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The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, signed into law in December 2017, approximately doubled the federal gift and estate tax basic exclusion amount to $11.18 million in 2018 (adjusted for inflation in later years). After 2025, the exclusion is scheduled to revert to its pre-2018 level and be cut approximately in half. Otherwise, federal gift and estate taxes remain the same.

Gift tax. Gifts you…

College students and their parents dodged a major bullet with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. Initial drafts of the bill included the elimination of Coverdell Education Savings Accounts, the Lifetime Learning Credit, and the student loan interest deduction, along with the taxation of tuition waivers, which are used primarily by graduate students and college employees. In the end, none of…

Owning shares of stock or stock funds might increase the value of your portfolio in one of two fundamental ways: capital appreciation (i.e., price increases) and dividend payments. Of the two, capital appreciation carries the greatest potential for return, but it also carries the greatest potential for loss. And any gains or losses are only reaped when you sell your shares.

By contrast…

Nowadays, it's easier than ever to get caught up in the cycle of credit card debt. In fact, it's become a growing problem for many Americans. According to the Federal Reserve, total U.S. credit card payments reached 111.1 billion in 2016, up 7.4% from 2015. 1

If you find that you are struggling to pay down a credit card debt balance, here are some strategies that can help eliminate…

It's a common problem for many individuals — wondering exactly where your paycheck goes each month. After paying expenses, such as your mortgage, utilities, and credit card bills, you may find little left to put toward anything else.

Creating a budget is the first key to successfully manage your finances. Knowing exactly how you are spending your money each month can set you on a more…

No matter what your age or stage of life, targeting a goal for monthly retirement income can seem like a daunting task. Following are four considerations to help you get started.

1. When do you plan to retire?

The first question to ponder is your anticipated retirement age. Many people base their target retirement date on when they're eligible for full Social Security benefits, and…

529 plans were created 22 years ago, in 1996, to give people a tax-advantaged way to save for college. Roth IRAs were created a year later, in 1997, to give people a tax-advantaged way to save for retirement. But a funny thing happened along the way — some parents adapted the Roth IRA as a college savings tool.

Tax benefits and use of funds

Roth IRAs and 529 plans have a similar tax…

If you earned a government pension from a job not subject to Social Security tax withholding ("noncovered employment") and are also eligible for Social Security benefits through a job where Social Security taxes were withheld, two provisions might reduce your benefits: the windfall elimination provision (WEP) and the government pension offset (GPO).

The WEP affects how a worker's…

If you're thinking about working as long as possible to increase your retirement savings, you may be wondering whether you can receive Social Security retirement benefits while you're still employed. The answer is yes. But depending on your age, earnings from work may affect the amount of your Social Security benefit.

If you're younger than full retirement age and make more than the…

If you or a loved one needs long-term care, other choices besides nursing home care may be available. Here are some of the other options.

Home care

Most people would prefer to stay in their homes as long as possible. Depending on your needs, you may only need help with some common daily living activities such as laundry, shopping, cooking, and cleaning. First, talk to your…