SD panel backs restricting investments in Iran

Plans to restrict state investment in companies that do business in Iran and other nations that support terrorism got a boost Wednesday in the South Dakota Legislature.

The Senate State Affairs Committee voted unanimously to approve two bills restricting state investment in companies that do business in Iran, Sudan and other countries sanctioned by Congress. The measures next head to the full Senate for further debate.

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The first bill, which is sponsored by nearly half of the Legislature, would require the state to dump stock in companies that do substantial business in Iran and are subject to sanctions under the 1996 federal Iran Sanctions Act. Rep. Dan Lederman, R-Dakota Dunes, the main House sponsor of the bill, told the Senate committee that 19 other states and the District of Columbia have passed similar measures. [Read the full article]

States may be forced to reduce benefits, raise taxes or slash government services to address a $1 trillion funding shortfall in public sector retirement benefits, according to a new study that warns of even more debilitating costs if immediate action isn’t taken.

The Pew Center on the States released a survey Thursday of state-administered pension plans, retiree health care and other post-employment benefits in all 50 states that blamed a decade’s worth of policy decisions for leaving them shortchanged.

The result for some states will be “high annual costs that come with significant unfunded liabilities, lower bond ratings, less money available for services, higher taxes and the specter of worsening problems in the future,” the study said.

The cost of the trillion-dollar shortfall, which will be paid over the coming decades, is about $8,800 for each American household. [Read the full article]

I have a couple of IRA rollover accounts with a brokerage firm and I trade in those accounts. The trading doesn’t have any impact on my current taxes. Because my IRA isn’t a Roth IRA, I will eventually pay income taxes on distributions out of the retirement account.

May all your stock picks be winners, but if they’re not, claiming losses in your Roth IRA accounts is complex enough that it’s something to discuss with your tax professional. IRS Publication 590, Individual Retirement Arrangements, covers this ground for Roth IRAs in the section “Recognizing Losses on Investments.”Bankrate’s content, including the guidance of its advice-and-expert columns and this Web site, is intended only to assist you with financial decisions. The content is broad in scope and does not consider your personal financial situation. [Read the full article]

There’s a lot about the estate tax that’s up for grabs right now, as I discussed in this article. At the same time, many aspects of estate planning are crucial no matter what the tax code says, such as creating a living will, naming individuals to act on your behalf if you die or become disabled, and choosing beneficiaries of your investment accounts. To discuss some of these important concepts, I interviewed H. Susan Jones, a top estate-planning attorney based in the Chicago suburbs. In the interview, Susan discussed some of the most common pitfalls of estate planning and how to avoid them, as well as some underutilized estate-planning maneuvers. An excerpt from our interview is below.

Christine Benz: What are the big mistakes you see people making when it comes to estate planning?

Susan Jones: The biggest mistake is a misunderstanding of beneficiary designations. Many assets today are transferred at death through a beneficiary designation. [Read the full article]

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