The internet is a great place to do research on most any topic. You have to be cautious that the information you find is current and accurate. Here are five things to consider when researching retirement questions.
Check the Date
The tax code and rules change often. Check the date of the article to see when it was written. What was true three years or five years ago may not still be relevant. Often, brackets or income limits are adjusted for inflation each year. Those numbers need to be checked to see if they are the most recent limits.
Check out the Website
Is the website reputable? Who controls the content on the website? Are they creditable? Are they unbiased or are they selling a product or strategy? Do a search on the company to see if you come up with reviews. Look for unbiased information.
Check out the Individuals
Just like checking out the company, you need to verify the individuals running the company are creditable. Are they knowledgeable and unbiased or are they focused on selling a product or a strategy? Do a search on the individual to see if you come up with any regulatory complaints against the individual or court cases they were involved in.
If you locate multiple sources sharing the same information on several websites, then you‘re probably on the right track. Watch out for qualifiers such as many experts say or many experts think. Who are those experts? Beware of claims that the IRS has given a stamp of approval to an investment, product, or strategy. The IRS interprets and enforces the tax code; they do not issue approvals of what promoters might be recommending.
The Golden Rule
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Any website promoting a product, investment, or strategy will generally only give you information that bolsters their end goal – to get your money. This pertains to websites, offering “good” information as well as “bad” information. The difference is that those offering good information willingly give you full, complete answers to your questions. Those offering dubious information evade your questions or give incomplete information and pressure you to complete a transaction.