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Members of the Armed Forces Get Special Tax Benefits

Members of the military may qualify for tax breaks and benefits. Special rules could lower the tax they owe or give them more time to file and pay taxes. In addition, some types of military pay are tax-free.

Here are some tips to find out who qualifies:

1. Combat Pay Exclusion.  If someone serves in a combat zone, or provides direct support, part or even all of their combat pay is tax-free. However, there are limits for commissioned officers. See Earned Income Tax Credit below for important information.

2. Deadline Extensions.  Some members of the military, such as those who serve in a combat zone, can postpone most tax deadlines. Those who qualify can get automatic extensions of time to file and pay their taxes.

3. Special Deductions:

Tips on How to Handle an IRS Letter or Notice

The IRS mails millions of letters every year to taxpayers for a variety of reasons. Keep the following suggestions in mind on how to best handle a letter or notice from the IRS:

Tips for Individuals Who Need to Reconstruct Records After a Disaster

Taxpayers who are victims of a disaster might need to reconstruct records to prove their loss. Doing this may be essential for tax purposes, getting federal assistance, or insurance reimbursement.

Here are 12 things taxpayers can do to help reconstruct their records after a disaster:

What is a pet trust?

A pet trust is an arrangement to provide for the care and financial support of your pet(s) upon your disability or death. You fund the trust with property or cash that can be used to provide for your pet based on your instructions in the trust document.

Your pet trust should name a trustee who will carry out your instructions for the care of your pet, including handling and disbursement of trust funds and turning your pet over to the person or entity you designate to serve as your pet's caregiver. The trustee and caregiver could be the same person or entity.

What is a funeral trust?

A funeral trust is an arrangement entered into with a provider of funeral or burial services. Prepaying funeral expenses may allow you to "lock in" costs for future funeral or burial services at an agreed-upon price. The funeral home sometimes serves as trustee (manager of trust assets), and you usually fund the trust with cash, bonds, or life insurance. A revocable funeral trust can be changed and revoked by you at any time. An irrevocable trust can't be changed or revoked, and you generally can't get your money out except to pay for funeral services.

Expect the Unexpected: What to Do If You Become Disabled

In a recent survey, 46% of retirees said they retired earlier than planned, and not necessarily because they chose to do so. In fact, many said they had to leave the workforce early because of health issues or a disability.¹

Although you may be healthy and financially stable now, an unexpected diagnosis or injury could significantly derail your life plans. Would you know what to do, financially speaking, if you suddenly became disabled? Now may be a good time to familiarize yourself with the following information, before an emergency arises.

Understand any employer-sponsored benefits you may have

Student Loan Debt: It Isn't Just for Millennials

It's no secret that today's college graduates face record amounts of debt. Approximately 68% of the graduating class of 2015 had student loan debt, with an average debt of $30,100 per borrower — a 4% increase from 2014 graduates.1

A student loan debt clock at finaid.org estimates current outstanding student loan debt — including both federal and private student loans — at over $1.4 trillion. But it's not just millennials who are racking up this debt. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), although most student loan borrowers are young adults between the ages of 18 and 39, consumers age 60 and older are the fastest-growing segment of the student loan market.2

Rise of student debt among older Americans