Entering retirement changes quite a few things in life. Income begins to come from investments and social security benefits instead of employment. Inevitably, your financial circumstances will change, and so should your financial plans. You might stop collecting paychecks from employment, but taxes aren’t going anywhere. Your relationship with taxes will change, and it’s important to take a retirement tax plan seriously in this stage of your life to protect your wealth.
How to Minimize Taxes in Retirement?
Less is more when it comes to paying taxes. While in the workforce, a central component of minimizing taxes is by lowering your taxable income with contributions to your tax-deferred retirement savings plan.
Upon entering retirement, this is no longer an option. Instead, your income will start to come from taxable withdrawals from your savings account.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to get the best out of retirement and avoid unnecessary taxes.
How to Manage Your 401k
There are some nasty tax penalties that can apply to your 401k if you aren’t careful.
Awareness of the related age requirements is a good place to start. If you like the benefits and investment options of your 401k, you can keep your funds in it even after you leave the employer (as long as it has at least $5,000) until the plan’s retirement age. This can be when you reach the age of 65 or even later in some cases.
Normally, withdrawals made from a 401k before the age of 59 ½ are subject to penalty fees. The Rule of 55 is a way around this. If you leave a position after you reach 55 years of age, you can be exempt from the usual 10% penalty fee for early withdrawals. This rule does not apply to IRA accounts.
Transferring to an IRA
If you’re nearing retirement or have already retired with funds in a 401k, you may want those funds to reap the investment benefits of an IRA account. Whether you already have an IRA or plan to open one, there’s an important consideration to make when transferring money to it from your 401k.
Any money that is made out to you will be subject to income taxes. Instead of having your 401k pay funds directly to you, simply have them made out directly to the IRA account. Do this either by having money sent directly into the account or have a check made out to your IRA account. Small steps like this one can mean side-stepping large and unnecessary taxes.
What about a Roth 401k?
A Roth 401k differs from a traditional 401k in that, while still employer-sponsored, the money is taxed before investment as opposed to the time of withdrawal. This makes it a beneficial option for people who expect to be in a higher tax bracket after they retire.
As with a traditional 401k, there may be benefits to transferring funds from your Roth 401k into a Roth IRA. Roth 401ks have required minimum distributions once you reach the age of 70 ½. By rolling your funds into a Roth IRA, you’ll be able to avoid this requirement and keep your money invested and growing.
When to Convert Your Traditional IRA to a Roth
The tax advantage of a traditional IRA is that it allows you to make tax-deferred contributions to your retirement savings plan. This lowers your taxable income and can put you in a better tax bracket. When you withdraw funds from your traditional IRA after retirement, however, it is treated as taxable income.
Roth accounts offer the advantage of tax-free growth and withdrawals after retirement. The catch is that all contributions to the account are subject to tax. Anyone with a traditional IRA can convert it to a Roth, but that conversion will be taxed. Too much money converted at once can put you in a higher tax bracket. For this reason, the most tax-efficient method is often to roll funds into a Roth IRA gradually over a period of time.
What Are the Best Retirement Investment and Tax Plans?
The best retirement plans are those that are tailored to the individual. Everyone’s financial situation is unique to them in some way, and there’s simply no one-size-fits-all strategy. In seeking the best plan for you, becoming well informed is a crucial step. Here are four things to consider.
When considering the best investment strategy for retirement, it’s a good idea to take into account the tax classifications of your investments.
For example, since your Roth account grows tax-free, it should be the most aggressive part of your portfolio. Since your traditional IRA won’t see any taxes until you make a withdrawal, it can be more managed more actively.
Trust accounts, on the other hand, make better long-term investments. This is because they receive a step-up in cost basis when you or your spouse passes away. Essentially, the capital gains tax on the appreciation of the asset is eliminated for the beneficiary.
The different tax classifications of your retirement savings account will also have an impact on the best way to turn them into income.
There are a few common withdrawal strategies that can help minimize taxes.
This strategy involves making withdrawals from one account at a time. It is often advised to start first withdrawing from taxable accounts, then tax-deferred accounts, and finally Roth accounts. This method allows the most time for your tax-deferred and tax-free accounts to grow, resulting in higher tax-free capital gains.
Another method that can help some people pay lower taxes over the course of retirement is to draw from all retirement accounts each year. When withdrawals are made from each of the accounts in proportion to overall savings, it can help spread out and reduce the tax impact.
Large gains approach
For those expecting to benefit from larger long-term gains, there is a third approach that may be best. In this approach, the investor first draws from taxable accounts, letting tax-deferred accounts grow. After the taxable accounts have been used, they can begin to take proportional withdrawals from the remaining accounts.
The best withdrawal strategy varies from person to person. To make sure you’re making the best decisions for your own financial situation it’s often best to consult a financial advisor. Well-informed decisions are the best decisions, and enlisting the help of a professional is a wise move.
One great way to lower your tax rate is by making charitable donations. Finding ways to pay less tax doesn’t have to be a self-centered endeavor.
Donor-Advised Funds (DAFs) are accounts set up between a donor and a charitable organization. The donor doesn’t have to pay tax on the funds donated to the account. Instead, taxes are paid when withdrawals are made from the fund. This method can offer sizable tax breaks while you are still working and potentially in a higher tax bracket.
If social security benefits are going to play a roll in your retirement, it’s important to understand the associated stipulations.
The earliest you can begin taking your benefits is at the age of 62. If you start this early, however, your benefits will be reduced by 25%. To have access to your full retirement benefits, you must wait until normal retirement age which is around 66 depending on when you were born.
You can also decide to wait even longer to take your social security benefits. For every year you wait past normal retirement age, you will receive an additional 8% in benefits. This increase is valid until you reach the age of 70, and it means an additional 32% in savings as opposed to taking money out at 66.
When is the Best Time to Start Planning for Your Retirement?
The answer to this question is simple. The sooner the better. It’s important to take action once you’ve entered retirement, but planning for retirement can and should start much earlier. Retirement planning is one of the best things you can do to ensure you don’t find yourself in a less than ideal financial situation later in life.
The earlier you start making contributions to a retirement plan the longer your investments will have time to grow. It’s the best way to guarantee yourself financial independence later in life. Having time on your side is a major advantage.
What Are Your Retirement Goals?
At the end of the day, determining the best retirement tax plan is based on your individual needs. It’s necessary to take into account the income you expect to need to live comfortably, your post-retirement expenses, and your goals for life after retirement. You may stop working, but taxes will continue to be a part of your financial picture. Proper planning and professional guidance are the surest ways to fulfill your retirement goals.
Guidance You Can Trust
However you choose to protect your wealth, remember that professional guidance will provide you with the best options available to you. The right wealth management partner will make these options clear and easy to understand so that you can choose the financial services that will serve you best.
Finding a financial advisor who takes the time to get to know you and treats your financial decisions with respect is the wisest move you can make in wealth management and retirement tax planning. Schedule a meeting with us here to learn more.