Many people want to make sure that they are financially secure during their golden years. As a result, they stash money away in various retirement savings vehicles. Thus, allowing them to have a nest egg for when they leave the workforce. However, many savers accidentally overlook a critical part of the equation: taxation of retirement vehicles. This can lead to trouble. Particularly if you aren’t prepared for what you’ll owe.
The Taxation of Retirement Vehicles
Taxation levels for retirement accounts vary. Not all sources of retirement income are subject to the same rules. It isn’t uncommon for that to lead to some confusion. Causing some to make unwise choices as they try to plan for retirement.
If you want to plan for retirement successfully. You should understand how various post-retirement income sources can be taxed is critical. Otherwise, you may find yourself with an unexpected federal tax bill at the end of the year that you’ll struggle to pay. Alternatively, you could overestimate your tax burden. This could cause you to make withdrawals or spend differently than you otherwise would. If you want to make sure that you are ready to handle retirement. Here’s a look at how four different retirement vehicles are typically taxed.
1. Social Security
Before 1983, Social Security benefits were universally tax-free. However, that isn’t the case today. While many who receive Social Security income don’t pay taxes on it, others do. If the person’s “provisional income” is high enough. They could owe federal taxes on as much as 85 percent of their Social Security benefits.
According to the IRS, a beneficiary’s provisional income has to be below $25,000 ($32,000 for married couples who file jointly) for their Social Security to go fully untaxed. From $25,000 to $34,000 (or $32,000 to $40,000 for married filing jointly), up to 50 percent of the Social Security benefit is taxable. Once you cross $34,000 ($44,000 for married filing jointly), up to 85 percent is subject to taxation.
2. 401(k)s and Traditional IRAs
Both 401(k) plans and traditional IRAs are tax-deferred. Contributions are potentially deductible the year they are made. Therefore, allowing a person to lower their taxable income by increasing their retirement savings.
However, once it comes time to make withdrawals, it’s tax time. Every withdrawal is taxed based on the person’s ordinary tax rate. This happens regardless of whether the money is from your original contributions, employer-matching funds, or gains.
In many cases, a pension is funded with pre-tax income, so you don’t pay taxes on the contributions. However, like a 401(k) or traditional IRA. You’ll have to pay taxes once you start making withdrawals. In most cases, pensions are taxed by the federal government at your ordinary tax rate.
The only time that may not occur is if there are after-tax pension contributions. When that happens, the pension withdrawals that connect to that money can be tax-free. However, relatively speaking, this is a rare scenario.
4. Roth IRAs
When it comes to long-term tax advantages, Roth IRAs offer a big benefit. The contributions themselves aren’t deductible when they are made, so taxes are paid when during the year that money is earned. However, when it’s time to make qualifying withdrawals during retirement, that cash is probably going to be tax-free, including the value of your account gains.
There are some instances where a person might have to pay taxes on Roth IRA gains withdrawals. First, if you make a withdrawal of any gains before you are 59 ½ years old, you’ll be subject to taxation and early-withdrawal penalties. Second, if your account isn’t at least five years old, you aren’t eligible for tax-free withdrawals until you hit the five-year mark.
Otherwise, once you hit 59 ½ and the account is old enough, you don’t have to worry about taxes on that money. It’s that simple.
Did you consider taxation of retirement vehicles when planning to retire? Why or why not? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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