Income Planning Plan
Most retirement plan participants use pretax assets to fund their employer-sponsored plans such as 401(k) and 403(b) accounts, or they claim a tax deduction for amounts contributed to their Traditional IRAs. In both cases, these contributions can help to reduce the individual’s taxable income for the year to which the contribution applies. However, it is also possible to contribute amounts to employer-sponsored plans on an after-tax basis, and for IRAs, contributions can be non-deductible. The advantage of accumulating after-tax assets in a retirement account is that when they are distributed, the amounts will be tax- and penalty-free. However, this benefit is realized only if the necessary steps are taken.
Keeping Track of Your After-Tax Assets
Reaping the benefits of this strategy starts with good record-keeping and clear communication with your plan administrator and the IRS.
Your Qualified Plan Account
The administrator for your qualified plan is responsible for keeping track of which portion of your balance is attributed to after-tax assets and pretax assets. However, it helps if you check your statements periodically to ensure that the tabulations match what you think they should be. This will allow you to clarify possible discrepancies with the plan administrator.
Your IRA custodian is not required to keep track of the after-tax balance in your IRA, and most, if not all, do not. As the owner of the IRA, you are responsible for keeping track of such balances, and this can be accomplished by filing IRS Form 8606.
If you make a non-deductible contribution to your Traditional IRA, or roll over after-tax assets from your qualified plan account to your IRA, you must file IRS Form 8606 for the year the amount is contributed to the IRA. While the IRS does not currently require Form 8606 to be filed for rollover of after-tax amounts, it may be a good idea to record such amounts for your records. Form 8606 lets the IRS know that the amount represents after-tax assets, and it helps you keep track of the balance of your IRA that should be tax-free when distributed. Form 8606 must also be filed for any year in which distributions occur from any of your Traditional, SEP or SIMPLE IRAs and you have accumulated after-tax amounts in any of these accounts. Make sure you read the important filing instructions that accompany Form 8606 – they provide details on the sections of the form that must be completed.
Tax Treatment of After-Tax Assets
Generally, your plan administrator will indicate the taxable portion of amounts distributed from your qualified plan account on the Form 1099-R that you receive for the year. If the amount is not properly indicated on the 1099-R, you may want to request written confirmation from the plan administrator of the portion of the distribution that is attributable to after-tax assets. This will help to ensure you include the correct amount in your taxable income for the year.
With the exception of ‘return of excess contributions,’ your IRA custodian is not required to make a distinction between the taxable and non-taxable portion of amounts distributed from your Traditional IRA. You must provide that information on your income tax return by indicating the entire amount of the distribution versus the amount that is taxable. For more information, see the instructions for line 15a of IRS Form 1040. The aforementioned Form 8606 will help you determine the taxable and non-taxable portions of amounts distributed from your Traditional IRA.
Pro-Rata Treatment of Distributions
If your qualified plan or 403(b) account or Traditional IRA includes after-tax amounts, distributions usually include a pro-rata amount of your pretax and after-tax balance. For this purpose, all of your Traditional, SEP and SIMPLE IRAs are treated as one account. For instance, assume that you made an average of $20,000 in after-tax contributions to your Traditional IRA over the years and your Traditional IRA also includes pretax assets of $180,000, attributed to rollover of pretax assets and deductible contributions. Distributions from your IRA will include a pro-rata amount of pretax and after-tax assets. Let’s look at an example using these numbers.
John has several IRAs, which consist of the following balances:
- Traditional IRA No. 1, which includes his non-deductible (after-tax) contributions of $20,000
- Traditional IRA No. 2, which includes a rollover from his 401(k) plan in the amount of $150,000
- Traditional IRA No. 3, which is really a SEP IRA, which includes SEP contributions of $30,000
In 2013, John withdraws $20,000 from IRA No. 1. John must include $18,000 as taxable income from the $20,000 he withdrew. This is because all of John’s Traditional, SEP and SIMPLE IRAs are treated as one IRA for the purposes of determining the tax treatment of distributions, when John has basis (after-tax assets) in any of his Traditional, SEP or SIMPLE IRAs.
The following formula can be used to determine the amount of a distribution that will be treated as non-taxable:
Basis / Account Balance x Distribution Amount = Amount Not Subject To Tax
Using the figures in the example above, the formula would work as follows:
$20,000 / $200,000 x $20,000 = $2,000
Since IRS Form 8606 includes a built-in formula to determine the taxable amount of distributions from your Traditional IRAs, you may not need to use this formula for distributions from your IRA.
For qualified plan accounts that include a balance of after-tax amounts, distributions are usually pro-rated to include amounts from pretax and after-tax balance. This means that, similar to IRAs, you can’t choose to distribute only your after-tax balance. However, certain exceptions apply. For instance, if your account includes after-tax balances accrued before 1986, these amounts may be distributed in full, resulting in the entire amounts being non-taxable, rather than being pro-rated.
Rollover of After-Tax Balance
If your retirement account balance includes after-tax amounts, whether these amounts can be rolled over depends on the type of plan to which the rollover is being made.
The following is a summary of the rollover rules for these amounts:
- IRA to IRA: All rollover eligible amounts can be rolled over to an IRA. This includes after-tax amounts.
- IRA to Qualified Plan/403(b): All rollover eligible amounts can be rolled over to a qualified plan/403(b), provided the plan allows it. However, this does not include after-tax amounts – such amounts cannot be rolled from an IRA to a qualified plan/403(b).
- Qualified Plan/403(b) to Traditional IRA: All rollover eligible amounts can be rolled over to a Traditional IRA. This includes after-tax amounts.
- Qualified Plan/403(b) to Qualified Plan/403(b): All rollover eligible amounts can be rolled over to another qualified plan/403(b), provided the plan allows it. This includes after-tax amounts, provided these amounts are transacted as direct rollovers.
The Bottom Line
Bear in mind, this is just an overview of the rules that apply to your after-tax balance in your retirement account. Having a thorough understanding of the rules will ensure that you include the right amount in your taxable income for the year you receive a distribution from your retirement account, thereby not paying taxes on amounts that should be tax-free. As always, be sure to consult your tax professional for assistance to make sure that your after-tax assets are treated correctly on your tax return, and so that you know what tax forms to file each year.
We all know they’re coming . . . the dog days of summer. As parents or grandparents, we love having the kiddos home and the absence of the daily grind of the bus, lunch-making and homework, but with every upside, there is a downside. And for kids in the summer, it’s boredom!
For this reason, parents spend a good amount of time searching and registering their kids for activities to keep them engaged and out of trouble. With so many options available, where do you start? Where do you find activities that are of interest to your kids, while also being kind to your wallet?
A good place to start is online. There are some great parent resources available that provide parents the opportunity to search different activities — all relevant to your child.
For instance, ACTIVEkids.com is an easy-to-use website for parents to discover and register kids for activities, classes and camps. ACTIVEkids enables parents to find a broad spectrum of activities from art seminars to dance classes to local summer camps — search by gender, age and interests to find activities that are the most relevant to parent and child. It has a database of more than 120,000 activities nationwide and serves kids ages four to 18.
Another option is the local YMCA. If you’re not familiar with the YMCA in your area, we suggest you check it out. It’s a great family organization for kids and adults of all ages. Their programs focus on youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Many local locations offer health and fitness programs that help children (and adults) to increase energy, decrease stress, prevent illness, maintain a healthy lifestyle and just enjoy quality time with family and friends.
The Y offers a number of different summer programs that promote positive self-esteem, good decision making and self-help and care. There are likely to be one or two great options for your child.
The recreation department in your town is another great place to look for activities — and they are usually very affordable. Most towns offer programs from tennis and swim lessons to painting and music classes. The programs are usually run by local experts and are located right in town. Plus, if you coordinate with some friends, you might be able to catch a morning break that can be enjoyed and filled with some “you” time.
Wherever you go to find fun, engaging activities for your kids, just make sure you remember to carve out some simple, relaxing family time, too. The summers fly by much faster than the school year.
Some married couples watch a newly divorced friend re-enter the dating pool and think, “Oh thank goodness we don’t have to do that.” Similarly, many older workers who are secure in their career or job thank their lucky stars when they learn that another mature worker has been laid off or, for one reason or another, is having to look for a new job.
Let’s face it, some things are simply easier for young folks, and dating and job seeking are generally two of them.
But the reality is, many mid-career workers have had to work hard to find a new job during this recent period of high unemployment. At the same time, more people are undergoing career changes midway through their career — and that in itself can cause stress. But here’s some good news: According to a 2014 survey by the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER), a large majority of mid-career workers who sought a career change (whether voluntary or forced) after age 45 found that their new positions led to less stress and felt their results were successful. In fact, 72 percent of respondents agreed with the statement, “I feel like a new person.” Sixty-five percent said their stress levels dropped.
One explanation for the lower stress may be explained by another study that revealed older workers frequently move from a management position to a non-management position. And here’s some more good news: Half of the survey participants reported that although they may have initially taken a lower-paying position, eventually their pay increased.
Other findings from the study reveal that people with some college education fare best when it comes to making a career change. First of all, workers with no more than a high school diploma are less likely to change careers. Second, professionals with graduate degrees are also less likely to change careers, presumably because they have spent so much time acquiring specialized skills and knowledge that it may be difficult to translate that experience into a new career. So it turns out that your basic college graduate with a general BS or BA degree is more likely to make a career change.
Another interesting fact is that older men are slightly more likely to make a career change than older women.
If you are mid-career or later, you may have noticed that your salary bumps aren’t quite what they used to be. That’s because the greatest salary jumps come between the ages of 25 and 35, and then earnings begin to plateau. In fact, a recent study found that by age 45 to 55, earnings are considered to be shrinking because they no longer keep up with inflation.
Here’s another interesting fact from the same study. Higher income earners who experience a salary disruption, such as being laid off, are less likely to recover their previous level of earnings than lower-income earners. At the lowest income levels, a negative shock is likely to return to a previous high level within 10 years, and subsequent increases generally continue. At higher income levels, an income decline may or may not return to a previous high level, and subsequent increases tend to be low.
Does age discrimination still exist in the job market? Most research concludes it does. In today’s job market, about half of all baby boomer job seekers say they felt they were discriminated against due to their age, at least in terms of working as much as they would have liked. One study — narrowly focused only on women seeking entry-level positions — nonetheless found that younger workers were 40 percent more likely to be called back for an interview than older workers.
However, legal recourse for age discrimination is much harder to prove than it is for race or gender discrimination. For one thing, it’s difficult to tell if an employer rejects an older applicant due to age or because he or she is overqualified for the position and therefore seeking a higher salary than is necessary to pay for that particular role. It is also difficult to tell if an older worker is laid off due to his or her age or is one of many as part of a workforce reduction or reorganization.
In order to win a lawsuit for age discrimination, there must be concrete evidence to that effect. For example, either written documentation (such as an email or memo) or witnesses to a verbal confrontation in which a supervisor referred to the worker as some type of derogatory term that indicates ageism discrimination.
Late last year, another study found that it takes five months longer for an older worker to find a job than a younger person with similar qualifications. Unfortunately, the study could not determine if older people are less aggressive in their search because they have enough financial resources to be patient and discerning.
Boston College Center for Retirement Research. April 23, 2015. “Late-Career Job Changes Reduce Stress.”http://squaredawayblog.bc.edu/squared-away/late-career-job-changes-reduce-stress. Accessed May 6, 2015.
Boston College Center for Retirement Research. April 28, 2015. “Around 50, U.S. Workers’ Earnings Fall.”http://squaredawayblog.bc.edu/squared-away/around-50-u-s-workers%E2%80%99-earnings-fall/. Accessed May 6, 2015.
Boston College Center for Retirement Research. April 21, 2015. “Employer Bias Against Aging Boomers?”http://squaredawayblog.bc.edu/squared-away/employers-bias-against-aging-boomers/. Accessed May 6, 2015.
Palliative care emerged in the 1980s as a holistic, team approach to supporting patients suffering from serious medical conditions. It is not the same thing as hospice care. While both focus on making the patient more comfortable, the difference is that hospice is called for when the patient has a prognosis of impending death. Palliative care, quite on the other hand, focuses on life.
The difference between the two is significant, but not widely known. In fact, more than 78 percent of adults in the United States are not exactly sure what palliative care is.1 Even some members of the medical community believe that palliative care is just a synonym for hospice. Some doctors understand the difference but don’t recommend palliative care because they’re concerned the patient may interpret it to mean hospice and believe that they’re dying.