Have you thought about what kind of taxes you’ll have to pay in retirement? Taxes are something no one looks forward to, but they can be especially burdensome during retirement when your income is fixed. So, it’s important to plan for your future and think about your retirement taxes sooner rather than later. Luckily, there are ways to boost your tax-free income in retirement. Let’s take a look at three steps you can take now to have more tax-free retirement income.
Open a Roth IRA
A Roth IRA is something many freelance workers use to save for their retirement— but these can be beneficial for both the self-employed and the traditionally employed. Roth IRAs are retirement savings accounts that differ from traditional 401(k)s in a crucial way: they’re taxed when the money goes in.
With a traditional 401(k) plan, your contributions aren’t taxed when they’re deposited. Instead, they’re taxable upon withdrawal. While this can save you some money on taxes in the short-term, this has long-term disadvantages. For one, no one can know what the tax code will look like in the future. So there’s always the possibility that you might end up having to pay higher taxes on your 401(k) withdrawals. Additionally, your gains on the money you’ve saved in this type of account are also taxed.
But since Roth IRAs are taxed in advance of your contributions, you don’t have to worry about changes in the tax code or taxes on your earnings from the account. As long as you follow the IRS rules about Roth IRA withdrawals, your withdrawals will not be considered taxable income and will be tax free. And, as mentioned above, Roth IRAs are not just for the self-employed. You can have a Roth IRA even if you have a 401(k). So if you want to pay less taxes during retirement, consider a Roth IRA even if you already have a 401(k) plan.
Roth IRAs do have maximum contribution amounts per year, like 401(k) plans. The maximum contribution amount in 2019 is 6,000 (or $7,000 for those who are 50 or older).
Take Advantage of a Roth 401(k)
A Roth 401(k) is a workplace savings option that can help you avoid paying taxes during retirement. This is a relatively new retirement plan that was created in 2006 and it was designed to combine elements of the traditional 401(k) plan and the tax-free Roth IRA. While not every employer offers a Roth 401(k), if yours does, you should take advantage of it.
With a Roth 401(k), you can enjoy the same company matching benefit you can get with a traditional 401(k), if your employer offers this. But unlike a traditional 401(k), a Roth 401(k) is what’s called a post-tax retirement savings account. This means that your contributions are taxed before they enter your savings account, so they will not be taxed when you withdraw them (provided you follow the IRS rules about this type of account).
A huge advantage of a Roth 401(k) is that you don’t have to pay taxes on the money in your account or its gains. Additionally, while high income earners (those who have a gross income of over $137,000 if single or $203,000 if married) can’t make direct contributions to Roth IRA accounts, they can take advantage of a Roth 401(k).
As of 2019, you can put away up to $19,000 total per year in your 401(k) plans (this is a total amount for contributions to both traditional 401(k) and Roth 401(k) plans). Or, if you are aged 50 years or older, you can add $6,000 to this amount and save up to $25,000 total per year.
Consider an In-Plan Roth Conversion
If you have a Roth 401(k) at your work but have already been making contributions to a traditional 401(k) plan there, you can consider moving your savings from your traditional 401(k) plan to your Roth 401(k) plan. Doing this is called an in-plan Roth conversion and this move can help you save greatly on your retirement taxes. While this does mean you’ll pay more taxes in the year you do an in-plan Roth conversion, you may find that it would be very beneficial in the long-term.
If doing an in-plan Roth conversion could move you into a different tax bracket for the year, increasing how much you’re taxed overall, consider moving your pretax dollars into your Roth 401(k) in chunks over time.