Monday, March 21, 2016

Think Twice Before Contributing to a Traditional IRA

Think Twice Before Contributing to a Traditional IRA

It’s tax time once again, which makes it the perfect time to discuss what, in my humble opinion, seems to be one of the deadliest financial mistakes that millions of unsuspecting folks are led to make by some tax preparers.

Right about now, so many folks are being given what amounts to very short-sighted advice to make tax-deductible contributions into traditional IRAs so that they can reduce their taxes (a.k.a. save money and, in turn, outsmart our favorite Uncle Sam). On the surface, that sounds like a pretty awesome situation, doesn’t it? But that is not the end of the story. In fact, from my standpoint, it is not even half of the story. 

First of all, it is true that once you meet certain criteria, you are allowed to make tax deductible contributions to an IRA. Presently, it’s up to $5,500 for those under age 50 and $6,500 for people 50 and older. So, yes, by doing so, you would be reducing your taxes, all things being equal, but only for today.

However, here’s the rest of the story – the alarming part that people often discover so many years later to their utter dismay, at least based on what I keep seeing in my practice year after year.

Your contributions to a traditional IRA and the interest you earn on them accrue on a tax-deferred basis. In everyday English, all you are doing is essentially electing to postpone paying the taxes you owe until sometime in the future, probably when you reach retirement age. So you really aren't avoiding any taxes – they all must be paid sooner or later.

So when you reach retirement age and begin taking withdrawals from your traditional IRA, every single penny will be subject to taxes – get this – at whatever tax rate you find yourself in at that point in time. An amazing number of people tend to think that when they retire, they will somehow find themselves in a very low tax bracket because they expect a drop in their total income. But it is not as simple as that, because that is not how income taxes work. We are taxed on our “taxable income” – not simply income, two entirely different concepts.

And I can tell you this also. Generally speaking, you tend to have very few deductions in retirement, compared to earlier on in life, so your taxable income – like that of most retirees in America today – will likely be higher than you anticipate, even though you have a much lower total income. I am not sure if you’ve noticed it yet, but most folks in retirement tend to not enjoy tax time at all. Not that most of us look forward to it, but per my observations, retirees really, really dread April 15.

Another caveat. All the withdrawals you take from your traditional IRA in retirement also factor into how much tax you’ll end up paying on your Social Security benefit checks. I am not sure any of these traditional IRA gurus tell folks about this piece of crucial tax planning information. 

To be clear. I am not telling you that you should not own a traditional IRA, because I simply don’t know your particular situation. I am suggesting, however, that you be mindful of the often one-sided view offered by typical financial advisors and consider the total picture. At the end of the day, when the rubber finally meets the road, as it always does, you are not saving because you want to defer taxes, but because you want to have income available for a better tomorrow.

Visit or call 877.656.9111 right now to book your complimentary, confidential consultation with a financial professional who has your best interest at heart and who is willing to ask the right questions to help you make a plan that will get you where you want to go. Youll be paired with an experienced financial professional who can help you plan for a secure future, regardless of your current financial situation. Retirement planning means planning for ALL aspects of your life after retirement. If youre ready, were here to help.

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