The Slott Report | Ed Slott and Company, LLC

The Slott Report

Getting the Cream Out of the Coffee

The pro-rata rule is the formula used to determine how much of a distribution is taxable when an IRA account consists of both pre-tax and after-tax (basis) dollars. The rule requires that all SEP, SIMPLE, and traditional IRAs be considered as one giant “Starbucks Venti mug of money” for every distribution or Roth conversion. When both pre- and after-tax dollars exist, one cannot just withdraw or convert the basis. (It is important to note that Roth IRAs are NOT factored into the pro-rata equation.) A popular analogy for pro-rata is the “cream in the coffee” comparison. Once a spoonful of cream goes into a cup of coffee, it becomes inexorably mixed and can never be removed as just cream. Each future sip will consist of a percentage of cream and a percentage of coffee.

SIMPLE IRAs and 72(t) Payments: Today's Slott Report Mailbag

Question: I am a financial advisor and want to be clear on something. If a client has a SIMPLE IRA that they are contributing to and have an IRA and are 70.5, can they aggregate the distributions for both and remove from the IRA? Wanda Answer: Aggregation of RMDs is a tricky area and we see lots of mistakes. SIMPLE IRAs can be confusing as well because sometimes these accounts follow the IRA rules, and sometimes they follow plan rules.

Which Life Expectancy Table Do I Use?

When it comes time to calculate your required minimum distribution (RMD) from your IRA, you may wonder which life expectancy table to use. Last updated by the IRS back in 2002, there are three possible tables for IRA owners and beneficiaries, and they can all be found in IRS Publication 590-B. The three tables are the Uniform Lifetime Table, the Joint Life Expectancy Table, and the Single Life Expectancy Table. Uniform Lifetime Table If you are taking RMDs from your IRA during your lifetime, this is most likely going to be your table. This table is used by most IRA owners for figuring lifetime RMDs from their IRAs. The only IRA owners who will not use this table are those whose spouse is their sole beneficiary for the entire year and is more than 10 years younger.

The Two-Year Holding Period for SIMPLE IRAs

SIMPLE IRAs are not so simple. One factor that makes SIMPLE IRAs tricky is that they are subject to unique rules, found nowhere else in the tax code, such as the two-year holding period. Two-Year Holding Period When does the two-year holding period begin? This is a question that often creates confusion. The two-year holding period begins with the date the employee’s first contribution is deposited to the SIMPLE IRA. It is not the date employment begins or even the date you become eligible to participate in the SIMPLE IRA plan. 25% Early Distribution Penalty Distributions taken from a SIMPLE IRA before age 59 ½ are subject to an early withdrawal penalty of 25% when withdrawn during the two-year holding period.

72(t) & RMDs: Today's Slott Report Mailbag

Question: IRA HELP, I’ve got a client who is retiring early. He has roughly $1,000,000 in an IRA now which he could initiate a 72(t) with. That will not generate enough cash flow to support their needs. He also has an additional $3 million in his employer’s ESOP which, under the terms of the ESOP, will not be available for an IRA rollover until August of the year after he retires. Can he do a 72(t) with his current IRA and then when he rolls out the funds from the ESOP can he do a 2nd 72(t) with that? In other words, can you have two IRA’s both with 72(t)s at the same time? Jason Answer: Jason, Yes, a person can have two different 72(t) payment schedules from two different IRAs, but tread lightly. You did not mention your client’s age in your email, which has a significant impact on 72(t) distributions. For the uninitiated, a 72(t) payment schedule allows a person under age 59 ½ to tap their IRA accounts penalty free. However, the payments must continue for the LONGER of five years or until you reach age 59½. If your client is only 45, he is looking at a minimum 15 years’ worth of payments. A lot can happen in that time period, and 72(t) schedules cannot be changed. The payments are ineligible to be rolled over, and any missteps along the way could wreck the entire 72(t) schedule, potentially resulting in a 10% early distribution penalty on all previous distributions. Question: Dear Mr. Slott and team: I hope you can help me. Despite reading much of the IRS web information, and many other websites on RMDs from IRAs, I have some remaining confusion on taking my first RMD. Here's the situation I have questions about:

IRS Announces HSA Inflation-Adjusted Limits for 2020

The IRS has announced the 2020 inflation-adjusted limits for Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). How an HSA Works An HSA is a tax-free account that is used to pay for qualified medical expenses that aren’t covered by insurance. It is similar to an IRA in that it’s a custodial or trust account set up with a financial institution owned and controlled by the individual, not the employer. An HSA is designed to be used in conjunction with a high deductible health plan (HDHP). The HSA can be used to pay for health expenses until the plan deductible is met. The HDHP would then cover the high-cost medical expenses.

Scientist Milton is Still Working

Employer-sponsored retirement plans, like 401(k) and 403(b) plans, have some definitive benefits vs. IRA accounts. For example, company plans provide an unlimited amount of protection from bankruptcy, while IRA contributions and earnings maintain a current bankruptcy protection cap of $1,362,800. In addition, employer-sponsor plans can allow loans – IRAs cannot - and retirees of certain plans (state and local public safety employees) can gain penalty-free access to plan dollars as early as age 50. Barring an exception, IRA owners must wait until age 59 ½ before they can access their funds penalty free. Another feature that employer-sponsored retirement plans offer that IRAs do not is the ability to delay required minimum distributions (RMDs).

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.

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