Linda Robertson

Linda Robertson is an experienced financial planner with FinancialFinesse.com, the nation’s leading provider of unbiased financial education programs to corporations, credit unions and municipalities with over 400 clients across the country. Her focus is on retirement and tax planning, and her background includes positions with NationsBank, H & R Block, and Metropolitan Life. Contact her at linda.robertson@financialfinesse.com .

Articles by Linda Robertson

Classic TLNT

Learning From Idol: The Most Effective (and Brutal) Interview I Ever Went Through

americanidol

Editor’s Note: Sometimes, readers ask about past TLNT articles they may have missed. That’s why on Fridays we republish a Classic TLNT post some of you have asked about.

The other day, after a series of workshops on retiree health care for one of our clients, I decided I needed to unwind. It was time to rid my mind of HR issues completely, and enjoy some mindless entertainment.

So, I’m in the hotel room flipping through the channels, when I come across the latest season of American Idol. The perfect way to unwind and get out of my own head! Or so I thought. It worked for about 10 minutes, then out of nowhere, it hit me:

American Idol has the best hiring process around. Read more…

Benefits, HR News & Trends

Hey, What’s That Number in Box 12 on My W-2 Form?

W-2

Have you had any of your employees question you about the DD in box 12 of their W-2?

No, it’s not a battery style or bra size but a new requirement for W-2 reporting as a result of the Affordable Care Act.

Effective with 2012 W-2 forms, employers with more than 250 employees are required to report the cost of employer-sponsored health coverage, and have the option of reporting the cost of a group dental or vision plan.

Luckily, the value of the employer contribution towards group health care coverage continues to be non-taxable (at least for now) and is meant to be for informational purposes only. The amount reported in box 12 actually includes both the portion paid by the employer and the portion paid by the employee. Read more…

Benefits, HR Management

Sharing the 7 Habits of Confident Retirees With Your Workforce

Focus on and take control of your retirement

From the thousands and thousands of pre-retirees I’ve talked to over the past decade, two consistant comments I hear over and over again are “I wish I’d started saving earlier” and “I wish I’d saved more along the way.”

Since I’ve yet to have an employee tell me they’ve saved too much for retirement, every employee could benefit from knowing the 7 Essential Habits of Highly Confident Retirees that were concluded from the BlackRock 2012 Retirement Survey, which was conducted by Boston Research Group.

The survey was conducted to track beliefs and behaviors that plan participants have regarding retirement to help plan sponsors and plan providers better understand how to meet the needs of defined contribution sponsors and participants. Read more…

Benefits, HR Basics

Don’t Let Your Workers Fall Off Their Own Fiscal Cliff This January

SStaxhike

Now that Congress has mostly averted falling off the fiscal cliff by penning The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, some employees may have a false sense of confidence that the Act only will impact the wealthy.

The message we are hearing is that the middle class has been spared from a tax increase, but that’s not necessarily true. Your employees will have an unpleasant surprise with their first paycheck of the New Year in 2013 since the temporary reduction of 2 percent on the employee portion of the Social Security tax that we’ve had for the past two years was allowed to expire.

As of January 1st, the tax increases back to 6.2 percent on the first $113,700 of earned income. Read more…

Benefits, HR Management

Two Possible Year End Tax Tips to Share With Your Employees

Getting ready to work on my taxes again

Talk of the fiscal cliff is everywhere these days, so many of your employees may be concerned right now about what will happen to their tax rates.

While no one knows what Congress will ultimately decide regarding next year’s income tax rates, there is one cold, hard fact that isn’t getting much press – the Medicare surcharge. I wrote about this new surcharge tax last month, which increases the Medicare tax rate from 1.45 percent to 2.35 percent on amounts of earned income over $200,000 for single filers and over $250,000 for married filers.

Here are two tips you can share with your high income employees who may be in danger of this surcharge: Read more…

Benefits

IRS Announces What Employees May Contribute to Retirement in 2013

Retirement

The IRS has perfectly timed the announcement of the 2013 pension limitations during National Save 4 Retirement Week, which ends this Saturday.

Notice IR-2012-77 declares the cost-of-living (COLA) adjustments that will impact the dollar limitations for pension plans and other retirement accounts for tax year 2013 for both employer and employee contributions.

It is important to let your employees know how these increases can help them save more for retirement, so make sure to share this information with your workforce in the messaging format that best fits your workplace culture.

Here is a summary of the 2013 limitations that your employees need to know: Read more…

Benefits

How Much Should Employees Have Saved Up For Retirement So Far?

© Jakub Krechowicz - Fotolia.com

I’ve just come off of a three-week road trip, where I zig-zagged across the western half of the U.S., speaking to a variety of workforces on planning for retirement.

One common question I heard again and again from many of the mid-career employees was “how much should I have saved up so far?” towards their retirement nest egg.

Similar to my journey as I traveled from one workplace location to another, I knew what the final destination was on the map, but it was just as important to know how many miles I had driven and how many more miles to go so I would know when I had to stop for gas or take a pit stop.

Most workers are now familiar with the general rule of thumb that they need to save enough while they’re working in order to replace at least 80 percent of their income in retirement. There are lots of great online calculators that project whether an employee is on track for this goal, but what employees wanted from me was just a quick formula they could do in their head to estimate if they had saved enough so far based on their age. Read more…

Rewards & Recognition

Going For the Gold Can Be Taxing to Your Workers, Too

london-olympic-medals

As the Olympics come to an end, I’m proud of how many medals our American team is coming home with, but not quite as thrilled with the tax bill they’ll face for winning.

It’s not the value of the medal itself that the IRS wants its share of, it’s the prize money that comes with a gold, silver or bronze that is taxable. The U.S. Olympic Committee rewards Olympic medalists with cash honorariums: a gold medal brings $25,000, silver medals get $15,000, and a bronze is worth $10,000.

As calculated by the Weekly Standard, the IRS will take $3,500 of a bronze athlete’s winnings, silver medalists will owe $5,385 in taxes, and winning the gold (which is priceless) will set Ryan and Michael each out $8,986 per race. Read more…

Benefits

It’s That Time Again: Are You Ready For Open Enrollment?

open_enrollment

The temperature isn’t the only thing rising this summer – our group health insurance is going up over 14 percent.

So, as part of my role on our benefits committee, I reviewed several different health carriers to see if there were any more affordable options. Luckily for us, there was one. However, this will now involve having all the employees fill out enrollment applications within the next few weeks to make the September 1 deadline to replace our existing plan.

While we are going through the hassle of changing health plans, we also decided to switch to an HSA custodian that offers more competitive investment options. With these changes coming up pretty quickly, it made me wonder if there was a secret to a successful open enrollment – instead of the yearly rush to communicate any changes to our small group of employees. Read more…