If you are struggling financially due to the COVID-19 epidemic, you will be happy to know Congress, as part of the CARES Act enacted on March 27, has made it easier for you to access your retirement funds during this emergency.
Normally, withdrawals from traditional IRAs and qualified plans such as 401(k)s, self-employed pension plans (SEPs), tax sheltered annuities (TSAs), etc., are taxable when withdrawn and subject to a 10% early withdrawal penalty if withdrawn before you turn age 59½.
For the rest of 2020, you will be able to tap those accounts for up to $100,000 and avoid the 10% penalty, although the distributions will still be taxable. To qualify, you, your spouse or a dependent must have been diagnosed with either SARS-CoV-2 or the COVID-19 virus or have been quarantined, lost your job, had your hours reduced or are unable to work due to lack of child care. To ease the taxes on these distributions, you can choose to have distributions taxed 1/3 in 2020, 2021 and 2022. Or, if your income is very low in 2020, it might be better to tax a distribution entirely in 2020. That is a decision that can be made when you file your 2020 tax return. You also have the option of paying the distribution back over a three-year period.
Ever since 2006, individuals age 70½ or older have been able to transfer up to $100,000 annually from their IRAs to qualified charities. These transfers are referred to as qualified charitable distributions (QCDs), and here is how this provision, if utilized, plays out on a tax return:
(1) The IRA distribution is excluded from income;
(2) The distribution counts toward the taxpayer’s required minimum distribution (RMD) for the year; and
(3) The distribution does NOT count as a charitable contribution.
At first glance, this may not appear to provide a tax benefit. However, by excluding the distribution, a taxpayer with itemized deductions lowers his or her adjusted gross income (AGI), which helps with other tax breaks (or punishments) that are pegged at AGI levels, such as for medical expenses, passive losses, and taxable Social Security income. In addition, non-itemizers essentially receive the benefit of a charitable contribution to offset the IRA distribution.
If you are suddenly in need of a substantial amount of cash, probably the last thing you should do is tap your retirement funds. They are the key to a financially comfortable retirement. The younger you are, the less likely you are to think about saving for retirement, but you certainly don’t want to end up living off of only Social Security. However, there are times when there might not be any other alternative than dipping into your 401(k), IRA or other retirement plan. In that case, you have to be concerned not only with any tax liability, but also early withdrawal penalties if the funds are withdrawn before reaching age 59 1/2 Plus, some distributions may only be partially taxable and some not taxable at all, while others are fully taxable.
Like everything in the U.S. tax code, the rules relating to pension or other retirement plan distributions are complicated and governed by a variety of provisions. This article describes these various rules so you can see how they would apply to a withdrawal you might be contemplating.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) recently announced the inflation-adjusted increase in benefits for 2019. SSA’s announcement states that Social Security beneficiaries should expect a cost-of-living increase of 2.8%. However, the same announcement says that for those who are retired at full retirement age, the maximum monthly benefit will go from $2,788 to $2,861, a 2.62% increase of $73 a month. Either 2.62% or 2.8% isn’t much in the overall scope of things, considering part of that increase goes to pay for Medicare premiums and copays for medication. Those retired with only Social Security income struggle just to survive month to month.
This should be a wakeup call for still-working individuals who are living (and spending) for the moment and have no, or minimal, retirement plans or retirement savings. It’s almost imperative that individuals include contributions into retirement savings in their budgets, in one form or another, or the inevitable golden years won’t be so golden.
Tax law permits you to take a distribution from your IRA account, and as long as you return the distribution to your IRA within 60 days, there are no tax ramifications. However, many taxpayers overlook that you are only allowed to do that once in a 12-month period, and violating this rule can have some nasty and unexpected tax ramifications.
The one-year period is measured based on the date a distribution is received. If the second distribution is received before the same date one year later, it is a disqualified rollover.
The individual retirement account (IRA) is one of the favored ways to save money for retirement. There are two types of IRAs: the traditional IRA and the Roth IRA. The annual maximum that an individual can be contributing between the two types of IRAs is $5,500, unless the individual is 50 years of age or older, and then the maximum is increased to $6,500. The basic contribution amount is inflation adjusted annually and the amount quoted is for 2017, while the additional amount for those 50 and older is fixed at $1,000. Contributions to an IRA may or may not be tax deductible depending on the type of IRA and, in some cases, the amount of the taxpayer’s income for the contribution year and whether the taxpayer participates in an employer’s retirement plan.
Some retirees are faced with mounting debt and inadequate income. What options do these seniors have, especially if they have a mortgage on their home and their retirement income is too low to cover the mortgage payments and have enough left over to have some enjoyment in their golden years?
One option that you see promoted on television is the “reverse mortgage,” which allows a homeowner to borrow against the equity they have built up in their home over the years. The loan is not due until the homeowner passes away or moves out of the home. If the homeowner dies, the heirs can pay off the debt by selling the house, and any remaining equity goes to them. If at that time the loan balance is equal to or more than the value of the home, the repayment amount is limited to the home’s worth.
If you have questions about reverse mortgages and the mortgage interest deduction, please give us a call.
If you are looking for cash for a specific purpose, your retirement savings may be a tempting source. However, if you are under age 59½ and plan to withdraw money from a traditional IRA or qualified retirement account, you will likely pay both income tax and a 10% early-distribution tax (also referred to as a penalty) on any previously untaxed money that you take out. Withdrawals you make from a SIMPLE IRA before age 59½ and those you make during the 2-year rollover restriction period after establishing the SIMPLE IRA may be subject to a 25% additional early-distribution tax instead of the normal 10%. The 2-year period is measured from the first day that contributions are deposited. These penalties are just what you’d pay on your federal return; your state may also charge an early-withdrawal penalty in addition to the regular state income tax.
Thus, before making any withdrawals from an IRA or other retirement plan, including a 401(k) plan, a 403(b) tax-sheltered annuity plan, or a self-employed retirement plan, carefully consider the resulting decrease in retirement savings and increase in taxes and penalties.
Taxpayers can take a distribution from an IRA or other qualified retirement plan and if they roll it over (put it back) within 60 days they can avoid taxation on the distributed amount. (This provision does not apply to required minimum distributions for taxpayers who are 70.5 years of age and over.) In addition, taxpayers are limited to one IRA-to-IRA rollover per year.