Dec 20

When Do I need to take My Required Minimum Distributions (RMD) From My IRA?

The terms of an independent retirement account or annuity must include several minimum distribution rules, which Congress imposed to ensure that IRAs are primarily used as retirement savings media, not as vehicles to build wealth for transmission to heirs. As discussed below, these rules provide separately for distributions to IRA owners and distributions to beneficiaries after the death of an IRA owner. An IRA owner is an individual who establishes and contributes to an IRA for the benefit of himself or herself and his or her beneficiaries.

When Do I need to take My Required Minimum Distributions (RMD) From My IRA?Minimum distributions to IRA owners

An IRA must, by its terms, require the account or annuity to be fully distributed not later than April 1 of the year following the calendar year during which the IRA owner attains age 70 and 1/2 or be distributed by annual or more frequent payments over a period beginning by that date and continuing not longer than for the owner’s life, the lives of the owner and his or her beneficiary, or a period not longer than the life expectancy of the owner or the owner and beneficiary. April 1 of the year following the calendar year during which the owner reaches age 70 and 1/2 is the required beginning date.

How are minimum distribution requirements satisfied in the case of multiple Traditional IRAs?

Minimum distributions must be determined separately for each IRA. If an individual is owner of more than one IRA, however, the sum of the minimum distributions from all of them may be satisfied by distributions from any of them. This aggregation rule generally applies only to IRA owners. It does not allow an IRA held as beneficiary to be combined with other IRAs, whether held as owner or as beneficiary. However, two or more IRAs held as beneficiary of the same decedent may be aggregated if minimum distributions are being determined under the same life expectancy rule. IRA distributions cannot satisfy distributions under Internal Revenue Code Section 403(b) contracts and vice versa. Also, distributions from Roth IRAs cannot satisfy minimum distribution obligations under a traditional IRA or an Internal Revenue Code Section 403(b) contract.

What do I need to report when making a minimum IRA distribution?

Trustees, custodians, and issuers of IRAs (trustees) must make reports on minimum distributions to IRA owners and the IRS. If a minimum IRA distribution is required for a calendar year as of the beginning of which the IRA owner (or a surviving spouse who has elected to be treated as owner) is alive, the trustee holding the IRA as of December 31 of the preceding year must provide a statement to the owner by January 31 of the distribution year. The statement must indicate that a minimum distribution is required for the year, state the date by which the distribution must be made, and either state the amount of the distribution (calculated assuming that the sole beneficiary of the IRA is not a spouse more than 10 years younger than the IRA owner) or offer to compute the amount. The statement must also inform the owner that this information will be provided to the IRS. A trustee must also file Form 5498 (IRA Contribution Information) with the IRS for each calendar year for which a minimum distribution is required. This form need not state the amount of the minimum distribution.

No reporting to beneficiaries or the IRS is required with respect to IRAs of deceased owners. Also, although the minimum distribution rules for IRAs generally apply to Internal Revenue Code Section 403(b) contracts, no reporting is required with respect to such a contract, whether the employee is living or dead.

Please contact one of our IRA Experts at 800-472-0646 for more information.

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Oct 17

What are the minimum distribution requirements of an IRA?

The terms of an independent retirement account or annuity must include several minimum distribution rules, which Congress imposed to ensure that IRAs are primarily used as retirement savings media, not as vehicles to build wealth for transmission to heirs. As discussed below, these rules provide separately for distributions to IRA owners and distributions to beneficiaries after the death of an IRA owner. An IRA owner is an individual who establishes and contributes to an IRA for the benefit of himself or herself and his or her beneficiaries.

What are the minimum distribution requirements of an IRA?Minimum distributions to IRA owners

An IRA must, by its terms, require the account or annuity to be fully distributed not later than April 1 of the year following the calendar year during which the IRA owner attains age 70 and 1/2 or be distributed by annual or more frequent payments over a period beginning by that date and continuing not longer than for the owner’s life, the lives of the owner and his or her beneficiary, or a period not longer than the life expectancy of the owner or the owner and beneficiary. April 1 of the year following the calendar year during which the owner reaches age 70 and 1/2 is the required beginning date.

Note: there are no required minimum distributions for a Roth IRA

Please contact one of our IRA Experts at 800-472-0646 for more information.

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Aug 24

New Podcast – IRA Hardship Distributions

IRA Financial Group’s Adam Bergman discusses how you can take a hardship distribution withdrawal from your IRA and what taxes and penalties may or may not apply.

 

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Jul 26

What The Law Says About Unrelated Business Taxable Income In Non-Real Estate Investments

The following was written by our own Adam Bergman and appeared on Forbes.com

For many retirement account investors, understanding how the Unrelated Business Taxable Income Rules work, also known as UBTI, UBIT, or debt-financed income rules, and how they may potentially apply to one’s retirement account investment has been a challenge.  The main reason is that the majority of IRA or 401(k) plan investors invest in traditional types of investments, such as equities, mutual funds, and ETFs, which do not trigger the application of the UBTI tax rules since most passive investments that a retirement account might invest in are exempt from the UBTI rules, such as interest, dividends, and capital gains.

Understanding the potential impact of the UBTI rules is crucial for retirement account investors seeking to make non-real estate alternative investments in their retirement accounts, including options, stock short sales, and commodity futures contracts.  In general, the UBTI tax rules are triggered in three instances: (i) use of margin to buy stock, (ii) use of a nonrecourse loan to buy real estate, and (iii) investment in a business operated through a flow-through entity, such as an LLC or partnership.  The tax imposed by triggering the UBTI rules is quite steep and can go as high as 40 percent.

When it comes to non-real estate transactions, such as securities and other financial products involving retirement funds, understanding the application of the UBTI or debt-financed income rules have been somewhat difficult. Neither the Code nor the Treasury regulations define “indebtedness” for purposes of the debt-financed income rules. Generally, when a retirement account borrows funds and has a clear obligation to repay the funds, the debt-financed income rules are applicable. However, many financial product type investments that involve “leverage” but not a direct borrowing are not considered debt-financed property and are not subject to UBIT.

Below is a summary of how the UBTI/debt-financed income rules apply to some of the more common type of financial product investments involving retirement funds:

Purchase of Stock or Securities on Margin:  It is well established that the purchase of securities on margin gives rise to unrelated debt-financed income (Elliott Knitwear Profit Sharing Plan v. Commissioner, 614 F.2d 347 (3d Cir. 1980).

Repurchase Agreements:  In a repurchase agreement, one party (usually a bank) purchases securities from another party (the bank’s customer) and agrees to sell the securities back to the customer at an agreed price. Such transactions are treated as a loan of money secured by the securities and give rise to unrelated debt financed income (Rev. Rul. 74-27, 1974-1)

Securities Lending Transactions: IRC Section 514(c)(8) provides that payments with respect to securities loans are deemed to be derived from the securities loaned, not from collateral security or the investment of collateral security from such loans.

Short Sales of Stock: The IRS has ruled that neither the gain attributable to the decline in the price of the stock sold short nor the income earned on the proceeds of the short sale held as collateral by the broker constituted debt-financed income (Rev. Rul. 95-8, 1995-1)

Options: IRC Section 512(b)(5) excludes from UBTI all gains or losses recognized, in connection with an organization’s investment activities, from the lapse or termination of options to buy or sell securities.

Commodities Futures Transactions: The IRS has concluded that gains and losses from commodity futures contracts are excluded from UBTI under Code section 512(b)(5). The IRS has rules that the purchase of a long futures contract entailed no borrowing of money in the traditional sense.  Likewise, the IRS found a short contract was merely an executory contract because there was no property held by the short seller that produced income and thus there could be no acquisition indebtedness.

Notional Principal Contracts: The IRS has issued regulations providing that all income and gain from notional principal contracts is excluded from UBTI. (Treas. Reg. § 1.512(b)-1(a)(1).)

The Internal Revenue Code permits retirement account investors to make a wide range of financial product investments using retirement funds. While the majority of financial product type investments would not trigger the UBTI or debt-financed income rules, (including mutual funds and options) transactions involving margin, however, would likely trigger the tax.  The burden falls on the retirement account holder to make the determination of whether the financial product type transaction triggered the UBTI rules and, if so, file the IRS Form 990-T. Therefore, it is important to work with a tax professional who can help one evaluate the financial product transaction to determine whether the transaction will trigger the UBTI or debt-financed income rules tax.

For more information about the UBTI rules, please contact us @ 800.472.0646.

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Apr 23

Retirement And Educational Savings Tax Planning Tips To Lower Taxes In 2017

Here’s another article written by Adam Bergman for Forbes.com

Now that the tax filing deadline has passed for the 2016 tax year, this is a perfect time to start thinking about some simple ways to boost retirement savings and at the same time lower overall tax liability for 2017.

Start Thinking IRA: For 2017, the maximum IRA contribution is $5,500, or $6,500 if you are over the age of fifty. Contributions can generally be made in pre-tax, after-tax, or Roth.  A pre-tax IRA, also known as a traditional IRA, is one of the more popular ways to save for retirement that also offers tax advantages. Contributions made to a traditional IRA may be fully or partially deductible, depending on your circumstances, and, generally, amounts in a traditional IRA (including earnings and gains) are not taxed until distributed, which is not required until one reaches the age of 70 1/2.

Retirement And Educational Savings Tax Planning Tips To Lower Taxes In 2017An after-tax IRA, also known as a non-deductible IRA, is a traditional IRA that contains nondeductible contributions. Nondeductible contributions to traditional IRAs often occur when one makes too much to make a deductible contribution, or is limited because of employer 401(k) plan contributions. When one takes a distribution from an after-tax IRA, the portion of the distribution coming from nondeductible contributions is tax-free, although, any income and earnings generated from that after-tax contribution would be subject to tax, and a 10% early distribution penalty if the individual is under the age of 59 1/2.

A Roth IRA is an improved version of the after-tax nondeductible IRA.  Although one does not benefit from a tax deduction for contributions, all of the qualified distributions, including earnings, come out tax-free. To contribute to a Roth IRA, ones modified adjusted gross income must fall below the annual limits for your filing status (which is $196,000 if filing jointly for 2017). One can withdraw contributions any time, but must be 59 1/2 years old and you must have had a Roth IRA open for at least five tax years before one can withdraw income and gains without tax or penalty.

Business Owners Rejoice:  Owning a business in 2017 can have some significant retirement tax benefits, if one is aware of them. The scope of the benefits is somewhat dependent on whether the business has full-time employees other than the owners.  For example, a sole proprietor or a business entity with no full-time employees, may be eligible to contribute up to $54,000 ($60,000 if the participant is over the age of fifty), to a solo 401(k) plan in pre-tax, after-tax or Roth.  Whereas, if the business has non-owner full-time employees, the business owner’s total contribution may be limited due to the cost of offering maximum employer profit sharing contributions to all employees.  Nevertheless, business owners should consult with their tax advisor to examine how establishing an employer retirement plan, such as a 401(k) plan, SEP or SIMPLE IRA for their business could potentially help their retirement savings, as well as reduce their annual tax liability.

Get to Know the 529 Plan.  A 529 Plan is an education savings plan operated by a state or educational institution designed to help families set aside funds for future college costs. It is named after Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code. Nearly every state now has at least one 529 plan available, but the plan characteristics may differ by state.   529 plans are usually categorized as either prepaid or savings plans. In general, the tax advantages of establishing and funding a 529 plan is that earnings are not subject to federal tax and generally not subject to state tax when used for the qualified education expenses of the designated beneficiary, such as tuition, fees, books, as well as room and board. Contributions to a 529 plan, however, are not deductible. One may make a contribution of $14,000 a year or less to a 529 plan qualifies for the annual federal gift tax exclusion. Under special rules unique to 529 plans, one can gift a lump sum of up to $70,000 ($140,000 for joint gifts) and avoid federal gift tax, provided one makes an election to spread the gift evenly over five years Thus, establishing and funding a 529 plan may will not offer you an immediate tax deduction, but it will allow you to help your children afford college by having the contributions and earnings grow without tax over time, thereby, potentially allowing one to spend their retirement savings on other expenses.

HSA Triple Tax Benefit: IRC Section 223 allows individuals who are covered by a compatible health plan, often referred to as a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP), to set aside funds on a tax-free basis up to the contribution limit to pay for certain out-of-pocket medical expenses. Health Savings Accounts have a triple tax benefit—funds go into the account tax-free, funds grow tax-free and remain completely tax-free when used for eligible medical expenses.  The IRS imposes certain requirements in order to be eligible to contribute to an HSA, such as one cannot be covered by Medicare.  The maximum 2017 contribution is $6750 for families, with a $1000 catch-up for individuals over the age of fifty-five.

Planning and saving for retirement does not have to be painful.  Understanding the rules and employing a consistent approach can help increase retirement savings while simultaneously reducing ones tax liability. However, a few simple retirement planning moves can help make the difference when April 17, 2018 rolls around.

For more information, please contact an IRA Expert @ 800.472.0646.

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Apr 07

What is the Penalty for Engaging in a Disqualified Transaction with a Self-Directed IRA?

Your investment may be disallowed under Internal Revenue Code Section 408 or result in a “Prohibited Transaction” under Internal Revenue Code Section 4975 and could result in the immediate disqualification of your IRA.

Although IRAs are generally not ERISA plans, the Department of Labor has jurisdiction over these plans for purposes of the prohibited transaction rules, including individual requests for exemptions from those rules.   There are two different consequences for incurring a prohibited transaction under the Code:

  • For the IRA owner, the IRA is deemed immediately disqualified as of January 1 of the year in which the prohibited transaction occurred (an extremely severe tax consequence), resulting in current income tax treatment of a traditional IRA and possible excise tax penalty for a premature withdrawal from an IRA. If this deemed “distribution” occurs, it will be subject to ordinary income tax and, if you were under the age of 59 1/2 at that time, a ten (10%) percent excise tax on premature distributions may also be assessed.
  • For the Disqualified Person involved in the transaction, the initial tax on a prohibited transaction is 15 percent of the amount involved for every year (or portion thereof) in the “taxable period,” which is the period beginning when the transaction occurs and ending on the date of the earliest of (1) the mailing of a notice of deficiency for the tax, (2) assessment of the tax, or (3) correction of the transaction. The 15% excise tax is followed by an additional tax of 100% if the disqualified person is recalcitrant.

The prohibited transaction rules are extremely broad. Thus, the IRA owner self directing his investments must be especially cautious in engaging in transactions that could compromise his best judgment or result in indirectly benefiting him.

Please contact one of our Self Directed IRA Experts at 800-472-0646 for more information.

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Mar 23

Tax Filing Tips To Save On Taxes And Boost IRA Savings

The following was written by Adam Bergman and first appeared on Forbes.com

With the individual tax-filing deadline date of April 18, 2017 for the 2016 taxable year quickly approaching, reviewing some of the ways one can save taxes as well as boost his or her retirement savings is always helpful.  Below are a few ways one can use the IRA contribution regime to help save taxes as well as enhance one’s retirement nest egg.

Tax Filing Tips To Save On Taxes And Boost IRA Savings

Still Time to Make IRA Contributions for 2016: The maximum IRA contribution is $5500 or $6500 if over the age of fifty and will remain the same for 2017 contributions. The deadline for making IRA or Roth IRA contributions for 2016 is April 18, 2017.  The contribution must be made by such date even if the taxpayer has filed an extension.  Contributions can be made in pre-tax, after-tax or Roth, if applicable.

Don’t Forget About Spousal IRA Contributions: Many married taxpayers are not aware that if one spouse is not working and the other spouse has earned sufficient income, the working spouse can make IRA contributions for the nonworking spouse.  In general, a nonworking spouse can make a deductible IRA contribution of up to $5,500 for 2016 ($6,500 if age 50 or older as of 12/31/16) as long as the couple files a joint return, and the working spouse has earned income that equals are exceeds the sum of the nonworking spouse’s contribution plus the working spouse’s contribution. However, if the working spouse is covered by a qualified retirement plan (via a job or self-employment), the deductibility of the nonworking spouse’s contribution is subject to phase-out based on joint adjusted gross income.

Be Aware of the Savers Tax Credit: Low- and moderate-income taxpayers are incentivized to save for retirement by becoming eligible to claim the saver’s credit, which can be worth up to $2,000 for individuals and $4,000 for couples. People age 18 and older who are not full-time students or dependents on someone else’s tax return can claim this tax credit until their adjusted gross income exceeds $62,000 for couples in 2016.

Not Too Late for Employer SEP IRA Contributions.  For sole proprietors or small business owners looking to make more substantial IRA contributions than $5500 or $6500, if over the age of 50, the SEP IRA could be your answer.  For 2016, an employer can make contributions to a SEP IRA up to the lessor of 25% (20% if sole proprietor or single member LLC) of the employee’s compensation or $53,000.  The limit increases to $54,000 for 2017.  SEP IRA contributions for the 2016 taxable year can be made by April 18, 2017 or up until the date of the tax filing extension date, if applicable.

Contributing to a pre-tax IRA or qualified retirement plan, such as a 401(k), can prove to be a great way of saving for retirement while at the same time reducing ones tax liability.  The IRA contribution regime was designed by Congress to incentivize Americans to save for retirement by granting a tax-deduction for the pre-tax IRA contribution as well as offering the ability to defer taxes on any IRA income/gains until a future date.  The good news is that there is still plenty of time for taxpayers to take advantage of these benefits.

For more information about IRA contributions, please contact us @ 800.472.0646.

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Feb 07

Workplace Retirement Plan May Limit IRA Deductions

This article originally appeared on Forbes.com

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In general, one may be able to claim a deduction on their individual federal income tax return for the amount contributed to a pre-tax Individual retirement account (“IRA”), also known as a Traditional IRA.  Whereas, after tax or Roth IRA contributions are not tax deductible.  For 2017, the maximum IRA contribution is $5500 and $6500 if over the age of fifty. However, in the case of an individual that is covered by an employer qualified retirement plan, such as 401(k) plan, the IRA contribution amount that individual can deduct could be limited by his or her modified adjusted gross income (“AGI”).  An individual’s AGI is essentially the amount of gross income earned during the year, less certain adjustments. One can find the allowable reductions to your income on the front page of IRS Form 1040.

The two key factors in determining the amount an individual can deduct from their pre-tax Traditional IRA contribution in a given year are (i) whether the individual is covered by an employer 401(k) plan and (ii) their AGI. For individuals that are not covered by an employer 401(k) plan, they are free to deduct the full amount of their IRA contribution up to $5500 or $6500, if over the age of fifty, for 2017.  For example, if Bill Gates was no longer employed by Microsoft or any other company and was not covered by a retirement plan at work, he would be able to deduct the full amount of his IRA contribution for 2017, notwithstanding his annual gross income amount.  Whereas, if Bill Gates was still employed at Microsoft and was covered by the company’s retirement plan, he would not be able to take a deduction for his IRA contribution because his income would exceed the maximum threshold amount.   Interestingly, the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) rules do not distinguish whether the individual that is covered by an employer retirement plan actually participated and made contributions to the plan.  The rule states, however, that so long as the employee is covered by the employer retirement plan, that individual’s AGI will determine whether he or she can take a tax deduction for the IRA contribution.  Thus, if an individual is covered by an employer sponsored retirement plan, notwithstanding whether that individual actually made a contribution to the plan, the individual’s AGI will be the determining factor whether he or she can deduct his or her IRA contribution.  An individual that does not have access to an employer 401(k) plan has no such limitation.

For 2017, if an individual is covered by a retirement plan at work, the following table provided by the IRS will help one determine what amount of his or her IRA contribution for 2017 is tax deductible.

 
Filing Status Your Modified AGI IRA Deduction Amount
single or
head of household
$62,000 or less
______________more than $62,000 but less than $72,000________________
$72,000 or more
A full deduction up to the amount of your 2017 contribution limit
_______________Partial deduction
________________
No deduction
married filing jointly or qualifying widow(er) $99,000 or less
________________more than $99,000 but less than $119,000________________
$119,000 or more
A full deduction up to the amount of your 2017 contribution limit
_______________
Partial deduction
________________
No deduction
married filing separately Less than $10,000
______________
$10,000 or more
Partial deduction
_______________No deduction

Having the ability to contribute and deduct IRA contributions is an important aspect of many Americans’ retirement strategy.  In order to best take advantage of the existing IRA contribution and deduction rules available, it is vital that Americans with access to an employer retirement plan have a solid understanding of how the IRA contribution deduction rules work.

For more information about IRA Contribution Rules, please contact us @ 800.472.0646.

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Jan 20

Understanding Your Options When Inheriting An IRA From A Non-Spouse

This article, written by our own Adam Bergman, appeared on Forbes.com

Unfortunately, the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) does not allow you to keep retirement funds in your account indefinitely. The required minimum distribution rules (“RMD”) were created in order to guarantee the flow of IRA funds into the federal income tax system as well as to encourage IRA owners to use their retirement funds during their retirement.

One generally has to start taking withdrawals from your IRA, SIMPLE IRA, SEP IRA, or retirement plan account when reaching the age 70½ or as the beneficiary recipient of an inherited IRA. Of interest, Roth IRAs do not require withdrawals until after the death of the owner.

There are a number of distribution options available to a designated IRA beneficiary, generally dependent on whether the deceased IRA owner’s sole primary beneficiary is a spouse, and whether the deceased IRA owner has reach 70 1/2, the age for RMDs. Remember, a living IRA owner is not required to take an RMD until the IRA owner reaches the age of 70 1/2.

If an IRA holders dies and designates a non-spouse, such as a parent, child, sibling, friend, etc. as the primary beneficiary of his or her IRA, the non-spouse beneficiary will typically only have two options for taking RMDs with respect to the inherited IRA: (i) the life expectancy rule and (ii) the five-year rule.

Understanding Your Options When Inheriting An IRA From A Non-SpouseThe IRS allows a non-spouse beneficiary to use the life expectancy rules to calculate the IRA required distributions after the deceased IRA holder’s death. The IRA distributions must begin to be taken no later than December 31 of the year after the death of the deceased IRA holder’s death. There are no additional opportunities for delaying IRA distributions for non-spouse beneficiaries. If distributions are made under the life expectancy rule to a designated beneficiary non-spouse, the applicable distribution period for the calendar year immediately after the year of the IRA owner’s death is the beneficiary’s remaining life expectancy as of his or her birthday during that year and the applicable period is reduced by one for each subsequent distribution calendar year. Unlike in the case of a spouse beneficiary, which is required to use the life expectancy of the deceased IRA owner for purposes of calculating the annual RMD amount, a non-spouse beneficiary is required to use his or her life expectancy when calculating the annual required distribution amounts. For example, if Jane is designated as sole beneficiary of an IRA of her mother, who died during 2015, her first distribution calendar year is 2016. If Jane turned 60 years old during that year, the applicable distribution period would be based on the life expectancy of a 60-year-old. Conversely, the non-spouse beneficiary has the option to select a five-year distribution rule, which would required the non-spouse beneficiary to take the entire amount of the inherited IRA as a distribution over a five year period. Of note, a non-spouse IRA beneficiary does not have the option to convert the traditional inherited IRA to a Roth IRA.

The IRA custodian (the financial institution) is required to submit reports to the IRS and to the IRA owner regarding RMDs. If an RMD is required to be taken from an IRA for a calendar year and the IRA owner is alive at the beginning of the year, the IRA custodian that held the IRA as of December 31 of the prior year must provide a statement to the IRA owner to report the due date of the RMD and, in most cases, the amount that is due. The IRA custodian is required to send this report to the IRA owner by January 31 of the year for which the RMD is required.

The RMD rules and options for a non-spouse beneficiary can bring to bear some financial and tax implications.  Therefore, it is important that one consults a tax professional or financial advisor for further guidance.

For more information about options when inheriting an IRA, please contact an IRA Expert @ 800.472.0646.

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