The Optimal Order for Spending Assets: Roth IRA or Traditional IRA First?

Roth IRA, James Lange, Retire Secure A Guide to Getting the Most Out of What You've GotThose of you who have attended my workshops or read the previous editions of my book may remember a rule of thumb I used to use that said, “Spend your after-tax dollars first, tax-deferred dollars second, and then your Roth IRA”. Well, guess what? The changes in the tax laws now mean that there are no more rules of thumb! My new advice is, “Spend your after-tax dollars first, and then withdraw traditional IRA and Roth IRA dollars strategically to optimize tax results.”

Changes in the tax law that affect capital gains and individual tax brackets, as well as new taxes that are aimed specifically at high income taxpayers mean that the advice I used to give in the past is now far too simplistic. Chapter 4 presents detailed information on how capital gains and other taxes should affect your decision to withdraw money from a traditional versus a Roth IRA account. Would you have thought that your marital status could affect your decision too? Is it possible to minimize the tax on your IRA withdrawals? (Hint: oh, yes!) If you have IRA and Roth IRA money left over when you die, is it better to leave one type of account over another to a child at your death?

Chapter 4 covers many new issues that you did not have to worry about in the past, which should certainly affect these decisions. I’d like to give you one word of caution, though. Each of the scenarios presented in this chapter is based on a specific set of variables. In one scenario, I changed only the account from which the taxpayer made the withdrawal, and the outcome is significantly different. Please don’t assume that your personal circumstances will result in the same outcome shown in these scenarios. Ask us to run the numbers for you!

Be sure to stop back for my next post, which will cover some ideas for managing your Required Minimum Distributions!

Thanks,

Jim

Jim Lange A nationally recognized IRA, Roth IRA conversion, and 401(k) expert, he is a regular speaker to both consumers and professional organizations. Jim is the creator of the Lange Cascading Beneficiary Plan™, a benchmark in retirement planning with the flexibility and control it offers the surviving spouse, and the founder of The Roth IRA Institute, created to train and educate financial advisors.

Jim’s strategies have been endorsed by The Wall Street Journal (33 times), Newsweek, Money Magazine, Smart Money, Reader’s Digest, Bottom Line, and Kiplinger’s. His articles have appeared in Bottom Line, Trusts and Estates Magazine, Financial Planning, The Tax Adviser, Journal of Retirement Planning, and The Pennsylvania Lawyer magazine.

Jim is the best-selling author of Retire Secure! (Wiley, 2006 and 2009), endorsed by Charles Schwab, Larry King, Ed Slott, Jane Bryant Quinn, Roger Ibbotson and The Roth Revolution, Pay Taxes Once and Never Again endorsed by Ed Slott, Natalie Choate and Bob Keebler.

If you’d like to be reminded as to when the book is coming out please fill out the form below.

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Required Minimum Distributions: The Government Wants Their Money!

Required Minimum Distributions, The Government Wants Their Money, James Lange - The Roth Revolution BlogOver the years, I’ve met with many clients who have managed to accumulate small fortunes over the course of their working careers – even though their incomes were never even high enough to put them in the top two or three tax brackets. I call these clients my “savers.” These individuals seem to share one trait – mainly that they simply don’t feel the need to spend money if they don’t have to. Instead, they set the money aside for the times when they absolutely must spend and, more often than not, they spend far less than what they could.

It’s these clients who seem to suffer the greatest shock when they turn 70 ½ and are required to start withdrawing money from their qualified retirement plans. They object, “But I don’t need the money! I just want to leave it sit there in case I need it some day!” And I have to tell them that it doesn’t matter if they need the money or not. The money that they squirreled away in their retirement plans for a rainy day has grown all these years without being taxed, and now the government wants their tax money!

There’s no avoiding the Required Minimum Distribution rules on traditional retirement plans. Failure to take a distribution when required, in fact, will cost you a penaly tax of 50% on the amount not withdrawn. Individuals who hate the RMD rules and have a spiteful streak might enjoy an interesting (and legal) tip presented in Chapter 5 that allows them to take advantage of the withholdings on the distribution to wait until the very last minute to pay the IRS their due, while also avoiding a late payment penalty. They can also learn of a possible way to completely avoid tax on their Required Minimum Distributions – and also a general increase in their tax bracket – by sending their RMD direct to a charity. I encourage everyone, though, to read Chapter 5 so that you have a good understanding of the RMD rules. Later chapters address proposed legislative changes to the rules that may not strike you as being significant, and unless you have a good understanding of how they currently work.

My next post will talk about rolling your old retirement plan to an IRA. There have been a lot of changes in the laws about this, so I hope you will stop back to get a summary of what you can expect.

Happy Reading!

Jim

Jim Lange A nationally recognized IRA, Roth IRA conversion, and 401(k) expert, he is a regular speaker to both consumers and professional organizations. Jim is the creator of the Lange Cascading Beneficiary Plan™, a benchmark in retirement planning with the flexibility and control it offers the surviving spouse, and the founder of The Roth IRA Institute, created to train and educate financial advisors.

Jim’s strategies have been endorsed by The Wall Street Journal (33 times), Newsweek, Money Magazine, Smart Money, Reader’s Digest, Bottom Line, and Kiplinger’s. His articles have appeared in Bottom Line, Trusts and Estates Magazine, Financial Planning, The Tax Adviser, Journal of Retirement Planning, and The Pennsylvania Lawyer magazine.

Jim is the best-selling author of Retire Secure! (Wiley, 2006 and 2009), endorsed by Charles Schwab, Larry King, Ed Slott, Jane Bryant Quinn, Roger Ibbotson and The Roth Revolution, Pay Taxes Once and Never Again endorsed by Ed Slott, Natalie Choate and Bob Keebler.

If you’d like to be reminded as to when the book is coming out please fill out the form below.

Save

IRA Withdrawals: Should you withdraw from your Roth or traditional IRA first?

IRA Withdrawal
Those of you who have attended my workshops or read the previous editions of my book may remember a rule of thumb I used to use that said, “Spend your after-tax dollars first, use traditional IRA withdrawals second, and then withdraw your Roth”. Well, guess what? The changes in the tax laws now mean that there are no more rules of thumb! My new advice is, “Spend your after-tax dollars first, and then withdraw traditional and Roth IRA dollars strategically to optimize tax results”.

Changes in the tax law that affect capital gains and individual tax brackets, as well as new taxes that are aimed specifically at high income taxpayers mean that the advice I used to give in the past is now far too simplistic. Chapter 4 presents detailed information on how capital gains and other taxes should affect your decision to withdraw money from a traditional versus a Roth account. Would you have thought that your marital status could affect your decision too? Is it possible to minimize the tax on your IRA withdrawals? (Hint: oh, yes.) If you have IRA and Roth money left over when you die, is it better to leave one type of account over another to a child at your death?

Chapter 4 covers many new rules that you did not have to worry about in the past, which should certainly affect these decisions. I’d like to give you one word of caution, though. Each of the scenarios presented in this chapter is based on a specific set of variables. In one scenario, I changed only the account from which the taxpayer made the withdrawal, and the outcome is significantly different. Please don’t assume that your personal circumstances will result in the same outcome shown in these scenarios, but ask us to run the numbers for you!

Be sure to stop back for my next post, which will cover some ideas for managing your Required Minimum Distributions!

Save

Save