Archive for the ‘Retirement’ Category

Roth Recharacterizations Repealed

December 20, 2017

This is the second in our series Last Minute Actions for the New Tax Law.

We’re pleased to say that the strict interpretation of the effective date for this change in the law, which we initially thought was most likely, will not apply. We have confirmed that the IRS will be taking the position that 2017 Roth conversions can be recharacterized until October 15, 2018.

Moving money from a traditional retirement account to a Roth IRA can be a smart move, but sometimes it backfires due to a change in personal circumstances or, more often, investment losses in the converted account. We haven’t had to worry too much about this possibility, though, because we could recharacterize a Roth conversion — in other words, undo it — at any time up until October 15 of the following year. The new law does away with this opportunity. As of 2018, we’re no longer allowed to reverse these transactions. (more…)

Loss on IRA Liquidation

December 20, 2017

This is the third in our series Last Minute Actions for the New Tax Law.

In limited circumstances, it can make sense to liquidate an IRA for the purpose of claiming a loss deduction. This works only if the total amount of basis you have in all your IRAs in the same category (traditional or Roth) exceeds the total value of those IRAs. Even then, it isn’t necessarily a good idea, but in the right situation, shutting down IRAs to claim a tax loss can be a smart move. This opportunity disappears at the end of 2017. (more…)

Relief for Missed Rollover Deadline

August 25, 2016

One of the more common mistakes people make in handling their retirement accounts is missing the 60-day deadline for completing a rollover. If you have a good excuse, you can get a ruling from the IRS that avoids the negative tax consequences, but that process is painfully expensive in time and money. Thanks to new guidance from the IRS, in many cases this won’t be necessary.


Fairmark’s Social Security Guide Featured on

November 12, 2015

Leading financial website has posted an article about how you can increase your Social Security benefit by continuing to work during retirement. She quotes our author Kaye Thomas, having contacted him after finding helpful information in our online Guide to Social Security Retirement Benefits. By the way, it was a real pleasure talking with author Jennie Phipps.

Time to Think About Undoing a Roth Conversion

October 5, 2015

Go Roth_200x300When you convert a traditional retirement account to a Roth IRA, you have until October 15 of the following year to undo that conversion using a recharacterization. Normally this is advantageous if the account suffered a significant decline in value between the date of the conversion and the date you pull the recharacterization trigger. Recent stock market turbulence may leave a fair number of people in a position where they should consider this action.


Backdoor Roth Contributions

February 14, 2015

Roth retirement accountsBackdoor Roth contributions provide a way for some people with income above the Roth IRA contribution limits to add dollars to a Roth IRA. We’ve added two new articles to our online guide to Roth Retirement Accounts, both based on material in our book Go Roth!:

Backdoor Roth IRA Contributions
Some people can use this technique to add to a Roth IRA even when their income is above the limit for Roth IRA contributions.

Possible Challenge to Backdoor Roth Contributions?
Some tax professionals have identified a risk in using this technique, but we believe there is no cause for concern.

New Roth Book Available

February 11, 2015

The 2015 edition of our book on Roth retirement accounts, Go Roth!, is now available. This update reflects changes in tax rates, legislation and IRS guidance through January 15, 2015.

more info  |  order from

Can’t Find Pub 590?

January 19, 2015

IRS Publication 590One of the most important publications issued each year by the IRS is Publication 590, Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs). Individuals rely on Pub 590 for explanations of the rules, and professionals look to this publication for insight into how the IRS interprets the law in some of the gray areas. You may have trouble finding the 2014 edition, however.

That’s because the IRS decided to split Pub 590 into two publications, 590-A for contributions to IRAs, and 590-B for distributions from IRAs. Many websites, including (and, dare we say, this one) have not fully caught up with the change. Links to IRS publications automatically go to the latest version when they appear on the IRS website, so we aren’t used to updating those links. The IRS isn’t redirecting that web traffic, though, so links to Pub 590 will bring up the 2013 edition, even though the 2014 replacements are available:

Good Time to Think About Roth Conversion

January 14, 2015

Roth retirement accountsWe often think in terms of year-end tax planning, but there are some moves that can be especially advantageous early in the year. A Roth conversion is one of them.

details: Roth Conversion Early in the Year

Another Change in the Rollover Rules

November 13, 2014

We have further guidance from the IRS on another change in the rollover rules. This one has to do with the rule saying you have to wait a year after doing a 60-day rollover from one IRA to another before you do another. The IRS announced earlier this year that it would apply a stricter interpretation of the rule beginning in 2015. A November 2014 announcement clarifies the earlier guidance.

details: One Rollover Per Year

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