While the temperatures start to cool off from the highs of the summer, the heat will remain high as elected officials put the finishing touches on new legislation. Included this month are a few of the preliminary tax figures for 2014 that are based on the Consumer Price Index. There are also articles discussing expiring tax laws, health care, and unwanted cell phone charges.
As always, should you know of someone who may benefit from this information please feel free to forward this newsletter to them.
Preview of Key 2014 Tax Figures
While official numbers for 2014 are not yet released by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), many figures are based on formulas set within the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) and use the Consumer Price Index (CPI) published by the Department of Labor. They are noted here for your planning purposes:
Tax Brackets: While the actual income brackets for tax rates are not set for 2014, the rate of inflation that impacts the income levels for each tax rate is anticipated to raise the income brackets by approximately 1.7-1.8%. Please recall that beginning in 2013 there is a new 39.6% income tax rate in addition to a new Medicare surtax.
Personal Exemption: $3,950 in 2014 ($3,900 in 2013)
|Head of Household||9,100||8,950|
|Married filing Joint||12,400||12,200|
|Married filing separately||6,200||6,100|
|65 or blind:||married||Add $1,200||Add $1,200|
|single||Add $1,550||Add $1,500|
|Other Key figures:|
|Estate Gift tax exclusion||$5.34 million||$5.25 million|
|Annual Gift tax exclusion||$14,000||$14,000|
|Roth and Traditional IRA Contribution limit||5,500||5,500|
Caution: Remember, these are early figures using the recently announced Consumer Price Index. Official numbers are released by the IRS later this year.
Use Them or Lose Them
The New Cramming
|The art of adding unapproved, deceptive or misleading services to your phone bill is commonly known as cramming. Historically these charges could be seen within your traditional telephone bill. With the shift from traditional land-lines to cell phones, a new form of cramming is making its presence felt. Here are some suggestions to help keep you from becoming a victim of this practice:|
|Check your bill. Check your cell-phone bill every month and identify all items on your bill. Call your provider to get an explanation for anything that appears unclear. Look for key words that may be masking the unapproved charges. Words like:
|Question changes. Your phone bill should be predictable. If you see the bill increase from one month to the next, consider it a warning sign. While the change may not be fraudulent billing, the review could point to a need to change your phone agreement or phone habits.|
|Know the culprits. Companies that are commonly adding a monthly charge to cell phones include; gaming companies, sports applications, online entertainment, security services, credit monitoring, wi-fi connection services, and financial services.|
|Guard your phone number distribution. To access your cell phone bill the thieves need your phone number. If you start receiving a number of unwanted calls, it can be a clue that your billing might be compromised in the future.|
The problem of cramming has found a new home on cell phone bills in part because many users no longer see a paper statement and are set up for automatic bill payment. If either of these applies to you, it makes a monthly review of your billing statement that much more important.
If you think you have been a victim of cramming visit the Federal Communications Commission, www.fcc.gov, to learn more and to register a complaint.
Beyond the Noise of Health Care Initiatives
What is happening now
From October 2013 thru March 2014, the open enrollment phase to obtain health insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace begins. This Insurance Marketplace is a legal requirement for each state to publish health insurance options and related costs to all residents in their respective state. So please be prepared to be inundated with commercials from each state promoting their new Health Insurance Marketplace and the need for you to review your health coverage. Remember, unless something changes, those who do not have health insurance in 2014 could face additional federal tax in 2014.
What you need to know
|Employer-provided insurance. If you currently have health insurance through your employer, the current media storm will, in all likelihood, not apply to you.|
|Sole-proprietors. If you are a sole-proprietor you may wish to review your current insurance coverage with the policies available in the Health Insurance Marketplace.|
|Currently without health insurance. If you do not have health insurance, pay attention. Not only will the Marketplace be a good resource to shop for a health insurance policy, your income may also qualify you for a federal Premium Tax Credit to lower your health insurance cost.|
If you wish to learn more and determine the best course of action for you and your family visit www.healthcare.gov.
As always, should you have any questions or concerns regarding your situation please feel free to call.