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The New SECURE Act and Your Retirement Savings
The end of 2019 brought big changes to the world of retirement savings. The Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act was enacted in December 2019 as part of a larger federal spending package. This long-awaited legislation expands savings opportunities for workers and includes new requirements and incentives for employers that provide retirement benefits. At the same time, it restricts a popular estate planning strategy for individuals with significant assets in IRAs and employer-sponsored retirement plans by limiting stretch RMD’s on inherited IRAs.
The changes brought on by the SECURE Act will impact almost anyone who has a retirement account (whether IRA, Roth IRA, 401(k) at work, etc.) These changes have been a popular discussion topic in our client review meetings since the start of 2020. In order to help keep you in the loop, here is a list of some of the changes that may affect your retirement, tax, and estate planning strategies. All of these provisions were effective January 1, 2020, unless otherwise noted.
Benefits for Retirement account holders:
- Later RMDs. Individuals born on or after July 1, 1949, can wait until age 72 to take required minimum distributions (RMDs) from traditional IRAs and employer-sponsored retirement plans instead of starting them at age 70½ as required under previous law. This is a positive for individuals who don't need the withdrawals for living expenses, because it postpones payment of income taxes and gives the account a longer time to pursue tax-deferred growth. One benefit of the change is retirees have one less half-birthday that they have to track. Seriously, who in their right mind would have picked a half birthday for the first RMD in the first place?
- No traditional IRA age limit. There is no longer a prohibition on contributing to a traditional IRA after age 70½ — taxpayers can make contributions at any age as long as they have earned income. This helps older workers who want to save while reducing their taxable income. But keep in mind that contributions to a traditional IRA only defer taxes. Withdrawals, including any earnings, are taxed as ordinary income, and a larger account balance will increase the RMDs that must start at age 72.
- Tax breaks for special situations. For the 2019 and 2020 tax years, taxpayers may deduct unreimbursed medical expenses that exceed 7.5% of their adjusted gross income. In addition, withdrawals may be taken from tax-deferred accounts to cover medical expenses that exceed this threshold without owing the 10% penalty that normally applies before age 59½. (The threshold returns to 10% in 2021.) Penalty free early withdrawals of up to $5,000 are also allowed to pay for expenses related to the birth or adoption of a child. Regular income taxes apply in both situations.
Say goodbye to the old idea of a Stretch IRA:
Under previous law, non-spouse beneficiaries who inherited assets in employer plans and IRAs could "stretch" RMDs — and the tax obligations associated with them — over their lifetimes. The new law generally requires a beneficiary who is more than 10 years younger than the original account owner to liquidate the inherited account within 10 years. Exceptions include a spouse, a disabled or chronically ill individual, and a minor child. The 10-year "clock" will begin when a child reaches the age of majority (18 in most states).
This shorter distribution period could result in bigger tax bills for children and grandchildren who inherit accounts. The 10-year liquidation rule also applies to IRA trust beneficiaries, which may conflict with the reasons a trust was originally created.
In addition to revisiting beneficiary designations, you might consider how IRA dollars fit into your overall estate plan. For example, it might make sense to convert traditional IRA funds to a Roth IRA, which can be inherited tax-free (if the five-year holding period has been met). Roth IRA conversions are taxable events, but if converted amounts are spread over the next several tax years, you may benefit from lower income tax rates, which are set to expire in 2026.
As you can see, the new SECURE Act may have a big impact on your finances and overall financial plan. This is especially true for current retirees. As a result of these changes, it may be a good time to review your plan. The retirement rules have dramatically changed. If we can be of help in any way please let us know.
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© 2020, CAMBRIDGE CAPITAL MANAGEMENT, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. THESE MATERIALS WERE DEVELOPED FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND DO NOT TAKE INTO ACCOUNT YOUR INDIVIDUAL NEEDS, FINANCIAL OR OTHERWISE, AND SHOULD NOT BE RELIED UPON BY YOU WHEN MAKING ANY PARTICULAR FINANCIAL RELATED DECISIONS. THE INFORMATION HEREIN WAS DERIVED FROM SOURCES DEEMED TO BE RELIABLE BUT HAVE NOT BEEN INDEPENDENTLY VERIFIED, AND NO REPRESENTATIONS OR WARRANTIES ARE MADE WITH RESPECT THERETO. SOME INFORMATION IN THIS ARTICLE COULD HAVE BEEN DERIVED FROM BROADRIDGE INVESTOR COMMUNCATION SOLUTIONS, INC VIA OUR PAID SUBSCRIPTION FOR THEIR SERVICES. ANY INFORMATION FROM BROADRIDGE IS SPECIFIC PROPERTY OF BROADRIDGE.