The Slott Report | Ed Slott and Company, LLC

The Slott Report

Required Minimum Distributions & Qualified Charitable Distributions: Today's Slott Report Mailbag

Question: I have a question about avoiding RMDs for a still-working 73 year-old in a 401k plan. I realize most people my age are looking forward to retirement, but I love what I do and am delighted to continue to be able to work. I am about to change employers and would like to request a “direct rollover” from my old employer (who I still work for as of this writing) to my new employer (once all of the i’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed). There will be/should be no gap in employment once all of the employment paperwork is complete and I turn in my official notice. (Not sure if that fact makes a difference). Is there a requirement that I take an RMD in the year I change employers in conjunction with the change? I do not know if my “old” (existing) employer will do a “direct rollover” to the new employer, or for that matter, if the new employer will accept a “direct rollover,” but I would much rather delay RMD’s against this account as long as possible. Forewarned is forearmed and I would appreciate your take on this.

“Wrong Airport, Dude”

After a recent Ed Slott conference in Dallas, Texas, I found myself sitting in a hotel café, surrounded by travel bags, having pizza with a few meeting attendees with later flights. “Anyone want to share an Uber to the airport?” asked a lunch guest. “Sure,” I said. “I’ll join you.” After all, the Uber was already ordered, and I am always more comfortable at my gate. Never know how long it will take to get through security. The ride to the airport was pleasant, and the conversation enjoyable. I was headed to the East Coast, and she was headed west. Upon arrival, she jumped out at the Southwest terminal, and I told the Uber driver, “I am American Airlines.”

Understanding the Same Property Rule for IRAs

If you are planning on doing a 60-day rollover with your IRA funds, be sure you understand same-property rule. This is one of the lesser known rules that apply to rollovers and is one many taxpayers find confusing. For IRA-to-IRA or Roth-to-Roth 60-day rollovers, the same property received is the property that must be rolled over. These rules also apply to SIMPLE and SEP IRAs. An individual cannot receive a distribution of cash and then roll over shares of stock that he purchases with the cash or that he currently owns. If cash is distributed from an IRA, then cash must be rolled over within 60 days.

Retirement Account Rollovers and Stretch IRAs: Today's Slott Report Mailbag

Question: I recently inherited a traditional IRA from my mother. I mistakenly asked for a lump sum to be paid to me by the custodian. I realized after the fact that I wanted to set up a stretch IRA. I haven’t cashed the check yet. Can I just return it or have them stop payment on the check and change my option to an inherited beneficiary IRA? Thank You, Paul Answer: Paul, Once the distribution is paid to you, you cannot roll it over to an inherited IRA. Since the custodian properly followed your original instructions for a lump-sum payout and the check was already issued, you will probably be locked into the result.

Using a Roth IRA to Pay for Higher Education? Be Careful!

With college costs almost certain to keep increasing each year, parents need to explore every possible tool available to meet the challenge of paying for higher education. Roth IRAs are not just for retirement savings. They can play a vital role in education savings. However, the rules can be tricky. Before you take a distribution from your Roth IRA to pay that tuition bill, be sure you understand the tax consequences. Contributions and Conversions If you are thinking of tapping your Roth IRA to pay for college, there is good news if you just withdraw contributions or converted funds. A Roth IRA distribution of tax-year contributions will be tax and penalty-free if used for higher education.

Roth IRA: Two Clocks

Roth IRAs are extremely popular, and why wouldn’t they be? Tax-free earnings over a lifetime can add up to a serious chunk of change. However, in order to receive those tax-free earnings, rules must be followed and timeframes must be met. Despite the ubiquity of Roth IRAs, there is confusion around what those rules and timeframes are. In order to maximize Roth benefits, it is imperative to understand the central guidelines around the ever-present 5-year windows. In fact, there are two primary Roth IRA clocks to consider.

Required Minimum Distributions: Today's Slott Report Mailbag

Good morning, We have a client that retired on 1/2/2019 and he was over 70.5. He was not required to take his RMD in 2018 from his 401k since he was still working (he did take his 2018 RMD from his IRA). He rolled that 401k into his IRA this year (which was allowed in his plan since he retired in 2019), so we are trying to determine what his IRA RMD amount should be for this year. Should we calculate based on the 12/31/18 value of his 401k, or the amount that was rolled over into his IRA this year? We are thinking it would be the 12/31/18 value, but wanted to verify.

Avoiding the Early Distribution Penalty

To discourage early access to amounts invested in IRAs and company retirement plans, the IRS imposes a 10% early distribution penalty on withdrawals before age 59 ½. Even though Roth IRAs consist of after-tax contributions, the penalty could also apply to converted amounts or earnings. There are several exceptions to the 10% early distribution penalty, which means taxpayers should be familiar with these before electing a distribution. Doing so will help them possibly avoid this penalty.

Two Popular QCD Questions

In the wake of tax reform, more IRA owners are making use of the Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD) strategy. This is a side effect of fewer people choosing to itemize and instead going with the larger standard deduction. If you are not itemizing, you cannot claim a tax deduction for your charitable contribution. To get a tax break for money given to charity, many savvy IRA owners are increasingly turning to the QCD. With the number of QCDs rapidly increasing, so are the questions as to how this tax break works. Here are two QCD questions we are hearing a lot these days.

Checking All the Boxes with Net Unrealized Appreciation

et Unrealized Appreciation (“NUA”) is a powerful tool that people with employer stock in company plans should be aware of. Under this tax concept, the gains on the employer stock that are distributed according to the NUA rules are subject to long term capital gains rates when sold. That could be a huge tax break for some people. Normally, distributions from a company plan are subject to ordinary income tax rates, which while dependent on income are generally going to be higher than long-term capital gains rates. Of course, there’s a catch: the basis in that stock is taxed at ordinary income tax rates in the year of the distribution. Because of this, the first step in any NUA analysis is to determine whether the company stock is highly appreciated enough to justify accelerating the taxes.

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