Making an IRA change could be tax-smart

news-644847_640Did you convert all or part of a retirement account to a Roth during 2014? And do you now wish you hadn’t? Here’s some good news: You have until October 15, 2015, to change your mind, even if you already filed your federal income tax return.

The tax term for undoing the conversion and switching your funds back to a traditional IRA from a Roth is “recharacterization.” You can recharacterize any amount of your original conversion, no matter your income, and for any reason. When you recharacterize the entire conversion amount, you put yourself back in the position you were in originally.

Why would you want to recharacterize? Perhaps you’re now in a higher tax bracket than you expected and reconverting will reduce your income. Or maybe your investments didn’t do as well as you anticipated and the value in your account has declined. Leaving the money in the new Roth means you pay tax on the original amount you converted. Recharacterizing means you save tax dollars.

Here’s another beneficial recharacterization rule: You don’t need to worry about being locked out of future transfers. You can reconvert the same funds to a Roth after a waiting period.

If you’re considering undoing last year’s Roth conversion, please call for more information. We’re here to help you make the right decision.

April 15th is quickly approaching … Here’s what you need to know

Wednesday, April 15, is the deadline for filing certain returns and taking certain tax-related actions. Here are the major deadlines:calendar-148311__180

  • Filing 2014 income tax returns for individuals. If you cannot file your return by this deadline, be sure to file an extension request by April 15. The automatic extension (you don’t need to explain to the IRS why you need more time) gives you until October 15, 2015, to file your return. An extension does not, generally, give you more time to pay taxes you still owe. To avoid penalty and interest charges, taxes must be paid by April 15.
  • Filing 2014 partnership returns for calendar-year partnerships.
  • Filing 2014 income tax returns for calendar-year trusts and estates.
  • Filing 2014 annual gift tax returns.
  • Making 2014 IRA contributions.
  • Paying the first quarterly installment of 2015 individual estimated tax.
  • Amending 2011 individual tax returns (unless the 2011 return had a filing extension).
  • Original filing of 2011 individual income tax return to claim a refund of taxes. Some taxpayers have tax refunds due them for prior years, and unless a return is filed to claim the refund by the three-year statute of limitations, the refund is lost forever.

Don’t overlook the April 1st deadline

You may be approaching an important deadline if you have retirement accounts and you turned 70½ last year. Generally, you must begin withdrawing money from tax-favored retirement plans in the year you turn 70½. However, you may postpone your first withdrawal until April 1 of the year after you turn 70½. That means you have until April 1, 2015, to complete your required 2014 distribution. period-481478__180

The minimum distribution rules don’t apply to your Roth IRA accounts. And if you are still working at age 70½, you are generally not required to withdraw funds from a qualified employer-sponsored plan until April 1 of the calendar year following your actual retirement.

If you postponed your first distribution, you must take two distributions this year – one for 2014 and one for 2015. Your 2014 distribution must be completed by April 1, while your 2015 distribution must be completed by December 31, 2015. After that, you must take a distribution by December 31 each year until your retirement funds are depleted.

Generally, the amount of the RMD for any year is based on your age. You take the balance in all your traditional IRAs as of the last day of the previous year, and divide by a factor representing your life expectancy. The IRS has published a standard life expectancy table to use in the calculation. Special rules might apply if your spouse is more than ten years younger than you are and is the sole beneficiary of your IRA.

Make sure you notify the holder of your retirement account in time to complete your distribution. Follow up to ensure that the transaction will be completed on time. You may withdraw more than the required amount, but if you fail to take at least the minimum distribution on time, you are subject to a 50% penalty tax.

Don’t overlook this important distribution deadline. Call our office if you would like assistance in planning your retirement withdrawals.