May/June 2017

NEWS STORIES

Study Finds Seniors Worried About Aging

There is no generation gap when it comes to people’s biggest worries about aging.

A new survey from the La Jolla-based West Health Institute and NORC at the University of Chicago reveal losing one’s memory, developing health problems, and not having financial security were the biggest worries across all age groups.

The nationwide survey polled more than 3,000 adults over the age of 30. Dr. Zia Agha, West Health’s chief medical officer, said a majority of those surveyed think we’re not doing the right things to address their concerns about aging.

“That tells us that we need to think differently and act differently if we are going to be able to address the needs of this population.”

The survey also reveals that having adequate health care isn’t the only thing people say they need access to as they approach their senior years.  It finds that a majority of Americans say they also want access to healthy food, affordable housing and transportation.

“These other areas are often neglected, and are often not considered valuable,” Agha explained. “So I think we need to double down on resources that are needed to ensure that most seniors in most communities have access to these other supportive systems.”

The pressure to provide these services will likely increase as baby boomers age. About 10,000 Americans turn 65 every day.

Top

Best and Worst States to Retire

Many of us long for a retirement that will feel like going on a permanent vacation. But before we buy that beach bungalow, box up our stuff and break out the Costco-sized wine spritzers, a reality check may be in order.

Bankrate’s latest ranking of the best and worst states to retire finds the fun-in-the-sun places often associated with retirement may have drawbacks as we face aging issues and our savings dwindle. Retiree meccas like Florida and Arizona don’t come close to cracking our top 10.

Our top pick, New Hampshire, probably won’t be the best place to work on your tan, but it will provide many of the necessities for a comfortable and sustainable retirement.

“There’s absolutely no doubt that warmer climates do attract” seniors, says Karen Holden, professor emeritus at the University of Wisconsin’s La Follette School of Public Affairs. But there’s much more to sound retirement decision-making, she says.

Most retirees depend on some kind of fixed income, such as Social Security. The key is finding a place where they can maximize that money, says Nari Rhee, director of the Retirement Security Program at the University of California-Berkley’s Labor Center.

“They think, the state has low taxes, ergo I can stretch my dollars further,” Rhee says. “but if that also means they’re going to be paying more for out-of-pocket costs for their health care or long-term care, then that’s going to make a difference.”

The 10 best states are New Hampshire, Colorado, Maine, Iowa, Minnesota, Virginia, Massachusetts, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Idaho. To view the rankings click here:  http://www.bankrate.com/retirement/states-ranked-from-first-to-worst-on-retirement-2/

The 10 worst states are Mississippi, California, Oklahoma, Nevada, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Mexico, Arkansas, West Virginia, and Alaska.

Top

National Council on Aging Identifies Scams and Swindles For Seniors to Avoid

Far too many older adults fall prey to scammers who are looking to make a quick buck. Here are 22 tips that can help you steer clear of scams and swindles and to stay safe.

Health Insurance Fraud

  1. Never sign blank insurance claim forms.
  2. Never give blanket permission to a medical provider to bill for services rendered.
  3. Ask your medical providers what they will charge and what you will be expected to pay out-of-pocket.
  4. Carefully review your insurer’s explanation of the benefits statement. Call your insurer and provider if you have questions.
  5. Do not do business with door-to-door or telephone salespeople who tell you that services of medical equipment are free.
  6. Give your insurance/Medicare identification only to those who have provided you with medical services.
  7. Keep accurate records of all health care appointments.
  8. Know if your physician ordered equipment for you.

Medicare Scams

  1. Protect your Medicare number as you do your credit card numbers and do not allow anyone else to use it.
  2. Be wary of salespeople trying to sell you something they claim will be paid for by Medicare.
  3. Review your Medicare statements to be sure you have in fact received the services billed.
  4. Report suspicious activities to 1-800-MEDICARE.

Learn more about how to avoid Medicare scams with these 5 tips from MyMedicareMatters, a trusted service of NCOA.

Telemarketing Scams

  1. Don’t buy from an unfamiliar company.
  2. Always ask for and wait until you receive written material about any offer or charity.
  3. Obtain a salesperson’s name, business identity, telephone number, street address, mailing address, and business license number before you transact business.
  4. Always take your time in making a decision.
  5. If you have information about a fraud, report it to state, local, or federal law enforcement agencies.

Home Repair or Contractor Fraud

  1. Be an informed consumer. Take the time to call and shop around before making a purchase. Take a friend with you who may offer some perspective to help you make difficult decisions.
  2. Carefully read all contracts and purchasing agreements before signing and make certain that all of your requirements have been put in writing.
  3. Make sure you understand all contract cancellation and refund terms.
  4. As a general rule take control of all of your transactions as a consumer.
  5. Do not allow yourself to be pressured into making purchases, signing contracts, or committing funds. These decisions are yours and yours alone.

Learn more about scams and how to avoid them in NCOA’s Savvy Saving Seniors® toolkits.

Top

Tax Foundation Reports Individual Income Tax Rates and Brackets for 2017

Key Findings: 

  • Individual income taxes are a major source of state government revenue, accounting for 36 percent of state tax collections.
  • Forty-three states levy individual income taxes. Forty-one tax wage and salary income, while two states—New Hampshire and Tennessee—exclusively tax dividend and interest income. Seven states levy no income tax at all.
  • Of those states taxing wages, eight have single-rate tax structures, with one rate applying to all taxable income. Conversely, 33 states levy graduated-rate income taxes, with the number of brackets varying widely by state. California and Missouri each have ten brackets, the most in the country.
  • States’ approaches to income taxes vary in other details as well. Some states double their single-bracket widths for married filers to avoid the “marriage penalty.” Some states index tax brackets, exemptions, and deductions for inflation; many others do not. Some states tie their standard deductions and personal exemptions to the federal tax code, while others set their own or offer none at all.

Individual income taxes are a major source of state government revenue, accounting for 36 percent of state tax collections. Their prominence in public policy considerations is further enhanced by the fact that individuals are directly responsible for filing their income taxes, in contrast to the indirect payment of sales and excise taxes. To many taxpayers, the personal income tax is practically synonymous with their own tax burdens.

Forty-three states levy individual income taxes. Forty-one tax wage and salary income, while two states—New Hampshire and Tennessee—exclusively tax dividend and interest. Seven states levy no income tax at all. Tennessee is currently phasing out its Hall Tax (income tax applied only to dividends and interest income) and will repeal its income tax entirely by 2022.

Of those states taxing wages, eight have single-rate tax structures, with one rate applying to all taxable income. Conversely, 33 states levy graduated-rate income taxes, with the number of brackets varying widely by state. Kansas, for example, imposes a two-bracket income tax system. At the other end of the spectrum, two states—California and Missouri—each have 10 tax brackets. Top marginal rates range from North Dakota’s 2.9 percent to California’s 13.3 percent.

In some states, a large number of brackets are clustered within a narrow income band; Missouri taxpayers reach the state’s tenth and highest bracket at $9,072 in annual income. In other states, the top marginal rate kicks in at $500,000 (New Jersey) or even $1 million (California, when one includes the state’s “millionaire’s tax” surcharge).

States’ approaches to income taxes vary in other details as well. Some states double their single-bracket widths for married filers to avoid the “marriage penalty.” Some states index tax brackets, exemptions, and deductions for inflation; many others do not. Some states tie their standard deductions and personal exemptions to the federal tax code, while others set their own or offer none at all. In the following table, we provide the most up-to-date data available on state individual income tax rates, brackets, standard deductions, and personal exemptions for both single and joint filers.

Notable Individual Income Tax Changes in 2017

Several states changed key features of their individual income tax codes between 2016 and 2017. These changes include:

  • Indiana reduced its individual income tax rate from 3.3 to 3.23 percent.
  • Maine voters approved a 3 percent surcharge on the top individual income tax bracket, raising the rate to 10.15 percent. The state now has the second highest top rate in the country.
  • North Carolina reduced its income tax rate from 5.75 to 5.499 percent as part of a broader tax reform package.

 

Top


Newsletter

Become a member to receive our newsletter and keep up-to-date on retirement news.

Email

Send this page to a friend.  They will appreciate the information.

`