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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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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RMDs to QCDs to save on taxes in retirement

Qualified Charitable Distributions May Reduce Retirement Taxes

Required minimum distributions may increase your tax bracket in retirement, but there is a way to help manage your tax exposure and help great causes: qualified charitable distributions (QCDs). At 72, you are required to take distributions from traditional IRAs to ensure you are not stockpiling the money, and that Uncle Sam gets his cut. QCDs are your ticket to reducing your retirement income taxes.

What exactly is a Qualified Charitable Distribution?

A qualified charitable distribution satisfies your required minimum distribution from your IRA directly to a qualified charity. Fortunately, the money gifted with a QCD does not count towards you adjusted gross income as it would with a regular RMD.

How can a QCD save you tax money?

They reduce your adjusted gross income but fulfilling the RMD requirement without needing to be reported as income.

How does a QCD work?

You instruct the custodian of your account to directly pay the RMD as a QCD to a qualified 501(c)(3) charity.

Are there any rules or qualifications for QCDs?

There are rules, but they are straightforward:

  • You must be 70 ½
  • To have the QCD count the funds must come from your IRA by your RMD deadline. And for most that is the last day of the year.
  • Whether one big contribution or smaller ones, QCDs have an annual max of $100,000 per individual. Meaning, married folks can donate up to $200,000.
  • QCDs cannot exceed more than what you owe in taxes or qualify for a refund.
  • IRA contributions may reduce the amount for QCD you can deduct.

Who can make QCDs?

Anyone with a traditional IRA who is over 70 ½ can make qualified charitable distributions. Note: QCDs only apply to IRAs and not 401(k)s, 403(b)s, SIMPLE, or SEP IRAs.

What charities can receive a QCD?

For tax purposes, the IRS has a defined list of organizations that can receive QCDs. Their list is here.

How do taxes work with QCDs?

Normal required minimum distributions must be reported and are taxed. No federal or state withholding tax is made on distributions to qualified charities.

Using IRS For 1099-R you report your QCD as a normal distribution. However, please note, this only works on IRAs that are not inherited. Distributions donated from inherited IRAs need reported as death distributions.

Though your QCD is not taxed, you cannot claim it as a charitable tax deduction (the IRS does not approve of double dipping). When you make the QCD make sure you get donation acknowledgement for your records.

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Roth IRA basics

Retirement Savings: Consider a Roth IRA

A Roth individual retirement account is a brilliant way to save for retirement. Much like a traditional IRA, a Roth IRA allows you to invest and for it to grow tax-free. One great advantage this type of account has is that it also lets you take tax-free withdrawals of your contributions at any age. Your earnings may have the same benefit under certain circumstances. For your earning to be withdrawn tax-free you must be:

  • 59 ½ years old
  • Disabled
  • Using the funds as first-time

Naturally, like any tax-advantaged retirement account, the IRS has stipulations and rules that cover contribution limits, income limits, and withdrawals.

Roth IRA Eligibility

The first requirement for contributing to a Roth IRA is having earned income. This could be from the income earned from working for someone else (commissions, tips, bonuses count). Secondly, this earned income could be from a self-operated business or other means of earned income such as tax alimony or even combat pay.

Earned income that does not count:

  • Rental properties
  • Nontaxable alimony
  • Child support
  • SS benefits
  • Unemployment benefits

On a plus side, there is no age limit for making Roth IRA contributions. From a teen working a summer job to someone even in their 80s can contribute. Note: someone under 18 would need to set up a custodial account.

If you are contributing towards another qualified retirement plan you are still eligible to contribute towards a Roth IRA. So, if you earn money and meet the limitations, you can contribute towards your own Roth IRA and your employer-sponsored 401(k) plan.

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Market Volatility: Invest Smart, Know the Risks

Investing into the market for retirement funds is a risky business. Retirees often purchase individual stocks or invest in financial products such as mutual funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), or even variable annuities. There are other options such as defined contribution plans that invest into stock market and sometimes a company’s stock. 401(k)s are a common option offered by employers with a matching percentage. Having various investments allows for a more diversified portfolio, leading to a better chance at the safe and secure retirement you have always dreamt of.

However, invest smart and know the risks: the financial markets have significant fluctuations. There is a huge chance of majorly reducing retirement funds due to a bad down in the stock market. Therefore, long- and short-term investments are encouraged.

With the roller coaster of the financial markets, timing is everything when it comes to withdrawing from retirement savings & investments. Unfortunately, what may happen with the return of these investments is more negative than anything to the investor. Meaning, more of the account or assets may need to be liquidated to ensure spending power and keep that consistent stream of income. This is called sequence of return risk. An example of this was with the 2008 Recession; where the market declined and many lost their homes, their other investments, their retirements. For those who have awhile to save and plan are able to likely recover loss. Retirees with less time or who need their income soon will have to sell their investment assets while the market is down to reduce further loss and keep that income. A great loss is encountered if assets cannot be recovered.

Diversification of these assets/investments is important. Individual assets, such as the mutual funds and ETFS, may be managed professionally. These funds may have a focus on small to larger companies, even with specific fields or industries in mind. For individually chosen stocks and annuities, consider stock investments. Within these various options, there are performance and choice risks. Investment for retirement funds is a choice that should be taken with research and guidance.

As mentioned, there is always risk with investing—especially for your dream retirement. The following are some great strategies to limit the risks.

Diversify. Hold various investments across the classes (i.e. hold bonds and stocks). The more spread out and full the investments are better at loss absorption your portfolio is. For example, loss in individual stocks can be offset by holding stocks in 15+ companies and balancing the funds throughout these. If you were to hold the same amount over 5 companies/stocks, you are exposed to a greater risk if one of those companies crashes versus if you have the funds spread over 15 or more. Even considering fixed income investments is great! These will not yield as much return, however.

Long term is best. With investments, time is typically on your side. Especially in the case of recovering losses. It is rare you will see recovery happen overnight—it takes years. Those near or in retirement will want to monitor their investments closely because if a major loss occurs, you may be better off selling. Top experts suggest relying on income-generating policies while moving funds from the stock market throughout your retirement years.

Roll with the pooled. Like carpooling to an event, a pooled investment is smaller contributions from individual to make a larger investment fund. Some examples are mutual funds and target-date funds. Oftentimes these are done with financial experts and there may be fees involved.

Remember fees. Higher fees do not necessarily mean a higher yield on investments. They reduce the overall return, so monitoring and understanding them is important for your financial wellbeing. 401(k)s and other defined contribution plans may have fees; sometimes a fee may be charged if using a financial advisor for advice and portfolio management.

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Tips and Tricks for Your Retirement Trips

It is part of the American dream to travel especially as retirement approaches. All throughout the working years, weeklong trips or weekend gateways were simply a taste. In retirement, 60% of folks make traveling a priority, but the high costs of it and health concerns hinder many retirees from taking those trips. The Baby Boomer generation alone plans 1-5 trips annually within the first several years of their retirement, with a focus oftentimes on international destinations.

The wanderlust for overseas travel comes with a high price tag. In 2013, an international 4-5-day trip averaged $3,300. As of 2021, the average cost for a similar trip was $4,500. In comparison, a domestic trip of the same length costs $630-800. International costs approximately 550% more than domestic.

To get more bang for your buck, retirees should consider Airbnb rentals. Room and cabin rentals through Airbnb are 21% less inexpensive than the traditional hotel room. Many retirees or those approaching retirement have started a second stream of income by advertising a spare room for rent through Airbnb—helping to offset their own travels. Others have become Uber or Lyft drivers on the weekends and in the evenings. Uber alone has reported that a quarter of their employees are 50+ in age.

Outside of travel costs and funds, safety and health are amongst the highest concerns for retirees. General unknowns of the travel destination contribute to this. It is reported that 31% of American retirees are terrified that health concerns will hinder travel plans and enjoyment. In addition, 15% worry about insurance coverage. Domestically, most retirees can rely on Medicaid; however, when aboard, Medicaid covers no medical or health services and supplies. In lieu of traveling, many retirees concerned with health and safety focus on local trips and dedicate more time with friends and family during their retirement.

When it comes to these fears with traveling, optimizing travel budget and time is key. It is important to plan: do research on the destination beforehand for tourist sites and other must-sees; getting costs will help with budgeting. Consider extending the trip for a longer period. Oftentimes, staying longer is more cost effective. To enjoy and take in the culture and scene, consider soft travel—have no hard leave date, give yourself a range of days to leave during. This may save on flight and other travel costs.

Think untraditional: ever consider an RV or camping (or glamping)? Long-term, these means of lodging are domestically and internationally budget-friendlier in comparison to the traditional hotel stays. An RV or camper serve a dual purpose of lodging and transportation!

Hostels are also cost-effective means of lodging. While these are most common over in Europe, in the United States, hostels are most commonly on the west coast; there are some in the southern states. If city visiting, use an Airbnb booking; longer stays typically come with discounts. For example, booking four nights would cost almost the same as three nights. Do not be afraid to shop around for availability and options. One host may offer a better discount than another. Another untraditional means of travel is a train.  Instead of renting a car or paying for a taxi service, a train—especially internationally—costs much less.

Lastly, flights are the most common means of transportation and the most expensive aspect in a travel budget. To save money on flights, use a credit card with a travel rewards system. Being able to track and save those means discounts and better prices for other trips. If doing a domestic trip, consider some of the untraditional ways to save and plan. Look into round-the-world flights. These include a set number of flights and miles but allow for more flexibility to multiple places over a longer period. If seeing as many places as possible is what matters most, a great option is retirement cruises. Oceania offers a half-year cruise to stops in countries. Most retirement cruises go for a longer time and oftentimes have all-inclusive deals.

When it comes to traveling during retirement, be mindful of health concerns and travel costs. Save where you can and opt for local or stay-at-home trips if aboard travel is risky.

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Keeping Your CPA Status in Retirement

As your retirement nears, you may be ready to also retire your CPA status. But keeping your credentials after retirement may open doors you haven’t thought of. Maintaining your CPA status after retirement allows for a host of opportunities.

If you ever want to offer services such as tax preparation, accounting, or consulting—even only occasionally—keeping your credentials open keeps those doors open also.

Even if you do not plan to offer services, maintaining the status for a little while after you retire may benefit you should you change your mind. You won’t have to reinstate it later! If you must reinstate, you will have to catch up on CPE credits or even retake the CPA exam.

Moreover, keeping your status active may present itself beneficial in your retirement if a friend or family member decides to run a business. You would benefit greatly, too, if you started your own business!

Now, why is being a tax preparer a great option after retirement?

  • You have the credentials as a CPA and the work history for it. This makes you highly qualified and already sought after.
  • Work seasonally and flexibly. You are already likely already familiar with these types of things. Working with taxes permits only working a few months a year while enjoying the rest of the year for your retirement activities.
  • You are your own boss. Thus, you can take on as much work as you wish, work when you wish.
  • Since you possess the education and credentials as a CPA, you will have a leg up on new tax preparers. In this day, you can easily take advantage of the virtual and digital means of running your tax-preparation work. Should you want to start up your own tax prep business, the cost is essentially minimal for you: professional tax software!
  • Extra income! Supplementing your retirement helps financially and may be a great opportunity to invest a little more.

Even if you are unsure of keeping your CPA status in retirement, maintain your credentials for a little while after retirement. You never know what may arise!

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