• THE SKINNY ON DC PLANS

    August 19, 2019

    By Ian Berger, JD IRA Analyst You may know that you participate in a DC retirement plan. But what exactly does that mean? (Hint: It doesn’t mean that your plan is sponsored by the District of Columbia.) “DC” actually stands for “defined contribution” plan. Defined contribution plans are a type of company retirement plan and are distinguished from DB (“defined benefit”) plans/[...]

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    By Andy Ives, CFP®, AIF® IRA Analyst Question: Hello, I have heard Ed speak at several different Wells Fargo events and he spoke one time about clients who over contribute to their 401(k). I believe there was a strategy where they can move the excess to an IRA. Can you tell me where to find more info on this strategy? Answer: There is no strategy to move an excess 401(k) [...]

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    By Andy Ives, CFP®, AIF® IRA Analyst Just as IRA and 401(k) plans have different levels of bankruptcy protection, so too do other possessions. Whether these assets are qualified or not, there are ways to shield oneself from creditors. Case in point - in order to shelter certain monies, a couple in Wisconsin sold their 1974 Plymouth and some real estate. They subsequently purchased a [...]

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    By Sarah Brenner, JD IRA Analyst The Setting Every Community Up For Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act recently passed the House of Representatives by a large margin. It is currently stalled in the Senate. This bill includes a multitude of provisions that would reshape retirement savings if passed. Buried deep within the proposed legislation is a provision that would do away with the stretch [...]

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    By Ian Berger, JD IRA Analyst Question: As I understand it, a contribution would be income tax free when sent directly from an IRA to a 501(c)(3) organization.  It is not clear to me if the distributions still will affect my MAGI that in turn will affect Medicare Part B IRMAA premiums. Jennifer Answer: Hi Jennifer, If your IRA distribution satisfies the conditions for a [...]

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    LESSENING THE HARDSHIP

    August 7, 2019

    By Ian Berger, JD IRA Analyst Participating in a company plan, like a 401(k) or 403(b) plan, is a great way to save for retirement. But to make sure that employees don’t use those plans as checking accounts, Congress has imposed limits on when you can withdraw your funds. Generally, you can’t receive a distribution until severance from employment, disability or death. Most plans also allow[...]

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    By Andy Ives, CFP®, AIF® IRA Analyst Many company retirement plans – like a 401(k) – offer company stock as an investment option. Under special tax rules, a plan participant can withdraw the stock and pay regular (ordinary) income tax on it, but only on the original cost and not on the market value, i.e., what the shares are worth on the date of the distribution. The difference (the [...]

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    By Sarah Brenner, JD IRA Analyst Question: Hi Ed, I have heard conflicting reports. Would the proposed SECURE Act affect Roth IRAs? Or, is the elimination of the stretch on for Traditional IRAs? Many thanks! Chad Answer: Hi Chad, There does seem to be a lot of confusion out there on this issue. Yes, the SECURE Act, if passed, would affect inherited Roth IRAs as well as [...]

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    By Sarah Brenner, JD IRA Analyst You may wonder about naming your trust as your IRA beneficiary. For some that may be the way to go, but you should be careful. Trusts are not for everyone. There are trade-offs and consequences. Trusts as IRA beneficiaries create unique problems and tax complications. Naming a Trust Many IRA owners will name a living person as beneficiary of their IRA. [...]

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    GOING SOLO

    July 29, 2019

    By Ian Berger, JD IRA Analyst Sometimes it pays to go solo. For self-employed individuals looking to maximize their nest egg, a solo 401(k) plan -- also known as an “individual 401(k)” or a “uni-k” -- may be a better choice than a SIMPLE or SEP IRA. Who Can Have a Solo 401(k)? Business owners can open up a solo 401(k) as long as they have no employees (other than a spouse). Solo[...]

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    By Andy Ives, CFP®, AIF® IRA Analyst By the look of everyone’s Facebook and Instagram photos, it appears we are all flying Gulfstream jets around the world, relaxing on far-away beaches and lighting Cuban cigars with twisted-up $100-dollar bills. Is the economy really doing that well for everyone? Are we all participating in these boom times? Of course not. Living paycheck to paycheck is [...]

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    A SEP FOR YOUR SIDE GIG

    July 22, 2019

    By Sarah Brenner, JD IRA Analyst It is not unusual for many workers today to have a side gig. They may have job, and it might even be full time, but it’s still not enough to make ends meet. So, they operate their own business on the side. The extra income can be welcome. It can also be an overlooked source for retirement savings. A Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) IRA plan can offer an easy[...]

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    By Ian Berger, JD IRA Analyst Question: I read your November 29, 2017 explanation of rollovers and the time limitations. But my issue is still unclear to me. In December 2018, my husband made a transfer from his 401(k) to an IRA to a Roth IRA. We intended to do the same this year, but an unexpected bill hit us, and we took a distribution from the 401K two weeks ago. Taxes were taken out.[...]

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    By Ian Berger, JD IRA Analyst Many of you who participate in a company retirement plan may have heard that the plan is “qualified” or “tax-qualified.” That sounds reassuring, but what exactly does it mean? In other words, what qualifies a qualified plan to be qualified?  (And, while we’re at it, how much wood can a woodchuck chuck …?) The carrot and the stick: The concept of a[...]

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    By Andy Ives, CFP®, AIF® IRA Analyst Roth IRAs and Roth 401(k) plans are incredibly popular, and why wouldn’t they be? Both offer tax-free earnings and allow the account owner to pass tax-free dollars to their beneficiaries. However, despite the ubiquity of Roth accounts, there are some common misunderstandings about how Roth IRAs and Roth 401(k)s operate and interact with each other. [...]

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    By Sarah Brenner, JD IRA Analyst Question: I have read your updates and shared information regarding the SECURE bill that is in the Senate currently.  The information discusses the non-spouse beneficiaries of IRAs will need to take distributions over 10 years as a lifetime stretch will not be an option anymore. Do you have any information on existing Inherited IRAs that are already in [...]

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    GOING IN REVERSE

    July 10, 2019

    By Ian Berger, JD IRA Analyst When driving your car, most of the time you’re going forward. But sometimes, like when you back into a parking spot in anticipation of beating the traffic after a sporting event or concert, you must shift gears to reverse. So it is with rollovers between 401(k) plans (or other employer plans) and IRA’s. Most of the time you’ll be considering a rollover [...]

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    By Ian Berger, JD IRA Analyst ‘Tis the season for bee stings and mosquito bites. Just like those summer irritations, 401(k) plan loans have their own annoying rules that can make them risky transactions. Fortunately, a provision of the 2017 tax reform law applied a little hydrocortisone to help relieve the itch. One advantage that 401(k) plans have over IRA’s is that 401(k)’s (as [...]

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    By Sarah Brenner, JD IRA Analyst Happy 4th of July to all the loyal readers of the Slott Report! This summer holiday is a time for barbecues. This is a time when all ages come together to celebrate. Families will gather to grill hot dogs, roast marshmallows and watch fireworks. If the conversation around the grill should happen to turn to retirement savings, here are 4 IRA tips, one for each [...]

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    By Sarah Brenner, JD IRA Analyst Did you inherit an IRA from someone who is NOT your spouse? This is not uncommon. Maybe you inherited from a sibling or a parent or a friend. If this is your situation, you will want to proceed with caution. For nonspouse beneficiaries a wrong move can result in disastrous consequences. So, take your time and do it right. Step one is to carefully explore [...]

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    By Andy Ives, CFP®, AIF® IRA Analyst Question: Your advice, articles, publications and books I’ve purchased over the years have been great and most informative. Great job! My question is with regards to NUA – I retired recently (age 66) and had a company 401(k) to which I contributed over the years and will likely not make any withdrawals until required RMD’s. Within the company [...]

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    By Andy Ives, CFP®, AIF® IRA Analyst Prior to 2002, a default option for paying out required minimum distributions from an inherited IRA to a beneficiary was the 5-year rule. If the IRA owner died before their required beginning date and an election was not made in a timely manner, the account had to be closed by December 31 of the 5th year following the year of death. In 2002, new [...]

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    By Andy Ives, CFP®, AIF® IRA Analyst Roth IRAs are a wonderful way to save for retirement. A person can sock away $6,000 a year (plus another $1,000 if they are age 50 or older) and the earnings will grow tax free. Plus, most custodians allow Roth IRA dollars to be invested in an incredibly wide array of options – mutual funds, stocks, ETFs - a veritable smorgasbords of choices. Can’t [...]

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    By Sarah Brenner, JD IRA Analyst Question: I set up a Roth outside my employee retirement plan. I retired on 10-01-2018. I set up an automatic contribution to my Roth IRA from my checking account and, up to this day, still continue to contribute to the Roth IRA . Shall I opt out since I’m retired now? Your advice is deeply appreciated. Thank you very much. Sincerely, Ester [...]

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    By Sarah Brenner, JD IRA Analyst The road to retirement is long. Along the way you may need or want to move your retirement funds. Maybe you are leaving a job or maybe you are just looking for a new investment strategy. When the time comes to make a move, you will want to be sure that everything is done correctly. Rolling over retirement funds can be tricky and the consequences of a mistake [...]

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    By Sarah Brenner, JD IRA Analyst Every single month since January of 2014, Billy Joel has headlined a sold-out show at Madison Square Garden. Demand for tickets to see the Piano Man has not waned. Ticket sell out quickly. Millions of fans will attest that Billy Joel, who’s music career spans decades, still puts on an incredible show. It’s hard to believe that Billy Joel just recently [...]

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    By Andy Ives, CFP®, AIF® IRA Analyst Question: I am over 70.5 and I have to take an IRA minimum distribution or else pay taxes and penalties on scheduled amount. My question is - can I take the mandatory distribution which I will pay taxes on anyway and then roll the distribution into my ROTH IRA? So far I have several YES and several NO answers. Your input would be the deciding vote for [...]

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    THE TIME MACHINE

    June 12, 2019

    By Andy Ives, CFP®, AIF® IRA Analyst A time machine would be cool to have. Even if it only worked on financial assets, it sure would come in handy. One might jump into the future and see if an investment paid off, or you could look around to see where the smart money succeeded. And if the original investment turned out to be a loser, you could go back in time and sell it – or never even [...]

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    By Andy Ives, CFP®, AIF® IRA Analyst The pro-rata rule is the formula used to determine how much of a distribution is taxable when an IRA account consists of both pre-tax and after-tax (basis) dollars. The rule requires that all SEP, SIMPLE, and traditional IRAs be considered as one giant “Starbucks Venti mug of money” for every distribution or Roth conversion. When both pre- and [...]

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    By Sarah Brenner, JD IRA Analyst Question: I am a financial advisor and want to be clear on something. If a client has a SIMPLE IRA that they are contributing to and have an IRA and are 70.5, can they aggregate the distributions for both and remove from the IRA? Wanda Answer: Aggregation of RMDs is a tricky area and we see lots of mistakes. SIMPLE IRAs can be confusing as well [...]

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    By Sarah Brenner, JD IRA Analyst When it comes time to calculate your required minimum distribution (RMD) from your IRA, you may wonder which life expectancy table to use. Last updated by the IRS back in 2002, there are three possible tables for IRA owners and beneficiaries, and they can all be found in IRS Publication 590-B. The three tables are the Uniform Lifetime Table, the Joint Life [...]

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    By Sarah Brenner, JD IRA Analyst SIMPLE IRAs are not so simple. One factor that makes SIMPLE IRAs tricky is that they are subject to unique rules, found nowhere else in the tax code, such as the two-year holding period. Two-Year Holding Period When does the two-year holding period begin? This is a question that often creates confusion. The two-year holding period begins with the date [...]

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    By Andy Ives, CFP®, AIF® IRA Analyst Question: IRA HELP, I’ve got a client who is retiring early. He has roughly $1,000,000 in an IRA now which he could initiate a 72(t) with.  That will not generate enough cash flow to support their needs. He also has an additional $3 million in his employer’s ESOP which, under the terms of the ESOP, will not be available for an IRA rollover [...]

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    By Sarah Brenner, JD IRA Analyst The IRS has announced the 2020 inflation-adjusted limits for Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). How an HSA Works An HSA is a tax-free account that is used to pay for qualified medical expenses that aren’t covered by insurance. It is similar to an IRA in that it’s a custodial or trust account set up with a financial institution owned and controlled by [...]

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    By Andy Ives, CFP®, AIF® IRA Analyst Employer-sponsored retirement plans, like 401(k) and 403(b) plans, have some definitive benefits vs. IRA accounts. For example, company plans provide an unlimited amount of protection from bankruptcy, while IRA contributions and earnings maintain a current bankruptcy protection cap of $1,362,800. In addition, employer-sponsor plans can allow loans – [...]

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    By Sarah Brenner, JD IRA Analyst Question: I have a question about avoiding RMDs for a still-working 73 year-old in a 401k plan.  I realize most people my age are looking forward to retirement, but I love what I do and am delighted to continue to be able to work. I am about to change employers and would like to request a “direct rollover” from my old employer (who I still work for [...]

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    By Andy Ives, CFP®, AIF® IRA Analyst After a recent Ed Slott conference in Dallas, Texas, I found myself sitting in a hotel café, surrounded by travel bags, having pizza with a few meeting attendees with later flights. “Anyone want to share an Uber to the airport?” asked a lunch guest. “Sure,” I said. “I’ll join you.” After all, the Uber was already ordered, and I am always[...]

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    By Sarah Brenner, JD IRA Analyst If you are planning on doing a 60-day rollover with your IRA funds, be sure you understand same-property rule. This is one of the lesser known rules that apply to rollovers and is one many taxpayers find confusing. For IRA-to-IRA or Roth-to-Roth 60-day rollovers, the same property received is the property that must be rolled over. These rules also apply to [...]

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    By Andy Ives, CFP®, AIF® IRA Analyst Question: I recently inherited a traditional IRA from my mother. I mistakenly asked for a lump sum to be paid to me by the custodian. I realized after the fact that I wanted to set up a stretch IRA. I haven’t cashed the check yet. Can I just return it or have them stop payment on the check and change my option to an inherited beneficiary IRA? [...]

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    By Sarah Brenner, JD IRA Analyst With college costs almost certain to keep increasing each year, parents need to explore every possible tool available to meet the challenge of paying for higher education. Roth IRAs are not just for retirement savings. They can play a vital role in education savings. However, the rules can be tricky. Before you take a distribution from your Roth IRA to pay that[...]

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    ROTH IRA: TWO CLOCKS

    May 13, 2019

    By Andy Ives, CFP®, AIF® IRA Analyst Roth IRAs are extremely popular, and why wouldn’t they be? Tax-free earnings over a lifetime can add up to a serious chunk of change. However, in order to receive those tax-free earnings, rules must be followed and timeframes must be met. Despite the ubiquity of Roth IRAs, there is confusion around what those rules and timeframes are. In order to [...]

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    By Jeremy T. Rodriguez, JD IRA Analyst Question: Good morning, We have a client that retired on 1/2/2019 and he was over 70.5.  He was not required to take his RMD in 2018 from his 401k since he was still working (he did take his 2018 RMD from his IRA).  He rolled that 401k into his IRA this year (which was allowed in his plan since he retired in 2019), so we are trying to determine [...]

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    By Jeremy T. Rodriguez, JD IRA Analyst To discourage early access to amounts invested in IRAs and company retirement plans, the IRS imposes a 10% early distribution penalty on withdrawals before age 59 ½. Even though Roth IRAs consist of after-tax contributions, the penalty could also apply to converted amounts or earnings. There are several exceptions to the 10% early distribution penalty, [...]

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    By Sarah Brenner, JD IRA Analyst In the wake of tax reform, more IRA owners are making use of the Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD) strategy. This is a side effect of fewer people choosing to itemize and instead going with the larger standard deduction. If you are not itemizing, you cannot claim a tax deduction for your charitable contribution. To get a tax break for money given to [...]

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    By Sarah Brenner, JD IRA Analyst In the wake of tax reform, more IRA owners are making use of the Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD) strategy. This is a side effect of fewer people choosing to itemize and instead going with the larger standard deduction. If you are not itemizing, you cannot claim a tax deduction for your charitable contribution. To get a tax break for money given to [...]

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    By Jeremy T. Rodriguez, JD IRA Analyst Net Unrealized Appreciation (“NUA”) is a powerful tool that people with employer stock in company plans should be aware of. Under this tax concept, the gains on the employer stock that are distributed according to the NUA rules are subject to long term capital gains rates when sold. That could be a huge tax break for some people. Normally, [...]

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    By Sarah Brenner, JD IRA Analyst Question: My sister is 72 years old and quite philanthropic. Much of her traditional IRA RMD she donates to various charities. Is it possible for her to instruct the IRA trustee to send the money directly from her IRA account to the charities? How will the charities acknowledge receipt from my sister so she can deduct the donations on her taxes? Is she[...]

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    By Sarah Brenner, JD IRA Analyst The House Ways and Means Committee recently passed the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act of 2019 (the SECURE Act). This bill includes a number of measures designed to strengthen retirement savings. With regard to IRAs, the bill would treat certain taxable non-tuition fellowship and stipend payments as compensation for purposes of [...]

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    DOUBLE BROCCOLI VS. IRD

    April 22, 2019

    By Andy Ives, CFP®, AIF® IRA Analyst My son does not much care for broccoli. However, he knows it is for the greater good, and I insist he grow strong and healthy. As long as he lives under my roof, I could feed him broccoli for both lunch and dinner. Double broccoli is legal. But we both agree that would be excessively penal. The boy knows that if he eats broccoli for lunch, it will not be [...]

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    By Jeremy T. Rodriguez, JD IRA Analyst Question: First, thank you for the educational opportunity via the mailbag services. I'm 70 years old (will be 70 1/2 in July this year). I retired in 2014.  I have a 401K account (consisting of highly appreciated stocks and cash) with my former employer. Although the majority of the money is pre-taxed, I do have a small portion of the money in [...]

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    By Jeremy T. Rodriguez, JD IRA Analyst If the dictionary had pictures next to each word, the U.S. Tax Code would fit nicely next to the definition of “esoteric.” But as we all know, this complex web of rules and regulations cannot be ignored. Mistakes cost money, in the form of extra taxes, penalties, and interest. Some mistakes can be fixed, but not all. Even those that can be fixed may [...]

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    By Sarah Brenner, JD IRA Analyst Today is April 15, 2019. This is deadline for filing your 2018 federal income tax return, unless you have an extension. This tax season was the first one where we saw the impact of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Wholesale changes to the tax code made this a more interesting and unpredictable tax season than usual. Many taxpayers had lots of uncertainty about what [...]

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    By Andy Ives, CFP®, AIF® IRA Analyst Question: Hello, I have a question for a situation I have never come across before.  I have a client that just found out they missed taking their RMD’s from one of their retirement accounts for the last 5 years!  Assuming they take the missed distributions in March 2019, what form will the broker report this on?  Will it be a Form 1099-R for [...]

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    SUNK BY A ROLLOVER

    April 10, 2019

    By Andy Ives, CFP®, AIF® IRA Analyst Unfortunately, it happened again. Another person dove into the IRA rollover pool before checking the depth, temperature, or if the pool was even open for swimming. In this scenario, $125,000 was rolled from an IRA at Bank A to Bank B. A few months later, in a constant search for a higher paying certificate of deposit, the account owner rolled the same [...]

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    By Jeremy T. Rodriguez, JD IRA Analyst Most people are aware of the tax concept, Required Minimum Distributions or “RMDs.” These are the tax rules that force you to take a distribution from your IRA or qualified plan, even when you don’t want to. Moreover, that distribution is usually taxable, and it cannot be rolled over! The calculation is always the same: you divide the account [...]

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    By Sarah Brenner, JD IRA Analyst Question: I have a 60 day rollover, and basically the client has what I believe is an uneducated tax preparer. The roll over occurred within the proper 60 days, the custodian sent out the 1099R as a distribution checking box 7, 1, because even they sent the check directly to the new custodian they did not receive a letter of acceptance, so they considered it[...]

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    By Sarah Brenner, JD IRA Analyst Are you a small business owner or a sole proprietor? If so, you may use a Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) IRA plan to save for retirement. These plans are a popular choice for small businesses because they are inexpensive and easier to administer than other retirement plans. While SEPs are pretty straight forward, there are some rules that may surprise you[...]

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    By Andy Ives, CFP®, AIF® IRA Analyst A little house on Easy Street has one front door. It is a traditional IRA. There is a sign above the lone entry point the reads, “To All Those That Enter, Thy Earnings Will be Taxable.” It does not matter if the money that enters through the front door is a contribution or rollover or transfer. Most of the arriving dollars, and all of the earnings on [...]

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    By Jeremy T. Rodriguez, JD IRA Analyst Question: Planning Question - for retirement plans that permit Non Roth After Tax Contributions, could the company use Qualified Matching Contributions (QMACs) for the NHCEs to satisfy the ADP & ACP testing allowing the HCEs to max out their 415(c) ceiling above their own deferrals and company match contribution? Or, is there a better way for [...]

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    By Jeremy T. Rodriguez, JD IRA Analyst Tax rules can be confusing, and that can especially be the case when we are talking about the application of two separate rules. It’s easy to get confused when two or more tax laws intersect. For many, that occurs when we discuss the separate account rules for IRA beneficiaries along with the special rollover rules afforded to spousal beneficiaries. [...]

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    Are you ready for the Great Wealth Transfer? By some reports, 45 million Baby Boomers are expected to transfer over $68 trillion in wealth to the next generation in the coming 25 years. Increasingly, a larger portion of this wealth can be found in IRAs. Those dollars in motion represent an opportunity for proactive advisors who know how to move retirement assets to heirs in the correct and most [...]

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    By Sarah Brenner, JD IRA Analyst Whether by choice or necessity, many Americans are still working long beyond what has traditionally been retirement age. If you are a member of this group, you may be keeping funds in your employer plan well into your seventies and maybe even later. There are some big benefits to extending a career. You can continue to contribute to your retirement account and [...]

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    By Andy Ives, CFP®, AIF® IRA Analyst Question: Is it possible to take the RMD portion of an inherited traditional IRA and convert that each year as the distribution is done into a Roth IRA?  Or, is the only way to accomplish this is to take the distribution and then make a contribution, which limits the amount I can put in each year? Thanks, Lynn Answer: Lynn, No, RMDs [...]

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    By Andy Ives, CFP®, AIF® IRA Analyst Edward was born in 1950. Traditional IRA accounts would not be established until the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). In 1975, Edward and many other Americans took full advantage of this tax-deferred savings opportunity. The maximum contribution limit in 1975 was $1,500, and Edward contributed the full amount to his IRA every year.[...]

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    By Jeremy Rodriguez, JD IRA Analyst I’m sure you’ve heard countless advisors mention that a direct transfer (or direct rollover) is the best way to move funds between IRAs or qualified retirement plans. But do you understand why? There are a number of reasons, and in this installment, we discuss some of those in greater depth. Background: Direct Transfer vs. 60-day Rollovers It is [...]

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    By Sarah Brenner, JD IRA Analyst Question: I have a question about avoiding RMDs for a still-working 72 year old in a 401k plan.  Suppose they don’t have to take 401k RMDs due to the still-working exemption from RMDs.  Let’s say the person knows they will retire next year in February 2020 when they will be 73.  If they do an IRA rollover while still employed in January 2020, would [...]

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    By Sarah Brenner, JD IRA Analyst It’s that time of year again. Tax season is upon us. This is now the time when many individuals consider funding their IRAs. Contributing to an IRA may seem pretty straight forward and in many ways it is! But there can be twists. Here are five IRA contribution rules that may surprise you. 1. File now and fund later: Frequently, during tax season we are [...]

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    THE DISCLAIMER

    March 11, 2019

    By Andy Ives, CFP®, AIF® IRA Analyst A disclaimer is an interesting tool. It is a denial or disavowal of legal claim, or a formal refusal to accept an interest in something. “Release” and “waiver” are good synonyms. Oftentimes a disclaimer statement is used by a person looking to shield themselves from legal repercussions. A shady politician might disclaim any responsibility or [...]

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    By Jeremy T. Rodriguez, JD IRA Analyst Question: My Daughter is a 30-year old RN and I want to help her contribute to an IRA.  She has a 401K at the hospital where she works, but she only contributes to maximize their 4% matching.  It is my understanding she can still contribute (up until April 15th, 2019) $5,500 to either a 2018 ROTH or a 2018 traditional IRA.  At her age, the growth [...]

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    By Jeremy T. Rodriguez, JD IRA Analyst When a legal question is clear, I like to imagine the landscape like the great plains of the midwestern United States.  The land is flat and lush, meaning problems are easily identified and the area can be easily traversed. On the other hand, when the question isn’t so clear, the terrain reminds me of the moon; rocky, dark, desolate, and full of [...]

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    By Sarah Brenner, JD IRA Analyst Much attention is paid to the favorable options available when spouses are named as IRA beneficiaries. However, a significant portion of IRA assets will end up being inherited by individuals who are not a spouse of the decedent. Many people name siblings, friends, children or others as their IRA beneficiaries. Also, IRA assets that start off with spouse [...]

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    By Jeremy T. Rodriguez, JD IRA Analyst Question: Hello, I am a CPA and was not sure if in 2019 alimony was considered earned income for making a Roth IRA contribution. Would appreciate any clarification you can provide. Thank you very much. Have a great day! Dale Answer: Dale, This issue was one of the changes enacted under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Under the old [...]

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    IVAN SEEKS ADVICE

    February 27, 2019

    By Andy Ives, CFP®, AIF® IRA Analyst Ivan is an inventor at heart, but he is stuck in an office at a job he does not particularly care for. Ivan constantly daydreams about starting his own company and improving everyday life with his inventions. For 20 years Ivan funds his 401(k) and tinkers with his creations when he gets home from work. With a burst of inspiration, Ivan invents the [...]

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    By Andy Ives, CFP®, AIF® IRA Analyst Question: In 2017, I opened a Roth IRA through my company. Being over 65, I mistakenly thought I could convert Traditional IRA funds to the Roth if I paid tax on the rollover amount. In August 2018, I had Schwab roll $50,000 into my Roth from my traditional IRA. This month (February 2019) when doing my 2018 taxes, I realized that conversions are not [...]

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    “GAP ANALYSIS”

    February 18, 2019

    By Andy Ives, CFP®, AIF® IRA Analyst There are many gaps. Generation gap, stop-gap, The Gap Band. In baseball you can hit into the gap. Football linemen have an A-gap, B-gap and C-gap to concern themselves with. Of course, there is the Cumberland Gap. And there is a very important gap to consider when dealing with IRAs – the “Gap Period.” The gap period begins on the date of death [...]

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    By Sarah Brenner, JD IRA Analyst Question: If I convert Trad IRA funds to a Roth IRA, does the ratio of After-Tax Contribution to Total IRA holdings include 401k holdings or only IRA holdings. I am a recently retired pilot and want to make Trad to Roth IRA conversions this year and in the next four or five years before I’m required to begin RMDs. I have about $80k in after-tax Trad IRA[...]

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    By Sarah Brenner, JD IRA Analyst If you have an IRA, you may have heard the term “required beginning date” or “RBD.” This is an important date that every IRA owner should understand. The significance of the RBD is not limited to IRA owners. It is a critical date for IRA beneficiaries as well. Here are 10 things you need know about the RBD: The RBD for an IRA owner is the date by [...]

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    By Jeremy Rodriguez, JD IRA Analyst Question: Hello Ed, I have an elderly client in his 80’s, not in the best of health. He has named his spouse (also in her 80’s) along with his 4 children as primary beneficiaries of his IRA. That said, I know the 4 children will have to establish inherited IRA’s – and keep them in such an account forever, receiving RMD’s at the single life [...]

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    By Andy Ives, CFP®, AIF® IRA Analyst When it comes to 401(k) plans, I feel like the Johnny Cash lyric…“I’ve been everywhere, man.” I’ve wholesaled record keeping platforms to financial advisors and sold direct to business owners. I’ve taught novice investors about their mutual fund options and crawled through the weeds of 401(k) plan design with CPAs. I’ve helped enroll [...]

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    By Jeremy T. Rodriguez, JD IRA Analyst So, you want to invest your IRA money in real estate? Every so often we get this question from advisors wondering what they should look out for. Under the tax code, real estate is a permissible investment for IRAs. However, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t carry its own concerns which should cause you to think twice before jumping in. Below are some [...]

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    By Andy Ives, CFP®, AIF® IRA Analyst Question: Client passed in the middle of December 2018, but did not take her RMD.  We are setting up beneficiary IRA accounts.  We will be moving assets over to the beneficiary IRA accounts and then the beneficiary will take the RMD distribution. Should they take the 2018 distribution that was due and then take an additional distribution during 2019 [...]

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    DISABILITY – A HIGH HURDLE

    January 28, 2019

    By Andy Ives, CFP®, AIF® IRA Analyst There are a number of ways an individual can avoid the 10% early withdrawal penalty from their IRA or employer work plan. Some exceptions apply specifically to IRAs (i.e. higher education; first-time home buyer, etc.) and others pertain only to company plans (for example, the age-55 exception and qualified domestic relations orders, among others). As long[...]

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    By Sarah Brenner, JD IRA Analyst Question: Hi I have a question about 72t "If" I am 45 years old, and calculate the amount to withdraw from my ira under 72t via the RMD method, I understand that I must continue calculating the withdrawal via the RMD method every year until I am 59 1/2 years old.  But Now what???  My question is- once I am 59 1/2, can I stop withdrawing from my ira [...]

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    By Jeremy T. Rodriguez, JD IRA Analyst Mistakes happen, and when dealing with complicated rules like the U.S. tax code, they aren’t exactly uncommon. Thankfully, the IRS has numerous ways various mistakes can be corrected, and one of the most lenient processes is for missed required minimum distributions (“RMDs”). To say that the missed RMD penalty is stiff (i.e., 50% of the missed [...]

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    KONMARI YOUR IRA

    January 21, 2019

    By Sarah Brenner, JD IRA Analyst Marie Kondo is a decluttering and tidying expert from Japan. She has a new show on Netflix, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, that is a huge hit. Thrift shops around the country are reporting a large influx of donations as Americans reevaluate their homes and tidy up using the “KonMari” method. While your retirement accounts may be a little different than your [...]

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    By Jeremy T. Rodriguez, JD IRA Analyst Question: I am in the process of setting up a QTIP because my current wife (age 64) is not the mother of my 2 children (ages 41 and 38).  If I pre-decease, the IRA will go to my wife within the trust. When she passes and the IRA is inherited by my children, will the RMDs be based on my wife's age when she passed or will they be based on the ages of my [...]

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    PROHIBITED TRANSACTIONS

    January 16, 2019

    By Andy Ives, CFP®, AIF® IRA Analyst If I decide to climb on the roof of my house and try to ride a unicycle while blindfolded, it is not illegal. Dangerous, yes, but not in violation of any laws. If I elect to randomly jump off a bridge under the guidance of the Usually Successful Bungee Jump Company, it is my prerogative. Again, not against the law, but potentially destructive. And [...]

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    By Jeremy T. Rodriguez, JD IRA Analyst In my last installment, I talked about one of my two favorite beginning of the year topics when it comes to retirement planning: New Year’s Resolutions (https://www.irahelp.com/slottreport/easy-new-year’s-resolutions-your-retirement). Here, I want to talk about the second topic, the most important laws, regulations, rulings, and decisions from 2018 that[...]

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    By Sarah Brenner, JD IRA Analyst Question: Dear Ed, Thanks for all your work on the retirement frontier.  I have a question…we have married clients who are age 70 (he) and 62 (she).  Both clients have IRAs.  The 62-year-old client just passed away.  I know that the surviving spouse can rollover the decedent’s IRA into his IRA and the RMDs will begin (on the combined funds’ [...]

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    DEEMED

    January 9, 2019

    By Andy Ives, CFP®, AIF® IRA Analyst A word we don’t see much in daily conversation is “deem.” I imagine a sweeping proclamation made by an authority figure from an ivory tower: “It is deemed that the third day of the standard workweek shall henceforth be called ‘Wacky Wednesday.’” While working “deem” into a sentence among friends can be tough, and you might get some [...]

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    By Sarah Brenner, JD IRA Analyst Roth IRAs offer a trade-off. You decide to pay taxes now on your contribution (or conversion) in exchange for tax-free earnings down the road. Don’t miss out on Roth IRA benefits by making mistakes when you take a distribution. Here are six rules you need to know to make sure money comes out of your Roth IRA tax-free. 1. Aggregate your Roth IRAs. For tax [...]

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    By Andy Ives, CFP®, AIF® IRA Analyst Question: Hi Mr. Slott: I turn 70 ½ years old this year (D.O.B. 5-28-49) and must commence RMDs for an IRA total asset value as of 12/31/2018.  When do I have to report this RMD on my tax return - before or no later than 4/15/2019?  I have all my IRA funds with one custodian. Do they calculate the RMD or do I have to calculate?  Also, my spouse [...]

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    By Jeremy T. Rodriguez, JD IRA Analyst When it comes to tax law and retirement planning, there are two things I like to talk about at the beginning of a new year: (1) some of most important rulings issued and laws passed in the prior year; and (2) the steps you can take today to improve your savings for retirement in the future. Since the topic du jour has been New Year’s resolutions, I want [...]

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    By Beverly DeVeny IRA Analyst Question: I am 64 and opened my only Roth IRA over 5 yrs ago. I originally contributed $32.5K ($6.5K for 5 yrs) to this Roth IRA but now find it at $22.5K in value. Can I close this account and take a $10K capital loss? Kaptain Kurt Answer: The option to deduct losses in an IRA or Roth IRA is no longer available. Before the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act [...]

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    HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

    December 24, 2018

    By Sarah Brenner, JD IRA Analyst Happy holidays from Slott Report! We would like to wish all of our readers and their families a joyous holiday season and a Happy New Year! Thank you for taking your valuable time to read the Slott Report in 2018. Throughout the year we have heard from many of you. We welcome your questions and input. Keep it coming! The end of the year is always a time [...]

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    By Sarah Brenner, JD IRA Analyst Question: Hello IRAHelp, I have a copy of Your Complete Retirement Planning Road Map and find it to be an extremely useful resource.  I have uncertainty regarding optimum means for funding a Health Savings Account (HSA).  I am 61.  In 2018, I made a one-time Qualified HSA Funding Distribution (QHFD).  I’ve utilized high deductible health plans [...]

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    By Jeremy T. Rodriguez, JD IRA Analyst In mid-November 2018, the IRS issued proposed regulations altering some of the rules governing hardship distributions from 401(k) and 403(b) plans. Most of the rules weren’t new; instead the IRS adopted changes that were issued in previous pieces of legislation, such as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, and the Disaster Tax [...]

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    By Andy Ives, CFP®, AIF® IRA Analyst Jerry sells widgets for the ACME Widget Company. Jerry is a hard-working employee who participates in the ACME Widget Company 401(k) Plan. Jerry also contributes annually to an IRA account at a local bank. The widget business is a fickle one. Some years Jerry can make up to $200,000, while in the down years he might only make $50,000. When Jerry’s [...]

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    By Jeremy T. Rodriguez, JD IRA Analyst Question: Hello Mr. Slott, Thanks for your educational broadcasts. I have run into something that might hold your interest. In two separate situations I have asked that retirement checks be made payable to an IRA at another large institution mailed FBO “my name” then mailed to me. One is IRA to IRA, the other is Qualified retirement plan by a [...]

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    ILLIQUID ASSETS AND IRA RMDS

    December 12, 2018

    By Beverly DeVeny IRA Analyst I get the same question every year at year end. “My client has an illiquid IRA and can’t take his RMD. Can we just write a note to IRS explaining the problem?” Every year my answer is the same. “NO.” What is an RMD? It is a required minimum distribution. What does required mean? From dictionary.com: “to call for or exact as obligatory; ordain: [...]

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