• Roth IRAs have been around for 20 years now. Lots of taxpayers have taken advantage of the tax-free benefits of these accounts by converting their traditional IRAs or employer plans to Roth IRAs. But many have hesitated. Maybe you are among those who held back. The year 2018 may be the year to change your mind. How Conversion Works When you convert your traditional IRA to a Roth IRA, your [...]

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    Question: I have a client who has some after-tax contributions in an IRA, along with pre-tax contributions.  They also have another IRA and 401(k)s.  My question is: Can we convert just the after-tax contributions to a Roth IRA or is it pro-rated as a % of the overall retirement assets? -William Answer: You will find the answer to this question on Form 8606. The form must be [...]

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    What is the simplest mistake you can make to cause major harm to your intended estate plan - and to the people you wish to provide for through that plan?   It is having outdated (or missing entirely) beneficiary designation forms for your IRAs, employer-provided retirement savings plans, life insurance policies and other valuable financial accounts. Happily, though, this is also the [...]

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    On Friday February 9, 2018, President Trump signed into law the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (the “Act”). While the Act is best known for ending the nine-hour government shut down that took place on February 9, 2018, it also contained some tax-related provisions. One of the provisions broadly directed the IRS to make any changes necessary to ease the hardship distribution rules. This could[...]

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    A few weeks ago, I discussed the seemingly unintended impact the Tax Cut and Jobs Act (TCJA) had on the repayment of overpayments from employer plans. In essence, by eliminating the deduction of itemized miscellaneous expenses subject to 2% of adjusted gross income (AGI), the new law negatively impacted some repayments to employer plans - namely, repayments that are $3,000 or less. Similarly, by[...]

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    Question: Hi, I recently purchased your newsletter and I had an IRA question.  If a client dies before taking his required RMD for the year, does the estate need to take the RMD and pay the taxes before the account is transferred to the non-spouse beneficiary?  If not does the beneficiary have to take that RMD and pay the tax?  Thanks for your help Answer: This is a question that [...]

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    You may be interested in contributing to a Roth IRA but think your income is too high. You are probably aware that there are income limits that apply to Roth IRA contributions. For 2018, if you are married, your ability to make Roth IRA contributions phases out when your Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI) is between $189,000 - $199,000 and between $120,000 - $ 135,000 if you are single. Are you[...]

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    Question: Hello, I was forced, due to health reasons, to retire at age 58 on December 8. I had been with my company for 34 years. I need to cash in my IRA fund for money to pay bills and insurance. What is the best way to avoid having to pay the IRS the 10% penalty before age 59½?  Thank you. Susan Answer: Dear Susan: First off, do you have any funds in the [...]

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    The U.S. Tax Code is a 74,000-page document with interrelating laws and regulations. Therefore, any time Congress enacts a piece of legislation as massive as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), there are going to be unintended consequences, or as I like to call it, collateral damage. After passage, it's up to the IRS to sift through the damage and clarify any unresolved issues. IRS has already [...]

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    As you prepare your 2017 tax return, use the information you collect both to make the best IRA contribution choices for 2017 and plan IRA strategies for 2018. Six ways to consider: 1. Maximize IRA Contributions for 2017  2017 IRA contributions can be made until April 17, 2018, the due date for 2017 tax returns. The maximum IRA contribution for both 2017 and 2018 is $5,500 ($6,500 for persons [...]

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    Question: IRA Expert, I have a client that has $3M in a profit sharing plan (PSP). He is rolling over $1.5M of it to an IRA with me. He plans to take his RMD ($54,744) on that $1.5M after he turns 70½  on 4/3/2018 and give it directly to charities. He wants to wait until 2019 to take his RMD on the money staying in the PSP (and knows he must take it by 4/1/2019). Is it okay to take [...]

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    It has been widely reported that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act eliminated the ability to recharacterize Roth IRA conversions as of January 1, 2018. On the other hand, it kept the ability to recharacterize IRA and Roth IRA contributions. Despite all the above, an unanswered question on Roth IRA conversions done in 2017 lingered. At the time of those conversions the taxpayer had the ability to [...]

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    The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act made sweeping changes to the tax laws. Brackets have been changed, deductions have been eliminated, and retirement plans have been affected. You may be wondering what the new law means for your IRA. Here are 5 things you need to know: 1. Recharacterization of Roth IRA conversions is gone. Starting for 2018 conversions, tax reform does away with your ability to [...]

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    Question: I would like to ask a personal question about withdrawing funds from my traditional IRA account. How can I use part of it for a down payment when buying a new home as a first-time home buyer, without paying much in taxes on the withdrawn amount? I appreciate your help. I am 70+ years old and still working. I recently purchased Mr. Slott's books, but they don't explain what to do[...]

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    529 Educational Plans Should Be Gaining in Popularity  Now that the dust has settled and the tax code has been “reformed,” it’s time to unpack those changes and analyze how best they can help you and your clients. One of the changes was the expansion of 529 educational plans. Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, eligible expenses include up to $10,000 per person per year for K-12 educational[...]

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    The IRS says it will start accepting and processing 2017 tax returns on January 29 and expects to issue nine of 10 refunds within 21 days. To get the fastest refund possible, file electronically and request direct deposit of the refund amount. The IRS says it won't start processing paper returns until mid-February, and requesting a mailed paper check adds more time to processing and delivery. [...]

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    Question: Single - W-2 worker making $ 500 a week.  Few if any deductions. Contributes to employer 401K 3% of salary for a Traditional IRA. Is it legal to open up a separate Roth account say in Scottrade with $ 5500? Thank you for your help! -Mike Answer: Hi Mike, To make a Roth IRA contribution you must have taxable compensation. Your contribution will be limited to the [...]

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    In many households, married couples divvy up the responsibilities; one will handle the bills and banking while the other cooks and does the grocery shopping, or one will do the laundry while the other manages the yardwork and house. This split often extends to annual income tax responsibilities, even in couples who use a professional preparer. However, when couples submit joint returns, both are [...]

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    The year 1998 seems like a long time ago. In January 1998, Bill Clinton was in the White House and about to be impeached. The Unabomber was in the news and the Spice Girls were winning music awards. January 1, 1998 also brought us the launch of Roth IRA. However, unlike other ‘90’s memories, the Roth IRA is still going, stronger than ever. You may already be reaping the tax benefits of your [...]

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    Question: Greetings, No one seems to know the answer to this. Figured I would try you. Client has a 600k IRA. Doing a SEPP of 24k/yr. Has to give 400k to her ex-husband from her IRA. How to adjust SEPP? She is 57 and he is 65. Do we pro-rate the SEPP so she takes 8k/yr now and he takes 16k until the original term of SEPP would be finished? Seems unreasonable for her to still take 24k/yr [...]

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    One of the greatest benefits offered under ERISA are the anti-alienation provisions, which provide that benefits under a pension plan cannot be assigned or alienated. While there are some statutory exceptions, ERISA essentially prevents retirement assets from being joined in any legal process to collect a commercial debt. These actions include garnishment, attachments, and other similar legal [...]

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    An early start on tax planning is always good, but this year it is essential. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act fully rewrites the tax code effective January 1, 2018. To get the most benefit from the changes, while avoiding mistakes under them, update your tax and financial strategies right away. Here are example areas where action at the start of the year can make a full-year difference: Kiddie Tax [...]

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    Question: Hello IRA Expert, I qualify for QCD (Qualified Charitable Distribution) as I am over 72 years old. I had recently read one of your articles on QCD and the 60-day rollover rule. I have automatic withdrawals of my RMD every quarter. The last automatic withdrawal was on Oct. 15, 2017 when I was overseas. I was overseas from September 22, 2017 to November 2, 2017 for family care-giving[...]

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    2018 is right around the corner. We will be dealing with massive changes to the tax code due to the enactment into law of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Some of those changes are going to apply to you and some of those changes will affect your retirement and assets that you hope will go to your heirs. Are you ready? Any time there are significant changes to the tax code, it is essential that you [...]

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    Happy Holidays

    December 26, 2017

    We at the Slott Report would like to wish all our readers and their families a very happy holiday season! We thank all of you for taking your valuable time to read the Slott Report over the past year. We have heard from many of you and welcome your comments and feedback. Keep it coming! 2017 has been an interesting time for IRAs and other retirement plans. At the Slott Report, we have [...]

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    Question: Good Afternoon Mr. Slott, Based on the Path Act of 2015, which made the QCD permanent, and the information from Checkpoint “2017 Tax Reform: Special Study on Individual Tax Changes in the ‘Tax Cuts and Jobs Act’”, it appears the Path Act of 2015 was not repealed regarding QCD. Do you agree with my assumption? Thank you, Kim Answer: Hi Kim. Yes, [...]

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    Now that it looks like they’ve been spared from elimination in the most recent version of tax reform, it’s worth taking a look at nonqualified deferred compensation plans (“NQDC plans”). NQDC plans take different forms, including salary reduction arrangements, bonus deferral plans, excess benefit plans, and supplemental executive retirement plans. For some clients, this may be a way to [...]

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    This is the season for charitable giving. And this year, it is especially so for those who want to get the most tax benefit from charity deductions before the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act becomes law. The Act effectively reduces the tax-saving value of the charitable contribution deduction for many. While details may change, at this writing the Act increases the standard deduction on joint [...]

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    Question: ED, I have attended 3 of your 2 day past boot camps and plan to attend in Orlando in Feb. 2018. I NEED YOUR HELP BADLY NOW!!!! I think my broker dealer is not reporting RMD’s to charities properly on the 1099R’s they issue. They are putting the same number in Box 1 and Box 2a even though they are issuing the checks to the charities. They also check Box 2b that says taxable [...]

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    Recharacterization is currently one of the few “do-overs” allowed under the tax code. Its days may now be numbered. The tax reform legislation currently pending in Congress would do away with recharacterization at the end of 2017. How Recharacterization Works Currently, if you do a Roth conversion, you have until October 15 of the following year to undo part or all of that conversion (and [...]

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    Question: Hello, I am a financial advisor in Dallas and appreciate all the training & education Ed has provided over the years to ML advisors like me. I have a question for Ed.  When meeting with a potential client, I uncovered a potential problem … And potential subsequent solution but am not sure if it’d work. The gentleman is 80, still working full-time and loves his [...]

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    Creating a self-directed IRA is relatively straightforward. It is not a creation of the tax code, but rather stems from the investment policies of the custodian that administers the IRA account. The agreement will allow you to diversify your IRA assets across a wide range of investments that you choose. However, when investing self-directed IRA assets, it is important that you and your advisor [...]

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    This holiday season, consider giving the gift of a big head start on lifetime financial security to the children in your family by giving them funds to contribute to Roth IRAs. There's no lower age limit on having a Roth IRA as long as a child has earned income. And an early start on saving can have a tremendous long-term payoff through the power of compound interest. Moreover, most children [...]

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    Question: Ed – I read an article from you on delaying RMDs if still working and over age 70.5. Does the code allow (or address in any way) someone who works merely one day in the next calendar year to delay the RMD from the employer plan? For example, employee turns 70.5 on April 1st, 2017. Retires on January 1, 2018. Therefore, calendar year of retirement is 2018…..so first required [...]

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    In 2014, the Tax Court ruled that an IRA owner could do only one, IRA-to-IRA or Roth IRA-to-Roth IRA, 60-day rollover in a 12 month period. This rule applies no matter how many IRA and/or Roth IRA accounts the IRA owner might have. The 12 months is a full 12 months, not a calendar year. The 12 month period will start with the date that IRA or Roth IRA funds are received. Example:  Cindy [...]

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    If you have an IRA, you should realize that what goes in must come out. In other words, your tax deferral will not last forever. Eventually, Uncle Sam will want his share. When you reach retirement age, required minimum distributions (RMDs) will kick in. Are you prepared? Take our RMD quiz and see how well you understand the basic RMD rules. Meet Laura, a baby boomer, who is about to embark on [...]

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    If you have a 401(k) account or other employer sponsored retirement plan, you probably already know that a distribution before you reach age 59½ is going to be subject to a 10% penalty. One exception to the 10% early withdrawal penalty allows participants in a qualified plan to take a distribution from the plan after leaving the job as long as they are age 55 or older. This rule, sometimes called[...]

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    Roth IRAs become 20 years old in January of 2018 and now hold more than $660 billion in retirement wealth, reports the Investment Company Institute (the source of the data in this article). Yet while Roth IRAs have become very popular among individuals who make annual contributions to IRAs, they are near totally avoided by persons who roll over big-dollar distributions from company retirement [...]

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    This week's Slott Report Mailbag looks into RMD rules and the "still-working" exception as it pertains to IRAs. As always, we recommend you work with a competent, educated financial advisor to keep your retirement nest egg safe and secure. You can find one in your area here. Question: Good Morning Mr. Slott and Colleagues, I just finish reading your book The Retirement Savings Time [...]

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    While there is a lot of focus on the proposed tax law changes that have a target effective date of 2018, there is something we can count on for 2018, the inflation adjusted retirement account limits. There are currently no proposed changes to the following limits. IRAs The IRA/Roth IRA contribution limit remains unchanged at $5,500 with a $1,000 catch-up amount for those who are age 50 or [...]

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    Tax Reform and Your Retirement Account

    House Republicans took the first shot at tax reform with the release of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act on November 2. Now it is the Senate’s turn to weigh in. Not surprisingly, the Senate’s take on overhauling the tax code looks very different than the House version. You may wonder how your retirement account may be affected. Here are some highlights. As the details of the Senate plan are [...]

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    Are You Taking an RMD for the First Time in 2018?

    This week's Slott Report Mailbag examines inherited IRAs and retirees taking RMDs for the first time. As always, we recommend you work with a competent, educated financial advisor to keep your retirement nest egg safe and secure. Question: I have a client who has inherited a Roth IRA from her father. Unfortunately, her father did not live the full five years after rolling his IRA into a [...]

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    60-Day Rollovers and Multiple Checks

    We continuously get questions on 60-day rollovers. Many times those questions revolve around a client receiving more than one distribution or wanting to complete the 60-day rollover with more than one distribution. Here is what you need to know. As a reminder, the one-rollover-per-year rule only applies to IRA-to-IRA 60-day rollovers and to Roth IRA-to-Roth IRA 60-day rollovers. For purposes of[...]

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    10 Things to Know About the Still-Working Exception

    Are you approaching retirement age and not looking forward to being forced to take unwanted required minimum distributions (RMDs) from your retirement account? You may be looking for a way to delay those distributions. You may have heard about the “still-working” exception, which can allow RMDs to be put off. Will this exception help you? Here are 10 things you need to know. 1. The [...]

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    Tax Reform Proposal Unveiled

    November 3, 2017
    Tax Reform Proposal Unveiled

    The much anticipated Republican proposal for tax reform has been released in the form of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, an over-400 page long major rewrite of the Tax Code.   It is sure to be controversial and subject to political dispute, and specific provisions are likely to change.  Here's how the major provisions that most matter to helping your clients read now. Individual Retirement [...]

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    The Rules and Strategies When You Inherit an IRA From Your Spouse: This Week’s Q&A

    This week's Slott Report Mailbag looks into RMDs and spousal IRA beneficiaries. As always, we recommend you work with a competent, educated financial advisor to keep your retirement nest egg safe and secure. Question: Hello, I need to take my RMD (Required Minimum Distribution). I'm not currently working. I'd like to know if I can take my RMD and add it to my existing Roth IRA. [...]

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    IRA RMD Basics for the First Year’s Distribution

    Every year more Baby boomers move toward age 70 ½ and their first required distributions from their retirement accounts. For those boomers born between July 1, 1946 and June 30, 1947, you turned 70 ½ in 2017. You now need to take your first required minimum distribution (RMD) from your IRA accounts. Here are the basics of that first distribution. The date of the first RMD. Generally, you [...]

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    Stuck with the Five-Year Rule? Think Again

    If you inherit an IRA, especially if it is a larger one, you may be afraid of being stuck with the five-year distribution rule. If this rule applies, your IRA must be entirely emptied in five years which can be a serious tax hit. Fortunately, you are much less likely to be stuck with the five-year rule than you may think. Under the tax rules, if you were named as the beneficiary on the IRA [...]

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    RMDs to a Trust Beneficiary of an IRA

    In the past couple of weeks, I have heard the wrong answer to the question of where required minimum distributions (RMDs) must go to a trust beneficiary from both an advisor and an IRA custodian. The advisor was dealing with a special needs trust as the beneficiary of the IRA. He thought that since a trust was the beneficiary the only distribution option was a 5-year payout. The trust was one [...]

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    Is Your IRA Haunted?

    October 23, 2017
    Is Your IRA Haunted?

    It’s Halloween season! This is the time for ghosts, witches, and trick or treating. What does Halloween have to do with your IRA? You might be surprised to hear that your IRA may be haunted. How can that be? Believe it or not, actions you take, or don’t take, can haunt your beneficiaries for years down the road. Many IRA owners think that naming their estate as their IRA beneficiary is a [...]

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    How Familiar Are You with NUA Rules? This Week’s Q&A.

    This week's Slott Report Mailbag examines NUA rules and the "still working" exception. As always, we recommend you work with a competent, educated financial advisor to keep your retirement nest egg safe and secure. Question: I really enjoyed reading The Retirement Savings Time Bomb book and also your website. Thanks for all the information you share! I retired from Procter & [...]

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    Inherited IRAs – When do RMDs Begin?

    We are frequently asked when required minimum distributions (RMDs) begin when an individual inherits an IRA. As with most things related to IRAs, the answer is, it depends. Year of Death RMD If a Traditional IRA owner died after their required beginning date (RBD) and did not take their RMD for the year, the RMD will need to be paid to the beneficiary by December 31 of the year of death. The[...]

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    Rothification?

    October 16, 2017
    Rothification?

    Rothification is a term that is being tossed around a lot as tax reform takes center stage in Congress. What does Rothification mean? Proposals vary but, basically, it’s the idea of eliminating tax deductions and deferrals for retirement savings and instead mandating after-tax contributions with a payoff of tax-free earnings down the road. This is how Roth IRAs and Roth 401(k)s work so hence the[...]

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    Are You Over 70.5 Years Old and Still Working? Take Advantage of These Benefits: This Week’s Q&A

    This week's Slott Report Mailbag looks into 403(b) plans, RMDs, still-working exceptions, and trusts. As always, we recommend you work with a competent, educated financial advisor to keep your retirement nest egg safe and secure. Question: I have a question in regards to taking an RMD from a 403(b) account. My client is still working, but only part-time for 10 hours per week. Does it [...]

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    October Retirement Deadlines

    October 11, 2017
    October Retirement Deadlines

    In a post last week, we talked about the Roth recharacterization deadline which is fast approaching. October 16, 2017 is the last date to recharacterize a 2016 Roth conversion. Another important deadline that is coming up is for trusts that became the beneficiaries of retirement assets in 2016. A qualifying trust can use the life expectancy of the oldest beneficiary of the trust to calculate [...]

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    Penalty-Free Retirement Account Distributions Now Available to Hurricane Victims

    Millions of Americans were affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. You may be one of them. If you are, there is some encouraging news. On September 29, President Trump signed H.R. 3823, the “Disaster Tax Relief and Airport and Airway Extension Act of 2017” into law. The new law provides a package of tax relief for Hurricane victims, including a provision that allows penalty-free [...]

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    Are You Over 70.5 Years Old and Still Working? Understand Your Options With RMDs: This Week’s Q&A

    This week's Slott Report Mailbag examines RMDs when you are still working past 70.5 years old and inheriting multiple IRAs. As always, we recommend you work with a competent, educated financial advisor to keep your retirement nest egg safe and secure. Question: I have read some of your other articles, but I haven’t seen an answer to this question. I am 73 years old, still working, [...]

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    A Tale of 3 Cousins and Their Inherited 401(k) Plans

    This is the story of Al, Bob and Carl. Each cousin is the non-spouse beneficiary of his father’s 401(k) plan. Their fathers worked together at the local automotive factory for their entire lives and were all covered by the same plan. The default distribution option in the plan for non-spouse beneficiaries is a five-year payout. Al’s Story Al’s father named Al on the beneficiary form [...]

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    8 Things to Know Before the October 16 Recharacterization Deadline

    Did you convert your traditional IRA to a Roth IRA in 2016 and now you are reconsidering that move? Did you make a 2016 traditional IRA contribution and later discover the contribution was not deductible? Did you contribute to a Roth IRA, not knowing that your income was above the limits for eligibility? If you answered, “yes” to any of these questions, there is a deadline rapidly approaching [...]

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    Do You Know All the Rules for Rolling Over a Roth 401(k)?

    This week's Slott Report Mailbag examines 401(k)s, Roth 401(k)s, and spousal beneficiary rules. As always, we recommend you work with a competent, educated financial advisor to keep your retirement nest egg safe and secure. Question: I have been getting Ed Slott and Company’s emails for a few years now. They are very informative. I have not seen this question yet. I also looked through[...]

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    Divorce, IRAs, and a Twist

    September 27, 2017
    Divorce, IRAs, and a Twist

    Many times when individuals divorce the IRA is split between the spouses. This is done through the divorce decree or separation agreement. An IRA is never split using a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO). That is only used for splitting employer plans, such as 401(k)s. The paperwork should be very clear on the details of the split. Generally, a percentage is the best way to go. It will[...]

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    What If You Could Pay Health Care Costs in Retirement with Tax-Free Dollars?

    As medical expenses continue to increase, planning for them in retirement takes on greater importance.  One approach is to shift thinking of the Health Savings Account (HSA) as an account to defray medical expenses annually to an account with pre-tax dollars and tax-free earnings to defray medical expenses years from now in retirement. Consider this planning strategy to help insulate your [...]

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    How Your Inherited IRA is Taxed

    September 25, 2017
    How Your Inherited IRA is Taxed

    Have you inherited an IRA? What type of IRA is it? Your answer will matter a lot when it comes to your tax bill. Inheriting a traditional IRA will have very different tax consequences than inheriting a Roth IRA. Consider the following example. Let’s say Tom named his three children as beneficiaries of his three-million-dollar traditional IRA. He never made any nondeductible contributions. [...]

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    Retirement Plan Checks and 60-Day Rollovers

    Generally, when you receive a check from your IRA custodian or employer plan, you have 60 days to rollover the funds to another retirement account, either an IRA or an employer plan. As with most retirement plan rules, this rule comes with two exceptions – one good and one bad. Let’s look at what happens when Lori receives a check. Checks Payable to the New Retirement Account A check [...]

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    Avoid Penalties and Fees by Learning These Rules: Today’s Q&A Mailbag

    This week's Slott Report Mailbag looks into QCDs, RMDs, Rollover IRAs and Recharacterizations. As always, we recommend you work with a competent, educated financial advisor to keep your retirement nest egg safe and secure. Question: I put $5,500 in my new Roth IRA for both 2016 and 2017 in April 2017. I later found out my income was too high to open a Roth IRA. Another person advised me[...]

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    Options for a Spouse Beneficiary – Remain a Beneficiary or Retitle to Your Own Account?

    Warning! The options described here are for spouse beneficiaries named on the beneficiary forms of IRA accounts. Non-spouse beneficiaries and spouses who inherit through an estate have a different sets of rules. Your spouse has died and you are named the beneficiary of their IRA. What do you do now? The IRA custodian has automatically retitled the account as an inherited IRA and after all, [...]

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    5 Retirement Savings Strategies for Younger Workers

    No one can argue that the millennial generation faces big challenges when it comes to savings. Younger workers are dealing with record setting student loan debt, high housing costs and stagnant wage growth. It’s hard to save for retirement when you are worried about the next month’s rent. Here are five strategies to help younger workers get started saving for retirement. 1. Start Small [...]

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    Avoid Accidentally Making a Prohibited Transaction: This Week’s Q&A

    This week's Slott Report Mailbag examines TDAs, IRAs, and prohibited transactions.  As always, we recommend you work with a competent, educated financial advisor to keep your retirement nest egg safe and secure. Question: I am a retired New York City educator who has a considerable amount accumulated in a TDA. I would like to reduce my tax burden, as I am now 65 years of age. What would[...]

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    Hurricane Harvey Relief from IRS and the Department of Labor

    Here is a preview of what might come if Hurricane Irma hits the U.S. IRS and the Department of Labor (DOL) have made several announcements regarding various tax and retirement plan rules and deadlines that have been modified to allow relief for Hurricane Harvey victims. The latest was an announcement regarding the donation of leave time and vacation time pay to charities for use in helping [...]

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    Want to Donate to Harvey Victims? Consider a QCD

    As the flood waters slowly recede in the Houston area, many people are asking themselves how they can help the victims of Hurricane Harvey. For those who have IRAs and are charitably inclined a Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD) may be one way you can help. QCD Rules Not everyone can do a QCD. A QCD is only allowed if the distribution is made on or after the date that you actually [...]

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    Do You Know What to Do When You Inherit an IRA? This Week’s Q&A.

    This week's Slott Report Mailbag looks into QCDs, RMDs and inherited IRAs. As always, we recommend you work with a competent, educated financial advisor to keep your retirement nest egg safe and secure. Question: Good afternoon. I have a quick question. Can a Roth conversion satisfy an RMD requirement in lieu of having a check sent to the client? The client is over 70 1/2. The client [...]

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    7 Things Your IRA Custodian Won’t Tell You

    It is important to know what your IRA custodian will tell you and what they will not or cannot tell you. The I in IRA stands for individual and many times it is up to the individual to know things or keep track of them. 1. 60-Day Rollovers – An IRA custodian will not remind you that an individual can only do one 60-day IRA-to-IRA or Roth IRA-to-Roth IRA rollover in a 12-month period. They may[...]

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    15 Things You Need to Know About ESAs

    Education is expensive. If you have children and you are concerned about how you will pay the school bills, you know that you cannot afford to overlook any possible option that may help you save. One savings tool that is frequently overlooked is the Education Savings Account (ESA). Here are 15 things you need to know about ESAs. 1. You may establish an ESA with the custodian of your choice and [...]

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    You Must Play by the Rules with RMDs and QCDs: Q&A Mailbag

    This week's Slott Report Mailbag examines Roth IRA transfers, QCDs and RMDs. As always, we recommend you work with a competent, educated financial advisor to keep your retirement nest egg safe and secure. Question: Dear Ed Slott and Company, Thank you for helping me with my question. I'm in the process of separating from service from a state public agency. My last date of service [...]

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    Paying for College – Should You Use Your IRA Funds?

    It’s back to school time and the costs for college are quickly mounting. Where is the money going to come from? Many times individuals look to their retirement funds to pay higher education expenses. Can this be done and is it a smart move? There is an exception to the 10% early distribution penalty for higher education expenses but, the exception to the penalty only applies to distributions [...]

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    Close is Not Enough When It Comes to the 10% Penalty

    A well-known quote attributed to baseball great, Frank Robinson, says “Close doesn't count in baseball. Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.” In a recent Tax Court Case, David D. Pritchard et ux. v. Commissioner; T.C. Memo. 2017-136 (July 10, 2017),the Court found the exceptions to the 10% penalty for early distributions from retirement accounts to be more like baseball than [...]

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    Is There a Way Around the 10% Early Distribution Penalty? This Week’s Q&A

    This week's Slott Report Mailbag looks into the one-rollover-per-year rule, RMDs and the 10% early distribution penalty. As always, we recommend you work with a competent, educated financial advisor to keep your retirement nest egg safe and secure. Question: A couple months ago I took my RMD from a New York bank and deposited it into a savings account in Florida where I live. In the [...]

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    Say Goodbye to the myRA Account

    On July 28, the Treasury Department announced that it was ending the myRA program. The Department issued a very brief statement saying that as part of the Administration’s effort to assess existing programs and promote a more effective government it was determined that this program was not “cost effective” due to its low enrollment. The myRA program was introduced during the Obama [...]

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    Your NUA and Required Beginning Date Questions Answered: This Week's Q&A

    This week's Slott Report Mailbag examines NUA and the required beginning date (RBD) for taking an RMD.  As always, we recommend you work with a competent, educated financial advisor to keep your retirement nest egg safe and secure. Question: Hello and thank you in advance for your help. I appreciate the information you regularly provide to readers. I would like some clarity in regards[...]

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    Back to School? 10 Things You Must Know about Using your IRA for Educational Expenses

    The arrival of August means that it’s back to school time! This means it is time for new school supplies and other bigger expenses. Are you thinking about using your IRA to pay that large tuition bill? The rules can be complicated. Here are 10 things you will want to know: 1. Usually, if you take a taxable distribution from your IRA before you reach age 59 ½, you will be subject to an [...]

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    What’s Your IRA Worth?

    August 9, 2017
    What’s Your IRA Worth?

    Many IRA owners invest in assets other than the usual stocks, bonds, cash, and mutual funds. In fact, the tax code allows for IRAs to invest in just about anything out there except for collectibles, life insurance, and S-corporation stock. But when you invest in those “other assets,” what are they really worth? If you invest $1,000 in a publically traded stock, it is easy to determine the [...]

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    5 NUA Facts That May Surprise You

    You may have heard of the Net Unrealized Appreciation (NUA) tax break. This is a special rule that allows you to qualify for capital gains treatment on distributions of appreciated employer stock from your employer plan. With the market doing well, now may a be a time when this strategy is more appealing than ever. You may understand the basics of how these rules work but here are five facts about[...]

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    Don’t Inherit a Mess When Your Spouse Passes Away: This Week’s Q&A

    This week's Slott Report Mailbag looks into inherited IRAs, spousal rollovers, and 401(k)'s.  As always, we recommend you work with a competent, educated financial advisor to keep your retirement nest egg safe and secure. Question: Dear Mr. Slott, I am 83 years old with both a Traditional and a Roth IRA with Vanguard as the custodian of the retirement account. My wife is 73 years old[...]

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    Inheriting an Inherited IRA

    What are the rules when you inherit an inherited IRA? We get this question frequently. Let’s consider what happens when using designated beneficiaries. Jim dies and names Mike as his beneficiary on the beneficiary form. Five years later Mike dies and has named Phyllis, who is a successor beneficiary, on the beneficiary form. Titling The IRS has some complicated rules for titling [...]

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    The 10% Penalty Exception Quiz

    Retirement plans are intended to be used for retirement. However, sometimes life gets in the way and you need to tap those funds early. Generally, when you take a distribution from your retirement plan prior to reaching age 59 1/2, you will be hit a with a 10% early distribution penalty. However, there are some exceptions to the penalty. Determining whether an exception applies can be tricky [...]

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    When You Want to Transfer 401(k) Funds from a Former Employer: This Week’s Q&A

    This week's Slott Report Mailbag looks into IRA contributions and rolling over 401(k) assets from former employers.  As always, we recommend you work with a competent, educated financial advisor to keep your retirement nest egg safe and secure. Question: My husband will turn 70 years old in 2018. He is still working. Is he allowed to make a contribution for the year 2018 to a [...]

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    Hardship and Retirement Distributions – No Free Pass

    A very common mistake on the part of IRA owners and plan participants is thinking that distributions taken because of their financial difficulties are tax and penalty free. Hardship Withdrawals There is no hardship withdrawal from an IRA. You have access to your IRA funds at any time, for any reason. There is a hardship exception for distributions from employer plans which is optional. A [...]

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    Why Your Kids Don’t Want Your HSA

    Do you have an HSA? Have you thought about what will happen to those funds after you are gone? You may be surprised. At your death, any funds remaining in your HSA are payable to the beneficiary you name on the account. If your spouse is your beneficiary the news is good. If your kids get your HSA, they may not fare so well. Your Spouse Can Keep Your HSA Naming your spouse is a good [...]

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    Don’t Make the Same Mistakes These Advisors Made: This Week’s Q&A

    This week's Slott Report Mailbag looks into inherited SEP-IRAs, 403(b)s and inherited IRAs. As always, we recommend you work with a competent, educated financial advisor to keep your retirement nest egg safe and secure. Question: I attended a past seminar and was extremely impressed with your knowledge of retirement plans.  I was hoping that you could provide some guidance regarding one[...]

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    Five Things to Consider When Researching Retirement Questions on the Internet

    The internet can be a blessing and it can be a curse. It is a fantastic place to do research on almost anything, but is the information you find current and accurate? Here are five things to consider when doing internet research into retirement questions. Check the Date When was the article or blog written and/or posted? The tax code and rules change often. What was true three years or five [...]

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    5 Strategies to Reduce RMDs

    Nothing lasts forever. This includes tax deferral on your IRAs. Eventually, Uncle Sam is going to want his share and will require funds to come out of these accounts. That is when required minimum distributions (RMDs) must begin. What if you don’t need the money? What if you don’t want a tax hit? Here are five strategies to reduce your RMDs. 1. Move your money to your plan. Are you still [...]

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    Taxes Can Be Hefty If You Make These Rollover Mistakes

    This week's Slott Report Mailbag looks into taking RMDs from multiple accounts, 60-day rollovers and the once-per-year rollover rule.  As always, we recommend you work with a competent, educated financial advisor to keep your retirement nest egg safe and secure. Question: Dear Ed, We met many years ago through the IAFP (now FPA). My client turned 70 in January 2017 and wants to [...]

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    IRA Distribution Basics – Taxation of Distributions

    Most IRA accounts hold pre-tax contributions and rollover amounts from employer plans. For purposes of this blog, I am going to assume that there are no after-tax amounts held in any IRA, including SEP and SIMPLE IRAs. IRA distributions where the check is made payable to the IRA owner or the funds are transferred to a non-IRA account are almost always taxable. There are, of course, [...]

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    Questions about Your Inherited IRA? This Week’s Mailbag Q&A

    This week's Slott Report Mailbag looks into inherited IRAs, RMDs, and NUAs. As always, we recommend you work with a competent, educated financial advisor to keep your retirement nest egg safe and secure. Question: I have a question about a spouse inheriting from her husband's "Qualified Annuity" upon his death. He was an NYPD police officer. She was the sole beneficiary at his death on [...]

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    Six Things to Know About the Year-End Account Balance Used for RMDs

    1. General Rule As a general rule, the account balance used for calculating required minimum distributions (RMDs) is the prior year-end account balance, with no adjustments. For example, if you are calculating an RMD for 2017 you would use the 2016 year-end account balance. If you are calculating a missed RMD for 2014, you would use the 2013 year-end account balance. If you have your first[...]

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    Do You Know When the Pro-Rata Rule Applies? This Week’s Q&A Mailbag

    This week's Slott Report Mailbag looks into direct rollovers, Notice 2014-54, the pro-rata rule and NUAs.  As always, we recommend you work with a competent, educated financial advisor to keep your retirement nest egg safe and secure. Question: Hello, I have attended some of Ed’s seminars in the past and have a specific client question that I was hoping you can help me with. In [...]

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    Once-Per-Year Rollover Rule – The Exceptions to the Rule

    As with most IRA rules, there are exceptions to the once-per-year rollover rule. The rule applies to IRA-to-IRA and Roth IRA-to-Roth IRA 60-day rollovers. Just to be clear, an IRA rollover occurs when a check is issued by the IRA or Roth IRA custodian that is payable to the account owner. The following are the exceptions. Check Payable to the New Custodian When a check is issued that is [...]

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    Once-Per-Year Rollover Scenarios – What’s Ok and What’s NOT Ok

    The once-per-year IRA rollover rule sounds pretty easy to understand. You may only do one IRA-to-IRA (or Roth IRA-to-Roth IRA rollover) per year (365 days). However, there are many ways it can go wrong. Consider the following two scenarios. One involves multiple distributions and the other involves multiple rollover deposits. One is ok and the other is not. One Distribution and Multiple [...]

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    Avoid 60-Day Rollover Mistakes: This Week’s Q&A

    This week's Slott Report Mailbag looks into 60-day rollovers, IRA withdrawals, and NUAs.  As always, we recommend you work with a competent, educated financial advisor to keep your retirement nest egg safe and secure. Question: A few weeks ago, I withdrew money from my IRA (they withheld 10% for taxes). Later I discovered I did not really need this money.  Can I repay this money within [...]

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    Quiz Yourself With These IRA Questions!

    After you’ve answered the questions below, scroll down to see the answers and see how well you know your stuff! 1) Of Roth IRAs, Roth 401(k)s and inherited Roth IRAs, which, if any, are subject to required minimum distributions? 2) Technically speaking, what does IRA actually stand for? 3) Which type of account(s) hold more of American’s retirement money today; IRAs OR 401(k)s, [...]

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