How to avoid a required IRA distribution
Q. I won’t need my Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) this year. Is there any way to avoid taking it? I don’t want to make my taxable income higher.
— Taxed enough
A. You have very few options here.
Everyone who is older than 70 ½ must distribute at least the amount of that year’s RMD annually.
But the good news is that on Dec. 18. 2015, Congress passed the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act, which made Qualified Charitable Distributions (QCDs) permanent, said Debra Morrisson, a certified financial planner with Empowered Retirement in Lincoln Park.
“If you are at least age 70 ½ at the time of distribution, you can direct your RMD amount, up to a maximum of $100,000 directly to the 501(c)3 charity or charities of your choice,” Morrison said. “You avoid having to declare that portion of your RMD as taxable income for your federal or state Income tax return, and it helps the charities to which you donate—a double bonus.”
Morrison said keeping the money out of your adjusted gross income could be a huge benefit.
First, it may help you to avoid slipping into a higher marginal tax bracket.
It may also help to keep your income below the threshold for the Medicare high-income surcharge, which boosts your Part B and Part D premiums if your adjusted gross income is above $85,000 if you’re single or $170,000 for joint filers, Morrison said.
And, it can reduce the amount of your Social Security benefits that are subject to taxes.
Finally, the QCD allows you to benefit from making a charitable contribution if you don’t itemize your deductions on your tax return, Morrison said.
If giving doesn’t fit in with your financial plan, you can consider a Roth IRA conversion.
“By converting to a Roth, you do not have to take any RMDs on this account — your heirs would, but not you,” said Jerry Lynch, a certified financial planner with JFL total Wealth Management in Boonton. “You would have to pay the tax upfront but either way, at some point taxes need to be paid.”
Lynch said Roth conversions may be helpful to reduce the size of the estate — because you would have to pay taxes on the conversion — because New Jersey has a low threshold of $675,000 before estate taxes kick in.
Lynch said the time to plan for RMDs and to set up an effective tax management program is prior to having to take the RMDs.
“If I have someone coming to me at 65, there is a lot I can do now to control their taxes in retirement,” Lynch said. “When people come to me when they are forced to take RMDs, there is not much you can do plan as they are right in the middle of it.”
With planning, you can structure some very effective tax planning strategies, Lynch said.
Karin Price Mueller writes the Bamboozled column for The Star-Ledger and she’s the founder of NJMoneyHelp.com. Click here to sign up for the NJMoneyHelp.com weekly e-newsletter. Like NJMoneyHelp.com on Facebook and follow it on Twitter.