This Week's Must Read

In 2015, the Internal Revenue Service audited only 0.84% of all individual tax returns.  So the odds are generally pretty low that your return will be picked for review.  That said, your changes of being audited or otherwise hearing from the IRS escalate depending on various factors.

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Congress has periodically looked at the idea of simplifying tax-sheltered savings, but for now investors have to wend their way through a dizzying maze of tax-advantaged investment wrappers: multiple types of IRAs, company-retirement plans, and college-savings accounts, each with its own tax treatment, its own set of rules governing who can contribute and how much, and its own policies on distributions. It’s all enough to make you wish for the good old days of certificates of deposit and passbook savings accounts.

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They’re questions nearly every young and middle-aged worker has asked themselves: Should I leave my job and retire early? What would I need? How do I know I’m ready?

If you’re considering retiring early, you’ll forego not only the headaches of working, but also the additional money earned that could have made your retirement even more comfortable. To help you decide, here are six signs you may be able to retire early instead of continuing to work.

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Wealthy people usually aren’t born that way. Most spend their lives amassing their fortunes by working hard, spending little, saving a lot and investing wisely. It may sound like a simple strategy, but the fact that the vast majority of Americans fall short of millionaire status proves that it’s easier said than done.

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Because federal tax law reaches deep into all aspects of our lives, it’s no surprise that the rules that affect us change as our lives change. This can present opportunities to save or create costly pitfalls to avoid. Being alert to the rolling changes that come at various life stages is the key to holding down your tax bill to the legal minimum. Check out these issues that confront the newly retired.

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If you’re wondering (and who’s not) how much you should have saved for retirement by now in order to have the same lifestyle in retirement, this table should satisfy your curiosity. It’s adapted from research by J.P. Morgan Asset Management and based on your current age and income level.

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For Americans, few decisions are as financially consequential as choosing when to take Social Security. Or as hard.  While you can tap retirement benefits as early as age 62, the federal government offers big financial incentives to wait. The rules are complicated, however–books have been written on Social Security’s intricacies. And choosing to delay activation raises some arguably existential questions: If you maximize your benefit by waiting until age 70, what are you supposed to live on in the meantime? And what if you die earlier than you expected?

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