Easing RMDs, Complicating Roth Conversions
When you own multiple IRAs and take an IRA distribution, the IRS treats all your non-Roth IRAs as one. This helps you when you reach age 70 ½ and must begin taking annual required minimum distribution (RMDs). Instead of taking a separate RMD from each IRA, you can take the total RMD for all of them from any one of the IRAs, or from across them in any way you wish.
How: The IRS requires you to compute your RMD from each traditional IRA, SEP IRA and SIMPLE IRA, and total them. You can then take the total RMD from any or all of those IRAs in any proportion you wish.
The resulting flexibility in taking RMDs may prove a big benefit.
- If one IRA holds illiquid investments, such as real estate or large certificates of deposit, the RMD on its balance can be taken from another IRA.
- If IRAs hold different kinds of investments, you can take RMDs from one over the other to rebalance investment holdings annually, or gradually liquidate one investment while keeping the other intact.
- If multiple IRAs have different beneficiaries, you can allocate RMDs among them to adjust the amounts that will be left to different beneficiaries as their circumstances and your intentions change.
Knowing this, if you are younger than age 70 1/2, you can plan your IRA investment holdings now to take advantage of this flexibility in the future when RMDs begin.
* Roth IRAs are aggregated as well, but since they are not subject to RMDs generally this doesn’t matter.
* 403(b) plan accounts are aggregated.
* Inherited IRAs may be aggregated, but only when they were received from the same owner and are being distributed using the same life expectancy. Moreover, Roth and non-Roth IRAs cannot be aggregated.
Aggregation does not apply to employer-sponsored plans such as 401(k) and Keogh plans. Each such plan must have its RMDs calculated separately. And the IRAs of spouses are not aggregated.
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Suppose you unexpectedly incur a major liability, from a lawsuit or some other unforeseen cause. Will the funds in your IRA be safe from your creditors? Maybe … or maybe not. Here are the rules:
Federal Law Protection
If you own an IRA that you’ve funded yourself with annual IRA contributions, then its complete value very likely will be protected from creditor claims if you are forced into bankruptcy.
The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act (BAPCPA) in 2018 protects $1,283,025 of IRA funds from creditors in bankruptcy by exempting that amount from the bankruptcy estate that is within creditors’ reach. This dollar amount is adjusted every three years for inflation and will be re-set next in 2019.
In addition, employer-sponsored SEP IRAs and SIMPLE IRAs are fully protected in bankruptcy. This matches the protection given to other employer-sponsored retirement plans, such as 401(k)s.
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A Health Savings Account is a tax-advantaged medical savings account that helps people pay for qualified out-of-pocket medical expenses. What are the withdrawal rules for HSAs? Are there special considerations that must be taken into account.
1. Withdrawals can be taken at any time. There is no holding period like with Roth IRAs. The entire withdrawal (including any earnings) is tax-free as long as there is a corresponding qualified medical expense. The medical expense must be incurred by either the owner or his or her spouse or dependents. Additionally, the medical expense does not need to occur in the same taxable years as the withdrawal. Instead, the medical expense must simply occur before the withdrawal is made.
What are 72(t) payments?
72(t) payments are a series of substantially equal periodic payments made from an IRA that can be used to avoid the 10% penalty for early distributions. Payments must last the greater of 5 years or until the IRA owner reaches age 59½. When using a 72(t) schedule, a number of changes are prohibited. If these changes occur, the 10% penalty (and interest) is applied retroactively to all distributions made prior to age 59½.
Don’t Make These Three IRA Investing Mistakes
1. Late Investments
If you waited until the last minute in 2018 to make an IRA contribution for 2017, you missed earning up to 15 months of pre-tax investment returns on your contribution.
Avoid the mistake by making your IRA contribution for 2018 now. This will provide an additional year’s worth of pre-tax investment returns that you will receive pre-tax compounding for potentially decades to come, until they are finally distributed. And you’ll get these extra returns for every year that you make your contribution early, rather than late.
Don’t sweat a mistake! If it later turns out that you are ineligible to make the contribution, you can fix the error without penalty up to October 15th of the year after the year for which the contribution was made. Excess contributions can be withdrawn, and eligible IRA or Roth IRA contributions can be recharacterized as being made to a traditional IRA, and vice versa.
Are you a good Roth conversion candidate?
When you do a Roth conversion, your pre-tax funds will be included in your income in the year of the conversion. This will increase your income for the year of the conversion, which may impact deductions, credits, exemptions, phase-outs AMT alternative minimum tax), the taxation of your Social Security benefits and more.
The trade-off is the big tax benefit down the road. But, a Roth conversion isn’t for everyone. Make an appointment to answer these questions together before going through with a conversion.
Beware of making these 3 IRA investing mistakes …
1. Late Investments
If, like so many people, you made your IRA contribution for 2017 only recently in 2018, just before the 2017 tax return filing deadline, you missed earning up to 15 months of pre-tax investment returns on your contribution.
Don’t repeat that mistake. Make your IRA contribution for 2018 now. This will provide an additional year’s worth of pre-tax investment returns compared to making the contribution at the last moment in April 2019. You will also get pre-tax compounding on these extra returns for potentially decades to come, until they are finally distributed. And you’ll get these extra returns for every year that you make your contribution early, rather than late.
Don’t worry about making a mistake. If it later turns out that you are ineligible to make the contribution, you can fix the error without penalty up to October 15th of the year after the year for which the contribution was made. Excess contributions can be withdrawn, and eligible IRA or Roth IRA contributions can be recharacterized as being made to a traditional IRA, and vice versa.
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What are Spousal IRAs & Who Can Contribute to One?
Spousal IRAs are designed to allow a working spouse to make IRA contributions for a spouse who does not have enough earned income to make their own IRA contributions.
There are some key requirements that must be met:
- The spouses must be legally married and file a joint federal tax return. This includes same-sex couples.
- The spouse receiving the contribution must have less compensation, or no compensation, than the spouse making the contribution.
- The IRA account must be held in the name of the spouse for whom the contribution is made. If Gina is the working spouse and the contribution is made for George, then the IRA account must be in George’s name. George has complete control over the IRA account. He can name his own beneficiaries, invest the funds as he wishes, and take withdrawals whenever he wants.
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.
Here are six things to know about investing IRA funds in Bitcoin.
Bitcoin is receiving a surge of publicity as a possible IRA investment, and a number of new firms have recently started targeting the “Bitcoin IRA” market.
1. There is no such thing as a “Bitcoin IRA.” Although the term is often seen in the media and advertising, there is no such thing any more than there are “stock market IRAs.” Legally, a “Bitcoin IRA” is simply an IRA like any other, except that its custodian permits investments in Bitcoin.
2. Bitcoin is not an “IRS Approved” investment. This claim is frequently made in advertising, but the IRS does not approve investments. In fact, the IRS has issued a notice specifically to IRA owners headlined “The IRS Does Not Approve IRA Investments” and warning against what it calls the “Fraudulent ‘IRA Approved’ Sales Pitch.”
IRAs can invest in Bitcoin simply because they are allowed to invest in almost anything except collectibles and life insurance. When the term “IRS Approved” misleadingly implies some sort of endorsement, it may cast doubt on the bona fides of the party making the claim. The IRS warns: “Avoid any investment touted as ‘IRA Approved’ or otherwise endorsed by the IRS.”