Our friend Dave Potter writes:
Yesterday’s passage of the tax relief bill, including the reduction in Social Security payroll taxes, creates some new opportunities for retirement savers across the economic spectrum. Whether you are wondering how you can afford to save for retirement or are worried that you may have saved too much, there is good news.
Two Can Get Your Three
The reduction in Social Security payroll taxes provides Americans with an extra 2 percent in take-home pay. Why not direct the extra paycheck earnings to your employer’s 401(k)? You can do so and not feel any loss in take-home pay.
If your employer matches contributions – say 50 percent on every dollar you contribute up to a specified ceiling – your 2 percent savings could net another 1 percent in savings the form of an employer match. That’s like earning 50 percent on your investment immediately.
Earlier this fall, Congress passed legislation allowing Americans who convert their 401(k) or 403(b) retirement plans to an in-plan Roth account to spread their tax liability over 2011 and 2012. The deadline for doing so was Dec. 31.
With President Obama’s signature on the new tax bill, the deadline for spreading your tax liability for Roth conversions has effectively been extended. You can now roll your 401(k) or 403(b) assets into an in-plan Roth and spread the tax liability over two years by converting half of your assets in 2011 and half in 2012.
Estate Tax Bingo
Believe it or not, there are some people who fear saving too much for retirement. They worry that assets they do not spend in retirement could be subject to the estate tax and leave their loved ones with a smaller inheritance.
Congress lifted the exclusion amount on the estate tax from a planned $1 million per person in 2011 to $5 million per person or $10 million per couple. The estate tax itself was reduced from 55 percent to 35 percent.
Raising the exclusion and lowering the tax means more affluent business owners, professionals and others can now max out their 401(k) savings ($49,000 annually), stuff more money into a cash balance plan or defer retirement dollars in annuities without fear of the death tax.
If you would like to learn more, I can put you in touch with Tom Foster Jr., an ERISA attorney and The Hartford’s expert on 401(k) retirement plans. You can reach me at 860-843-8993.
As always, thanks for your consideration.