Edition 5 Archives - Think Outside the Tax Box

Edition 5

By Michael E. Kitces, MSFS, MTAX, CFP®, CLU, ChFC, RHU, REBC, CASL

How to Do a Backdoor Roth IRA (Safely) and Avoid the IRA Aggregation Rule and Step Transaction Doctrine

The basic concept of the “backdoor Roth IRA contribution” is relatively straightforward. Contributing directly to a Roth IRA is restricted for higher-income individuals; once a married couple has an AGI in excess of $193,000 (or $131,000 for an individual), the maximum contribution limit to a Roth IRA reduces to zero. However, anyone with earned income can contribute to an IRA, regardless of how high their income is; at worst, higher income levels may limit the deductibility of that IRA contribution (for those who are an active participant in an employer retirement plan), but not the ability to make the IRA contribution.

In addition, under the Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act of 2005 (TIPRA), there have been no income limits on Roth conversions of traditional IRAs since 2010. As a result, anyone who has funds in a traditional IRA, whether originally deductible or not, is eligible to do a Roth conversion. In other words, while income limits remain on Roth contributions, there are no income limits for a Roth conversion.


Is Trader Tax Status Worth It?

As we navigate a world with COVID-19, large swings in the stock market have become the norm. Many buy and hold-style investors are more actively managing their portfolios to take advantage of these swings. The IRS has a special trader status for taxpayers who frequently engage in trading. This status includes a special accounting method, not available to the average investor, that can come with substantial tax savings. The status allows an investor to make special deductions and opens the door to a wide range of tax reduction strategies unavailable to the casual investor. However, with potential savings also come risks that could end up costing the taxpayer/trader more than the average investor. Weighing the pros and cons of this status is crucial in minimizing tax liability. The big question for tax planning is this — does obtaining trader tax status result in less tax?

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When a 1031 Exchange Should Be Used for Tax Savings

If you made money on your real estate investment, congratulations! You’re now in the same club that more than 90 percent of the world’s millionaires do to create wealth. Now it’s time for tax on that profit. A large tax bill generally means you made a large profit. But avoiding the tax can be like having your cake and eating it too. A 1031 Exchange is an incredibly powerful tool for you to defer the tax when used in the right circumstances. Many real estate investors and landlords look to the 1031 Like-Kind Exchange (LKE) as an excellent method of selling investment real estate without paying tax at the time of sale. This gives you more use of the cash you get at the sale and more time to use it.

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Will Changes to Qualified Improvement Property Get Me a Refund?

Question: I’m familiar with Qualified Improvement Property (QIP) and the technical correction made in 2020. What is everyone doing for returns when, if corrected, the client could benefit? Is it something you can amend the 2018 tax return for if you took a 179 expense instead of a bonus?

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