Do you think you understand all the rules that govern your Roth IRA? Not so fast! There are many misconceptions as to how these complicated accounts work. Here are 5 Roth IRA facts that might surprise you:
1. You are never too old to contribute. If you have earned income and your modified adjusted gross income is below a certain level, you can contribute to a Roth IRA. Your age does not matter. This often comes as a surprise to taxpayers because you cannot contribute to a traditional IRA once you reach the year you turn 70 ½. Roth IRAs are different. Age is never a barrier to making tax year contributions.
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!
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.
No one can argue that the millennial generation faces big challenges when it comes to savings. Younger workers are dealing with record setting student loan debt, high housing costs and stagnant wage growth. It’s hard to save for retirement when you are worried about the next month’s rent. Here are five retirement strategies for younger workers.
1. Start Small
If you are just getting a foot in the workplace then there is nothing wrong with starting small. Time is something that you have on your side. Starting early can make all the difference, even with a very small amount of money.
For twenty-somethings, just starting out in the work place and looking to pay the rent, enjoy life and still save for retirement, there are options out there. Even a small salary deferral to a 401(k) or contribution to an IRA is worth considering. It is a small step in the right direction and it gets you into the saving habit early!
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It is important to know what your IRA custodian will tell you and what they will not or cannot tell you. The I in IRA stands for individual and many times it is up to the individual to know things or keep track of them.
- 60-Day Rollovers – An IRA custodian will not remind you that an individual can only do one 60-day IRA-to-IRA or Roth IRA-to-Roth IRA rollover in a 12-month period. They may not even tell you that you have 60 days to complete a rollover. IRS has ruled that while a custodian might be held liable for erroneous information, they have no obligation to give the individual any information on rollovers. A distribution that is eligible for rollover is one where the check from the IRA or Roth IRA custodian is made payable to the account owner who then has 60 days to recontribute the funds to either the same or a different IRA/Roth IRA. This type of transaction can only be done once in a 12-month period. IRAs and Roth IRAs are aggregated for the once-per-year rule.
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Calculating Social Security Benefits are a function
of three primary factors.
How Many Years Have You Worked?
The Social Security Administration uses 35 years of earning history
▶ If you worked more than 35 years – it uses the highest 35 years of salary
▶ If you worked less than 35 years – it still uses 35 years of salary (the years you didn’t work count as $0) This rule impacts far more women than men.
Why? Many women took significant time away from work to raise one or more of their children.
IRA owners often want to invest in assets other than the usual stocks, bonds, cash, and mutual funds. The tax code does allow for IRAs to invest in most anything except for collectibles, life insurance, and S-corporation stock. So what do those “other assets” make your IRA worth?
If you invest $1,000 in a publicly traded stock it’s simple to determine the value of the investment at any time. You can look it up on your computer, smart phone, or tablet. But investing in real estate, promissory notes, a start-up business, a master limited partnership, an LLC, or any other investment option, it’s not easy to determine its investment value. Typically, the IRA custodian carries the investment on its books as the amount you originally invested. The value doesn’t change from year to year.
➤ Contributions for Retirement Planning: If you are working, have an employer plan available, and there is an employer match, make sure you are contributing enough to the plan to reach that maximum match level. Don’t forget to make your own IRA or Roth IRA contributions as well. Your participation in the employer plan has no effect on your ability to make those contributions. It could, however, affect the deductibility of your IRA contributions.
➤ Roth IRA Planning: You really want to contribute to a Roth IRA, but (and it’s a big BUT) you exceed the income limits to qualify. You can utilize a strategy called the Back-Door Roth IRA to move funds into a Roth IRA, where they can grow tax-free into retirement.
Don’t forget about Roth conversions for yourself. You can use a strategy called “filling the brackets.” You convert smaller amounts each year to keep yourself from going into a higher tax bracket. When it comes time to do the tax return, maybe some numbers have changed and you converted too much. No problem! You have until October 15 to recharacterize all or part of your Roth conversion. You “undo” it and do not owe income tax on the amount you recharacterize.
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.