Nov 22

My Better Half

YFR with JenniferI am happy to announce that I am sharing my life with this lovely lady. We have been engaged for about a year and will be getting married next summer.

A big part of my life is being involved. She shares this joy with me. The attached pictures are of us at the Oklahoma Farm Bureau state convention. We were elected to represent our district in the OKFB Young Farmers and Ranchers (YFR).

Here is looking at a great three years of that service and a great life together with Jennifer!

Nov 22

Oklahoma Supreme Court takes on custodial rights of same sex parents

The case is Ramey v. Sutton and was just decided by the supreme Court.

In the case, Charlene Ramey and Kimberly Sutton were engaged and in a steady relationship for a term of years. Through a male friend’s donation, Sutton gave birth to a child. Ramey stayed at home with the child and became known as “mom” to the child while Sutton was more often referred to as ”Kim”.

After ten years of co-parenting, the couple split and Sutton, as biological mother, sought to end all interaction between Ramey and their child. Ramey brought suit for parental rights (custody and visitations). The District Court, basing its decision upon the couple never finalizing marriage (not allowed in Oklahoma until the U.S. Supreme Court decision earlier this year), issued a summary judgment in favor of Sutton. Ramey appealed.

In a 9-0 decision, the Supreme Court reversed, finding Ramey had standing to have her issues heard, and the case was remanded to District Court.

So, there will still be questions as to what parental rights will be given a non-spouse, non-biological parent, but the courts appear to want the same consideration given as happens with heterosexual couples.

Nov 22

From the IRS: Four Things to Know about Advance Payments of the Premium Tax Credit

As part of the tax preparer email subscription I get, I received the following from the IRS and wanted to share:

When you enroll in coverage through the Marketplace during Open Season, which runs through Jan. 31, 2016, you can choose to have monthly advance credit payments sent directly to your insurer. If you get the benefit of advance credit payments in any amount, or if you plan to claim the premium tax credit, you must file a federal income tax return and use a Form 8962, Premium Tax Credit (PTC) to reconcile the amount of advance credit payments made on your behalf with the amount of your actual premium tax credit.  You must file an income tax return for this purpose even if you are otherwise not required to file a return.

Here are four things to know about advance payments of the premium tax credit:

• If the premium tax credit computed on your return is more than the advance credit payments made on your behalf during the year, the difference will increase your refund or lower the amount of tax you owe. This will be reported in the ‘Payments’ section of Form 1040.

• If the advance credit payments are more than the amount of the premium tax credit you are allowed, you will add all or a portion of the excess advance credit payments made on your behalf to your tax liability by entering it in the ‘Tax and Credits’ section of your tax return.  This will result in either a smaller refund or a larger balance due.

• If advance credit payments are made on behalf of you or an individual in your family, and you do not file a tax return, you will not be eligible for advance credit payments or cost-sharing reductions to help pay for your Marketplace health insurance coverage in future years.   • The amount of excess advance credit payments that you are required to repay may be limited based on your household income and filing status.  If your household income is 400 percent or more of the applicable federal poverty line, you will have to repay all of the advance credit payments. The repayment limits are listed in the table below.

 

Repayment Limitation Table

Household Income Percentage of Federal Poverty Line

Limitation Amount for Single

Limitation Amount for all other filing statuses

Less than 200% $300 $600
At least 200%, but less than 300% $750 $1,500
At least 300%, but less than 400% $1,250 $2,500
400% or more No limit No limit

 

Nov 20

Time to enroll for 2016 health insurance.

As some of you may know from a recent cancellation letter from your health insurance provider, the time for open enrollment for the 2016 year is quickly coming to an end. There are only 10 more days to meet the open enrollment guidelines.

Like many people I know, I saw my premiums increase by about 25%. This resulted in me shopping for a few different plans (still all at least 21% higher than this year’s premiums), but I am happy to say that I am back in a plan that allows me to at least save a little taxes throughout the year.

How, you may ask?

My new plan has an HSA (Health Savings Account) option. I (and you, for that matter) can put tax deductible amounts into a qualified savings or investment account and then use the savings to pay qualified medical expenses, such as your deductible.

As I have not been to a doctor or taken any type of prescription medications in at least three years, I hope to continue the trend. With the availability to put up to $3,350 in it next year, it will continue to grow until I need to use my otherwise catastrophic coverage.

Have you reviewed your plan? Are you taking the proper steps to include your estate plan and trust in your health and family planning? Is it time to contact the right professional for both?

Nov 20

New Social Security Regulations Clamping Down on File and Suspend

Under new regulations by the Social Security Administration, a married couple can no longer do the “file and suspend” procedure to benefit the non-working spouse.

The way this previously worked was a working spouse could file for collection of his or her Social Security. The non-working spouse would then elect to collect a spousal benefit from the working spouse’s benefit. The working spouse would then suspend his or her own benefits, continue working (and thus increasing their future payments), but the non-working spouse would still be able to collect the spousal benefit.

This is still available if you are over 62 at the end of 2015. Under the new law, workers under 62 may only apply for benefits on their own record, or if the working spouse is also receiving benefits.This is a part of the budget cuts that resulted from the last threatened shutdown. While I haven’t seen the numbers, I expect there will be significant savings for the Social Security “trust fund”.

If you are concerned about planning for retirement, then you should consult with a financial advisor or a great estate planning lawyer or elderlaw attorney. I would like to keep my name out there for to review your last will and testament or other estate plan as well.