Retirement Plan Tax Savings Strategies

retirement plan tax savings

Retirement plan tax savings is a great strategy to reduce your tax bill.  Retirement plans can generate the best tax savings for business owners and employees alike. And these strategies can save both current year tax dollars, or save you taxes during retirement depending on the type of plan you contribute to.

Fully funding your company 401(k) with pre-tax dollars will reduce current year taxes, as well as increase your retirement nest egg. For 2018, the maximum 401(k) contribution you can make with pre-tax earnings is $18,500. For taxpayers 50 or older, that amount increases to $24,500.

If you have a SIMPLE 401(k), the maximum pre-tax contribution for 2018 is $12,500. That amount increases to $15,500 for taxpayers age 50 or older.

If certain requirements are met, contributions to an individual retirement account (IRA) may be deductible. For taxpayers under 50, the maximum contribution amount for 2018 is $5,500. For taxpayers 50 or older but less than age 70 1/2, the maximum contribution amount is $6,500. Contributions exceeding the maximum amount are subject to a 6 percent excise tax. Even if you are not eligible to deduct contributions, contributing after-tax money to an IRA may be advantageous because it will allow you to later convert that traditional IRA to a Roth IRA. Qualified withdrawals from a Roth IRA, including earnings, are free of tax, while earnings on a traditional IRA are taxable when withdrawn.

If you already have a traditional IRA, you should evaluate whether it is appropriate to convert it to a Roth IRA this year. You’ll have to pay tax on the amount converted as ordinary income, but subsequent earnings will be free of tax. And if you have a traditional 401(k), 403(b), or 457 plan that includes after-tax contributions, a new rule allows you to generally rollover these after-tax amounts to a Roth IRA with no tax consequences. A rollover of a SIMPLE 401(k) into a Roth IRA may also be available. As with all tax rules, there are qualifications that apply to these rollovers that we should discuss before you take any actions.

If you require distributions from your IRA or employer retirement plan but are not yet 59-1/2 to avoid the 10% early withdrawal penalty, consider setting up distributions using the “Substantially Equal Periodic Payments” rule that allows these distributions to escape the 10% penalty.

Retirement plan tax savings tend to be the quickest and easiest way to generate tax savings for most people. We strongly recommend using these plans to minimize taxes. We also recommend coordinating these tax savings vehicles with your financial advisor.

Steve Trojan is a CPA in Colorado and a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst. He owns Flatiron Advisors Tax and Accounting and also has the website Smarter Divorce Planning.

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