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Roth IRA

A new way to fund your Roth IRA

As you plan and save for your retirement, it’s nice to have multiple types of taxation for your income sources. You may have a pension, Social Security, and a traditional IRA, all of which are taxed to some degree or another.  Adding to this list you might have a Roth IRA which generally will provide you with tax-free income in retirement. The problem with the Roth IRA is that you have some strict limits on the amounts that you can contribute, and typical Roth Conversion strategies are costly and complicated. With the recent pronouncement from the IRS in Notice 2014-54, there is a brand new, sanctioned method, to fund your Roth IRA.

myRA? What’s the point?

After the President’s state of the union announcement of the new myRA account, my first reaction was: Did we need this?  What’s so “out of reach” about a regular Roth IRA?  And if there was a great hue and cry for this, why hasn’t the marketplace provided it already? After all, there are custodians who will provide a no-fee Roth IRA with no account minimum already (TD Ameritrade comes to mind). Plus, there are plenty of ways to get a bond-like return with no costs or account minimums as well. All that I can find that is different about the myRA accounts is that the bond investment (same as the TSP “G” fund) has downside protection – meaning that the funds in the myRA account will never reduce in value, only grow or stay the same. As with any gift (and downside protection is indeed a valuable gift), there is […]

2014 IRA MAGI Limits – Married Filing Separately

Note: for the purposes of IRA MAGI qualification, a person filing as Married Filing Separately, who did not live with his or her spouse during the tax year, is considered Single and will use the information on that page to determine eligibility. For a Traditional IRA (Filing Status Married Filing Separately): If you are not covered by a retirement plan at your job and your spouse is not covered by a retirement plan, there is no MAGI limitation on your deductible contributions. If you are covered by a retirement plan at your job and your MAGI is less than $10,000, you are entitled to a partial deduction, reduced by 55% for every dollar (or 65% if over age 50), and rounded up to the nearest $10.  If the amount works out to less than $200, you are allowed to contribute at least $200. If you are covered by a retirement […]

2014 MAGI Limits for IRAs – Married Filing Jointly or Qualifying Widow(er)

Note: for the purposes of IRA MAGI qualification, a person filing as Married Filing Separately, who did not live with his or her spouse during the tax year, is considered Single and will use the information on that page to determine eligibility. For a Traditional IRA (Filing Status Married Filing Jointly or Qualifying Widow(er)): If you are not covered by a retirement plan at your job and your spouse is not covered by a retirement plan, there is no MAGI limitation on your deductible contributions. If you are covered by a retirement plan at work, and your MAGI is $96,000 or less, there is also no limitation on your deductible contributions to a traditional IRA. If you are covered by a retirement plan at your job and your MAGI is more than $96,000 but less than $116,000, you are entitled to a partial deduction, reduced by 27.5% for every dollar […]

2014 MAGI Limits – Single or Head of Household

Note: for the purposes of IRA MAGI qualification, a person filing as Married Filing Separately who did not live with his or her spouse during the tax year, is considered Single and will use the information on this page to determine eligibility. For a Traditional IRA (Filing Status Single or Head of Household): If you are not covered by a retirement plan at your job, there is no MAGI limitation on your deductible contributions. If you are covered by a retirement plan at work, if your MAGI is $60,000 or less, there is also no limitation on your deductible contributions to a traditional IRA. If you are covered by a retirement plan at your job and your MAGI is more than $60,000 but less than $70,000, you are entitled to a partial deduction, reduced by 55% for every dollar over the lower limit (or 65% if over age 50), and […]

How the 3.8% Surtax Could Influence Roth Conversions

Note: This is a dust-off of an article written in April 2010 that dealt with the special two-year taxation of Roth Conversions that was available in that year.  An astute reader noted that the original was a bit dusty and not applicable to today’s decision-making (thanks S!). One of the provisions of the Affordable Care Act is a new tax – a surtax on investment income over certain amounts.  This surtax has come into play this year, for tax returns filed in 2014 on 2013 income.  The income amounts are, admittedly, rather high, but nonetheless will likely impact a lot of folks.  What you may not realize is that, due to the application of this surtax, Roth IRA conversion strategies that you may have had in play may be impacted.  Depending upon your overall income, you may have to pay the surtax on some or all of your conversion amount. […]

Why Diversify?

Remember Enron? I think we all do. Enron was once a powerhouse company that saw its empire crumble and took the wealth of many of its employees with it. Why was that the case? Many of Enron’s employees had their 401(k) retirement savings in Enron stock. This was the classic example of having all of your eggs in one basket and zero diversification. Let’s say that the employees had half of their retirement in Enron stock and half in a mutual fund. Enron tanks but their mutual fund stays afloat. This means that they lost, but only lost half of their retirement, all else being equal. Imagine if they had only a quarter of their retirement in Enron and the remaining 75% in three separate mutual funds. Enron’s demise is only responsible for a fourth of their retirement evaporating. This could go on and on. The point is that when […]

Don’t Forget to Pay Tax on Your 2010 Roth Conversion

Remember back in those heady days in 2010, when you finally had carte blanche eligibility to convert your IRA funds to a Roth IRA regardless of your income?  And then there was a special provision that the IRS made available: you could convert money to your Roth IRA in 2010, and delay recognizing the income and paying the tax over the next two years… remember that?  That was so cool. However. (Ever notice how there’s always a “however” in life?) Here we are, two years later, and NOW you have to pay tax on the Roth conversion that happened way back then.  You might have forgotten it altogether, but you can bet the IRS hasn’t forgotten. Hopefully you didn’t forget this on your 2011 tax return that you filed in 2012 as well.  At that time, you should have recognized half of the deferred Roth IRA conversion from 2010 on […]

Pros and Cons of the Roth 401(k)

The Roth 401(k) first became available in January 2006, is an option available for employers to provide as a part of “normal” 401(k) plans, either existing or new.  The Roth provision allows the employee to choose to direct all or part of his or her salary deferrals into the 401(k) plan to a separate account, called a Designated Roth Account, or DRAC. The DRAC account is segregated from the regular 401(k) account, because of the way the funds are treated.  When you direct a portion of your salary into a DRAC, you pay tax on the deferred salary just the same as if you had received it in cash.  This deferred salary is subject to ordinary income tax, Medicare withholding, and Social Security withholding if applicable. The unique thing about your DRAC funds is that, upon withdrawal for a qualified purpose (e.g., after you have reached age 59½, among other […]

Receive a Tax Credit For Saving

Starting (or staying with) a savings plan can be difficult to do.  After all, it’s often difficult enough to just get by on your earnings day-to-day, week-to-week, before reducing the take-home pay that you’ve worked so hard for by putting it into a savings plan.  The thing is though, once you start a savings plan, you’ll be surprised at how little it “hurts” to start putting small amounts aside.  After a while, you won’t even miss it. In addition, the IRS has a way to help you get started – it’s called the Saver’s Credit.  This is a credit that you receive on your tax return, simply for putting money aside in a savings plan.  Pretty sweet deal, if you asked me! The IRS recently released their Newswire IR-2012-101, which details how the plan works and how you can take advantage of it.  The full text of IR-2012-101 is below: […]

Retirement Plan Contribution Limits for 2013

The IRS recently published the new contribution limits for various retirement plans for 2013.  These limits are indexed to inflation, and as such sometimes they do not increase much year over year, and sometimes they don’t increase at all. This year we saw across-the-board increases for most all contribution amounts, and as usual the income limits increased as well.  This provides increased opportunity for savings via these tax-preferred vehicles. IRAs The annual contribution limit for IRAs (both traditional and Roth) increased from $5,000 in 2012 to $5,500 in 2013.  The “catch up” amount, for folks age 50 or over, remains at $1,000. The income limits for traditional (deductible) IRAs increased slightly from last year: for singles covered by a retirement plan, your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) must be less than $59,000 for a full deduction; phased deduction is allowed up to an AGI of $69,000.  This is an increase of […]

The Roth 401(k) Plan

Many hard working Americans have access to a defined contribution retirement plan called a 401(k). Essentially, a 401(k) is a retirement savings vehicle provided by employers to their employees as a means for the employee to save for retirement, often with the employer providing a “match” of the employee’s contributions up to a certain percentage. As of January of 2006 (a result of EGTRRA 2001), employers can now offer employees the Roth 401(k) as part of their 401(k) plan. Before we get into the advantages of the Roth 401(k), let’s briefly look at how the regular 401(k) works. Employees that have access to a 401(k) are generally allowed to contribute up to $17,000 (2012 figures, indexed annually) per year to their 401(k). Employees aged 50 and over are allowed an additional $5,500 (again, 2012 figures, indexed annually). Employee salary deferrals are taken from the employee’s earnings on a pre-tax basis […]