The Slott Report | Ed Slott and Company, LLC

The Slott Report

Exceptions to the 10% Penalty for Both IRAs and Company Plans

Retirement accounts are supposed to be for saving for retirement. If you tap your retirement savings before reaching age 59 ½, you run the risk of being hit with the 10% early distribution penalty. However, there are exceptions to this penalty. Some apply just to IRAs and some apply just to employer plans. However, the following six exceptions apply to BOTH distributions from IRAs and employer plans. 1. Death A distribution taken from an inherited retirement account after the death of the owner is never subject to the 10% penalty. It does not matter what the age of the owner was or what the age of the beneficiary is.

Traditional IRAs and Roth IRA Contributions: Today's Slott Report Mailbag

Question: Here is the situation. The mother is deceased and the father is in jail. He has two minor kids that need the money out of his traditional IRA. Could all of the money be taken out and considered a hardship distribution to avoid the 10% penalty on the entire account? Answer: Unfortunately, no. There is no such thing as a “hardship distribution” with IRA accounts. A 10% early withdrawal penalty generally applies to IRA withdrawals taken before age 59 ½. But the tax code includes several exceptions to the 10% penalty for withdrawals taken for certain specific reasons. For example, taking a withdrawal to cover the costs of higher education expenses, first time home buying, and health insurance if you are unemployed all qualify for the penalty exception.

A SHORT PRIMER ON DEFINED BENEFIT PLANS

Like cassette tapes and slide rules, defined benefit (DB) plans are becoming relics of the past. It’s estimated that 88% of private sector employees with a company plan in 1975 were covered by a DB plan. Today, that number is less than 20%. One reason is the advent of 401(k) plans and other defined contribution plans. Another reason is the decline of the unionized workforce, since DB plans have traditionally been collectively-bargained. Most importantly, DB plans have become increasingly expensive. Congress has tightened the plan funding rules, which has led to higher employer contribution requirements. Also, plan sponsors must employ an actuary and pay premiums to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), a quasi-governmental agency that insures DB plan benefits up to a certain level.

Top 10 RMD Goofs, Gaffes and Blunders

People stumble over themselves all the time. Bad advice is provided, misinformation gets freely disseminated, and sometimes normally smart individuals do less-than-smart things. Stories of good folks fouling up their required minimum distribution are rife. After all, the RMD rules contain a veritable minefield of traps and potential tripping hazards. Based on nothing more than personal experience, anecdotal evidence and conversations with industry insiders, here is a Top 10 list of RMD Goofs, Gaffes and Blunders: 10. Rolling over an RMD. RMDs are not eligible to be rolled over. This happens most frequently when company plan assets are rolled over to an IRA. If the RMD is not taken first, you now have an excess contribution in the IRA that needs to be corrected.

QCDs and Roth Conversions: Today's Slott Report Mailbag

Question: Hello, I’ve been a follower of Ed’s expertise for over 10 years. The information has always been helpful and clearly explained. At this time, I’m looking to help a client minimize her taxes. She recently inherited an IRA from her father. She has taken the “Stretch IRA” option and is now receiving her required distributions. Can she utilize a Qualified Charitable Distribution to her church (verified 501c3) to reduce her tax liability and still maintain the stretch IRA? Answer: Yes. Qualified Charitable Distributions (QCDs) are available to beneficiaries.

October 15 Deadline for Correcting IRA Contributions is Almost Here

Are you questioning that IRA contribution you made for 2018? Maybe you made a Roth IRA contribution and then discovered your income was too high. Maybe you made a traditional IRA contribution but you were ineligible due to your age. You may have made a traditional contribution and just changed your mind. You’d rather contribute to a Roth IRA or maybe not contribute at all. There is good news if you act quickly. You can fix these issues by correcting your 2018 IRA contribution by the upcoming October 15, 2019 deadline. October 15, 2019 Deadline When it comes to the timing for correcting a contribution, the key deadline is October 15 of the year following the year for which the excess contribution is made.

RELIEF FOR JOINTLY SPONSORED RETIREMENT PLANS

If you run a small company, you may be reluctant to offer a retirement plan to your employees because of the cost of plan administration and compliance. If so, you’re not alone: approximately 38 million American workers lack access to a company savings plan. Recently-issued Department of Labor rules may provide some relief. The rules are designed to make it easier for unrelated companies to provide a retirement savings plan by joining an “association retirement plan” (ARP). Current rules. Under current rules, unrelated companies who want to participate in a jointly sponsored retirement plan are required to join a “multiple employer plan.”

Roth Conversions and Stretch IRAs: Today's Slott Report Mailbag

Question: Could you please direct me to information that tells me how any conversions I make from my regular IRA to a Roth will be taxed. My belief was that the amount of any conversion will be taxed at whatever my tax bracket is for the year in which I make the conversion. Is that correct? Therefore, all other things being equal, it is preferable to make the conversion in years where my tax bracket is lower. Thanks for your help. Joann Answer: Joann, You are 100% correct. Any conversion from a traditional to a Roth IRA will be taxed at your tax bracket for the year in which you make the conversion. (One is not allowed to make a “prior year conversion.”) As for your second comment – also yes.

Squalls Out on the Gulf Stream

As I write, Hurricane Dorian is pummeling the Bahamas, churning the ocean and producing catastrophic damage. Godspeed, Freeport. Forecasts suggest the storm will sweep north and brush the east coast of Florida, which is where I live. Hurricanes are nothing to trifle with. I have survived them before and know how to prepare. Should the storm bobble west and deliver its winds farther inland, we stand ready to evacuate. Some family members up the coast have already departed. In the interim, we will monitor the news, assess liabilities, implement strategies and act accordingly. That is our plan.

Back to School with an ESA

The calendar is turning to September and Starbucks is once again selling pumpkin spice lattes. It’s back to school time! We can all agree that education is expensive. If you have children, you know that you cannot afford to miss out on any possible option out there that may help you save. One savings tool that is frequently overlooked is the Coverdell Education Savings Account (ESA). Contributions You may establish an ESA with the custodian of your choice and the paperwork you complete is very similar to the paperwork necessary to establish an IRA. Contributions are made to the account to help save for education expenses of a designated beneficiary.
 

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