Quotes 2018

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Will my pension be tax free?

NJMoneyHelp - 7/2/2018

If your pension is more than $100,000, you’re not going to get a tax break. First, noncontributory pension plans do not require that employees make contributions. As such, when distributions are made from these plans, they are includable in income, said Cynthia Fusillo, a certified public accountant with Lassus Wherley in New Providence. read more »

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Will my pension be tax-free?

NJ.com - 7/2/2018

Next let's turn to the gas tax law you referred to. The law also had a provision to expand the retirement income exclusion for certain taxpayers. On 2018 returns, taxpayers filing jointly may exclude as much as $60,000 of retirement income, which will increase to $80,000 in 2019 and $100,000 in 2020, Cynthia Fusillo, a certified public accountant with Lassus Wherley in New Providence said. But your total income must be $100,000 or less to be eligible for the retirement income exclusion, and this $100,000 threshold is a cliff, she said. read more »

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Is a QLAC a smart choice for my money?

NJMoneyHelp - 6/27/2018

The statement in the article is correct. These investments are known as qualified longevity annuity contracts (QLACs) and can be purchased in retirement plans, including 403(b) plans, said Dawn Brown, a certified financial planner with Lassus Wherley in New Providence. But, she said, company plans are not required to offer the option to purchase a QLAC. read more »

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Is a QLAC a smart choice for my money?

NJ.com - 6/27/2018

A QLAC allows a plan participant the option to purchase longevity insurance inside their retirement plan, Dawn Brown, a certified financial planner with Lassus Wherley in New Providence said. "The amount invested in a QLAC is the maximum of $130,000 or 25 percent of the value of the account," Brown said. "Therefore if your retirement account is valued at $520,000 or higher, the maximum you can put into a QLAC is $130,000." Brown said when you purchase the annuity, you will choose the age you wish to begin the income payments for the annuity. The latest age you can start is 85. This, along with your life expectancy, will determine the monthly annuity received in the future, she said. read more »

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How inherited assets count on the FAFSA

NJMoneyHelp - 6/25/2018

Financial aid calculations can be complicated. A trust is indeed considered an asset of the beneficiary and must be reported as such on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) even if access is restricted.The only exception is if the restrictions on the trust fund are involuntary, said Lisa McKnight a certified financial planner with Lassus Wherley in New Providence. read more »

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How inherited assets count on the FAFSA

NJ.com - 6/25/2018

An example would be if trust was established by a court to pay future medical expenses for an accident victim or if ownership of the trust is in dispute, Lisa McKnight a certified financial planner with Lassus Wherley in New Providence said. Unfortunately, the restrictions often prevent the beneficiary from accessing or liquidating the trust to pay for college, so the trust fund will reduce the student's eligibility for need-based financial aid year after year, McKnight said. "An asset in the student's name will reduce eligibility for need-based aid by 20 percent of the value of the trust," McKnight said. "Moreover, since the beneficiary cannot liquidate the trust, the trust will continue in existence, affecting eligibility for need-based aid every year." read more »

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Women advisers driving revenue growth

InvestmentNews - 5/29/2018

"I think you're seeing more women willing to embrace what has been a male-dominated field, and it is truly inspiring to see the number of women leading firms and working in financial services," said Clare Wherley, chief executive and co-founder of Lassus Wherley, a $480 million advisory firm where 19 of the 21 employees are women. read more »

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Should I consolidate credit card debt?

NJMoneyHelp - 5/18/2018

The short answer is yes. A personal loan could allow you to make one monthly payment over a 12-month period or longer, depending on the amount needed to pay off your credit cards, said Betty Thomas, a financial planner with Lassus Wherley in New Providence. She said the interest rate on the loan should be lower than the credit cards, and then you will save money over time. Thomas said it is important to have a good payment history with the credit cards and any other loans you have or may have paid off. "Lenders reviewing loan applications will scrutinize your borrowing history," she said. "They may review your credit report for late payments, credit line increases or loan defaults. They will also consider your credit score."read more »

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Should I consolidate credit card debt?

NJ.com - 5/18/2018

Another thing a lender will review is your debt-to-income ratio. This is the part where they ask for your pay stubs -- they want to make sure your income can support the loan, Betty Thomas, a financial planner with Lassus Wherley in New Providence said. "If you're ready to research applying for a personal loan, visit banks in your area and compare rates," she said. "Discuss your situation with the lenders and ask what information would be required before applying for a loan. You should also ask how applying for a new loan would affect your credit score. "Finally, be sure you don't start adding more debt to the credit cards once their balances are clean. You'll just end up in a worse place than you are now. read more »

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Out-of-state pensions and N.J. taxes

NJMoneyHelp - 5/17/2018

You will be subject to tax, but at least it’s not by two states. That’s thanks to the federal government. “Enacted in 1996, the Pension Source Act prohibits the states from taxing pension income of non-residents, even if that pension was earned in the non-resident state,” said Laurie Wolfe, a certified financial planner and certified public accountant with Lassus Wherley in New Providence. “So in your case, only New Jersey can tax your pension.” read more »

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Out-of-state pensions and N.J. taxes

NJ.com - 5/17/2018

Laurie Wolfe, a certified financial planner and certified public accountant with Lassus Wherley in New Providence offered some more background on how New Jersey taxes your pension. For the 2018 tax year in New Jersey, if you are 62 or older and make less than $100,000 per year, you can exclude up to $45,000 of pension, IRA or annuity income if you are a single person. Married and civil union couples filing jointly can exclude $60,000, and those filing separately can exclude $30,000. read more »

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What income is taxable in N.J.?

NJMoneyHelp - 5/15/2018

The pension exemption would be nice, right? The problem is that if you have too much income, you’re not eligible. Your questions about what’s taxable in New Jersey probably come from seeing that your New Jersey income tax return doesn’t follow the federal return in terms of what is taxable and what isn’t, said Cynthia Fusillo, a certified public accountant with Lassus Wherley in New Providence. read more »

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What income is taxable for the pension exclusion?

NJ.com - 5/15/2018

"Regarding pension distributions, excludable amounts are those that have been taxed already, so often you will find that the feds and New Jersey do not match up on this," Cynthia Fusillo, a certified public accountant with Lassus Wherley in New Providence said. Looking at the numbers you provided, your New Jersey gross income for 2018 is $158,000 -- all of your income sources minus the Social Security. "Then you are ineligible to claim the pension exclusion for this year," she said. "New Jersey income must not exceed $100,000 in order for joint filers to qualify." read more »

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Can I keep certificate after transferring bond?

NJMoneyHelp - 5/7/2018

You don’t hear stories like this often, but we do understand the sentimental value for you. To transfer the bond into your name, the transfer agent has a process to enable them to verify the bond to ensure nobody else tries to make a future false claim, said Dawn Brown, a certified financial planner with Lassus Wherley in New Providence. Part of that process is requesting the original bond be surrendered. read more »

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Can I keep certificate after transferring bond?

NJ.com - 5/7/2018

Dawn Brown, a certified financial planner with Lassus Wherley in New Providence said, you correctly state that New York City does owe the money on this bond, and she said you can expect the city will pay it to the new owner. But at the same time, the city will want to protect itself from a future claim by asking for the certificate to be surrendered. Brown recommends you consider making a copy of the certificate for your personal records and follow the claims process. read more »

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How to Give Your Money Away

AARP - 5/1/2018

Your grandchild needs a college education. Solution: Use her parent’s 529 plan. If you want to hold on to the account, Dawn Brown, a senior financial planner with Lassus Wherley in New Providence, New Jersey, suggests you delay paying until the last two years of college. That’s because schools now look at the tax return from two years earlier to determine aid eligibility for the upcoming year, which means you can pay tuition during the student’s final two years without affecting financial aid.read more »

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Can I deduct charitable gifts with standard deduction?

NJMoneyHelp - 4/30/2018

The IRS allows taxpayers to shield a portion of their income either by itemizing — using actual amounts of certain deductible items such as charitable contributions, mortgage interest and medical expenses — or applying the standard deduction,” Cynthia Fusillo, a certified public accountant with Lassus Wherley in New Providence said. “Generally speaking, you will take advantage of the amount, itemized or standard, which results in the lower tax.” She said the choice is an either/or decision, meaning that you either itemize or use the standard deduction. Once you determine if the standard deduction is beneficial, you would not also tack on charitable contributions you made throughout the year, she said. read more »

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Can I deduct charitable gifts with the standard deduction?

NJ.com - 4/30/2018

You're correct that we have big changes for the standard deduction under the new tax plan. You're also correct that the standard deduction for those married filing jointly is now $24,000. This compares to the prior amount of $12,700. If you and your spouse are 65 or older, blind or disabled, you get to add on an additional $1,300 each to your standard deduction amount, said Cynthia Fusillo, a certified public accountant with Lassus Wherley in New Providence. Here's a little more on the standard deduction. read more »

Inside Information.jpgThe Real Cost(s) of Suitability

Inside Information - April 2018

Diahann Lassus, of Lassus Wherley (offices in New Providence, NJ and Bonita Springs, FL) recalls a client case where her expertise was challenged, not by the client circumstances, but by the mismanagement of her client’s previous advisor. “He was over 80 years old, and he had specifically said, what I want to do is grow these assets for my kids as an inheritance,” says Lassus. “We looked at his portfolio, and he had about $1.7 million in assets,” she says. “Her former advisor, who was affiliated with LPL Financial Services, had invested his retirement money in four annuities and three non-traded REITs.” read more »

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Is Workers' Compensation taxable?

NJMoneyHelp - 3/15/2018

Certain items of income are specifically exempt from New Jersey tax and should not be included when you file a New Jersey return. Workers’ Compensation is one of those exempt, non-taxable items, said Cynthia Fusillo, a certified public accountant with Lassus Wherley in New Providence. read more »

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Is Worker's Compensation taxable?

NJ.com - 3/15/2018

Cynthia Fusillo, a certified public accountant with Lassus Wherley in New Providence said other items in the non-taxable category for the state include Social Security and Railroad Retirement benefits, unemployment compensation, income tax refunds, U.S. military pensions and survivor benefit payments, just to name a few. read more »

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Filing taxes after your spouse dies

NJMoneyHelp - 3/12/2018

We’re sorry for the loss of your husband. Here’s what you’ll need to do for taxes. In the year that your husband passed away, you would still file married filing joint for that year. You are considered married for the whole year, said Patricia Daquila, a certified public accountant with Lassus Wherley in New Providence. read more »

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Filing taxes after your spouse dies

NJ.com - 3/12/2018

However, going forward, you would file either single if you do not have a dependent child or as a qualifying widow if you have a dependent child, Patricia Daquila, a certified public accountant with Lassus Wherley in New Providence said. You can file as a qualifying widow for two years after your husband's death. It's hard to determine whether you need to file or not because you did not provide your income level. "If your husband was receiving his military disability due to an injury caused in active service, he may have been able to exclude those benefits from income for federal tax purposes," she said. So filing depends on your gross income for the year. read more »

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IRA withdrawals and the pension exclusion

NJMoneyHelp - 3/5/2018

Thinking ahead about your tax liability and creating an advantageous strategy is smart. The pension exclusion in New Jersey is set to increase $20,000 a year until it tops out at $100,000 in the year 2020 for joint return filers. And if you earn more than $100,000, you’re ineligible for the exclusion. This year, 2018, a married couple may exclude up to $60,000 of their otherwise taxable pension and IRA withdrawals, said Cynthia Fusillo, a certified public accountant with Lassus Wherley in New Providence. read more »

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IRA withdrawals and the pension exclusion

NJ.com - 3/5/2018

“Since your pension/IRA income this year is approximately $70,000, you will use all of the current $60,000 exclusion, leaving approximately $10,000 of the income as taxable at the state level,” Cynthia Fusillo, a certified public accountant with Lassus Wherley in New Providence said. “Therefore, yes, it would make sense to defer an additional $25,000 IRA withdrawal until next year, when the exclusion will be $80,000 for joint filers.” Just make sure that you take your Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs), even if the withdrawal will push you over the income limit for the New Jersey exclusion. “You don’t want to run afoul of the RMD rules and risk penalties at the federal level,” she said. read more »

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How 2017 property tax deductions work

NJMoneyHelp - 3/1/2018

You’re not alone in your confusion because the NJ-1040 from instructions are not clear. Your question asks if you have to actually pay your 2018 property taxes in 2018 in order to get the New Jersey property tax deduction, which is limited to $10,000 on your New Jersey income tax return. “The form instructions are worded in two different ways, which would lead you to two different conclusions,” said Laurie Wolfe, a certified financial planner and certified public accountant with Lassus Wherley in New Providence.” On a worksheet in the instructions, it directs you to insert the amount of property taxes paid “for the period” and on another page it says to enter property taxes paid “during 2017.” read more »

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How property tax deductions work for 2017

NJ.com - 3/1/2018

"The way I read this is that New Jersey is saying that you should claim the amount of taxes that are due in the current year, regardless of when you actually pay them," she said. "Of course, you must actually pay them at some point to get a deduction for them." She notes that this is for New Jersey. The federal returns of cash basis taxpayers would only allow deductions that are actually paid in the current year, Laurie Wolfe, a certified financial planner and certified public accountant with Lassus Wherley in New Providence said. read more »

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Are high-yield and emerging-markets bond funds worth the risk?

Financial Planning - 2/13/2018

Split decisions: Some advisors use emerging-markets funds but not high-yield funds. “We believe that emerging markets bond funds provide good diversification within a bond portfolio,” says Diahann Lassus, president and co-founder of Lassus Wherley, a wealth management firm in New Providence, New Jersey, and Bonita Springs, Florida. “Yields continue to be reasonable — about 5% from the fund we mainly use — and the returns have been good for the risk investors take.” Emerging-markets funds may hold local-currency bonds, dollar-based debt or both. “The fund we tend to use is U.S. currency based, so we have some concerns around the weak dollar,” Lassus says. “However, we are long-term investors and are not as focused on short-term movement. There is definitely a need to diversify bond portfolios outside of U.S. fixed income and the emerging markets area can add value, at a slightly higher risk.” That said, Lassus is more cautious on high-yield funds. “We don’t use high-yield funds specifically,” she says. “We do use funds that may allocate their holdings across several different bond sectors, including some percentage in high yield.” read more »

The Washington Post

'I feel guilty about this money': How politics is coloring how we're reacting to the market's rise and fall

The Washington Post - 2/8/2018

“There’s an emotional tie with the stock market. It reflects our mood,” said Diahann Lassus, president of the wealth management firm Lassus Wherley in New Providence, N.J. She has clients on both sides of the political aisle, but she finds it is the liberal ones who have struggled with each record high. Lassus said she sometimes needs to sit them down and remind them, “You can be depressed and still make money.” read more »

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Freelance income and estimated taxes

NJMoneyHelp - 2/8/2018

The tax plan means lots has changed, and it can be hard to keep up with. But a couple of things stayed the same. For starters, the rules for making estimated payments to the state of New Jersey have not changed, said Cynthia Fusillo, a certified public accountant with Lassus Wherley in New Providence. “You can either pay in 80 percent of your estimated current year liability, or 100 percent of your prior liability by Jan. 15 of the following year, in order to avoid an underpayment penalty,” Fusillo said. “The latter method is commonly referred to as the safe harbor method.” read more »

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Biz Brain: Freelance income and estimated taxes

NJ.com - 2/8/2018

For federal purposes, the rules have not changed either under the new tax law, but the percentages to pay are slightly different than those for New Jersey -- as they have been for quite some time. In general you will pay in either 90 percent of your estimated current year tax liability or 100 percent of your prior year liability, Cynthia Fusillo, a certified public accountant with Lassus Wherley in New Providence said. read more »

Robo clients were left in the lurch during market tiumble

Financial Advisor IQ - 02/06/2018

Diahann Lassus, a certified financial planner and president of Lassus Wherley, says investors need to remind themselves that they’re in the market for the long term and to view the recent market drop as short-term, according to CNBC. read more »

Advisors say stay the course amid market volatility

CNBC News - 02/05/2018

Advisors say long-term investors should not panic over the recent market sell-off. read more »

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What can you deduct for vacation home

NJMoneyHelp - 1/26/2018

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act placed a limit on the combined amount of state and local income taxes plus property taxes that can be deducted beginning in 2018. Specifically, your deductible total of these categories of taxes paid on Schedule A — itemized deductions — cannot exceed $10,000, said Cynthia Fusillo, a certified public accountant with Lassus Wherley in New Providence. “In your case, the taxes on your non-rental vacation home get thrown into that initial and only $10,000 bucket,” she said. read more »

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Biz Brain: What can you deduct for vacation home

NJ.com - 1/26/2018

Cynthia Fusillo, a certified public accountant with Lassus Wherley in New Providence said in the event you convert this property to a rental sometime down the road, the associated property taxes move to Schedule E and become deductible in their own right, having nothing to do with the new limitation on Schedule A itemized taxes paid. "Note though that rental properties follow a set of rules that govern and may limit the deductibility of expenses, so consult your tax advisor," she said. read more »

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Tax plan and changes for business

NJMoneyHelp - 1/23/2018

This is a very complicated question as tax professionals are still trying to determine exactly what the new tax law means for different kinds of companies.We expect the IRS will give some clarity in time, but for now, let’s dive in.The new tax law has a provision that allows a 20 percent deduction of qualified business income to certain pass-through businesses, said Laurie Wolfe, a certified financial planner and certified public accountant with Lassus Wherley in New Providence. The bill also has a provision that lowers the corporate income tax rate permanently to 21 percent for C corporations.“Given your personal circumstances, either of these could result in a lower tax bill than you currently have,” Wolfe said. read more »

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Biz Brain: Tax changes for businesses under new plan

NJ.com - 1/23/2018

Laurie Wolfe, a certified financial planner and certified public accountant with Lassus Wherley in New Providence said the provision that allows the 20 percent deduction has many rules regarding which types of business can take it. There are also exceptions for those types of businesses prohibited from taking it that are tied to income level. "The rules specifically exclude any trade or business involving the performance of services in the fields of health, consulting, law, athletics, financial services, brokerage services, or any trade or business where the principal asset is the reputation or skill of one or more of its employees or workers," she said. "It further excludes someone in the trade or business of performing services as an employee." The purpose of this part of the law, she said, is to prevent people from setting up business entities solely for the purpose of avoiding W-2 income and the Social Security taxes that go along with it. read more »

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Income limits for the pension exclusion

NJMoneyHelp - 1/10/2018

There are actually two exclusions that can apply against income on your New Jersey tax return. The first is the pension exclusion that’s available to taxpayers who are 62 or older on December 31, said Cynthia Fusillo, a certified public accountant with Lassus Wherley in New Providence. “Such taxpayers may exclude some or all of their otherwise taxable pensions and IRA withdrawals as long as gross income does not exceed $100,000,” she said. “Gross income does not include Social Security benefits that you or your wife are collecting. It is specifically exempt from New Jersey State taxation.” read more »

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Biz Brain: Income limits for the pension exclusion

NJ.com - 1/10/2018

The other retirement income exclusion is also available for taxpayers 62 and over on Dec. 31 with gross income not exceeding $100,000, Cynthia Fusillo, a certified public accountant with Lassus Wherley in New Providence said. Again if only one spouse is 62 or older then that spouse only may exclude under this provision. "This allows you to exclude other types of income, not just retirement income, from state taxability," she said. " This one has two parts to the exclusion." read more »

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In what year is stock swap taxable?

NJMoneyHelp - 1/4/2018

The acquisition of Reynolds American by British American Tobacco was completed in July 2017. The holders of certificates will receive instructions from Citibank on how to receive their cash and BAT American Depositary Shares, said Dawn Brown, a certified financial planner with Lassus Wherley in New Providence. “A representative from Citibank informed us that owners of Reynold American shares will receive tax forms for the transaction in 2017,” Brown said. “The tax form is created for the year in which the acquisition occurred and is not dependent on when the shareholder hands their certificate into BTI.” You should look out for the form and provide it to your tax preparer when your 2017 taxes are being prepared, Brown said. read more »

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Biz Brain: In what year is stock swap taxable?

NJ.com - 1/4/2018

The acquisition of Reynolds American by British American Tobacco was completed in July 2017. The holders of certificates will receive instructions from Citibank on how to receive their cash and BAT American Depositary Shares, said Dawn Brown, a certified financial planner with Lassus Wherley in New Providence."A representative from Citibank informed us that owners of Reynold American shares will receive tax forms for the transaction in 2017," Brown said. "The tax form is created for the year in which the acquisition occurred and is not dependent on when the shareholder hands their certificate into BTI." You should look out for the form and provide it to your tax preparer when your 2017 taxes are being prepared, Brown said. read more »

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