TSD Memphis

Wed04162014

Tax-deferred investments and early withdrawal

moneymatter 600Withdrawing funds from a tax-deferred retirement account before age 59½ generally triggers a 10 percent federal income tax penalty; all distributions are subject to ordinary income tax. However, there are certain situations in which you are allowed to make early withdrawals from a retirement account and avoid the tax penalty.

IRAs and employer-sponsored retirement plans have different exceptions, although the regulations are similar.

IRA exceptions

The death of the IRA owner: Upon your death, your designated beneficiaries may begin taking distributions from your account. Beneficiaries are subject to annual required minimum distributions.

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Taxes: Making the most of refunds

TaxRefunds 600With W-2s and 1099s in hand, most folks expecting a refund are lining up to file those returns. The doors are open to the many tax preparers who have waited patiently for the season to arrive. Once the money arrives there are many things that can be done with those much-anticipated dollars. Plan to get the most out of the money and improve your financial position. So, let's discuss a few of the many options of spending the refund checks.

Checking, savings or money market account

One option is to save your refund check for a rainy day or emergency. Experts advise that savings should equal between three and six months of expenses for cushion in the event of layoffs or cutbacks. This rainy day or emergency fund is separate from other accounts to make sure that it is not spent or mingled with the rest of the funds. It is to be used for the mortgage, rent, car repairs and such in times of need.

Instead of spending every cent received, try placing some in a checking, savings or money market account. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) through direct deposit will place your money electronically into your account as instructed. The IRS will even divide your refund over multiple accounts with the completion of Form 8888, which is the Allocation of Refund Form.

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Oscar Predictions 2014

OscarPredictions 600"12 Years a Slave" is benefiting from the most Best Picture buzz as we approach Oscar night, although this is shaping up as one of those rare years when the award for Best Director will probably go to a different film, "Gravity." Look for "12 Years" to net only a trio of statuettes overall, with "Gravity" likely landing seven.

"12 Years a Slave" is the sort of elaborate historical drama the voters just love to recognize, as reflected in such past picks as "The King's Speech," "Gladiator," "Shakespeare in Love," "Titanic," "The English Patient," "Schindler's List," "Driving Miss Daisy," "The Last Emperor," "Amadeus" and "Out of Africa," to name a few. And since the Anglophilic Academy ostensibly is impressed by English accents, it will also help that "12 Years: is a British production.

Besides forecasting the winners, I also suggest which nominees in each category are actually the most deserving. Furthermore, because some great performances are invariably overlooked by the Academy entirely, I also point out some who should've at least been nominated.

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Setting boundaries for healing and helping

LucyShaw-160Dear Lucy: I have a friend who has had back trouble for some 20 years following an accident. She has back pain and has gone to lots of doctors and is overweight from lack of exercise. She has now started exploring alternative therapies that she won't do. The problem is that she is so negative, whiney and mean and has nothing good to say about anything or anybody. I help her out a lot, travel with her and work hard to be her friend and support. But she really doesn't want to be well. She just wants to complain. I hate to desert her but it's making me sick! I am the only one left who caters to her and is there for her. Any ideas. – Pained

Dear Pained: I think this is about both of you. She has set her boundaries for healing and you need to set some boundaries for helping.

About her: Many of us have a low threshold for pain and it's worse when we have to live with it daily. It can make you irritable and short tempered. But there are lots of things out there for pain beyond drugs.

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