Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How to afford your meds and support your health. Also in the news: A new episode of the Smart Money podcast on reducing child care costs, what the S&P bear market means for you, and why you might want to hold off traveling until September.

How to Afford Your Meds and Support Your Health
The cost of prescription drugs in the U.S. can be enough to make you sick.

Smart Money Podcast: Nerdy Deep Dive: How to Reduce Child Care Costs
This week’s episode is a Nerdy deep dive into the cost of child care.

What Does the S&P 500 Bear Market Mean for You?
As of market close Monday, June 13, the S&P 500 has officially entered a bear market.

Don’t Forget: Travel Prices Usually Fall in September
We know it’s tempting to get out traveling again, but waiting until fall could be a big money-saver.

Q&A: What is the capital gains tax, and how big a bite does it take?

Dear Liz: We own stocks with enormous capital gains — as in, six figures or more. The tax would be a lot. Any advice on how to limit the tax bite? Our income consists of Social Security and a teacher’s pension.

Answer: Capital gains taxes may be less of a problem than you fear. If your taxable income as a married couple is less than $83,350 in 2022, your federal tax rate on long-term capital gains is zero. (Long-term capital gains apply to profits on stocks held one year or more.) If your taxable income is between $83,350 and $517,200, your federal capital gains tax rate is 15%.

In addition, you may owe state taxes. California, for example, doesn’t have a capital gains tax rate and instead taxes capital gains at the same rate as ordinary income.

Capital gains aren’t included when determining your taxable income, by the way, but they are included in your adjusted gross income, which can affect other aspects of your finances. A big capital gain could determine whether you can qualify for certain tax breaks, for example, and could inflate your Medicare premiums. That’s why it’s important to get good tax advice before selling stocks with big gains.

A tax pro can discuss strategies that might reduce a tax bill, such as offsetting gains with capital losses by selling any stocks that have lost value since you purchased them. You also could consider donating appreciated shares to qualifying charities. If you itemize your deductions, you can deduct the fair market value of these shares. The write-off is typically limited to 30% of your adjusted gross income for the year, although if you donate more you can carry forward the excess deduction for up to five years.

All this assumes that these shares aren’t held in retirement accounts. Withdrawals from retirement accounts are typically taxed as ordinary income and don’t benefit from the more favorable capital gains rates. If the stocks are in an IRA and you’re at least 70½, however, you could make qualified charitable distributions directly to nonprofits and the distributions wouldn’t be included in your income. Again, this is something to discuss with a tax pro before taking action.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: What to do if you save too much for retirement. Also in the news: The ins and outs of starting a car, financial pros are hanging on to stocks, and why you need multiple savings accounts.

What to Do If You Save Too Much for Retirement
Saving too much for retirement can cause problems as well as saving too little. Beware of IRS rules and penalties.

So You Think You Know How to Start a Car
It’s become much more complicated

Selling Stocks on Inflation Fears? Financial Pros Wouldn’t
The inflation sirens are wailing, but financial pros say there’s no reason to panic.

Why You Need Multiple Savings Accounts
Multiple accounts make it easier to reach your savings goals.

Q&A: It’s not too late for Mom’s stocks

Dear Liz: My mother is 68. She has had a sizable amount of money in an old work 401(k) for several years now. Unfortunately, it has been stuck in the most conservative low-growth fund for more than 10 years during a time of great stock market growth. If she changed it to a more aggressive fund now, are there tax implications to consider, and would this be an unwise change at her age?

Answer: Ouch. The stock market as measured by the Standard & Poor’s 500 benchmark rose more than 250% in the last decade. Instead of more than tripling her money, her low-growth fund may have barely kept up with inflation.

She can’t get back those lost returns, but she could allocate her money more aggressively without having to worry about triggering taxes. Money in 401(k)s and most other retirement accounts is taxed only when it’s withdrawn.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: The 2 costs that can make or break your nest egg. Also in the news: Buying stocks in a year of uncertainty, getting paid for family caregiving, and how people spent their stimulus checks.

The 2 Costs That Can Make or Break Your Nest Egg
Spending less on housing and transportation could help you save more for retirement.

In a Year of Uncertainty, Should You Still Buy Stocks?
Wading into the market.

Yes, It’s Possible to Get Paid for Family Caregiving
But there’s a lot to consider.

How People Spent Their Stimulus Checks – and What You Can Learn From Them
Use your stimulus check, or any extra money, to improve your financial situation during these uncertain times.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: 6 things to know about the Uber IPO. Also in the news: How one woman ditched 80K of debt in two years, how pet insurance can be your wallet’s best friend, and switching bank accounts for the rewards.

6 Things to Know About the Uber IPO
What potential investors should know.

How I Ditched Debt: Redefining ‘Best Life,’ Scaling Back
How one woman paid off nearly $80K in two years.

Pet Insurance Can Be Your Wallet’s Best Friend
Our pets’ care can get pricey.

Should You Switch Bank Accounts for the Rewards?
The pros and cons.

Q&A: Heirs need a pro to sort our tax issues

Dear Liz: I know that when a person dies, their beneficiaries typically will inherit a home or other real estate at the current market value with no taxes owed on the appreciation that happened during the person’s lifetime. Does that hold true for stocks as well?

Answer: Usually, yes, but there are some exceptions.

If the stock is held inside a retirement account such as a 401(k) or IRA, and that retirement account is bequeathed to heirs, withdrawals will be subject to income tax. The same is true for investments held within variable annuities.

Inheritors also may owe capital gains taxes on a stock’s appreciation if the stock is held in certain trusts, such as a generation-skipping trust.

And even when no taxes are owed on the gain that happened during someone’s lifetime, there may be taxes due on the gain that happens after someone inherits the stock or other property, said Los Angeles estate planning attorney Burton Mitchell.

If you’re expecting an inheritance, you’d be smart to consult a tax pro so you understand the tax bill that may be attached.

Q&A: Giving stock to your children

Dear Liz: We plan to give our children some stock that we have had for several years. What is the tax consequence when they sell it? Is it the difference from the value when we gave it to them till they sell it, or the difference from the value when we purchased it?

Answer: If the stock is worth more the day you give it to them than it was worth when you bought it, you’ll be giving them your tax basis too.

Let’s imagine you bought the stock for $10 per share.

Say it’s worth $18 per share when you gift it. If they sell for $25, their capital gain would be $15 ($25 sale price minus your $10 basis). They will qualify for long-term capital gains rates since you’ve held the stock for more than a year.

If on the day you give the stock, it’s worth less than what you paid for it, then different rules apply. Let’s say the stock’s value has fallen to $5 per share when you gift it.

If your children later sell for more than your original basis of $10, then $10 is their basis. So if they sell for $12, their capital gain is $2.

If they sell it for less than $5 (the market value when you gave it), that $5 valuation becomes their basis. If they sell for $4, then, their capital loss would be $1 per share ($4 sale price minus $5 basis). The silver lining: Capital losses can be used to offset income and reduce taxes.

Finally, if they sell for an amount between the value at the date of the gift and your basis — so between $5 and $10 in our example — there will be no gain or loss to report.

If, however, you wait and bequeath the stock to them at your death, the shares would get a new tax basis at that point. If the stock is worth more than what you paid, your kids get that new, higher basis. So if it’s worth $25 on the day you die and they sell for $25, no capital gains taxes are owed. If it’s worth $5 when you die, though, the capital loss essentially evaporates. Your kids can’t use it to offset other income.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Selling stocks in a panic could jack up your tax bill. Also in the news: This 5-minute task can protect your banking rep, how to get started with frequent flyer programs, and how your Amazon Echo could be making you spend more money.

Selling Stocks in a Panic Could Jack Up Your Tax Bill
Don’t act impulsively.

This 5-Minute Task Can Protect Your Banking Rep
Using a ChexSystem freeze.

How to Get Started With Frequent Flyer Programs
Start putting all those miles to work.

Your Amazon Echo could be making you spend more money
In addition to laughing at random times.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: It’s tax scam season. Here’s when to call shenanigans. Also in the news: Starting with a budget when planning a wedding, how to find good, cheap stocks, and a major data breach at the Marine Forces Reserve.

Planning a Wedding? Start With the Budget
Setting reasonable expectations.

It’s Tax Scam Season. Here’s When to Call Shenanigans
Pay close attention.

4 Steps to Finding Good, Cheap Stocks
Tips for beginners.

Major data breach at Marine Forces Reserve impacts thousands
Social Security numbers, banks transfers and other personal info has been leaked.