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The Slott Report

Active Participation

Jenny earns a salary of $1,000,000. She is single and is not an active participant in a company retirement plan. Jenny can contribute $6,000 to a traditional IRA and deduct the full amount on her taxes. Benny, also unmarried, has a modified adjusted gross income of $76,000. He participates in a 401(k) at work. Benny can make a $6,000 contribution to a traditional IRA, but he is not allowed to deduct it. What gives? A person making a million can deduct an IRA contribution, but the person with a MAGI of $76,000 cannot? Is this another example of the rich getting richer? No, not really. The key factor driving eligibility for a deduction of a traditional IRA contribution is not salary or MAGI, but participation (or lack thereof) in a company retirement plan. When a person or their spouse is an “active participant” in a company retirement plan for any part of the plan year,


The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is a river of sights and colors and sound. A snappy marching band flows to an army of volunteers clutching the ropes of a six-story inflatable SpongeBob, swaying in the wind. Flag bearers and cheerleaders give way to a giant turkey in a Pilgrim hat being towed by a pick-up truck. Singers and dancers stream past and stilt walkers in Nutcracker outfits move with gaping steps. More towering balloons and more trumpets and more characters follow while the crowd oohs and ahs.

Why You Should NOT Care about the Roth IRA Five-Year Rules

Roth IRAs first arrived over twenty years ago. A lot has changed since 1998. That was the year that Google was founded and an electronic pet called a Furby was one of the most popular Christmas gifts. However, some things haven’t changed so much. Impeachment is once again all over the news and here at the Slott Report we are still being asked many questions about how the five-year rules for Roth IRA distributions work. We probably get more questions on this topic than just about any other.


Question: I am over 71 and have 2 IRAs, one in my name, the other is inherited. Can I take one RMD from the inherited IRA to satisfy both? Or must I treat them separately and do 2 separate RMDs? Thank you! Tyler Answer: Hi Tyler, You must treat the IRAs separately and take two separate RMDs. If you own more than one IRA (not inherited), you can aggregate them and take the RMD from any one (or more) of them.

Ten QCD Rules for 2019 You Need to Know

If you are charitably inclined and have an IRA, you might want to consider doing a Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD) for 2019. The deadline for a 2019 QCD is fast approaching. It is December 31, 2019 and many custodians have even earlier cutoffs. Don’t miss out on this valuable tax break. Here are ten QCD rules you need to know. 1. Must be Age 70 ½ IRA owners who are age 70½ and over are eligible to do a QCD. This is more complicated than it might sound. A QCD is only allowed if the distribution is made on or after the date you actually attain age 70 ½. It is not sufficient that you will turn 70 ½ later in the year. 2. Beneficiaries Can Do QCDs QCDs are not limited to IRA owners. An IRA beneficiary may also do a QCD. All the same rules apply, including the requirement that the beneficiary must be age 70 ½ or older at the time the QCD is done.


Earlier this month, a tax notification service released information declaring that “North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper signed legislation allowing an income exclusion for distributions from individual retirement accounts (IRAs) to charities by taxpayers age 70½ or older. Beginning with the 2019 tax year, North Carolina conforms to the federal income exclusion from personal income tax for a qualified charitable distribution from an individual retirement plan by a person who has attained the age of 70½.” Were individuals living in North Carolina ineligible to do QCDs prior to the governor signing this legislation? No – QCDs were certainly allowed in North Carolina. Every IRA owner who is otherwise eligible to do a QCD can do so. What this announcement was referring to is the impact QCDs have on state taxes.

Roth Conversions and the 60-Day Rollover Rule: Today's Slott Report Mailbag

Question: Hello Ed, I have received differing views on making a 401(k) conversion to a Roth IRA. I'm a 64 year old retired federal employee and plan to transfer all my funds from the TSP to my traditional IRA. From there I plan to make annual conversions to my long established Roth IRA. Is there an issue with the five-year rule that would prevent me from being able to make withdrawals from the Roth during the next few years? Thanks for your help. Dan Answer: Hi Dan, Your plan works! You can roll over your TSP to a traditional IRA and make series of conversions to a Roth IRA without worries about taxes and penalties on any Roth distributions. How is this possible? Well, all your converted funds can be accessed tax and penalty free because you are over age 59 ½.


Many 401(k) plans must pass two annual nondiscrimination tests: the ADP test and the ACP test. The November 11 Slott Report discusses the ADP test. This Slott Report tackles the ACP test and the options available to 401(k) plans that fail one or both tests. ACP test. While the ADP test takes into account pre-tax deferrals and Roth contributions, the ACP test considers after-tax contributions and employer matching contributions. First, the plan must calculate a contribution percentage for each employee. Your contribution percentage is the sum of your after-tax contributions and employer matching contributions, divided by your pay for the year. (If you are eligible but don’t make any after-tax contributions and don’t receive any matching contributions, your ACP percentage is 0 %.)


If you participate in a 401(k) plan, you probably know about the annual limit on the amount of your deferrals (for 2019, $19,000, or $25,000 if over age 50). But if you are a high-paid employee, another limit may apply. Welcome to the IRS nondiscrimination rules! These rules are designed to ensure that retirement plans don’t favor “highly compensated employees” (HCEs) at the expense of other employees. In the 401(k) context, the rules limit the amount of deferrals that HCEs can make, depending on the level of deferrals all other employees make. (The nondiscrimination rules don’t apply to solo 401(k) plans.) HCE’s. You’re an HCE for a particular year if: you, or certain family members, own more than 5% of the plan sponsor during that year or the prior year; or

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.

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