The Slott Report | Ed Slott and Company, LLC

The Slott Report

The Top 5 Laws, Rulings, and Decisions from 2018 Affecting IRAs

In my last installment, I talked about one of my two favorite beginning of the year topics when it comes to retirement planning: New Year’s Resolutions (’s-resolutions-your-retirement). Here, I want to talk about the second topic, the most important laws, regulations, rulings, and decisions from 2018 that affect IRAs going forward. We’ve seen plenty of activity over the past year, on all fronts, so I boiled the discussion down to a top 5 (with an “and-1” tacked onto the end). Recharacterization of Conversions Eliminated – Technically, this law was passed in 2017, but no list would be complete without it. Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (“TCJA”), the ability to recharacterize conversions was eliminated for any conversion completed on or after January 1, 2018. This change is a big deal. That means there are no do-overs when it comes to conversion, which in turn, also means that if you are doing a conversion, you need to be absolutely certain of two things: (1) That you accurately account for the income tax effect; and (2) that have the money (in non-tax deferred accounts) to pay the extra taxes. As a result, it’s safest to execute a conversion closer to the end of the year.

Inherited IRAs and RMDs: Today's Slott Report Mailbag

Question: Dear Ed, Thanks for all your work on the retirement frontier. I have a question…we have married clients who are age 70 (he) and 62 (she). Both clients have IRAs. The 62-year-old client just passed away. I know that the surviving spouse can rollover the decedent’s IRA into his IRA and the RMDs will begin (on the combined funds’ value) once he reaches 70.5. I also know that he can create an inherited IRA for the decedent’s IRA funds and does not have to begin taking RMDs until she would have been 70.5, but then has to take them according to the Single Life table if left in the Inherited IRA account. Is it possible for him to create an inherited IRA, receive his wife’s funds, allow them to grow for 8.5 years until she would have been 70.5, then roll them into his IRA account and use the Uniform Life table factor for future RMDs with the combined funds? It seems if this is possible, this would be the best strategy. Thanks for your help clarifying this issue. Best regards, Andy


A word we don’t see much in daily conversation is “deem.” I imagine a sweeping proclamation made by an authority figure from an ivory tower: “It is deemed that the third day of the standard workweek shall henceforth be called ‘Wacky Wednesday.’” While working “deem” into a sentence among friends can be tough, and you might get some sideways looks, the IRS has no such difficulties. “Deemed distributions” come to mind. When a retirement plan loan goes bad, a deemed distribution can rear its ugly head. A participant in a workplace retirement plan cannot take money from the plan willy-nilly. There are rules in place and consequences should one go astray. For example, participants may receive a nontaxable loan of up to 50% of their vested account balance, with a maximum loan amount being the lesser of 50% of the vested account or $50,000. That means if someone has a vested account balance of $120,000, the maximum loan amount is $50,000. On the other hand, if the vested account is only $80,000, the maximum loan limit is $40,000.

6 Rules for Tax-Free Roth IRA Distributions

Roth IRAs offer a trade-off. You decide to pay taxes now on your contribution (or conversion) in exchange for tax-free earnings down the road. Don’t miss out on Roth IRA benefits by making mistakes when you take a distribution. Here are six rules you need to know to make sure money comes out of your Roth IRA tax-free. 1. Aggregate your Roth IRAs. For tax purposes, all of your Roth IRAs are considered one Roth account. There is no tax benefit gained by keeping conversions in a separate Roth IRA from your contributions. This is sometimes called the aggregation rule. 2. Follow the ordering rules. Funds leave your Roth IRAs in a certain order. Contributed amounts are distributed first. Converted amounts are distributed next, first in, first out. Last out would be earnings.

RMDs & Roth Conversions: Today's Slott Report Mailbag

Question: Hi Mr. Slott: I turn 70 ½ years old this year (D.O.B. 5-28-49) and must commence RMDs for an IRA total asset value as of 12/31/2018. When do I have to report this RMD on my tax return - before or no later than 4/15/2019? I have all my IRA funds with one custodian. Do they calculate the RMD or do I have to calculate? Also, my spouse has an employer 401a - can she aggregate the employer plan with all her other IRA funds for the RMD and withdraw from one of the IRA accounts, or does she need to segregate these two retirement classes (IRA vs 401a) and withdraw the RMD from each? Thanks for your help and looking forward hearing from you soon. Your Friend, Bob

Easy New Year’s Resolutions for Your Retirement

When it comes to tax law and retirement planning, there are two things I like to talk about at the beginning of a new year: (1) some of most important rulings issued and laws passed in the prior year; and (2) the steps you can take today to improve your savings for retirement in the future. Since the topic du jour has been New Year’s resolutions, I want to tackle the second topic in this installment.

Roth IRAs and RMDs: Today's Slott Report Mailbag

Question: I am 64 and opened my only Roth IRA over 5 yrs ago. I originally contributed $32.5K ($6.5K for 5 yrs) to this Roth IRA but now find it at $22.5K in value. Can I close this account and take a $10K capital loss? Kaptain Kurt Answer: The option to deduct losses in an IRA or Roth IRA is no longer available. Before the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was passed, you could deduct losses as miscellaneous itemized deductions subject to a 2% floor. However, that deduction was eliminated beginning January 1, 2018. Additionally, investment losses in an IRA or retirement plan are not eligible for capital loss treatment. Thus, you cannot deduct the loss under those rules either.

It's Time to Retire

It’s Time to Retire After working with some of the best IRA minds in the business for the past 14 years, it is time for me to try out the “other side” – retirement. I have truly enjoyed working with all the advisors and clients I have met. I have spoken to large groups and small ones. I have travelled coast to coast to educate others about the IRA rules. I will miss it all. But it is time to move on and do some of the things that I have put off for a long time because I was “too busy” working to do them. It is time to slow down a little and smell the roses. Thank you everyone for all you have done for me and taught me. I leave you in good hands with Sarah, Jeremy and Andy, and, of course, with Ed.

Happy Holidays!

Happy holidays from Slott Report! We would like to wish all of our readers and their families a joyous holiday season and a Happy New Year! Thank you for taking your valuable time to read the Slott Report in 2018. Throughout the year we have heard from many of you. We welcome your questions and input. Keep it coming! The end of the year is always a time to look back. 2018 has been a busy year at the Slott Report. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act became effective and changed the tax landscape. While we said a sad goodbye to the recharacterization of Roth conversions, we welcomed new tax brackets that made conversion more attractive. The Bipartisan Budget Act brought relief to wildfire victims and expanded hardship distributions. The Supreme Court gave its stamp of approval to state statutes revoking beneficiary designation upon divorce. The list goes on and on….

HSA Contributions and RMDs: Today's Slott Report Mailbag

Question: Hello IRAHelp, I have a copy of Your Complete Retirement Planning Road Map and find it to be an extremely useful resource. I have uncertainty regarding optimum means for funding a Health Savings Account (HSA). I am 61. In 2018, I made a one-time Qualified HSA Funding Distribution (QHFD). I’ve utilized high deductible health plans (HDHP) with HSA contributions for a number of years. I am retired. In 2019, I will have a HDHP. I hope to find an optimum means to make HSA contributions until I get to Medicare. I would like to roll money from a traditional IRA into the HSA without taking taxed distributions. I welcome any help you might provide in making HSA contributions. Regards, John

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