Tag Archives: federal tax

How to Estimate Your Tax Rate in Retirement

As I’ve been running calculations on whether or not it makes sense to do a Roth Conversion, I came back to the question — what will my effective tax rate be in retirement?

That’s a question a lot of us considering a Roth Conversion should ask, but it’s not one that is easy to answer. What’s important, though, is that the numbers you plug into your calculations are reasonable. After all, expecting a 40% income tax in retirement each year can greatly skew your calculations if in actuality you’ll see a 20% effective tax rate.

This Forbes article by Erik Carter was really eye-opening: Why Your Taxes in Retirement May Be Less Than You Think

Article Highlights 

  • You are probably overestimating what you will have to pay in taxes at retirement
  • Withdrawls from Roth accounts are tax-free at 59.5
  • Social Security is taxed at ordinary income rates but only part of it is taxable
  • Long-term capital gains are taxed at lower rates than income tax (*at least according to current tax law)
  • Your income will probably be lower and put you in a lower tax bracket (i.e. experts recommend 80% of your pre-retirement income, but you may need less)
  • When you are older than 65, you get different deductions than younger people. For instance, you have a $1550 higher standard deduction than us young folk
  • A lot of 401k contributions withdrawn yearly will be taxed at lower rates, especially if you plan on taking out less than $36k per year (note, that’s no where near 80% of my current salary, but I could live on it in another state if I owned a house free and clear)
  • Tax rates could be higher when you retire but that’s unlikely (*not impossible)
  • Lots of people retire in states that don’t have income tax like Texas, Florida and Nevada. (*check out this handy-dandy state income tax calculator and weep… unless you live in a state with low income tax.)
  • Move where all the old people live and you’ll be fine.

10 Tax Rules Changes for 2009


2009 is right around the corner. Even though you’ll be spending the first few months of ’09 figuring out your 2008 taxes, make sure you know what’s going on for taxes in 2009.
[via:: diazconsulting]

1. Roth IRAs: Income caps for high-income earners rise in 2009. If your Adjusted Gross Income is in the six digits, this effects you. The pay in limit for Roths increases for singles from $105,000 to $120,000, and for couples from $166,000 to $176,000.

2. Estate tax leaps to $3.5 million, up from $2 million in 2008.

3. Annual gift tax exclusion will rise to $13k per donee, up from $1,000.

4. The standard mileage rate for business driving is 55¢ a mile for 2009…a drop of 3½¢ per mile from the rate in effect for the final six months of 2008. For medical travel and moving its 24¢ per mile. When driving for charity its 14¢ a mile.

5. Standard deductions rise in 2009. Married couples can claim $11,400. If one spouse is 65 or older, $12,500. If both are, $13,600. Single taxpayers get $5,700. Those 65 and older can take $7,100. Household heads get $8,350 plus $1,400 once they reach age 65. Taxpayers who are legally blind are allowed to add $1,100 to these amounts. Also, married tax filers who do not itemize can augment their standard deduction by up to $1,000 of property taxes paid. Singles filers can add in up to $500 of taxes paid.

6. If you are 70½ or older you can skip minimum required payouts from retirement plans and IRAs for 2009 without a penalty.

7. In 2009 the maximum 401(k) contribution increases to $16,500, up by $1,000.Individuals born before 1960 can contribute an extra $5,500, for a total of $22,000.

8. Contribution payin limit for defined contribution plans such as SEP IRA accounts and Keogh plans increases to $49,000.

9. Personal exemptions are $3,650 for each filer and their dependents.

10. Annual caps on deductible contribution payins to health savings accounts rise in 2009. The maximums increase to $5,950 for account holders with family coverage and as much as $3,000 for single coverage.

What isn’t changing…

Contribution limits for IRAs and Roth IRAs. They’re still $5,000 a year, plus $1,000 more for anyone born before 1959.