2023 Retirement contribution limits

Retirement Plan Contribution Limits Are Increasing Come 2023

2023 is upon us and an important factor to tax-advantaged accounts and plans is the contribution limits the IRS sets. This year the contribution limits were increased more than they have been in the past due to historically high inflation and cost-of-living. Here is a general overview for 2023:

401(k) Plans

In 2023, for 401(k) plans the contribution limit has been increased to $22,500. This contribution limit applies to most 457 plans and 403(b)s.

For those over 50, the catch up contribution limit is increasing to $7500. So those over 50 in 2023 can contribute up to $30,000.

Defined Contribution Plans and SEPs

For these plans, the contribution limit is increasing by $5000 from 2022’s limit: $66,000.

SIMPLE Plans

Increasing just over a $1000, these plans can contribute $15,500. The catch-up for those over 50 has been increased to $3500.

IRAs

While the over 50 catch-up limit is not being changed for IRAs, the annual contribution limit is being raised to $6500.

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Retirement Planning is a Game of Chess

Keep Retirement Strategy in Mind This Holiday Season

With the holidays rapidly approaching, a goal often set during these times is to diversify your retirement funds. With retirement investment there are two main focuses: investing/saving and distribution. During retirement you are at your most vulnerable financially because a regular paycheck is not coming in. It is the longest self-imposed period of unemployment most folks face. The following is fantastic advice for when you are trying to invest.

Your retirement planned around living and may seem expensive to support. Remember, roughly 55% of folk live beyond their life expectancy. So, it is important to plan for the long haul. A long-term investment sustains a better savings, but there are risks being found there. Short-term investments usually have higher yields. It is important to balance these.

Spending now can save more money for the long road. An example of this is withdrawing properly to avoid provisional income.

Be reasonable when it comes to expectations. Historical returns may not be what your portfolio does. Returns typically fall below the average. However, this can be balance with a diversification of accounts. Though we have historically low interest rates, this means bond returns will not impact retirement much. This will affect those who have retired most.

Heedless of where you are at in retirement planning, relying solely on plans that require higher returns is dangerous. If you expect to make more in the future, that means spending much more upfront. Stocks carry a higher risk than bonds, so they will yield higher return rates. Simply put: Spending more today and expecting higher returns in the future is risky business. The risks and consequences must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

Strategy should always be a top priority. Diversifying your retirement portfolio is just a start. Considering all the risks you will face in retirement is the next stop. Putting all your funds in one bucket will expose you to much more risk—taxable, tax-deferred, and tax-free. Integrate different approaches and accounts to combat inflation, tax rates, rate of return, and even long-term care.

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Crafty holidays savings to think about when retirement planning

Crafty Savings as You Plan for Retirement this Holiday Season

As retirement approaches, learning ways to spend less during the holidays is helpful! Shifting focus to doing so before retirement can also prepare you for when you’re living in the longest, self-imposed period of unemployment—heedless of what your retirement portfolio may look like!

Rethinking budget is a great first step. If you already have holiday decorations, don’t buy more; especially if they’re still in mint condition. This way it is one less expense on the holiday budget. Decide how much you want to spend on gifts overall and allocate so much to food. Remembering, be strict about your budget limits. If you can spend even less, do it!

For gifts, decide for who and how much per person. If you are able, shop in-stores versus online. This will save you shipping costs. If you want to gift a lot of people, consider doing smaller gifts for everyone. If there are couples on your holiday gift list, provide them with a gift card for a date night. The best gifts are also gifts homemade. Mass bake cookies or bread and give those out! You could always get crafty if you are able and make ornaments or simple photos collages. Lastly, another great idea would be the gift experiences. Much like giving a couple a gift card for a night out, take the grandkids together for a fun day to a public place such as a trampoline activity center or take your kids out of dinner once the holiday season calms down.

Meals, small or big, should be evaluated. If you are typically the one to hold a large family dinner in your home, see if family members can split making sides and desserts. Do a potluck. If you have done bigger family holiday dinners and are not feeling up to it, be honest with you family. Tell them you wish to not host the holiday this year or limit how many people you have over. This way the cost is either split up or at least reduced.

Take advantage of gift bundles and sales. A lot of places do gift bundles for things such as sample sizes for lotions or mini candle sets. Look into places that do gift card/certificate deals. Some food chain restaurants will give a packet of coupons if $50, for example, is spent on gift cards. Sometimes places will event gift “free” gift card money for a set amount on gift cards—buy $25, get $5 included.

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living a long life comes with the need for more

Annuities: A Longevity Risk Solution

What makes an annuity tick? Short answer: Annuities are contracts made with an insurance company. Your annuity can be personalized to fit your exact needs.

The downside? The options can be overwhelming.

Types of Annuities

Fixed, variable, and fixed-indexed annuities are the three main types. Each comes with benefits and specific levels of risk based on your needs.

TypeInterestRiskReward
FixedGuaranteedLowPredicted
VariableCoordinated to investmentsHighUnpredictable, yield varies
Fixed-indexedPreset, linked to stock market indexMediumCapped

Fixed Annuity

With the least risk and the most predictability, fixed annuities are contracted with a set interest rate. The only time the interest may vary is depending on terms of the contract with the insurance company. For example, per contract, sometimes the interest rate may reset after several years.

Variable Annuity

The variable annuity promotes higher yield but comes with the greatest risk. The interest rate is directly linked to an investment portfolio. Payments from the annuity are not consistent. If the investments are doing well, the payments will increase. If they are not doing well, the payments will drastically decrease.

Fixed-indexed Annuity

As middle grounds for fixed and variable annuities, this annuity comes to a compromised agreement. The contract carries lower risk and has a potential higher yield than fixed annuities. Thus, the interest rate will not sink below a present amount, but the rate is tied to a specific stock market index and could potentially rise.

Payment Arrangements

Immediate annuity, also income annuity, is when the holder begins receiving payments within a few years after the contract is purchased.

Deferred annuity is the most common in retirement, the most ideal to streamline retirement income for CPAs. These payments are started at a specific age while investment grows tax deferred.

Longevity Risk & Annuities

Since annuities guarantee lifetime income, they are a means to protect against the longevity risk your retirement will face. Payments are based on the health, age, and life expectancy of the annuitant holder. Note: The longer a person is calculated to life, the longer the payments may be.

Lifetime annuities: guarantee of an income stream for the holder’s lifetime. Often, the payments extend to beneficiaries after the holder’s passing. This covers your retirement and serves as inheritance for family.

Fixed-period annuities: guarantee of payment for a set period, also called term-certainty. These periods are typically 20-30 years. Moreover, the payments here are not as impacted by age and life expectancy of holder since they are a set period.

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all about rmds in retirement

How Should I Take My RMDs in Retirement?

Using tax-advantaged retirement accounts to save during your working years is a smart move. By using these accounts, you are deferring taxes. However, this postponement does eventually come with an expiration date. The government will come looking for its share. This bill comes in the form of calculated required minimum distributions (RMDs) beginning when you are age 72.

What are RMDs?

Required minimum distributions are withdrawals from your traditional retirement accounts such as 401(k) or an IRA. The amount is dependent on your savings and life expectancy. RMDs are calculated and serve to collect taxes on money that has grown tax-free. CPAs oftentimes do not want to take multiple RMDs because it increases taxability. However, whether liked or not, after 72, RMDs are mandatory.

How are RMDs calculated?

RMDs are calculated based on life expectancy and the total you have in your retirement accounts. Using one of three IRS tables, your life expectancy is given a factor number which is then divided into the funds subject to RMDs to determine what you need to withdraw.

What is the best way to take RMDs?

While the best way is always to consider your individual circumstances, there are two common ways to take RMDs. First, you may want to wait until the last possible minute which would be Dec. 31 of that year to maximize your returns. Secondly, you may want the regularity of a paycheck, so you could opt into 12 monthly payouts of the RMD.

Why You Should Never Skip & How to Ease Withdrawals

Skipping an annual RMD will result in heavy penalties versus what the income tax may have been. You would be fined a 50% excise tax of the RMD you should have taken. For instance, if you did not take your RMD of $10,000 you would have to pay a levy of $5000 to the IRS—an amount far greater than the income tax you would have needed to pay. Unfortunately, no catchups would be permitted in future years and no credit is given for taking more in past years.

The bill comes due to all tax-advantaged retirement accounts. Unfortunately, there is no way to avoid this, but there are a few ways to lighten the toll. Some strategies are following:

Charitable Donation

After calculating your RMD you can donate up to $100,000 to an authorized charity of your choice via a qualified charitable distribution (QCD). A QCD does not add to your taxable income, therefore you are lessened your tax bill and are providing funds for good causes. Note the QCD must be directly made to the charity. If you accepted it as an RMD and then donated, you may still be responsible for the taxes.

The Still-Working Exemption

CPAs not retiring at 72 are exempt, but the exception only applies to the current employer’s retirement plan. So, while it does not defer all RMDs, it helps! If you are approaching 72, consolidating your retirement accounts into your current employer’s plan may be a great idea.

QLAC Delays

You could use funds from a traditional retirement account such as your IRA or 401(k) to purchase a qualified longevity annuity contract (QLAC). Doing so may reduce your RMDs. As a deferred annuity, QLAC payouts can be put off until age 85, thus putting the tax bill the retirement funds used due later as well for approximately a decade.

Roth Conversion

As the only tax-advantaged retirement accounts, Roth IRAs do not have RMDs. You have a window between when you retire until when the first RMD comes due make use of Roth conversions. CPAs see their income drop after retirement making that window for Roth conversions more than perfect to convert traditional accounts into a Roth IRA while in the lower income tax bracket.

However, this often-underutilized retirement strategy comes with some risk.

  1. Moving pre-tax money means paying taxes when moved into the Roth IRA.
  2. You may increase the portion of your SS benefits that are taxed or may trigger the Medicare surcharge tax.

Ultimately, you can have your money grow tax-free, RMD-free until you or your family need the funds.

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underestimated retirement risk: medical costs

Do Not Forget Healthcare Costs When Retirement Planning

How are you to account for health care costs while retirement planning? Oftentimes, these expenses are underestimated. Even though Medicare Part A is free and covers hospitalization, the remainder of Medicare comes with premiums and the rest of health care and drug costs are out-of-pocket even with supplemental insurance.

Why are health care costs underestimated?

CPAs transitioning into retirement often do not consider that what they were paying in premiums is not the full amount. Thinking they need the same “take-home pay” folks forget that their employer was paying a good chunk of the premium costs when budgeting and the rest was coming directly out of their paychecks. Now, facing retirement, CPAs are responsible for out-of-pocket costs and the full premium.

Familiarization with Health Care Premiums

Having Medicare Part A helps immensely when it comes to health care costs, especially since it is free. However, you will be responsible for other premiums to help cover medical expenses.

  1. Medicare Part B: In 2022, premiums increased to $170.10 monthly. Note in the future this will increase.
  2. Medicare Supplemental Insurance: For coverage not offered through Part A or Part B of Medicare, supplemental insurance is available. This will help with medical expenses, but does not cover dental, hearing, or vision.
  3. Medicare Part C: Known as Medicare Advantage, these policies vary in coverage and price, but offer options including Part A, Part B, hearing, dental, and even vision. Furthermore, Part D (prescription drug coverage) is also included.
  4. Medicare Part D: As coverage for self-administrated prescription drugs, Part D requires a co-pay per prescription. Unfortunately, some drugs are not covered.
  5. Long-term care insurance premiums: Medicare only covers so much of long-term care costs after a certain amount of time, and even then, it will add up quickly daily. To make sure you are covered, building a LTC policy to your wants and needs is best. This is an important factor to consider for retirement planning because 70% of retirees experience a long-term care event.

How much could coverage and any out-of-pocket costs be then?

Knowing Total Health Care Costs

Adjusted for inflation, in 2021 multiple studies found that retirees were spending about $6200 on premiums and approximately $6500 on out-of-pocket costs for health care. For 2022, the projected amount for out-of-pocket costs is $7000. And with rising health care costs and inflation, the average expenses are predicted to increase by a minimum of $3500 by 2030.

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Having An HSA While on Medicare

Health savings accounts can be tricky, especially when you are on Medicare. Not only do you need to meet certain criteria to have one, but you need to meet the same requirements to keep contributing to it.

One requirement to have an HSA is a high deductible plan, and you cannot have another health care plan. Since Medicare is considered another health care plan, and one that does not have a high deductible, you are not able to contribute to your HSA once you enroll with Medicare.

However, that does not mean you are unable to use your HSA along with your Medicare plan. You have stockpiled that money to help cover medical costs, and you are still able to use the HSA funds to cover expenses Medicare might not. Or to even help with Medicare premiums, copays, or deductibles.

How does an HSA while enrolled in Medicare?

To maintain and contribute to an HSA you need to be on a health plan that is a high-deductible plan. And you cannot be on any other medical insurance plan. This even means Medicare. Once you are enrolled in Medicare, you are not qualified to use your pretax dollars to contribute to your HSA.

You may be able to keep contributing if you are not enrolled in Medicare at 65. This takes special circumstances, being you are not yet retired or receiving SS benefits.

Is there a penalty for having Medicare and an HSA?

Fortunately, you will not face a late penalty if you have health care from your employer. This means, you have delay Medicare enrollment until you do retire. Retirement qualifies you for the Special Enrollment Period. The same rules apply if you are on your spouse’s employer’s health care plan.

However, if you turn 65 and do not have other coverage, you will be charged a penalty. Once you do enroll in Medicare, your Part B premium will be increased by 10% monthly for each year you did not enroll. Since you are also enrolling late without any special circumstance, you will have to wait until the Open Enrollment Period to sign up.

How can I use my HSA to help with Medicare premiums?

Since an HSA is for medical and healthcare costs, you can use the funds for qualifying expenses such as:

  • Part B, C, or D premiums
  • Medicare deductibles
  • Copays or coinsurance
  • Dental or vision
  • Over-the-counter medicines
  • Out-of-pocket costs

Can I pay Medigap premiums with my HSA?

You can, but you will have to pay taxes on the money you withdraw to do so. A Medigap plan is not a qualified medical expense, which is why you will have to pay taxes on the money taken out of your HSA to pay for it.

Are there tax penalties when using an HSA with Medicare?

You will pay tax penalties if your HSA contributions and Medicare enrollment overlap. The penalty amount will vary depending on your situation, circumstances, and how long they overlapped.

  • You will be subject to back taxes on any contributions to your HSA made after your Medicare enrollment starts. Plus, your contributions will be added back to your annual taxable income.
  • You may be hit with an excess tax by the IRS if you have contributed after your Medicare enrollment date. Excess taxes will be an additional 6% (if not more) when you take it out of your health savings account.

The IRS strongly recommends those contributing to an HSA stop doing so six months before they enroll in Medicare. Once you are enrolled in Medicare, the IRS considers the 6 months before your enrollment as a period you had access to Medicare. Stopping before that 6-month period means you should avoid any penalties that could be assessed and saves money, too.

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After Taxes Now, Tax-Free Later: Roth 401(k)

Tax-advantaged has quite the ring to it, doesn’t it? Unlike the tax-advantages a traditional 401(k) offers—funded with pretax wages—a Roth 401(k) is funded with after tax wages. Income tax has already been paid so when it comes to withdrawing in retirement, your money is withdrawn tax-free.

What exactly is a Roth 401(k)? Created in 2006, Roth 401(k)s are employer-sponsored retirement savings accounts that use after-tax money.

How They Work

While employer-sponsored, enrollment and participation in Roth 401(k)s is entirely voluntary. Payroll deducts the special funds after taxes have been taken out each paycheck. Some employers may offer matches for Roth 401(k)s.

In comparison, a traditional 401(k) and a Roth 401(k) have different tax-advantages. A traditional 401(k) reduces an employee’s gross annual income, providing a tax break now. However, regular income taxes will be due upon withdrawal during retirement. A Roth 401(k) requires income tax be paid but reduces an individual’s annual net income. But after the money is placed into the Roth account, no further taxes are owed when taken during retirement—this includes profits earned.

Much like the traditional 401(k), a Roth 4010(k) is subject to contribution limits and is based off the investor’s age per guidelines of the IRS. For 2022, an individual may contribute up to $20,5000. Those over 50 are permitted a catch-up contribution of $6500. Another perk Roth 401(k)s offer is no income limit.

Withdrawal Special Considerations

Certain criteria must be met for withdrawals to be tax-free.

  • The Roth 401(k) must be at least 5 years old.
  • Withdrawals must occur when the account holder is at least 59 ½. If before, account holder must has passed or experiencing qualifying disability.

Roth 401(k)s do require required minimum distributions. Once you are 72 the first RMD from your Roth 401(k) must be taken by the first April after you turn 72. If you are still working for the company who sponsors the retirement account, you may hold off taking a distribution.

Advantages and Disadvantages Summary

Pros:

  • Helps those who may be in a higher tax bracket during retirement (which is commonly seen)
  • Distributions are tax-free.
  • Earnings grow tax-free.

Cons:

  • Uses after-tax dollars, meaning during working years you are out that money
  • Contributions do not limit taxable income

Roth 401(k)s and Market Volatility

Sadly, you can lose money since a 401(k) is an investment into the market. However, most employers offer low-risk options like government bonds. You are always welcome to work with the plan sponsor and stir up your investment yield and risk.

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Retirees are easy targets for scams

Why Retirees are Targeted Most by Scammers

Annually, an estimated 3.5 million retirees fall victim to financial exploitation. Scammers take advantage of elders due their vulnerability. Those who are 80+ are the most at-risk group for scammers. Ruthless and always on top of trends and the latest news, scammers will try to pull a fast one via the phone, targeted emails, or even through websites.

Why are seniors targeted more than any other age group?

Money, Money, Money

With decades of saving and planning, elders are more particularly targeted due to being the wealthier, more established society members. Also, more likely to have own their homes outright, elder Americans have approximately 1.7 times the wealth than the working middle class due to their savings.

Loneliness Leads to Vulnerability

Retirees are usually empty nesters, and oftentimes loneliness leads to isolation as family grows and friends get older, too. This makes the perfect breeding ground for con artists to build a relationship with elders especially telephone scammers. Elders are always happy to get a call and are more than willing to listen to their narratives. Once the scammer can gain the retirees trust they have an easier time exploiting.

Cognitive Issues

Unfortunately, with aging comes cognitive decline. Even though seniors are reporting scams more often than younger folks, they have a harder time remembering the little details necessary. What makes matters worse is that seniors do not realize that they were scammed until sometimes weeks after the fact. Memory loss presents first with haziness, and short-term memory is the first to experience issues.

Other Health Issues Make Easy Targets

Easy for health scams, seniors are more likely to have other health issues such as cancer, autoimmune diseases, and limited mobility. The health scams will target retirees with fake remedies for these issues since they are seen as personal.

Retirement Staples

As the baselines to retirement, Medicare and Social Security are very important to seniors to maintain their health and finances. If a call or email comes through for these programs talking about issues elders are very prone to panic. The panic-inducing targeting gets retirees to act out of fear for losing their benefits or insurance. Retirees are more likely to share their information to scammers when something that important is threatened.

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Retirement Security & Behavioral Finance

Your mind is wired with cognitive biases that influence your decision making—something that does not make planning your retirement as you wish and need easy. Behavioral finance studies the impact cognitive functions, social, and emotional factors have on financial decision making. Understanding this can increase overall financial health and allow for a more secure and successful retirement.

Loss Aversion Understanding

Research shows that folks are more stressed by losing money than gaining it. This is call loss aversion. This can make investment management and retirement planning problematic. In order to achieve a risk-based retirement plan and obtain reducing those Top Ten Risks, having a basic plan is the best first step for a secure retirement. You need to know your options!

Know Yourself

Naturally, folks are risk averse—but even this instinct needs to be well-informed. Understanding your motivations and wants for retirement allows you to set goals. When brainstorming your retirement wants and goals, try different ways of phrasing them. Going with the one that feels more motivating is what you should chose.

Know How Your Money Can Buy You Happiness

Think of your retirement as a trade: time and money. You spend decades dedicated to working and retirement is now your time. While planning for retirement keep that in mind! And financially, think about what will bring you happiness. Traveling? Starting a new business after retirement? Downsizing your home and spending more time with family? Knowing how you wish to focus your money promote you to stay motivated and overcome cognitive biases as you focus.

Decisiveness is Key

Ironically, good decision-making skills comes in handy here. Understanding your cognitive biases and having your goals properly aligned means success will allow you to better make those decisions—even understanding your past decisions will help!

The basics for retirement decision making are comprehensive retirement risk understanding, risk-based testing and planning, and knowing strategic options to reduce the risks.

Be Friends with Your Future

Ever heard of present bias? This is our tendency to value the current moments more than the future ones. For example, you are more likely to spend money on something that will make you happy now than you are to invest or save it for your future self. Present bias is actually a major factor in why folks have a hard time saving and planning for retirement.

Visualize your retirement goals. Keeping in mind your future self not only will help with retirement planning, but it will help your overall well-being!

For more information on behavioral finance and how it will help your retirement and your clients’ retirement, listen to our episode “Turning Knowledge into Action” on the Retirement Risk Show.

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