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Calculating Taxable Social Security Benefits - Not as Easy as 0%, 50%, 85%


It is typical for social security benefits to be 85% taxable, especially for clients with higher income sources in retirement, but the benefit subject to taxation can be lower.  In college, my tax accounting professor let us off easy by hinting we only needed to know social security benefits would be 0% taxable for clients with income under $25,000, 50% taxable for clients with income below $44,000 and 85% for clients with income above $44,000 for an upcoming exam.  While I appreciated not having to memorize the details of the calculation, I still have to remind myself that it is not as simple as 0%, 50%, or 85%.  

2014 In-Depth Training: Seattle Workshop - Friday, September 19th.

Workshop Seattle

Money Tree Software's Seattle in-depth training workshop is just a month away - Friday, September 19th.  New for 2014, the workshop will have a morning session dedicated to Silver Financial Planner and an afternoon session dedicated to TOTAL Planning Suite.  You can attend a single session or both for a full day of training on both Silver and TOTAL.  If you are attending the FPA BE, make the most of your trip by joining Money Tree's workshop. 

Easy Money Power Planner vs. Golden Years Cash Flow - TOTAL Planning Suite


TOTAL Planning Suite uses a single input platform and database to deliver two planning approaches with Easy Money Power Planner and Golden Years Cash Flow.  We have created a tutorial and video to clearly explain the fundamental differences between the two reports, and which method is the best fit based on your clients’ needs and planning objectives.  Easy Money and Golden Years both provide retirement planning, but use different planning methods and underlying assumptions. Easy Money uses a goal-based method, while Golden Years uses a cash flow method, and the following resources will explore exactly what that means and other important distinctions between the two planning approaches.

Adjusting Retirement Spending Needs in Silver and TOTAL Planning Suite

TOTAL Planning Spending Adjustments

As a followup for last weeks post discussing the "spending smile", or "go-go", "slow-go", "no-go" phases of retirement spending, this post will walk through an example of adjusting spending needs overtime in TOTAL Planning Suite and Silver Financial Planner. 

How do you Estimate Clients' Retirement Expenses for Financial Plans?


A recent research paper, Estimating the True Cost of Retirement published by Morningstar and written by David Blanchett, has reinvigorated research and discussion of an age old problem for financial planners:  How do you estimate retirement expenses?

In this research Blanchett uses the RAND Health and Retirement Study (HRS) to look at longitudinal data on actual retiree spending. A longitudinal study observes the same variables over a long period of time, in this case the spending of specific households in retirement. This study finds two noteworthy items planners should consider when estimating retirement spending. 

Graph Design Vote - Your Feedback is Important!


Thank you to all of our customers who participated in the graph design vote included in the June newsletter! If you have not had the chance to review the graphs, please take a few minutes to submit your votes to ensure they are counted.

How to Update State Taxes in TOTAL Planning Suite (Desktop Edition)

AZTaxRatesIf you use TOTAL Planning Suite (destkop edition), now is a great time to take a moment and ensure the state tax rates are entered for all of the states your clients reside in and the rates are up-to-date. We have a great resource to share allowing you to quickly find the state tax rates. 

Resource:  The Tax Foundation’s “State Individual Income Tax Rates, 2000-2014

TOTAL Online State Tax Update - Delayed Until Wednesday

Log In

For our TOTAL Online customers, please know the TOTAL Online state tax update has been delayed. We found a small issue preventing the update to the state tax rates scheduled to occur last Friday. This has been corrected and is currently in testing.  The state tax update will occur Wednesday evening.  Thank you very much for your understanding and we apologize for the delay.  

We will add a comment to this blog post and send an announcement on Twitter as soon as the update has occurred!  

If you have not had the chance to opt-in or out of the state tax update, take a moment to log-in and check your state tax settings today.


TOTAL Online State Tax Updates this Friday - How to Opt-In (or Out)


TOTAL Online includes a feature allowing Money Tree to populate the tax information for all states and territories available in the program's settings.  We have the most recent state tax information for 2014 ready to send to our participating TOTAL Online customers.

Easy Way Keep Data Safe? Don't Enter It.

Keeping financial planning information safe is a top priority for Money Tree Software.  Last month, HeartbleedOpenSSL bug was splashed all over the news.  As you know, Money Tree Software was not vulnerable to this internet security flaw as we do not use OpenSSL, but it is very likely other websites you use were vulnerable until they were able to correct the problem.  

The surest ways to keep critical information safe is simply not to record sensitive data.  Financial planning software requires some personal information, such as birth dates for planning projections and names to personalize reports.  Other optional personal information such as social security numbers or contact information are not required for calculations but have been entry points for the software and display on the reports due to past customer requests. 

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