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January 16th, 2020 by

If you receive a distribution from a qualified retirement plan such as a 401(k), you need to consider whether to pay taxes now or to roll over the account to another tax-deferred plan. A correctly implemented rollover avoids current taxes and allows the funds to continue accumulating tax-deferred.

MOST TAX-EFFICIENT WAY TO TAKE A DISTRIBUTION FROM A RETIREMENT PLAN

PAYING CURRENT TAXES WITH A LUMP-SUM DISTRIBUTION

If you decide to take a lump-sum distribution, income taxes are due on the total amount of the distribution (except for any after-tax contributions you’ve made) and are due in the year in which you cash out. Employers are required to withhold 20% automatically from the check and apply it toward federal income taxes, so you will receive only 80% of your total vested value in the plan. (Special rules apply to Roth accounts.)

The advantage of a lump-sum distribution is that you can spend or invest the balance as you wish. The problem with this approach is parting with all those tax dollars. Income taxes on the total distribution are taxed at your marginal income tax rate. If the distribution is large, it could easily move you into a higher tax bracket. Distributions taken prior to age 59½ are subject to a 10% federal income tax penalty. (Special rules may apply if you were born before 1936.)

DEFERRING TAXES WITH A ROLLOVER

If you don’t qualify for the above options or don’t want to pay current taxes on your lump-sum distribution, you can roll the money into a traditional IRA.

If you choose a rollover from a tax-deferred plan to a Roth IRA, you must pay income taxes on the total amount converted in that tax year. However, future withdrawals of earnings from a Roth IRA are free of federal income tax after age 59½ as long as the five-tax year holding requirement has been met. Even if you are not 59½, your distribution may be tax-free if you are disabled or a first-time home purchaser ($10,000 lifetime maximum), as long as you satisfy the five-year holding period.

If you elect to use an IRA rollover, you can avoid potential tax and penalty problems by electing a direct trustee-to-trustee transfer; in other words, the money never passes through your hands. IRA rollovers must be completed within 60 days of the distribution to avoid current taxes and penalties.

An IRA rollover allows your retirement nest egg to continue compounding tax-deferred. Remember that you must generally begin taking annual required minimum distributions (RMDs) from tax-deferred retirement plans after you turn 70½ (the first distribution must be taken no later than April 1 of the year after the year in which you reach age 70½). Failure to take an RMD subjects the funds that should have been withdrawn to a 50% federal income tax penalty.

Of course, there is also the possibility that you may be able to keep the funds in your former employer’s plan or move it to your new employer’s plan if allowed by the plans. (Make sure you understand the pros and cons of rolling funds from an employer plan to an IRA before you take any action.)

Before you decide which method to take for distributions from a qualified retirement plan, it would be prudent to consult with a professional tax advisor.

Let me guide you through your retirement planning decisions. Contact me for a FREE retirement strategy consultation at my office in Upper Marlboro, MD. 

Contact me TEL: 1-833-313-7233.

Retirement Specialist Freeman Owen, Jr.
May 18th, 2018 by

spousal IRA

A spousal IRA — funded for a spouse who earns little or no income — offers an opportunity to help keep the retirement savings of both spouses on track. It also offers a larger potential tax deduction for a married couple.

Being a stay-at-home mom or dad, or working part-time to help take care of the children, can make a big contribution to the balance and well-being of a family. Unfortunately, time out of the workforce could put the caregiving spouse at a disadvantage when it comes to retirement savings.

Making Contributions to Spousal IRA

For 2018 tax years, an individual with earned income can contribute up to $5,500 to his or her own IRA. Also, you can contribute up to $5,500 more to a spouse’s IRA — regardless of whether the spouse works or not. There are a few rules. The couple’s combined earned income must exceed both contributions and the couple must file a joint tax return. You can make an additional $1,000 catch-up contribution a spouse who is age 50 or older.

If neither spouse actively participates in an employer-sponsored retirement plan, contributions to a traditional IRA are fully tax deductible. However, if one or both are active participants, tax deductibility for joint filers phases out at a modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) of $101,000 to $121,000 for a participating spouse and $189,000 to $199,000 for a nonparticipating spouse. Thus, some participants in workplace plans who earn too much to deduct an IRA contribution for themselves may still be able to deduct an IRA contribution for a nonparticipating spouse.

Contributions to a Roth IRA are not tax deductible regardless of participation in a workplace plan. However, eligibility to contribute to a Roth IRA phases out for joint filers with a MAGI of $189,000 to $199,000 in 2018.

Distributions from traditional IRAs are taxed as ordinary income. They may be subject to a 10% federal income tax penalty if withdrawn prior to age 59½. Roth IRA contributions can be withdrawn penalty-free and tax-free at any time. However, a Roth IRA distribution must meet the five-year holding requirement and take place after age 59½.

Smart Planning Starts Early!

Your family should be setting goals early for retirement. Let me show you how to get the most from your retirement planning. Contact me for a FREE retirement strategy consultation at my office in Upper Marlboro, MD. Contact me 1-833-313-7233.

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March 12th, 2018 by

Contributing to a Roth IRA or a designated Roth account in an employer retirement plan do not reduce current income, but qualified withdrawals are generally free of federal income tax as long as they meet certain conditions. Moreover, withdrawals from a Roth IRA can tax-free and penalty-free at any time, for any reason.

Repositioning Your Retirement Dollars

  • If you have a traditional IRA but prefer the advantages of a Roth, you can open a Roth IRA and make contributions to either or both accounts. However, you are subject to the combined annual contribution limit.
  • You could also convert all or part of your traditional IRA money to a Roth IRA. You can convert contributions to an employer’s retirement plan to a designated Roth account if the plan allows for conversions.
  • Conversions of monies to a Roth account are subject to federal income tax in the year of conversion. Under current tax law and if you meet all conditions, the Roth account will incur no further income tax liability for the rest of your lifetime.
  • The prospect of a substantial tax bill can be daunting, but paying taxes now may be a worthwhile tradeoff for potential tax-free growth and tax-free income in retirement. And because you do not have to take required minimum distributions (RMDs) from a Roth IRA, you have more flexibility when taking withdrawals.
  • To make the tax liability of a Roth conversion more manageable, you could spread out smaller conversions over several years. Recharacterizations should take place by October 15 of the year following the tax year of the conversion.

Contribution and Distribution Rules

  • Eligibility to contribute to a Roth IRA phases out at higher income levels. (Income limits also apply for tax-deductible contributions to a traditional IRA if you’re an active participant in an employer plan.) IRA contributions for 2017 can be made up to the April 2018 tax filing deadline; however, employer-plan contributions and Roth IRA conversions for 2017 must be made by December 31.
  • To qualify for tax-free and penalty-free withdrawals, distributions from a Roth IRA or a Roth employer plan account must meet a five-year holding requirement and take place after age 59½ (with some exceptions).
  • RMDs from traditional IRAs and employer-sponsored retirement plans (including Roth accounts) must start in the year you turn 70½.
  • Beneficiaries of all IRAs and employer plans generally must start taking RMDs in the year after the original account owner’s death.

These things get confusing!

With multiple accounts in different places, it can get a bit confusing to know what to do with your monies. Let me show you how to get the most from your retirement planning. Contact me for a FREE retirement strategy consultation at my office in Upper Marlboro, MD. Contact me 1-833-313-7233.

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