You'll Now Have to Pay More for Monthly Amazon Membership

Monthly Amazon Prime membership is going up by nearly 20 percent per month. You’ll now pay $12.99 a month versus $10.99 a month, as first reported by Recode. That comes out to $156 a year.

Amazon started the monthly Prime membership rate less than two years ago. Annual prime memberships will remain at $99 per month. CNBC reports research firm GBH Insights estimates 88 million people subscribe to Amazon Prime and expects only a 2 percent churn from the price hike.

CNBC also reporting Morgan Stanley said in December that Amazon Prime growth was experiencing a slow down.

The Millennial Parent's Secret to Saving Money

Millennial parents are raising their children without risking their own financial futures. Their secret? According to a TD Ameritrade survey -- it’s grandparents.

On average, each millennial parent receives about $11,000 per year in financial support and unpaid labor from their own parents, which totals $253 billion a year in America. They survey found millennial parents are not too proud to ask their parents for financial help -- with 54% reporting they’ve received financial support from their parents in the past year. 30% get childcare help from their grandparents, childcare with other unpaid labor from grandparents can save parents up to $300 a week.

Millennial parents aren’t accepting the help without appreciation though, 56% of them say they are grateful.

Hits to the Head, Not Concussions, Cause CTE, Study Finds

Hits to the head, not concussions, cause Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), according to new research from Boston University. The study published in the journal Brain, has the best scientific evidence to date that proves repetitive hits to the head are not only dangerous for athletes, but are linked to CTE.

Researchers analyzed brains from teenagers with recent head injuries and used mice to recreate head trauma to find out more about the origins of CTE and its relationship to traumatic brain injuries, concussions and subconcussive head injuries. The study shows early CTE may be the result of damaged blood vessels that become leaky in the brain, causing blood proteins to spill into brain tissue and trigger brain inflammation.

Researchers say the results may explain why about 20 percent of athletes with CTE never suffered a diagnosed concussion.

Tax Tips for Cryptocurrency Investors from Tax Lawyer Rob Wood

Cryptocurrencies continue to be hot in the new year. Bitcoin has continued to excite investors. Of course, there are tax matters to be considered when dealing with any investment. Tax lawyer Rob Wood offers some helpful advice for investors who have virtual currencies in their portfolios, a subject also discussed in his article, “Crypto Tax Tips To Start 2018 Right.”

Rob Wood

Rob Wood

Wood notes that many investors have made a lot of money in cryptocurrencies, “and any time you make money, the IRS . . . wants a piece.” It is important to remember to pay the IRS. Everyone has to file a tax return. The IRS relies on forms like W2s and 1099s to track income earned by taxpayers.

There are 1099 requirements for crypto­currencies as well. However, Wood says, taxpayers need to understand that they may have income whether or not they receive a 1099 reporting that income. If you sell something for more money than you paid for it, you have income of some kind. That’s why it is important to keep good records. There are many ways to keep records, but the key is to adopt some system and use it.

When someone sells a cryptocurrency for more than the purchase price, there is obviously gain, and it will have to be reported. The question, Wood says, is what is being sold. For example, if you have ten Bitcoin and you sell one, which one did you sell? It’s important to keep identification information in your records so that you know what you are selling, just as you would with a share of stock or a parcel of real estate. “Try to think like the government will think.”

Another issue involves lending cryptocurrencies. Lending money to someone is generally not a taxable event. It’s important for investors to understand, Wood notes, that the IRS treats cryptocurrency as property, not money. If you lend a Bitcoin and get the same one back, there may be no tax consequences. But what if it’s not the same one? The IRS might well treat this as a sale of property.

Another issue to think about is charitable contributions and making a gift of a Bitcoin. Such a gift, Wood says, could confer a big tax benefit to the donor. Giving an asset whose value has appreciated generally allows the donor to claim the market value of the asset. This can be a big tax saver for someone with a lot of assets.

Wood emphasizes that it is also important for cryptocurrency investors to understand that like-kind exchanges are not tax-free. That is, swapping one kind of cryptocurrency for another will be a taxable event in the eyes of the IRS. There are questions about how such a transaction should be reported, but the transfer is not tax-free.

Wood has one final reminder for every cryptocurrency investor: recordkeeping. The IRS does audit taxpayers from time to time, and the audit may come well after the time a return was filed. In order to sustain one’s position during an audit, it will be critical to have records that support the tax return. If someone uses digital records kept in the cloud, it would be prudent to back up the records and perhaps to keep a copy in the tax file.

Robert W. Wood is the Managing Partner of Wood LLP, San Francisco. Often listed among the best tax lawyers in America, Wood has broad experience in corporate, partnership and individual tax matters. Concerning the tax treatment of litigation settlements and judgments, he is perhaps the preeminent tax lawyer in the United States. He is also an authority on merger and acquisition tax matters, tax opinions, offshore account and entity disclosures, and many types of tax controversies. The Legal Broadcast Network is a featured network of Sequence Media Group.

5 Changes You Need to Know for 2018 Retirement Savings

The tax law may change how you save for retirement in 2018...for the better. The changes raise contribution level limits and can help workers with their savings plans. The Motley Fool mentions five new guidelines you should be aware of.

  1. 401(k) contribution limits. 401(k) annual contribution limits are going up to $18,500. Catch-up contributions for account holders 50 years of age or older will continue to be capped at $6,000 per year.

  2. Roth IRA income limits. If your tax filing status is single or head of household, you’ll only be able to make a partial contribution based on where your income falls within an annual income range of $120,000 - $135,000. Taxpayers who are married and filing jointly, have a phaseout range of $189,000 - $199,000. Married taxpayers filing separately, have a range of $0 - $10,000. If your income is above your phaseout range, you can’t contribute to a Roth IRA at all, except through a backdoor contribution.

  3. IRA deduction limits. Taxpayers who have an employer-sponsored retirement savings account may not be able to deduct contributions to their IRA from their taxable income. If this applies to you, your ability to deduct IRA contributions phases out over a determined income range. The phaseout range for single and head-of-households is increasing to $63,000 - $73,000. The phaseout range for married taxpayers filing jointly is now $101,000 - $121,000, if the contributing spouse is the one covered by an employer-sponsored plan, or $189,000 - $199,000, if the contributing spouse is not the one covered. Those married and filing separately will see their phaseout range remain unchanged at $0-$10,000.

  4. Saver’s Credit income limits. The Saver’s Credit is a tax credit that applies to retirement savings contributions. To qualify for the credit, you need to be below certain income limits for the year. They’ve gone up to $63,000 for taxpayers who are married and filing jointly, $47,250 for heads of households and $31,500 for single and those married and filing separately.

  5. HSA contribution limits. Contribution limits for HSAs are also increasing -- $3,450 per year for self-only HSAs and $6,900 for family coverage HSAs.