At retirement, if you have a pension, you have to make a difficult decision that could negatively impact your future financial security and that of your spouse. Most people with company pension plans give this decision little thought and simply select the first payout option listed on their pension estimate; Joint and Equal Survivor Option.
For example, assume your maximum lifetime pension benefit is $2,000 monthly.
With the joint and equal survivor option, you’ll receive a significantly lower lifetime pension payment. Your surviving spouse, however, will continue to receive 100% of your pension benefit if you die first.
- For as long as you live, you receive 75% of $2,000 the maximum life income option benefit. Your benefit is reduced to $1,500 per month, for life.
- If you die first, your spouse will receive a lifetime monthly pension benefit equal to 100% of your benefit, or $1,500 per month.
- If your spouse dies first you will continue to receive $1500 per month. There is generally no going back to the maximum $2,000 benefit.
Second choice is – Joint and One-Half Survivor Option:
If you elect the joint and one-half survivor option, you’ll receive a lower lifetime pension payment. On the other hand, if you die first, your surviving spouse will continue to receive a lifetime pension benefit equal to 50% of your pension benefit prior to your death. For example:
- For as long as you live, you receive a monthly pension benefit of $1,700 or about 85% of the maximum life income option benefit.
- If you die first, your spouse will receive a lifetime monthly pension benefit equal to 50% of your benefit, or $850 per month.
- If your spouse dies first, however, your monthly pension benefit remains at $1,700.
Next choice is – Life Income Option:
If you receive your pension benefit under the life income option, you receive the maximum lifetime pension payment. If you die first however, your surviving spouse receives nothing after your death. For example
- For as long as you live, you receive a monthly pension benefit of $2,000.
- If you die first, however, your spouse will receive a monthly pension benefit of $0.
- If your spouse dies first, your monthly pension benefit remains unchanged at $2,000.
At retirement, you will have to decide how your pension benefit will be paid out for the rest of your life:
- If you elect to receive the maximum retirement check each month for as long as you live, with the condition that upon your death, your spouse gets nothing.
- If you elect to receive a reduced retirement check each month, with the condition that upon your death, your spouse will continue to receive an income.
- This pension decision is permanent.
- The decision you make will determine the amount of pension income you receive for the rest of your life.
- The decision is generally irreversible.
- In making this decision, many people unknowingly purchase the largest death benefit (life insurance) they will ever buy and one over which they have no control.
How Can Retirement Income Protection Help Solve the Pension Benefit Dilemma?
Federal law allows a pension plan participant to waive the “joint and survivor” annuity payout requirement, with the written consent of his or her spouse. This means that, with your spouse’s consent, you can elect to receive the MAXIMUM life income annuity payout at your retirement.
- However, what happens to your surviving spouse’s income and lifestyle if you should die first?
The solution, you maintain sufficient life insurance to replace the pension income lost at your death, assuring that your spouse will have an adequate source of income after your death. This is a death benefit you control and if your spouse predeceases you the life insurance can be surrendered paying you back part or all of your premiums; Depending on when death occurred.
In making this important decision, you should evaluate the risks associated with retirement income protection funded with life insurance:
- Your income after retirement must be sufficient to ensure that the life insurance policy premiums can be paid and coverage stay in force for your lifetime. Otherwise, your spouse may be without sufficient income after your death.
- If your pension plan provides cost-of-living adjustments, will upward adjustments in the amount of life insurance be needed to replace lost cost-of-living adjustments after your death?
- Does your company pension plan continue health insurance benefits to a surviving spouse and, if so, will it do so if you elect the life income option?
Don’t forget about your unemployed or under-employed spouse when it comes to IRA contributions. Given the current unemployment rate, you may have a nonworking spouse at the moment. That doesn’t mean they are not able to make an IRA contribution.
As long as you are married, filing a joint tax return, and under the age of 70½, you can look to the following scenarios to see if you can make a contribution to a traditional IRA, and check if the contribution is partially or fully deductible.
One or more spouses working – neither spouse is covered by a qualified retirement plan (QRP) at work: Both spouses can make a deductible contribution to a traditional IRA up to $5,500 for 2013 ($6,500 if age 50 or older) and $5,500 for 2014 ($6,500 if age 50 or older) regardless of adjusted gross income (AGI). (Earned income must at the least be equal to the amount of the traditional IRA contribution.)
One or more spouses working – one spouse is covered by a qualified retirement plan (QRP) at work: The non-covered spouse can make a deductible IRA contribution up to $5,500 for 2013 ($6,500 if 50 or older) and $5,500 for 2014 ($6,500 if age 50 or older); however, deductibility is phased out based on joint AGI. The covered spouse’s ability to take a deduction for a contribution to a traditional IRA for 2013 is phased out with joint AGI between $95,000 and $115,000, and for 2014 is phased out with joint AGI between $96,000 and $116,000. The non-covered spouse’s ability to take a deduction for a contribution to a traditional IRA for 2013 is phased out with joint AGI between $178,000 and $188,000, and for 2014 is phased out with joint AGI between $181,000 and $191,000. (Earned income must at the least be equal to the IRA contribution amount.)
One or more spouses working – both are covered by a qualified retirement plan (QRP) at work: If both spouses are working and covered by a QRP they can each still take a full deduction for a contribution to a traditional IRA for 2013 if joint AGI is below $95,000, and for 2014 if joint AGI is below $96,000. Deductibility is phased out in 2013 when their joint AGI is between $95,000 and $115,000 and in 2014 when their joint AGI is between $96,000 and $116,000.
Roth IRA contributions
With Roth IRAs, participation in a QRP is not an issue, nor is age. As long as you are married, filing a joint tax return, each spouse can make a contribution to a Roth IRA up to $5,500 for 2013 ($6,500 if age 50 or older) and $5,500 for 2014 ($6,500 if age 50 or older) as long as earned income is at least equal to the 2014 Roth contribution and joint AGI is below the phase-out eligibility limit of for joint filers, $178,000 for 2013 and $181,000 for 2014. The phase-out range for determining how much of a contribution can be made to a Roth IRA is $178,000 to $188,000 for 2013 and $181,000 to $191,000 for 2014.
The dollar limits for contributions to a Roth IRA for year are reduced by any contributions to traditional IRAs for than year.Continue Reading »
Taxes are inevitable. You know that part. Each April 15, you tally up all of your 1099 forms that you have received and pay taxes on your investments, even if you haven’t actually spent a penny of those dividends and interest earnings. Unfortunately, the money lost to taxes will never be available to you again. But if you use the principles of tax diversification, you could benefit by paying taxes on what you spend – Not on what you earn.
Tax diversification is as important as investment diversification when it comes to managing retirement saving risks. With the proper advice you can create flexibility by selecting the best tax situation for your specific needs and time horizon.
Think about your financial goals for today, the next 10-15 years and down the road as you near retirement and answer these questions:
- What investments do you currently hold?
- What is the intent for that money?
- Can it be allocated more tax efficiently?
- How many years until you retire? If you are retired how much and long do need your income?
- Are you planning a major purchase?
- What do you pay in taxes on each year- as reflected in IRS Form 1099
Now divide your investments into these three categories:
- Money that is taxed now
- Money that is taxed later (tax deferred/taxed when withdrawn)
- Money that is never taxed (paid in with after tax dollars and tax free during accumulation and at withdrawal)
Reallocate your investments into the appropriate category, if necessary.Continue Reading »
The federal government will not accept a percentage of your estate as payment for your estate tax bill. Instead, your estate tax bill must be paid in cash, and it must be paid within nine months after your death.
If your estate is subject to the federal estate tax, there are FOUR ways to provide your estate with the cash needed to pay your estate tax bill:
- You could accumulate enough cash in your estate to pay your estate tax bill outright. Rarely, however, does a successful person accumulate such large sums of cash. Instead, the reason for financial success is usually due to the investment of cash in appreciating assets, rather than accumulating it in a bank.
100% PLUS METHOD
- Your estate could borrow the cash needed to pay your estate tax bill. This, however, only defers the problem, since the money will then have to be repaid with interest.
ASSET LIQUIDATION METHOD
- Your estate could liquidate sufficient assets to pay your estate tax bill. This choice may make sense if your estate owns considerable assets that can be readily sold for a gain following your death. Keep in mind, however, that if a forced liquidation is necessary, it may bring only a small fraction of the true value of your assets. In addition, sales expenses are bound to be incurred.
- Assuming you qualify, you can arrange now to pay your estate tax bill with life insurance dollars. For every dollar your estate needs, you can give an insurance company from approximately one to seven cents a year, depending on your age and health. No matter how long you live, it is unlikely you will ever give the insurance company more than 100 cents on the dollar. In addition, the life insurance policy can frequently be structured to accommodate your unique premium payment requirements.
The ObamaCare penalties for failing to purchase qualified health insurance start in tax year 2014. If a person was required to purchase minimum essential coverage and did not, she/he would only be required to pay a tax penalty for not purchasing PPACA coverage (if she/he files a U.S. tax return). In many cases, this tax is far less than the premiums that a person would pay for obtaining PPACA/ObamaCare coverage.
Q: What will my penalty tax be if am required to purchase qualified ObamaCare coverage, but do not purchase it?
Penalty Tax Calculations:
Tax penalties begin in 2014 and rise in years following. In each year, the tax consists of the higher of a dollar amount or a percentage of household income. For a given household, the tax applies to each individual, up to a maximum of three.
Following is the schedule of ACA penalty taxes:
- 2014: The higher of $95 per person (up to 3 people, or $285) OR 1.0% of taxable income.
- 2015: The higher of $325 per person (up to 3 people, or $975) OR 2.0% of taxable income.
- 2016: The higher of $695 per person (up to 3 people, or $2,085) OR 2.5% of taxable income.
- After 2016: The same as 2016, but adjusted annually for cost-of-living increases.
Tax Penalty Examples:
- 2014- Family of 2 with a taxable income of $26,000. Penalty Tax is $260; because $260 ($26,000x 1%) is more than $190 ($95 x 2 persons).
- 2014 -Family of 3; with a taxable income of $26,000. Penalty Tax is $285; because $285 ($95×3 persons) is more than $260 ($26,000 x 1%).
- 2014 -Family of 3; with a taxable income of $50,000. Penalty Tax is $500; because $500 ($50,000 x 1%) is more than $285 ($95 x 3 persons).
- 2015 -Family of 3; taxable income of $26,000. Penalty Tax is $975; because $975 ($325 x 3) is more than $525 ($26,000 x 2%)
- 2016 -Family of 3; taxable income of $26,000. Penalty Tax is $2,085; because $2,085 ($695 x 3) is more than $650 ($26,000 x 2.5%)
- After 2016: The same as 2016, but adjusted annually for cost-of-living increases.
For those buying health coverage on the government run exchange make sure to check the provider network limits. Network limitations may cause additional financial penalties. For example if a person needs health services while traveling out of their network area there are costly out of network penalties. If coverage is available at all.
Many insurance companies still offer policies off the Exchange. The premiums are about same with lower deductibles and more robust networks. However, buying on the government’s exchange is the only way to get the subsidy. Many people don’t qualify for the subsidy or it’s greatly reduced due to income.
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When should you consider rolling over or transferring your retirement plan?
- Change of employment- Most retirement plans become what is known as orphaned when you leave the employer who sponsored the plan. In order to maintain control of your money it is wise to rollover these plans into a personal retirement account.
- Of course, when you are retiring – This is the time when you may want to start receiving income from your retirement plan. Your plan may or may not have income options if it does shop these payments among private insurance companies. This will insure you receive the highest income payments possible.
- If you are receiving part of a spouse’s retirement plan due to a marital status change – It is a good idea to rollover the funds in order to maintain personal control.
- When your current retirement plan is terminating - For a variety of reason employers will discontinue a plan and start another leaving the previous plan “frozen in place”. A good time to do a rollover.
- In-service distribution from your current plan when available can be rolled over into a personal retirement with guarantees in order prevent future losses.
- When you’re inheriting money as the beneficiary of a retirement plan account – Depending on your relationship with the deceased you may be able to do a spousal transfer without taxation into your own personal IRA. Sorry kids you will have to pay income taxes.
- When you have worked for multiple employers, participated in multiple plans, and now desire to consolidate the assets from those different plans into a single plan.
- If your retirement plan has no safe money investment options – it is advisable to diversify using a rollover whenever your plan allows.
A recent tax court ruled that only one IRA rollover is allowed per year. To avoid tax problems it is better to do an institution to institution transfer. This way the funds are never comingled with any of your other money.
Consult with a professional to help you make the most informed decision when a rollover is in your best interest.
You may ask questions in the comments or contact me privately Tim Barton, ChFCContinue Reading »
An IRA Rollover does not involve current income tax deductions, but rather is a method through which tax favored retirement plan assets can be transferred from one plan to another plan while maintaining their tax favored status.
What Types of Rollovers Are Permitted in 2014?
Eligible rollover distributions from qualified plans, 403(b) annuities and Section 457 plans may be rolled over to any of the other types of plans that will accept such rollovers. A Section 457 governmental plan must separately account for funds received from qualified plans, 403(b) annuities or IRAs, or it may not accept such funds.
Distributions from a qualified plan paid to the surviving spouse of a deceased participant may be rolled over within 60 days to another qualified plan, a Section 403(b) annuity, a regular IRA or a Section 457 plan.
The maximum amount generally eligible for rollover is the amount that would be included in income if not rolled over. There is, however, an exception…after-tax employee contributions distributed from a qualified plan can be rolled over to a regular IRA or to a defined contribution plan in a direct trustee-to-trustee transfer, if separately accounted for.
Roth IRA Rollovers
Participants in traditional (non-Roth) qualified plans can roll plan distributions over to a Roth IRA. The rollover amount, less any after-tax contributions, is included in gross income in the year of the distribution.
Participants who receive a distribution from a Roth account in a qualified plan need to roll that Roth account over into a Roth IRA in order to maintain the income tax free character of Roth distributions.
The Act gave the Secretary of the Treasury the authority to waive the 60-day rule for rollovers where failure to comply is due to casualty, disaster or events beyond the reasonable control of the taxpayer.
Can Funds Be Transferred Between Traditional IRAs and Between Roth IRAs?
Yes, funds can be moved from a traditional IRA to another traditional IRA or from a Roth IRA to another Roth IRA without any taxes or penalty, assuming certain requirements are met:
- The trustee of the existing IRA either transfers the funds directly to the trustee of the receiving IRA; or
- The funds in the existing IRA are distributed to you and you roll them over to the receiving IRA within 60 days of receiving the distribution.
- Only one rollover from a traditional IRA to another traditional IRA, or from a Roth IRA to another Roth IRA can be made in any one-year period.
Can Funds Be Transferred From a Traditional IRA to a Roth IRA?
- Yes. All taxpayers have the option of rolling funds over from traditional qualified plans into a Roth IRA. The conversion income must be recognized in the year the rollover or conversion takes place.
Can Funds Be Transferred From a Roth IRA to a Traditional IRA?
- No, funds cannot be moved from a Roth IRA to a traditional IRA.
Do you own fixed annuities?
Do you wonder why so many retirees own fixed annuities?
The Top 3 Reasons to Own Annuities
46% own annuities to Supplement Social Security and Pension Income
- Planning Tip
Do you receive interest earnings that you’re not using for income? Not only are you paying unnecessary taxes on this money, but those earnings may increase the amount of your taxable Social Security benefit. Repositioning certain assets into a tax-deferred annuity can reduce or eliminate excessive taxes
34% own annuities to Accumulate Assets for Retirement
- Planning Tip
One common way is to move assets into a tax-deferred annuity. This approach works because annuity earnings are excluded from provisional income until withdrawn, reducing provisional income — and taxes due — in the meantime. Remember, the real value of your Social Security benefit isn’t the amount you receive, it’s what remains after taxes.
27% own annuities to Receive Guaranteed Lifetime Income
- Planning Tip
Immediate annuities can offer retirement income for life.
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What Are the Options Available in Naming an IRA Beneficiary?
When you open an IRA account, you are asked to name a beneficiary or beneficiaries to receive the value of the IRA at your death. You can also change beneficiaries during your lifetime. There are generally three classes of beneficiaries:
Primary Beneficiaries: A primary beneficiary is your first choice of who you want to receive the IRA value at your death.
- Secondary Beneficiaries: A secondary beneficiary receives the IRA value if your primary beneficiary does not survive you.
- Final Beneficiaries: A final beneficiary receives the IRA value if none of your primary or secondary beneficiaries survive you.
If you do not have a named beneficiary who survives you, your estate becomes the beneficiary and will be taxed on the value of your IRA at your death.
If you’re married, you can name your spouse as your IRA beneficiary. Alternatively, you can name multiple beneficiaries. If, for example, you have three children, you could name them as the three primary beneficiaries, specifying the percentage of the IRA each will receive. Or, you could name your spouse as the primary beneficiary and your children as the secondary beneficiaries.
If you have several IRAs, you can name different beneficiaries for each IRA. If you have both a regular IRA and a Roth IRA, however, keep in mind the different income tax treatment of these two types of IRAs: the beneficiary of a regular IRA will have to pay income tax on IRA distributions, while the beneficiary of a Roth IRA will receive distributions income tax free.
Certain situations require special care in designating IRA beneficiaries. These include marriages in which one or both spouses have children from a prior marriage, as well as a child or grandchild with a disability or a drug or alcohol problem that might impair their judgment or use of funds from the IRA. In this situation, naming a trust as beneficiary can establish some control over how the funds are used after your death.
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The purpose of an annuity is to protect against the financial risk of living too long…the risk of outliving retirement income…by providing an income guaranteed* for life.
In fact, an annuity is the ONLY financial vehicle that can systematically liquidate a sum of money in such a way that income can be guaranteed for as long as you live!
Here’s How an Income Annuity Works:
The annuity owner pays a single premium to an insurance company.
- Beginning immediately or shortly after the single premium is paid, the insurance company pays the owner/ annuitant an income guaranteed to continue for as long as the annuitant is alive. There are other payout options also available.
- With a cash refund provision the insurance company pays any remaining funds to the designated beneficiary after the annuitant’s death.
Seeking a secure life long retirement income? Click the video box to left of this post.
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The following is an overview of the options available to an IRA beneficiary. Depending on the type of IRA, whether or not the IRA beneficiary is the spouse of the deceased IRA owner and the IRA beneficiary’s needs and objectives, different options may be appropriate.
In order to avoid unforeseen and/or negative tax consequences, an IRA beneficiary should seek professional tax advice before selecting an option.
Inherited Traditional IRA Options:
The options available to an individual who inherits a traditional IRA include the following:
- Immediate Lump-Sum Distribution: Surrender the inherited IRA and receive the entire value in a lump sum. The taxable value of the IRA is then included in the beneficiary’s income in the year of surrender.
- Distributions Over Five Years: If the IRA owner was under age 70-1/2 at death, the beneficiary can take any amounts from the inherited IRA, so long as all of the funds are distributed by December 31 of the year containing the fifth anniversary of the original IRA owner’s death. This option is not available if the IRA owner was over age 70-1/2 at death.
- Life Expectancy: The IRA assets are transferred to an inherited IRA in the beneficiary’s name, where the date by which required minimum distributions must begin depends on whether or not the beneficiary is the surviving spouse and by the IRA owner’s age at the time of death.
- Spousal Transfer: Under this option available only to surviving spouses who are the sole IRA beneficiary, the spouse beneficiary treats the inherited IRA as his/her own and the IRA assets continue to grow tax-deferred. IRA distribution rules are then based on the spouse’s age, meaning that distributions may not be available prior to the spouse’s age 59-1/2 without paying a penalty tax and required minimum distributions must begin by the spouse’s age 70-1/2.
For spouse beneficiaries:
- If the deceased spouse was younger than age 70-1/2 at the time of death, the surviving spouse may delay required minimum distributions until the year in which the deceased spouse would have reached age 70-1/2.
- If the deceased spouse was older than age 70-1/2 at the time of death, the surviving spouse must begin taking required minimum distributions by December 31 of the year following the spouse’s death.
For non-spouse beneficiaries:
- Required minimum distributions from the inherited IRA can be spread over the non-spouse beneficiary’s life expectancy, with the first payment required to begin no later than December 31 of the year following the year of the IRA owner’s death.
Inherited Roth IRA Options:
The options available to an individual who inherits a Roth IRA include the following:
- Immediate Lump-Sum Distribution: Surrender the inherited Roth IRA and receive the entire value in a lump sum. The earnings, however, may be taxable if the Roth IRA is not at least five years old.
- Distributions Over Five Years: The beneficiary can take any amounts from the inherited Roth IRA, so long as all of the funds are distributed by December 31 of the year containing the fifth anniversary of the original Roth IRA owner’s death. Any earnings distributed before the Roth IRA is at least five years old, however, may be taxable. Since all amounts other than earnings can first be withdrawn tax free, it may be possible to minimize or eliminate any taxation on earnings by withdrawing them last.
- Life Expectancy: The IRA assets are transferred to an inherited IRA in the beneficiary’s name. For non-spouse beneficiaries, required minimum distributions based on the beneficiary’s life expectancy must begin no later than December 31 of the year following the year of the deceased Roth IRA owner’s death. For a spouse who is the sole IRA beneficiary, required minimum distributions may be postponed until the year in which the deceased Roth IRA owner would have reached age 70-1/2. Since contributions are considered to be withdrawn first, it’s unlikely that any taxable distribution of earnings will take place if the Roth IRA hasn’t been in existence for five years.
- Spousal Transfer: Under this option available only to surviving spouses who are the sole Roth IRA beneficiary, the spouse beneficiary treats the Roth IRA as his/her own. Roth IRA distribution rules are then based on the spouse’s age, meaning that distributions of earnings may not be available prior to the spouse’s age 59-1/2 without tax or penalty. Since Roth IRAs have no required beginning date and no required minimum distributions, the spouse can leave the money in the Roth IRA as long as he/she wants.
What Is the Retirement Savings Tax Credit?
This is often an overlooked tax credit. Remember you have until April 15, 2014 to make your 2013 IRA contribution.
The Retirement Savings Tax Credit dates back to the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 (EGTRRA 2001)which introduced a new temporary tax credit for IRA contributions and elective deferrals to qualified plans made by certain lower income taxpayers. The availability of this “saver’s credit” was made permanent by the Pension Protection Act of 2006.
The credit is applied against the total of regular income tax and the alternative minimum tax and is allowed in addition to any other deduction or exclusion that would otherwise apply to the contribution/elective deferral.
Calculating the Credit
The credit is determined by multiplying “qualified retirement savings contributions” up to $2,000 times the “applicable percentage,” which is determined by the taxpayer’s adjusted gross income (AGI):
Adjusted Gross Income (2014) *
Married, filing jointly Single Applicable Percentage
More than Not over More than Not over
$ 0 $36,000 $ 0 $18,000 50%
$36,000 $39,000 $18,000 $19,500 20%
$39,000 $60,000 $19,500 $30,000 10%
$60,000 $30,000 0%
* As adjusted for inflation
“Qualified retirement savings contributions” are equal to the total of IRA contributions and elective deferrals to a 401(k), 403(b), 457 or SIMPLE plan, a SAR-SEP and voluntary employee contributions to deemed IRAs for the tax year, reduced by distributions from such plans that are included in income (or not rolled over in the case of Roth IRAs).
A single taxpayer, who does not participate in an employer-provided retirement plan and has $18,000 in adjusted gross income, contributes $2,000 to a regular IRA in 2013. In addition to deducting the $2,000 IRA contribution, this taxpayer can also claim a $400 ($2,000 x 20%) retirement tax credit for 2013.
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2014 Tax Filing Deadlines
On or Before…
January 15, 2014
- Pay the balance of your 2013 estimated tax.
February 1, 2014
- Make sure you have received a Form W-2 from each employer for
whom you worked in 2013.
- Make sure have received all 1009′s for any contract work you were compensated for.
- Make sure you have received all 1099′s for any interest, dividend , RMD withdrawals.
April 15, 2014
- File your 2013 tax return and pay the balance of any tax due.
- You may file Form 4868 to obtain an automatic six-month filing extension (this is not, however, an
extension for payment of taxes due!).
- Pay the first installment of your 2014 estimated tax.
June 16, 2014
- Pay the second installment of your 2014 estimated tax.
September 15, 2014
- Pay the third installment of your 2014 estimated tax.
October 15, 2014
- File your 2013 return if you received an automatic six-month
filing extension using Form 4868.
December 31, 2014
- Last day for the self-employed to establish a Keogh plan for 2014.
This report should not be used as a substitute for professional advice from an attorney, accountant or other qualified financial professional.
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The rising cost of health care in the United States has become one of the primary risks to a financially-secure retirement. With health care costs expected to continue increasing faster than inflation, the time to plan for your future health care needs is now…before you retire.
Your ability to enjoy a financially-secure retirement can be enhanced by planning for future needs such as:
Long-Term Care Services: Are you familiar with the variety of long-term care services available? If it becomes necessary, what type of long-term care services would you prefer? How will you pay for any needed long-term care services?
Advance Directives: Have you communicated your medical care wishes in the event you suffer a catastrophic medical event? Have you named someone else, a spouse or other family member, to make medical decisions for you in the event you are incapacitated?
Paying for Health Care in Retirement: Do you know what your out-of-pocket health care costs might be after you retire? Are you aware that Medicare, while it covers many health care costs, has significant limitations? Are you familiar with the various types of insurance that can help pay health and long-term care costs not covered by Medicare?
Did You Know…
- In 2012, men reaching age 65 had an average additional life expectancy of 17.8 years, while women reaching age 65 could expect to live an additional 20.4 years on average. (Source: A Profile of Older Americans: 2012, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, April 2013)
- While estimates vary, a couple retiring at age 65 without private health insurance from a former employer can expect to pay significant out-of-pocket health care costs during their retirement years. Fidelity Investments, for example, estimates that a 65-year-old couple who retied in 2013 needs about $220,000 to cover medical expenses throughout retirement, a 38% increase from the $160,000 first estimated for those retiring at age 65 in 2002. This estimate does not include costs of dental care, long-term care or over-the-counter medicines. (Source: 2013 Retiree Health Care Costs Estimate, Fidelity Investments)
- About one-third of individuals turning 65 in 2010 will need at least three months of nursing home care, 24% more than a year, and 9% more than five years. (Source: What Is the Distribution of Lifetime Health Care Costs from Age 65?, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, March 2010)
- The national median daily rate in 2013 for a private room in a nursing home was $230, an increase of 3.6% from 2012. (Source: Genworth 2013 Cost of Care Survey, March 2013)
- The average length of a nursing home stay is 835 days. (Source: CDC Vital and Health Statistics, Series 13, No. 167, June 2009)
- At a median daily rate of $230, an average nursing home stay of 835 days currently costs over $192,000.
Tim Barton, ChFCContinue Reading »
The Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003 (JGTRRA) provided capital gains tax relief for long-term capital gains realized after May 5, 2003 and extended capital gains tax rates to qualified dividends, beginning with dividends paid by corporations to individuals in 2003, but only through December 31, 2008. The Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act of 2005 (TIPRA), signed into law in May 2006, extended the lower JGTRRA capital gains and dividend tax rates through December 31, 2010. The 2010 Tax Relief Act further extended the favorable tax treatment through December 31, 2012. The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 made permanent the lower capital gains and dividend tax rates for all but higher-income taxpayers.
Long-Term Capital Gains and Dividend Tax Rates
A capital gain results when an asset is sold or exchanged for more than its cost basis. Capital gains realized on assets held for one year or less are short-term capital gains and are taxed at ordinary income tax rates. Long-term capital gains resulting from the sale or exchange or an asset held more than one year, however, receive more favorable tax treatment.
2014 Income Tax Brackets 2014 Capital Gain Tax Rate
10, 15% 0%
25%, 28%, 33%, 35% 15%
Medicare Contribution Tax
Higher-income taxpayers are subject to a 3.8% Medicare contribution tax on unearned or net investment income, which includes interest, dividends, rents, royalties, gain from disposing of property, and income earned from a trade or business that is a passive activity. The tax applies to single taxpayers with modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) in excess of $200,000 and to married taxpayers filing jointly with a MAGI in excess of $250,000.
2014 Individual Federal Income Tax Rates
Federal income tax rates are available on this handy chart to help with your tax planning and preparation.
Download the 2014 Tax Digest PDF For additional information regarding:
- Individual income tax rates
- Deductions & Tax Credits
- Social Security/ Medicare rates
- Health Savings Accounts
- Retirement Plan Contribution Limits including Traditional and Roth IRAs
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Due to the requirements of ACA someone who is planning to retire prior to their Medicare eligibility will need to consider the cost of mandated health insurance. As implementation of ACA looms closer the estimated ACA (Affordable Care Act) premiums and procedures are becoming more clear. Starting in October 2013 Health Care Exchanges will open for business in all 50 states as state run, partnership (federal & state) or federally operated. As January 2014 all Americans will be required to carry qualified insurance policy. Grandfathered health insurance policies issued prior to March 23, 2010 will satisfy this requirement, assuming they have not been significantly changed since their issue date, such as a large increase in deductible or coinsurance.
While making retirement plans it has always been prudent to consider and budget for healthcare costs along with the insurance required to pay for those costs. Some retirees have had employer based options that they could extend up to Medicare eligibility for little or no cost. These arrangements could end and if not protected by contract could end even for those currently on these plans. It is important for retirees and future retirees to become familiar with ACA requirements and premiums.
How to calculate your expected ACA Bronze Plan Premium – The Kaiser Family Foundation has an easy to use subsidy calculator here.
Sample Premiums for- Bronze Plan
Couple age 62 with household income of $60,000 and nontobacco users.
- Household income in 2013: 387% of poverty level
- Unsubsidized Health Insurance Premium in 2013: $17,342
- Receive a government tax credit subsidy of up to:$11,642 (which covers 67% of the overall premium)
- Amount they pay for the premium: $5,700
Same couple with $63,000 annual household income
- Household income in 2013: 406% of poverty level
- Unsubsidized Health Insurance Premium in 2013: $17,342
- Eligible for a subsidy: None
- Amount they pay for the premium: $17,342
With only $3000 more income annually the premium per couple rises from $5,700 to $17,342 per year for the most basic plan.
For those who retire early or those who have already retired early will need to consider the new ACA requirements very carefully. Those who have retired and are not yet 65 may need to go back to work for health benefits. For those considering early retirement; might want to reconsider before it is too late.
At the very least income per year will need to be managed very carefully. The couple above with $60,000 income- after insurance premium net $54,300 . Where as the second couple only nets $45,658 after paying for their insurance even though they had $63,000 to start with.
Keep in mind the Government pays the subsidy to the insurance company at time of application so if, as in the example above income by year’s end crept up by $3000. They would have to pay the premium difference of $11,642 in addition to any other income taxes due. Quite an unexpected expenditure. Also should you have any medical expenses the Bronze plan require each person’s out of pocket expenses to be $6,400 before they will be covered 100%; capped at $12,800 per family.
There are going to be “navigators” hired to help people navigate through the health exchange. In the state of WI 10 navigators will be assigned for the entire state. By law these navigators cannot make recommendations they only help navigate the exchange or “marketplace”.
Each health insurance applicant will checked by the
- IRS for income to determine their subsidy if any.
- Department of Homeland Security for citizenship and residency requirements
- Social Security Administration for identity.
Stock market indexes have been for the most part rising this year; high enough that some portfolios have made up for their losses from the last market decline. Some investors and their advisors are starting to think of themselves as Albert Einstein’s of the market investing. Although over the last 40 years I have yet to meet one who feels that way over the long term. The equity markets have a way of equalizing financial pain or causing one to eat humble pie.
The question on everyone’s mind: How high and how long will stocks go? TV experts fill air time day after day with theories, usually a new one each day. Same with some advisors; you know those who when asked will lean back in their desk chair and begin to expound on Monte Carlo Simulations, withdrawal rates, market direction, historical signs and graphs…
My answer is always simply – “I do not know, my crystal ball is just as foggy as the next guys.” To which the reply is something along lines “Yeah but you are paid to know.” I’ll let you in on a financial planning secret – no knows which direction the markets will turn next. Markets will go up and markets will go down, that is what markets do. Oh sure sometimes if a guy guesses enough he or she will be correct at some time causing them to look “smart.” As for me I’ll admit I don’t know and work with my clients to transfer market risk from them to an insurance company. After 9/11 that is what I did with my own personal retirement funds using fixed index annuities and they have paid off with good returns, no declines and peace of mind.
The first fixed index annuities were developed in 1996 and at first I like many others thought they were too good to be true. However, the last 17 years have demonstrated index annuities are in fact very good secure retirement products. When you purchase an index annuity none of your funds are invested in any equity market.
Rather the annuity owner selects a market index like the S&P in order to determine the interest rate the insurance company pays them for the previous 12 months. If the index has increased in value a portion of that increase is paid as interest to the annuity, if the index has gone down no interest is paid. However, the annuity does not decrease in value while it resets the index value to the lower level so that when the index regains its loss part of the regain is interest paid to the annuity after the next 12 months. Annuity principal and any interest credited are guaranteed to not go down.
An old investment cliché: “You don’t suffer a loss until you sell a stock- Until then it’s just a paper loss.” Well, then the reverse would be true regarding gains: Until you sell stock gains are just unrealized paper gains.
Is it time to turn your paper gains into real dollars?
For help you may ask questions in the comments Or contact me privately: Tim Barton Chartered Financial Consultant
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Social Security payments are important to most American’s retirement plans. After all, a worker has contributed a significant portion of their income to Social Security via payroll taxes; starting at 2.25% in 1950 - steadily increasing to 15.3% 1990 and later. Because retirement could last 30 years or more a retiree must consider how and when to receive their income benefits.
The average 2012 Social Security monthly retirement benefit is about $1,230. The maximum possible benefit for someone retiring in 2012 at full retirement age (66) will be $2,513. The amount of benefit is permanently affected by the age a retiree starts SS income, it is crucial to consider the long term impact of starting benefits prior to reaching full retirement age.
Social Security retirement benefits can be started as early as 62 but the benefit amount will be less than the full retirement benefit amount. If benefits are started early the amount will be permanently reduced based on the number of months benefits are received before full retirement age.
Example for a retiree was born in 1955, full retirement age is 66 and 2 months. If they draw Social Security at age 62 the benefit is reduced by 25.83%.
For those who start SS benefit early and earn more than $15,120 per year they will have their benefits reduced. However, when they reach full retirement age any month in which benefits were reduced will be removed from the early retirement deduction calculation, which may raise the benefit paid.
Delaying benefits beyond full retirement age results in an 8% yearly increase. This annual increase will max out at age 70.
As much as 85% of Social Security benefits may be subject to federal and state income tax.
A surviving spouse’s benefit is based on the deceased spouse’s income amount; a death scenario should be considered when thinking about taking Social Security before full retirement age.
Retirees should be very careful considering any “break even” analysis. There are many variables to consider such as income tax, longevity, survivor’s benefit, etc. Retirees may want to adjust the age when they take retirement income in order to gain maximum lifetime benefit.
Many people take the reduced Social Security benefit before full retirement age. Each situation is different and starting early may be appropriate, in some cases. Keep these issues in mind-
- If life is expected to be longer than average the reduced benefit will stay reduced for a long time. Consider the amount that may be given up over a lifetime.
- If working while drawing Social Security early consider how those earnings will affect Social Security benefits.
- A reduced SS benefit may also reduce the income benefit a spouse receives after the death of their partner.
- If there is a significant difference in spouse ages Social Security benefits are likely to be paid over a greater period of time than when the spouses are closer in age. In situations like this it is more important to understand how different assumptions will affect a retirement income plan. Variables such as the age benefits start, longevity, and survivor’s benefits can combine to produce substantial differences in total benefits received.
There are 81 different Social Security combinations and strategies a retiree should consider rather than just a simple “break even” analysis.
If you would like to explore your Social Security benefit options contact Tim Barton, ChFC for an analysis. List your SS estimated monthly benefit for both spouses and current age in the comment section.
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Why would anyone want to restrict their Social Security payments?
Well, it’s not the payments being restricted it is the type of application that is filed. The restricted application is filed when, for example, a wife wants to receive her husband’s spousal benefit instead of her own Social Security benefit. The idea here is to allow the possibly still working wife or early retired wife to receive monthly SS payments from the spousal benefit of her retired husband. This allows her own SS benefit to accrue credits each year until age 70 when she would then stop the spousal benefit from her husband’s SS and begin drawing from her own benefit. For a middle income couple this could increase total Social Security payments by $40,000 to $50,000 depending on earnings during their working years.
This is one of many combinations of Social Security planning and these options have been around for a longtime, some of them since the very beginning of the program. What is different now? Retirees are coming to understand Social Security is a life income annuity with a cost of living feature built in requiring understanding and planning to maximize the benefits.
There at least 81 different Social Security combinations and options to consider when signing up for retirement benefits and it takes a computer program to calculate them all to determine the best one in an individual situation.
If you would like to explore your Social Security benefit options contact Tim Barton, ChFC for an analysis. List your SS estimated monthly benefit for both spouses and current age in the comment section.Continue Reading »