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4 Year-Long Tax Tips for Retirees

Whether you’re just easing out of the workforce or you’ve been in retirement for a few years, making the right financial moves is critical. Whether you’re working with an advisor or handling your own finances, there is one important goal during retirement - to protect your wealth from unnecessary taxes. 

In many cases, there are ways to avoid owing more taxes, but usually, this requires proactive action beyond tax season. Here are four suggestions you can utilize throughout the year to help minimize your tax obligations in retirement.

Tip #1: Take Your Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs)

An RMD is an amount that must be withdrawn from your retirement account. These required withdrawals begin when you, the retirement plan account owner, reach age 72. The rules apply to employer-sponsored retirement plans, traditional IRA plans, and Roth 401(k) accounts. However, they do not apply to Roth IRAs when the account owner is still alive. 

Some IRA custodians and retirement plan administrators might find out what your RMD requirements are for you, but the responsibility ultimately falls on you. To learn about your RMD requirements, the IRS provides life expectancy tables to utilize according to your circumstances. If you do not withdraw the RMD (or the correct amount), the amount not withdrawn will be taxed at 50%, which is why it’s critical to take your RMDs and withdraw the appropriate amount.

It’s important to note that as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), passed on March 27th, 2020, RMDs are not required for the remainder of 2020. Read more about the CARES Act here.

Tip #2: Manage Your Income Combinations 

As a retiree, a portion of your income will likely come from Social Security. Not all of your benefits are taxable, and there are ways to minimize or, at times, eliminate taxes on your Social Security benefits. 

If half of your Social Security benefits in addition to your other income is higher than the base amount for your status, your benefits will be taxable. By strategically managing all of your income sources (such as pension payments, dividends, or part-time jobs), it’s possible to lower the portion of benefits that will be taxed. Rules regarding Social Security income taxes also vary from state to state, so always check with your state regulations to determine the best solution for you.

Tip #3: Figure Out if You Need to Pay Quarterly Taxes (If Not, You May Decide to do it Anyway) 

If you don’t have taxes withheld automatically, you may need to pay estimated tax payments. Individuals who are expected to owe $1,000 or more, or those whose withholding and refundable credits are 1) less than 90% of the tax owed or 2) at least 100% of the tax on the previous year’s return, must pay estimated tax. 

In some cases, you might decide to pay quarterly taxes, even if you are not required to, to avoid the inconvenience of paying a large sum all at once. If you miss a payment or underpay, you may be charged a penalty.

Tip #4: If You’re Moving to a New State, Get to Know Its Tax Laws

If you’re relocating to a new state during retirement, consider the impact of the move on your financial situation, as tax laws vary according to the state. For example, some states, like Florida and New Hampshire, don’t tax on income or only tax on dividends and interest. On the other hand, they may have higher property taxes. For example, New Hampshire’s property taxes are high compared to the rest of the country.  

In many cases, retirees are working with a fixed amount of wealth to last throughout retirement, which is why taking the right financial steps is essential. By working with an advisor and keeping these four tips in mind during the year, you can make sure you’re not paying more than you need to. 


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