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MASON & ASSOCIATES, LLC

Blog & Podcast

Portfolio and Economic Update

Mason & Associates and SEM Wealth Management co-host to discuss the economy and provide updates on our portfolios. The event was held on November 3, 2022 for clients of Mason & Associates. Mason & Associates is a financial planning firm that specializes with federal employees.
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FEFP: Mortgages, Home Equity Lines, and Interest Rates (EP24)

James Anderson, Regional Manager at CapCenter, will be joining the show to shed light on mortgages, home equity lines, and interest rates.
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Federal Employee Financial Planning: Intro to Estate Planning (EP23)

Heather Szajda, Partner at Virginia Estate & Trust Law, will be joining Tommy and John to discuss exactly what an estate plan might entail, when you should start to consider creating one and what happens if you decide to not create one.
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Federal Employee Financial Planning: Retirement Plan Success Rate = 100 % (EP22)

Michael, Tommy and John will be sharing their advice for effective goal setting, including how to ensure you’re setting yourself up for the successful retirement you’ve worked your whole life for.
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Federal Employee Financial Planning: FEHB (EP21)

How FEHB coordinates with Medicare and why you must work with your financial planner to take advantage of this benefit as soon as possible.
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SPECIAL EPISODE: New Client Process & Client Experience

Tommy and John will be discussing their new client process, what the client experience is like and why this update is important.
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Federal Employee Financial Planning: Meet Your Hosts (EP20)

The upbringing, background and financial planning history of your hosts.
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Federal Employee Financial Planning: CSRS Vs. FERS (EP19)

Why FERS is actually just as good as CSRS, if not better, and several key components of FERS that you may not be aware of.
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Federal Employee Financial Planning: They Are Not Talking To You (EP18)

How to ensure you’re getting the unique advice you deserve.
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Special Episode: VCP Mega Mega Back Door Roth IRA

Steps you can take today to ensure you’re not going to miss out on what could potentially be the biggest tax loophole of your lifetime.
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Federal Employee Financial Planning: The Year of Retirement (EP17)

Michael, Tommy and John will be discussing everything that you should have in place as you enter your golden years, as well as what you can anticipate throughout this first year.
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FEFP Podcast: Not All Open Seasons Are Created Equal (EP16)

How to ensure you’re making the most of your available benefits, and recognizing that some open seasons are rare and deserve special attention.
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Federal Long Term Care Premium Rate Increase

Mason and Associates recently became aware of a potential Federal Long Term Care premium rate increase in 2023. Please read this blog post to read our understanding of what may be coming and our thoughts on it.
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Federal Employee Financial Planning: The Year Before Retirement (EP15)

What you can expect for the year before retirement and what you should have in place as you approach this next season.
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Federal Employee Financial Planning: Federal Long-Term Care Insurance (EP14)

In this episode, Michael, Tommy, and John discuss long-term care in depth with a special guest, Jill MacNeil, LLIS’s long-term care insurance specialist. Listen in to learn what you need to know about long term care insurance.
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Virginia Budget Deal 2022 & Military Pensions

t’s official, a portion of Military Retirement will now be tax-free in the Commonwealth of Virginia.  Virginia lawmakers and the Governor approved and signed the 2022 budget deal that makes up to $40,000 of military pensions tax-free in Virginia. The tax-free retirement benefits will be phased in over four years beginning in 2022 and concluding in 2024
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Mason Financial Planning Radio Show: Interview with Jeff Hybiak 5/17/2022

Mason & Associates interviewed Jeff Hybiak of SEM Wealth Management during our live radio show on May 17, 2022. Listen as Michael Mason, CFP®, John Mason, CFP®, and Tommy Blackburn, CFP® and CPA interview Jeff and discuss how they work together to help clients.
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Podcast: Do Federal Employees Need a Financial Planner? (EP13)

Michael, Tommy and John will be sharing the value you can receive by having a financial planner and the common mistakes federal employees make when they don’t have financial guidance.
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Federal Employee Financial Planning: Social Security Fairness Act - WEP (EP12)

Michael, Tommy, and John will be sharing how recent legislation will impact the windfall elimination provision (WEP) and how this may affect you.
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Federal Employee Financial Planning: Social Security Fairness Act - GPO (EP 11)

Michael, Tommy and John will be discussing what exactly this means for those that are paying into the Social Security system and how this might affect those who are not.
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Federal Employee Financial Planning: TSP at Retirement or 59.5 (EP10)

TSP can be a great way to save money for retirement, however, there are a number of rules that limit when and how you can access these funds. One well known rule for many retirement accounts is you will have to pay a 10% penalty if you access them before age 59.5. In this episode, Michael, Tommy and John will be explaining several exceptions surrounding this penalty and how to ensure you use them correctly.
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Federal Employee Financial Planning: TSP Accumulation (EP9)

Michael, Tommy, and John will be sharing what you need to know about TSP accumulation.
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Federal Employee Financial Planning: Federal Employees Group Life Insurance EP8

The Federal Employee Group Life Insurance (FEGLI) program is one of the largest group plans in the world, with over 4 million federal workers and retirees. It is made up of four components: basic coverage, and then options “A,” “B,” and “C.” In order to receive “A,” “B,” and “C,” you need basic coverage. However, each of these options covers you in different ways. So, in this episode, Michael, Tommy, and John will be explaining what each of these components entails.
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Federal Employee Financial Planning: FERS Part 3 (EP7)

Michael, Tommy, and John will be discussing the special previsions of law enforcement, specifically the differing factors between LEOs and normal FERS.
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Radio Show: Guest Interview with Jeff Hybiak of SEM Wealth Management

Mason and Associates Financial Planners for Federal Employees interview Jeff Hybiak, CFA of SEM Wealth Management on our Financial Planning Radio Show. John Mason, Certified Financial Planner™, Michael Mason, Certified Financial Planner™, and Tommy Blackburn, Certified Financial Planner™, CPA, PFS, co-host the firm's radio show on AM 790 WNIS.
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Macrini In The Morning- Interview with Michael Mason

Our chairman and senior financial planner, Michael Mason, CFP®, was interviewed by Mr. Macrini of Macrini In The Morning on March 14, 2022.  The interview was live from approximately 8:30-9:00am eastern time. Mr. Macrini and Michael had great dialogue on a variety of subjects. In addition to the various subjects that were discussed, we had several live questions that were answered on air.  As expected, the questions were specific to military and federal retirement benefits.
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Federal Employee Financial Planning: FERS Part 2 (EP6)

Michael, Tommy, and John will be discussing how to utilize both FERS and Social Security benefits in your retirement.
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Federal Employee Financial Planning: FERS Part 1 (EP5)

Everything you need to know about FERS, including several surprising benefits you may not be aware of.
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2021 Tax Season

The 2021 Tax season is quickly approaching, and our goal is to provide you with the tools needed to help ensure that your returns are filed promptly and accurately. Consider these recommendations to avoid delays.
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Additional Reminders When Filing Your 2021 Tax Returns

Don't forget these frequently overlooked tax deduction and other useful tips.
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Employer Retirement Plan, IRA, and HSA Contribution Limits for 2022.

There are often multiple investment vehicles to choose from when it comes to saving for your future. Thankfully, your team at Mason & Associates is here to help you keep track of these new contribution limits and any other changes to your retirement benefits.
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Federal Employee Financial Planning: Civil Service Retirement System Part 2 EP4

Michael, Tommy, and John will be discussing the additional benefits to be aware of in regards to the Civil Service Retirement System.
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Reporting Roth Conversions on your 2021 Tax Return

Converting all or some of your IRA to a Roth IRA can be a great strategy for multiple reasons. Whatever your goals for converting may be, it is important that these conversions are properly reported so that the benefits can be fully realized.
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Reporting TSP, 401(k), and IRA Rollovers for 2021

Tax forms can be confusing and understanding the many tax documents you will be receiving between now and the next several weeks can be challenging. Fortunately, your team at Mason & Associates is here to help.
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Federal Employee Financial Planning: Civil Service Retirement System Part 1 EP3

Michael, Tommy, and John discuss the benefit calculation, the survivor benefit decision, and the greatest tax loophole ever created.
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Federal Employee Financial Planning: Federal & Military Survivor Benefits EP2

Michael, Tommy, and John will be sharing the reasons to consider opting into the survivor benefit program.
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Federal Employee Financial Planning: The Home Stretch (EP1)

Michael Mason will be joined by Tommy Blackburn and John Mason to discuss everything you should (and should not) do to ensure your golden years are exactly the way they should be: exciting, relaxing, and financially stable.
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Welcome Ben Raikes, CFP®, EA

Welcome, Ben Raikes, CFP®, EA Mason & Associates has a new Advisor! We are excited to announce the latest addition to our financial planning team, Ben Raikes, CFP®, EA. Ben and Tommy Blackburn formerly worked together at another respected financial planning firm, and Ben is excited to be joining the Mason & Associates team.
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Roth 5-Year Rule(s)

As with most parts of our tax code there are several nuances and caveats to be aware of, and one area to be aware of is the multiple 5-year rules for Roth IRAs. However, while it is easy to get confused with these rules and there is a lot of misinformation out there, you can count on our advisors to give you accurate and useful information and to incorporate it appropriately into your financial plan.
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FSAFEDS Special Enrollment Period (SEP)!

Opportunity for those with Dependent Care Expenses, and potentially others. In response to the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), as well as the Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA), FSAFEDS has announced a Special Enrollment Period from June 1, 2021 to June 30, 2021. One of the biggest opportunities is the ability for those with dependents care expenses. Contributions to a DCFSA lower your federal and state tax liability.
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2021 Tax Season Extension

In what continues to be an unusual environment related to the pandemic, the IRS has extended the tax filing and payment deadline to May 17th!
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American Rescue Plan Act of 2021

On March 11, 2021, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 into law. Congress had passed the massive piece of legislation on March 10, when the House approved the measure by a 220-211 vote. This followed passage in the Senate by a 50-49 vote on March 6.......
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Another Round of Possible Stimulus: Should you rush to file your 2020 taxes or

Another round of stimulus is making its way through Congress. Although the bill hasn't officially passed, it appears that the stimulus payments will be up to $1,400 per person and that dependents are included. The $1,400 payments are subject to an income test and the phase-out range is likely to be similar to the earlier rounds of stimulus....
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2020 Taxes: Read This Before You File

1099’s, W-2’s, and other tax documents continue to arrive. Our goal is to minimize the stress associated with tax season. The tax strategies implemented by Mason & Associates are well thought out and designed to help clients achieve specific financial planning goals. At times, these strategies involve a significant repositioning of assets and are designed to either increase or decrease taxable income. The strategies implemented in 2020 .....
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Exciting Changes at Mason & Associates

Mason & Associates is excited to announce that Thomas F. Blackburn (Tommy), CFP, CPA, PFS has gained partnership status in our organization. Tommy started his career at Mason & Associates ...
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Year-End Pandemic Relief, Stimulus, and Extenders

The United States Government passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 on December 27, 2020. This piece of legislation keeps the government funded and provides additional COVID-19 pandemic relief and stimulus. Our team will continue to study this massive (5,000+ page) legislation and how it impacts our client’s financial plans. Click here to read a special summary report from our tax research software.
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IRS extends relief on 2020 RMDs through August 31, 2020.

Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) have been through quite the whirl wind in the past seven months.First there was the SECURE Act, which among many things, shifted the beginning age for RMDs from 70 to 72 for those who were not already 70 by the end of 2019. Further, the SECURE Act generally eliminated the ability of beneficiaries of inherited retirement accounts to .....
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The RMD Waiver - What does it mean for you?

The United States Government passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act on March 27th in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic. The CARES Act provided for Recovery Rebates for eligible individuals and households, waiver of the 10% penalty on distributions from qualified retirement plans (Coronavirus-related), business tax relief provisions, and much more.....
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Federal Employee Benefits: FEHB Medicare Reimbursement

Approximately three years ago, BlueCross BlueShield began offering partial Medicare Premium Reimbursements for retired federal employees who are: Enrolled in BCBS Basic (Self, Self +1, or Family) AND Enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B. How much is Medicare? Medicare Part A is typically free and is often referred to as premium-free Part A. Most individuals are eligible for premium-free Part A at age 65 if...
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Mason & Associates Office Update July 6, 2020

We hope everyone had a fantastic Independence Day weekend. Thank you to the members of the Armed Forces and to everyone who is contributing or has contributed to maintaining our free nation. The Mason & Associates office re-opened a little over a month ago. Since our re-opening, we have not been exposed to COVID-19 and everyone on the team has a clean bill of health. Although we feel safe in our environment, we must remain vigilant and aware of the potential risks...
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Michael Mason Live on Macrini’s Morning News Team Radio Show

Mr. Macrini will conduct a live interview with Michael Mason, President of Mason & Associates, LLC, on Monday June 22nd at 7:30am. The interview will address: The Mason & Associates strategy during the Pandemic How Mason & Associates clients reacted and held steadfast to their financial pan during the quickest stock market drop in history...
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Thrift Savings Plan Lifecyle Fund Updates

The Federal Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) is unveiling new fund options on July 1, 2020. The addition of the new funds will coincide with the termination of the L 2020.
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Check Your Mail! U.S. Stimulus Card Update

Check your mail before tossing it! It may be your U.S. Stimulus prepaid debit card! While you likely have a standard operating procedure for the disposal of junk mail, in the short term carefully check all incoming mail even if you don't recognize the sender. It could be your Economic Impact Payment Card that contains up to $2400 for those who file their tax return as Married Filing Jointly, and up to $1,200 for those who file Single as a result of....
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Tax Rebates: Should you delay filing your 2019 taxes?

Because of a provision of the CARES Act, there will be rebates sent to individuals and families who meet certain income requirements. The rebate is up to $1,200 for people who file single and $2,400 for people who file married filing jointly. Additionally, there may be a rebate of up to $500 per qualifying child....
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College Refunds and Qualified Tuition (529) Plans

COVID-19 sent college students home early for the Spring 2020 semester. Colleges and Universities have quickly pivoted to online education and other methods for this semester. Although some colleges and universities are issuing refunds for tuition, other institutions are not issuing refunds claiming that the costs of delivering these classes has actually gone up...
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Additional Coronavirus Relief (CARES ACT)

As COVID-19 continues to affect the nation, Congress has been working on additional measures to provide relief to Americans. Having passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act on March 18 in an effort to limit the spread of the pandemic and support relief efforts, Congress has now turned to stabilizing the economy. The Senate passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, with a $2.2 trillion price tag, on March 25, 2020, which now heads to the House.
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Coronavirus Tax Relief

As the nation continues to grapple with the coronavirus (COVID-19), the United States government has begun taking measures to offer tax relief.  Such initial measures include paid sick leave and tax credits for employers to compensate for this sick leave, and extending the deadline for tax payments until July 15th.  Additional measures appear likely, and we will continue to provide updated information as it becomes available.  To read further, please click here to view a special report
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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

In consideration of the health and well- being for all, we have decided to operate from a closed office environment.Normal business hours will be held, but effective 3/16/2020 all appointments will be held via telephone or by video conference.We are committed to uninterrupted service to you in addition to maintaining a physically safe and financially secure work environment for our team to operate in.
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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Contingency Plan

Concern over the Coronavirus (COVID-19) has not only rattled world stock and bond markets it has disrupted daily activities we have taken for granted for years.  Although we believe as most do, that this will subside in the near future, we want to be proactive in our response.  We have a recovery plan in place for most anticipated disruptions to normal business.
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SECURE Act (“Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement”)

The SECURE Act and certain “Tax Extenders” were passed by both the House and Senate in conjunction with the recent budget, appropriations, and spending legislation. The SECURE Act and the Tax Extenders were added quietly and somewhat surprisingly as many believed that these two items were dead in the water. The SECURE Act has several large implications that will impact our clients, their children, and future generations of Americans.
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Federal Employees’ Group Life (FEGLI) - Option B

Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance is a benefit available to active and retired federal employees. Unlike many private sector group insurance policies, federal employees are able to continue group life insurance in retirement, assuming they’ve satisfied the requirements to maintain coverage.
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Mortgage Rates Drop – Near historic Lows

The global landscape for mortgage rates has changed drastically over the last decade.
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Almost Tax Time!

1099’s, W-2’s, and other tax documents are arriving on a daily basis.  Our goal is to minimize the stress associated with tax season. The tax strategies implemented by Mason & Associates are well thought out and designed to help clients achieve specific financial planning goals.  At times, these strategies involve a significant repositioning of assets and are designed to either increase or decrease taxable income.  The strategies implemented in 2019 should not resu
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End of Year Tax Planning- Part 2

Taxes are a critical part of each client's financial plan. Our job as financial planners is to look at the ENTIRE picture and make recommendations accordingly. Unfortunately, most "financial planners" are only money managers or asset gathers and focus primarily on rate of return with little knowledge of the other areas of financial planning.
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Increased Employer Retirement Savings Limits (TSP, 401k, 403b)

New Savings Limits The IRS recently announced increased contribution limits for retirement plans such as TSP, 401(k)s, and 403(b)s for 2020.
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End of Year Tax Planning Part 1

2019 is quickly coming to an end.  As the holidays and end of year approaches, it is a good time to review the tax planning components of your financial plan.  
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Two Little Pumpkins Have Arrived!

Little pumpkins have arrived!
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Virginia Disability Subtraction

Taxes and tax planning are a critical part of the financial planning process. When taxes are discussed, the conversation is often focused purely on federal taxes, whereas state taxes are glossed over. This results in missed financial planning / tax planning opportunities. At Mason & Associates, we place an equally important emphasis on state taxes. The Virginia Tax Code, in particular, provides a number of opportunities, one of which is a deduction for disability income.The Tax Code of
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Cybersecurity Awareness

At Mason & Associates, security is always on our mind. We want to encourage our clients to educate and protect themselves to eliminate phishing-related risks. Check out SEM’s recent technology blog post and watch their phishing webinar if you have not yet seen, or as a refresher. The more you take precautions such as these, the less likely you’ll fall for a cyber-attack. “Education is arguably the single most important part of any cybersecurity prog
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Update - Virginia Retirement System Employees LTC Open Season

Virginia Group Long Term Care Insurance ProgramThe VRS Long Term Care Open Season for active employees has been extended that concludes on October 11, 2019.  “Open Season” does not adequately describe this rare opportunity. The public typically associates an open season with an annual open enrollment period for company benefits; however, these two events are not the same.Open enrollments occur annually, whereas open seasons are rare and may NEVER happen again. To put t
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Virginia Retirement System (VRS) Long Term Care (LTC) Abbreviated Underwriting!

Virginia Retirement System (VRS) Long Term Care (LTC) Abbreviated Underwriting! Alert: Virginia Retirement System Employees LTC Open Season September 16 – October 11, 2019 Virginia Group Long Term Care Insurance Program Mason & Associates was recently notified of the VRS Long Term Care Open Season for active employees that concludes on October 11, 2019.  “Open Season” does not adequately describe this rare opportunity. The public typically associates an open season
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Virginia 2019 Tax Relief Refunds Coming - Be on the lookout!

As a result of the 2017 Federal Tax Reform Law that took effect in 2018, many taxpayers took the standard deduction ($24,000 married filing jointly) because it was higher than the total of itemized deductions.For Virginia taxpayers, the state requires if you take the standard deduction on your Federal tax return, you must do the same on your Virginia return. Many people were better off at the Federal level taking the larger standard deduction ($24,000 increased from $12,000). An unintended. . .
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Federal Employee Benefits: TSP Modernization Act

The TSP Modernization Act is here! The new rules appear to be: Increased flexibility 4 in service distributions per year – 1 per quarter No limit on the number of partial withdrawals after separating from services, except limited to no more than one every 30 days Ability to specify the type of distribution, such as Roth or Traditional, or some combination of the two Not required to make a full withdrawal after 70 1/2, though
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College Expenses, 529s, and Tax Credits

Student loan debt has become the second highest consumer debt category, exceeding $1.5 trillion for over 44 million borrowers in the United States. A student in the 2017 graduating class started his or her career with an average debt of $28,650 (Friedman). Parents advising their children to take on this liability are unknowingly facilitating the first, and perhaps the most devastating, financial
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Federal Employee Benefits Open Season

Open Season for the 2020 plan year of federal benefit programs is just around the corner: Monday, November 11 - Monday, December 9, 2019. Make sure you're informed to evaluate your coverage, plan options, enrollment type, and make appropriate updates to the following benefits:
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Top 3 Financial Services in Newport News!

We are honored to be named one of the Top 3 Financial Services in Newport News, VA. Three Best Rated® selects local business and professionals based on a rigorous 50-Point Inspection which includes everything from checking
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Social Security Scam Phone Call Alert

Please beware of a scam phone call from individuals impersonating Social Security employees. If you suspect you have received a scam phone call, report the details to
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It's a. . .

Just over halfway there! Both babies are growing healthy and we can't wait to meet them!THE OFFICE IS ALSO GROWING!We would like to introduce two new full-time employees, and our summer intern.Grecie and Jan come to us with industry experience and we are thrilled to have them on board. They serve as Investment Operations Assistants, and help prepare and process annual reviews, client service requests, and new business.  Jan has over 22 years of community banking experience, and has spen
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Welcome, Tommy Blackburn, CFP®, CPA, PFS

Mason & Associates has a new Advisor!   We are excited to announce the latest addition to our financial planning team, Tommy Blackburn, CFP®, CPA, PFS. Tommy and his wife, Jess, have relocated from Richmond to Williamsburg in order to join the Mason financial planning team. Tommy and John Mason were classmates and 2010 graduates of the Pamplin School of Business at Virginia Tech. Since graduation, Tommy has earned the following credentials, CERTIFIED FINANCIA
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