For Tax-Efficient Financial Planning, it is important to consider your:
- “Income” sources
- How each source is taxed
- Your Tax Bracket
Visualize a pie and then divide your sources of income in to 3 general categories: Taxable, Tax Deferred, and Tax Free.
How does it look?
- All taxable? This is an excellent opportunity to reduce your tax bill and keep more of your money. Your recent filed tax return can be a good road map to provide clues for tax savings opportunities
- Taxable and Tax-Deferred? Good for you; you have some balance
- All 3? Even better. This provides flexibility on how you draw down your assets later, which could save tax dollars and money
- Ordinary Income is income earned from providing services or the sales of goods
- Capital gains are usually associated with the sale or exchange of property characterized as capital assets
- Short Term Capital Gains are taxed at your Ordinary Income tax rate (10 % to 39.6%)
- Long Term Capital-Gains tax rates vary by your income tax bracket and the type asset sold
- Generally, if you’re in the 10% or 15% tax bracket, you’ll pay 0% on those gains. Most other taxpayers pay 15%; however, the rate can also be 20, 25, or 28% for certain asset classes and/or income levels.
Tax Deferred Investment Income includes:
Withdrawals from traditional IRAs and your 401K, which are, taxed as ordinary income (10% to 39.6%)
Tax Free Investment Income: Roth IRA
- Tax Free Income as long as the account has been open for at least 5 years
- Provides flexibility in the timing of future income – you decide
- Required Minimum Distributions do not apply to Roth accounts as are required by Traditional IRA plans
- Roth IRA distributions are not considered as income when determining how your Social Security payments are taxed
- Qualified Roth distributions are not included in either net investment income or in the modified adjusted gross income calculation for assessing the 3.8% net investment income tax
To determine your tax-bracket, you, generally, need to know your annual taxable income and your tax status as of the end of the year.
As you have already seen or already knew, Ordinary Income is taxed at the highest rate.
Managing your tax-brackets means:
- Try to keep your Ordinary Income in the lower tax brackets
- “Fill up” each bracket, where possible
- Be aware of tax consequences before making decisions that push you into the next highest rate bracket; i.e. can you defer a bonus or sale to new year if it means you will be taxed 10% less?
- If you itemize, group deductions where possible; i.e. elective medical or dental procedures; charitable contributions to reduce your taxable income
Takeaways for Tax-Efficient Decisions:
- Know your tax bracket
- Estimate your current annual taxable income
- Use the 2015 IRS Tax Bracket Schedules to determine “how much room you have to move, before moving to the next highest tax bracket
- You could use this “room to move” as the potential amount to convert the specific amount of money from a Traditional IRA to a Roth IRA
- A conversion to a Roth IRA results in taxation of any untaxed amounts in the traditional IRA. The conversion is reported on Form 8606, Nondeductible IRAs. See Publication 590-A, Contributions to Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs), for more information.
- Determine the tax consequence before you convert and ensure you have the cash to pay the tax for converting
The IRS is spelled just like that: “Theirs”. However, tax laws were put in to place to help save you money. The IRS is not going to tell you that you could have paid less when you submit your tax return. It is your job and I am here to help, which is why I share information – so you can.
Deborah Ann Fox, CPA studies tax laws so you don’t have to. She enjoys making a difference in peoples lives, hearts, and wallets as she helps them on the road to financial freedom.
Deb provides free 30-minute consultations. More information is available at www.debfoxfinancial.com.
Thanks for reading!