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The Triple Tax Break You May Be Missing: A Health Savings Account

The federal government’s pandemic relief program expanded what H.S.A.s can pay for, including nonprescription medicine like pain relief and allergy pills, and menstrual products like tampons and pads. (The I.R.S. has a full list of eligible items.)Some employers match contributions to H.S.A.s as they do retirement savings. But self-employed people and contractors can open them, too.People often confuse H.S.A.s with other types of health accounts, such as flexible health spending accounts. But unlike F.S.A.s, health savings accounts are portable: If you change jobs …

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Where’s My Stimulus Payment? Maybe in Your Account. (Finally!)

Demand for information hardly slowed Wednesday: Wells Fargo said heavy traffic had temporarily caused problems for its online banking service. “This does not affect stimulus payments with March 17 effective date, which were credited to accounts today,” the company said in a statement.For this round, payments top out at $1,400 per person, including children and adult dependents. To qualify for the full amount, a single person must have an adjusted gross income of $75,000 or below. For heads of household, adjusted gross income must be $112,500 or less, and for married couples filing jointly that number has to be $150,000 or below.Partial payments …

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Dad, a Death Sentence and the Planner Who Set Us Straight

My siblings and I had always gotten on quite well, but we feared a breakdown in overall family dynamics if we weren’t careful, even as we were desperate to act fast to protect our dad and his wife as best we could. The living needed at least as much help as the client who was dying. To the three of us, at least, feelings were going to matter just as much as finance.But on the most primal level, we were simply reeling in those first few months. A.L.S. is an unpredictable disease — one that could progress …

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On the Post-Pandemic Horizon, Could That Be … a Boom?

There are reasons to think this recovery could be different. For one thing, the economy was fundamentally healthy when the recession began. There was no housing bubble; household debt was low; banks weren’t sitting on a tower of dubious loans that could collapse at any moment. That means there is no reason, at least in theory, that the economy can’t pick up more or less where it left off.Policymakers have also responded much more aggressively to this crisis than to past ones. The Fed moved quickly to prevent the pandemic from setting off a financial crisis. Congress …

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The Question Some Company Owners Don’t Want to Deal With

C. John Bongiovanni, who has been president of Bon Tools since he father, Carl, died of a heart attack in 2017, said he had also dealt with a lack of a succession plan. But what made the initial transition especially difficult, he said, was the lack of insurance, which would have given him some breathing room to sort through the company’s finances and tend to its 70-plus employees.“The toughest thing at first was to circle the wagons and figure out what was what,” he said. Key person insurance would have also relieved him of some of the pressure he …

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Is My Stimulus Payment Taxable? And Other Tax Questions

Ms. Long generally recommends that people getting unemployment benefits choose to have at least 10 percent withheld for taxes to avoid unwelcome surprises.You’ll probably also owe state income taxes on the unemployment benefits, unless you live in one of the nine states that don’t have a state income tax or a few others that exempt jobless benefits, including California, Montana, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia. Wisconsin exempts jobless benefits for state residents, but taxes benefits paid to nonresidents, according to the Tax Foundation.Here are some questions and answers about income tax season:I don’t remember getting …

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The Estate Tax May Change Under Biden, Affecting Far More People

Tax policy used to be fairly boring and predictable. But in the past decade, it has become dynamic in a way that tax advisers don’t like: It changes with the political party in power.That means it’s increasingly hard for individuals trying to make long-term decisions around their earnings, savings and giving. And advisers are likely to offer guidance on what is the best decision at this moment, because the future is too fuzzy.Shortly after Joseph R. Biden Jr. was declared the president-elect in November, I wrote a column looking at the opportunity costs of making tax-related …

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Financial Aid: Grades, Merit and Talking to Kids About Paying for College

This Is Very UncomfortableIf you are raising your eyebrows now, administrators feel for you. They do not like the equity implications of merit aid either, even if affluent families who get $20,000 discounts may well be helping to cross-subsidize lower-income ones at many schools.Yet these managers of enrollment also wonder why you’re so shocked that they use merit aid in the first place. After all, it is awfully hard to fundamentally change a college’s character — its location, the tenured faculty, the type of students who come year after year, what the brand stands for in the market for …

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How To Spend in 2021

Maybe you learned you enjoyed driving to the beach more than flying with your toddlers for a vacation. Maybe ordering out a few more nights a week was a lifesaver after a busy day. Maybe you want to keep contributing to a charity you came across.“Heading into 2021, we can use this information to reshape our budget into a template that prioritizes the spending we most enjoy,” said Kevin Mahoney, a financial planner based in Washington, D.C., who focuses on millennial money issues. “And we can continue to minimize or forgo those expenses that we’ve learned we can …

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Will an Overdraft Balance Impact Your Stimulus Check?

Bank fees are adding extra pain to some Americans’ pandemic-induced woes. In 2019, according to the Center for Responsible Lending, big banks collected more than $11 billion in overdraft fees from their customers, with 9 percent of customers paying more than 80 percent of the fees. For the first nine months of 2020, customers of big banks paid $6 billion in overdraft fees, according to Rebecca Borné, a researcher at the nonprofit, which advocates better treatment of consumers by financial institutions.The total amount of penalty fees that bank customers paid in 2020 could end up being lower than last year, but because such a large amount …

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