Figuring out how to minimize the amount Uncle Sam will take from your retirement money is a cornerstone of your retirement planning. Yes, you will likely be in a much lower tax bracket as a retiree, but a lot of your write offs are going to vanish, as well: things like mortgage interest deductions may go by the wayside.
Even your Social Security money could be taxable, and you’ll need a strategy to stay in the lowest tax bracket possible if you start drawing on IRA/401K funds.
Many Factors Will Impact Your Retirement Tax Scenario
As you plot your retirement path, there are many factors that can incrementally affect your tax burden. Whether or not you still have a mortgage, dependents at home or in college, significant health care costs or other sources of income besides Social Security are all examples of these. Not weighing them may mean unnecessary surprises in your retirement landscape.
IRAs and More: Check in With Your Financial Planner
There are nuances between the tax structure of IRAs, 401Ks and Roth IRAs that may create a significant impact on a) which one you choose b) your tax burden in retirement. (For example, a Roth 401(k) that you’ve held for at least five years can be drawn upon tax-free once you hit the magic age of 59 ½ because it was funded with after-tax dollars.) The factors are highly dependent on your income and future tax rates, but the takeaway is this: if you’re not clear on how your investment vehicles will function in context of your overall tax burden in the long run, play out your scenarios with an expert at your side who can better illuminate the pros and cons.
Health Savings Accounts
As Barron’s Reshma Kapadia reported earlier this year, “The average couple still needs $285,000 to fund health-care retirement costs—and that is before factoring in long-term care, dental or the premiums paid for Medicare for higher-income couples.”
It’s safe to say a significant chunk of your retirement money will be dedicated to keeping you health, spry and ready to enjoy your family and all retirement has to offer. HSAs (health savings accounts), if used for health expenses, offer multiple layers of protection against taxes and may be a critical part of your strategy.
Don’t Guess or Assume
With so many options and tricky wrinkles in both investment vehicles and tax structure, don’t blithely assume that your tax burden is automatically going to decrease once you’ve retired. This is truly too important to guess at; sit down with your financial planner or tax adviser to lessen the likelihood of nasty surprises in your Golden Years.
These scenarios are tricky and best not left to guesswork. It is recommended that you consult with a professional tax preparer for the best possible outcome to your particular situation.