Archive for the ‘Retirement’ Category

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

Big Change in the 401k Rollover Rules

September 23, 2014

We don’t often get a change this big in an area as important as 401k rollovers. The IRS released guidance completely revising the way we treat rollovers when your 401k or similar account includes after-tax dollars. Ed Slott, author of Ed Slott’s 2014 Retirement Decisions Guide, praised the guidance, saying, “The IRS has made it easier for many people to make their retirement savings more tax-efficient.”

What’s the big deal? Previously it was difficult to separate pre-tax dollars from after-tax dollars when taking money from an employer plan. Now it’s a snap, which means you can send pre-tax dollars to a traditional IRA for a tax-free rollover while sending after-tax dollars to a Roth IRA for a tax-free conversion. This is a big win for people with retirement savings. Use the link below for a full explanation

details: Isolating Basis for a Roth Conversion

Self-Directed IRA Implodes

May 20, 2013
By Kaye A. Thomas

Individual retirement accounts typically hold conventional investments such as publicly traded stocks, bonds, mutual funds and certificates of deposit. If you want it to hold something unusual, such as real estate or an interest in a business that isn’t publicly traded, you have to establish a self-directed IRA at a financial institution that will accept these entities. I’m not a fan of the idea, and a recent Tax Court case illustrates one of the dangers.


Expert’s Expert on IRAs

May 19, 2013

Where does an expert turn for answers on IRAs? Whenever possible, I turn directly to the law: Internal Revenue Code, regulations, IRS rulings and court cases. Sometimes I want a reliable way to get to an answer more quickly though, and fortunately there’s a great way to do that. I reach for one of the most valuable books in my library, Life and Death Planning for Retirement Benefits by Natalie B. Choate. This 600-page reference would be overkill for an investor who might have an occasional question about how to deal with an IRA or other retirement account. For a financial advisor or tax professional who regularly deals with retirement planning issues, the book is simply indispensable. I’ve referred to it often, and it never lets me down.

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