One of the things we deal with routinely for people retiring or already in retirement is concerns about taxes. People are very worried about their taxes. After all, you’ve worked diligently to build up your retirement, so the last thing that you want to do is give more money back to the IRS.
Luckily, we were able to sit down with Steven Jarvis, a tax professional, to help answer some of the most common questions our clients have about taxes.
But first, we want to cover the many different types of tax planning professionals that you may come across.
Tax Professionals You Might Come Across When Seeking Help
Depending on your situation, there are a lot of options for taxes:
- DIY software
- H&R Block
- Accountant or CPA
If you have uncomplicated taxes, software may be a good option for you. Software is very powerful, but it’s very easy to make a mistake when you go beyond the basics.
Ideally, you may want to work with a full-service CPA.
When you dive into tax strategies, a CPA is almost always the best option because they go beyond algorithms.
Working on Tax Strategies
Tax strategies are important, but there are many different aspects. For a lot of people, they feel like taxes are a black box that they put money into without many options available. In fact, a lot of people view their taxes as being painful.
However, working with a CPA ensures that you don’t leave the IRS a tip.
You need to pay every dollar that you owe, but you should never leave the IRS a tip.
When you’re only worried about filing a tax return, this is tax preparation. If you’ve ever gone to an accountant, handed them a stack of papers, and simply waited for a tax document that you can file, this is tax preparation.
However, you always have tax planning to consider. Tax planning allows you to look a year or two ahead, and then find ways to reduce your future tax bill. When you engage in tax planning, you’re not worried about preparing taxes this year, but rather, what you’ll need to pay in the years ahead.
A Deeper Look into Tax Planning
When tax preparation and planning work together, it truly works to your benefit. Tax planning often comes in around November, which allows you to make adjustments at the end of the year to help reduce your tax burden.
Everyone worries about taxes rising in the future.
Roth conversions are a hot topic right now, and they’re a good way to really look at tax planning on a deeper level.
When we’re talking about Roth conversion accounts, these are tax-deferred retirement accounts. Tax planners will consider whether a person’s taxes will rise. For example, will your taxes rise because:
- Your income rises to a new tax bracket?
- The IRS decides to increase taxes?
If taxes are never going to rise, your choice doesn’t matter. However, Congress can raise taxes next year, and you might benefit from paying your taxes now at a lower rate than in the future at a higher rate.
How much you convert also needs to be considered on a personal level.
You might want to fill up a tax bracket, but it really depends on your required minimum distributions and other factors.
Often, when people retire and finally draw from all their income buckets, they’ll move into higher tax brackets than they were in during their working years.
Tax Changes That May Come About in the Future
Tax codes are written in pencil, so any predictions on future taxes are just that – predictions. Unfortunately, we’ve seen that in recent months, where each proposed tax bill is altered and doesn’t look anywhere near the same as its original draft.
However, one very important topic to consider is that Congress may get rid of backdoor Roth contributions.
Backdoor Roth contributions offer the option to have pre-tax and after-tax dollars in the same account. As you can imagine, this strategy can be very effective, but proposed changes would disallow this strategy.
Tax strategies allow you to make the best decision for the future based on today’s tax code.
However, an annual review of your strategy is crucial because we are dealing with taxes that can always evolve and change.