The Third Edition of Retire Secure has Finally Arrived!

The new edition of Retire Secure! A Guide to Getting The Most out Of What You’ve Got is the distilled and concentrated version of the recommendations we have developed over 30 years. It is particularly useful for IRA and retirement plan owners.

We will soon be sending our clients a copy with a personalized note directing you to what we think will be the most relevant sections for you to read. This personalization has been a huge project, but it’s something that I think will be enormously helpful to you.

Retire Secure! will be available for purchase in bookstores and on Amazon in October. However, if you absolutely cannot wait, the book is available for Kindle and Amazon pre-order here.

Amazon Kindle Pre-Order Retire Secure! James Lange

The core concepts of the current edition are similar to the two previous editions (Wiley, 2006 and 2009). Recent legislative changes, however, have led to important strategy adjustments that are incorporated in the latest edition.

  • In Part 1, The Accumulation Years, we include some new strategies that were not available in 2009.
  • In Part 2, The Distribution Years, we cover how to spend down retirement funds in the right order to manage your assets wisely, but that area is more complicated than ever because of some of the new tax laws. We have also updated recommendations for Roth conversions, and the impact of a potential new law for IRA and retirement plan owners and their families — the death of the stretch IRA. It could be devastating for your children. Though there is no perfect answer, I do address some of the best strategies I know to reduce the pain of the likely changes in the IRA law.
  • In Part 3, we’ve updated the Eddie and Emily Estate Planning case study. Essentially, it incorporates the updated Lange’s Cascading Beneficiary Plan, which many of you already have in your wills and trusts.

If you’ve read previous versions of Retire Secure!, I hope you’ll find the updates and changes enlightening. To make the new material easier to find, I have included a section that highlights the changes. And if you’re new to the book, I hope you’ll take this as an opportunity to really educate yourself on these principles and sound practices. There’s mathematical proof that optimizing the strategies you use to approach saving, investing, estate planning, and distributing assets could mean a dierence of millions of dollars over your lifetime and for your heirs.

It’s my fervent wish that Retire Secure! will help you live a happier, healthier, and more secure life!

Jim

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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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!

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Which Is Better the Traditional or the Roth IRA

Retire Secure! Third Edition, A Guide To Making The Most Out Of What You've Got, James Lange
A theme which appears consistently throughout the third edition of Retire Secure! is the question of which is better – the traditional or Roth IRA. Changes in the law since Edition Two was written, as well as additional changes that our current administration is pressing for, make it the million dollar question.

In order to answer the question, we dedicated Chapter 2 to comparing the pros and cons of each type of account as they exist under the current law. If you are not familiar with the rules of each IRA account, it is probably worth your time to read this chapter. Subsequent chapters address the proposed changes to the rules, and how they might affect your decision when reviewing your retirement plan options. And, due to popular demand, I’ve added a section about the IRS ordering rules, which explains how to avoid tax and penalty if you need to withdraw money from a Roth account before five years has passed.

The IRA illustrations were calculated using a 6% rate of return, and the maximum contribution amount as established by the IRS. We also ran an illustration that shows, for those who don’t have a lot of time left to save, the difference in the accounts when contributions are made for a very limited number of years.

A final note about tax brackets: when Edition Two was written, the maximum tax rate was 35%. Subsequent changes in the tax laws increased the maximum rate to 39.6%. This difference of almost 5% is more significant than you might think. The impact of the increased tax brackets is discussed in detail in subsequent chapters, but the concept is first introduced in Chapter 2.

Check back soon for an update on Chapter 3!

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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Sneak Peek at the Updated Retire Secure!

Retire Secure A Guide to Getting the Most Out of What You've Got, James Lange 2015The third edition of Retire Secure! has been completed and will be going to the printer shortly. Some of you may be thinking, “So what? I already read that book.” Since the second edition of Retire Secure! was published in 2009, there have been two major revisions to the tax code and several landmark court decisions that have significantly changed the way we approach the cases we handle in our office. We try to keep you informed of these changes through our newsletters. If you’re a client, we also meet with you at least once a year to review your situation and, if needed, we help you make changes so that you can achieve the best results possible based on the current laws.

So why should you read this book? Reviewing their finances regularly isn’t a top priority for a lot of individuals – although it should be – and it is human nature to become complacent about things that we’d really rather not have to think about. When we were writing Edition 3, though, I found that so much has changed since I published Edition 2 that it became necessary for me to discuss many of the old laws and the old solutions we used to use, and then explain why the old solutions are no longer effective under the new laws. The legislative changes also created new and possibly unforeseen problems for taxpayers that require proactive management on their parts. Without proactive management, those individuals can pay far more in taxes than they need to. Ultimately, it is their wealth that suffers from their lack of attention.

I’ve been accused of being a self-appointed ambassador of information, and I guess that’s true. I believe this information is so important that everyone should read my book from cover to cover, but I’m enough of a realist to know that not all of you share my enthusiasm for the subject matter. Since I’m a nice guy, though, I’ll respect your time and use this blog to point out the highlights of what’s changed in every chapter. Hopefully a sneak peek at what’s contained within will inspire you to read the whole book.

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

One Key to Financial Planning… a Roth IRA Conversion

Roth IRA Conversion, James Lange, Lange Financial Group, LLCIf you’re approaching retirement, you might want to consider a Roth IRA conversion. A recent change to tax laws allows for the conversion to Roth IRAs, 401(k)s, and 403(b)s to gain enhanced benefits. For one, the changes made in 2010 have no income cap for Roth IRA accounts. Previously, only incomes of $100,000 were eligible for conversion.

If you’re still not sure, consider these factors that can help lead your family to financial stability.

For the most part, Roth IRAs grow incometax free. Additionally, owners are not required to take distributions at age 70 ½. Roth IRAs grow continuously as long as you or your grandchildren own it; whereas, regular IRAs are tax-deferred. The growth and investment are both taxed when money is withdrawn.

With the income cap of $100,000 gone, the Roth IRA becomes all the more appealing for retirees. At least a partial conversion is recommended, though the converted amount will require tax payment. However, as long as the conversion is strategic, your family can reap the long-term benefits. For example, converting $100,000 today can put you over $51,000 ahead in the next
20 years.

If tax rates increase, the conversion to Roth IRA sees the benefits, because conversion at a lower tax can help cut back taxable income as rates increase. While you’re planning a financial future for your loved ones, keep in mind that your living will and trust don’t necessarily establish who will inherit your IRAs, Roth IRAs, and retirement plans. Specify your IRA and retirement plan beneficiaries. For those still unconvinced, Lange Financial Group makes a limited number of free consultations available to Western PA residents. Because each case is different, it’s important to run the numbers on a case-by-case basis to find a solution that best fits you. If you want to further discuss the benefits of Roth IRA conversions, call Alice Davis, our Client Services Coordinator, at 412-521-2732 to schedule an appointment.

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Benefits of a Roth IRA

Back Door IRA, James Lange, Pittsburgh, Retirement Planning

There are numerous benefits to converting to a Roth IRA. Please remember, it is important to review all of your retirement accounts before converting to a Roth IRA. Some benefits of a Roth IRA include;

• Required minimum distributions are not obligatory until the participant’s death.

• Withdrawals are tax free.

• They pass onto your heirs income tax-free.

• You can compound your investments in a tax-free fashion.

 

Am I a Candidate for a Backdoor Roth IRA?

Backdoor Roth IRAs can be appropriate for investors who:

  • Only have retirement account through their jobs (i.e. 401k’s) and want to increase their retirement savings in tax-advantaged accounts, but whose income is too high to qualify for standard Roth IRA contributions; and
  • Have the time and ability to wait for five years or until they are 59 ½ to avoid the 10% penalty on early withdrawals. (If you open and make contributions to a Roth IRA in the standard manner, i.e. not through conversion, you are not subject to this rule).

A Backdoor Roth IRA is probably not recommended if you:

  • Are over the age of 70½ and can no longer contribute to a traditional IRA.
  • Don’t want to contribute more than the maximum retirement limit through your workplace retirement account.
  • Already have money in a traditional IRA and because of the Pro Rata rule may end up in a non-tax advantageous position when converting to a Backdoor Roth IRA.
  • Plan or expect to withdraw the funds in the Roth IRA within the first five years of opening it. A Backdoor Roth is considered a conversion and not a contribution. Therefore, the funds will incur a 10% penalty if withdrawn within five years unless you are age 59 ½ or older.
  • Are in a high tax bracket now and expect to be in a lower tax bracket in the future.
  • Plan to relocate to a lower- or no- income tax state.

 

Stay tuned for my next blog post, Recharacterizations and the Conclusion!

Disclaimer: Please note that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 removed the ability for taxpayers to do any “recharacterizations” of Roth IRA conversions after 12/31/2017. The material below was created and published prior the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. 

Want to learn more? Give us a call at 412-521-2732.

– James Lange

 

Beware of the Pro Rata Rule for Roth Conversions

What is the Pro Rata rule for Roth conversions?

The Pro Rata rule for Roth conversions states that if you have any other deductible IRAs (i.e. a previous 401k that you’ve rolled over), the conversion of any contributions becomes a taxable event that you’ll need to pay taxes on upfront.

The Pro Rata rule for Roth conversions determines whether or not your conversion will be taxable! For taxation purposes, the IRS will look at your entire IRA holdings (even if they are in different accounts), not just the traditional IRA you are converting to a Roth IRA, and will determine what your tax bill will be based upon a ratio of IRA assets that have already been taxed to those IRA assets in total.

The IRS determines the tax on this conversion based on the value of all of your IRA assets. For example Jane, a high income earner, already has $94,500 in an IRA account, all of which has never been taxed.  She decides on January 2nd to put $5,500 into a new traditional IRA. The next day she converts the new traditional non-deductible IRA to a Roth IRA.  Jane’s income is too high for her to make a direct contribution into a Roth IRA, but there’s no income limit on conversions.  Unlike Bill she has $94,500 in other IRAs (previously non-taxed), so her total IRA assets are now $100,000. When she converts $5,500 to a Roth IRA, the IRS pro-rates her tax basis on the previous taxation of her total IRA assets, therefore making this conversion 94.5% taxable ($94,500/100,000 = 94.5%).

So if you plan on using this backdoor IRA strategy, you want to be clear as to whether or not you have any other IRAs. As you can see, this can be a confusing area and this is where we can help.  If you are a high income earner we would be happy to review your situation to determine if this strategy is in your best interest.

Also, please remember that your spouse’s IRA is separate from yours.

Stay tuned for my next blog post, Benefits of a Roth IRA!

Want to learn more? Give us a call at 412-521-2732.

– James Lange

Example of a Backdoor Roth IRA

As promised from our last blog post, here is an example of a Backdoor Roth IRA

Bill, a high income earner decides on January 2nd to put $5,500 into a traditional IRA for himself and another $5,500 into a traditional IRA for his wife Mary.  Bill’s income is too high to be able to deduct these contributions from his taxes.

So the next day, he converts the traditional IRAs to Roth IRAs completely tax-free.  His income is too high for him to make a direct contribution into a Roth IRA, but there’s no income limit on conversions!

Since Bill and Mary couldn’t deduct the contribution anyway, they might as well get the advantage of never paying taxes on that money again available through the Roth IRA.

Stay tuned for my next blog post, Beware of the Pro Rata Rule for Roth Conversions!

Want to learn more? Give us a call at 412-521-2732.

– James Lange

 

Backdoor Roth IRAs: How Does the Backdoor Roth IRA Conversion Work?

The backdoor Roth conversion consists of two simple steps:

1)      You make a nondeductible contribution to your traditional IRA.

2)      Within a couple of days you convert this IRA into a Roth IRA (potentially paying little to no taxes on the conversion).

There’s one big caveat: This strategy works best tax-wise for people who don’t already have money in traditional IRAs. That’s because in conversions, earnings and previously untaxed contributions in traditional IRAs are taxed—and that tax is figured based on all your traditional IRAs, even ones you aren’t converting.

For an investor who doesn’t already hold any traditional IRAs, creating one and then quickly converting it into a Roth IRA will incur little or no tax, because after a short holding period there’s likely to be little or no appreciation or interest earned in the account.  However, if you already have money in traditional deductible IRAs, you could face a far higher tax bill on the conversion.

If you choose to, you can contribute to a non-deductible IRA for 2014 (the maximum is $5,500 or $6,500 for those age 50 or older). Remember, you must contribute to your IRAs prior to the April 15 2015 tax deadline. This non-deductible IRA can then be used for your backdoor Roth IRA conversion (please call us prior to doing so because the rules for Roth conversions can be complicated).

Want to learn more? Give us a call at 412-521-2732.

Examples of a Backdoor Roth IRA coming soon.

– James Lange