Saturday, January 26, 2013

I'm leaving...on a jet plane!

The National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA) is the premier organization for professionals since 1895. I have been a member since 1975 and currently serve as the Washington State Chairman for the Political Action Committee.

I will be flying out Sunday morning, January 27th for Washington DC along with my Co-chair, Alex Collins of Bothell and our State Political Involvement Chair Richard Miller of Yakima. We'll have meetings and training all day Monday the 28th. Our "Day On The Hill" is Tuesday the 29th. We have appointments to see Senator Patty Murray, Senator Maria Cantwell, Representative Susan DelBene and Representative Dave Reichert. In reality, we may only get a chance to talk with legislative aids as the House will be in recess and the Senators seldom take time to meet with constituents personally.

We'll be discussing tax reform issues that are being considered such as taxing life insurance benefits, IRA and 401(k) accounts as well as employer provided benefits. With the budget being in such a mess, legislators are looking everywhere to find money to feed their spending habits. For example, life insurance death benefits and the cash values in a life insurance policy have been given special tax treatment since the income tax laws went into effect  in 1913. That is why when a widow receives a death benefit from her husband's life insurance there is no income tax due. Some legislators want to change all of that.

They would change the laws so that when a person dies and the beneficiary receives, say $100,000 of life insurance proceeds, the government will take 30% of it. Can you imagine a widow getting a tax bill for $30,000 on the money her husband arranged to be paid so that she can remain in her own home and take care of the kids?

Watch for reports on our experiences next week.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Health Care Reform - 2013

Health Care Reform (The Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare) is the law of the land. Changes have been rolling out since 2011. In 2013 the following changes will take place.
  • Medicare payment bundling: Medicare pilot program is established nationally on payment bundling to encourage doctors, hospitals and other care providers to better coordinate patient care.
  • New Flexibile Spending Account (FSA) limit: Beginning on January 1, 2013, contributions to FSAs will be capped at $2,500 per year.
  • Medical tax deduction: The threshhold for claiming medical expense tax deductions is raised from 7.5 percent to 10 percent of adjusted gross income. If you file an itemized tax return, you can deduct qualified medical expenses in excess of that threshold. The threshold remains at 7.5 percent for the elderly through 2016. See IRS Publication 502 for more information.
  • Medicare payroll tax: is raised to 2.35 percent from 1.45 percent for individuals earning more than $200,000 and married couples with incomes over $250,000. The tax is imposed on some investment income for that income group.
In Washington State, the federally mandated Health Insurance Exchange is being established by the Health Care Authority. The name will be Washington Health Plan Finder. Licensed and certified insurance agents in Washington will be able to help people navigate the system.

My practice includes health insurance for all ages. I will be active helping my clients and all others with choosing and enrolling to a health insurance plan when the Health Plan Finder is up and running. In the meantime, check with me about your options prior to January 2014.