Showing posts with label Roth IRA. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Roth IRA. Show all posts

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Keeping Track of New IRA Rules

Are you looking forward to a retirement that includes travel, playing golf, pursuing your hobbies and feeling comfortable about your financial situation?  If so, the sooner you start your retirement planning, the better off you will be.

There are a lot of different choices, however, and at first they may seem confusing.  In addition to deciding whether you need an IRA, a Roth IRA, a 401K or a combination of several retirement plans, you also have to decide which broker to use.  Even then, your retirement account decisions will not remain static.

It seems as if IRA rules are changing constantly, and 2013 was no exception.  The company that handles your IRA or Roth IRA for you should keep you up-to-date on all the annual changes and they should also let you know how the changes could affect the amounts you are depositing in your accounts each year.

Because of all the different choices that are available, I always encourage my readers to do their own research in order to have all the information they need to make wise decisions.   Having a good investment adviser is an important part of your retirement planning strategy.  Taking the time to compare their advice to what others are saying is just smart.

If you have not yet selected a broker to handle your IRA for you, the sooner you get started, the better off you will be when you are finally ready to stop working.  One website I have found that will help you compare brokers is IRA Success.  They have put together an excellent list of popular brokers including Charles Schwab, eTrade, Fidelity, Scottrade and others.  Their chart tells you the commissions rates, account minimums and IRA fees.  Using their chart is so much easier than contacting each company on your own, so I wanted everyone to have this direct link to the IRA Broker Comparison Chart.

I am also providing a link to an IRA contribution cheat-sheet that IRA Success also provides and updates annually.  The information they give on their cheat-sheet, as well as in some of their blog posts, is quite useful in helping you decide which type of retirement savings plan will best meet your needs.

You may also want to read a good book on investment savings so that you have a better understanding of the different types of retirement savings accounts and how to best take advantage of them.  I think the two books listed below are especially helpful and you can click on their titles to be taken directly to their Amazon page.  Read an excerpt from each book and their reviews and decide if one of these books would be helpful to you in dealing with your retirement planning:

Preparing for Retirement:  A Comprehensive Guide to Financial Planning
The AARP Retirement Survival Guide

If you have gone to the trouble to save money towards your retirement, you owe it to yourself to make sure you have a plan in place for maximizing your contributions, reduced your investment costs and increasing your principle.  Using the websites and books I have mentioned here are a great way to make certain you are on the right track!

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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Traditional IRA vs Roth IRA

As you save money for retirement, you may be confused about whether you would be better off sticking with a traditional IRA or moving your money to a Roth IRA, instead.  Both are great retirement tools, and there are advantages to each.  Recently, the April, 2013 edition of the AARP Bulletin addressed this very question (pg. 28). While there is no answer that is right for everyone, learning a few important facts about each type of retirement savings plan may help you make the decision that will work best for you. Here is some information that will help you compare the two.

Traditional IRA

The traditional IRA is what most of are are accustomed to using for our retirement savings.  They are a great way to save tax deferred income that you will be able to withdraw when you retire.  Here are some facts you should know about this type of savings:

You can put $5500 a year in an IRA or $6500 if you are age 50 or older.

When you initially invest the money in the IRA, that money is not subject to income taxes.  This reduces the amount of taxes you owe in the current year.  The taxes are deferred until you withdraw the money. This will reduce your tax liability during your working years, which can be a major benefit to families who want to save for retirement and reduce their taxes at the same time.

However, if you make early withdrawals, they may be subject to taxes and penalties (there are some exceptions).  When you die, any remaining money that is passed on to your heirs is also subject to income taxes.

You will not pay income taxes on the money until you begin to withdraw it when, presumably, you will be taxed at a lower tax rate than you currently pay.  On the other hand, once you do begin to withdraw your IRA savings, the additional income could increase the tax rate some people actually do pay on their retirement income.  In other words, if your Social Security income alone is low enough that you would not be required to pay taxes on it, adding annual disbursements from your IRA could mean that more of your income is subject to taxation.  This will not apply to everyone, but it could apply to people who will be withdrawing large amounts from their IRA's.

Mandatory withdrawals are required beginning at age 70 1/2.  You can no longer contribute to a traditional IRA after that time.

Roth IRA

The Roth IRA works quite differently and is an excellent retirement option for people who expect that their tax rate will be about the same after retirement as it is now.  However, the taxes on the money that is invested in a Roth IRA are not deferred.  Savers must be willing to pay income taxes on the money during the year the money is earned.  Here are some additional facts you will want to know about a Roth IRA:

You can invest up to $17,500 this year, and $23,000 if you are age 50 or older.

As mentioned above, when you put the money in your Roth IRA account, you will still include it as part of your earnings on this year's tax return, and you will pay income taxes on it.

The Roth IRA has the advantage that you can make early withdrawals at any time, without penalty, so you can treat your Roth IRA as a savings account.  Since you already paid taxes on the principal, you do not owe taxes or penalties on your initial investment when you withdraw it.  In addition, if you hold the money in your IRA for at least five years and you reach the age of 59 1/2, the dividends and capital gains you earned  on the money over the preceding years will be also be tax free when you withdraw these funds.  

Paying the taxes up front can be a big advantage if you expect to hold the investment for a long time and you believe that your investments could increase substantially in value.  This can potentially give you the income you need in your later years while keeping your tax rate low.  In addition, your heirs can inherit the funds tax free.

You do not have to withdraw your money at age 70 1/2.  In fact, if you are still working at that age, you can continue to contribute to the Roth IRA.  

Can You Change Your IRA Designation?

If you have money in a traditional IRA and you want to put it into a Roth IRA, it is possible to make the change as long as you are willing to pay taxes on the money during the year when you make the transfer. 

If you don't want to pay taxes on all the money you have in your traditional IRA in one year, you can spread the transfer out over several years.  

Which IRA is right for you?  That depends on many factors.  As always, you would be wise to discuss this decision with your CPA and your investment adviser.  No one choice is right for everyone.

If you want to learn more about factors that could affect your retirement planning, you may also be interested in reading the information in the index articles listed below.  Each one contains links to a number of helpful articles on that topic.

Gifts, Travel and Family Relationships

Great Places for Boomers to Retire Overseas

Great Places to Retire in the United States

Health and Medical Topics for Baby Boomers

Money and Financial Planning for Retirement

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