• The Top 5 Funding Reminders for Roth IRAs

    By: Denise Appleby, MJ, CISP, CRC, CRPS, CRSP, APA

    The rules of Roth IRAs create multiple tax-saving opportunities for Roth funding.

    Many consider Roth IRAs a gold standard for retirement savings because they provide a source of tax-free income during retirement. This tax-free benefit includes tax-deferred earnings, which are tax-free for those eligible for qualified distributions. Taxpayers who choose to fund Roth IRAs instead of traditional IRAs pay taxes upfront in exchange for this benefit. However, the promise of tax-free income is only one of the factors that must be considered, and taxpayers who choose Roth must also consider various strategies and operational requirements. The following reminders are a good start.

    1. After-tax 401(k) contributions: an opportunity for tax-free conversions

    Once a plan participant is eligible to make withdrawals from their 401(k) or other type of employer plan account (401(k)), eligible amounts may be rolled over to an IRA or another eligible retirement plan. For those who want to continue tax deferral until they are ready to take distributions, a traditional IRA is a common choice for rolling over assets from 401(k)s. However, if the 401(k) account includes after-tax amounts, that after-tax balance is an opportunity for a tax-free conversion.

    Unlike a conversion of pre-tax amounts, for which a suitability assessment is often recommended because it is taxable when converted, the conversion of an after-tax amount is tax-free. Therefore, no suitability assessment is needed. Further, any earnings on the after-tax amount would eventually become tax-free in a Roth IRA when you are eligible for a qualified distribution—a contrast with earnings that accrue in a traditional IRA, which would be taxable when distributed.

    Essential Tip: If you want to roll over their 401(k) account to an IRA, and that 401(k) includes an after-tax amount, instruct the plan administrator to split the distribution and send the after-tax amount to your Roth IRA. Doing so helps to ensure that the after-tax amount is not sent to your traditional IRA.

    2. Micro conversions for tax management

    Roth conversions are included in income, with any pre-tax amount being taxable for the year the conversion occurs. However, converting small amounts over time can mitigate the tax impact. For example, an individual who wants to convert $500,000 could make $50,000 yearly conversions over ten years instead of converting the entire $500,000 all at once. This strategy is commonly referred to as micro-conversions.

    This strategy can also be used to stay within a tax bracket in cases where a conversion could cause some of the individual’s income to be taxed at a higher tax bracket.

    Ideally, you would consult with your tax advisor to project the tax impact of the conversion and help them determine how much would be an ideal amount to convert each year.

    3. Tax withholding is not conversion

    If you want to have taxes withheld from the requested conversion amount, the withholding tax is not included in the conversion. As a result, the amount withheld for taxes will be subject to the (10% additional tax) 10% early distribution penalty unless an exception applies.

    Example 1: 45-year-old Sean’s Traditional Number 12345 had a balance of $100,000—all of which is pre-tax amounts. He instructed his IRA custodian to convert Traditional IRA Number 12345 to his Roth IRA Number 67890 and withhold 20% for federal taxes. Based on his instructions:

    • $20,000 was sent to the IRS for federal tax withholding.
    • $80,000 was deposited to Roth IRA #64890 as a Roth conversion.

    The result:

    • $100,000 is included in Sean’s income for the year.
    • $100,000 is taxable.
    • $80,000 is not subject to the 10% early distribution penalty.
    • $20,000 is subject to the 10% early distribution penalty because it is not part of the Roth conversion.

    If Sean had funds in a regular savings account (not a tax-deferred account), he could pay the income tax from that account instead of his traditional IRA.

    Consideration: An analysis should be done to determine if it makes good tax sense for Sean to perform a Roth conversion if it requires paying the income tax from his IRA.

    4. Roth conversion amounts must be rollover eligible

    A Roth IRA conversion is a two-part transaction:

    1. A distribution from the traditional IRA, and
    2. A rollover to the Roth IRA- which is treated as a conversion.

    Consequently, like a rollover, only eligible amounts can be included in the amount credited to the Roth IRA.

    An example of an amount that is not eligible to be rolled over is a required minimum distribution (RMD). If you are at least 73 this year, you must take RMDs due from your traditional IRA before any Roth conversion.

    Reminder: If the funds are in an employer plan and you are still employed by the plan sponsor, you should check with the plan administrator to determine if you must take an RMD for the year.

    5. Let conversion amounts sit and stay for at least 5-years

    A Roth IRA conversion is not subject to the 10% early distribution penalty, regardless of the age at which it occurs. However, distribution from a Roth conversion amount is subject to the 10% early distribution penalty if it occurs before it has aged in the Roth IRA for at least five years.

    Example 2: Using the facts from Sean’s example above, assume that the conversion was done in 2024. If Sean withdraws any amount from that $80,000 conversion before January 1, 2029, it would be subject to the 10% early distribution penalty unless he qualifies for an exception.

    Reminder: The 10% early distribution penalty does not apply if you are at least age 59 ½ when the distribution is made or if the distribution qualifies for an exception to the penalty.

    Note: Under the ordering rules, any regular Roth IRA contribution or conversions done in previous years would be drawn before Sean’s 2024 Roth conversion.


    The tips provided in this article are generally operational in nature. The decision of which to choose—Roth IRAs vs. traditional—is more complex and requires a suitability analysis. However, using some of the strategies mentioned in this article can lessen any immediate tax effect. Except for the tax-free conversion of after-tax funds from a 401(k), the assistance of a tax professional should be engaged to help determine suitability.

    Original Post by Horsesmouth, LLC.: https://www.savvyira.com/article.aspx?a=99588

  • Your Financial Reset Checklist: Moves to Make as We Approach Mid-Year

    Strategic Adjustments for Enhanced Financial Health: A Mid-Year Review Guide

    As we approach the midpoint of the year, it’s an ideal time to review and potentially reset your financial strategies. This period allows you to assess your progress towards your annual goals, adjust your budgets, and fine-tune your investment strategies, too. Here’s a practical mid-year financial reset checklist to guide you through your mid-year financial review.

    1. Review Your Budget

    Start with a thorough review of your current budget:

    • Examine Spending Habits: Compare your planned expenses against actual spending. Look for areas where you’ve overspent and identify categories where you can cut back.
    • Adjust Budgets: Based on your spending review, make the necessary adjustments to your budgets for the rest of the year. Consider any changes in your income or expenses since the beginning of the year.

    2. Evaluate Your Emergency Fund

    An emergency fund is crucial for financial security, providing a buffer against unexpected expenses:

    • Assess Fund Adequacy: If you don’t have one already, work toward an emergency fund that covers at least three to six months of living expenses. If you aren’t near your goal yet, plan how you can bolster this fund in the second half of the year.
    • Replenish If Needed: If you’ve had to dip into your emergency fund, it’s alright! That’s why you have it. However, now you need to make a plan to replenish it. Prioritize this to avoid potential financial strain going forward.

    3. Reassess Your Financial Goals

    Mid-year is a perfect time to reassess and refine your financial goals:

    • Goal Progress: Evaluate how close you are to achieving the goals you set at the beginning of the year. This could be saving for a down payment, paying off debt, building a plan to pay for healthcare in retirement, or investing more of your retirement savings.
    • Adjust Goals as Necessary: Life circumstances change, and so may your financial goals. Adjust your strategies to better align with your current situation and future aspirations.

    If you neglected to set goals at the start of the year, it’s not too late! There is nothing magical about January 1, so get started setting your goals now with the S.M.A.R.T. goals framework.

    Related: New Year, New Goals: Planning Your Money Moves for 2024

    4. Check Credit Reports

    Regular checks on your credit report can help you catch and rectify any inaccuracies that might affect your financial health, not to mention helping you spot identity theft:

    • Request Credit Reports: You can obtain a free credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus once per year at AnnualCreditReport.com.
    • Review for Accuracy: Look for any discrepancies or fraudulent activities. Promptly report any errors to the credit bureau for correction.

    5. Review Insurance Coverages

    Insurance needs can evolve, so it’s important to periodically review your policies:

    • Assess Coverage Needs: Consider changes in your life that might affect your insurance needs, such as buying a new home, changing marital status, or adding a family member.
    • Shop for Better Rates: Compare your current policies with what’s available on the market to see if you can find better rates or more comprehensive coverage for the same price.

    6. Optimize Your Investments

    Market conditions change, and so should your investment strategies:

    • Portfolio Review: Assess the performance of your investments and consider rebalancing if your asset allocation has drifted from your target, which happens to many investors over time.
    • Tax-Saving Strategies: Consider tax implications of any buy or sell actions in your portfolio and explore opportunities like tax-loss harvesting to offset gains.

    7. Plan for Tax Liabilities

    You may be breathing a sigh of relief with tax season behind you, but working all year round to understand your potential tax liabilities can help you manage your finances more effectively:

    • Estimate Taxes: Use your current earnings and expenses to estimate your tax liability for the year.
    • Adjust Withholdings: If you anticipate a major tax bill or a significant refund, adjust your tax withholdings accordingly to better manage your cash flow.

    8. Reflect on Your Financial Well-Being

    This step is a subjective addition to your mid-year financial reset checklist because financial well-being means different things to different people. So, decide what it means to you and take a moment to reflect on how you’re feeling about your finances:

    • Financial Stress Test: Consider how you would handle a financial emergency. Do you feel confident about your financial situation?
    • Educational Opportunities: Look for ways to improve your financial literacy. Engaging with financial news, books, or seminars can provide valuable insights and enhance your financial decision-making skills.

    Concluding Thoughts on Using a Mid-Year Financial Review Checklist

    A mid-year financial review checklist is a practical tool that can help you take proactive steps to stay on track with your financial objectives. This checklist serves as a guide to help you assess various aspects of your finances, from budgeting and savings to investments and taxes. By taking the time to review and adjust your financial plan now, you can improve your financial health and approach the rest of the year with a solid strategy in place.

    Illuminated Advisors is the original creator of the content shared herein. I have been granted a license in perpetuity to publish this article on my website’s blog and share its contents on social media platforms. I have no right to distribute the articles, or any other content provided to me, or my Firm, by Illuminated Advisors in a printed or otherwise non-digital format. I am not permitted to use the content provided to me or my firm by Illuminated Advisors in videos, audio publications, or in books of any kind.

  • The Excise Tax Waiver Has Expired for 10-Year IRA Beneficiaries with Annual RMDs

    By: Denise Appleby, MJ, CISP, CRC, CRPS, CRSP, APA

    Beneficiaries subject to SECURE Act’s 10-year rule and required to take annual RMDs were granted an automatic waiver of the excise tax that would otherwise apply if they failed to take required minimum distributions (RMDs). These automatic waivers applied to 2021, 2022, and 2023. But, failing further extension by the IRS, these beneficiaries must take RMDs for 2024 to avoid the 25% excise tax.

    Who qualified for this automatic excise tax waiver?

    This automatic waiver applies only to beneficiaries who meet the following two requirements:

    1. They are subject to the 10-year rule, under which their inherited IRA must be fully distributed no later than the 10th year after they inherited the IRA. And
    2. They are required to take annual RMDs.

    These beneficiaries are:

    A. Any designated beneficiary who inherited a traditional, SEP, or SIMPLE IRA, where the IRA owner died on or after their required beginning date (RBD).

    • The RBD is the date an account owner must take their first RMD.
    • Roth IRAs are not included because Roth IRA owners do not have RMDs.

    Example 1

    50-year-old Tom inherited his 75-year-old father’s traditional IRA in 2020. Tom is more than ten years younger than his father, not disabled or chronically ill, and, therefore, not an eligible designated beneficiary. Since Tom is a plain designated beneficiary, he is subject to the 10-year rule and, therefore, must ensure that the inherited IRA is fully distributed by the end of 2030. In addition, because Tom’s father died after his RBD, Tom must take annual RMDs over his life expectancy beginning in 2021.

    While the excise tax applies to an RMD that is not taken for a year, it is automatically waived for Tom for 2021, 2022, and 2023.

    B. A successor beneficiary, where the primary beneficiary was taking life expectancy distributions.

    This provision applies to traditional, SEP, SIMPLE, and Roth IRAs.

    Example 2

    75-year-old Sally inherited a traditional IRA from her 77-year-old sister Carla in 2020. Sally is an eligible designated beneficiary because she is ‘not more than ten years younger’ than Carla.

    Sally must take annual distributions over her life expectancy, beginning in 2021. The 10-year rule does not apply to Sally because she is an eligible designated beneficiary.

    The automatic waiver does not apply to Sally because she is not subject to the 10-year rule.

    Sally died in 2022, and her IRA was inherited by her son, Tim.

    Tim, the successor beneficiary of Carla’s IRA, must continue taking distributions over Sally’s life expectancy beginning in 2023. Tim must also ensure that the IRA is fully distributed no later than 2032, which is the 10th year after Sally’s death.

    While the excise tax applies to an RMD that is not taken for a year, it is automatically waived for 2023 for Tim.

    While other beneficiaries could qualify for waivers under other circumstances, these are the only two types that qualify for the automatic waiver discussed in this article.

    Are ‘catch-up RMDs’ required?

    A catch-up distribution is optional for those qualifying beneficiaries who did not take their RMDs for any or all three years (2021, 2022, and 2023). However, they must still meet the 10-year deadline. For instance, in the case of Tom in Example 1, he must still ensure that his inherited IRA is fully distributed by the end of 2030 despite the waiver of the excise tax.

    No special tax forms or tax reporting required

    Generally, IRS Form 5329 must be filed for an RMD not taken by the deadline, and any excise tax included as ‘additional taxes’ on the individual’s tax return. But an exception applies where there is an automatic waiver. Resultantly, beneficiaries who qualified for the automatic waiver discussed herein need not file IRS Form 5329 for any RMDs not taken for those years.

    Should these beneficiaries wait and see for 2024?

    One of the common questions about this automatic waiver is whether it will be extended for 2024. There is yet to be an indication from the IRS that it will. There is still time for those who prefer to wait, as the deadline for taking the 2024 RMDs is December 31, 2024.

    The IRS’s first notification of the excise tax waiver was published in July of 2022, explaining the excise tax was waived for 2021 and 2022.

    The second notice, extending the waiver to 2023, was issued in July 2023. It would be reasonable to assume that any notification of an extension of the waiver could be issued later in the year.

    To take or not to take a 2024 RMD

    Beneficiaries should consider the impact of not taking RMDs for 2024, even if the excise tax is waived. Not taking an RMD for 2024 means bunching up the distributions over a period that is one year shorter, causing larger RMD amounts for the remainder of the ten years. However, a waiver might be a welcome solution for a beneficiary who needs to shift the income from 2024 to a later year for tax and other financial planning reasons.

    The consequences of missing the 2024 deadline

    Failing any further extension of the automatic waiver provision, a beneficiary who misses the deadline for taking their 2024 RMD will owe the IRS an excise tax of 25%. This excise tax is reduced to 10% if the shortfall is corrected in a timely manner.

    If a taxpayer misses the RMD deadline due to reasonable error, their tax preparer may request a waiver of the excise tax when filing IRS Form 5329.

    Reminder: RMD rules, including the ones discussed in this article, also apply to employer plans. However, plan administrators administer RMDs. Employees and beneficiaries with assets under employer plans should contact the plan administrator for assistance with their RMDs.

    Copyright ©2024 Horsesmouth, LLC. All Rights Reserved. Horsesmouth, LLC is not affiliated with Lane Hipple Wealth Management Group or any of its affiliates. Information contained above is accurate as of 2/2/24. It is subject to legislative changes and is not intended to be legal or tax advice. Consult qualified tax advisors regarding specific circumstances. This material is furnished “as is” without warranty of any kind. Its accuracy and completeness are not guaranteed, and all warranties expressed or implied are hereby excluded. Seek legal, tax, and investment advice from qualified professionals.

  • Crucial Estate Planning Steps Before It’s Too Late

    Countdown to the sunset of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has started

    As 2026 approaches, the financial and legal communities are abuzz with discussions about the imminent sunset of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. For many, this translates to pressing changes affecting estate planning.

    With only two years left to address these modifications, it’s imperative to understand the urgency and take action now.

    Understanding the Impending Estate Planning Changes

    The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act introduced favorable estate tax provisions, offering a hefty federal estate tax exemption of $12.92 million per person. However, by January 1, 2026, this exemption is set to drop significantly to roughly half its current value, adjusted for inflation.

    Related Article: What to Do Before the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Provisions Sunset

    Why Immediate Action is Essential

    Estate planning is not a process to be hurried. Comprehensive strategies, especially ones revolving around gifting to trusts or establishing gifting vehicles, demand time. Here’s why immediate action is crucial:

    Short Planning Window: Two years might seem adequate. However, in the realm of estate planning, it’s but a blink of an eye. Advisors and clients alike must act swiftly.

    Overwhelmed Attorneys: As the 2026 deadline approaches, estate planning attorneys will inevitably face a surge in demand. This influx means many attorneys might stop accepting new clients long before the deadline, leaving procrastinators in a lurch.

    Maximizing the Exemption: By acting now, you’ll make the most of the current exemption before it reduces, potentially saving millions in estate taxes.

    Estate Planning Steps Clients Should Take Immediately

    Consult Your Advisor: If you haven’t already, now is the time to meet with your financial advisor. They can provide insights tailored to your unique financial situation.

    Review Your Current Estate Plan: Understand the implications of the looming changes on your existing estate plan. A periodic review is always advisable, but now it’s non-negotiable.

    Consider Gifting: With the high exemption limit, consider gifting assets to trusts or using other gifting vehicles. It’s a prime opportunity to move wealth out of your estate and leverage the generous exemptions.

    Engage an Estate Planning Attorney: Given the anticipated demand surge, seek out and engage a reputable estate planning attorney sooner rather than later.

    Stay Updated: As we inch closer to 2026, there might be new legislative changes, court rulings, or other factors impacting estate planning. Regularly check in with your advisor to stay abreast of these changes.

    Act Now

    The countdown to the sunset of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act provisions is more than a looming date on the calendar; it’s a clarion call for immediate action. As a client, seizing the moment now can mean securing a more stable financial legacy for your heirs.

    Don’t wait until it’s too late; the time to act is now.

  • 5 Ways a Financial Advisor Can Help You Prepare for Tax Season

    A Strong Tax Strategy is Part of a Thoughtful, Comprehensive Financial Plan

    Tax season is upon us and, while not every financial advisor is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), that doesn’t mean they can’t be helpful. Your financial advisor can assist you with making strategic tax moves throughout the year to help reduce your overall tax burden. As you read below, keep in mind that the sooner you begin having these conversations with your advisor about your tax strategy, the better off you’ll be at tax time.

    Finding Ways to Maximize Your Tax Savings

    There are many financial moves you can make throughout the year that will result in paying lower taxes, and a financial advisor will be educated about them. For example, some investment accounts let you make tax-deferred contributions, which can offer you the opportunity to save money on taxes while working to build your retirement savings. Take a company-sponsored 401(k), for instance. If you max out your contributions to this account, all of the money going in is pre-taxed, so you’ll be putting money away for retirement while reducing your tax bill in the present.

    Keeping Record of Your Capital Gains and Losses

    When filing your taxes, you’ll have to know how much you earned and lost from your investments for that year. A financial advisor will have an accurate and consistent record of your investments, which they can give to your accountant on your behalf. This will save you time and energy, and help you ensure you’re paying appropriate capital gains tax, without over-paying.

    Developing a Tax-Savvy Gifting Strategy

    There’s a lot to be gained when we gift our money to others. Not only do you get the intrinsic rewards associated with the joy and meaning that comes from helping others, but you can enjoy valuable tax benefits, too. Sit down with your financial advisor and discuss how you can gift your money in ways that ultimately help lower your tax bill, too. And this isn’t just for charities; if you want to give money to your family members for any reason, there are plenty of gifting strategies that let you transfer your wealth without a tax penalty. Check-in with your financial advisor before making any gifts so you can be sure to maximize the opportunity.

    8 Considerations For Passing an Inheritance To Your Children

    Minimizing the Tax Burden that RMDs Bring

    Once you reach the age of 73, you’ll have to begin taking out Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) from any IRA or 401(k) accounts that you have. While this comes as no surprise, often the uptick in your tax bill from having to pay income tax on those distributions does come as a surprise to retirees. A financial advisor will be able to provide you with management strategies so that you can lower your tax liabilities and be more prepared when the time comes to begin taking distributions.

    Determining Tax-Efficient Investment Strategies

    Although a financial advisor can’t necessarily protect you from capital gains tax, they will be able to help you by implementing strategies such as tax-loss harvesting, offsetting gains with losses, and avoiding issues such as “phantom tax,” which limit your overall tax liability. So, they’ll not only be able to help you manage and balance a portfolio, but they’ll be able to ensure you’re following the best investment strategies to benefit you the most when it comes time to file your taxes.

    Do You Need a Financial Advisor to Assist with a Tax Strategy?

    The world of taxes can be incredibly confusing, especially considering they’re constantly changing depending on the economy and new legislation. Having a financial advisor you trust is an important addition to your tax planning arsenal. A financial advisor can guide you throughout the year to ensure you’re making the best financial choices to help boost your tax strategy, with the ultimate goal of allowing you to save more of your hard-earned dollars.

    If you think you would benefit from a conversation about your tax strategy, contact Lane Hipple Wealth Management Group at our Moorestown, NJ office by calling 856-638-1855, emailing info@lanehipple.com, or to schedule a complimentary discovery call, use this link to find a convenient time.

    Illuminated Advisors is the original creator of the content shared herein. I have been granted a license in perpetuity to publish this article on my website’s blog and share its contents on social media platforms. I have no right to distribute the articles, or any other content provided to me, or my Firm, by Illuminated Advisors in a printed or otherwise non-digital format. I am not permitted to use the content provided to me or my firm by Illuminated Advisors in videos, audio publications, or in books of any kind.