May 8, 2023 Weekly Update

We do love it when someone refers a family member or friend to us.  Sometimes the question is, “How can we introduce them to you?”   Well, there are multiple ways but a very easy way is to simply forward them a link to this webpage.

Here are this week’s items:

Portfolio Update:  Murs and I have recorded our portfolio update for May 8, 2023

This Week’s Podcast -What Issues Should You Consider Before You Retire?

Listen in to learn the importance of understanding your cash flow needs and budget and building some type of plan for your retirement. You will also learn the importance of budgeting for health insurance if you retire earlier than age 65 and the options to consider for long-term care planning.

 

This Week’s Blog – What Issues Should You Consider Before You Retire?

Are you considering retiring? After working your entire life, you’ve come to this beautiful ending where you’ve hit all your milestones to secure your retirement and can pursue the things that you truly love to do. Many companies offer early retirement options to their employees, it’s an important time to consider a few things before retirement.

What Issues Should You Consider Before You Retire?

Are you considering retiring? After working your entire life, you’ve come to this beautiful ending where you’ve hit all your milestones to secure your retirement and can pursue the things that you truly love to do.

Many companies offer early retirement options to their employees, it’s an important time to consider a few things before retirement.

In our most recent podcast, we go through all the things we think you should consider before retirement. Even if you’ve spent decades on retirement planning, these are things that you need to sit down and think about before transitioning into retirement.

Want a sneak peek at what we’ll be talking about?

  • Cash flow
  • Healthcare
  • Assets and debts
  • Tax planning issues
  • Long-term care

If you’re not considering all these points already, you need to go through them for yourself to better understand each one.

5 Issues to Consider Before Retirement

1. Cash Flow

Cash flow from your own financial perspective will change a lot when you retire. You’ve spent a lifetime working, receiving a check, and enjoying steady cash flow as a result. When you close out your life chapter of working, your cash flow will change.

Instead of cash being given to you for the hours you put in every week, you’ll take money out of the retirement accounts you’ve built up.

You’ll need to consider:

  • Your cash flow needs.
  • Where will the money come from- Social Security, pensions (we’re seeing far fewer of these), retirement accounts, etc.

Often, many of our clients have income from their careers, but do not have a strict budget in place. You need to spend time learning what your true cash flow needs are every month so that you can determine whether retirement is even a possibility.

If you’re lucky enough to have a pension, be sure to know your options:

  • Single life is often the highest payout
  • Spouse benefits

Are you retiring early? Social Security defines retirement as around 67, but there are benefit implications to retiring “early”. If you retire before 59.5, you are penalized on your IRA withdrawals. There are a lot of things to work through to understand what retiring early truly means.

For example, if you retire early, there is an income limit for Social Security that you need to consider. The limit is $21,240 (currently). If you hit full retirement age, the income limit is bumped up to $56,520.

Keep in mind:

  • Retiring before 55 comes with an IRA penalty
  • Retiring at 55 with a 401(k) doesn’t have a penalty

If you’re married, you also need to consider what that means for you and your spouse. You want to consider that one spouse likely has a higher income than the other. If you have a higher Social Security amount, your spouse will get credit if you’re married for 10 years or longer. The spouse, if they never worked, can receive up to 50% of the Social Security benefits that you have. However, if the person did work and their own benefits were higher, then they will receive the benefits they earned.

We recently had a client who didn’t know this and was shocked when they found out that their spouse would also get benefits. Even if you are now divorced but had been married to your ex-spouse for at least 10 years, there may be some benefit there for you in Social Security.

Healthcare is the next big point to consider.

2. Healthcare 

At 65, you qualify automatically for Medicare. Retiring before this age means that you must put a lot of thought into your healthcare because healthcare is very expensive. Medicare will save you a ton of money, but you need to bridge the few years between retirement and Medicare.

We’re seeing costs from $1,000 to $1,500 for people at 62 or so to get private health coverage. That figure is for a single individual and not a couple.

Employers cover your healthcare while you’re working, but when you retire, you’ll need to consider:

  • Dental
  • Vision
  • Healthcare

If you are contributing to an HSA, you will want to think about using this account, too. At age 65, you still need to take IRMAA into account, which is a Medicare surcharge for someone making over a certain threshold. We have a whole episode on this very topic, which you can listen to here or read here

3. Asset and debts 

Many of our clients have the majority of their money in an IRA or 401(k). One of the first things we are asked is, “Should I pay off my house?” If you need to take the funds from a 401(k), the answer is likely going to be: no. You need to pay taxes on your 401(k) withdrawals, and paying off your home can have a significant impact on the money you’ve saved. Instead, small distributions to make an extra payment often work better.

Low mortgage rates, such as 2.8 percent, can often be left because you may make more money with the cash in a brokerage account.

Let’s say that you have $100,000 left on your mortgage and your principal and interest payment is $1,200. If you had this $100,000 in a savings account, it might only net you $600 a month. In this scenario, paying off the house is a wise choice.

Bump your mortgage balance to $300,000, and it may not be beneficial to pay off your mortgage.

Beyond mortgage, you also need to consider risk exposure.

Transitioning to retirement means that you need income for 30-something years from the asset accounts that you have. When you retire, you want to have as little risk exposure as you can with your assets because you don’t want to experience a situation like we did in 2020 when some indexes fell 20% – 30%.

Reevaluating your investments and how you’re invested in the market will help you to limit your risk exposure.

4. Tax planning issues 

If you retire prior to 72 or 73, tax planning can save you a lot of money. 

Imagine retiring at 62 and you have $1 million in assets in your IRA growing at a little over 7% per year. By the time you’re 72, you’ll have $2 million and need to take a required minimum distribution of $80,000 or so per year. If you have Social Security and a pension, these distributions can push you into a higher tax bracket.

We can take a strategic approach to retirement by looking at a Roth conversion. We had a client who retired, had cash in the bank and lived on these funds to allow for significant Roth conversions at a low tax bracket.

5. Long-term care

The least fun part of retirement planning is long-term care planning. You never want to think about yourself in a long-term care situation, but it’s a reality that all of us are at risk of being in at some point.

And long-term care is not cheap.

You need to have a scenario in place where you are prepared to pay for this care. We’re seeing a lot of people pay $8,000 a month for long-term care, with durations being 4 or 5 years. This form of care can cost you $400,000 to $500,000 in total.

Can you afford to take on this financial burden?

You can pay insurance premiums out of pocket, or you can go with an asset-based plan. We’re seeing premiums soaring 50% to 70%, causing many people to be unable to pay for their long-term care.

Instead, you can put $100,000 in a long-term care annuity that grows to $300,000 and can be used for your long-term care. You still have access to this money if you need it and can also name beneficiaries on the account. A beneficiary will receive the total of the account if you pass and never use it, or they may receive any unused funds in the account.

If you pay insurance premiums on long-term care insurance, you will not receive any of these funds back. An annuity can be a great option because if you don’t need to use the funds in the account, they aren’t just going to an insurance company.

We also recommend that you have a will in place or review your will and beneficiaries on all accounts before you retire. If you don’t have all of your estate planning documents in place, you are putting a major burden on your family. You want to go as far as confirming all your beneficiaries and loved ones know the types of documents you have and where these documents are just in case you are ever unable to show them.

P.S. We are working off our own internal checklist titled “2023: What issues should I consider before I retire?” Call the office or email us if you would like a copy of this checklist. We also have a checklist for anyone who is updating their estate plan so that you don’t miss any key points along the way.

Click here to schedule a 15-minute call with us to discuss the things to consider before retirement.

May 1, 2023 Weekly Update

We do love it when someone refers a family member or friend to us.  Sometimes the question is, “How can we introduce them to you?”   Well, there are multiple ways but a very easy way is to simply forward them a link to this webpage.

Here are this week’s items:

Portfolio Update:  Murs and I have recorded our portfolio update for May 1, 2023

This Week’s Podcast -Maximizing Tax Benefits by “Bunching” Charitable Contributions

Listen in to learn how to bunch your charitable contributions into one year using the donor-advised fund. You will also learn why the donor-advised fund is the most flexible version of giving through the bunching strategy.

 

This Week’s Blog – Maximizing Tax Benefits by “Bunching” Charitable Contributions

Taxes are something very few people are excited to talk about. We know that it’s far more exciting to talk about maximizing tax benefits when trying to secure your retirement. And that’s what this entire blog post is about: saving money by bunching your charitable contributions.?

Maximizing Tax Benefits by “Bunching” Charitable Contributions

Taxes are something very few people are excited to talk about. We know that it’s far more exciting to talk about maximizing tax benefits when trying to secure your retirement. And that’s what this entire blog post is about: saving money by bunching your charitable contributions.

Note: We have a podcast on this very topic, which you can find here.

Why Should I Consider Charitable Contribution Bunching?

If you’re charitably inclined, you can save a lot of money by bunching your charitable contributions together. In the current tax code, whether you’re single or married, you receive what is known as a “standard deduction.”

Before this deduction, people would itemize all of their deductions one item at a time. The IRS decided that instead of itemization, people should have a standard deduction that doesn’t require them to list all of their deductions and saves the IRS time, too.

In 2023, the standard deduction is:

  • Single person: $13,850
  • Married: $27,700

When you take this deduction, you cannot itemize. Anyone who is giving money to charity will not be able to deduct their donation unless it is itemized, which really only makes sense if the figure is higher than the two listed above.

Bunching charitable contributions is one way to use deductions to maximize tax benefits.

Examples of Standard Deduction vs Itemizing Your Deductions

Today, the standard deduction has changed so much from 2017. In 2017, a married couple filing jointly would have a standard deduction of $12,500. With the figure being $27,700 in 2023, it becomes much more difficult to reach the amount of itemized deductions to justify not taking a standard deduction.

For example, let’s assume someone is charitably inclined and gives $10,000 in a calendar year.  The person also has $13,000 in other deductions, bringing their total deduction to $23,000. Since this figure is lower than the standard deduction, it doesn’t make sense to itemize.

However, people like getting tax benefits from giving their money away, and this is where bunching comes into play. A donor-advised fund is the perfect way to leverage bunching, and we’ll be talking about this type of fund more in the next few paragraphs.

Let’s assume that every year, you give $10,000 to charity.

In 2022 and 2023, instead of giving $10,000 each year, why not “bunch” it into an account that allows you to deduct $20,000 in 2022? You don’t even need to give all of the money out in 2022.

When you do this, you can deduct:

  • $20,000 in contributions
  • $13,000 in the other deductions that you have

Adding up all of these figures, you can deduct $33,000 in expenses, which is much higher than the standard deduction. You’ll deduct more from your taxes in 2022 using this strategy and can still take the $27,700 deduction in 2023.

  • How can you bunch all of your charitable contributions into a single year?
  • Do you need to give the full $20,000 in a single year?

For many people giving money to charity, they make a commitment to give a certain amount of money each year. Your church may need $10,000 a year and a lump sum of $20,000 may not be beneficial for them.

Donor-advised Funds and Bunching Charitable Contributions

Donor-advised funds allow you to do a few things:

  • Group deductions in one year
  • Give the funds to the account and not the church (like in the example above)

Charles Schwab, Vanguard and similar custodians will have a donor-advised fund. You will write a check to one of these funds for $20,000 and it will sit in these accounts. If you don’t want to write a check, you can also put stock in the account. Any money in the account can also be invested, which is a nice way to give even more money to charity.

When you put money into the fund, it’s an irrevocable gift to the charitable fund, but you’re in complete control over how to use this fund.

If you want, you can gift $10,000 a year to your church as long as it’s an approved charitable organization. You can log into your fund and request a check sent to the church from your fund.

However, you can bunch your charitable donations every few years by putting the funds into an account that you can control.

You can even decide to:

  • Reduce contributions
  • Give money to other charities

You don’t need to decide who gets the money when you create the fund. Once the money is in the account, you can direct the money as you see fit. Perhaps you want to let the $20,000 sit in the account for a few years and then give $2,000 of it away for 10 years. You have this option.

The only thing that you cannot do is give the funds back to yourself. After all, you’ve been given a tax break and the IRS won’t allow you to take the funds back.

Bunching can be done for two, three or more years. There are strategies around bunching that can save you more money. Typically, two to three years of bunching is what we see with our clients because it helps with maximizing tax benefits.

When you use bunching, you:

  • Save money on taxes
  • Still maintain full control over who gets the money

Donor-advised funds are available from most custodians. We work with Schwab, and they allow us to create one of these funds right online for our clients. Different custodians may have different setup requirements, but they all make it rather easy to set up your donor-advised fund. The process of setting up a donor-advised fund is as easy as opening a checking account.

 You can transfer money or stock into the account, too.

Our clients who are focused on retirement planning save a few thousand dollars by bunching their charitable contributions. If you are committed to donating a certain amount to charity each year, it makes sense to give bunching a try for yourself.

Do you want to learn more about bunching and donor-advised funds?

Click here to schedule a call with us to discuss charitable bunching with a member of our team.

November 14, 2022 Weekly Update

We do love it when someone refers a family member or friend to us.  Sometimes the question is, “How can we introduce them to you?”   Well, there are multiple ways but a very easy way is to simply forward them a link to this webpage.

Here are this week’s items:

Portfolio Update:  Murs and I have recorded our portfolio update for November 14, 2022 

This Weeks Podcast – Tax Planning Should Be a Part of Your Retirement Plan

Who wants to pay taxes? It’s impossible to avoid paying taxes altogether; what we can do is be more efficient with them.

Tax planning is an essential part of your retirement plan. To plan tax efficiently in your retirement, you have to understand all the different investments you’ve accumulated and the different types of tax structures to them.

 

This Weeks Blog -Tax Planning Should Be a Part of Your Retirement Plan

Retirement planning is on every worker’s mind, but there’s one area that people often overlook: tax planning for retirement. You work hard for your money, and if you take the time to plan out your taxes before retirement, it can keep more money in your pocket.

So, Why Should Tax Planning Be a Part of Your Retirement Planning?….

Tax Planning Should Be a Part of Your Retirement Plan

Retirement planning is on every worker’s mind, but there’s one area that people often overlook: tax planning for retirement. You work hard for your money, and if you take the time to plan out your taxes before retirement, it can keep more money in your pocket.

Why Should Tax Planning Be a Part of Your Retirement Planning?

Tax planning in retirement has become such a major importance that it’s something we’ve incorporated into our service. We bundle a lot of things into the cost, such as:

  • Estate planning
  • Tax planning
  • Retirement planning

We believe taxes are so important that we’ve partnered with CPAs to better help our clients. However, if you’re not a client of ours and are wondering why taxes are something to consider when you’re trying to secure your retirement, we’re going to clear that up for you.

Note: This is a high-level aspect of tax planning and is not exhaustive.

Linking Taxes and Retirement

When you enter retirement, you may have an IRA, Social Security and other income sources, all of which have their own tax requirements attached to them. Reviewing these income sources allows us to find ways to minimize your tax burdens.

Understanding the accounts that you have is the first step in the process.

Many of us have saved into pre-tax accounts, such as:

  • 401(k)
  • Traditional IRA

However, Roth accounts are handled differently, too. 

If you receive Social Security, it can also be taxed in many cases. So, there’s a lot to consider when entering retirement with all of these income sources. Let’s start with the one that most people don’t know about.

Social Security and Taxes

We’re concerned about Social Security because there’s been a lot of talk about changing it. Many of these changes may also lead to higher taxes on this income, but in the current space, you can still have benefits taxed.

Based on income, 85% of your Social Security can be taxed.

  • Individuals with an income of $25,000+ will have up to 85% of Social Security converted into taxable income.
  • Joint taxes filed with income of $32,000+ will have up to 85% of Social Security converted into taxable income.

Through tax planning and retirement planning, we may make sure there’s no other income coming in aside from Social Security to try and help save you money. Cash may be available for you to take to meet this obligation, and it may only be possible for a year or two.

If we begin in advance, we can find ways not to take money out and use cash to pay bills to reduce the risk of your benefits being taxed.

However, you need to begin as early as possible to reduce taxes. Waiting until late in the year can make it difficult to find viable ways to reduce your tax burden.

Taxes on Roth IRA and Traditional IRA 

Many people contribute to their 401(K) or IRA, and these are traditional accounts. When we say “traditional” accounts, we mean that these accounts have never had taxes paid on them. For example, if you have $1 million in a traditional IRA, you will need to pay taxes on these accounts when you take a withdrawal.

You take a tax break for your contributions, but all of your withdrawals add to your income and can be taxed.

Adversely, a Roth IRA or 401(K) is a beautiful tool that you can use for retirement. These accounts offer:

  • Tax upfront
  • Tax-free growth
  • No future taxes

You’ll pay taxes on your Roth account today, but it’s allowed to grow tax-free. For some of our clients, they’ll take some of their money from a traditional and Roth account to keep them in a lower tax bracket.

Roth accounts don’t provide an immediate tax break, but the money grows tax-free.

One method that is very popular in retirement planning is a Roth conversion.

Understanding the Benefit of a Roth Conversion

Roth conversions are a way to turn money from a traditional IRA over to a Roth. You will have to pay taxes immediately for the conversion, but when in the Roth account, it will grow for free.

Let’s look at an example of someone who has $300,000 in a traditional IRA and wants to convert $50,000 into a Roth IRA. In this case:

  • $50,000 goes into the Roth
  • $50,000 is claimed on tax returns

If you already made $75,000 and $50,000 was converted into a Roth account, it will lead to paying taxes on $125,000.

We use complex software on our end to identify your tax burden and any issues that may come up with a conversion that we overlook.

However, let’s assume the following:

  • You’re retiring in 2022
  • You’re not 72, so you don’t need to take out income from a traditional IRA
  • In 2023, you won’t have earned income
  • You have cash you can use for spending money

If you’re in the position above, you can convert some of your traditional IRA at 0% taxes. The government offers a standard deduction that you don’t benefit from unless you earn income. In this case, you can convert the amount of the standard deduction for free.

You can then consider whether you want to convert more money because you’re still in the lowest tax bracket at the moment.

Obviously, if you have a lot of income coming in, it may not be possible to pay such little taxes on your Roth conversion. We recommend that you tie tax and retirement plans into one because they work very well together.

Cash in the Bank and Taxes

If you have cash in the bank, there are no taxes attached to it. However, if you receive interest on these dollars, the taxes are typically low and negligible. You’ve already paid taxes on this money.

Brokerage Accounts and Taxes

Brokerage accounts are a bit more complex because some of the money may be taxed and the other money may not be taxed. There are also investments that have dividends that can cause you to pay taxes.

If you hold a short-term investment, you’ll need to pay taxes at your current tax rate if sold within a year.

Long-term capital gains are lower, so this can be used as an advantage. You can also leverage tax loss harvesting on these accounts to save money.

Tax planning can have such an impact on your retirement that it’s something you really need to consider. Taxes can also impact your IRMAA, or how much you need to pay for your health benefits in retirement.

Working with a CPA and financial advisor who are connected can help you save a lot of money in retirement.

Click here to schedule a call with us to discuss taxes and your retirement.

June 20, 2022 Weekly Update

We do love it when someone refers a family member or friend to us.  Sometimes the question is, “How can we introduce them to you?”   Well, there are multiple ways but a very easy way is to simply forward them a link to this webpage.

Here are this week’s items:

Portfolio Update:  Murs and I have recorded our portfolio update for June 20, 2022 

This Weeks Podcast -Steven Jarvis – Mid-Year Tax Strategies

Are you committed to having a tax-planning conversation outside the tax season? The only way to win in the tax game is to have a proactive approach when it comes to tax planning.

It’s important to be committed to having some kind of tax-planning conversation on any topic, especially…

 

This Weeks Blog –Tax Planning For Retirement

May 16, 2022 Weekly Update

We do love it when someone refers a family member or friend to us.  Sometimes the question is, “How can we introduce them to you?”   Well, there are multiple ways but a very easy way is to simply forward them a link to this webpage.

Here are this week’s items:

Portfolio Update:  Murs and I have recorded our portfolio update for May 16, 2022 

This Weeks Podcast –Tax Planning Versus Tax Preparation-

Did you know that you can legally and ethically avoid paying unnecessary taxes by working with the tax code? With tax planning, you can avoid tax risk.

Tax preparation is about being reactive while tax planning is about being proactive all year round every single year.

 

This Weeks Blog –Tax Planning Versus Tax Preparation

One thing that most people are concerned about is their taxes. People work hard for their money and want to keep as much of it in their pockets as possible. However, taxes come along and take a major chunk of your earnings.

Tax Planning Versus Tax Preparation

One thing that most people are concerned about is their taxes. People work hard for their money and want to keep as much of it in their pockets as possible. However, taxes come along and take a major chunk of your earnings.

Today, we’re going to discuss tax planning versus tax preparation.

Why?

They’re often lumped into the same definition, although they’re two completely different things. Tax preparation is when you put all of your numbers on a tax form or add it into TurboTax or something similar, and you pay the amount you owe to the IRS.

However, if you’re in retirement and on a strict budget, tax planning works to save you money on the taxes you need to pay.

We recommend tax planning for everyone because it saves you a lot of money.

Tax Preparation Basics

When you have your taxes prepared, it goes something like this:

  • You file your own taxes, use software or hire a CPA
  • Based on the calculations, you pay the taxes for the previous year

In 2022, you’re paying your 2021 taxes. All of the preparation happens the following year after the money is earned, and there’s no real planning involved.

This is where tax planning could have helped.

How Tax Planning Differs

Tax planning happens for the tax year. For example, if you want to save money on your taxes when you file in 2022, planning needs to occur in 2022, not 2023. Tax planning is a proactive approach taken during the year to reduce taxes.

Otherwise, there are only so many ways to reduce your tax burden in April if you didn’t plan for it throughout the year.

For example, let’s assume that you made a ton of money in 2022, received a great bonus and will need to pay a lot of money in taxes. If you engage in tax planning, you may be able to reduce your taxes when you file in 2023 by:

  • Using charitable contributions
  • Roth conversions
  • Etc.

And if done correctly, tax planning can be done over the course of years to reduce your taxes drastically.

Tax Planning Strategies to Save You Money

Reduce Taxes on Social Security

Many people entering retirement don’t understand that they have to pay taxes on their Social Security income. While there are some exceptions to this rule, many of you reading this will still need to pay money to the IRS based on the benefits you receive.

If you make an income in retirement, somewhere around $40,000 for a married couple filing jointly, you will have to pay taxes on up to 85% of your Social Security benefits.

Tax planning can help you reduce your tax burden.

Let’s step back for a moment and consider how people plan for retirement. Many people save for retirement using:

  • 401(k)
  • Traditional IRA

Using these accounts, people plan to supplement their Social Security benefits. However, when you paid into these accounts, you didn’t pay any taxes. You’ll now need to pay taxes when you withdraw from these accounts.

Let’s assume that you take $30,000 out of the IRA per year to supplement your income.

Now, you have $30,000 of income that is taxable and $40,000 in Social Security benefits. Since you “earned” an income from these retirement accounts, you’ll need to pay higher taxes. Utilizing the right strategy, you can move money out of these tax-deferred accounts into accounts where you pay taxes first, but when you make withdrawals in the future, you don’t have to claim the income.

If all you have in income is your Social Security, you’ll:

  • Pay less in taxes
  • Pay less in Medicare premiums

However, tax planning in this scenario needs to take place 5 or 6 years before you plan to retire.

Roth Conversions to Reduce Taxes

Roth conversions are one of the best ways to get your tax-deferred money out of your 401(k) and Traditional IRA and into an account that allows you to have income in retirement but not pay taxes on it.

In fact, using this strategy, most of our clients earn the same or even a higher income in retirement than when working.

But here’s the problem.

  • Tax-deferred accounts mean you pay less taxes now and more taxes when you make withdrawals
  • People assume that when they’re in retirement, their income will be lower, so they’ll pay less taxes
  • Based on this assumption, people think a tax-deferred account is the best option to pay less taxes

The problem is we’re seeing people earn more in retirement than when they’re working, causing them to pay higher taxes because they’re in a higher tax bracket.

And you have to start taking a required minimum distribution (RMD) at 72 and a half due to tax laws. 

Instead, a Roth conversion works like this:

  • Roll pre-taxed money into a taxed account
  • Convert money into a tax-free bucket
  • Reduce your long-term taxes

Let’s assume that you have $1 million in a tax-deferred account. When you convert to a Roth account, you’ll pay taxes on the $1 million. However, the money can now grow tax-free, meaning as the account grows, you don’t have to worry about taxes.

We know that if tax laws do not change, everyone is going to pay higher taxes in 2026.

If you convert to a Roth account, you’ll pay taxes today and avoid the higher taxes that are coming in just a few years.

Tax planning helps you account for all of these factors, save money when you’re in retirement, and have a lot less to worry about as a result. Tax-free buckets are ideal for everyone planning to retire because your money can grow tax-free.

And we have one last tax planning strategy that we must discuss: planning for your surviving spouse.

Planning for Your Surviving Spouse

In 99.99% of marriages, someone is going to outlive their spouse. Of course, there are the rare occasions when spouses pass on the same day, but this often involves a very tragic occurrence. Tax planning for your surviving spouse is not something many people want to think about, but it’s a way to ensure your spouse is financially stable when you’re no longer here.

When you pass, your spouse needs to file as a single person, and this does a few things:

  • Increases tax burden
  • Reduces standard deductions

Setting up a tax-friendly account for your spouse is the best option if you don’t want to transfer money to the IRS. Planning ahead allows you to save your spouse money on taxes and ensure that they have the income necessary to live comfortably after you’re gone.

Work with a CPA or us (click here to book a conversation) to start working through in-depth tax planning to save you and your spouse money on their taxes.

One last thing before you go:

Click here to subscribe to our Secure Your Retirement podcast for more great information on retirement and tax planning.

Tax Planning for Retirement

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.

Why?

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.

Click here to schedule an introduction call to discuss your taxes further.