Calculating my tax torpedo situation - did I do it right?
 01-07-2018, 03:54 PM #1 Thinks s/he gets paid by the post   Join Date: Jun 2006 Location: Boise Posts: 3,939 Calculating my tax torpedo situation - did I do it right? I am 48. For the first time in my life, I calculated an estimate of my tax torpedo situation. I'd like people to review my math to make sure that I did the math essentially correctly given my assumptions. My key assumptions: 1. The current tax brackets (the new ones) stay the same until my RMD's start. (Yes, I know they revert in 8 years - I'm choosing to ignore that.) 2. SS benefits estimates are in current dollars. 3. Tax brackets increase by chained CPI. 4. I do everything in nominal dollars. So here's what I did: RMD: My birthday is May 1969. I figure I'll turn 70.5 in 2039 and have to take my first RMD that year based on the balance at the end of 2038, which is basically 21 years from now. I took my current IRA balance and multiplied by 1.x%^21, where x is my estimated nominal rate of return to get my IRA balance at the end of 2038. I looked up my RMD factor at age 70 and find it to be 27.4. I divide the result of the previous paragraph by 27.4 to get my 2039 RMD amount. SS: I looked up my age 70 SS benefits online. It's monthly, so I multiply by 12. It's in present year dollars, so I multiply by 1.y%^21, where y is my estimate of SS COLAs. I assume 85% is taxable, so I multiply the previous result by 85% to get my taxable SS amount in 2039 dollars. AGI: I take my RMD plus my SS minus the standard deduction of \$12K. (I think the standard deduction also increases by chained CPI but I chose to ignore that here.) The result is my taxable AGI in 2039. Tax brackets: I take the new tax bracket breakpoints from a Forbes article for my filing status and multiply by 1.02^21, because I believe they used chained CPI and it seems that chained CPI this millenium has run at just about 2%. This gives me the 2039 bracket breakpoints. Torpedo: I compare my 2039 AGI to the 2039 tax brackets and find that I fill some of the lower ones and part of one of the middle ones, which becomes my marginal rate. Like most who do this exercise, this marginal bracket in 2039 is a few brackets higher than what I pay today, so I should consider Roth converting more between now and then. So my main question is, did I get the math fundamentally correct? That is, did I make any errors in the above logic which could materially affect the resulting conclusion? __________________ __________________ "At times the world can seem an unfriendly and sinister place, but believe us when we say there is much more good in it than bad. All you have to do is look hard enough, and what might seem to be a series of unfortunate events, may in fact be the first steps of a journey." Violet Baudelaire.
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 01-07-2018, 04:28 PM #2 Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)Give me a forum ...   Join Date: Mar 2005 Location: Chicago Posts: 10,887 Are you remembering to consider costly factors beyond higher marginal tax brackets? As you move up in income, there are other penalties such as loss of or elimination of deductions, a portion of SS being taxed and the evil IRMAA (which can get real pricey). Also, working in nominal dollars makes everything "iffy." But admittedly, I have no clue what inflation rates I'd use. As DW and I began RMD's, we were saddened to see such a big chunk of the distribution go to taxes and penalties. It made us rethink what our net worth actually is since we'll never see a very significant fraction of our tax deferred holdings. You're doing the right thing working on this. In hindsight, we should have converted more to our Roths (we did some) and at least avoided a bit of this. __________________ __________________ "I wasn't born blue blood. I was born blue-collar." John Wort Hannam
 01-07-2018, 04:36 PM #3 Thinks s/he gets paid by the post   Join Date: Mar 2010 Location: Kerrville,Tx Posts: 3,207 Actually in the situation where there will be substantial RMDs it might make sense to start Social Security earlier (which would lower the benefit) and lower the potential rate on the RMDs. If you don't need the RMDs at the time of course if they are in an IRA you can contribute them to charity and not have them impact taxes at all. (the contributions don't appear on the 1040) Note that the reduction of deductions as income increases is gone for the next few years as that was repealed, as well as the limit on state and local taxes making the overall size of deductions small for many. In fact it makes sense for those having to RMD to contribute to charity from the IRA not from current income.
01-07-2018, 04:52 PM   #4
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 Originally Posted by meierlde you can contribute them to charity and not have them impact taxes at all.
Yes. We were disappointed that contributions to donor managed accounts or charitable trusts don't work for this. But we can send contributions from our IRA's to charities through Qualified Charitable Distributions. Unfortunately, at least at Schwab, each of these requires a form to be filled out so sending small donations to many charities becomes a bit of a pita.
Quote:
 Note that the reduction of deductions as income increases is gone for the next few years as that was repealed, as well as the limit on state and local taxes making the overall size of deductions small for many.
Good point.
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 01-07-2018, 05:00 PM #5 Thinks s/he gets paid by the post   Join Date: Jun 2006 Location: Boise Posts: 3,939 @youbet, good points. At this point I'm just trying to roughly balance my federal tax obligation over my remaining lifetime. Admittedly looking at projected marginal rates in 21 years vs. today's marginal rate is sketchy, but better than nothing. In my case the future changes at a greater rate than the precision on my calculations, so it's probably a bit of "measure with a micrometer, cut with an axe". At first blush, I can at least see that modest Roth conversions might help me end up one bracket lower. @meierlde, good points. In my particular case, my RMD will be about 4x my SS benefit, so I'm not sure how big the effect is that you're referring to will be. Hmmm. I keep thinking that I will visit my CPA and have him help me with some of this kind of planning, and I keep putting it off. Maybe this year will be the year. __________________ "At times the world can seem an unfriendly and sinister place, but believe us when we say there is much more good in it than bad. All you have to do is look hard enough, and what might seem to be a series of unfortunate events, may in fact be the first steps of a journey." Violet Baudelaire.
01-07-2018, 05:15 PM   #6
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Quote:
 Originally Posted by youbet ..................... Unfortunately, at least at Schwab, each of these requires a form to be filled out so sending small donations to many charities becomes a bit of a pita. Good point.
Surprised to hear this.....I just take a note to the local branch listing the info for all the charities and they take of the rest. They send the checks to me. Are you asking them to send the check to the charities.

01-07-2018, 05:20 PM   #7

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Quote:
 Originally Posted by youbet You're doing the right thing working on this. In hindsight, we should have converted more to our Roths (we did some) and at least avoided a bit of this.
After reading hundreds of tax threads over the years, I think wishing one had more Roth and less pre-tax IRA is very common here at E-R Forum. I have been doing DM's taxes for over a decade, she has mostly pension income, and there is really very little I can to to reduce the tax bite. It's quite frustrating because we are used to managing our finances, and this is not manageable.

Having assets in Roth and pre-tax IRA allow at least some degree of asset management in retirement.

01-07-2018, 05:28 PM   #8
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 Originally Posted by kaneohe Surprised to hear this.....I just take a note to the local branch listing the info for all the charities and they take of the rest. They send the checks to me. Are you asking them to send the check to the charities.
Thanks for that info and I'll follow up on it. We actually haven't done it yet since we just are starting RMD's. I called and requested info on how to do it and they sent me a pdf of a form called "Request an RMD Distribution." The instructions say to fill out the form for each distribution. Although, they did mention that if there are several distributions being requested at the same time, the form could be filled out once and a list of the charities with their info attached. Is that what you do?

My comments were based on assuming DW would stick with her current habits and want to sent a few bux here and a few bux there numerous times over the year. Thus, I was thinking a form each time.

Our plan is to have Schwab send the checks to us and we'll forward to the charities.
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01-07-2018, 05:43 PM   #9
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 Originally Posted by MichaelB Having assets in Roth and pre-tax IRA allow at least some degree of asset management in retirement.
Indeed. We do have Roths but they are not a large part of our total IRA picture. We contributed to them early when our income allowed it and did some conversions later between retiring and starting SS and my pension.

The biggest source of funds for the IRA's was converting my 401k and DW's 403b to Rollover IRAs. I wish Roth 401k's and 403b's had existed back in the day when we were working.

I've found the Roths to be so handy in retirement in terms of asset management that, in hindsight, I would have converted more even if tax consequences appeared to be a wash.

About 13% of our IRA money is in Roths.

I guess my message to SecondCor521 would be to lean towards Roths even in cases where it's a close call.
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 01-07-2018, 07:36 PM #10 Thinks s/he gets paid by the post   Join Date: Jul 2012 Location: Texas Posts: 2,040 The math and logic you described sounds exactly like the tab called "Tax & Roth" in my retirement spreadsheet. So I hope you did it right. A couple differences: my spreadsheet indexes the standard deduction and I *do* assume that rates revert after 8 years, since that is the current law-of-the-land. I also compute our tax liability for every year from now to RIP and then I can do what-if's on various Roth strategies, SS timing, etc. and compare the lifetime tax and spending impact. Last few days, I've been modifying the spreadsheet for the new law, and I'm beginning to think that converting into the 22% bracket might be a good strategy in our situation. __________________ Retired at 52 in July 2013. On to better things... AA: 55% stock, 15% real estate, 27% bonds, 3% cash WR: 2.7% SI: 2 pensions, some rental income, SS later
 01-07-2018, 07:54 PM #11 Thinks s/he gets paid by the post   Join Date: Feb 2014 Location: Williston, FL Posts: 3,925 Convert/contribute as much Roth as you can. Do as much HSA and leave it alone. In 2039, tax rates may be much higher, or lower. Or there may be a VAT. Or we may be a different country. Or an asteroid may hit. __________________ FIRE no later than 7/5/2016 at 56 (done), securing '16 401K match (done), getting '15 401K match (done), LTI Bonus (done), Perf bonus (done), maxing out 401K (done), picking up 1,000 hours to get another year of pension (done), July 1st benefits (vacation day, healthcare) (done), July 4th holiday. 0 days left. (done) OFFICIALLY RETIRED 7/5/2016!!
01-07-2018, 08:56 PM   #12
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Quote:
 Originally Posted by youbet Thanks for that info and I'll follow up on it. We actually haven't done it yet since we just are starting RMD's. I called and requested info on how to do it and they sent me a pdf of a form called "Request an RMD Distribution." The instructions say to fill out the form for each distribution. Although, they did mention that if there are several distributions being requested at the same time, the form could be filled out once and a list of the charities with their info attached. Is that what you do? My comments were based on assuming DW would stick with her current habits and want to sent a few bux here and a few bux there numerous times over the year. Thus, I was thinking a form each time. Our plan is to have Schwab send the checks to us and we'll forward to the charities.
Yes , just one note in late October or so listing all the donations....name/\$\$.
I don't even just their form since nobody mentioned. Just a one page note w/ the relevant info.

01-07-2018, 10:01 PM   #13
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Quote:
 Originally Posted by MichaelB After reading hundreds of tax threads over the years, I think wishing one had more Roth and less pre-tax IRA is very common here at E-R Forum. Having assets in Roth and pre-tax IRA (I think MichaelB means after-tax IRA) allow at least some degree of asset management in retirement.
I'm one of those people. Most of my investments are in pre-tax accounts (401K and IRA). I wasn't able to fund a ROTH because my income level was too high, but I wish I'd have put more away in after tax accounts. As you go through those next 21 years, ask yourself if you really are benefiting from contributing more to those accounts. For example, I probably should have skipped the catch up portion on the 401K. For sure I would always putting in enough to get the employer match, but beyond that, think about it. I also should have funded an HSA sooner. No doubt that a good amount of money will go towards healthcare in some manner.

01-07-2018, 10:06 PM   #14
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Quote:
 Originally Posted by youbet Thanks for that info and I'll follow up on it. We actually haven't done it yet since we just are starting RMD's. I called and requested info on how to do it and they sent me a pdf of a form called "Request an RMD Distribution." The instructions say to fill out the form for each distribution. Although, they did mention that if there are several distributions being requested at the same time, the form could be filled out once and a list of the charities with their info attached. Is that what you do? My comments were based on assuming DW would stick with her current habits and want to sent a few bux here and a few bux there numerous times over the year. Thus, I was thinking a form each time. Our plan is to have Schwab send the checks to us and we'll forward to the charities.
Note that larger gifts get you more influence, and you could change the charity every year. When I reach 70.5 this is what I will do give to a different charity each year but just one per year.

01-08-2018, 12:03 AM   #15
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 Originally Posted by meierlde Actually in the situation where there will be substantial RMDs it might make sense to start Social Security earlier (which would lower the benefit) and lower the potential rate on the RMDs. ....
If you claim SS earlier so that you are in a lower tax bracket than you would have been by delaying also allows your deferred investments to grow. The calculators usually show that you end up paying more taxes, just a lower rate on a larger amount. Your RMDs could be so large that you would go from untaxed SS to taxed and the torpedo hits. You have to compare using your deferred accounts to replace SS income, and the subsequent lower RMDs and see where that places you in your tax bracket. It all depends on the tax liability of your sources of income ad well as the amount your SS will be. The new tax law limits state deductions to \$10k. If you live in a state where tIRA funds are taxed, and you have low property tax so you can fill the \$10k tax paid with a higher percentage of taxable deferred funds, you then find swapping that for a higher usually untaxed SS is another win-win factor for delaying.

01-08-2018, 03:09 PM   #16
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Quote:
 Originally Posted by SecondCor521 SS: I looked up my age 70 SS benefits online. It's monthly, so I multiply by 12. It's in present year dollars, so I multiply by 1.y%^21, where y is my estimate of SS COLAs. I assume 85% is taxable, so I multiply the previous result by 85% to get my taxable SS amount in 2039 dollars. Tax brackets: I take the new tax bracket breakpoints from a Forbes article for my filing status and multiply by 1.02^21, because I believe they used chained CPI and it seems that chained CPI this millenium has run at just about 2%. This gives me the 2039 bracket breakpoints. So my main question is, did I get the math fundamentally correct? That is, did I make any errors in the above logic which could materially affect the resulting conclusion?
Chained CPI runs very close to our current CPI. So "y" should be very close to (in fact, just a little higher than) .02.

Similarly, "x" should be consistent with an inflation rate of about 2%.

I'd pick one of these factors, probably the chained CPI, set it to zero, and make x and y the differences between those rates and the chained CPI. That keeps the output in something like "real" dollars and makes it easier to grasp.

You are looking for actionable information. "Real" dollars may tell you that you are headed toward so much retirement income that it makes sense to spend more today, or give more away today.

01-08-2018, 03:19 PM   #17
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Quote:
 Originally Posted by SecondCor521 I am 48. For the first time in my life, I calculated an estimate of my tax torpedo situation. I'd like people to review my math to make sure that I did the math essentially correctly given my assumptions. My key assumptions: 1. The current tax brackets (the new ones) stay the same until my RMD's start. (Yes, I know they revert in 8 years - I'm choosing to ignore that.) 2. SS benefits estimates are in current dollars. 3. Tax brackets increase by chained CPI. 4. I do everything in nominal dollars. So here's what I did: RMD: My birthday is May 1969. I figure I'll turn 70.5 in 2039 and have to take my first RMD that year based on the balance at the end of 2038, which is basically 21 years from now. I took my current IRA balance and multiplied by 1.x%^21, where x is my estimated nominal rate of return to get my IRA balance at the end of 2038. I looked up my RMD factor at age 70 and find it to be 27.4. I divide the result of the previous paragraph by 27.4 to get my 2039 RMD amount. SS: I looked up my age 70 SS benefits online. It's monthly, so I multiply by 12. It's in present year dollars, so I multiply by 1.y%^21, where y is my estimate of SS COLAs. I assume 85% is taxable, so I multiply the previous result by 85% to get my taxable SS amount in 2039 dollars. AGI: I take my RMD plus my SS minus the standard deduction of \$12K. (I think the standard deduction also increases by chained CPI but I chose to ignore that here.) The result is my taxable AGI in 2039. Tax brackets: I take the new tax bracket breakpoints from a Forbes article for my filing status and multiply by 1.02^21, because I believe they used chained CPI and it seems that chained CPI this millenium has run at just about 2%. This gives me the 2039 bracket breakpoints. Torpedo: I compare my 2039 AGI to the 2039 tax brackets and find that I fill some of the lower ones and part of one of the middle ones, which becomes my marginal rate. Like most who do this exercise, this marginal bracket in 2039 is a few brackets higher than what I pay today, so I should consider Roth converting more between now and then. So my main question is, did I get the math fundamentally correct? That is, did I make any errors in the above logic which could materially affect the resulting conclusion?
I think not inflating the standard deduction for inflation is likely to materially affect the calculations depending on how significant the other numbers are.

Another reason for tax-efficient placement putting your bonds in tax-deferred accounts all else being equal.
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01-08-2018, 03:32 PM   #18
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Quote:
 Originally Posted by Perryinva If you claim SS earlier so that you are in a lower tax bracket than you would have been by delaying also allows your deferred investments to grow. The calculators usually show that you end up paying more taxes, just a lower rate on a larger amount. Your RMDs could be so large that you would go from untaxed SS to taxed and the torpedo hits. You have to compare using your deferred accounts to replace SS income, and the subsequent lower RMDs and see where that places you in your tax bracket. It all depends on the tax liability of your sources of income ad well as the amount your SS will be. The new tax law limits state deductions to \$10k. If you live in a state where tIRA funds are taxed, and you have low property tax so you can fill the \$10k tax paid with a higher percentage of taxable deferred funds, you then find swapping that for a higher usually untaxed SS is another win-win factor for delaying.
+1

I live in a state that doesn't tax SS at all. I figured (using TurboTax) that my overall taxes would be significantly lower if I started SS early. I'm not there yet, and will refigure once I hit 62 in a couple of years, but it's one piece of the puzzle.

My goal is to have enough Tax Deferred + Tax Free (Roth) + Taxable to play with withdrawals from each in order to pay very little Federal taxes in retirement. Getting familiar with tax software is essential in playing around with the numbers.

OP, there is an online SS calculator that you can select Future Dollars (instead of present dollars). I think you can find it on socialsecurity.gov. It might be a little more accurate than inflating current SS projections (maybe).

 01-08-2018, 11:40 PM #19 Thinks s/he gets paid by the post   Join Date: Jun 2006 Location: Boise Posts: 3,939 @perryinva, I don't think there's any way I can avoid my SS being taxed at the 85% level, so I'm not sure that any of the optimizations you suggest will apply. @Independent, my policy is to use the longest term historical average that I can find from a reputable source. For chained CPI I found a recent Forbes article that gave a value from 2000 to 2017 of just about 2%. For SS COLAs I think I found a page on ssa.gov that gave a 20+ year average of 3%. As far as future vs. current dollars, my brain just groks future dollars better. I also think it is less mistake-prone to do everything in future dollars so that different rates of increase are done independently (for brackets, income, etc.). But that's just me. And yes, it does look like, if things go reasonably well, that I'll have more money that I'll need to decide what to do with it. Even though my spreadsheets project it, it is still a bit hard for me to loosen the purse strings. Typical early FIREee behavior I guess. @pb4uski, yes, that was something I was wondering about a little. As it turns out, I did a better spreadsheet and learned that the standard deduction is scheduled to increase with chained CPI also, so that's accounted for now. And yes, my bond allocation is all in tax-deferred (I have them in my traditional IRA). @PatrickA5, thanks, I'll look around for that calculator. ETA: Found the calculator at ssa.gov. Using it gave me an estimate that is roughly in the same ballpark as what I had calculated. It's good to have the confirmation that I'm not off by a factor of 2 or something like that. __________________ "At times the world can seem an unfriendly and sinister place, but believe us when we say there is much more good in it than bad. All you have to do is look hard enough, and what might seem to be a series of unfortunate events, may in fact be the first steps of a journey." Violet Baudelaire.
 01-09-2018, 06:00 AM #20 Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)Give me a forum ...   Join Date: Jan 2006 Location: Rio Grande Valley Posts: 23,596 In our case 85% of SS is taxed regardless. We have lots of cap gains income and small ordinary income, so the first effect of SS and RMDs is to push some of our cap gains income out of the 0% bracket. Folks figure this means 27% on what would otherwise be taxed at 0% (12%+15%). Another issue is IRMAA impact on Medicare premiums. I won’t really have a feel for this until the end of 2018. I have to calculate the additional premium for additional income as it is a stair step function, not brackets. So far we’ve been paying AMT rates (26%) on most of our ordinary income, yet still 0% on some of our cap gains income and generally 15% and then 18.8% on the rest. I’ve worked hard to rearrange things so that cap gains income is lower in future years and perhaps won’t trigger AMT but will probably push us into higher IRMAA Medicare premiums. __________________ __________________ Retired since summer 1999.

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