

For more information regarding credit reports and identity theft, read our Equifax data breach post.

Please contact your Baron team with any questions.  

Who should be the account owner for a 529 plan? Does it Matter?

A 30-second read by Nicholas Scheibner:  When you are planning to fund your child’s college education, the 529 plan can provide several tax-benefits for your savings.  A 529 plan is a plan operated by a state or educational institution, with tax advantages and potentially other incentives to make it easier to save for college and other post-secondary training, or for tuition in connection with enrollment or attendance at an elementary or secondary public, private, or religious school for a designated beneficiary, such as a child or grandchild.

If you apply for financial aid through the U.S Government (fafsa.ed.gov) you will be filling out a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form and you will want to consider who should be the account owner for the 529 plan. 

In regards to financial aid based on the FAFSA form, the form does distinguish between parents and grandparents in the following way:

Continue reading “Who should be the account owner for a 529 plan? Does it Matter?”

What is the Benefit of Umbrella Insurance & How Do I Get It?

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published March 29, 2016. The information is still current as of this date.

A 60-second read by the Baron Team: You probably have homeowner’s insurance for your home and car insurance for your vehicle, but do you have umbrella insurance? In a society where many of us are concerned about personal liability and the possibility of being sued rightly or wrongly, the more assets you accumulate the more important personal liability protection becomes.

Continue reading “What is the Benefit of Umbrella Insurance & How Do I Get It?”

Nanny Tax: What You Need to Know When You Hire a Household Employee

A 60-second read by the Baron Team: 

  • Nanny taxes are taxes paid to the government from a person working in and/or around your home. These jobs can include nanny, housekeeper, gardener, chef, personal assistant or caregiver.
  • The worker is considered a household employee if the employer controls what work is done and how it is done and can be full time or part time work.
  • If you pay someone that works in your home $2,100 or more a year or $1,000 in a quarter they are considered a household employee.
  • The employer must obtain the employee’s name and social security number.
  • The employer must withhold a certain amount of compensation from a household employee for FICA and Medicare.
  • As well as withholding a certain amount of money from your household employee, you must also pay your share of FICA employer taxes and federal and state unemployment taxes.
  • The employee, as well as the employer, can benefit from filing these taxes. The employee can prove she/he was working for a set amount of time and qualify for certain government benefits, such as social security and unemployment.

  • Forms Required to file:
    1. Form SS-4 to obtain your federal Employer Identification Number, which is needed for the other forms.
    2. Form I-9 is needed to be filled out by your employee to verify she/he is eligible to work in the United States.
    3. W-4 Forms are used to determine what taxes are needed to be deducted from the household employee’s wages and sent to the IRS.
    4. Schedule H Form is part of your personal return with Form 1040 & an accountant can help determine the amount the employer is taxed for FICA and unemployment.

  • Insurance requirements:
    1. You must register for unemployment insurance in your residing state.
    2. You also need to have workers compensation insurance, which is very important.
      • If you reside in NY, you will also need to purchase a separate disability policy.

  • State taxes are generally paid quarterly while Federal taxes are paid annually.
  • If you refuse to file the proper tax documents you may be subjected to an audit from the IRS leading to tax evasion. Trying to classify your household employee as an “independent contractor” is a red flag to the IRS and should be avoided.

For more information on hiring household employees visit:  https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/hiring-household-employees

For more information on what forms are needed for hiring employees visit: https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/hiring-employees

If you have more specific questions on this matter, we recommend speaking with a tax professional.

If you have any other questions, please reach out to your Baron Financial Group team.