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Preview: - Tax Planning and Retirement Saving Advice From The Washington Post's Albert B. Crenshaw - Tax Planning and Retirement Saving Advice From The Washington Post's Albert B. Crenshaw

Retirement and tax planning advice from Washington Post columnist Albert B. Crenshaw


Lessons From a New Retiree

Sun, 28 May 2006 00:00:00 EDT

As I step off into retirement at the end of this week -- this is the last of these columns -- I thought it might be useful for readers, especially younger ones, if I took note of some of the strategies my wife and I have used, and lessons we have learned, over the years building our financial security.

Plan Ahead to Steer Clear of Retirement's Unexpected Complications

Sun, 21 May 2006 00:00:00 EDT

This column marks the beginning of the end.

Reading Between the Lines of the Latest Tax-Cut Package

Sun, 14 May 2006 00:00:00 EDT

The headlines last week were large on the subject of the tax-cut bill Republican leaders hustled through Congress and over to the president.

Anomaly Explains Puzzling Interest Rates for Series I Savings Bonds

Sun, 07 May 2006 00:00:00 EDT

Did the Bureau of Public Debt whip both inflation and high interest rates while we weren't looking?

Debating the Impact of High-Deductible Health Plans

Sun, 30 Apr 2006 00:00:00 EDT

The current Next Big Thing in controlling health-care costs is "consumer-driven" medical insurance.

Dodge the Loopholes but Lower Your Tax

Sun, 23 Apr 2006 00:00:00 EDT

The week after Tax Filing Day is frequently a time when taxpayers are inspired to "do something" about the amount of tax they have to pay.

For Last-Minute Filers, a Little Extra Time to Get It Together

Sun, 16 Apr 2006 00:00:00 EDT

Today is April 16 -- and there's still time, brother.

Simple Steps To Begin Investing

Sun, 09 Apr 2006 00:00:00 EDT

To a degree unseen since early in the last century, young people at the beginning of their working lives today are on their own.

Building a Nest Egg Doesn't Come With Blueprints

Sun, 02 Apr 2006 00:00:00 EST

A recent survey by a brokerage firm found that 58 percent of Americans contemplating retirement don't know how big a nest egg they need to assure themselves of a comfortable life in old age.

The Color of Your Collar, and Other Ways Geico Rates Your Risk

Sun, 26 Mar 2006 00:00:00 EST

Ever wonder how your auto insurer decides what to charge you for coverage, or even whether to offer you a policy at all?

Turning a Kid Into a 'Child'

Sun, 19 Mar 2006 00:00:00 EST

Here's a tax question: When is your child not your child?

Do the Math For Lost Pensions

Sun, 12 Mar 2006 00:00:00 EST

As company after company across the country freezes or terminates traditional pensions, typically at the same time shifting to new or sweetened 401(k) plans, workers face a new and very important question:

Reassess Property Assessments in a Changed Market

Sun, 05 Mar 2006 00:00:00 EST

As property owners here and around the country gaze in shock and awe at their new tax assessments, there is growing evidence that the price run-up behind those assessments is coming to an end.

Automatic IRAs -- a Quick Fix for Workers Without Pensions?

Sun, 19 Feb 2006 00:00:00 EST

For the past year or two, the turmoil in the U.S. private pension system has captured headlines and sent shivers through many households.

529 College-Savings Plans and States of Confusion

Sun, 12 Feb 2006 00:00:00 EST

What's the best 529 plan? It's a question that has plagued investors in these tax-free college savings/investment accounts for years. They are run by the individual states, typically via contracts with mutual fund operators and other money managers, and sorting out the best investment options, fees and other considerations hasn't been easy. In fact, it has allowed some states to offer embarrassingly bad programs.

Health Savings Accounts Aren't Immune to Risk

Sun, 05 Feb 2006 00:00:00 EST

Despite a good deal of pre-State of the Union huffing and puffing, the Bush administration apparently plans to seek fairly modest changes in the law covering health savings accounts (HSAs) and other "consumer-driven" types of medical insurance.

Make 'em Provide Pensions

Sun, 29 Jan 2006 00:00:00 EST

The long-predicted ice age is settling in on America's private pension system, as companies large and small, profitable and unprofitable, announce the freezing of their traditional plans, the kind that once promised a lifetime income for retirees.

Back to School On a 401(k)

Sun, 22 Jan 2006 00:00:00 EST

Thinking of quitting your job and going back to school?

Claiming 'Head of Household' Just Got Harder

Sun, 15 Jan 2006 00:00:00 EST

When it comes to income taxes, a "dependent child" is a dependent child, yes? Well, yes, since 2004, when Congress more or less unified the five different definitions of the term.

The IRS Gives Help on AMTs and Takes Higher Fees to Solve Other Problems

Sun, 08 Jan 2006 00:00:00 EST

The Internal Revenue Service had good news and bad news, and more bad news, for taxpayers recently.

Households Face Tough Decisions

Sun, 01 Jan 2006 00:00:00 EST

The dawning of each new year brings with it a fresh round of opportunities and perils. Increasingly for families, the new opportunities and perils are economic, to which the best response often isn't obvious. Nonetheless, meeting these challenges is the key to security in a society in which people are far more dependent on their own resources than they have been in decades.

Medicare's 'Doughnut Hole' Awaits

Sun, 25 Dec 2005 00:00:00 EST

For the past decade or so, health care experts of a conservative political stripe have been touting "consumer-driven" insurance plans, which, they say, would both cut costs to consumers and help drive down inflation in the cost of medical expenses.

To Ease Pension Tension, Fund Your 401(k)

Sun, 18 Dec 2005 00:00:00 EST

There was a lot of cheering around Washington last week as the House pushed through its version of a bill to toughen up funding requirements on companies that operate traditional pension plans. But to workers, especially younger ones, the noise should sound less like an ovation than an alarm clock.

Read the Fine Print Before Signing Up for Medicare's Drug Benefit

Sun, 11 Dec 2005 00:00:00 EST

Beyond the complexity of the new Medicare prescription drug benefit, health care experts have now identified another potential booby trap.

House and Senate Both Like Tax Cuts, but Not the Same Ones

Sun, 04 Dec 2005 00:00:00 EST

How much federal tax will you be paying over the next year or two . . . or five? It's really hard to tell these days, but what happens on Capitol Hill in the next two weeks will supply key pieces of the picture.

Uncle Sam Wins Your Lottery

Sun, 27 Nov 2005 00:00:00 EST

Attention, lottery players: If you win a nice big prize, opt to take it as a stream of payments and then change your mind and wish you had taken it as a lump sum, don't expect any special tax benefits if you sell your annuity for immediate cash.

Life Insurers Can Hold Travel Against You

Sun, 20 Nov 2005 00:00:00 EST

Early this year then-newly elected Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), mother of three small children, decided it would be a good idea to boost her life-insurance coverage. So she applied to the American General Life unit of American International Group (AIG) to buy more.

The Best Pension for You

Sun, 13 Nov 2005 00:00:00 EST

One of the hottest -- and hardest to understand -- policy battles going on in Washington right now concerns the kinds of pensions that employers should be allowed to offer. The fight features arcane formulas and obscure abbreviations that quickly cause the eyes of most normal people to glaze over.

Katrina-Related Tax Breaks, and One That Isn't

Sun, 06 Nov 2005 00:00:00 EST

If you're considering making a big cash contribution to a charity and deducting it this year, Congress may have given you an unusual opportunity.

New Math For College Loans

Sun, 30 Oct 2005 00:00:00 EDT

The House Committee on Education and the Workforce, working to meet deficit-reduction goals set by the Republican leadership, has approved a bill that could take a significant bite out of government-subsidized student loans.

Even With Gas at $3 a Gallon, Metro Isn't Much of a Bargain

Sun, 16 Oct 2005 00:00:00 EDT

With gasoline around $3 a gallon, there is a lot of talk about how families can cut down on driving. Advice includes switching to public transportation, leaving the SUV at home.

Divide the Cabin And Plan for War

Sun, 25 Sep 2005 00:00:00 EDT

Is this the year you finally got that beach house or mountain cabin you've always wanted?

2 Ways to Go on Health Care

Sun, 18 Sep 2005 00:00:00 EDT

The reports last week from two respected surveys that health insurance costs are continuing to run well ahead of both wages and general inflation should be a signal to workers to get ready for higher premiums in the coming year and more "cost-sharing" when they see the doctor.

A Driver's Magic Risk Sensor

Sun, 11 Sep 2005 00:00:00 EDT

For decades insurance companies have been searching for some device, some magic lens that would somehow tell them exactly how much risk each policyholder represents. If they knew that, insurers could price their coverage more accurately and, they say, more fairly.

'Under-Bought' Flood Insurance Proves Its Value

Sun, 04 Sep 2005 00:00:00 EDT

For nearly 40 years the federal government has made flood insurance available to property owners, filling a gap left by private carriers, which generally decline to write the coverage.

Guess Who's Checking Your Poker Hand

Sun, 28 Aug 2005 00:00:00 EDT

As gambling in general and poker in particular spread across the land, here's some advice for neophyte players: Not only do you gotta know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em, you gotta know how to put it all on your tax return.

Plan for a Different Tomorrow

Sun, 21 Aug 2005 00:00:00 EDT

"I have seen the future," the late Kansas City Royals relief pitcher Dan Quisenberry once said, "and it's much like the present, only longer."

Extra Credit for College

Sun, 14 Aug 2005 00:00:00 EDT

These are the weeks when tens of thousands of young people begin the annual trek to college campuses, cars bulging with clothes and furniture, minds with hopes and fears.

Tax Help For Sunny Homes

Sun, 07 Aug 2005 00:00:00 EDT

Thinking of sprucing up the old homestead to make it a little more energy-efficient and maybe save yourself some money on utility bills?

There's More to Legacy Than Money

Sun, 31 Jul 2005 00:00:00 EDT

In the next several decades, this country is expected to experience one of the greatest transfers of wealth from one generation to the next that has ever taken place anywhere.

No Need for States To Fear Estate Taxes

Sun, 03 Jul 2005 00:00:00 EDT

Here's some news: A couple of economists from top colleges have found that rich old people tend to move out of states with high estate taxes and into states with low or no estate taxes.

Abroad, See How The Fees Translate

Sun, 26 Jun 2005 00:00:00 EDT

As the summer travel season gets into full swing, many Americans are about to head off to foreign lands -- and they are planning to put most of their overseas spending on plastic, remembering that U.S. credit cards have long offered the lowest-cost way of buying things in foreign currencies.

In Dread of the Next Boomer Thing

Sun, 19 Jun 2005 00:00:00 EDT

July 1 is an unusually interesting date this year, and not just because it's the beginning of a long weekend.

Interest Only, Except for the Risk

Sun, 12 Jun 2005 00:00:00 EDT

Okay, so what's wrong with interest-only mortgages?

Putting Tax Advisers On the Line

Sun, 05 Jun 2005 00:00:00 EDT

The accountants, lawyers and other experts who have long advised taxpayers on exactly what is, isn't and might be okay under the law have finally run up against an Internal Revenue Service regulation they say they can't figure out.

America Runs on AMT

Sun, 29 May 2005 00:00:00 EDT

Did you pay it last month? I mean the alternative minimum tax.

Tax Breaks They Don't Want Fixed

Sun, 22 May 2005 00:00:00 EDT

Who loves taxes?

Match-Making For Savers

Sun, 15 May 2005 00:00:00 EDT

In theory, 401(k) plans and other tax-preferred savings programs can provide a good retirement fund -- if the worker joins up, contributes a substantial chunk of his or her pay, makes the right investment choices and doesn't drop out or tap the account for non-retirement expenses.

Beat the Drums if You Want a Roth

Sun, 08 May 2005 00:00:00 EDT

Jan. 1 may seem a long way off, but employers and employees looking for ways to get the most out of their retirement benefits should start thinking about it.

Students Can Lock In Low Loan Rates

Sun, 01 May 2005 00:00:00 EDT

The Federal Reserve Board has been ratcheting up short-term interest rates lately, but thanks to the federal regulations, government-guaranteed student loans remain in a low-rate time warp.