What is an Health Savings Account (HSA)?
A Health Savings Account is a tax-advantaged medical savings account that can be used tax-free for qualified health expenses. HSAs are designed to be used in conjunction with a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP). HSAs offer triple tax advantages: contributions are deductible, earnings are tax-deferred while in the HSA, and distributions are tax-free when used for qualified medical expenses.
1. Determine if you are eligible to make an HSA contribution. To be eligible to contribute to an HSA, you must be enrolled in an HDHP. To be an HDHP, a plan must meet certain limits on deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses. These limits are adjusted annually for inflation. You may not contribute to an HSA if you are enrolled in Medicare because Medicare is not an HDHP.
Happy Anniversary to the Roth IRA! Celebrating 20 years in 2018.
IRAs started small. The first IRAs created in 1974 had two purposes:
1. As a retirement savings vehicle for employees not covered by employer retirement plans; and
2. As an account to hold distributions from employer plans on separation from service
These first IRAs could accept annual contributions not exceeding the lesser of $1,500 or 15% of earned income, only from employees who were not covered by an employer’s qualified retirement plan. Distributions from them were subject to still familiar rules — being taxable income at ordinary rates, with required minimum distributions (RMDs) starting at age 70½, and distributions before age 59½ subject to 10% penalty. They could accept rollovers from company plans.
By Jim Glass, J.D.
This is the season for charitable giving. And this year it is especially so for those who want to get the most tax benefit from charity deductions before new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act becomes law. The Act effectively reduces the tax-saving value of the charitable contribution deduction for many.
While details may change, at this writing the Act increases the standard deduction on joint returns to $24,000 from $12,700, on single returns to $12,000 from $6,350, and eliminates many popular itemized deductions. Because taxpayers claim itemized deductions only when their total exceeds the standard deduction, lawmakers project that under the Act the number of taxpayers who itemize deductions may be reduced by half or more.
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What is a disclaimer?
A disclaimer is a formal refusal of an inheritance (or part of an inheritance) by a beneficiary. By creating a “path” for disclaimed assets to follow, a skilled planner can provide a beneficiary with the option to pass assets to alternate beneficiaries.
1. Make sure the IRA owner names contingent beneficiaries. Naming a contingent beneficiary directly on the beneficiary form is good practice and a pivotal part of most disclaimer planning. When a disclaimer is executed, the person making the disclaimer is treated as if he or she had predeceased the IRA owner. The contingent beneficiary would then inherit the property. If there is no contingent beneficiary listed, often the funds will default to the estate of the deceased IRA owner.
Roth IRAs become 20 years old in January of 2018 and now hold more than $660 billion in retirement wealth, reports the Investment Company Institute (the source of the data in this article).
Yet while Roth IRAs have become very popular among individuals who make annual contributions to IRAs, they are near totally avoided by persons who roll over big-dollar distributions from company retirement plans into their IRAs, with these funds going overwhelmingly into Traditional IRAs.
This suggests that some people are undervaluing the benefits of making a rollover into a Roth IRA. If you are an individual with funds to roll over, it may pay to re-examine the benefits of choosing a Roth IRA to be the destination of a big-dollar rollover.
Contributions to Roth IRAs exceeded those to Traditional IRAs by $21.9 billion to $17.5 billion in 2014, even though only about one-third of IRA owners have a Roth. Yet Traditional IRAs now hold near $7 trillion in assets, dwarfing the total in Roths. The main reason is that rollovers of large balances from employer plans flow overwhelmingly into Traditional IRAs. Rollovers totaled $423.9 billion into Traditional IRAs versus a mere $5.7 billion into Roth IRAs in 2014 – Traditional IRAs received 98% of rollovers.
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Image courtesy of suphakit73 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
By Sarah Brenner, JD
IRA Analyst with Ed Slott
Are you approaching retirement age and not looking forward to being forced to take unwanted required minimum distributions (RMDs) from your retirement account? You may be looking for a way to delay those distributions. You may have heard about the still-working exception, which can allow RMDs to be put off. Will this exception help you? Here are 10 things you need to know.
1. The still-working exception does not apply to IRAs. It only applies to company plans. If you are still working, that can’t help you delay RMDs from your IRA.
2. The exception will only apply to the plan of the company for which you are still working. If you have other funds in other company plans it won’t help you with those.
It’s Halloween! This is the time for ghosts, witches, and trick or treating. What does Halloween have to do with your IRA? You might be surprised to hear that your IRA may be haunted. How can that be? Believe it or not, actions you take, or don’t take, can haunt your beneficiaries for years down the road.
Many IRA owners think that naming their estate as their IRA beneficiary is a good way to go. They think that they have spent time and money consulting with an attorney to draft the perfect will. All the work has been done. Why not just name their estate as their IRA beneficiary? Wrong move! That can result in scary stuff that can haunt your IRA beneficiaries. If you name your estate as the beneficiary on your IRA beneficiary designation form, your beneficiaries will not be able to stretch distributions over their own life expectancy. They may even have to take a total distribution of the IRA assets in five years. That could be a serious tax hit. There is no way to fix this after your death. To have the maximum stretch options possible, living people or a qualified trust must be named on the beneficiary designation form.
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Contact the C&J Ghostbusters!
Financial certifications are a commitment to the client’s best interest
You’ve decided to get serious about your financial future and want to find a financial advisor to guide your decisions. There’s a lot to consider in creating a comprehensive financial plan.
Pulling all the pieces of your financial life together—budgeting, retirement planning, saving for education, insurance, taxes, and investing—is a challenging endeavor.
Finding credentialed professionals is essential. Many professionals call themselves financial planners and most people think all financial advisors are “certified,” but this isn’t true. Only those that have fulfilled and maintained the requirements of the CFP Board can display the CFP® trademark and call themselves a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™.
Have you inherited an IRA? What type of IRA is it? Your answer will matter a lot when it comes to your tax bill. Inheriting a traditional IRA will have very different tax consequences than inheriting a Roth IRA.
Consider the following example. Let’s say Tom named his three children as beneficiaries of his three-million-dollar traditional IRA. He never made any nondeductible contributions. When his children take distributions from the traditional inherited IRA those distributions will be fully taxable, but not subject to penalty. What if Tom converted his traditional IRA to a Roth IRA more than five years ago? All distributions from the Roth IRA paid to his children would be tax and penalty free. That is a very different result.
If you were named the beneficiary of a traditional IRA, you will most likely face income tax consequences. This is because most funds in traditional IRAs are tax-deferred but not tax-free. Uncle Sam will eventually want his share. Distributions to beneficiaries will be taxable to the beneficiaries in the year taken. You can minimize the tax impact by using the stretch and taking distributions over the longest period of time the rules allow.