The 5-Year Rules for Roth IRA’s

Roth IRAsWe constantly see questions regarding the distribution rules for Roth IRAs. Personally, I’ve always thought that the failure to understand these rules prevents many from truly appreciating the benefits of these accounts. Traditional IRAs are easy. Unless we are talking about nondeductible contributions, the money is deductible when contributed and taxable upon withdrawal. There’s also the early distribution penalty that could apply depending on the circumstances.

Roth IRAs have a couple of different rules, including two separate 5-year rules. The easiest way to understand these rules is to remember that a Roth IRA consists of two parts: (1) contributions/conversions and (2) investment gains/losses. This is important because contributions can always be withdrawn at any time, tax and penalty free. The earnings, however, are potentially taxable and could be hit with the early distribution penalty.

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Fixing a Missed 60-Day Rollover Deadline

5 Easy steps to fix a missed 60-day rollover deadline with Self-Certification.

IRA Money Roll-overIf I miss the 60-day deadline for completing an IRA rollover, is there any way to save the rollover amount from tax?

Failing to complete a 60-day rollover on time can cause the rollover amount to be taxed as income and perhaps subject to a 10% early withdrawal penalty. However, the deadline may have been missed due to reasons that are not the taxpayer’s fault. For such cases, the IRS has created an easy, low-cost way to fix late rollover errors. Revenue Procedure 2016-47 enables individuals to self-certify that they are eligible for a waiver of the 60-day deadline and complete a late rollover.

1. Double check the status of every rollover you attempt. Don’t assume one has been completed just because you did your part. Mistakes happen. You can’t correct a mistake you don’t know about, and a delay hurts your case with the IRS.

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Can You Contribute to a Roth IRA?

Roth IRA contributionNot everyone is eligible to make an annual Roth IRA contribution. We have seen several cases recently of individuals who contributed for many years until they discovered they were not eligible to make any Roth IRA contributions. Here is what you need to know.

First, you must have earned income in order to make a Roth IRA contribution. That means you must perform some type service to have earned income. Passive sources of income generally do not count. As a result, Social Security and payments from any type of retirement plan are not earned income. Rental income is generally not earned income. Investment income and interest income also do not qualify. Disability income will not qualify.

Many people think that if they have after-tax income they can put it into a Roth IRA. This is not true. Gains on the sale of a home or from investments cannot be contributed to an IRA just because they are after-tax funds.

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The IRA Aggregation Rule

IRA Aggregation RuleEasing 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.

More Aggregating

* 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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The Roth Conversion Conversation

Roth ConversionAre 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.

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Retirement Savings for the Self-Employed

retirement savings for the self-employedOne of the many issues facing self-employed individuals is how to save for retirement. One option is to open a traditional or Roth IRA. However, the annual maximum contribution is low in terms of retirement planning. In 2018, it’s $5,500 if you are under age 50 or $6,500 if you are age 50 and over. The self-employed often look to adopt employer-sponsored retirement plans. While there are a number of options, the Solo 401(k) is one of the most popular arrangements. Not only does the Solo 401(k) produce higher contribution levels than other arrangements, but employer contributions are tax deductible! There are pros and cons for retirement savings for the self-employed.

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Spousal IRAs

What are Spousal IRAs & Who Can Contribute to One?

Spousal IRASpousal 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.

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5 Roth IRA Facts

Roth IRA FactsDo 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.

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10 Things to Know About the Still-Working Exception

By Sarah Brenner, JD
IRA Analyst with Ed Slott

Still-Working Exception

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.

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