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Lower Your Tax Bill with Year-End Planning

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Tips to Help Lower Your Tax Bill with Year-End Planning

As the end of the year draws near, the last thing anyone wants to think about is taxes. But if you are looking for ways to minimize your tax bill, there’s no better time for tax planning than before year-end. That’s because there are a number of tax-smart strategies you can implement now that may reduce your tax bill come April 15 or in the years ahead.

Consider how the following strategies might help to lower your taxes.

Put Losses to Work

If you have capital gains, IRS rules allow you to offset your gains with capital losses. Short-term gains (on assets held one year or less) are reduced by short-term losses, and long-term gains (on assets held longer than a year) are reduced by long-term losses. If your net long-term capital gain is more than your net short-term capital loss, the net capital gain generally is taxed at a top rate of 20%.1 A net short-term capital gain, on the other hand, is taxed at ordinary rates, which range as high as 37%. To the extent that losses exceed gains, you can deduct up to $3,000 in capital losses against ordinary income on that year’s tax return and carry forward any unused losses for future years.

Given these rules, there are several actions you should consider:

  • Avoid short-term capital gains when possible, as these are taxed at higher ordinary rates. Unless you have short-term capital losses to offset them, consider holding the assets until you’ve met the long-term holding period (generally, more than one year).
  • Take a good look at your portfolio before year-end and estimate your gains and losses. Some investments, such as mutual funds, incur trading gains or losses that must be reported on your tax return and are difficult to predict. But most capital gains and losses will be triggered by the sale of the asset, which you usually control. Are there some winners that have enjoyed a run and are ripe for selling? Are there losers you would be better off liquidating? The important point is to cover as many of the gains with losses as you can, thereby minimizing your capital gains tax.
  • Consider taking capital losses before capital gains, since unused losses may be carried forward for use in future years, while gains must be taken in the year they are realized.

When determining whether or not to sell a given investment, keep in mind that a few down periods don’t mean you should sell simply to realize a loss. Stocks in particular are long-term investments, subject to ups and downs. Likewise, a healthy unrealized gain does not necessarily mean an investment is ripe for selling. Remember that past performance is no indication of future results; it is expectations
for future performance that count. Moreover, taxes should be only one consideration in any decision to sell or hold an investment.

IRAs: Contribute, Distribute, or Convert

One simple way of reducing your taxes is to contribute to a traditional IRA, if you are eligible for tax-deductible contributions. Contribution limits for the 2019 tax year — which may be made until April 15, 2020 — are $6,000 per individual and $7,000 for those aged 50 or older. Note that deductibility phases out above certain income levels, depending upon your filing status and whether you (or your spouse) are covered by an employer-sponsored retirement plan.

An important year-end consideration for older IRA holders is whether or not they have taken required minimum distributions. The IRS requires account holders aged 70½ or older to withdraw specified amounts from their traditional IRA each year. These amounts vary depending on your age. If you have not taken the required distributions in a given year, the IRS will impose a 50% tax on the shortfall. So make sure you take the required minimums for the year.

Another consideration for traditional IRA holders is whether to convert to a Roth IRA. If you expect your tax rate to increase in the future — either because of rising earnings or a change in tax laws — converting to a Roth may make sense, especially if you are still a ways from retirement. You will have to pay taxes on any pretax contributions and earnings in your traditional IRA for the year you convert, but withdrawals from a Roth IRA are tax free and penalty free as long as you’re at least 59½ and at least five years have passed since you first opened a Roth IRA. If you have a nondeductible traditional IRA (i.e., your contributions did not qualify for a tax deduction because your income was not within the parameters established by the IRS), investment earnings will be taxed but the amount of your contributions will not. The conversion will not trigger the 10% additional tax for early withdrawals.

These are just steps you can take today to help lighten your tax burden. Work with a financial professional and tax advisor to see what you can do now to reduce your tax bill.

1A 3.8% tax on net investment income may effectively increase the top rate on long-term capital gains to 23.8% for single taxpayers with a modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) of more than $200,000 and to those who are married and filing jointly with a MAGI of more than $250,000.

The Secure Act and Your Retirement

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The Secure Act: Easier and More Flexible Ways to Save for Retirement

Americans are woefully unprepared for retirement. As survey after survey has shown, the average person is simply not
saving enough to provide for a comfortable retirement. That’s why Congress is currently proposing reforms to retirement
plan rules.

The House bill, dubbed the SECURE Act (Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act of 2019), and the
Senate bill named RESA (Retirement Enhancement Savings Act) contain a number of different provisions designed to make
plans more accessible and flexible for savers and easier for small businesses to form and administer.

Below is a summary of the legislation’s most significant changes and how they will help more Americans save more for
retirement.

Access for part-time employees. The new rules would permit most long-term, part-time workers to participate in their employer’s retirement plan if they have worked at least 500 hours per year for three consecutive years. Additionally, employers would not be required to make employer contributions for these participants.

Longer time to contribute. Although Roth individual retirement accounts (IRAs) have no contribution time limit, contributions to traditional IRAs are not permitted after you reach age 70½. The legislation would repeal this age limit so that people working past age 70½
could contribute to both types of IRAs if they wish.

Later required minimum distributions (RMDs). Currently, plan participants and traditional IRA owners are generally required to start
withdrawing a minimum amount from their retirement savings each year once they reach age 70½. The new rules would increase this
age to 72, allowing savers to enjoy tax-deferred compounding even longer.

Penalty-free withdrawals for birth or adoption of child. This change would allow plan participants to withdraw up to $5,000, penalty
free, from their plan accounts following the birth or adoption of a child. Withdrawn amounts could later be recontributed to the plan
tax free, subject to certain requirements.

Improved portability of lifetime income. For participants whose plan gives them a lifetime income investment option — typically an
annuity — the legislation gives them the ability to either keep the annuity or roll it into an IRA or other qualified plan in the event that
the annuity option is removed from the plan’s investment lineup. The annuity would not have to be liquidated and the guarantees
would be preserved, allowing greater portability.

No more “stretch” IRAs for non-spouse beneficiaries. Current rules allow most IRA beneficiaries to “stretch” RMDs from an inherited account over their own lifetimes. The proposed rules would continue this feature for spouses, but non-spouse beneficiaries
would need to take distributions within 10 years of the IRA owner’s death. There would be some exceptions to the general rule,
however, if the beneficiary is a minor, disabled, chronically ill, or not more than 10 years younger than the deceased IRA owner.

Multiple employer plans (MEPs). The legislation would allow employers to combine forces with other unrelated employers to form
a MEP. This provision is aimed specifically at small businesses that otherwise could not offer a 401(k) to their employees due to
their high administrative costs.

A number of additional provisions target small businesses, making it easier to start and administer a retirement plan. These include
tax credits and other changes intended to reduce the amount of paperwork and costs associated with creating and maintaining a
retirement plan.

The legislation still needs to clear several hurdles in Congress before it can be signed into law. But it has bipartisan support in the
House and Senate, and the president is expected to sign it once a final bill is agreed upon. So stay tuned. A more SECURE retirement may soon be in your future.

 

 

 

Sources:
https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/1994/text
https://waysandmeans.house.gov/sites/democrats.waysandmeans.house.gov/files/documents/SECURE%20Act%20section%20by%20section.pdf
https://www.finance.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/RESA%20Summary%204.1.19-banner-converted.pdf
https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/1007/text

Because of the possibility of human or mechanical error by DST Systems, Inc. or its sources, neither DST Systems, Inc. nor its sources guarantees the accuracy, adequacy, completeness or availability of any information and is not responsible for any errors or omissions or for the results obtained from the use of such information. In no event shall DST Systems, Inc. be liable for any indirect, special or consequential damages in connection with subscriber’s or others’ use of the content.

© 2019 DST Systems, Inc. Reproduction in whole or in part prohibited, except by permission. All rights reserved. Not responsible for any errors or omissions. The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results. All indices are unmanaged and may not be invested into directly. This article was prepared by DST Systems Inc. This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax or legal advice. We suggest that you discuss your specific situation with a qualified tax or legal advisor. Please consult me if you have any questions. LPL Financial Representatives offer access to Trust Services through The Private Trust Company N.A., an affiliate of LPL Financial.

Retiring? Take Control of Your Assets

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Retiring? Take Control of Your Assets

After years of saving and investing, you can finally see the big day — retirement. But before kicking back, you still need to address a few matters. Decisions made now could make the difference between your money outlasting you or vice versa.

Calculating Your Retirement Needs

First, figure out how much income you may need. When retirement was years away, this exercise may have involved a lot of estimates. Now, you can be more accurate. Consider the following factors:

  • Your home base — Do you intend to remain in your current home? If so, when will your mortgage be paid? Will you sell your current home for one of lesser value, or “trade up”?
  • The length of your retirement — The average 65-year-old man can expect to live about 17 more years; the average 65-year-old woman, 20 more years, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Have you accounted for a retirement of 20 or more years?
  • Earned income — The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that by 2022, 23% of people aged 65 or older will still be employed, almost twice the proportion that prevailed in 2002.1 If you continue to work, how much might you earn?
  • Your retirement lifestyle — Your lifestyle will help determine how much preretirement income you’ll need to support yourself. A typical guideline is 60% to 80%, but if you want to take luxury cruises or start a business, you may well need 100% or more.
  • Health care costs and insurance — Many retirees underestimate health care costs. Most Americans are not eligible for Medicare until age 65, but Medicare doesn’t cover everything. You can purchase Medigap supplemental health insurance to cover some of the extras, but even Medigap insurance does not pay for long-term custodial care, eyeglasses, hearing aids, dental care, private-duty nursing, or unlimited prescription drugs. For more on Medicare and health insurance, visit Medicare’s consumer website.
  • Inflation — Although the inflation rate can be relatively tame, it can also surge. It’s a good idea to tack on an additional 4% each year to help compensate for inflation.

Running the Numbers

The next step is to identify all of your potential income sources, including Social Security, pensions, and personal investments. Don’t overlook cash-value life insurance policies, income from trusts, real estate, and the equity in your home.

Also review your asset allocation — how you divide your portfolio among stocks, bonds, and cash. Are you tempted to convert all of your investments to low-risk securities? Such a move may place your assets at risk of losing purchasing power due to inflation. You may live in retirement for a long time, so try to keep your portfolio working for you — both now and in the future. A financial advisor can help you determine an appropriate asset allocation.

                            Robber Baron: Inflation

Here’s how a 4% inflation rate would erode $400,000 over a 25-year period. Because inflation slowly eats away at the purchasing power of a dollar, it’s important to factor inflation into your annual retirement expenses.
 

 

  This example is hypothetical and for illustrative purposes only.

A New Phase of Financial Planning

Once you’ve assessed your needs and income sources, it’s time to look at cracking that nest egg you’ve built up. First, determine a prudent withdrawal rate. A common approach is to liquidate 5% of your principal each year of retirement; however, your income needs may differ.

Next, you’ll need to decide when to tap into tax-deferred and taxable investments. The advantage of holding on to tax-deferred investments (employer-sponsored retirement plan assets, IRAs, and annuities) is that they compound on a before-tax basis and therefore have greater earning potential than their taxable counterparts.2 However, earnings and deductible contributions in tax-deferred accounts are subject to income tax upon withdrawal — a tax that can be as high as 39.6% at the federal level. In contrast, long-term capital gains from the sale of taxable investments are taxed at a maximum of 20%.3 The key to managing taxes is to determine the best strategy given your income needs and tax bracket.

Also, tax-deferred assets are generally subject to required minimum distributions (RMDs) — based on IRS life expectancy tables — after you reach age 70½. Failure to take the required distribution can result in a penalty equal to 50% of the required amount. Fortunately, guidelines do not apply to Roth IRAs or annuities.2 For more information on RMDs, see the IRS’s RMD resource page or call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040.

A Lifelong Strategy

A carefully crafted retirement strategy also takes into account your estate plan. A will is the most basic form of an estate plan, as it helps ensure that your assets get disbursed according to your wishes. Also, make sure that your beneficiary designations for retirement accounts and life insurance policies are up-to-date.

If estate taxes are a concern, you may want to consider strategies to help manage income while minimizing your estate tax obligation. For example, with a grantor retained annuity trust (GRAT), you move assets to an irrevocable trust and then receive an annual annuity for a specific number of years. At the end of that period, the remaining value in the GRAT passes to your beneficiary — usually your child — generally free of gift taxes. Another option might be a charitable remainder trust, which allows you and/or a designated beneficiary to receive income during life and a tax deduction at the same time. Ultimately, the assets pass free of estate taxes to a named charity.

It’s easy to become overwhelmed by all the financial decisions that you must make at retirement. The most important part of the process is to consult a qualified financial professional, a tax advisor, and an estate-planning attorney to make sure that you’re prepared for this new — and exciting — stage of your life.

                   How Much Can You Withdraw?

This chart can give you an idea how much you could potentially withdraw from your retirement savings each year. For example, if you begin with $400,000 in assets and expect an average annual return of 5% over a 25-year retirement, you could potentially withdraw $18,000 per year. Withdraw more than that each year and you may outlive your money. Also consider: This chart doesn’t take income taxes into account, which can range from 10% to 35%, depending on your tax bracket.
 
Assumes 5% average annual return, and that withdrawal rate is adjusted for annual 4% inflation rate after the first year. This example is hypothetical and for illustrative purposes only. Investment returns cannot be guaranteed.

 

1Source: Labor Force Projections to 2022, Monthly Labor Review, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

2Withdrawals from tax-deferred accounts prior to age 59½ are taxable and may be subject to a 10% additional tax. Neither fixed nor variable annuities are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., and they are not deposits of — or endorsed or guaranteed by — any bank. Withdrawals from annuities may result in surrender charges.

3A 3.8% tax on unearned income may also apply.

Because of the possibility of human or mechanical error by DST Systems, Inc. or its sources, neither DST Systems, Inc. nor its sources guarantees the accuracy, adequacy, completeness or availability of any information and is not responsible for any errors or omissions or for the results obtained from the use of such information. In no event shall DST Systems, Inc. be liable for any indirect, special or consequential damages in connection with subscriber’s or others’ use of the content.

© 2017 DST Systems, Inc. Reproduction in whole or in part prohibited, except by permission. All rights reserved. Not responsible for any errors or omissions.

Income Investing? Think Dividends

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Income Investing? Think Dividends

It used to be, investors seeking steady income turned exclusively to bonds, whose regular interest payments provided a dependable income source, especially for retirees. 

But times have changed. With many retirements today lasting 30 years or more, income investors need to make sure their savings keep pace with inflation and last a long time. This means investing in assets that provide current income, yet have the potential to grow in value and yield over time.

One widely used strategy is to include dividend-paying stocks in your portfolio. History provides compelling evidence of the long-term benefits of dividends and their reinvestment:

  • Dividends are a sign of corporate financial health. Dividend payouts are often seen as a sign of a company’s financial health and management’s confidence in future cash flow. Dividends also communicate a positive message to investors who perceive a long-term dividend as a sign of corporate maturity and strength.
  • Dividends are a key driver of total return. There are several factors that may contribute to the superior total return of dividend-paying stocks over the long term. One of them is dividend reinvestment. The longer the period during which dividends are reinvested, the greater the spread between price return and dividend reinvested total return.
  • Dividend payers offer potentially stronger returns, lower volatility. Dividends may help to mitigate portfolio losses when stock prices decline, and over long time horizons, stocks with a history of increasing their dividend each year have also produced higher returns with less risk than non-dividend-paying stocks. For instance, for the 10 years ended June 30, 2019, the S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats — those stocks within the S&P 500 that have increased their dividends each year for the past 25 years — produced average annualized returns of 16.3% vs. 14.7% for the S&P 500 overall, with less volatility (11.7% vs. 12.7%, respectively).1
  • Dividends benefit from potentially favorable tax treatment. Most taxpayers are subject to a top federal tax rate of only 15% on qualified dividends, although certain high-income taxpayers may pay up to 23.8%. However, that is still lower than the current 37% top rate on ordinary income.
  • Dividend-paying stocks may help diversify an income-generating portfolio. Income-oriented investors may want to diversify potential sources of income within their portfolios.

Stocks with above-average dividend yields may compare favorably with bonds and may act as a buffer should conditions turn negative within the bond market.

 

Dividends Can Boost Total Return2

If you are considering adding dividend-paying stocks to your investment mix, keep in mind that they generally carry higher risk than bonds. Stock investing involves the potential for loss of principal. Also, dividends can be increased, decreased, and/or eliminated at any time without prior notice. That’s why it’s important to choose your dividend-paying stocks carefully, since some companies may increase dividends to attract investors if their finances aren’t watertight or their outlook is cloudy.  

Your financial professional can help you determine if dividend-paying stocks are a good fit for your portfolio.

 

 

 

 

1Source: DST Systems, Inc., based on data from Standard & Poor’s. Volatility is measured by standard deviation. Standard deviation is a historical measure of the variability of returns relative to the average annual return. If a portfolio has a high standard deviation, its returns have been volatile. A low standard deviation indicates returns have been less volatile. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

 

2Source: ChartSource®, DST Systems, Inc. For the period from January 1, 1989, through December 31, 2018. Stocks are represented by the S&P 500 index. Stock prices are represented by the change in price of the S&P 500 index. It is not possible to invest directly in an index. Index performance does not reflect the effects of investing costs and taxes. Actual results would vary from benchmarks and would likely have been lower. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. © 2019, DST Systems, Inc. Reproduction in whole or in part prohibited, except by permission. All rights reserved. Not responsible for any errors or omissions. (CS000080)

 

Because of the possibility of human or mechanical error by DST Systems, Inc. or its sources, neither DST Systems, Inc. nor its sources guarantees the     accuracy, adequacy, completeness or availability of any information and is not responsible for any errors or omissions or for the results obtained from the use of such information. In no event shall DST Systems, Inc. be liable for any indirect, special or consequential damages in connection with subscriber’s or others’ use of the content.

 

© 2019 DST Systems, Inc. Reproduction in whole or in part prohibited, except by permission. All rights reserved. Not responsible for any errors or omissions. The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results. All indices are unmanaged and may not be invested into directly.  This article was prepared by DST Systems Inc. This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax or legal advice. We suggest that you discuss your specific situation with a qualified tax or legal advisor. Please consult me if you have any questions. LPL Financial Representatives offer access to Trust Services through The Private Trust Company N.A., an affiliate of LPL Financial.

How Much Social Security Can You Expect?

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How Much Social Security Can You Expect?

One of the first steps in planning for retirement is to get an accurate read on just how much income you can expect to receive from Social Security. The exact amount of your Social Security benefit will depend upon your earnings history and retirement timing. Although Social Security provides only about a third of a typical retiree’s income, it often serves as the foundation for calculating how much other income you’ll need and how much you’ll need to save.

The best and most accurate estimate of your future Social Security benefits comes from the Social Security    Administration (SSA). If you are age 60 or older, you should be automatically sent an annual statement showing exactly how much you can expect when you retire. If you are under age 60, you can access current estimates through the SSA’s My Social Security site. You can also access SSA’s online calculators.

Here is a summary of the different ways you can get accurate estimates of your Social Security:

  • Social Security Statements are mailed annually to anyone age 60 or older who has paid into Social Security. The statements include an estimate of your monthly benefit at full retirement age, based on your earnings history. They also show your earnings history – a year-by-year breakdown of earnings on which benefits are based. You can also request a statement by creating a personal my Social Security account. Once it’s set up, you can easily access updates and view your earnings history. You can also request a statement at any time by calling 1-800-772-1213 or contacting your local SSA office.
  • Retirement Estimator gives estimates based on your actual Social Security earnings record. The calculator shows results for early (age 62), full (ages 65-67 depending upon your year of birth), and delayed (age 70) retirement. The Retirement Estimator also lets you create additional “what if” retirement scenarios based on current law.
  • Other SSA benefit calculators help you estimate your Social Security benefits if you do not have an earnings record with Social Security or cannot access it. The calculators will show your retirement benefits as well as disability and survivor benefit amounts if you should become disabled or die. A variety of calculators are available that address different circumstances.

 

A recent report by the SSA suggests that a lot of Americans are not taking advantage of the free statements available to anyone who has paid into Social Security. According to the report, only 43% of registered my Social Security users accessed their accounts online in 2018, down from 96% in 2012.1

 

How much also depends on when you start collecting

If you want, you can sign up for Social Security benefits at age 62. However, you’ll receive less than your full benefit — somewhere between 70% and 75% — depending on when you were born. What’s more, if you are still working and make more than the yearly earnings limit ($17,640 in 2019), your benefit will be reduced by one dollar for every two dollars earned beyond that limit.

Wait until full retirement age (from 66 to 67 for those born after 1942) and you’ll receive your full benefit and face no earnings penalty. Sign up for benefits beyond full retirement age and your benefit will increase 8% a year until you reach age 70.

When you decide to collect will depend in part on how much you can expect to receive. So make a point of checking out one of the resources above.

 

 

1Source: Social Security Administration OIG, Issuance of Social Security Statements, February, 2019.

 

Because of the possibility of human or mechanical error by DST Systems, Inc. or its sources, neither DST Systems, Inc. nor its sources guarantees the accuracy, adequacy, completeness or availability of any information and is not responsible for any errors or omissions or for the results obtained from the use of such information. In no event shall DST Systems, Inc. be liable for any indirect, special or consequential damages in connection with subscriber’s or others’ use of the content.

 

© 2019 DST Systems, Inc. Reproduction in whole or in part prohibited, except by permission. All rights reserved. Not responsible for any errors or omissions.

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results. All indices are unmanaged and may not be invested into directly.  This article was prepared by DST Systems Inc. The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. We suggest that you discuss your specific situation with a qualified tax or legal advisor. Please consult me if you have any questions. LPL Financial Representatives offer access to Trust Services through The Private Trust Company N.A., an affiliate of LPL Financial.

To the extent you are receiving investment advice from a separately registered independent investment advisor, please note that LPL Financial LLC is not an affiliate of and makes no representation with respect to such entity. 

Roth IRA Conversion

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Good Window of Opportunity for Roth IRA Conversions

The Roth IRA is a powerful tax-favored retirement option since it can offer a hedge against future tax-rate increases. But beyond tax planning considerations,

Roth IRAs have several important advantages over traditional IRAs:

  1. Unlike a traditional IRA, a Roth IRA distribution is tax-free if you’ve had the account open at least five years, and reached the age of 59½, become disabled or died.
  1. You can make contributions to your Roth IRA after age 70½, depending on whether you fall within the earned income limits.
  2. Roth IRAs are not subject to the traditional IRA rules for required minimum distributions at age 70½.

The Internal Revenue Code allows IRA owners to convert significant sums from traditional IRAs to Roth IRAs. But you have to follow these important rules (among others):

  • The ability to contribute tails off at higher incomes. For 2019, the eligibility to make annual Roth IRA contributions is phased out between modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) levels of $122,000 to $137,000 (unmarried individuals) and $193,000 to $203,000 (married joint filers).1
  • The conversion is treated as a taxable distribution from your traditional IRA. Doing a conversion likely will trigger a bigger federal income tax bill and possibly a larger state income tax bill. However, today’s lower federal income tax rates might be the lowest you’ll see in your lifetime, and the tax benefits of avoiding higher taxes in future years may extend to family members after death.

 

Many tax experts suggest that the best reason to convert some or all of your traditional IRA to a Roth IRA is if you believe your tax rate during retirement will be the same or higher than what you are paying currently. Since you’re no longer allowed to reverse a Roth IRA conversion, it’s important to understand the tax ramifications. Talk to your tax advisor before taking any action.

 

Traditional vs. Roth IRA: High-level Comparison

Here is a simplified comparison of IRA rules and tax benefits. Remember, tax laws are complex and subject to change. Consult a tax advisor about your individual situation before taking action.

 

Traditional IRA Roth IRA
Age limits for contributing You must be under 70½ to contribute. You can contribute to a Roth IRA at any age.
Income limits for contributions Your contributions can’t exceed the amount of income you earned in that year or other IRS-imposed limits. Your contributions can’t exceed the amount of income you earned in that year or other IRS-imposed limits, and can be reduced or eliminated based on your modified adjusted gross income.
2019 tax-year contribution limits If you are under age 50, you can contribute up to $6,000. If you are older than age 50, you can contribute $7,000. (Limits can be lower based on your income.) If you are under age 50, you can contribute up to $6,000. If you are older than age 50, you can contribute $7,000. (Limits can be lower based on your income.)
Claiming deductions on tax return You may be able to claim all or some of your contributions. You cannot deduct your Roth IRA contribution.

 

 

 

 

 

 

1       Source: Bill Bischoff, “How the new tax law created a ‘perfect storm’ for Roth IRA conversions in 2019,” MarketWatch.com, Jan. 16, 2019. https://www.marketwatch.com/story/how-the-new-tax-law-creates-a-perfect-storm-for-roth-ira-conversions-2018-03-26

 

This material was created for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as ERISA, tax, legal or investment advice. LPL Financial and its advisors are providing educational services only and are not able to provide participants with investment advice specific to their particular needs. If you are seeking investment advice specific to your needs, such advice services must be obtained on your own, separate from this educational material.

 

Kmotion, Inc., 412 Beavercreek Road, Suite 611, Oregon City, OR 97045; www.kmotion.com

 

© 2019 Kmotion, Inc. This newsletter is a publication of Kmotion, Inc., whose role is solely that of publisher. The articles and opinions in this publication are for general information only and are not intended to provide tax or legal advice or recommendations for any particular situation or type of retirement plan. Nothing in this publication should be construed as legal or tax guidance; nor as the sole authority on any regulation, law or ruling as it applies to a specific plan or situation. Plan sponsors should consult the plan’s legal counsel or tax advisor for advice regarding plan-specific issues.

Building a Solid Financial Foundation

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Building a Solid Financial Foundation

When the markets and the economy are behaving badly, as they tend to do from time to time, it’s easy to feel helpless. But creating a solid financial foundation can help you gain control of your investments and possibly avoid mistakes that can sabotage your portfolio.

Your Net Worth — A Place to Start

Having a current picture of your finances is an important first step in building a solid foundation. By determining your net worth at the same time every year, you’ll know what sort of financial shape you’re in and whether you’re making progress toward your goals. To find your net worth, list all of your assets, including bank and investment accounts, real estate, retirement plans, life insurance, business interests, etc. Then subtract your liabilities, such as your mortgage, credit card debt, loans, etc. The amount that’s left is your net worth. If you don’t like the number, look for ways to either decrease your debts or increase your assets.

Lost Without Them

Setting specific goals can help you focus your investing efforts. Prioritize the goals you’ve set according to their importance and your time frame for needing the money. Keep in mind that the goals you have now will probably change over time, so be flexible. Revisit your goals periodically and revise them when necessary.

Make It Personal

You can’t control what happens in the economy, but you can control your own behavior. Instead of worrying about whether the market is up or down or which investments will be hit hardest by a decline, think about the things you can do that could make a difference. Investing money on a regular basis or adjusting your portfolio’s asset allocation are steps that can help put you in control.1

Good Behavior

Think about creating a written investment statement that describes your risk tolerance, rebalancing schedule, and reasons for selling an investment.2 Having guidelines to follow can keep you from making mistakes that might thwart your plans. You might also want to review your own financial track record. Tax returns and brokerage statements can tell you a lot about your past successes and failures. Keep in mind that past performance is no guarantee of future results.

 

1Asset allocation and dollar-cost averaging do not assure a profit or protect against a loss. Dollar-cost averaging involves regular, periodic investments in securities regardless of price levels. You should consider your financial ability to continue purchasing shares though periods of high and low prices.

2Consider the tax consequences when selling investment shares. Rebalancing strategies may involve tax consequences, especially for non-tax-deferred accounts.

 

Because of the possibility of human or mechanical error by DST Systems, Inc. or its sources, neither DST Systems, Inc. nor its sources guarantees the accuracy, adequacy, completeness or availability of any information and is not responsible for any errors or omissions or for the results obtained from the use of such information. In no event shall DST Systems, Inc. be liable for any indirect, special or consequential damages in connection with subscriber’s or others’ use of the content.

© 2017 DST Systems, Inc. Reproduction in whole or in part prohibited, except by permission. All rights reserved. Not responsible for any errors or omissions.

 

Planning with a Living Trust

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Adding a Personal Backup With a Living Trust

The managers of well-run businesses usually name “backups” to keep things going smoothly — just in case. That’s also a smart plan for your personal finances, where you risk experiencing financial losses or other difficulties if you can’t make your own decisions because of a long illness or other unexpected problem.

You might prepare for this unhappy possibility by giving a family member or another trusted individual the legal power to act for you if necessary. But what would happen if you made an unsophisticated individual your personal financial backup? You might be more comfortable using what is called a “living trust” — with a professional trustee that could easily step into your financial management role if needed.

Standby Protection

Here’s how a living trust could potentially work. You initially transfer assets into the trust, naming yourself as the trustee. You also name a reliable, experienced trustee as the successor trustee. At that time, you simply continue managing your finances as usual, until the circumstances that you’ve specified in your trust agreement — an illness or extended travel, for instance — prevent it. Then, the successor trustee will take over management of the trust assets for as long as necessary.

Other Advantages

Providing a reliable financial backup is just one advantage a living trust can offer. Another is flexibility. You maintain control of your assets during your lifetime, and are free to make changes anytime. For example, you could give your trustee more or less responsibility, amend the trust’s provisions, or even cancel the trust entirely.

Here’s an additional advantage. Your trust can protect your family after your death by keeping your assets under a professional investment manager’s uninterrupted care. And living trust assets don’t pass through probate. That can make the settlement of your estate easier, faster, and often much less costly.

Eventually, your family or other beneficiaries will receive the trust’s assets on the schedule you’ve arranged and under the conditions you’ve specified. That’s another advantage — the ability to determine what happens to your wealth over the long term. And the terms of the trust are private, unlike the terms of a will that passes through the probate process.

Trial Period

Last, there’s a practical advantage: You can give your future asset management arrangements a test drive. If your trustee manages the trust assets during your lifetime, you’ll be able to decide whether you’re satisfied with the arrangements you’ve made — and with the quality and reliability of the trustee’s services.

 

 

 

 

This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax or legal advice. We suggest that you discuss your specific situation with a qualified tax or legal advisor. LPL Financial Representatives offer access to Trust Services through The Private Trust Company N.A., an affiliate of LPL Financial.

Because of the possibility of human or mechanical error by DST Systems, Inc. or its sources, neither DST Systems, Inc. nor its sources guarantees the accuracy, adequacy, completeness or availability of any information and is not responsible for any errors or omissions or for the results obtained from the use of such information. In no event shall DST Systems, Inc. be liable for any indirect, special or consequential damages in connection with subscriber’s or others’ use of the content.

© 2018 DST Systems, Inc. Reproduction in whole or in part prohibited, except by permission. All rights reserved. Not responsible for any errors or omissions.

Brush Up On Your IRA Facts

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If you are opening an individual retirement account (IRA) for the first time or need a refresher course on the specifics of IRA ownership, here are some facts for your consideration.

IRAs in America

IRAs continue to play an increasingly prominent role in the retirement saving and investment strategies of Americans. According to the Investment Company Institute (ICI), more than one third of U.S. households owned IRAs in 2017. Traditional IRAs, the most common variety, are held by more than one quarter of U.S. households, followed by Roth IRAs and employer-sponsored IRAs (including SEP-IRAs, SAR-SEP IRAs, and SIMPLE IRAs).1

Contributions and Deductibility

Contribution limits. In general, the most you can contribute to an IRA for 2018 is $5,500 and it rises to $6,000 in 2019. However, if you are age 50 or older, you can make an additional “catch-up” contribution of $1,000, which brings the maximum annual contribution to $6,500.

Eligibility. One potential area of confusion around IRAs concerns an individual’s eligibility to make contributions. In general, tax rules require that you must have compensation to contribute to an IRA. Compensation includes income from wages and salaries and net self-employment income. If you are married and file a joint tax return, only one spouse needs to have the required compensation.

With regard to Roth IRAs, income may affect your ability to contribute. For tax year 2018, individuals with an adjusted gross income (AGI) of $120,000 (goes up to $122,000 in 2019) or less may make a full contribution to a Roth IRA. Married couples filing jointly with an AGI of $189,000 (goes up to $193,000 in 2019) or less may also contribute fully for the year. Contribution limits begin to decline, or “phase out,” for individuals with AGIs between $120,000 and $135,000 ($122,000 and $137,000 in 2019) and for married couples with AGIs between $189,000 and $199,000 ($193,000 and $203,000 in 2019). If your income exceeds these upper thresholds, you may not contribute to a Roth IRA.2

Deductibility. Whether you can deduct your traditional IRA contribution depends on your income level, marital status, and coverage by an employer-sponsored retirement plan. For instance:2

  • If you are single and covered by an employer-sponsored retirement plan, your traditional IRA contribution for 2018 will be fully deductible if your AGI was $63,000 or less ($64,000 or less in 2019). The amount you can deduct begins to decline if your AGI was between $63,000 and $73,000 ($64,000 and $74,000 in 2019). Your IRA contribution is not deductible if your income is equal to or more than $73,000 ($74,000 in 2019).
  • If you are married, filing jointly, and the spouse making the IRA contribution is covered by an employer-sponsored retirement plan, your 2018 IRA contribution will be fully deductible if your combined AGI is $101,000 or less ($103,000 or less in 2019). The amount you can deduct begins to phase out if your combined AGI is between $101,000 and $121,000 ($103,000 and $123,000 in 2019). You may not claim an IRA deduction if your combined income is equal to or more than $121,000 ($123,000 in 2019).
  • If you are married, filing jointly, and your spouse is covered by an employer-sponsored plan (but you are not), you may qualify for a full IRA deduction if your combined AGI is $189,000 or less. The amount you can deduct begins to phase out for combined incomes of between $189,000 and $199,000 ($193,000 and $203,000 in 2019). Your deduction is eliminated if your AGI on a joint return is $199,000 ($203,000 in 2019) or more.
  • If neither you nor your spouse is covered by an employer-sponsored retirement plan, your contribution is generally fully deductible up to the annual contribution limit or 100% of your compensation, whichever is less.

Keep in mind that contributions to a Roth IRA are not tax deductible under any circumstances.

Distributions

You may begin withdrawing money from a traditional IRA without penalty after age 59½. Generally, previously untaxed contributions and earnings are taxable at the then-current regular income tax rate. Nondeductible contributions are generally not taxable because those amounts have already been taxed.

You must begin receiving minimum annual distributions from your traditional IRA no later than April 1 of the year following the year you reach age 70½ and then annually thereafter. If your distributions in any year after you reach 70½ are less than the required minimum, you may be subject to an additional federal tax equal to 50% of the difference.

Unlike traditional IRAs, Roth IRAs do not require the account holder to take distributions during his or her lifetime. This feature can prove very attractive to those individuals who would like to use the Roth IRA as an estate planning tool.

 

This communication is not intended as investment and/or tax advice and should not be treated as such. Each individual’s situation is different. You should contact your financial professional to discuss your personal situation.

1Investment Company Institute, “The Role of IRAs in US Households’ Saving for Retirement,” 2017.

2Internal Revenue Service, Notice 2017-64.

Because of the possibility of human or mechanical error by DST Systems, Inc. or its sources, neither DST Systems, Inc. nor its sources guarantees the accuracy, adequacy, completeness or availability of any information and is not responsible for any errors or omissions or for the results obtained from the use of such information. In no event shall DST Systems, Inc. be liable for any indirect, special or consequential damages in connection with subscriber’s or others’ use of the content.

© 2018 DST Systems, Inc. Reproduction in whole or in part prohibited, except by permission. All rights reserved. Not responsible for any errors or omissions.