The Diversified Blog

A wealth management blog dedicated to creating a long lasting sustainable retirement.

10 Worst States for Taxes on Your Retirement Nest Egg

Here is a nice article provided by Sandra Block of Kiplinger:


Retirees have special concerns when evaluating state tax policies. For instance, the mortgage might be paid off, but how bad are the property taxes—and how generous are the property-tax breaks for seniors? Are Social Security benefits taxed? What about other forms of retirement income—including IRAs and pensions? Does the state impose its own estate tax that might subtract from your legacy? The answers might just determine which side of the state border you’ll settle on in retirement.

These 10 states impose the highest taxes on retirees, according to Kiplinger’s exclusive 2016 analysis of state taxes. Three of them treat Social Security benefits just like Uncle Sam does—taxing as much as 85% of your benefits. Exemptions for other types of retirement income are limited or nonexistent. Property taxes are on the high side, too. And if that weren’t bad enough, some of these states are facing significant financial problems that could force them to raise taxes, cut services, or both.

10.  Utah:

State Income Tax: 5% flat tax

Average State and Local Sales Tax: 6.69%

Estate Tax/Inheritance Tax: No/No

The Beehive State joins our list of least tax-friendly states this year, replacing Rhode Island (which no longer taxes Social Security benefits for residents with adjusted gross income of as much as $80,000/individual, $100,000/joint).

Utah offers few tax breaks for retirees. Income from IRAs, 401(k)s, pensions and Social Security benefits is taxable at the 5% flat tax rate. The state does offer a retirement-income tax credit of as much as $450 per person ($900 for a married couple). The credit is phased out at 2.5 cents per dollar of modified adjusted gross income over $16,000 for married individuals filing separately, $25,000 for singles and $32,000 for married people filing jointly.

On the plus side, property taxes are modest. Median property tax on the state's median home value of $223,200 is $1,480, 11th-lowest in the U.S.

9.  New York:

State Income Tax: 4.0% (on taxable income as much as $8,450/individual, $17,050/joint) – 8.82% (on taxable income greater than $1,070,350/individual, $2,140,900/joint)

Average State and Local Sales Tax: 8.49%

Estate Tax/Inheritance Tax: Yes/No

New York doesn’t tax Social Security benefits or public pensions. It also excludes as much as $20,000 for private pensions, out-of-state government pensions, IRAs and distributions from employer-sponsored retirement plans. New York allows localities to impose an additional income tax; the average local levy is 2.11%, per the Tax Foundation.

The Empire State also has some of the highest property and sales tax rates in the U.S. Food and prescription and nonprescription drugs are exempt from state sales taxes, as are greens fees, health club memberships, and most arts and entertainment tickets.

The median property tax on the state's median home value of $279,100 is $4,703, the 10th-highest rate in the U.S.

While New York has an estate tax, a law that took effect in 2015 will make it less onerous. Estates exceeding $4,187,500 are subject to estate tax in fiscal year 2016–2017, with a top rate of 16%. The exemption will rise by $1,062,500 each April 1 until it reaches $5,250,000 in 2017. Starting Jan. 1, 2019, it will be indexed to the federal exemption. But if you’re close to the threshold, get a good estate lawyer, because New York has what’s known as a "cliff tax." If the value of your estate is more than 105% of the current exemption, the entire estate will be subject to state estate tax.

8.  New Jersey:

State Income Tax: 1.4% (on as much as $20,000 of taxable income) – 8.97% (on taxable income greater than $500,000)

Average State and Local Sales Tax: 6.97%

Estate Tax/Inheritance Tax: Yes/Yes

The Garden State's tax policies create a thicket of thorns for some retirees.

Its property taxes are the highest in the U.S.The median property tax on the state's median home value of $313,200 is $7,452.

While Social Security benefits, military pensions and some retirement income is excluded from state taxes, your other retirement income could be taxed as high as 8.97%. And New Jersey allows localities to impose their own income tax; the average local levy is 0.5%, according to the Tax Foundation.

Residents 62 or older may exclude as much as $15,000 ($20,000 if married filing jointly) of retirement income, including pensions, annuities and IRA withdrawals, if their gross income is $100,000 or less. However, the exclusion doesn’t extend to distributions from 401(k) or other employer-sponsored retirement plans.

New Jersey is one of only a couple of states that impose an inheritance and an estate tax. (An estate tax is levied before the estate is distributed; an inheritance tax is paid by the beneficiaries.) In general, close relatives are excluded from the inheritance tax; others face tax rates ranging from 11% to 16% on inheritances of $500 or more. Estates valued at more than $675,000 are subject to estate taxes of up to 16%. Assets that go to a spouse or civil union partner are exempt.

Proposals to increase the state’s estate-tax threshold—the lowest in the U.S.—to levels that would ensnare fewer estates have been derailed by the state’s financial woes. George Mason University’s Mercatus Center ranks New Jersey 48th in its analysis of states’ fiscal health.

7.  Nebraska:

State Income Tax: 2.46% (on taxable income as much as $3,060/individual, $6,120/joint) – 6.84% (on taxable income greater than $29,590/individual, $59,180/joint)

Average State and Local Sales Tax: 6.87%

Estate Tax/Inheritance Tax: No/Yes

The Cornhusker State taxes Social Security benefits, but new rules that took effect in 2015 will exempt some of that income from state taxes. Residents can subtract Social Security income included in federal adjusted gross income if their adjusted gross income is $58,000 or less for married couples filing jointly or $43,000 for single residents.

Nebraska taxes most other retirement income, including retirement-plan withdrawals and public and private pensions. And the state’s top income-tax rate kicks in pretty quickly: It applies to taxable income above $29,590 for single filers and $59,180 for married couples filing jointly.

Food and prescription drugs are exempt from sales taxes. Local jurisdictions can add an additional 2% to the state rate.

The median property tax on the state's median home value of $133,800 is $2,474, the seventh-highest property-tax rate in the U.S.

Nebraska's inheritance tax is a local tax, ranging from 1% to 18%, administered by counties. Assets left to a spouse or charity are exempt.

6.  California:

State Income Tax: 1% (on taxable income as much as $7,850/individual, $15,700/joint) – 13.3% (on taxable income greater than $1 million/individual, $1,052,886/joint)

Average State and Local Sales Tax: 8.48%

Estate Tax/Inheritance Tax: No/No

California exempts Social Security benefits, but all other forms of retirement income are fully taxed. That’s significant, because residents of the Golden State pay the third-highest effective income tax rate in the U.S.

Early retirees who take withdrawals from their retirement plans before age 59½ pay a 2.5% state penalty on top of the 10% penalty imposed by the IRS.

At 7.5%, state sales taxes are the highest in the country, and local taxes can push the combined rate as high as 10%.

The median property tax on the state's median home value of $412,700 is $3,160.

5.  Montana:

State Income Tax: 1% (on as much as $2,900 of taxable income) – 6.9% (on taxable income greater than $17,400)

Average State and Local Sales Tax: None

Estate Tax/Inheritance Tax: No/No

You won’t pay sales tax to shop in the Treasure State, but that may be small comfort when you get your state tax bill.

Montana taxes most forms of retirement income, including Social Security benefits, and its 6.9% top rate kicks in once your taxable income exceeds a modest $17,400.

Montana allows a pension- and annuity-income exemption of as much as $3,980 per person if federal adjusted gross income is $35,180 ($37,170 if filing a joint return) or less. If both spouses are receiving retirement income, each spouse can take up to the maximum exemption if the couple falls under the income threshold. Montana also permits filers to deduct some of their federal income tax.

The median property tax on the state's median home value of $196,800 is $1,653, below average for the U.S.

4.  Oregon:

State Income Tax: 5% (on taxable income as much as $3,350/individual, $6,700/joint) – 9.9% (on taxable income greater than $125,000/individual, $250,000/joint)

Average State and Local Sales Tax: None

Estate Tax/Inheritance Tax: Yes/No

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Business Owner or Corporate Exec: Are You On Track to Retire (Someday)?

If you are a business owner, corporate executive or similar professional, “success” often means at least two things. There’s the career satisfaction you’ve worked your tail off for. Then there’s that question that starts whispering in your ear early on, growing louder over time:

Am I on track to retire on my own terms and timeline? (And if not, what should I do about it?)

While every family’s circumstances are unique and personalized retirement planning is advised, the ballpark reference below can help you consider how your current nest eggs stack up. It shows the savings you’ll want to have accumulated, assuming the following:

•  You’re saving 10–16% of your salary (or equivalent income) and receiving an annual raise of 3%.

•  Your annual investment return is 6%.

•  At retirement (age 65) you want to spend 40% of your final salary (with Social Security making up an additional 20–40% of the same).

•  You plan to withdraw 4% annually from your portfolio.

Salary vs. Age vs. Desired Savings Today (To Retire at 65)



Still feeling a little overwhelmed by the size of the chart? Let’s look at some plausible scenarios.

Let’s say you are a 40-year-old couple earning $100,000 annually. The table suggests you should have saved about $317,000 by now. If you continue to save 10–16% of your salary every year and the other assumptions above hold true as well, you should be on track to retire at age 65 and replace 40% of your final paychecks by withdrawing 4% of your portfolio each year. If you’re already 50 and pulling in $200,000, your savings should be right around $1.067 million to be on track in the same manner.

Do your numbers not add up as well as you’d like? No need to panic, but it’s likely you’ll want to get planning for how you can make up the gap. That may mean saving more, retiring later in life, investing more aggressively or employing a judicious combination of all of the above.

If you’re not sure how to get started, I recommend turning to a professional, fee-only advisor who you’re comfortable working with. He or she should be able to offer you an objective perspective to help you decide and implement your next steps. In the meantime, here is one tip to consider.

How To Channel Your Salary Increases Into Retirement Assets

As you approach retirement, many business owners’ or corporate executives’ salaries tend to increase, while some of their expenses (such as the mortgage) remain level. If that’s the case and you’re behind on your retirement savings, you may be able to direct your annual salary increases into increased saving.

For example let’s say you’ve been saving 7% of your salary, or $10,500/year, and you receive a 3% raise.  Take that extra 3% ($4,500) and direct it into savings. Without having to alter your current spending, you’re now saving 9.7% of your salary or $15,000 total.  If you get another 3% raise the following year, do it again and you’ll be saving $19,635 or about 12.3% of your $159,135 salary.

And so on. If you can’t allocate all of every raise every year to increased savings, do as much as you’re able and the numbers should start adding up, without having to significantly tighten your belt. Who knows, as you and your spouse see the numbers grow, you may even begin to enjoy the exercise.

One repeated caveat before we go: Remember that the table above offers only rough saving guidelines. It’s certainly not the final word, and should not be taken as such. In addition to saving for retirement, you’ll want to ensure that the rest of your financial house is in order, so your plans won’t be knocked off course by life’s many surprises.

Again, a financial professional can assist. He or she can help ensure that your investment portfolio is well diversified (to manage investment risk), your estate plan is current, your advance directives and insurance policies are in place, and your tax strategies are thoughtfully prepared. 

So, start with the chart, and give us a call if we can tell you more.


Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.



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Longevity Risk and Retirement Income

How long might you live in retirement? Think carefully. Your answer could influence whether you have enough money for a comfortable retirement or just scrape by.

According to pension mortality tables, at least one member of a 65-year-old couple has a 72% chance of living to age 85 and a 45% chance of living to age 90.1 This suggests that many of us will need to plan carefully to ensure that we don't outlast our assets.

Live Long and Prosper

The first step in tackling longevity risk is to figure out how much you can realistically afford to withdraw each year from your personal savings and investments. You can tap the expertise of a qualified financial professional to assist you with this task. Or, you can use an online calculator to help you estimate how long your money might last.

One strategy is to withdraw a conservative 4% to 5% of your principal each year. However, your annual withdrawal amount will depend on a number of factors, including the overall amount of your retirement pot, your estimated length of retirement, annual market conditions and inflation rate, and your financial goals. For example, do you wish to spend down all of your assets or pass along part of your wealth to family or a charity?

Protecting Your Retirement Paycheck

No matter what your goals, there are ways to potentially make the most out of your nest egg. The remainder of this article examines how a strategy might play out with assets held in taxable accounts.

First, you'll likely need ready access to a cash reserve to help pay for daily expenditures. A common rule of thumb is to keep at least 12 months of living expenses in an interest-bearing savings account, though your needs may vary.

Then, consider refilling your cash reserve bucket on an annual basis by selectively liquidating different longer-term investments, timing gains and losses to offset one another whenever possible.

Developing a Diverse Income Strategy

Responding to the current interest rate environment is one way to potentially squeeze more income from your savings and stretch out the money you've accumulated for retirement. For example, if rates are trending upward, you might consider keeping more money in short-term Certificates of Deposits (CDs).2 The opposite strategy may be employed when rates appear to be declining.

Most retirees need their investments to generate income. Bonds may help fill this need. "Laddering" of bonds can potentially create a steady income stream while helping reduce long-term interest exposure (see illustration).



A common way to help temper investment risk is to spread it out by diversifying among different types of securities. A retiree seeking income can use the same strategy by adding dividend-paying equities to his or her portfolio.

These stocks potentially offer the opportunity for supplemental income by paying part of their earnings to shareholders on a regular basis. Another potential attraction? Qualified stock dividends are currently taxed at a maximum rate of 20%, rather than ordinary federal income tax rates, which currently run as high as 39.6%. Also, keep in mind that investing in an equity-income mutual fund, which generally holds many dividend-paying stocks, may help reduce risk compared with investing in a handful of individual stocks.

Adding Annuities to the Mix

One way to potentially provide regular income and address longevity risk is to purchase an immediate annuity. In exchange for giving an insurer a specific amount of money, you're guaranteed income for either a specific period of time, or life. Keep in mind, however, that guarantees are backed by the claims-paying ability of the issuing company. There are many types of annuities, so speak with a financial professional to carefully weigh your options, and be sure to examine fees and other charges before buying.3

The chart shows how adding an annuity could potentially increase the odds that your money will last your lifetime. One tactic is to figure out your annual expenses and determine how much income you'll receive from Social Security and pensions (if any). Then, consider purchasing an annuity that will make up any shortfall. This allows peace of mind, knowing that your regular expenses are covered. Then, you can put your other investments to work pursuing growth.

Accounting for Growth

Finally, be cautious about being overly conservative with your investments. Many people may live 30 or more years in retirement. Therefore, your portfolio may need a boost of stocks to outpace inflation over the years.

These are just a few ideas for developing an adequate income plan during retirement. Consider sitting down with a qualified financial professional to discuss these and other strategies that might be appropriate for your situation.



Points to Remember

1.  For many Americans, a great threat to their financial security in retirement is the risk of outliving their money.

2.  The first step in tackling longevity risk is to figure out a sustainable annual withdrawal rate from personal savings and investments.

3.  Next, consider keeping a cash reserve of 12 or more months to help pay for daily expenditures.

4.  Consider diversifying the rest of your taxable portfolio among different savings and investment options, including those with different maturities to account for fluctuating interest rates.

5.  Purchasing an immediate annuity with part of your nest egg can provide regular income and help address longevity risk.

6.  You may need to own some stocks to outpace inflation over the years.

7.  Work with a qualified financial professional to discuss retirement income strategies that might be appropriate for you.

Source(s):

1.  Social Security Administration, Period Life Table (2007, latest available).

2.  Certificates of Deposit (CDs) offer a guaranteed rate of return, guaranteed principal and interest, and are generally insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC), but do not necessarily protect against the rising cost of living.

3.  Withdrawals from annuities prior to age 59½ are subject to a 10% additional tax and all withdrawals are taxed as ordinary income. Issuing companies may also charge surrender charges for some early withdrawals. Neither fixed nor variable annuities are insured by the FDIC, and they are not deposits of -- or endorsed or guaranteed by -- any bank. Investing in variable annuities involves risk, including loss of principal.
 

Required Attribution

Because of the possibility of human or mechanical error by Wealth Management Systems Inc. or its sources, neither Wealth Management Systems Inc. nor its sources guarantees the accuracy, adequacy, completeness or availability of any information and is not responsible for any errors or omissions or for the results obtained from the use of such information. In no event shall Wealth Management Systems Inc. be liable for any indirect, special or consequential damages in connection with subscriber's or others' use of the content.

© 2016 DST Systems, Inc. Reproduction in whole or in part prohibited, except by permission. All rights reserved. Not responsible for any errors or omissions.

 

 

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

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