Taxes

Retirement Savings Legislation 2020

Retirement Savings Legislation SECURE Act 2020The broadest piece of U.S. retirement legislation since the 2006 Pension Protection Act took effect January 1, 2020. The Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act was passed by Congress and signed by President Trump in December. The most immediate impact of this new retirement savings legislation will be felt by those nearing or in retirement.

RMD Age Increase

Prior to SECURE, retirees were required to start withdrawals at age 70½ years from traditional Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) or employer-sponsored retirement plans like 401(k)s. For those who haven’t reached 70½ by the end of 2019, the Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) now  must begin at age 72. That means 18 more months to grow investments before taking distributions and paying taxes.

The change also provides two additional years for Roth IRA conversions without having to worry about the impact of RMDs. Unlike a traditional IRA, Roth withdrawals are tax-free as long as you meet certain requirements and there are no RMDs during your lifetime. The general goal of a Roth conversion is to move taxable money from an IRA into a Roth at lower tax rates today than you expect to pay in the future.

Estate Planning Snag

A drawback of SECURE is removal of so-called “stretch” and “pass-through” provisions for retirement accounts beneficiaries. Formerly, if an IRA or 401(k) was left to a non-spouse or trust, the beneficiary could typically stretch out the tax benefits of the account over an extended period. With the new retirement savings legislation , however, beneficiaries will have to distribute the entire inherited account within 10 years after the owner’s death (there are a few exemptions).

Accelerated distributions mean more taxable income at potentially-higher rates. Such income may also affect means-tested Medicare premiums and Medicaid benefits of low-income retirees or individuals with special needs.

We encourage you to talk with your financial planner about reviewing your retirement accounts and estate plans to ensure they still align with your goals and that you’re taking full advantage of the new opportunities.

By |2020-01-17T09:47:35-07:00February 10th, 2020|Estate Planning, Retirement, Taxes|

Secondary Education Tax Credits

In the past, I’ve written about Arizona tax credits that support local schools and nonprofits. Such credits enable you to make charitable donations using money you would otherwise pay in Arizona income taxes. But did you know there are also a number of federal income tax credits that benefit you directly with a dollar-for-dollar reduction in your tax bill? That means a tax credit valued at $1,000 actually lowers your tax bill by $1,000. Here are details about two secondary education tax credits that are especially advantageous.

American Opportunity Credit

This allows you to claim the first $2,000 you spend on undergraduate expenses for tuition, books, equipment and fees. It also lets you claim 25 percent of the next $2,000 of expenses (for a total of $2,500). Parents can claim the credit if they paid for the student’s education expenses and that student is listed as a dependent on their tax return. Otherwise, the student can claim it. Full or reduced credit is given if your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) was less than $80,000 or $90,000, respectively ($160,000 and $180,000 for joint filers).

This credit is especially valuable for students because it’s refundable. That means you can still receive 40 percent of its value (up to $1,000) and receive a tax refund even if you earned no income in 2019 and owe no income taxes. Because this credit is available for a maximum of four years, the largest benefit will be years when there are $2,000-to-$4,000 of expenses.

Lifetime Learning Credit

This is ideal for graduate students or anyone taking classes to develop new skills, even if you already claimed the American Opportunity Credit in the past. It’s available to undergraduate, graduate and non-degree or vocational students; and there’s no limit on the number of years it can be claimed.

Students can claim 20 percent of money paid toward tuition, fees, books and supplies needed for coursework, up to $2,000. The credit has a lower MAGI threshold ($67,000 for individuals, $134,000 if filing jointly) and is not refundable.

Read www.irs.gov/credits-deductions-for-individuals to learn more, or talk with your tax advisor about whether you qualify for these or other beneficial tax credits.

By |2019-11-20T08:34:42-07:00November 25th, 2019|Financial Planning, Taxes|

Deductions Versus Credits

tax deductions versus creditsThe last quarter of the year is upon us, and that means it’s time to think about end-of-year tax planning. Income tax deductions and credits both reduce your tax bill, but it in different ways. Knowing the difference between deductions versus credits can help you maximize your savings.

Tax deductions: These are specific expenses you’ve incurred (e.g. health insurance, business charges, charitable gifts) that you can subtract from your income before calculating your taxes. Depending on your situation, it may be more beneficial to take a standard deduction than to itemize your expenses. Talk with your financial planner or tax advisor if you’re not sure.

Tax credits: These give you a dollar-for-dollar reduction in your tax bill. That means a tax credit valued at $1,000 actually lowers your tax bill by $1,000. A few examples include education, energy and dependent care credits. Next month, we’ll go into more detail about specific tax credits that may be available to you.

Click here to read more detail on deductions and credits at the official IRS website.

To read other Perspective Financial articles on tax planning, click here.

By |2019-10-15T12:18:38-07:00November 4th, 2019|Taxes|

New Pass-Through Income Tax-Exemption

Learn about the new pass-through income tax-exemption.People who claim their business income on their individual income tax forms (often referred to as “pass-through” income) may now be able to exempt 20 percent of that income from federal taxes. This new pass-through income tax-exemption could add up to significant tax savings.

High-earning professionals like accountants, lawyers and consultants may encounter some eligibility rules; for example, they don’t qualify if income exceeds $207,500 for an individual or $405,000 for a married couple filing jointly. However, single filers with total taxable income of less than $157,000 in 2018 (or $315,000 for joint filers) can take advantage of the pass-through tax break regardless of their line of work. That includes people with side jobs and home-based businesses, too.

Read this Consumer Reports article and talk with your tax advisor if you’d like to learn more about reducing your 2018 taxes.

By |2019-08-14T13:59:47-07:00December 17th, 2018|Taxes|

529 Education Savings Plan Updates

529 Education Savings Plan UpdatesIn July, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Department of the Treasury announced new regulations related to recent tax law changes that affect 529 plans. The 529 education savings plan updates have to do with k-12 education and rollovers to Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) accounts.

The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) allows distributions from 529  plans to be used to pay up to a total of $10,000 of tuition per beneficiary (regardless of the number of contributing plans) each year at an elementary or secondary (k-12) public, private or religious school of the beneficiary’s choosing.

Another TCJA change allows funds to be rolled over from a designated beneficiary’s 529 plan to an ABLE account for the same beneficiary or a family member. ABLE accounts are tax-favored accounts for certain people who become disabled before age 26, designed to enable these people and their families to save and pay for disability-related expenses. The regulations would provide that rollovers from 529 plans, together with any contributions made to the ABLE account cannot exceed the annual ABLE contribution limit ($15,000 for 2018).

To learn more about the changes, visit the IRS official website.

To learn more about 529 plans and how they can help beneficiaries, as well as those who contribute funds, click on our article below.

By |2019-08-14T13:59:48-07:00September 10th, 2018|College Planning, Current Affairs, Taxes|