Military Tax Break for Nebraska

Nebraska offers a wonderful tax break opportunity for retired military members, and is one we commonly use with clients of our Omaha and Lincoln financial advisors.
Military retirees may be eligible to reduce Nebraska income taxes on their military retirement benefits by filing Form 1040N-MIL.
This tax break is available for retired military members who served active duty, in the National Guard, or as Reservists. For families where both spouses are military members, a Form 1040N-MIL must be filed for each military retiree. Also important to note, Form 1040N-MIL must be filed within two years after the date of separation.

How much can military retirees save on Nebraska taxes?

There are two available options:
  • Option 1: Allows the exclusion from Nebraska taxes of 40% of the military retirement benefit included in federal income. However, this tax break is only available for seven consecutive taxable years, beginning the year of the election; or
  • Option 2: Allows the exclusion from Nebraska tax of 15% of the military retirement benefit included in federal income for all taxable years, beginning with the year in which the retired service member turns 67 years of age.

Making the election

Because Nebraska does not allow changes to the 1040N-MIL, a mistake in making the election could be costly. Above all, filing the tax break election within the two year period is essential. Once the two year period after the date of separation has passed, no election is available.
Consequently, careful planning is required to choose the best option for your retirement situation.
For example, if you are planning to move to another state later in retirement, option 2 might not be advantageous. On the other hand, a separated service member who will not be receiving military retirement benefits until a later date might not see any benefits using option 1.
The timing of the election along with your other factors of retirement income tax timing (consider the tax brackets you might face as the combination of things like Social Security, this pension, required IRA withdrawals, among other factors) along with the date at which the military retirement benefits will begin are factors to consider in optimizing and obtaining this benefit.

Nebraska 4797N – Special Capital Gains Election for Tax-Free Stock Sales

The Nebraska Special Capital Gains/Extraordinary Dividend Election, elected and claimed on Form 4797N, can provide a substantial tax break for employees who acquire company stock over their years of employment. This election allows employees who own stock in their employer, or former employer, to exclude that stock’s capital gains income from their Nebraska taxable income under certain circumstances.

Nebraska Special Capital Gains Election 4797N can save taxes on capital gains from employee stock

More and more employers are offering stock purchase plans and stock-based compensation to their employees.

  • Does your employer offer an employee stock purchase program?
  • Do you receive employee stock grants from your employer?
  • Do you own stock in and work for your own company?
  • Did you know that Nebraska offers tax breaks for these situations?

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How to Find the Best Financial Advisor Recommended for Your Situation

The financial advice field is a bit convoluted, but this guide can help.

Financial Advisor Fees/Costs

First, there’s how you pay for advice. All financial advice has a cost, but sometimes it’s explicit (e.g., you can see it), and sometimes it’s only implicit (e.g., it’s embedded inside a financial product, and what you’re paying is not easily visible).

Most financial advisors today describe themselves as fee-based advisors. Legally, this means they can (and generally do) perform their activities in two ways: they earn a commission on certain product sales, and a fee on certain investments. The title is a bit misleading in this way, but the moniker persists.

We think this creates a conflict of interest: it often causes (even if only subconsciously) the financial advisor to recommend things that pay them the best compensation over what is in the client’s best interest.

Because of this inherent conflict, a special sub-set of financial advisor was born: the fee-only financial advisor. We recommend anyone seeking financial advice only work with a fee-only advisor.

A national organization lists and ensures fee-only compliance for all of its members; it’s called the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA), and it has an online directory of all of its members. So, for example, you can search for a list of all the fee-only financial advisors in Omaha, NE or the San Francisco, CA Bay Area (cities where we have offices).

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Beginning Retirement During Declining Markets

Retirement portfolios are generally intended to have withdrawals made regularly. These withdrawals provide the regular income necessary for a retiree’s living (and other) needs. However, when a multi-year downturn in the markets is combined with regular withdrawals, a retirement portfolio can deplete at a rapid pace.

The S&P 500 (a broad measure of large American business stocks) averaged a compound annual return over the last century of more than 9% (made up of the change in stock prices plus dividends). This long-term average has been remarkably consistent over long periods of time, but it is a poor predictor of returns over shorter periods of time. Let’s look at some examples to see why. Read the rest of this entry »

An Odysseus Agreement To Earn Buffett-Like Returns

In the Greek poem, The Odyssey, Homer illustrates an age old flaw in human nature. Odysseus, the hero, is warned by goddess Circe that when his ship is sailing by the island of the Sirens, the irresistible songs of the Sirens will lure him towards the island and destroy his ship.

The sirens are symbolic of the flaws and biases that seem to be a natural part of our brain’s chemistry. Homer suggests a solution to keep these flaws in check. To counter the allure of the Sirens, Odysseus orders his crew to tie him to the mast of the ship and to ignore his future pleas for release until they have passed the dangerous islands. Odysseus commits himself to a rational course of action at a neutral time to ensure that he does not get swayed by emotions during the time of distress. Read the rest of this entry »

Should I Adjust My Portfolio For Bad Governments?

History books are filled with examples of what can happen to investors under the direction of poor national governance. The real challenge is, once we are aware of poor governance, how do I respond as an investor?

Recent events have highlighted the potential for trouble in an investment portfolio. Commonly known as political risk, this may be any event triggered by a government’s executive, judicial or legislative decisions that has the potential to negatively affect the stock or bond holders of that country.

As international investing has become broader and more accessible to investors, these issues have become front-and-center questions for the average investor. A recent Economist article sought to quantify the impact of “bad governments” on that same nation’s investors, and cited some specific examples (Argentina, Iran, and Russia in this research) to study their impact relative to their global peers. Read the rest of this entry »

Will an Aging America Cause Lower Stock Returns?

The relationship between supply and demand is widely understood in economics. But does an aging America mean future stock returns will be lower as older Americans sell stocks for day-to-day needs in retirement?

Most economists I’ve spoken with on the matter in recent years have expressed concern about this very dynamic. It’s also a rational, simple explanation for several things. But while supply and demand are still present forces, this thesis makes a number of implied assumptions. The foremost being that baby boomers will be the only supplier of savings (capital) to the productive businesses that need it (in the form of stock purchases in the primary/secondary markets).  Read the rest of this entry »