What the experts say
Locating your old 401(k) accounts
“Do you know where your money is?” asked Ken Fisher in USA Today. Keeping track of old 401(k) accounts can be tricky. Americans lost track of more than $7.7 billion worth of retirement savings in 2015 alone. If you “accidentally and unknowingly” abandoned a 401(k), it’s “time to retrieve it and take control.” The good news is, “if your money was invested, it should still be growing.” But you’ll want to consolidate, because having multiple accounts with numerous fee structures and investment plans will be costly in the long term. Check old statements, contact your previous employers, or search the site of the National Registry of Unclaimed Retirement Benefits. “When everything is merged, you can work on your own or with your adviser to make sure the money is invested right for your goals and needs.”
Financial documents to keep
For the millions of Americans itemizing their deductions, tax season is a time of “paper piles, bursting files, and inscrutable tax forms,” said Ron Lieber in The New York Times. With the new tax bill offering fewer reasons to itemize, “there may be less mess in your future.” But you will still want to retain “more than you might think.” The IRS anticipates you’ll keep your returns and “any supporting documentation” three years after filing. Make sure you also keep records of your IRA conversions to prove you’ve already paid tax when you withdraw. It’s also important to retain copies of major insurance policies and any estate-planning documents. To cut down on paperwork, scan and save digital copies of receipts for deductible expenses.
Determining your estimated taxes
“How much should I pay?” asked Jeanne Sahadi in CNN.com. It’s a perennial question for those who pay quarterly estimated taxes. But it’s “especially tricky this year,” because the new tax law changed income tax rates, and eliminated some deductions and exemptions and added others. Tax experts are still awaiting guidance from the IRS on some key provisions, so until that advice arrives, it’s probably “better to figure your estimated payments to match 100 percent (or 110 percent) of what you paid last year.” It’s not advisable to skip the quarterly payment that is due April 17 just because you are unsure of what you owe. “You could be hit with underpayment penalties for the quarter when you file your 2018 return next year.”