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Certified Software Tester - Intermediate Level (CSTIL)
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Question: 160
Case Study: 1
Scenario
A computerized system is being created to monitor the life support system on board a submarine. It monitors air
quality, water supplies and temperature.
This system will be supplied and maintained by SubsInc. SubsInc uses the V-model for software development and
conducts four levels of testing, from unit through to operational and site acceptance testing.
Two key risks identified for the air quality system are:
If the percentage of oxygen in the air falls too low, personnel may suffocate
If the concentration of carbon dioxide in the air rises too high, the air may become toxic.
To address these risks, the requirement specification for this system includes the following requirements:
R1) Oxygen must be replaced as it is consumed. R2) Carbon dioxide must be removed from the air. These
requirements must be reflected in the functional, technical and program specification documents.
You are a newly recruited test manager.
A risk register has been produced with the following additional risks identified.
Which one is a product risk associated with the air quality management system?
A. The system required to monitor oxygen levels may be more expensive than those required to monitor air
temperatures.
B. SubsInc may need to recruit extra developers and testers to deliver the project on time.
C. Oxygen levels may reach dangerously low levels.
D. Extreme temperatures may lead to heat exhaustion of personnel.
Answer: C
Question: 161
Which of the following would be an entry criterion into site acceptance testing for the air quality monitoring system?
A. That the code written to fulfil the requirement to monitor carbon dioxide levels has been 100% path tested.
B. That the functional specification accurately reflects requirements R1 and R2.
C. That the system has been tested at levels of oxygen usage well beyond anticipated personnel levels.
D. That the requirements for temperature control have been signed-off.
Answer: D
Question: 162
Which of the following is an accurate depiction of the hierarchy of test management documentation (where the highest
comes first)?
$13$10
A. Test policy-Test strategy-Project test plan-System test plan
B. Test strategy-Test policy-Project test plan-System test plan
C. Test policy-Project test plan-Test strategy-System test plan
D. Project test plan-Test strategy-System test plan-Test policy
Answer: A
Question: 163
Which of the following test design techniques would be most suitable for testing that the oxygen is released at the
required times?
A. Decision Testing.
B. Statement Testing.
C. Data flow Testing.
D. Boundary Value Analysis.
Answer: D
Question: 164
When creating the functional specification for the temperature control system, which of the following review types
would be most recommended to resolve any issues?
A. A walkthrough.
B. A technical review.
C. A management review.
D. A code inspection.
Answer: B
Question: 165
Case Study: 2
Scenario
Your organization is a large media services corporation (MSC). MSC uses Agile development, within a Scrum
framework. Here, the iterations are referred to as Sprints. For each Sprint, a set of user-stories is defined, built, and
tested. The user-stories are typically 12 lines long, indicating what the customer wants the system to do.
MSC is in the process of updating its website to meet the recently introduced accessibility rules for websites.
Accessibility means the availability of a system suitable to members of the public with, for example, visual or hearing
difficulties.
It has been decided to start with two requirements, as its first 2 Sprints:
1) Presentation of content with clear headings, short sentences, text versions always available.
2) Consistent navigation through the website.
You are the test manager and there are four developers and two testers. You have all worked together previously, and
$13$10
are very experienced in MSCs products. Although the accessibility rules are new to you and the team, you have all
attended a workshop where they were explained.
Which of the following are product risks and which are project risks?
a) The navigation through some parts of the website may need to be different from others.
b) Sprint 1 may not be completed on time, leading to a delay to the start of Sprint 2.
c) Text versions of images may not always be possible.
d) There may be a need to buy a capture-replay tool for regression testing.
key member of the team may leave before the Sprints have been completed.
A. a, b and c are product risks, d and e are project risks.
B. a andc are products risks, b, d and e are project risks.
C. b, c and e are product risks, a and d are project risks.
D. a, d and e are product risks, b and c are project risks.
Answer: B
Question: 166
Which stage of the Fundamental Test Process will be most affected by the use of user-stories as defined above?
A. Creating a schedule of activities as part of test planning.
B. Creating test cases as part of test design.
C. Creating the test environment as part of test execution.
D. Assessing requirements coverage at the end of each Sprint.
Answer: B
Question: 167
Which of the following review types would be recommended at the start of each Sprint, for the reason given?
A. An inspection, to find errors in the user-stories.
B. A management review, to check that the user-stories will accurately reflect the rules for accessibility.
C. A walkthrough of the set of user-stories, to ensure that the developers and testers understand what is to be built.
D. A technical review of the test plan, to ensure that the developers are aware that they must produce good quality
code.
Answer: C
$13$10

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Active Filings review 2024: Cost, plans, features and more

Our take

Active Filings has several of the features you’ll need to form an LLC at a comparatively low cost, but it lacks extra features offered by competitors.

  • Plans start at $0.
  • Free online business name search.
  • Registered agent services are complimentary for the first year.
  • Legal advice not included.
  • No chat support.
  • No mobile app.

Active Filings LLC review

Why you can trust our small business experts

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Active Filings is an online business incorporation service that offers LLC formation packages ranging from $0 to $250, not including state fees.

The name search service is free and each of its plans includes the filing of Articles of Organization or Incorporation, as well as registered agent services. After the first year, however, you’ll pay $99 to maintain their registered agent service, on top of your annual plan price.

Active Filings can check most of the boxes you need, including a preliminary name check to make sure the state will approve the desired business name; preparation of the Articles of Formation and filing the same with the Secretary of State; drafting of the LLC’s Operating Agreement; and obtaining an EIN. 

According to LLC formation attorney Zac Copp these are the core formation steps required for a new LLC. And though Active Filings checks these boxes, it’s bare-bones compared to other LLC formation services. For example, you won’t have access to legal or tax experts, online chat, or a domain name, even with the highest-paid plan. Those services can prove invaluable to first-time business owners.

Active Filings overview and facts

Active Filings is a Florida-based company founded in 2001. Unlike some other incorporation services, they have filing available in Spanish and a dedicated Spanish-speaking staff. Their services are also available to international clients who wish to set up U.S.-based businesses, as well as residents of all 50 U.S. States and D.C.

The company’s online reviews don’t offer insight into their quality of service, however, Active Filings has a “B-” rating with the Better Business Bureau (BBB), with only three complaints filed in the last three years. 

While Active Filings lacks some of the attractive features that other incorporation services offer, such as complimentary legal advice or domain names and websites, not every service offers registered agent services, which are required for some LLCs.

Active Filings LLC plans and pricing

Unlike some competitors, Active Filings’ offers packages start at $0. But even when the price starts at zero, you’ll still have to cover state fees, which can range from $50 to roughly $1,000. 

Active Filings’ free Starter plan provides several of the services you’ll need to form your LLC, including free name search and filing of your Articles of Incorporation. But you’ll have to buy a paid plan in order to get an EIN, and it’s also unclear which packages come with an Operating Agreement. In other words, be prepared to pay extra for the full range of services you need.

If you’re thinking about springing for a more comprehensive plan than Active Filings’ free offering, make sure the features add value. Even if you don’t mind paying extra, it’s doubtful you’re looking for the embossing seal and leather corporate book that come exclusively with the top-tier package.

Starter

The Starter plan covers several of your basic needs for LLC formation. With this $0 plan, Active Filings will file Articles of Organization or Incorporation on your behalf. In addition, it’ll provide you with a complimentary registered agent address (for the first year), file your annual report with your state and send you alerts to help you stay on top of compliance deadlines.

The Starter plan is only free for the first year. After that, you’ll pay $99, which covers the cost of Active Filings’ registered agent services. 

According to Copp, these recurring fees are fairly customary across the industry. “The growing trend in the LLC formation industry is to get customers to sign up for recurring services (i.e., registered agent service),” he says. “There are benefits to using a professional registered agent, but make sure you understand whether or not this service is needed.”

Customers can cancel their plan after year one to avoid the recurring fee.

Sprinter

For $100, plus state fees, you can get Active Filings’ intermediate plan. Like the Starter plan, a $99 annual fee kicks in the second year for registered agent services. You’ll also have to pay a $200 fee for your EIN/Federal Tax Number if you don’t have an SSN.

The Sprinter Package can be a good choice for someone who wants the features of the Starter plan, but is also looking to protect the privacy of certain employees and members, since the plan extends registered agent service to these individuals. 

Plus, expedited filing is complimentary with this package, so the Sprinter is a good option for someone who’s already considering expedited, one-day processing, which otherwise costs $100. Speedy filing could be particularly valuable to someone who lives in a state with long processing timelines, like California, Illinois and Michigan (30 days) or Alabama (180 days), compared to most states other (14 days).

Here’s a review of the features you get for upgrading from the free plan:

  • Business Address: Use Active Filings’ office address on formation documents (public records) in lieu of your personal address.
  • Privacy Protection: Use Active Filings’ registered agent address in lieu of your members’, managers’ and directors’ addresses.
  • EIN / FEIN: Covers EIN / Federal Tax ID number preparation and filing.
  • Expedited Service: Includes same-day filing services and any extra state filing fees.

Finisher

Active Filings’ most comprehensive plan is $250 a year, plus state fees. Like the other plans, a $99 annual fee kicks in in the second year and you’ll have to pay a $200 fee for your EIN/Federal Tax Number if you don’t have an SSN. 

However, the priciest plan from Active Filings doesn’t deliver much value. For $150 more than The Sprinter Package, you’ll get these additional offerings:

  • Corporate Seal: Laser-cut embossing seal with your corporate name, state and date of formation.
  • Corporate Book: Leather corporate book, three-ring binder and zipper cover.

The Sprinter plan will be the better option for most businesses.

Active Filings add-ons and optional features

Some business formation companies offer a list of services you can add to your plan for an additional fee. For example, Northwest Registered Agent has a “Law on Call Service” that’s available in Utah for a monthly subscription fee of $9. 

Active Filings doesn’t appear to offer much in this area. While the website states that additional services can be purchased from within your open Active Filings’ account, details are not disclosed. 

On the other hand, all Active Filings’ packages include Registered agent services, which many companies charge for.

Active Filings customer support and experience

Active Filings lacks some of the convenient support features you may be looking for, like live chat support or a mobile app. 

If you wish to get in touch with a representative, you’ll have to submit a message online or place a call. They can be reached at 1- 800-609-2521 during office hours of 9 am – 5 pm EST, Monday through Friday. 

Active Filings’ website says that the company attempts to respond to all contact within two hours, however, we submitted a message online and did not receive a response as of one day later.

Active Filings vs. Incfile

Active Filings and Incfile have some key differences. While both offer useful features for business formation, only Active Filings offers annual report filing for free. 

However, Incfile has features that you might find more valuable, like chat support and free tax consulting. Plus, Incfile has add-ons that your business may eventually want, including website domains, accounting services and business insurance.

Active Filings vs. LegalZoom

You may find Active Filings more cost-efficient for your business when compared to LegalZoom, since Active Filings has a lower recurring fee for registered agent services and its annual report filing is complimentary.

But LegalZoom isn’t a bad alternative. While neither company provides EINs with their free plans, LegalZoom’s free plan includes a Wix website, and customers can access chat support online.

Is Active Filings right for your business?

Active Filings can be a good choice for someone who wants the essential services required to start an LLC, especially if you’re looking for a low price. There’s no charge for some of the basic features you need, like name search and filing of Articles of Organization or Incorporation. By comparison, some other formation services treat these as add-ons. 

Where Active Filings may come up short is in the area of customer support. If you’re looking for professional advice or for convenient access to a live representative, you’ll want to look for another business formation service.

We extensively research the key competitors within an industry to determine the best products and services for your business. Our experts identify the factors that matter most to business owners, including pricing, features and customer support, to ensure that our recommendations offer well-rounded products that will meet the needs of various small businesses.

We collect extensive data to narrow our best list to reputable, easy-to-use products with stand-out features at a reasonable price point. And we look at user reviews to ensure that business owners like you are satisfied with our top picks’ services. Our methodology is thorough, so you can confidently follow our blueprint to the Best LLC Services.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Active filings provides a cost-effective package with the main services you need to form an LLC. The $0 plan includes filing of your Articles of Organization or Incorporation, name search and free registered agent services for the first year. 

Active Filings takes care of your annual report filing, regardless of whether you have a paid package, and they help you stay on top of deadlines by sending you complimentary alerts.

Active Filings’ provides a disclaimer in fine print stating that there is a $99 fee for the annual filing service after year one. You can cancel your plan with Active Filings to avoid the fee.

Purchases with Active Filings are final and non-refundable after 90 days.

Active Filings provides business formation services, including registered agent services, for LLCs, corporations and nonprofit corporations. Their formation services and customer support are available in both English and Spanish.

Wed, 03 Jan 2024 03:58:00 -0600 en-US text/html https://www.usatoday.com/money/blueprint/business/business-formation/active-filings-llc-review/
A 401(k) Plan for the Small Business Owner

What Is a Solo 401(k)?

The 401(k) plan has gained popularity among small business owners ever since 2001 when some changes to federal tax law made it a better and more flexible choice for their needs compared with some other retirement savings options. These 401(k) plans are known as solo 401(k) or self-employed 401(k) plans.

Key Takeaways

  • A solo 401(k) plan—also called a self-employed 401(k)—is for businesses whose only eligible participants in the plan are its owners (and spouses).
  • These plans are often less complicated and cost less to set up.
  • If you have non-owner employees, they must not meet the eligibility requirements you select for the plan.
  • There are two components to a solo 401(k) plan: employee elective-deferral contributions and profit-sharing contributions.
  • A solo 401(k)s may also offer loans, doesn’t require nondiscrimination testing, and allows for the deduction of plan contributions of up to 25% of eligible compensation.

How the Solo 401(k) Works

Solo 401(k)s are a retirement savings option for small businesses whose only eligible participants in the plan are the business owners (and their spouses if they are also employed by the business). It can be a smart way for someone who is a sole proprietor or an independent contractor to set aside a decent-sized nest egg for retirement.

Not content with the federal acronym, various financial institutions have their own names for the solo 401(k) plan. The independent 401(k) is one of the most generic. Other examples include:

  • The Individual(k)
  • Solo 401(k) or Solo-k
  • Uni-k Plan
  • One-Participant k
  • Self-Employed 401(k)

If you are not sure which name your financial service provider uses, ask about the 401(k) plan for small business owners. The IRS provides a handy primer on such plans.

Who Is Eligible for Solo 401(k) Plans?

A common misconception about the solo 401(k) is that it can be used only by sole proprietors. In fact, the solo 401(k) plan may be used by any small businesses, including corporations, limited liability companies (LLCs), and partnerships. The only limitation is that the only eligible plan participants are the business owners and their spouses, provided they are employed by the business.

A person who works for one company (in which they have no ownership) and participates in its 401(k) can also establish a solo 401(k) for a small business they run on the side, funding it with earnings from that venture. However, the aggregate annual contributions to both plans cannot collectively exceed the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)-established maximums.

How to Set Up a Solo 401(k) Plan

For small business owners who meet certain requirements, most financial institutions that offer retirement plan products have developed truncated versions of the regular 401(k) plan for use by business owners who want to adopt the solo 401(k).

As a result, less complex documentation is needed to establish the plan. Fees may also be relatively low. Make sure to receive the proper documentation from your financial services provider.

As noted above, the solo 401(k) plan may be adopted only by businesses in which the only employees eligible to participate in the plan are the business owners and eligible spouses. For eligibility purposes, a spouse is considered an owner of the business, so if a spouse is employed by the business, you are still eligible to adopt the solo 401(k).

If your business has non-owner employees who are eligible to participate in the plan, your business may not adopt the solo 401(k) plan. Therefore, if you have non-owner employees, they must not meet the eligibility requirements you select for the plan, which must remain within the following limitations.

You may exclude nonresident aliens from a solo 401(k) who receive no U.S. income and those who receive benefits under a collective-bargaining agreement.

Solo 401(k) Eligibility Requirements

Setting the wrong eligibility requirements could result in you being excluded from the plan or non-owner employees being eligible to participate in the plan.

For example, say you elect zero years of service as a requirement to participate, but you have five seasonal employees who work fewer than 1,000 hours each year. These employees would be eligible to participate in the plan because they meet the age and service requirements. Consequently, their eligibility would disqualify your business from being suitable to adopt the solo 401(k) plan. Instead, you could adopt a regular 401(k) plan.

Some solo 401(k) products, by definition, require further exclusions. Before you decide to establish a solo 401(k) plan, be sure to check with your financial services provider regarding its provisions.

Contribution Requirements

For 401(k) employee elective-deferral contributions you may require an employee to perform one year of service before becoming eligible to make elective-deferral contributions.

For profit-sharing contributions, you may require an employee to perform up to two years of service in order to be eligible to receive profit-sharing contributions. However, most solo 401(k) plans will limit this requirement to one year.

For plan purposes, an employee is considered to have performed one year of service if they work at least 1,000 hours during the year. While you may generally choose to require fewer than 1,000 hours under a regular qualified plan, most solo 401(k) plans include a hard-coded limit of 1,000 hours.

Solo 401(k) Contribution Limits

There are two components to the solo 401(k) plan: employee elective-deferral contributions and profit-sharing contributions.

Employee Contribution Limits

You may make a salary-deferral contribution of up to 100% of your compensation but no more than the annual limit for the year. For 2023, the limit is $22,500 (increasing to $23,000 for 2024), plus $7,500 for people age 50 or over for both years.

Employer Contribution Limits

The business may contribute up to 25% of your compensation (calculations are required in the case of the self-employed) but no more than $66,000 for 2023 ($69,000 for 2024). An employee aged 50 or above can still contribute an additional $7,500 for 2023 and 2024.

Other 401(k) Plans

In comparison with other popular retirement plans, the solo 401(k) plan has high contribution limits as outlined above, which is the key component that attracts owners of small businesses. Some other retirement plans also limit the contributions by employers or set lower limits on salary-deferred contributions.

The following is a summary of contribution comparisons for the employer plans generally used by small businesses.

Account Elective Deferral Maximum Employer Contribution Catch-Up Contribution
Solo 401(k) $22,500 for 2023 $23,000 for 2024 25% of compensation or 20% in the case of a sole proprietor or a Schedule C taxpayer $7,500 for both 2023 and 2024
SEP IRA Not Allowed 25% of compensation or 20% of modified net profit for unincorporated business owners Not Allowed
Profit-Sharing or Money-Purchase Pension Plan Not Allowed 25% of compensation or 20% of modified net profit for unincorporated business owners Not Allowed
SIMPLE IRA $15,500 for 2023 $16,000 for 2024 3% of compensation/income $3,500 for both 2023 and 2024

Contributions Example

As mentioned earlier, you may make employee elective-deferral contributions of up to 100% of your compensation but no more than the elective-deferral limit for the year. Profit-sharing contributions are limited to 25% of your compensation (or 20% of your modified net profit if your business is a sole proprietorship or partnership).

The total solo 401(k) contribution is the employee elective-deferral contribution plus the profit-sharing contribution—up to $66,000 for 2023 and 69,000 for 2024.

If your business is a corporation, the profit-sharing contribution is based on the W-2 wages you receive. If you receive $70,000 in W-2 wages, for instance, your profit-sharing contribution could be up to $17,500 ($70,000 x 25%). When added to a salary-deferral contribution of $19,000, the total would be $36,500.

If your business is a sole proprietorship or partnership, the calculation gets a little more involved. In this case, your profit-sharing contribution is based on your modified net profit and is limited to 20%. The IRS provides a step-by-step formula for determining your modified net profit in IRS Publication 560.

Other Benefits of a Solo 401(k)

There are a number of other benefits that come with the Solo 401(k).

Loans

As with other qualified plans, you may be able to borrow from the solo 401(k) up to (1) the greater of $10,000 or 50% of the balance or (2) $50,000, whichever is less. Check the plan document to determine if any other limitations apply. 

5500 Filing May Not Be Required

Because the plan covers only the business owner, you may not be required to file Form 5500 series return unless your balance exceeds $250,000.

No Nondiscrimination Testing

Generally, certain nondiscrimination testing must be performed for 401(k) plans. These tests ensure that the business owners and higher-paid employees do not receive an inequitably high amount of contribution when compared with lower-paid employees.

Such tests can be very complex and may require the services of an experienced plan administrator, which can be costly. Because the solo 401(k) plan covers only the business owner, there is no one against whom you can discriminate, so these tests are not required.

Deducting Contributions

Similar to other employer plans, the solo 401(k) allows you to deduct plan contributions of up to 25% of eligible compensation. For plan purposes, compensation is limited to $330,000 in 2023 and $345,000 in 2024. Earnings over that amount are disregarded for plan purposes.

Can I Have a 401(k) for My LLC?

Yes, any business is able to set up a 401(k). If you are self-employed, you can create a solo 401(k) as a limited liability company (LLC)—assuming you meet all the other eligibility requirements.

What Is the Minimum Number of Employees Needed for a 401(k)?

A business of any size can offer a 401(k) plan. A solo 401(k) is for business owners with no employees.

How Much Can a Small Business Owner Contribute to a 401(k)?

The maximum contribution for a small business owner to a 401(k) for 2023 is $66,000 ($73,500 if you’re 50 or older)—which includes contributions as the employee and employer. For 2024, the contribution limit is $69,000, and $76,500 if you are 50 or older.

The Bottom Line

If you own more than one business, you must check with your tax professional to determine whether you are eligible to adopt the solo 401(k). Ownership in another business that covers employees other than the business owner could result in your being ineligible for this type of plan.

Fri, 03 Nov 2023 05:13:00 -0500 en text/html https://www.investopedia.com/retirement/401k-plans-small-business-owner/
The best retirement plans of 2024

Key points

  • Various retirement plans exist for employees, the self-employed and small-business owners.
  • Most people are eligible for more than one retirement plan.
  • Retirement plans generally offer tax advantages. 

Retirement is the end goal for most workers, but you can’t quit your job unless you have a source of income. While Social Security will pay for some expenses, the government says these benefits will cover only about 40% of your pre-retirement income.

In the past, many companies offered pensions that provided lifetime income to loyal employees. Now, pensions have all but disappeared, and most workers need to rely on their savings to fill gaps in their budgets.

Fortunately, several retirement plans are available, many of which offer attractive tax incentives or generous employer matches. What’s more, most workers don’t have to settle for one plan and can open multiple accounts, depending on their employment situations.

Best retirement plans of 2024

American workers have no shortage of options when it comes to selecting the best retirement plan. 

“You’re talking about an embarrassment of riches,” says Andrew Meadows, senior vice president of HR, brand and culture for Ubiquity Retirement + Savings, a 401(k) provider.

Plans exist for employees, self-employed individuals and small-business owners. Options within each category allow people to receive immediate tax deductions or set aside money for tax-free withdrawals in the future. The best retirement plans also offer various investment options with low fees. 

Employer-sponsored retirement plans

Employer-sponsored retirement plans are some of the best-known options, and if you are an employee — meaning you receive a W-2 at tax time — you likely have access to one of them.

These accounts can be a convenient way to save for retirement since payroll deductions fund them. Plus, many employers match a portion of employee contributions.

“You want to be sure you put enough in to qualify for whatever your employer is matching,” says Stuart Chamberlin, founder and owner of advisory firm Chamberlin Financial in Boca Raton, Florida.

Traditional 401(k)

Traditional 401(k)s are the most common retirement plans private companies offer employees.

Employee contributions to a traditional 401(k) are tax-deductible. You can access the money without penalty once you reach age 59½, and withdrawals are taxed as regular income. You must start taking required minimum distributions at age 73, meaning you cannot avoid taxes forever.

You can contribute up to $23,000 to a 401(k) plan in 2024. Savers age 50 or older can contribute an additional $7,500.

Roth 401(k)

A Roth 401(k) works like a traditional 401(k), except the tax benefits are different.

Because Roth accounts are funded with after-tax dollars, employee contributions are not tax-deductible. The benefit is that the money grows tax-free and can be withdrawn tax-free in retirement. If you make a withdrawal before age 59½ and before you have held the account for five years, some of it may be subject to income tax and a penalty.

Roth 401(k) contribution limits are the same as traditional 401(k) contribution limits.

403(b)

A 403(b), also known as a tax-sheltered annuity, works like a 401(k) and may be offered in traditional and Roth versions. Typically, 403(b) plans are available to employees of public schools and certain tax-exempt organizations.

One unique provision of 403(b) plans is that workers with at least 15 years of service can make additional catch-up contributions, which may be worth up to $3,000. 

457(b) 

Employees of state and local governments and certain tax-exempt nongovernmental entities may be able to contribute to 457(b) plans. These accounts work like 401(k)s and can be found in traditional and Roth varieties.

Like 403(b)s, 457(b)s have a unique catch-up feature. Workers may be able to contribute up to twice the annual employee limit during the last three years before their normal retirement age. 

Thrift savings plan

The thrift savings plan is a retirement plan for federal government employees and uniformed members of the armed forces. It is comparable to a 401(k) account, with similar provisions and contribution limits. 

Employer-sponsored retirement plans

Individual retirement plans

Individual retirement arrangements, or IRAs, “have the lowest barrier to entry,” Meadows says.

You generally can open an IRA as long as you have earned income, even if you have a 401(k) plan or another workplace retirement account. But note that income limits may apply to deducting traditional IRA contributions and contributing to Roth IRAs.

Traditional IRA

Like a traditional 401(k), a traditional IRA offers an immediate tax deduction on contributions. Withdrawals after age 59½ are subject to regular income tax. Early withdrawals are subject to income tax and a 10% penalty. Required minimum distributions must begin at age 73.

You can contribute up to $7,000 to IRAs in 2024. Savers age 50 or older may make an additional $1,000 in catch-up contributions.

Your contributions may not be tax-deductible if you or your spouse is covered by a retirement plan at work and you exceed certain income limits. For 2024, the ability to deduct contributions begins to phase out at modified adjusted gross incomes above $77,000 for single filers and $123,000 for married couples filing jointly.

Roth IRA

Roth IRAs don’t offer tax deductions on contributions, but withdrawals in retirement are generally tax-free. Further, because you’ve already paid taxes on your Roth IRA contributions, you can withdraw them anytime tax- and penalty-free. Early withdrawals of your earnings may be subject to income tax and a 10% penalty. 

Roth IRAs share the same contribution limits as traditional IRAs, but high earners are excluded from funding these plans. For 2024, the ability to contribute to a Roth IRA begins to phase out at MAGIs of $146,000 for single filers and $230,000 for married couples filing jointly. At incomes of $161,000 and $240,000, respectively, the opportunity to contribute to a Roth IRA is eliminated.  

Spousal IRA

A spousal IRA refers to the ability of a working spouse to open an IRA on behalf of a nonworking spouse. In this way, stay-at-home parents or other spouses without earned income can have their own IRAs with which to save for retirement.

Spousal IRAs can be traditional or Roth accounts and are subject to the same contribution and income limits as other IRAs. To open a spousal IRA, a couple must file their tax return jointly.

Rollover IRA 

A rollover IRA is a way to move money from one retirement account to another. For example, if you leave a job, you can roll over money from your 401(k) to an IRA rather than leave it in place.

You can opt for a direct rollover or an indirect rollover. With a direct rollover, the funds are transferred from the 401(k) administrator to the IRA administrator. With an indirect rollover, you receive a distribution from the 401(k) and then deposit the funds into the IRA. If you fail to deposit the full amount into the IRA within 60 days, it may be subject to both income taxes and a 10% penalty.

There is no limit on how much you can roll over. Note that rolling over into an account with a different tax treatment — from a traditional to a Roth, for instance — counts as a conversion and has tax implications.

Individual retirement plans

Retirement plans for small-business owners and the self-employed 

One drawback of IRAs compared to employer-sponsored retirement plans is the low annual contribution limit. But if you are self-employed or a small-business owner, you have other options with higher limits. Becoming eligible for these plans may be easier than you think.

“If you have a side hustle and self-employment income, you absolutely have the ability to start your own retirement plan,” says Nathan Boxx, director of retirement plan services for financial advisory firm Fort Pitt Capital Group in Pittsburgh.

Whether you work for yourself or have a team of employees, the following accounts could be good options. 

SEP IRA

Any self-employed individual or employer can open a SEP IRA, and workers can contribute the lesser of 25% of their annual compensation or $69,000 per year. That puts a SEP IRA in line with a 401(k) plan in terms of contributions. But you can’t make catch-up contributions to a SEP account.

There is no Roth SEP IRA option, so your contributions will be tax-deductible. Withdrawals in retirement will be subject to regular income tax, and you’ll also need to start taking RMDs at age 73.

If you like the idea of having some tax-free money available in retirement, there is no reason you can’t also open a Roth IRA. The IRS allows self-employed workers and business owners to contribute to both.

SIMPLE IRA

The SIMPLE IRA is what Boxx calls the “quick and dirty” option for small-business retirement plans. It is available to businesses with fewer than 100 workers and has few filing requirements.

“The trade-off is lack of flexibility,” Boxx says. You may not have the same plan or investment options that other accounts offer. SIMPLE IRAs also have lower contribution limits than 401(k)s.

In 2024, a worker can contribute up to $16,000 to a SIMPLE IRA. Savers age 50 or older can make $3,500 in catch-up contributions. All contributions are tax-deductible, and withdrawals in retirement are taxed as regular income. RMDs must be taken starting at age 73. 

Payroll deduction IRA

Payroll deduction IRAs can be traditional or Roth and have the same contribution limits as those accounts. The main difference is they are funded through payroll deductions.

These accounts can be an attractive option for small-business owners who would like to help their workers save for retirement but don’t want the expense that comes with creating a 401(k) plan. 

Solo 401(k) 

Also known as one-participant 401(k)s, solo 401(k)s allow business owners with no employees or self-employed individuals to open an employer-sponsored plan for themselves and their spouses.

The reporting rules make these accounts more complex than some of the other options. On the other hand, they have significantly higher contribution limits.

As an employee, you can make elective deferrals of up to $23,000 in 2024. Savers age 50 or older can contribute an additional $7,500. In addition, as an employer, you can make a profit-sharing contribution of up to 25% of your compensation from the business. Combined, the maximum solo 401(k) contribution is $69,000 in 2024. 

Solo 401(k)s may be opened as traditional or Roth accounts.

Retirement plans for small-business owners and the self-employed 

Why is having a retirement plan important?

Most people understand the value of having money set aside for retirement, but it may not be obvious why you should use a retirement plan. After all, you could invest the money in a regular brokerage account, put it in certificates of deposit or leave it in your savings account.

A retirement plan makes more sense for several reasons:

  • Retirement plans offer tax incentives — either deductions for contributions or tax-free withdrawals in retirement.
  • Your employer may match a portion of your contributions. That’s essentially free money to boost your savings.
  • Retirement plans are subject to certain standards and protections by law.

“Retirement money is sheltered from creditors up to a certain threshold,” Boxx says. That is one example of the type of protection your money gets when deposited in a retirement plan.

How to start investing in your retirement

The earlier you begin saving, the more likely you are to be financially secure in retirement. It isn’t hard to open a retirement account either.

If you work somewhere that offers employer-sponsored retirement accounts, contact your human resources office to start making contributions. Most plans let you choose from several investment options, and many now have target-date funds, which make it simple to invest based on your expected retirement date.

IRAs and other plans can be opened online or in person at many banks and brokerage firms. For instance, Ubiquity Retirement + Savings offers solo 401(k) plans, while Chase, Charles Schwab and Fidelity all have IRAs.   

How to choose the best retirement plan for you

If you have an employer-sponsored plan with a match, start there. You want to contribute enough to that plan to get the full match. After that, you can consider other options.

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Do I do any contract work that would make me eligible for a small-business retirement plan?
  • How much do I expect to be able to contribute each year?
  • Do I want a tax deduction now, or would I rather have tax-free money in retirement?

Before you jump into any account, be sure to read the fine print. “What fees are you paying?” Meadows asks. Those fees include the expense ratios for specific investments and the costs to administer the plan.

An accountant or financial advisor can help you weigh your options and select the best retirement plan for your needs. 

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

That depends on your unique circumstances. While Fidelity Investments suggests you save 10 times your income by age 67, you may need more or less to retire comfortably.

When determining how much money you’ll need, consider the following:

  • Whether you will have debt payments in retirement.
  • The cost of living in your area.
  • Your expected lifestyle.
  • How you will fill your time.
  • Your expected lifespan.

Each account has its pros and cons. IRAs typically offer more investment options, but they may come with more fees. With a 401(k) account, you can contribute significantly more, and your plan administrator is a fiduciary, meaning they are required to work in your best interest. Talk to a trusted financial advisor to decide which is right for you. 

Yes. “The IRS always gets theirs at the end,” Chamberlin says.

The difference is when you pay those taxes. Roth accounts are taxed upfront since you fund them with after-tax dollars. With a traditional account, the money isn’t taxed until you make withdrawals in retirement. If you die with money in a traditional account, your heirs will pay the taxes on the remaining amount.

Mon, 01 Jan 2024 10:00:00 -0600 en-US text/html https://www.usatoday.com/money/blueprint/retirement/best-retirement-plans/
Best Pet Insurance Wellness Plans For Routine Care Of 2024

A pet wellness plan is only worth it if you’ll be making claims and maximizing your reimbursements. Look at the annual cost of a wellness plan, your potential annual savings and your out-of-pocket costs.

Finding a good pet insurance wellness plan is secondary to finding a good pet insurance accident and illness policy. The base accident and illness plan covers major veterinary expenses, such as a torn ligament, broken bones, cancer and diabetes. It’s more important to find the best pet insurance policy and then decide if adding a wellness plan is worth it. You can find a good price on pet insurance by comparing pet insurance quotes from multiple companies.

Once you find a pet insurance plan you like, compare the company’s wellness plan prices with your expected routine care costs for the year. You’ll want to look at:

  • The cost for adding a wellness plan and the maximum savings potential per policy term.
  • Your vet’s charges for routine wellness expenses.
  • The amount your wellness plan will reimburse for routine wellness expenses.
  • The amount you can expect to pay out of pocket for additional routine care charges.

Some wellness plans offer relatively low potential savings amounts. For example, the basic wellness plan from Figo costs about $111 per year for dogs and the maximum savings amount per policy term (after accounting for the premium) is only $11, and that doesn’t factor in your out-of-pocket costs when a certain expense exceeds the reimbursement limit. For example, Figo’s basic plan covers only up to $40 per year for teeth cleaning when the average cost of teeth cleaning ranges from $170 to $350.

Tue, 02 Jan 2024 17:36:00 -0600 Jason Metz en-US text/html https://www.forbes.com/advisor/pet-insurance/best-pet-wellness-plans-routine-care/
Best Roadside Assistance Plans Of 2024

Roadside assistance is offered by some car insurance companies as an add-on coverage. Note that you usually must also have comprehensive and collision coverage. Roadside service plans are also sold by motor clubs and companies specializing in emergency roadside help. And some credit card benefits include roadside assistance.

Roadside assistance plans are not standard—towing limits, price, covered calls per year and other variables vary by plan, company and even state. To identify the best roadside assistance plan for your needs, consider the following features when shopping around.

Towing limits and roadside assistance plans

Most roadside assistance plans specify the distance they will tow from where your car breaks down, for example 5, 10 or 20 miles. If having a greater area of applicable tow coverage is priority, you’ll want to be sure the service you choose has an acceptable tow mileage limit that suits your needs.

Roadside assistance service calls per plan year

When researching roadside assistance plans, be sure to check the number of calls or tows you can have per plan year. Some roadside help plans limit the number of rescues to three or four a year.

Onsite repairs for minor mechanical issues

Some roadside assistance plans provide help if you break down and need a mechanic to do some minor repairs, something that won’t last more than an hour or so.

Extension of coverage for roadside assistance

If you want to be sure coverage extends to your family, or to you if you’re a passenger, review the details of roadside plans you’re considering. Not all roadside assistance plans cover you as a passenger or your household members. Note that some companies do offer upgrades that include family plans and higher coverage limits.

Winching

Sometimes your car gets stuck in mud, snow, ice or in a ditch. In that case, you need a winch to pull your vehicle out and back onto the road. Look for a roadside assistance plan that includes winching if you’re worried about this type of service call.

Lost key services

Some roadside assistance plans will pay to send a locksmith to help if your keys are lost or stolen, though you will typically have to pay to replace the key. Keep in mind that this isn’t always included in roadside help plans—some will only assist you if you locked your keys inside your car.

Roadside assistance and trip interruption benefits

If an emergency listed in your plan means you need to unexpectedly stay in a hotel overnight while your car is being fixed, trip interruption benefits can help pay for meals, transportation and accommodations. Trip interruption benefits are usually found in more comprehensive roadside assistance plans and typically require you to be a specified distance away from home, for instance 100 miles.

Price of roadside assistance

What you pay for roadside help services depends on the company you buy your plan from and how much coverage you get, among other factors.

If paying the cheapest price is most important to you, you might want to start with your current auto insurance company. Keep in mind that if you buy roadside assistance from your car insurance company, frequent emergency claims may cause your car insurance rate to increase. If you use the help service for the occasional emergency your rates won’t be affected.

If the roadside assistance benefits from your car insurance company don’t include everything you want—for example coverage for other drivers in your household or a higher towing mileage limit—you may pay a bit more but be happier with a plan from an auto club. Auto clubs may also provide benefits beyond roadside service, which may include affiliate discounts, help with trip planning or trip interruption compensation.

Some roadside assistance companies offer several tiers of coverage, so while the budget plan may be cheapest, the premiere plan may include more of the benefits you want. For example, AAA, AARP, Allstate, Better World, Good Sam, Nationwide and Travelers all offer more than one roadside help plan.

Tue, 02 Jan 2024 13:51:00 -0600 Michelle Megna en-US text/html https://www.forbes.com/advisor/car-insurance/best-roadside-assistance-plans/
Strategic Plan

Strategic Plan Narrative

We are pleased to present this plan, and proud of the work that went into it. We believe in the Green Party and the essential role that we can play in moving a progressive political agenda. We know that what we seek to do isn’t easy. But throughout history we have seen organized people beat organized money.

The creation of this plan is the beginning, not the end, of our thinking strategically about how to build our party. We’ve laid out a mission and vision statement, an analysis of our situation, goals and objectives, and an action plan to tackle. The rest is up to you.

We hope every reader of this plan will offer, not only ideas to make it better or more complete, but your personal commitment to work to make it a reality. We must also commit to re-visiting the plan on a regular basis, to make any necessary adjustments. We can’t predict the future. We do know that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

Read the Plan

Support Documents
International Greens 
State Leader Survey Report 

Objectives & Action Plan Proposals Passed by the NC
Goal 1: Membership Proposal 
Goal 2: Elections Proposal 
Goal 3: Raising Awareness 
Goal 4: Movements / Issues / Advocacy 

Tue, 05 Apr 2022 04:07:00 -0500 text/html https://www.gp.org/strategic_plan
Is an IRA a Qualified Plan?

A qualified retirement plan is an investment plan offered by an employer that qualifies for tax breaks under the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and ERISA guidelines. Because an individual retirement account (IRA) is not offered by employers, a traditional or Roth IRA is not considered a qualified plan, although they feature many of the same tax benefits for retirement savers.

Two exceptions that may be offered by an employer are SEP IRAs and SIMPLE IRAs. Companies may also offer non-qualified plans to employees that might include deferred compensation plans and executive bonus plans. Because these are not ERISA-compliant, they do not enjoy the tax benefits of qualified plans.

Key Takeaways

  • Qualified retirement plans are tax-advantaged retirement accounts offered by employers and must meet IRS requirements.
  • Common examples of qualified retirement plans include 401(k)s, 403(b)s, SEPs, and SIMPLE IRAs.
  • Traditional IRAs share many of the tax advantages of plans like 401(k)s but are not offered by employers and are not qualified plans.
  • IRAs are self-managed, meaning the individual selects the financial institution to house the retirement account and chooses from a range of investment options.

Traditional IRAs

Traditional IRAs are savings plans that allow you the benefit of tax-advantaged growth as investors are commonly allowed a tax write-off, though limited or not permitted, depending on your income and whether you have a qualified retirement plan at work.

Taxes must be paid on distributions, which you are required to start taking at age 73, even if you haven't retired yet. These are called required minimum distributions (RMDs) and the amount is determined by an IRS formula involving your age and your account balance. Beginning in 2033, with the passage of the SECURE Act 2.0, the RMD age increases to 75.

If you withdraw any funds before you turn 59½, you will be subject to a 10% early withdrawal penalty in addition to the usual requirement of paying income tax on the amount you take.

The SECURE Act 2.0 of 2022 expands access to retirement savings beginning in 2024. Participants can access up to $1,000 annually from retirement savings for emergency personal or family expenses without paying the 10% early withdrawal penalties.

There are also limits to how much you can contribute to an IRA each year. In 2024, this limit is increased to $7,000 or $8,000 if you are 50 and older and qualify for the additional catch-up contribution.

IRA plan providers allow holders to designate beneficiaries, and some plan holders allow beneficiaries for multiple generations. Because traditional IRAs allow individuals to invest on a tax-deferred basis, they are suitable for people who are in a high tax bracket but anticipate being in a lower one at retirement.

Roth IRAs

Roth IRAs require that investors pay tax first on contributions and do not allow for a tax write-off. However, the advantage comes when you retire and no tax is assessed on distributions. You are not taxed on any of the money that your income earns over the years it sits in your Roth account. What's more, if you need to take money out of the account, you are not taxed if you take out just the contributions you originally made.

401(k) plans have significantly higher contribution limits than IRAs.

Roth IRAs do not have RMDs or a requirement that you start taking distributions. If you can afford to hold the funds, they can continue to grow tax-free and can be passed to your heirs. The heirs will be required to take distributions, however.

As Roth IRAs allow individuals to invest on a tax-free basis, they are suitable for individuals who are in a low tax bracket but anticipate being in a higher one at retirement. There are income limitations on who is permitted to contribute to a Roth IRA.

Those with higher incomes can only open one by rolling over traditional IRA or 401(k) money, a process called opening a backdoor Roth IRA. If you do this, you will have to pay taxes on deductible contributions and all earnings. One exception: Those who have a Roth 401(k) can roll it over into a Roth IRA without the tax requirement.

Qualified Retirement Plans

Some employers offer defined-contribution or defined-benefit-qualified retirement plans. Defined-contribution plans, such as 401(k)s, have largely replaced defined-benefit plans or pensions as the preferred model.

Employers receive incentives from the U.S. government to create these plans under ERISA rules. Beginning in 2025, the SECURE Act 2.0 requires employers to automatically enroll eligible employees in new 401(k) or 403(b) plans with a participation amount of at least 3% but no more than 10%. The contribution increases to the rate of 1% per year, up to a minimum of 10% and a maximum of 15%.

What Are the Contribution Limits for an IRA?

The annual contribution limit for both a traditional IRA and a Roth IRA in 2024 is $7,000 (or $8,000 for those 50 or older).

What Are the Contribution Limits for a 401(k) Plan?

For 2024, $23,000. If you are 50 or older, you can make a catch-up contribution of $7,500. Beginning after Dec. 31, 2024, the SECURE Act 2.0 substantially increases catch-up limits for 401(k) plan participants aged 60 to 63 to the greater of $10,000 or 150% of the “standard” catch-up amount for that year. 

What Is the Difference Between a Qualified and Non-Qualified Retirement Plan?

Qualified retirement plans are offered by employers to their employees and offer tax breaks. Non-qualified retirement plans also offer tax breaks but are not offered to all employees, and do not adhere to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) while qualified retirement plans do.

The Bottom Line

A qualified retirement plan is a retirement plan that is only offered by an employer and qualifies for tax breaks. By its definition, an IRA is not a qualified retirement plan as it is not offered by employers, unlike 401(k)s, which are, making them qualified retirement plans. IRAs, however, do share many of the same features and benefits as qualified retirement plans that individuals can use to save for retirement, either together with qualified retirement plans or on their own.

Thu, 29 Oct 2015 04:14:00 -0500 en text/html https://www.investopedia.com/ask/answers/102714/ira-qualified-plan.asp
Best cell phone plans in 2024: The best options for your monthly phone service

Best cell phone plans at a glance

It's always a good idea to see if you have one of the best cell phone plans, but never more so than at the beginning of the year. By comparing your current plan to others, you can figure out if you're paying too much for phone service or getting short-changed on the perks that come with your wireless package.

When we look at cell phone plans, we certainly consider price. But we're also looking at the extras that wireless providers include in their plans — things like hotspot data, streaming service subscriptions and traveller benefits. It's also worth considering network performance, particularly for plans offered by low-cost carriers who piggy-back on the cellular towers operated by other wireless services. All those factors help us find the best cell phone plans based on total value delivered.





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