Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

Tax forms for retiree

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Q. I have not received a 1099 for a federal retirement yet for 2012. What number or website can I contact to receive a duplicate copy?

A. Call the Office of Personnel Management at 888-767-6738 or 724-794-2005 and talk to one of its benefits specialists.

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Q. My agency committed an error by moving me from CSRS to FERS. After 18 months and senatorial support, it was finally resolved; the agency satisfied the debt; and I retired Dec. 29. I have since received W2-Cs for past three years. I am looking at a decrease of approximately $17,000 in Social Security taxes withheld for those three years. Those monies were pulled back and put into my CSRS account. If the Internal Revenue Service determines that there is now a tax liability after filing my amended returns, can I make an appeal to the Office of Personnel Management (under the provisions of Federal Erroneous Retirement Coverage Correction Act) to reimburse me for that liability?

A. No.

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Change of address

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Q. I am a civil service retiree under CSRS. I have moved. How do I notify civil service/Office of Personnel Management of my change of address. I am concerned I will not receive my W-2 in January if I do not change my address.

A. To notify OPM of a change of address, call OPM’s Retirement Information Office at (888) 767-6738 or (724) 794-2005.

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High-3 and law enforcement

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Q. I will be retiring next week from federal law enforcement. I live and work in the San Francisco area. I was initially provided with a calculation based on an average high-3 salary of $145,250 and was told I would receive a net of $6,050 per month. However, when I visited Employee Express this morning, I saw that the agency is now listing my high-3 average as $116,000 and my expected net monthly annuity payment would be around $5,000. I pulled my W-2s for the past three years and confirmed that my top average 3-year salary is $145,250. I’m awaiting a response from my employer to determine why they are now listing my high-3 average $29,250 lower than originally reported to me. I receive 25 percent availability pay as well as my base pay and locality pay. It’s my understanding that all three of these factor into my retirement annuity.

A. The amount of a high-3 is based on three consecutive years of average pay from which retirement contributions were deducted. Any pay you received from which retirement contributions weren’t taken won’t be included. You’ll need to check with your payroll office to find out if there’s a difference between your gross income and your retirement deductions.

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Former employer’s W-2

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Q. I worked for years for the Federal Aviation Administration, part of the Department of Transportation. My pay was handled by Employee Express, which sent me my leave and earnings statement and W-2s. In mid-June 2010, I left the FAA and went to work for the Missile Defense Agency, part of the Defense Department. My pay is now handled by Defense Finance and Accounting Services, which gives me my LES and W-2s. But the W-2 from DFAS covers only the second half of 2010.

Where can I get the W-2 for my time at the FAA? I can’t get into Employee Express, since I have no account there anymore. I left an inquiry-recording at OPM and have no response.

A. Your former agency is responsible for providing you with the W-2. Contact their payroll office.

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Social Security confusion

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Q. I am receiving Social Security benefits. I am still a federal employee under FERS and having Social Security deducted from my pay. I get a statement from the Social Security Administration for the amount I received for taxes, but it does not acknowledge the amount deducted from my salary as being against the amount received. I called them, and they don’t know if it could be deducted or not. The IRS doesn’t seem to know either. Do you know?

A. There is no reason why the statement of benefits you received would include any information about the deductions taken from your pay. The benefits statement is just that: a statement of the benefits you received in a calendar year. On the other hand, your W-2 shows, among other things, the total amount of Social Security deductions taken from your salary during a calendar year. If you are a relatively new Social Security beneficiary, you have a surprise coming. After you have filed your federal taxes, the Social Security Administration will update your record and send you a catch-up payment for the amount of Social Security benefit they would have paid you had the correction been made at the beginning of the new year, plus a statement of what your new monthly benefit will be. I know because it happens to me every year.

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Health reform and taxes

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Q: I have heard that under the new health care bill, the dollar amount of employer-provided health care premiums will be added to one’s income on one’s W-2 starting next year. Is this correct?

A: Relax. That provision doesn’t go into effect until 2018. Further, it’s not entirely clear what its effect would be.

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Taxes and buying back military service

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Q: I bought back four years of military service last month. If I can take this off my taxes for 2009, will it show on my W-2 forms and leave and earnings statement?

A: No, you can’t take it off your taxes and it won’t show up on either your W-2 or your leave and earnings statement.

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