MONEY Social Security

Are Social Security Benefits Taxable?

Rubberball/Mike Kemp—Getty Images/Rubberball

Your marital status, total income and location all come into play.

Saving for retirement is a crucial part of preparing for your financial future — but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t plan for Social Security benefits. You can calculate what your Social Security income will be to help provide an estimate of your benefits and what other savings you will need to lead the lifestyle you want in retirement. While you may have heard about a time when these payouts were tax-free, that is no longer the case. In short, Social Security benefits are taxable. But in reality, it is not that simple — taxability depends on marital status, total income and location. If you have some additional retirement income, besides Social Security, coming from a salary, pension, IRA or 401(k), you will likely be over the income limits and can expect that up to 85% of your Social Security benefits will be taxable.

Income Limits

The portion of your benefits you are taxed on depends upon your income. The Internal Revenue Service sets limits for calculating tax liability every year. In 2015, you will pay income taxes on up to 50% of your benefits if you are filing as an individual with combined income between $25,000 and $34,000. If you have more than $34,000 in combined income, you could be subject to taxes on up to 85% of your benefits. For couples, the amounts are $32,000 and $44,000 for up to 50% and about $44,000 for up to 85%. In this case, “combined income” means the total of your adjusted gross income, the nontaxable interest and half of your Social Security benefits. If Social Security benefits are your only source of income and your total is below $25,000, your benefits will not be taxed at all — but you may not have the comfortable retirement you imagined.

Federal & State Taxes

If you will have to pay taxes on your benefits, up to 85% every dollar of income you make over the limit will be subject to federal income tax. This can get complicated to predict, so the IRS offers a worksheet and e-file software to help you calculate your Social Security tax liability. It’s a good idea to check with your local tax pro or an accountant about state and local taxes because the rules vary by location. Some states offer exemptions and credits based on age or income and at least some Social Security is tax-exempt in most states, but there is usually a range.

Simplifying the Process

You can make the tax burden on your Social Security benefits simpler by paying these costs gradually throughout the year instead of all at once. You can either ask the Social Security Administration to withhold taxes from your benefit check by submitting a W-4V or pay quarterly estimates. If you are very concerned about tax burden in retirement, it’s a good idea to start saving early and generously with a Roth IRA, as this account uses after-tax dollars. You will never have to take required minimum distributions and you will not have to pay taxes on payments down the road because you already have.

Retirement can be tricky, so it’s important to stay on top of your finances and look for ways to improve your Social Security benefits. Check regularly to ensure you are saving enough for retirement in other ways like a 401(k) or IRA to supplement the money you can expect from Social Security. While paying taxes may not be enjoyable, this is an indication that you have saved sufficiently and will not have to live solely on these Social Security payments.

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TIME Careers

Why High School Athletes are Cool Even After Graduation

(c) davepeetersphoto

They're just better at everything

Nerds are supposed to get their revenge after graduation.

Sure, high school jocks are popular. But as mothers across America tell their uncoordinated children: Study hard, get good grades, and you’ll have the last laugh by making more money later in life.

However soothing as this tale may be to athletically challenged youngsters, economists say it’s a lie. Former high school athletes “display significantly more leadership, self-confidence, and self-respect than those who were active outside of sports—such as being in the band or on the yearbook staff,” according to a recent study published in the Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies (via The Atlantic).

Not only that, but former high school athletes retain these qualities as long as 60 years after they hung up their varsity jackets. The Atlantic also points to several other studies that former athletes earn “from 5 to 15 percent” more than non-athletes.

The jury is still out on whether this statistical difference is because the act of playing sports in high school teaches kids skills like hard work and determination, or because kids with those qualities gravitate towards sports in youth. Either way, it would appear that there are more reasons than fleeting glory to go out for the football team this fall.

TIME Fast Food

Here’s How Much a Single Shake Shack Is Worth

People walk past a Shake Shack restaurant in New York
© Carlo Allegri / Reuters—REUTERS People walk past a Shake Shack restaurant in the Manhattan borough of New York August 15, 2014.

That's a lot of burgers

Each Shake Shack restaurant is reportedly worth $50 million, according to a chart by Zero Hedge citing value per restaurant as included in public filings.

If accurate, Shake Shack outpaces the value-per-restaurant of its competition by far. For example, Business Insider reported that each Chipotle is worth just $10 million, while a McDonald’s[fortune-stock symbol=”MCD”] is worth just $3 million.

Shake Shack currently has 63 locations and expects to open up hundreds more in the future. The company went public at the start of 2015, with the stock price rising over 130% on the first day of trading to $49 per share. As of Friday morning, shares were above $90 each.

TIME Earnings

How Apple Just Saved Best Buy

A Best Buy store in Las Vagas.
Britta Pedersen—picture-alliance/dpa/AP A Best Buy store in Las Vagas.

The retailer has been struggling for a while

Best Buy pulled another rabbit out of its hat, this time in large part courtesy of Apple’s iPhone 6.

The retailer, which many analysts have written off as a relic destined to disappear, keeps coming back with strong results, somehow maintaining its appeal with shoppers who could easily buy its electronics on line.

Best Buy on Thursday reported U.S. comparable sales unexpectedly rose 0.6% in the quarter ended May 3, easily beating Wall Street forecasts for a 0.4% decline, according to Consensus Metrix, and helping it post a stronger than expected profit.

It’s not the first time that electronics retailer benefit from a runaway hit, of course, but Best Buy has in the last few years positioned itself to benefit better than most from such blockbuster products.

“We continued to take advantage of strong product cycles in large screen televisions and iconic mobile phones,” said CEO Hubert Joly said. Those iconic mobile phones would of course largely be the iPhone 6, launched last winter, as well as Samsung’s Galaxy 6.

Best Buy also got some help from large TVs and its growing big appliance business (that it appears to be taking in part from Sears).

The retailer has been fighting back using the very thing people thought condemned it to obsolescence: its stores. The chain’s growth plan is anchored on focusing on top brands in electronics and giving them a lot more prominence in stores. In 2014, it opened showrooms within its stores to showcase case products by Sony and Samsung. It has also previously had shop-in-shops for products by Microsoft and Beats headphones. And it has done a stellar job of integrating its e-commerce and stores for services like in-store pickup for online orders. These are some of reasons hit products like the iPhone have helped Best Buy but not RadioShack or hhgregg.

This “is what has allowed us to consistently outperform the market,” Joly said.

The strong quarter follows a big rise in U.S. sales over the holiday season, belying the long held notion that Best Buy can’t keep up with the aggressive pricing of, Walmart and Target.

There was more good news from Best Buy: total company sales for the current quarter are set to decline less than Wall Street analysts expected (Best Buy is in the process of exiting China, and closing dozens of Canadian stores) because of what Chief Financial Officer Sharon McCollam called “a strengthening domestic consumer-electronics market.”

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TIME Earnings

Etsy Stock Crashes After Reporting Huge Quarterly Loss

Etsy IPO Opens On Nasdaq
Paul Zimmerman—Getty Images General atmosphere as Etsy rings the Nasdaq Opening Bell in Celebration of IPO at Nasdaq on April 16, 2015 in New York City.

The online crafts marketplace disappointed investors with its first earnings report after its initial public offering last month.

Etsy’s stock tumbled as much as 18% Tuesday after the online crafts marketplace delivered weak quarterly results.

The company reported a quarterly loss of $36.6 million, a seven-fold increase from the $500,000 loss in the same quarter one year ago, the Wall Street Journal reports. Etsy blamed the bigger loss on a tax provision linked to corporate restructuring.

Esty also reported a 44% increase in quarterly revenue to $58.5 million, narrowly missing Wall Street forecasts of $59 million.

The results were Etsy’s first quarterly report since going public on April 16. On the first day of trading, the company’s shares opened at $31, about double its IPO price of $16. In after-hours, following the earnings report Tuesday, Etsy’s stock plunged to around $17. The shares had closed at $21 in regular trading.

TIME Companies

Meet the Hollywood CEO Who Got a 360% Raise

Discovery Communications President and CEO David Zaslav speaks during the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit in San Francisco on Oct. 9, 2014.
Kimberly White—Getty Images for Vanity Fair Discovery Communications President and CEO David Zaslav speaks during the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit in San Francisco on Oct. 9, 2014.

Six of nine big-media leaders saw their share price fall, but only two suffered lower compensation

This story first appeared in the May 15 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Most large media companies — except 21st Century Fox, Sony and Lionsgate — have reported CEO pay for 2014, and an obvious trend is how stock performance appears untethered to pay. Six of nine reporting companies saw their share prices fall, but only two CEOs saw their compensation cut. And media leaders continue to be paid more than their peers in other industries. On the list of the 10 highest-paid CEOs in the nation, five run media companies, according to research firm Equilar.

David Zaslav, Discovery Communications

Pay — $156.1 million,360 percent
Stock performance — ↓ 25 percent
2014 financials — The parent of Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet and other cable networks increased revenue 13 percent to $6.3 billion and operating income 4 percent to $2.5 billion.
Details — Zaslav, 55, had a steady base salary of $3 million but was awarded $94.6 million in stock and $50.5 million in options in 2014.

Leslie Moonves, CBS

Pay — $57.2 million, 15 percent
Stock performance — ↓ 12 percent
2014 financials — Net income rose 57 percent to $3 billion even as revenue dropped 1 percent to $13.8 billion thanks to declines in the ad business.
Details — Moonves, 65, was paid the same base salary he received in 2013, $3.5 million, but his stock awards in 2014 were $12 million less, reflecting the drop in the company’s share price.

Philippe Dauman, Viacom

Pay — $44.3 million, 19 percent
Stock performance — ↓ 13 percent
2014 financials — Net earnings were down 1 percent to $2.4 billion amid ratings troubles at Viacom networks, and revenue was flat at $13.8 billion.
Details — Dauman, 61, got an 11 percent raise in base salary to $3.87 million and made a little more in every other category than the previous year. The biggest boost came from his annual stock awards, which totaled $12.4 million, up 37 percent.

Robert Iger, Walt Disney

Pay — $46.5 million, 36 percent
Stock performance — ↑ 25 percent
2014 financials — Net income rose 22 percent to $7.5 billion for Disney’s fiscal year as revenue climbed 8 percent to $48.8 billion thanks to ESPN, Frozen, Marvel Studios and booming theme parks.
Details — Iger, 64, also maintained his base salary, $2.5 million, but compensation from his nonequity incentive plan shot 68 percent higher to $22.8 million.

Josh Sapan, AMC Networks

Pay — $40.3 million, 323 percent
Stock performance — ↓ 6 percent
2014 financials — While revenue rose 37 percent to $2.2 billion at the parent of AMC, IFC and other cable networks, net income fell 10 percent to $260.8 million.
Details — Sapan, 64, got a 52 percent raise in base salary to $2 million, but his windfall in 2014 owed to $29.8 million in stock awards, up from $2.2 million a year earlier.

Steve Burke, NBCUniversal

Pay — $33.9 million, 9 percent
Stock performance (Comcast) — ↑ 13 percent
2014 financials — Operating income rose 18 percent to $5.6 billion on revenue that rose 8 percent to $25.4 billion, mostly on strength in TV.
Details — Burke, 56, got an 11 percent raise in base salary to $2.7 million plus a small boost in nearly every other category — the biggest being “other compensation,” where he earned $6.4 million, up 23 percent.

Jeffrey Bewkes, Time Warner

Pay — $32.9 million, 1 percent
Stock performance — ↑ 30 percent
2014 financials — Net income rose 4 percent to $3.8 billion on revenue that rose 3 percent to $27.4 billion thanks to strong performances at HBO and Warner Bros. Television.
Details — Pay for Bewkes, 62, is like the conglomerate’s financial performance: lately, a model of consistency. His base salary stayed $2 million, and most other categories barely budged.

Reed Hastings, Netflix

Pay — $11.1 million, 44 percent
Stock performance — ↓ 7 percent
2014 financials — The streaming pioneer grew its net income 137 percent to $266.8 million on revenue up 26 percent to $5.5 billion.
Details — Hastings, 54, got a 52 percent raise in base salary to $3 million and scored $8.1 million in option awards, up from $5.8 million a year earlier.

Jeffrey Katzenberg, DreamWorks Animation

Pay — $6.4 million, 53 percent
Stock performance — ↓ 37 percent
2014 financials — DWA is restructuring. In 2014, the studio lost $310 million, reversing a $55 million profit a year earlier. Revenue fell 3 percent to $684.6 million.
Details — Katzenberg, 64, kept his base salary at $2.5 million but scored zero from his nonequity incentive plan in 2014 after making $6 million in that category a year earlier.

This article originally appeared on The Hollywood Reporter.

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TIME Earnings

This Chart Shows How Comcast’s Business Is Changing Forever

Internet subscribers outnumber TV viewers for the first time

Cable is no longer the top product at America’s largest cable company.

For the first time ever, Comcast has more high-speed Internet TV customers than paid-TV subscribers, a company executive said on a Monday earnings call.

The change in Comcast’s business mirrors larger shifts in the way consumers keep up with their favorite shows. Americans — particularly young ones — are increasingly ditching cable TV subscriptions, opting instead for online streaming services like Netflix, Hulu Plus or Amazon Prime Video. Several cable networks, including HBO and CBS, have responded by launching online-only platforms of their own. Other cord-cutter friendly options, like Dish Network’s SlingTV, are also changing the TV landscape.

The shift from traditional TV to online streaming partially explains why federal regulators signaled they would block Comcast’s proposed merger with Time Warner Cable. Together, the two companies would have controlled almost 60% of the country’s broadband Internet, as defined by the Federal Communications Commission — a concern for regulators, politicians and customers alike, as less competition tends to lower services’ quality and affordability. Comcast ultimately decided to abandon its plans to merge with TWC, leaving the latter company a valuable merger target for other telecom companies.

Read next: See Which Cities Might Get Faster, Cheaper Internet Soon

TIME Earnings

Why Twitter’s Cofounders Lost Millions This Week

The Twitter logo displayed on a mobile device.
Bethany Clarke—Getty Images The Twitter logo is displayed on a mobile device.

Ev Williams and Jack Dorsey said goodbye to a combined $745 million in value

As far as leaks go, this was an ironic one. Yesterday, a data firm got hold of Twitter’s first-quarter earnings report about an hour before its official release, and the bad news about Twitter, the company, leaked—on Twitter, the platform.

But by the end of the day, the early release was the least of Twitter’s problems. The company’s quarterly revenue of $436 million represented 74% growth over last year, but was significantly lower than the $457 million expected by analysts, and below Twitter’s own guidance of a $440 to $450 million range. Twitter has now lowered its guidance for 2015 annual revenue from $2.3 billion down to the range of $2.170 — $2.2 billion.

The bad news naturally led to a stock slip on Tuesday — actually, more like a crash. Twitter’s share price dropped from $48.73, at 3:26 p.m., down to $40.31 only 20 minutes later. It closed the day back up just a touch, at $42.27. In the process, Twitter’s cofounders lost a great deal of their wealth, at least on paper. Ev Williams, who owns some 7.5% of the company, lost nearly $525 million, according to Bloomberg. Jack Dorsey, whose stake is just under 5% and who now runs the company Square, lost some $220 million.

In a conversation with Bloomberg, Williams said he is still bullish on the company’s stock (Williams now runs the blogging platform Medium, which he cofounded with Biz Stone):

“I have the utmost faith in the long-term business of Twitter,” he said. “It’s easy to get caught up in the ups and downs of the stock market, but the team and the business they’re building right now, I’m very optimistic and feel good about.”

To be sure, it’s not all bad news at the blue bird. Twitter’s live-video app Periscope has appeared to make gains over rival and South By Southwest hit Meerkat, and this month Twitter acquired TellApart, an ad-tech company that allows retailers to targets shoppers with ads on their phones.

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TIME Earnings

This Tweet Just Made Twitter’s Stock Crash Hard

Anadolu Agency—Getty Images Twitter shares have closed at $44.90 a share on its first day of trading, 73 percent above its initial offering price on November 7, 2013 in New York.

The stock was down nearly 20%

Twitter’s stock dropped nearly 20% Tuesday afternoon after disappointing quarterly earnings leaked online ahead of their expected release.

Twitter’s first quarter revenue was $436 million, up 74% year-over-year but widely missing analysts’ estimates of $457 million. The company posted a first quarter loss of $162 million, compared to a $132 million loss a year ago. Twitter also trimmed its second quarter and full-year revenue estimates to ranges below analysts’ expectations.

Twitter’s underwhelming results were first tweeted by financial data aggregator Selerity at 3:07 p.m. ET, sparking a massive drop in the company’s stock price. Twitter’s earnings weren’t expected until after the closing bell at 4 p.m. ET.

Selerity later said it found the early results on Twitter’s own investor relations website.

Twitter’s first quarter results do have some hopeful spots, with monthly active users topping 300 million for the first time and revenue from advertising up 72%, the vast majority of said growth coming from mobile devices.

Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 4.10.22 PM
TIME Earnings

Apple Had Another Record-Shattering Quarter

The Apple logo hangs inside the glass entrance to the Apple Store on 5th Avenue in New York City.
Mike Segar—Reuters The Apple logo hangs inside the glass entrance to the Apple Store on 5th Avenue in New York City.

Apple’s second-quarter revenue jumped on big gains as iPhone sales

Apple reported another blockbuster quarter Monday that shattered records from the brisk sale of iPhones. Here are the key points from the earnings release.

What you need to know: Apple posted $58 billion in second-quarter revenue, a 27% increase year-over-year. The company’s profits jumped nearly 33%, to $13.6 billion or $2.34 per share.

No one expected Apple to match its record-setting first quarter, when the company racked up nearly $75 billion in revenue thanks to a strong holiday performance in the first full quarter of sales for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Apple’s $18 billion in first-quarter profits were the highest in U.S. corporate history.

Still, the tech giant beat Wall Street’s expectations Monday in delivering its best second quarter numbers ever. Earlier on Monday, Fortune listed 36 analysts who expected Apple’s revenue to increase nearly 24%, to $56.45 billion. Apple’s own guidance from January called for second-quarter revenue between $52 billion and $55 billion.

Apple’s shares gained 1.6% in after-hours trading following the company’s earnings release that included an announcement that it plans to expand increase its dividend and stock buyback plan yet again.

Apple said it will increase the program by returning $200 billion in cash to its shareholder by the end of March 2017. Last year, the company increased the amount to be returned up to $130 billion (from its earlier target of $100 billion) with a target of the end of this year. CEO Tim Cook said most of the program will involve share buybacks, but the company also upped its quarterly dividend by 11% to 52 cents per share, which is payable on May 14.

The big number: While much of the buzz around Apple in recent months has focused on new products — the just-launched Apple Watch, Apple Pay and even a rumored pay-TV service — the company still draws a huge chunk of its revenue from the iPhone.

Apple said Monday that it sold almost 61.2 million iPhones in the second quarter, which is almost 40% more than in the same period last year. That beat analyst predictions of 56.8 million iPhones. The smartphones brought in more than $40 billion — or better than 69% of the company’s total revenue.

“We’re seeing a higher rate of people switching to iPhone than we’ve experienced in previous cycles,” CEO Tim Cook said in a statement.

At the same time, iPad sales dropped again in the second quarter, falling by almost 23% to 12.6 million units sold, which brought in $5.4 billion in revenue. The company sold 21.4 million iPads in the first quarter and even that represented a year-over-year decline of 18%. Meanwhile, Mac sales improved by 10%, to 4.6 million units sold in the second quarter.

What you might have missed: The company said it expects revenue between $46 billion and $48 billion in the current quarter, which will be the first to include sales of the new Apple Watch that started shipping last Friday. While Apple has been tight-lipped regarding official sales figures for the Apple Watch, it seems many of those who ordered the watches have a long wait ahead of them, reportedly, as less than a quarter of preordered watches were delivered over the weekend. More than 600,000 customers who preordered the Apple Watch still don’t have an estimated delivery time, according to unofficial data from e-receipts tallied by Slice Intelligence. Cook only made a vague reference to the Watch in the earnings release, saying “we’re off to an exciting start to the June quarter with the launch of Apple Watch.”

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