The Slott Report | Ed Slott and Company, LLC

The Slott Report

IRS Proposes New Life Expectancy Tables for RMDs

The IRS has issued new proposed life expectancy tables for calculating required minimum distributions (RMDs) from IRAs and employer plans. This has been a long time coming as the tables currently in use were issued back in 2002. The new tables account for increased life expectancy and should result in lower RMDs for most IRA owners and beneficiaries. The new tables are currently only proposed, and a hearings and comment period has been scheduled before they can be finalized. If all goes as planned, they would be used for calculating 2021 RMDs. RMDs for 2020 are not affected and cannot be calculated using the new tables.

Qualified Charitable Distributions: Today's Slott Report Mailbag

Question: Hi Ed, My question: Is there any way to do a charitable distribution from my IRA before I reach RMD age? I am recently retired and 65 years old. Thanks! Marty Answer: Marty - The number-one requirement to be able to do a Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD) is that the IRA account owner must be 70 ½ years old. We are not talking about the year in which you turn 70 ½, we are talking about actually being 70 ½. In fact, even on inherited IRAs, where the deceased account owner may have already reached 70 ½, it does not change the fact that the current account owner of the inherited IRA must also be 70 ½ before they can do a QCD.

Moderation

Hypersensitivity to caffeine - this is my affliction. So much so that I limit myself to one energy drink per week. It must be opened before noon and should be nursed for a minimum of 90 minutes. Any violation could result in me trying to paint my house with one hand while simultaneously trimming the hedges with the other. In fact, it was on a business trip several years ago when I first identified my biological caffeine reaction. Energy drinks were relatively new to the market and I consumed “a few.” Without ever going to sleep, I distinctly remember aggressively ironing a shirt in my hotel room at 4:30 AM, wild-eyed, wondering, “What is the big deal with these energy drinks? I don’t feel any effects. Now, what else needs ironing?” Everything in moderation. ‘Tis the key to a happy and balanced life, they say. This also holds true in the retirement world. Here are a handful of items one must monitor closely and consume with great care:

Who Should Be Your IRA Beneficiary?

IRAs are for saving for retirement. However, as these accounts have grown over the years, many IRA owners still have significant funds in their IRA at their death. This means that estate planning for IRAs is essential. Effective estate planning for your IRA starts with your beneficiary designation form. Whoever is listed on that form will be considered the beneficiary of your IRA. You must give serious thought to who that should be. The outcomes will be very different depending on your choice. Name your spouse. This is a very popular option and why not? For many people a spouse is the logical IRA beneficiary and this can be a good move from a tax and estate planning perspective. Spouse IRA beneficiaries have options that nonspouse beneficiaries do not have.

ROTH IRA WITHDRAWALS AND COMPANY PLAN LIMITS: TODAY’S SLOTT REPORT MAILBAG

Question: I am 72 years old and converting my traditional IRA to a Roth IRA a little at a time each year. Do I need to concern myself with a 5-year rule for earnings if I were to withdraw ALL my Roth IRA at once? If I do have to address that issue, is there a way to track earnings for newly converted funds? Regards, Marc Answer: Hi Marc, Whether you need to be concerned about the 5-year rule depends on when your first Roth contribution was made or your first conversion was done. The 5-year clock for tax-free Roth earnings starts ticking on January 1 of the year of your first Roth contribution or conversion.

VESTING RULES FOR COMPANY PLANS

If you’re thinking about leaving your job, you may want to inquire about your company retirement plan’s vesting schedule. If you are close to becoming vested in a retirement benefit, it may pay to stick it out until you have enough service to become vested. Otherwise, you may lose out on a valuable benefit. Being fully vested in your benefit means that you have earned a benefit that cannot be taken away from you. If you are partially vested, you will receive only a portion of your benefit. If you are 0% vested, you will receive no benefit at all. The unvested portion of your benefit will be forfeited in the case of a partially-vested or 0%-vested benefit.

The 5-Year Forever Clock

Buckle your seatbelt and hang on to your hat. This ride could get bumpy. We are about to embark on a conversation that might give some readers vertigo or whiplash or all of the above. An article I wrote about the two 5-year clocks for Roth IRA conversions and earnings remains a popular education piece (“Roth IRA: 2 Clocks,” May 13, 2019). However, based on a steady stream of questions and continued confusion, I am compelled to expand on the topic. This new article is NOT about the 5-year clock that allows penalty-free distributions from Roth conversions for those under 59 ½. That 5-year clock will restart for each conversion that is done for anyone under 59 ½. Here we discuss something I have begun referring to as… [insert dramatic music here] …the “Roth 5-Year Forever Clock.”

IRAs in a Divorce and Roth Conversions: Today's Slott Report Mailbag

Question: I have a question about an IRA split between my husband and me. I got half of his retirement IRA and I was wondering if I am responsible for the taxes if I was to withdraw the funds. Also, if I didn't want all the funds in the account before I opened it, could I tell the custodian to give me a portion and put the rest in? If I could, would I be charged a penalty of 10%? Thank you Answer: Handling an IRA in a divorce can be complicated. If you are awarded part of you ex-spouse’s IRA, the correct way to proceed is to directly transfer the IRA funds to an IRA in your name. This is a non-taxable transaction.

Seven Things to Know about Spousal IRA Contributions

Many individuals find themselves stepping away from a job for reasons such as raising children or being a caregiver to aging parents. When this happens retirement savings can take a hit. That does not necessarily need to be case. You may be able to continue to save with an IRA. If you are married you may be able to make a contribution to your IRA based on your spouse’s taxable compensation for the year. These IRA contributions are called “spousal IRA contributions.” Here are seven things to know about spousal contributions: You make your IRA contribution using your spouse’s compensation. Your spouse can still contribute to an IRA, too. In fact, if your spouse has $14,000 in taxable compensation for the year, you can both contribute $6,000 to your IRAs for 2019, plus an additional $1,000 each if you are both over the age-50 catch-up limit.

ALL ABOUT ERISA

Contrary to urban legend, ERISA does not stand for “Every Ridiculous Idea Since Adam.” Instead, it is an acronym for the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974. ERISA is a federal law that regulates employer-sponsored retirement plans and health plans. (ERISA does not cover IRAs because they are not sponsored by an employer.) For retirement plans, ERISA imposes certain requirements on the sponsoring employer and other plan officials. These requirements include: Filing annual reports with the IRS; Providing certain communications to plan participants, including a plan summary (called a “summary plan description”); Complying with certain standards for eligibility, vesting and plan funding;
 

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