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Your 401k and IRA in 2018

Recently, the IRS just announced the contribution limits for 401k plans (including 403b and 457 plans) as well as IRAs. Additionally, the IRS also announced changes to the income phase-outs for traditional IRA deductibility and Roth IRA eligibility. Let’s start with the 401k plans. For 2018, the IRS increased the contribution limits to $18,500, up $500 from $18,000 last year. The catch-up contribution for those age 50 or over remains unchanged at $6,000. $500 may not seem like much, but think of it this way – you get to give yourself a $500 raise! For those interested in maxing out their 401k plans in 2018, here’s the breakdown depending on whether you’re paid monthly, 24 weeks per year or 26 weeks per year. If you’re paid monthly, the contribution is $1,541.66. This brings you just eight cents under the $18,500 max annually. If you’re paid 24 weeks per year, then […]

2015 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 […]

2015 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 $98,000 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 $98,000 but less than $118,000, you are entitled to a partial deduction, reduced by 27.5% for every dollar […]

2015 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 $61,000 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 $61,000 but less than $71,000, you are entitled to a partial deduction, reduced by 55% for every dollar over the lower limit (or 65% if over age 50), and […]

Retirement Plan Contribution Limits for 2014

The IRS recently published the new contribution limits for various retirement plans for 2014.  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 virtually no increases for most all contribution amounts, but as usual the income limits increased for most types of account. IRAs The annual contribution limit for IRAs (both traditional and Roth) remains at $5,500 for 2014.  The “catch up” contribution amount, for folks age 50 or over, also 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 $60,000 for a full deduction; phased deduction is allowed up to an AGI of $70,000.  This is an increase of $1,000 over the limits for last year.  For […]

Take a Small Step: Increase Your Savings by 1%

As savers, we Americans are not doing a good job.  We’re improving (according to recent data), but still way behind what we should be saving.  But it doesn’t have to be that way – you can take small steps to increase your savings right away, and it doesn’t have to hurt. The Bureau of Economic Analysis recently reported that we are saving at a rate of around 4.6% of disposable personal income, an increase of 0.1% over the prior month.  On a per-person basis, that works out to about $1,831 saved per month, or just short of $22,000 per year.  Since we know that very, very few people are exactly average (by definition most people are going to be something above or below the average), what concerns me is that even those who are a bit above the average are still not saving enough.  And woe to those who are […]

History of the 401(k)

Back in 1978, the year of 3 popes, Congress passed the Revenue Act of 1978 which included a provision that became Internal Revenue Code section 401(k). The 401(k) has roots going back several decades earlier, with many different rulings (Hicks v. US, Revenue Ruling 56-497, and Revenue Ruling 63-180, among others), providing the groundwork for the specialized tax treatment of salary deferrals that Section 401(k) enabled. More groundwork for the 401(k) as we know it was laid with the passage of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) of 1974, in that the Treasury Department was restricted from putting forth a particular set of regulations that would have reduced or eliminated the tax-deferral benefits of deferred compensation plans. After the Treasury Department withdrew the proposed regulations in 1978, the way was cleared to introduce the 401(k) plan with the Revenue Act. This particular section of the Code enabled profit-sharing plans […]

Join in the Movement – Add 1% to Your Savings This Year!

Over the past several weeks we’ve been writing articles to encourage all Americans to add at least 1% more to savings in the coming year. More than 20 of my fellow bloggers have submitted articles, and these articles include many great ideas that you can apply in order to increase your savings rate in the coming year. Since many employees are going through annual benefit elections right about now, it’s a very good time to increase your annual contributions to your retirement savings plans. Big changes are easiest to undertake with incremental steps – starting with adding 1% can have a great impact and get the momentum going! Listed below are all of the articles that I’ve been notified about so far – 22 23 in all! These folks are very smart, and have shared some great ideas. You owe it to yourself to check it out, and then take […]

Increase Your Retirement Savings by At Least 1% in the Coming Year

Several financial bloggers (20 at last count!) have been diligently writing articles of encouragement for people to consider increasing their savings rates by at least 1% in the coming year. Since many employees are going through annual benefit elections right about now, it’s also a very good time to put in an increase to your annual contributions to your retirement savings plans. Small steps are the easiest to take, and the least painful – so why not set aside an additional 1% in your retirement plan in the coming year? The list below includes a boatload of ideas that you can use to help you with this increase to savings. I’ve heard from several more bloggers who are going to put their posts up soon. If you’re a blogger, see the original post for details on how to join the action: Calling All Bloggers! Listed below are the articles in […]

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 […]

Investing in Taxable Accounts vs. IRAs

When investing beyond an employer-sponsored retirement plan, you have a choice to make, between using an IRA, a Roth IRA, or a taxable, non-deferred investment account.  In making this choice your primary consideration should be the tax implications. It’s easy to understand the current tax implications: if you invest in a traditional IRA and your contributions are deductible, you are saving the income tax of the deductible contribution.  In all other choices, there is no current tax impact.  For non-deductible contributions to a traditional IRA, or regular contributions to a Roth IRA, or saving in a taxable account, you are paying income tax as you’ve earned the money, regardless of what you do with it. The second area to consider tax implications on all of these types of accounts is when there is income produced from the investments within each type of account.  Income produced includes capital gains from sales […]

The Difference Between IRA Contributions and Rollovers

Often there is confusion about what constitutes a “contribution” and a “rollover” into an IRA.  This post is intended to clear up the difference. While both activities are technically contributions, there’s a major difference between the two.  The most significant of the differences is that with a regular annual contribution there are several limits imposed that can be quite restrictive. Annual Contribution Limits For an annual contribution to a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA, you are limited to the lesser of $5,000 or your actual earned income for the year.  If you have no earned income, you’re not allowed to make an annual contribution to an IRA.  Above that amount, if you happen to be 50 years old or better, you can add $1,000 more to your annual contribution (2012 figures). Astute readers will point out that there is the option for a spouse to make a spousal IRA […]

IRS Cracking Down on IRA Rules

It seems that some of the rules the IRS has put in place with regard to IRAs have not always been watched very closely – and the IRS is stepping up efforts to resolve some of this.  According to the article in the WSJ, IRA Rules Get Trickier, an estimated $286 million in penalties and fees were uncollected for 2006 and 2007 tax years’ missed distributions, over-contributions, and the like. The title of the article is a bit misleading, because the rules are not changing or getting “trickier”, the IRS is just going to be paying closer attention to what you’re doing with your account.  This is set to begin by the end of this year, after the IRS delivers their report to the Treasury on how to go about enforcing the rules more closely. The first rule being monitored more closely is the contribution rule – for 2012, you’re […]

What If My Employer Doesn’t Match My 401(k) Contributions?

Should I continue to make contributions to my 401(k)? Is there something else that I should make contributions to instead? As you may recall, the recommended order for retirement savings contributions is normally as follows: 401(k) contributions up to the amount that the company matches max out your Roth or traditional IRA contributions for the year (as applicable) max out the remainder of the available 401(k) contributions make taxable investment contributions In the situation where your employer doesn’t match your contributions to a 401(k) plan, the order of contributions is more appropriate if you bump up the Roth or traditional IRA contributions.  In other words, just eliminate the first bulletpoint. Now, the choice of Roth IRA versus the traditional IRA for your contributions is dependent upon your income and the tax impacts.  For example, you would not be eligible to make a deductible traditional IRA contribution if your Modified Adjusted […]

About to Graduate? Learn How to Save!

Hey, soon-to-be-graduates: as you begin to make your way out into the world of full-time employment, you’ll soon be faced with many, many “grown up” ways to spend the money you’ll be earning.  You’ll of course have rent, insurance, food and clothing, maybe a car payment, and you’ll want to use some of that new-found money to blow off steam, however you choose to do that – maybe fulfilling a lifetime dream of getting “beaked” by Fredbird, for example. If you’re on top of your game, you’ll may also be thinking about saving some of your earnings.  Here, you’ll have a bundle of options to choose from – regular “bank” savings accounts, 401(k) plan (or something similar) from your employer, and IRA accounts, both the traditional deductible kind and the Roth kind (hint: the Roth kind is what I want you to pay particular attention to). Side note: even if […]

Ordering Rules for Roth IRA Distributions

Tax (Photo credit: 401K) Did you know that there is a specific order for distributions from your Roth IRA? The Internal Revenue Service has set up a group of rules to determine the order of money, by source, as it is distributed from your account.  This holds for any distribution from a Roth account. Ordering rules First, over-contributions or return of your annual contribution for the tax year.  This means that if you’ve made a contribution to the Roth IRA in the tax year, the first money that you withdraw from the account will be the money that you contributed that year.  If you over-contributed to your account a prior year. Growth on this over-contribution or annual contribution needs to be removed at this time as well, with tax and penalty paid as required. Second, regular annual contributions to the account.  The next money that comes out is the total […]

2012 Retirement Plan Limits

Image via Wikipedia The new limits for retirement plans in 2012 have just recently been published.  The details of these new limits are below: IRA The contribution limit (and therefore the deductible contribution limit) for a traditional IRA remains the same in 2012 as in 2011 – at $5,000.  The catch up provision, available to taxpayers age 50 or better, also remains the same at $1,000. If you’re a Single filer and covered by a retirement plan via an employer, the deductibility phases out when your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) is over $58,000 and phases out completely at an AGI of $68,000.  This is an increase of $2,000 over the 2011 phase-out range. If you’re Married and filing jointly and the spouse making the IRA contribution is covered by a workplace retirement plan, the phase-out range is between $92,000 and $112,000, also up from 2011 by $2,000. If you’re not […]

Is It Really Allowed – Making a Non-Deductible IRA Contribution Followed By a Roth Conversion?

I occasionally receive this question: Can I make a non-deductible IRA contribution, and then shortly after convert the IRA into a Roth IRA?  My income is too high for me to make a contribution directly to a Roth IRA. Image by Plbmak via Flickr According to the rules in place today, you can do this.  Here are the applicable rules: There is no income limit for an individual to make a non-deductible IRA contribution. There is no income limit for an individual to make a Roth Conversion. There is no time limit on how long a contribution must be in a traditional IRA before converting it to a Roth IRA. Essentially this situation provides the individual with an income above the limits to contribute to a Roth IRA with an avenue to accomplish the funding of a Roth IRA.  It seems too good to be true.  And even though you […]

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