Tax Traps, Part 1

Talking taxes on a Friday is a lot easier than talking taxes on a Monday! Believe it or not, at this time of year it is smart to be talking taxes no matter what. Preparation and planning are the name of the game.*

The issue of higher FUTURE taxes is critical to clients of all income levels – especially those in higher tax brackets – and all ages. You will hear me repeatedly hammering home this “tax trap” issue – with the research and collaboration from my sources to back it up.

Here is some “good” news when it comes to taxes and tax strategies: the Roth IRARoth IRA conversion and Roth 401k are alive and well for now. The “good” part is that for nearly ALL reading this, you ARE eligible for both the Roth IRA conversion and the Roth 401k (if your company offers a Roth 401k) even if you are in the higher/highest income brackets or own a business! And these strategies can be employed NOW for 2020 and 2021.

The issue of higher FUTURE taxes is critical to clients of all income levels, especially those in higher tax brackets
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

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The Elephant in the Room

“Elephant in the room,” “ticking time bomb”…whatever you wish to call it, there is an issue currently present but not talked about nearly enough. The issue hits a nerve with nearly everyone – investor/saver or not. The issue is taxes – more specifically future taxes on retirement savings. Unfortunately, the issue has become so politicized that its true impact has almost been forgotten.

 Tax rates and total taxes paid may be higher or the same as today for lots of savers in retirement.

Back in 2016, I discussed part of this topic in TGIF 2 Minutes. (Click Death & Taxes to read.) At that time, the focus was soaring healthcare costs.

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Goals Gut Check

From the TGIF 2 Minutes Archives earlier this year PRE-coronavirus…

Earlier this year in February things were GOOD! The economy was cranking, unemployment was low, wages were up, and it was a somewhat perfect time of the year to set goals. Think: it was pre-tax filing time and after the holidays.

Fast forward to today… the world has changed. Our savings have been tapped in the pandemic — and new savings and other goals need to be reset! While the kids may now be going back to school (followed by maybe not??) using this precious time to set just a handful of goals can pay off toward achieving those goals.

silver and gold coins
Give yourself a “Goals Gut Check” with this precious time before things potentially go a little haywire.

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Tax Payment Deadline

A quick note regarding taxes and upcoming tax payment deadlines. These details could come under the category of “Captain Obvious” but are worth mentioning all the same.

The April 15th filing deadline for 2019 taxes was extended to July 15thThere have been rumors of the deadline being extended even further to September or October. This looks ABSOLUTELY NOT to be the case.* The 2019 Tax Filing deadline remains July 15th . See here: IRS.GOV


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Tax Time Groundhog Day

Now that the calendar has turned from April to May there will be in effect a “Tax Time Groundhog Day” on July 15th, which is the new 2019 Federal (and most States*) filing deadline for 2019 taxes.

A number of people reading this note may already have signed and filed their 2019 tax returns^ in order to turn the page and move on to 2020 spending, budgeting and saving. However, if you are in the camp that is stretching out your 2019 filing until the July 15th date, then consider a few last-minute items:

COVID_Cares-Act
Call me with questions or curiosities related to temporary changes related to 401k plans, IRAs and RMDs.

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Tax Law Changes That Matter For You

As the year turned from 2019 to 2020, there stealthily rolled in several of the most sweeping reforms to retirement and tax legislation in a decade or so (outside of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, or TCJA). The recent changes apply to IRA, 401k and other retirement savings accounts. If any of these apply to you then please read on:

  • Inherited IRA
  • Turning 70½ this or next year
  • Own a business with or proposing a 401k plan
  • Working for a small company and do not have access to a 401k plan
  • Need an early distribution for reasons of qualified birth or adoption

US Capitol
The SECURE Act is the most sweeping reform to retirement and tax legislation in a decade. As with most pieces of Congressional legislation there are positives and negatives.

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2020 Contribution and Gift Limits

A handful of updates for 2020 IRA & 401k contribution and gift limits:

  • For Traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs the 2020 contribution maximum remains the SAME in 2020 as in 2019: $6,000 (plus $1,000 to total $7,000 for those age 50 and over).
  • REMEMBER!! IRA account contributions can be made all the way up until April 15th for the previous tax year.
  • That means that you have until April 15, 2020 to make an IRA contribution for 2019.

cash dollars hands money
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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“What Ifs” of 2020 and Beyond

After a year – really a decade – of excellent returns in the stock market, and for 2019 in the stock AND bond markets, it makes sense to ask, “WHAT IF?” As in, what if certain events take place in the markets or economy that could spoil the last several years of positive portfolio returns? Naturally then, there would be a handful of guesses or responses to the “what if” questions.

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What if certain events take place in the markets or economy that could spoil the last several years of positive portfolio returns?

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Time is Running Out

There are just twelve business days remaining in December. If you are realistic about the number of days remaining to transact actual business, it is more like eight days. Use these eight days wisely!

shallow focus of clear hourglass
Make the most of the last eight to twelve days of December.

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We are nearing the 2019 “Tax Year Finish Line”… but there’s still time to address a handful of potentially tax minimizing items*.  One that was a major item of confusion for taxpayers in 2018 was withholding elections. Especially for taxpayers making under $250,000 (and ALL taxpayers) these elections can make a big difference between getting a REFUND** and NOT getting a refund.

IRS W4
The proper withholding election can make a big difference between getting a refund and NOT getting a refund.

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