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Federal Tax Not Necessarily on the Rise for $200k Earner

May 17, 2011 (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution) Bruce Williams, a financial adviser, answers consumer and personal finance questions from readers.

Q: With all the hoopla about tax-cut extensions, I received quite a  shock on my March 1, 2011, pension check. My federal tax went up by  more than 10 percent. In the remarks section it said "due to new  IRS tax tables." Does a person making over $200,000 have to pay  another 10 percent on their federal income taxes? ---Ron, e-mail

A: The fact that the withholding went up does not necessarily mean that your ultimate tax liability has gone up. The new tax tables may have resulted in an adjustment in your case. That's a personal proposition. However, what an employer, pension company, etc., withholds is only an estimate of what you owe. That will be determined after you fill out the appropriate tax forms.

Q: Eleven years ago, my stockbroker talked me into purchasing a tax-sheltered annuity. The money was rolled over from a tax-sheltered mutual fund. This annuity was "guaranteed" to give me 5 percent per year in interest. It did yield the 5 percent for several years. Then I noticed a decrease and asked him why this happened. It took him several days to talk to his company and then report back to me. In his efforts to shield my growth from an economic downturn, he had moved my money within the fund to an account that would cause the 5-percent guarantee to be negated. He then said this was his fault because he did not thoroughly understand the "product." This admission by him happened about four years ago.

Do I have any recourse? I did move the money to a different annuity and a different broker since I did not want to be stung again. This broker had been fired for similar behavior from a previous company. --- Dennis, e-mail

A: Unfortunately, time can be your enemy. Do you currently have any recourse? The answer would likely be different if you had decided to ask this question four years ago. Further, you mentioned he was discharged from a previous company.

That information can be proved to work in your favor, but he acted completely irresponsibly and obviously didn't understand what he was selling. You didn't mention the numbers involved, but unless they are very substantial, this is a loss you are stuck with.

Copyright 2011 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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