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2020 IRS Limits Affecting Qualified Plans and IRA’s

IRS Limit Changes

Do you have a retirement or pension plan established for your company? Are you part of your employer’s retirement plan? Do you contribute to an IRA? Do you pay into the social security system? Chances are unless you are retired, you answered yes to at least one of these questions and you will want to know about changes taking place in 2020.

On an annual basis the IRS will review changes in the Consumer Price Index and make adjustments to the amount that can be contributed to qualified plans, individual retirement accounts, the income limitations for contributing, as well as social security taxable wage base.

On November 6, 2019, the Internal Revenue Service announced cost-of-living adjustments, based on changes to the Consumer Price Index (CPI), affecting dollar limitations for pension plans and other retirement-related items for the 2020 tax year. Many of the pension plan limits are increasing for the 2020 plan year due to Consumer Price Index (CPI) increases.

We are providing you with an overview of the updates to the 2020 IRS limits and how they will change from 2019. You can find a complete overview of the changes by visiting the IRS Notice 2019-59.

 2020 IRS Limits Affecting Qualified Plans & IRA's

PLAN LIMITS

2020

2019

Traditional/Roth IRA Limit

$6000

$6,000

Traditional/Roth IRA Catch-Up Contribution Limit

$1,000

$1,000

SIMPLE Maximum Annual Elective Deferral Limit

$13,500

$13,000

SIMPLE 401(k) or SIMPLE IRA Catch-Up Contribution Limit

$3,000

$3,000

401(k)/403(b) Elective Deferral Limit

$19,500

$19,000

401(k)/403(b)/Catch-up Limit

$6,500

$6,000

Defined Benefit Plan Dollar Limit

$230,000

$225,000

Defined Contribution Plan Limit

$57,000

$56,000

Annual Compensation Limit

$285,000

$280,000

Highly-Compensated Employee Limit

 

$130,000

 

 

$125,000

 

Key Employee Officer Limit

$185,000

$180,000

Social Security Taxable Wage Base

$137,700

$132,900

 

We have some key takeaways that should be reviewed. You may benefit by increasing your contributions for 2020.

  • The Traditional and Roth IRA deferral limits will remain the same at $6,000. 
  • There were no changes to the catch-up contributions for IRA’s, it remains at $1,000.
  • The 401(k) elective deferral limit was raised to $19,500. Be sure, if your intention is to max out, that you have the correct deferral percentage elected.
  • Keep in mind that catch-up contribution limits for employees 50 and over who participate in 401(k), 403(b), most 457 plans and the federal governments Thrift Savings Plan has also changed to $6500
  • The SIMPLE maximum has been increased from $13,000 to $13,500.
  • Catch-up contribution limits for employees 50 and over who participate in a SIMPLE 401(k) or SIMPLE IRA remains unchanged at $3,000.
  • Those that maintain or participate in a Defined Contribution or Defined Benefit plan will want to be familiar with the new dollar, plan, annual compensation, highly compensated employee and key employee limits.
  • The social security wage base has been increased from $132,900 to $137,700. People who earn more than $132,900 will be contributing more to social security than they have in the past. Those beneath that threshold will not see any change in the coming year.

Be sure to discuss these changes with your financial professional and CPA. You may need to make some adjustments to your deferral strategy based upon the new limits released for 2020. It is important to make sure, especially if your intentions are to maximize your contributions, that you are contributing what you need to on an ongoing basis in order to max out your allowable contributions.

We would be happy to answer any questions you may have regarding these changes and how they may impact you. In addition, we would be happy to discuss the benefits of implementing a retirement plan for your business or a retirement account for you personally. Feel free to contact us, Mitlin Financial, at (844) 4-MITLIN x12 if you or someone you know needs assistance in this area.

This article represents the opinion of Mitlin Financial Inc. It should not be construed as providing investment, legal and/or tax advice.

Congress Set To Pass SECURE Act

 CapitalBuilding

The SECURE Act, Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act, has been in the news for many months now. Since the House passed this earlier in the summer there has not been much heard about it until recently. This piece of legislation has been attached to the spending bill that Congress is looking to pass before they break for the holiday. The House has already passed it and it is on to the Senate.

This is a complex act with many working parts. We will cover some of the highlights that will affect the largest majority of people.

We see one of the most sweeping changes in the way beneficiary IRA’s will be handled. The SECURE Act will eliminate the ability of the beneficiary (unless they are a spouse or fill another exception) to stretch the payments from the IRA over their lifetime, the well-known stretch IRA. Instead, beneficiaries will be forced to withdraw all the assets from the beneficiary IRA no later than 10 years after the account owner passes away. This will have significant impacts on the tax status, especially those in high brackets and their prime working years, of the beneficiary and could have other adverse consequences as a result too. This provision will have the potential for a negative impact over time.

The act does contain some provisions that will be helpful. Those who have IRA assets will not be required to take RMD’s (required minimum distributions) until the age of 72. This will only apply to those that have not attained age 70 ½ before the end of 2019. In addition, those who are working past the age of 70 ½ who currently cannot make IRA contributions will be able too.

The SECURE Act is being touted as the most sweeping piece of legislation in the retirement area since the passage of the Pension Protection Act of 2006. There are additional aspects of the act that will affect retirement plans which will potentially provide access to more people to save. In addition, the insurance industry has been a big proponent of this legislation because it will provide the ability for insurance products, specifically annuities, to be purchased inside of 401(k) plans. This is a big win for the insurance company, but I am not sure it is equally as beneficial for the general public looking to save.

The SECURE Act contains 29 new provisions and changes, far too many to cover in a blog post, but I believe we have covered the most important ones. It is going to be more important than ever in 2020 to make sure that you are working with a fiduciary advisor, who is working in your best interest, who understands how this act is going to affect you. There may be additional planning needed from an estate planning perspective if your current assets include a large retirement plan and/or IRA assets.

It looks highly likely that this legislation will pass later this week and you will want to make sure you know how this is going to affect you in 2020 and going forward. We will be addressing this with each of our clients in their upcoming meetings and suggest you make sure you are reviewing it too. Be sure to contact us, Mitlin Financial, at (844) 4-MITLIN x12 to schedule a time if you would like to discuss the SECURE Act and what effect it could have on your family’s financial situation.

Be sure to share this article with friends, family and business acquaintances who might be interested too. We look forward to helping you, and them, get on the right path and stay there. 

This article represents the opinion of Mitlin Financial Inc. It should not be construed as providing investment, legal and/or tax advice.

Does It Matter When I Start Saving for Retirement? Yes, it does…

Save Early It Matters

 

Many investors are curious as to when they should begin to invest for their retirement. You will often hear people saying that you should start as early as possible, but what does that mean and how will that help? I wanted to take the opportunity to explain when you should begin saving, if you can, and what the effects can be if you do not.

We would recommend that you start saving for your retirement as soon as you have an income. Income does not necessarily mean a full time job. You could be receiving income as early as you are able to get your working papers. Starting this early will help instill a number of great values in our kids: it will expose our children to the fact that they need to plan for their future, the benefits of investing, tax deferred or tax free growth, and a discipline to live below their incomes. These are all great life lessons that some learn too late.

In order to outline this, let’s look at a real life example. Let’s assume that you have two children; Jane and John. Jane will begin to save at the age of 25, and John will begin at the age of 35. Jane and John will each begin to contribute $5500 per year from their beginning age until the age of 70 and invest it in a way that will compound at an annual rate of 6%. So what would Jane and John have accumulated by the age of 70? Jane’s account would be over $1,200,000 and John’s account would be just shy of $650,000.

This large difference is predominately due to John’s late start. He was affected by the fact that he was not able to contribute as much money and therefore lost the benefit of the extra 10 years of compounding. Both these concepts significantly impacted his long term balance. Jane would have contributed $247,500 over the 45 years she invested, and John invested $192,500 (a $55,000 difference). The key here is that starting early really benefitted Jane and will benefit you too.

Keep in mind that our example does not account for fees, taxes or inflation. I would also like to point out that the likelihood of receiving a 6% return every year is somewhat unlikely and it is more likely that you would have a different rate of return each year.

As you, your children, or grandchildren begin to work (even on a part time basis), be sure to have the conversation about having them “pay” themselves first and begin to think about their future. Setting up a Roth IRA will really benefit them if they are younger and in a lower tax bracket.

In order to illustrate that I practice what I preach, I would like to share a personal example with you: my 14 year old son works for me during the summer months in order to have spending money for the summer and school year. We sat down and discussed what he would be earning and devised a plan that would provide him with the spending money he wanted and funded a Roth IRA as well. Think about how your financial position may be different if you began saving at the age of 14. Not only has this put him in a position to be ahead when planning for retirement, but it has taught him the value of saving and how to manage money. We discussed how to invest the money and he has the ability to monitor his account and see how it is performing. We need to get ourselves, our kids and grandkids retirement ready and this will surely help.

We are here to help you instill these concepts within your own family. Feel free to contact us, Mitlin Financial, at (844) 4-MITLIN x12 if you or someone in your family needs assistance getting started saving today.

 

This article represents the opinion of Mitlin Financial Inc. It should not be construed as providing investment, legal and/or tax advice.

Happy Birthday! Be Sure To Review These 5 Things

Happy Birthday Be Sure To Review These Five Things

 

Using your birthday as a reminder to review and address things in your life is something we have been told to do from a very young age. As an example, I try and schedule my dermatologist and physical appointments around my birthday each year. I simply use this event as a reminder that I must take care of these things to maintain my health.

In the same vein, there are five things you should be reviewing each year financially in order to maintain your financial health. Using your birthday as a reminder for this is also a great way to make sure they get addressed.

  • Review your retirement plan contributions and see if you are in a position to increase them. Many people elect their retirement plan contribution amounts when they first start working for a company, and then hardly ever look at it again. Saving for retirement is now the responsibility of the employee, and it is important to make sure that we are doing our best to reach our goals. It would be a shame if you began contributing three percent when you started working for the company and still are today, but could afford to do more. Simply looking at and addressing this each year will allow you to make sure you are maximizing your retirement savings. 
  • Debt is something that is used when purchasing major assets, such as a home. It is vital to evaluate your debt to see if it is still working in the way you intended or if there are opportunities to put you in a better position financially. When used appropriately in a financial plan, debt can be a very useful tool. I would recommend that you look at the outstanding loans you have, and their rates and terms to see if they are still ideal for you. Would it make more sense for you to pay it off or continue the loan? Perhaps refinancing the debt would be a good move? This should be reviewed annually. 
  • Estate planning documents are key to making sure that your assets and wishes are carried out upon your death. These planning documents could include your will, trust, healthcare proxy, living will, and power of attorney. It is important to review the documents and make sure they are still relevant based upon your current circumstances. In many cases, you will find that these documents will only require updating every five to seven years, but by reviewing them each year, you will assure that they are properly addressing your current situation. 
  • Check the beneficiaries on all of your accounts. It is crucial that you make sure that your beneficiary designations are appropriately maintained. Many times, we establish our beneficiaries and never look at them again. We have encountered clients that are married with families who still have their parents named as beneficiaries. Checking them each year is a great way to make sure your financial assets will pass along to the people you want to receive them. 
  • Your financial plan should be reviewed annually to make sure it is accounting for any changes to your life circumstances or goals. In addition, it is important to review the plan in regards to the assumptions that are being utilized, such as inflation, returns, life expectancy, and savings. Once you have updated the plan, it is key to review the new outcomes and create an action plan for any items that should be addressed in the coming year. A plan is not static, but a living breathing document that needs to be updated and reviewed at least each year. 

Mitlin Financial assists our clients in addressing these five areas over the course of the year, but it is important to make sure you do address them yourself. A birthday is a great time to take a look, reflect, and make sure your financial health and wellbeing are being looked after.

Feel free to contact us, Mitlin Financial, at (844) 4-MITLIN x12 if you or someone in your family needs assistance in getting started on reviewing these areas today.

This article represents the opinion of Mitlin Financial Inc. It should not be construed as providing investment, legal and/or tax advice.

How Much Do I need For Retirement?

 retireclock 2015

One of the most searched phrases on search engines today is “How Much Do I Need For Retirement?”.  I recall people when I was growing up saying that you need $1MM saved in order to live comfortably in retirement, was that true and/or is there a new number today?
 
This is a very complex question and not one that can be answered simply by asking Alexa or Siri.  I would also argue that many “rules of thumb” cannot be used either.  There are many variables that contribute to determining an individual/family need for retirement savings.  Let’s just give you two different scenarios to see how widely this retirement amount can vacillate.
 
Family A:  They plan on retiring at the age of sixty-five and downsizing somewhere that the cost of living will be significantly lower than where they live now.  Family A expects that they will need around $50,000 per year in order to live the lifestyle they want to live in retirement.  Based upon their respective families they expect to live until their mid-nineties and this would mean they would need this income stream for the next thirty years.  A rough back of the napkin calculation would tell you that they will need at least $1.5 MM in assets to fund their retirement. 
 
Family B:  They plan on retiring at the age of sixty-five and remaining where they live now so they can be close to their children and grandkids.  Family B expects that they will need around $100,000 per year in order to live the lifestyle they want to live in retirement.  They really enjoy traveling and do not want to give that up in retirement, but want to increase their budget for it.  There is longevity in their family too and expect to live until their mid-nineties and this would mean they would need this income stream for the next thirty years.  A rough back of the napkin calculation would tell you that they will need at least $3.0 MM in assets to fund their retirement.
 
In full disclosure, the above examples are missing a number of components.  To name a few, they are not taking into account inflation, return on their investments, health care expenses, and potential long term care issues and/or the death or disability of an income earner prior to retirement.  These are just a shortlist of many variables that can take place pre and post-retirement which could impact the amount you will need.
 
As you can see, using a rule of thumb may work for one of these families and not the other.  Clearly this is not an ideal way to plan for your retirement unless you are comfortable with a potentially huge margin of error.  The reality is that you will never be able to plan the exact amount you will need, but the idea is to get as close as you can.
 
Determining how much you need in retirement is a very personal thing and not something that should be left to general rules.  It would be advisable that you go through the planning process, the earlier the better, to determine what the appropriate amount you would need for retirement.  In addition to clarifying the amount, you should also walk away with a game plan on how to get there.  The process does not end here.  In fact, this is where the heavy lifting begins and you must begin to implement the strategies determined in the plan to get you the retirement amount you will need. 
 
At this point, you cannot simply put the plan on cruise control and forget about it.  You must monitor the plan and your progress over time.  The outside forces we discussed earlier could have an impact on your success towards your goal and you will want to know that in real-time.  This will allow you to make adjustments and changes to the plan over time in order to maintain you on your path.  There may be lifestyle adjustments needed along the way too.  Maybe when you began the planning process you were most like Family A and as time went one your goals adjusted to look more like Family B.  It would be important at this point to adjust your plan to get you on the different track and keep you on target.
 
Retirement planning is not something you can simply set and forget, wait until you are five years away from retirement to start planning or simply use a rule of thumb and expect to live the retirement lifestyle you want.  It is important to work with a fiduciary advisor, as early as possible, to develop a personalized financial plan to your specific facts and circumstances.  
 
Your retirement is not something you want to leave to a rule of thumb.  This is an area of your life that you want to be as precise as possible, so you can live the life you want in retirement.  Be sure to contact us, Mitlin Financial, at (844) 4-MITLIN x112 to schedule a time if you would like to discuss a personalized financial plan for you.  Be sure to share this article with friends, family and business acquaintances who might be interested too.  We look forward to helping you, and them, get on the right path and stay there. 
 

This article represents the opinion of Mitlin Financial Inc. It should not be construed as providing investment, legal and/or tax advice.

Mitlin Minute: "Supporting your adult children can ruin your retirement plans"

"Supporting your adult children can ruin your retirement plans" by Lawrence Sprung, CFP® for CNBC 

This article represents the opinion of Mitlin Financial Inc. It should not be construed as providing investment, legal and/or tax advice.  

 

Mitlin Minute: Life After Work?

In this edition of Mitlin Minute we discuss life after work.  Do you have a life plan?  We hear about the importance of a financial plan all the time, but not many discuss a life plan.  You will be in a great position if you are set financially for retirement, but how rewarding will it be if you have nothing to do for forty plus hours a week.

Listen in and learn more about why it is as important to have a life plan as a financial plan for retirement. 

Disclaimer: This article represents the opinion of Mitlin Financial Inc. It should not be construed as providing investment, legal and/or tax advice.

Mitlin Minute: Market Update October 11, 2018

In this edition of Mitlin Minute we discuss the recent market selloff and what you should be thinking about and how to appraoch the recent events.

These are times where it is important that your advisor is communicating with you.   Be sure to share this Mitlin Minute with your network.  They can feel free to contact us if they are not hearing from their advisor for a free no obligation consultaion.  Many times minor adjustments can lead to major improvements.

 Disclaimer: This article represents the opinion of Mitlin Financial Inc. It should not be construed as providing investment, legal and/or tax advice.

Mitlin Minute: What will you do with your free time?

 Retirement is a huge step for many and you need to have things in place that will allow you to keep busy during your new found free time.  Who wants to retire and simply sit on the couch watching television all day, no one. 

Make sure you have the infrastructure in place before you retire.  Work on getting involved with hobbies, volunteer work and other meaningful ways to use this time.  By getting things in place beforehand you will increase your likelihood of creating a happy and meaningful retirement.

You can also read one of the blog articles we wrote covering this topic too: Include A Life Plan In Your Financial Plan

 

 

This article represents the opinion of Mitlin Financial Inc. It should not be construed as providing investment, legal and/or tax advice.  

Small Business Owners Looking for a Tax Deduction

SEP IRA Small Business

 

Is this going to be a good year financially? Did you have a new product or service that was a huge success? Do you think you will pay too much in taxes due to that success? Would you prefer to pay less in taxes and keep more for yourself and save for retirement at the same time?

Setting up a retirement plan could alleviate some of the stress of your tax bill and put you on the right path for retirement. As a small business owner, your business is typically set up in one of two ways. You may be established as an independent contractor or 1099 employee, which is typical in some service businesses, or you may be a corporation. Small businesses that are set up as corporations are very often S- Corps. Under either circumstance, you can take advantage of setting up a retirement plan, which will lower your tax burden while putting monies away for your financial future.

Retirement plans can be set up and funded by a small business regardless of their business structure. The type of plan, the amount you can contribute and your overall tax deduction may differ based upon your structure. Let’s take a look at one of the most popular options that would be available, the SEP IRA.

The SEP IRA allows a business owner to defer a maximum of 25% of their income into the retirement plan each year, which in turn will lower your tax liability. The 25% maximum applies to those business owners who are on payroll and paying themselves via W-2, which is the least common method for independent contractors. Paying yourself via W-2 will allow you to defer a maximum of 25% of the compensation listed on your W-2 for the year.  

Those business owners that are simply using a Schedule C to determine their income for the year, which is most common for 1099 employees, have a maximum contribution of 20% of net income. Schedule C or 1099 employees are synonymous with the same type of employment status and are treated the same for retirement plan purposes.

It does not matter whether you are limited to 20% or 25%, the maximum dollar amount you can contribute for 2018 is $55,000. This amount changes annually, visit the IRS website for current limits. Keep in mind, a SEP IRA simply needs to be set up and funded before your tax filing deadline. The contributions are not mandatory and can change from year to year based upon your annual success. This gives you a lot of flexibility from year to year and plenty of time to review your year-end tax situation prior to contributing.

As an example, if you are an independent contractor (1099) in the 25% tax bracket who had a net income of $200,000 and set up a SEP IRA. The SEP IRA would allow you to make a maximum contribution of $40,000 (20% of your net income). This would lower your taxable income from $200,000 to $160,000. In turn, your tax bill will be reduced by $10,000. Essentially the $40,000 contribution made to your SEP IRA only cost you $30,000.

The SEP IRA will work the same way for those businesses set up as corporations. The only difference will be that they will be able to contribute 25% of their W-2 wages. Keep in mind that you if you are paying yourself via W-2, you can only include the W-2 wages to determine your maximum contribution. Shareholder distributions are not included as compensation for calculating your SEP IRA contribution.

You need to be aware that if you have employees this may not be the best option because you will be required to contribute for employees that have been with you three years or more. The percentage used to determine your contribution would be used for your employees as well, which may create a financial burden.

Mitlin Financial assists our clients in setting up retirement plans for them and their businesses. We would be more than happy to assist you with any questions that you may have on this topic, including which retirement plan would be best for your business. Feel free to contact us, Mitlin Financial, at (844) 4-MITLIN x12 if you or someone you know needs assistance in reviewing their options.

This article represents the opinion of Mitlin Financial Inc. It should not be construed as providing investment, legal and/or tax advice.

Stay the Course, What Does That Mean?

Roadmap

Volatility has been consistent throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. One other constant I have heard is, stay the course. Staying the course during an event like this may very well be the right advice, but I think there is another variable that needs to be looked at to help confirm that this is the right choice. Reviewing how the volatility has affected your plan is an additional component that needs to be reviewed. The plan is paramount in deciding to stay or abandon the course.

Investors mistake making buy/sell decisions for their investments with having a plan for their financial future that will dictate how the investments should be handled. This may seem like semantics, but it is not and there are definitive differences in the way you look at your portfolio and judge when to stay or change your course.

This reminds me of a quote by John F. Kennedy, “The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.”. This rings true with your investments and too. Typically, volatile times do not present an ideal time to change or amend your investment strategy or financial plan, you want to address these items when the sun is shining.

You should have a plan in place for your financial future. This plan will act as a roadmap, a guiding light to help you make decisions about your financial life including your investments. Investments are simply one component of your financial plan. The plan will help you make the decisions you need to reach the goals you are aiming towards. Whether you have a plan in place or not, now is the time to look at it or get one in place. This will ultimately provide you with the assurance of staying the course or the suggestion that you should consider adjusting your overall plan

Staying the course, without knowing what the course is, is simply looking at your investments and making an educated guess on where you believe asset prices will be soon. Making decisions based simply on market prices, and not your plan, can cause you to make a bad or wrong short-term decision that can harm you in the long-term.

To effectively determine if and adjustment needs to be made to your portfolio, you want to evaluate market fluctuations in terms of your financial plan and whether your plan is on or off track. This is what will indicate if the fluctuations have caused your plan to veer off course. Making decisions simply about your investments is like driving to a far destination, getting off the highway, and taking local roads the rest of the way because there was a small traffic jam. This may help you avoid five minutes of traffic but will add hours to your trip.

In my work with clients over the last 20 plus years, I have come to realize that most people are not concerned about the change in the value of their portfolios when markets fluctuate, and they see market declines. They are nervous about what it may mean to their overall financial plan and their ability to reach their goals and dreams. Essentially it is not the loss of the money, but what the money will ultimately be able to “buy” them. To be able to evaluate the impact the market fluctuation has on their ability to reach their goals, clients would need to have a financial plan. This would provide them with a clear view of how they will be impacted in both the short and long term.

We would be happy to discuss the recent volatility and how it may be having an impact on your plan. We can also help you get a plan in place so the next time volatility arises you will be prepared. Just contact us, Mitlin Financial, at (844) 4-MITLIN x12 to schedule a time for this review. Be sure to share this article with friends, family, and business acquaintances who might be interested too. We look forward to helping you, and them, get on the right path and stay there.

This article represents the opinion of Mitlin Financial Inc. It should not be construed as providing investment, legal and/or tax advice.

Tax Benefits of Retirement Plans

Tax Benefits of Retirement Plans

Retirement plans and/or accounts can be a benefit in many ways, especially if there is a need for you to reduce your tax liability. Are you one of the taxpayers that has seen your tax liability increase when filing your 2018 tax return? If this is you, you may want to start using or review how you are using your retirement accounts. There are ways you may be able to reduce your tax liability for the current year and if you are not taking advantage of a corporate retirement plan being offered at work or an individual retirement account (IRA) this may be the time to start or increase your contributions.

Typically there are two ways you can put money away for retirement, on a pre-tax basis and post-tax basis. We will simply discuss the pre-tax basis in this article and address the post-tax basis in the future. Those of you that are taking part in your corporate retirement plan, but not maxing out may be missing significant benefits. These pre-tax contributions go into your retirement account, many times along with an employer match, and will grow tax deferred until you remove the funds sometime in the future. The tax liability you had last year may be reduced this year by starting or raising the contributions you make to your retirement plans. The monies that are placed in the retirement plan directly come off of your taxable income for the year, providing you with tax relief.

As an example, in 2019 employees under the age of 50 can defer a maximum of $19,000 into their company’s 401(k). Taxpayers that are in the thirty-percent tax bracket could save close to $5,700 in taxes by maxing out their 401(k). Not only is this providing you with a tax savings, but the true cost of putting away the $19,000 for retirement was only $13,300, giving you a significant benefit. The idea here is that this will lower your tax liability, allow you to put funds away for your retirement and also provide you with years of tax deferred growth.

You will want to make sure that you are taking advantage of all the benefits provided by your company with regard to retirement accounts, tax benefits, match, and deferring as much as you can afford. Those of you who work at companies that do not provide retirement plans may want to look at establishing an IRA. This works very similarly to what we have described with the 401(k) but the maximum that can be contributed is $6,000, if you are under 50 years of age. Business owners may also want to look at the benefits and disadvantages of establishing a retirement plan for their company. This would allow them to help their employees become retirement ready while helping themselves as well.

Keep in mind that this is a pay now or pay later system. By taking the tax deduction now and receiving the benefit of tax deferral, you will need to pay taxes on these monies when they are withdrawn in the future. The idea is that you put these monies away while you are earning income and in a high(er) tax bracket and remove the monies in retirement when you are in a low(er) tax bracket. This strategy, like many other financial planning principles, contains many variables and assumptions that may not remain constant. As an example, if tax rates go up significantly in the future, you could be paying more in taxes when you remove the funds than you would have when you put them into the account. This is why you need to have an overall retirement strategy that will provide you will both taxable, tax-free and tax advantaged income in retirement.

Now that the first tax season with the recent changes are complete, you will have a better idea as to how your tax situation is being affected.   If you experienced a higher liability or tax surprise in 2018 and would like to review strategies that may allow you to reduce your tax liability going forward, please feel free to contact us, Mitlin Financial, at (844) 4-MITLIN x12. Feel free to let friends, family and business acquaintances who are experiencing the same concerns that we are here to help too. We look forward to helping you, and them, make the decision that is best for all.

This article represents the opinion of Mitlin Financial Inc. It should not be construed as providing investment, legal and/or tax advice.

Tax Planning Is a Year Round Concern

 Tax Planning Is A Year Round Concern

 

Income tax planning is something you need to be aware of year-round and should continuously evaluate.  Although your tax returns are not due until April 15th each year, without extensions, it is important to make sure you are aware of your tax situation all year.  Decisions made over the course of the year that have a financial impact could hinder or improve your tax liability and a little extra work during the year can save you hours of review and alleviate your tax burden too.

When it comes to taxes, it is important to have the right financial team in place. You need to have your wealth management firm, CPA and other advisors on the same page working in your best interest. While you are in the process of, or shortly after, filing your most recent tax return there are several things you can review to make sure you are making the most tax efficient use of your investable assets.

One of the easiest ways for you to alleviate your income tax burden would be to take advantage of investment accounts that can provide a tax deduction. It is easy to see from your previous year’s W-2 how much you took advantage of your company’s retirement plan, be sure to read2019 IRS Limits Affecting Qualified Plans and IRA’s for specific limits. It may make sense for you to consider increasing your contributions in order to lower your income tax liability and concurrently help you increase your retirement savings. Should your company not have a 401(k) or company retirement plan be sure to explore the possibility of using an IRA in a similar manner.

Utilizing different types of retirement savings vehicles would make sense too. It is important for you to understand that all of the money that is being saved on a tax-deferred basis towards retirement will be taxable in the future when you withdraw it. It may make sense for you to utilize a Roth 401(k) option, if available, or a Roth IRA which would enable access to funds in retirement that would not be taxable. By taking advantage of both forms of savings, it will allow you flexibility down the road to have more control over your income taxes.

In addition to retirement accounts, it is also important to have investment accounts that will allow you access to your money at any time without penalty, unlike most of the retirement accounts mentioned thus far. Investment accounts can generate different forms of taxable income, such as dividend income, short term capital gains and long-term capital gains, and you should have a basic understanding of what they are and how they work. Simple things like holding investments for at least 12 months and one day will turn a short term capital gain into a long one, which can mean a significant tax savings. Have you ever sold an investment only a few days prior to the one-year mark only to pay short term capital gains instead of long term, when there was no imminent need to sell? Mutual Funds should be reviewed carefully as they can produce taxable income and capital gains. It is especially important to know when mutual funds will be distributing their capital gains. We have seen clients purchase funds in early November, only to receive a significant capital gain distribution after only owning it for a few weeks. In these cases, it may make sense to wait to make the purchase or purchase an equivalent investment that has no distribution scheduled.

You will also want to make sure that you have the right investments in the right accounts. It would be ideal for you to place investments that would have the highest tax implications in your tax deferred accounts. Simply placing the highest income producing investments or those you plan to hold short term in the most ideal accounts could save you quite a bit in taxes. When making investments, it is best to place them in the type of account that will help your tax situation based upon their propensity to produce taxable income.

Lastly, you should be reviewing your accounts on an annual basis, around November, to see if there are any opportunities to harvest tax losses. As the end of the year approaches it is important to see if there are ways to mitigate your income tax liability for the year. We know most people do not necessarily like taking losses, but many times it will make sense to take the loss and reduce your tax liability. Should you feel really convicted about the holding, you can always double up the position thirty plus days before the end of the year and on day thirty one sell the initial lot for the loss. This will provide you the opportunity to capture the loss and still own the position, while participating in the upside potential of the holding.

This type of planning is how we assist our clients regularly. In many cases we will coordinate with their CPA to make sure everyone is on the same page and the portfolio changes will indeed be of help to the client. Having an open dialogue between your financial team is important to make sure everything is being done to put you in the best position possible.

Please feel free to contact us, Mitlin Financial, at (844) 4-MITLIN x12 if you or someone you know has encountered tax issues with regards to their investments or simply does not feel their CPA and advisor are on the same page. We look forward to helping you, and them, make the decision that is best for all.

 

This article represents the opinion of Mitlin Financial Inc. It should not be construed as providing investment, legal and/or tax advice.

To Rollover or Not Rollover, That is The Question

To Rollover or Not Rollover That Is The Question

 

There are many decisions that need to be made when changing employers or retiring. One of the key decisions that you may need to make is whether or not to rollover your retirement plan, 401(k), from the previous employer. As mentioned in Top Five Things to Review Before Changing Jobs, you have several options when separating from service and it is important to do a careful review upon your departure.

Depending on your account balance you may not have any choice and may be required to take a distribution. It is important that you read your company’s summary plan description to see if there is a minimum level, such as $5000, where they force you to take a distribution. It is common for companies to impose this minimum so they are not burdened with maintaining what is needed for many smaller accounts for employees that are no longer with the company. When faced with this distribution, you will have the option to roll over the assets to your own IRA, your new employer’s 401(k) or simply have a check cut to you. Be aware of the tax consequences of simply taking the check. The options and consequences are very similar to those that are not forced to rollover, so keep reading.

Assuming that you are not going to be forced to take a distribution, you will be presented with several options for your 401(k) assets and we will discuss each of them here:

  • You will be able to maintain your 401(k) account with the current provider at your previous employer. This would not require any changes and your account would continue to be managed as it was previously, by you. The main difference would be that you would no longer have any contributions being deposited into the account.
  • Rolling over your 401(k) to a current (or newly opened) Individual Retirement Account or IRA. This would be a non-taxable event as long as you perform the movement of monies as a direct rollover. This would then allow you to take over management of the assets or hire a wealth management firm or advisor to assist you with investing these funds. You would not be limited to the investment menu presented by your previous company and now would have the ability to invest the funds however you see fit.
  • Another option you may have, depending on the plan provisions for your new employer, would be to roll the assets over into your new employer’s retirement plan. Like rolling it over to your own IRA, this would be a non-taxable event if you handle it as a direct rollover. You would still be in a position to manage these assets on your own and would be limited to whatever investments the new employer offers in their plan.
  • The last option you would have is taking a distribution. This would be a taxable event and depending on the size of the 401(k) could cost you a considerable amount in taxes. A distribution or withdrawal would be taxable as ordinary income in the year you take the distribution. When taking this type of withdrawal there is a 20% mandatory federal tax withholding by the plan. This is used to offset your tax liability for the year. Essentially, if your 401(k) at the time of distribution is worth $100,000 you would only receive a check in the amount of $80,000. The $20,000 would be sent in as a Federal tax withholding to offset your liability for the year. Keep in mind, this does not mean that this is all the tax you owe. Depending on your tax bracket for that given year, you may owe more or you may end up getting a refund because you withheld too much over the course of the year. Before exercising this option it is very important to consult with your tax advisor to make certain there are not any unintended consequences down the road.

The choices here are not easy ones to make and should be considered very carefully. It is important to speak with a fiduciary advisor that can outline and walk you through the pros and cons of each option. As an example, one of the tremendous benefits of rolling the assets into your own IRA would be the freedom and flexibility of the investments you can choose. In addition, it would provide you with the ability to have an advisor assist you with the investments as well. These two benefits may come with a cost and it is important to understand what the cost/benefit is of making this transition. You want to make sure that you are making a change for the right reasons and the decision will ultimately benefit you and your family in the end.

This decision making process is something we have walked many clients through before and we are confident we can help you as well. Please feel free to contact us, Mitlin Financial, at (844) 4-MITLIN x12 if you or someone you know has changed jobs recently, plans to change jobs, retire or simply has a 401(k) plan with a previous employer. We look forward to helping you, and them, make the decision that is best for all.

 

This article represents the opinion of Mitlin Financial Inc. It should not be construed as providing investment, legal and/or tax advice.

When Volatility Strikes, Whats Your Plan?

Planning Photo

Investing is not something you can simply do in a vacuum and the goals of your portfolio should be tied to an overall financial plan. Overall, markets have been on the rise for the last ten years plus, but there certainly have been some hiccups along the way including the most recent effects of the pandemic.

Looking back in history, there are always events, incidents, political unrest, and other things that would make a good case for not investing. In many cases, these events tend to cause short term fluctuations and do not last forever. Depending on where you stand in terms of time horizon, these fluctuations could present an opportunity that may not be seen again or could be a tremendous stress.

Ideally you want to begin your investment process with an overall financial plan. This will provide you with the guidance needed to see if you are on or off track when markets take a change for the worse. Realistically we do not believe our investments will always go up, but at the same time there is a level of concern when they do not. Much of the anxiety we feel when our investments decline is not the loss of the money itself, but the fact of what those funds will buy us. Meaning, will our future goals be impacted by this decline in assets? Will we need to delay or adjust our retirement? This is where the plan comes in handy to provide you with a gauge to see if the market fluctuations could impede our goals.

Making adjustments is something that needs to be addressed with your portfolio on an ongoing basis, as we are all in a constant state of change. Events that take place may require you to make a change to your investments and others may allow you to keep things the same. Evaluating the changes to the markets and their impact on your overall plan is paramount and may be the driver to making adjustments that could lead to your success or failure in reaching your goals.

You must have an open line of communication with your wealth advisor as these events take place. As we have seen over the past ten plus years, many events that have taken place have not had a major impact on the overall success of the market. There have been significant short-term fluctuations at times, for example, the last quarter of 2018, but nothing that has lasted all that long or caused too much concern until the recent pandemic. The economic event we have been currently living through is unique in the fact that it is a health event causing an economic one. Anxiety is at an unusually high level because people are not only concerned about reaching their financial goals, but maintaining their health too.

Hindsight is always 2020, no pun intended. I look back over the years that I have been an advisor and recall several instances where clients were so concerned with short term events that they made rash and costly decisions. It is always wise to heed caution during a volatile incident, but you also want to make sure that it does not force you to do something that will sacrifice your long-term performance.

Flexibility and making adjustments over time are extremely important. You should make sure that your portfolio is an accurate representation of your time horizon, risk tolerance, and financial plan. When you know that this is true, this should help you feel more comfortable when markets adjust. It is those people that have not aligned their portfolio with these factors that may be in for a surprise. In cases like this, it may make sense to make some adjustments more quickly if your comfort level has gone out of range.

Many investors in recent years have made adjustments to the amount of equities they have versus bonds, simply because they have not been able to get the yield they need or expect from the bond market. This is a prime example of making an adjustment based upon market conditions and/or events. Many of these same people will most likely return a greater percentage of their investment assets to bonds when we see interest rates on bonds return to levels we saw in years past.

Developing and maintaining a financial plan and having your investments represent these goals will dictate if and when adjustments should be made to your portfolio. It all starts with having the proper risk, asset allocation in your portfolio, and plan for your future. I would be happy to discuss your situation regarding the asset allocation, risk profile of your portfolio, and overall plan.

Just contact us, Mitlin Financial, at (844) 4-MITLIN x12 to schedule a time for this review. Be sure to share this article with friends, family, and business acquaintances who might be interested too. We look forward to helping you, and them, get on the right path and stay there.

This article represents the opinion of Mitlin Financial Inc. It should not be construed as providing investment, legal and/or tax advice.