Some things to consider about your Retirement Plan

In 2013, the maximum 401(k) contribution is $17,500 (plus a $5,500 catch-up contribution for those 50 or older by the end of the year). If you are self-employed, you have other retirement savings options. We will review these alternatives with you when you come in for your appointment. One of my favorites for many one person self- employed businesses is the one person 401(k) plan.

In light of the new increased tax rates effective in 2013, plus the addition of the new Medicare surtax on Net Investment Income, higher income taxpayers may want to consider switching from Roth 403(b) and Roth 401(k) elective deferral contributions back to tax deductible contributions. The current savings may outweigh the benefits of tax-free growth on the Roth accounts. As mentioned earlier, the focus moving forward for higher income taxpayers is toward reducing adjusted gross income.

You can also contribute to an IRA for 2013 up through April 15, 2014. The maximum is $5,500 with a catch-up (for taxpayers 50 or older) provision of $1,000.

– Excerpt from Jim Lange’s 2013 Year-End Tax Report


3 Myths About Social Security

Myth #1: By the time I retire, Social Security will be broke.

If you believe this, you are not alone. More and more Americans have become convinced that the Social Security system won’t be there when they need it. In an AARP survey released last year, only 35 percent of adults said they were very or somewhat confident about Social Security’s future.

It’s true that Social Security’s finances need work, because over the long term there will not be enough money to fully cover promised benefits. But radical changes aren’t needed. In 2010 a number of different proposals were put forward that, taken in combination, would put the program back on firm financial ground for the future, including changes such as raising the amount of wages subject to the payroll tax (now capped at $106,800) and benefit changes based on longer life expectancy.

Myth #2: The Social Security Trust Fund Assets are Worthless.

Any surplus payroll taxes not used for current benefits are used to purchase special-issue, interest-paying Treasury bonds. In other words, the surplus in the Social Security trust fund has been loaned to the federal government for its general use — the reserve of $2.6 trillion is not a heap of cash sitting in a vault. These bonds are backed by the full faith and credit of the federal government, just as they are for other Treasury bondholders. However, Treasury will soon need to pay back these bonds. This will put pressure on the federal budget, according to Social Security’s board of trustees. Even without any changes, Social Security can continue paying full benefits through 2037. After that, the revenue from payroll taxes will still cover about 75 percent of promised benefits.

Myth #3: I Could Invest Better on My Own.

Maybe you could, and maybe you couldn’t. But the point of Social Security isn’t to maximize the return on the payroll taxes you’ve contributed. Social Security is designed to be the one guaranteed part of your retirement income that can’t be outlived or lost in the stock market. It’s a secure base of income throughout your working life and retirement. And for many, it’s a lifeline. Social Security provides the majority of income for at least half of Americans over age 65; it is 90 percent or more of income for 43 percent of singles and 22 percent of married couples. You can, and should, invest in a retirement fund like a 401(k) or an individual retirement account. Maybe you’ll enjoy strong returns and avoid the market turmoil we have seen during the past decade. If not, you’ll still have Social Security to fall back on.

5 Things Taxpayers Can Proactively Do To Best Take Advantage of the New Income and Estate Tax Law

There are some BIG changes for taxpayers in the creation of the new 2010 Tax Relief/Job Creation Act.  How can you best respond to this law?  Take a look at these 5 things all taxpayers can proactively do to best take advantage of the changes:

1.  With the money you save on the reduction of your social security tax, you should contribute at least that much additional money to your retirement plan.

2.  Contribute to your retirement plan in the following order:

  • Contribute whatever an employer is willing to match or even partially match
  • Contribute to your Roth IRA and if married to your spouses Roth IRA, even if your spouse isn’t working
  • Maximize your contribution to your Roth 401(k) or Roth 403(b) if available
  • If not available, maximize your contribution to your traditional 401(k) or 403(b)
  • If your income is too high to qualify for a Roth IRA, contribute to a nondeductible 401(k).

3.  Since we have two more years of low tax rates, make Roth IRA conversions.  Consider multiple conversions since you can “recharacterize” or undo them.  If you do multiple conversions, you can keep the ones that do well and undo the ones that don’t.

4.  Review your wills and trusts.  Many, if not most of the wills done for taxpayers with estates of $1 million are now outdated.  Not only will you not get optimal results, but your existing wills and trusts might be a huge restriction on the surviving spouse.

5.  Now that you can either leave or gift $5,000,000 or $10,000,000 if you are married, you should rethink potential gifts to children and grandchildren without tax laws that would otherwise restrict gifts you would like to make.