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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 […]

Three Year-End Financial Moves

As 2015 comes to a close here are a few things to consider so you can make the most of your money for 2015. Take full advantage of your IRA contributions. For those age 50 and over, you’re allowed $6,500 and if you’re under age 50, $5,500. It may also be of benefit to see if you qualify for a deductible IRA contribution or if contributing to a Roth IRA makes sense. Make the maximum contribution to your employer sponsored retirement plan. Granted, there may not be much time left in the year to do this, but there is plenty of time to do so for 2016. Many companies have access to their plans online and employees can change contribution amounts when necessary. If you’re not already doing so, consider saving at least 10 percent of your gross income. Aim for 15 to 20 percent if you can. Pay yourself […]

Buy Term and Invest the Difference?

A topic often argued in the financial service world, especially in the life insurance sector, is whether or not an individual should buy term and invest the difference or buy a cash value life insurance policy. How this argument generally goes is on one side you’ll have someone arguing that an individual should buy a cash value life insurance policy. This individual (generally a commissioned salesperson) will argue that buying a cash value life insurance policy (such as whole life) is a better option for a client since it generates cash value over time and “forces” the client to save. Often they’ll argue that the client wouldn’t save for retirement otherwise. On the flip side of that argument you’ll have someone (perhaps from our office) suggest the client should buy term life insurance and invest the difference in price from the whole life policy and the term life policy in […]

Spousal IRAs for Stay at Home Parents

Many parents make the decision that after their child is born one parent will stay at home to be with the child. Some of the reasons include saving on daycare expenses, and wanting at least one parent to bond and be with the child during those precious first few years of development. Whatever the reason, the stay at home parent may leave a job and lose access to certain benefits – mainly their employer sponsored retirement savings plan. Although the stay at home parent has lost this benefit, it doesn’t mean that they have to stop saving for retirement. One benefit the stay at home parent can take advantage of is the spousal IRA. Spousal IRAs aren’t a specifically titled IRA. In other words, the IRA needn’t be titled “Spousal IRA”. It’s simply an IRA in the stay at home parent’s name – no different than if they had an […]

An Exception to the RMD Rule

For many folks, attaining age 70 ½ means the beginning of required minimum distributions (RMDs) from their 401k, 403b as well as traditional IRAs. There are however, some individuals that will continue to work because they want to or (unfortunately) have to and still want to save some of their income. At age 70 ½ individuals can no longer make traditional IRA contributions. They are allowed to make contributions to a Roth IRA as long as they still have earned income. Earned income is generally W2 wages or self-employment income. It is not pension income, annuity income or RMD income.

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 […]

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 […]

Taking Distributions from Your IRA In Kind

When you take a distribution from your IRA, whether to put the funds in a taxable account or to convert it to a Roth IRA, you have the option of taking the distribution “in kind” or in cash. In cash means that you sell the holding in the account or simply take distribution of cash that already exists in the account. This is the most common method of taking distributions, and it is definitely the simplest way to go about receiving and dealing with a distribution.  Cash is cash, it has only one value – therefore the tax owed on the distribution, whether a complete distribution or a conversion to a Roth account. On the other hand, if you choose to use the “in kind” option, you might just save some tax on the overall transaction.  The reason this is true is due to the fact that the amount reported […]

Staging Your Roth IRA Conversion

So you have a substantial IRA (or several IRAs), and you’ve retired.  For the first time since you started your career, you’re in a low tax bracket.  You’re not age 70½ just yet, so you don’t need to concern yourself with Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs). But then again, maybe you should concern yourself with those Required Minimum distributions…? Think about it – you’re in a good place, tax-wise, and your IRA money is bound to continue to grow over time.  You are getting along just fine with your pension, Social Security, and other investment income.  This is the perfect time to strategically reduce your future tax bite. Staging the Roth IRA Conversion Let’s say for example that your taxable income puts you in one of the lowest tax brackets… say 15% or 25%. You have some “headroom” left in the bracket to spare, meaning that you could realize some additional […]

IRA Cross Loans – Don’t Even Think About It

Once again in the category of terrible things you can attempt to do with your IRA, there is the concept of a “cross loan” from your IRA to another, unrelated party. You know from previous articles that it’s not allowable to transact business with disqualified persons.  Therefore, you can not take a loan from your IRA to finance your business.  But what if you came to an agreement with someone else not related to you in any way, who is not a disqualified person, to loan money from your IRA to finance her business, while she loans money from her IRA to finance yours?  Whatever could go wrong with this? While the technical provision of transacting business with a disqualified person has been avoided, there’s a small problem with the plan.  There is another test that prohibits the IRA owner from receiving an indirect benefit from a transaction.  In the […]

2011 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 50% for every dollar (or 60% 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 […]

2011 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 $90,000 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 $90,000 but less than $110,000, you are entitled to a partial deduction, reduced by 25% for every dollar […]

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