Here are three of the week's top pieces of financial insight, gathered from around the web:
The IRS wants to ID you
"You'll soon be required to submit a selfie to the Internal Revenue Service if you're filing your taxes online," said Peter Butler and Clifford Colby in CNET. The agency has begun working with ID.me, a third-party "identity-proofing" service already widely used by other government agencies, including state unemployment bureaus, who have used the service to screen for identity thieves applying for benefits in someone else's name. By the end of this year, "an ID.me-verified account will be needed to access most areas of your online IRS account." But it is much more comprehensive than typical online verification systems, requesting scans of a photo ID, confirmation of your Social Security number, and a selfie taken through your phone or computer camera to be uploaded.
Cincinnati buys up rental homes
A Cincinnati government agency bought 194 local rental homes so that professional investors couldn't, said Konrad Putzier and Will Parker in The Wall Street Journal. The Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority "outbid more than a dozen investment firms" with a $14.5 million offer for the properties in and around the city. It was one of "the most aggressive responses yet by local officials looking to keep homes out of the hands of investors," who now account for 18 percent of all U.S. home sales, up from 8 percent in 2009. Critics say this push by deep-pocketed firms has contributed to rising property prices by "limiting the number of homes for sale." In the Cincinnati area, "five landlords have bought more than 4,000 single-family homes" since 2008.
Your 401(k) employer match
Be sure to know your company's 401(k) vesting rules before you calculate how much of your retirement account you really own, said Greg Iacurci in CNBC. Just 41 percent of 401(k) plans offer immediate full vesting of a company match, meaning that whatever your employer has done to match or boost your savings is yours right away. Federal rules require full vesting within six years, but some companies use a "cliff" or "graded" schedule. A saver whose 401(k) uses a three-year cliff "owns the company match after three years of service" but gets zero percent before then. "A saver with a five-year graded schedule owns 20 percent after year one, 40 percent of year two, and so on" until being 100 percent vested after year five.
This article was first published in the latest issue of The Week magazine. If you want to read more like it, you can try six risk-free issues of the magazine here.