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Friday Financial Five – December 20th, 2013

Friday, December 20, 2013


Let the tapering begin

The Federal Reserve determined that there is enough positivity in the economy to begin a drawdown of their bond buying in 2014, and that’s good news. The prospect of rising interest rates, which has been a matter of when not if for some time, looks to be a certainty for next year. The trick will be to minimize the rate shock, keeping any increases at a manageable level to prevent the stagnation of the real estate and investment markets. Those thinking about financing a home or automobile in the next three to six months may be well served to accelerate the timetable.

Tax return filing dates get delayed

For the eager beavers expecting to file a tax return as early as possible, the IRS has announced the start date to accept returns and it’s been delayed by ten days. It was originally planned for January 21st, but the government shutdown slowed the preparation process. The extra ten days will give the IRS an opportunity to test their programming and systems. Unfortunately, there will not be a ten day reprieve from the April 15th deadline to pay taxes or file personal returns without the 4868 extension form.

Flexible Spending Account rules have changed

Those rushing to spend Flexible Spending Account balances should pause and review the rules with their employer. Effective 2013, employers can amend their cafeteria plans, allowing $500 to be rolled over from one year to the next. For businesses on a calendar year, the cafeteria plan must be amended by December 31st.

Get a Social Security projection each year

Since the Social Security administration stopped mailing people their retirement projections, many are unaware of what to expect for a retirement income. In order to obtain current projections, go to the estimator and enter personal data. There are also basic calculators on the website that will provide projections based on age, current income, and anticipated retirement date.

Richard Covey may not be popular with the IRS

Regardless of one’s opinion on the estate tax, it’s surprising to see how much estimated tax revenue has been avoided by the implementation of Grantor Retained Annuity Trusts (GRATs). Richard Covey, the attorney who helped develop the tax shelter, calculates the government has missed out on roughly $100 billion in tax revenue since the year 2000 thanks to this technique. The irony is that the GRAT was developed in response to another tax planning technique, the GRIT, that the IRS was trying to end in 1990. The person responsible for the GRIT? Richard Covey.

Dan Forbes is a regular contributor on financial issues. He is a CFP Board Ambassador. He leads the firm Forbes Financial Planning, Inc in Providence, RI and can be reached at dforbes@forbesplanning.com .

Related Slideshow:
Holiday Events for the Naughty and Nice

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A Christmas Carol

Check out this Christmas classic at Trinity Rep! Appealing to audiences young and old alike, this tale about the power of forgiveness is perfect for families to remember the true meaning of the holidays. Resident acting company favorite Fred Sullivan, Jr. stars in the role of Scrooge.

Click here for tickets. Trinity Repertory Company, 201 Washington St., Providence.

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A Deadly Christmas Carol

For real Scrooges, here's the slightly darker (but still hysterical) version. Back for it's 22nd year, Scrooge will meet his maker in this Dickens spoof at Murder On Us Theatre. Grab a group of friends for a Christmas party with a twist! Book early; these tickets go fast.

December 20-22 & 27-28. Ticket price of $49.95 includes 4-course dinner/show/tax/tip/valet parking. 123 Empire St. Providence.

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A Christmas Sojourn: An Evening of Sacred Music for the Holiday Season

Join the Pawtuxet Valley Community Chorus, baritone Nicholas R. Laroche, and organist Stephen A. Romano for an uplifting holiday concert at Blessed Sacrament Church. Proceeds will be donated to the St. Jude's Children's Hospital as a Christmas Memorial.

7-8:30pm, Friday, Dec. 20.Tickets are $10 and may be purchased at the door. In case of snow, the performance will be rescheduled for Sunday, Dec. 22, 3 pm. Blessed Sacrament Church, 179 Academy Ave., Providence

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Family Holiday Spectacular: Get Santa's List!

Here's a cautionary tale for the naughty kids. The Contemporary Theatre in Wakefield presents "Get Santa's List!", a new holiday family show full of songs, fun, and a few surprises. How will three naughty kids avoid coal in their stockings? They could be good for the rest of the year...or they could simply travel to the North Pole and steal Santa's famed Naughty/Nice list. With the help of a snowman and a magic talking dog, they travel to the North Pole and along the way they learn what it truly means to be good, and that sometimes helping a friend means more than getting lots of toys. Comes complete with a Snacktivity Break!

Saturday, December 21 at 10:30 am. Tickets are $5, and children under 5 pay their age. The Contemporary Theatre, 327 Main St., Wakefield.

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Christmas at Blithewold

If you thought the mansions of RI were beatiful before, you'll be stunned to see them now. A special treat awaits visitors of Blithewold, where almost every room in the mansion is decorated with a new Christmas theme every year. In addition to a tour, check out the 18 ft Christmas tree, music performances, teas, sing-a-longs with Santa, and more.

Tuesday-Sunday 11am-5pm. Buy your admission tickets online here, or at the door. Blithewold Mansion, Gardens & Arboretum, 101 Ferry Rd., Bristol.

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Church of Providence: War on Giftmas

Fete is the place to be for concertgoers this Christmas. This Thursday Check out Church of Providence: War on Giftmas. Presented by Strange Famous Records & Rival Brewing and hosted by B. Dolan and Madge of Honor, the event will feature Grey Sky Appeal, Providence Poetry Slam Showcase, Sweet Lorraine (Of Brown Girl Burlesque), Contortionist Daniel Patrick, Miles Grimes & Swan Notty, and Lil V.

Tickets $10. December 19, 8:30pm. Fete Lounge, 103 Dike St., Providence.

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MIracle on 34th Street, The Musical

Head to the Ocean State Theatre for a popular holiday story, revamped! Miracle on 34th Street, The Musical follows a white-bearded gentleman who claims to be the real Santa Claus. And between teaching the Macys and Gimbels how to make peace and convincing a divorced, cynical single mother, her somber daughter, and the entire state of New York that Santa Claus is no myth, he just might be. Filled with humor, spectacle, and delightful songs, this joyous, heart-warming musical is the perfect holiday treat for the whole family.

Click here for show times and tickets. Ocean State Theatre, 1245 Jefferson Blvd., Warwick.

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New Year's Eve parties

As usual, there will be no shortage of partying on Rhode Island come New Year's Eve. No plans yet? Ultra and Roxy's have got you covered, hosting two of the hotest NYE parties this year. Bring your friends (and someone to kiss once the clock strikes 12) and ring in the new year in style.


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