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Is this a good strategy
Old 04-04-2006, 01:12 PM   #1
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Is this a good strategy

I'm planning for ER

I estimate I'll need $30k/year from my after-tax investments, IRA and Roth accounts to live as the house is paid for.
My plan is to live off my after-tax investments until I've drawn them down to about 2 years worth of living expenses.
SS will start around the time that happens, then I'll start taking distributions from the IRA, always keeping in the 15% tax bracket, and leave the Roth for big one time expenses like buying a new car etc.

Is this a sensible way to plan?

I found this technical article on IRA withdrawals and it gives various tax strategies for
allocating funds between IRAs and Roths.

http://www.rothira.com/leibman.htm

I'm not keen on the idea of using a line of credit
to pay the taxes on the rollover to the Roth, even if it is the best financially in the end,
but after all these calculations am I correct in thinking that if the couple only needed
say $30k per year and were therfore in a substantially lower tax bracket, it would make
sense to leave the money in an IRA rather than doing rollovers into a Roth?


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Re: Is this a good strategy
Old 04-04-2006, 02:02 PM   #2
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Re: Is this a good strategy

I would do it a bit differently. I would probably draw out $$$ from the traditional IRA up to the top of the 15% bracket. If you can draw more than you need to live on, use it to do roth conversions. Leave the taxable stuff alone if you don't need to tap it. Why?

- The 15% bracket may not be around forever, so take advantage of it.
- Traditional IRAs suck as estate planning vehicles compared to Roths and taxable stuff, so spend them down.
- If you don't make use of the 15% bracket throughout your life, the IRA balance builds, meaning that you will eventually be taking larger sums out at higher tax rates in the future. In an extreme case, you start having to take large RMDs at high marginal rates.
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Re: Is this a good strategy
Old 04-04-2006, 02:17 PM   #3
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Re: Is this a good strategy

I have been pondering a similar question. I also thought about drawing down the IRA faster by delaying SS till 70. Seems like the 8% it gains after 66, and the add on COLA it would make since to delay taking SS.
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Re: Is this a good strategy
Old 04-04-2006, 02:30 PM   #4
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Re: Is this a good strategy

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rustic23
I have been pondering a similar question. I also thought about drawing down the IRA faster by delaying SS till 70. Seems like the 8% it gains after 66, and the add on COLA it would make since to delay taking SS.
Rustic, we've had lots of discussion on the forum about this very topic. You might want to do a search for "delay SS". The 'financial advice' press has been full of advice on this very subject, including Scott Burns who had columns both pro and con on delaying.

While the numbers do favor you waiting until 70, my personal bias is toward taking SS as early as possible. I suspect I will enjoy x SS dollars at 62 more than I will x+ SS dollars at 70, assuming I live that long (one of my brothers died at age 70). Plus you never know what changes could be made to SS benefits in the next 11 years (I'm 59).

So, I'm gonna take it as soon as I can get it and hope I live long enough to wish I had waited.

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Re: Is this a good strategy
Old 04-04-2006, 02:32 PM   #5
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Re: Is this a good strategy

If you can take money out of the traditional ira/401k, seems like a good idea to do some every year rather than wait. Your first 10-15k will be taken care of by your standard deduction/exemptions, then you have the 10% bracket if you want to take out some more. Then the 15% bracket. Manage yourself into the 15% bracket so that your dividend and capital gains taxes on your "taxable stash" is the lowest, also.
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Re: Is this a good strategy
Old 04-04-2006, 02:49 PM   #6
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Re: Is this a good strategy

Quote:
Originally Posted by brewer12345
I would do it a bit differently. I would probably draw out $$$ from the traditional IRA up to the top of the 15% bracket. If you can draw more than you need to live on, use it to do roth conversions. Leave the taxable stuff alone if you don't need to tap it. Why?

- The 15% bracket may not be around forever, so take advantage of it.
- Traditional IRAs suck as estate planning vehicles compared to Roths and taxable stuff, so spend them down.
- If you don't make use of the 15% bracket throughout your life, the IRA balance builds, meaning that you will eventually be taking larger sums out at higher tax rates in the future. In an extreme case, you start having to take large RMDs at high marginal rates.
Thanks, so using your advice here's my new plan

I'll live off the after tax $$$ until I'm 59 1/2, then, once I can get at the IRAs without 10% penalty, I'll take $$$ from the TIRA making sure to stay in the 15% tax brackett. Should I then also start doing Roth conversions, paying the tax from my after tax investments, so that by the time I get to 70 1/2 the minimum distributions from the TIRA are below some educated guess at what the future 15% tax bracket would be?
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Re: Is this a good strategy
Old 04-04-2006, 03:00 PM   #7
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Re: Is this a good strategy

Quote:
Originally Posted by nun
Thanks, so using your advice here's my new plan

I'll live off the after tax $$$ until I'm 59 1/2, then, once I can get at the IRAs without 10% penalty, I'll take $$$ from the TIRA making sure to stay in the 15% tax brackett. Should I then also start doing Roth conversions, paying the tax from my after tax investments, so that by the time I get to 70 1/2 the minimum distributions from the TIRA are below some educated guess at what the future 15% tax bracket would be?
One possible wrinkle: depending on your age and the size of your IRA, you might consider doing a 72T dealie to pull stuff out of the IRA boefore 59 1/2. Why? If your IRA is so large that you will end up with big RMDs (and big tax bills) by waiting to pull from it until age 59 1/2, you might be better off 72Ting it. You'd have to do some spreadsheet work to figure it out though.
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Re: Is this a good strategy
Old 04-04-2006, 03:18 PM   #8
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Re: Is this a good strategy

Quote:
Originally Posted by brewer12345
One possible wrinkle: depending on your age and the size of your IRA, you might consider doing a 72T dealie to pull stuff out of the IRA boefore 59 1/2. Why? If your IRA is so large that you will end up with big RMDs (and big tax bills) by waiting to pull from it until age 59 1/2, you might be better off 72Ting it. You'd have to do some spreadsheet work to figure it out though.
Is the 72T the substantially equal distribution thingy?

Is rolling over money from IRA to Roth (any paying the tax from after tax $$$) to make sure the min distributions will keep me in the 15% tax bracket a sensible thing to do?
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Re: Is this a good strategy
Old 04-04-2006, 03:23 PM   #9
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Re: Is this a good strategy

Quote:
Originally Posted by nun
Is the 72T the substantially equal distribution thingy?

Is rolling over money from IRA to Roth (any paying the tax from after tax $$$) to make sure the min distributions will keep me in the 15% tax bracket a sensible thing to do?
Yep 72T = SEPP.

Is it "the sensible thing" to do? I dunno. This is all just a calculated bet that includes expectations about what the tax code will look like years in the future. However, its probably not a bad idea to take advantage of low current tax rates to the extent you can do so.
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Re: Is this a good strategy
Old 04-04-2006, 03:23 PM   #10
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Re: Is this a good strategy

REwahoo,
Basic problem is size of IRA to convert and other income. I can delay SS and other retirement income untill I am 70. I will be able to convert most of the IRA at 15% however some would have to be converted at 25% each year. If I don't delay SS and other pension income, I incur a rather large sum taxed at 25%.
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Re: Is this a good strategy
Old 04-04-2006, 03:33 PM   #11
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Re: Is this a good strategy

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rustic23
If I don't delay SS and other pension income, I incur a rather large sum taxed at 25%.
Everyone's situation is different and you do need to examine all your options and do what makes sense for your circumstances. Someone commented on another thread that he never dreamed he was going to opt for early retirement and end up becoming a tax accountant. :P (Not that there is anything wrong with that. All you tax accountants out there, we sincerely appreciate your advice on this forum... )

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Re: Is this a good strategy
Old 04-04-2006, 04:51 PM   #12
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Re: Is this a good strategy

As I think I read above, to keep in the 15% bracket

Wages+Interest+ Dividends+Capital Gains+IRA will roughly = AGI - Std Deduction - Personal Exemptions = Taxable income

So you want Taxable Income to be 30k + Std Deduction(10k) + Personal Exemptions(3k) = AGI

My point is the AGI can be about 43k given the current variables to stay within the 15% bracket. Of course your std deduction may not be std and your exemptions may be different than mine.

In my case I plan to do a similar strategy and 72t $30,000 from an IRA + Int+Div+CG+small Trust. The rest on my budget will come from taxable accts.

job
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Re: Is this a good strategy
Old 04-04-2006, 05:03 PM   #13
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Re: Is this a good strategy

Quote:
Originally Posted by Daddy O
As I think I read above, to keep in the 15% bracket

Wages+Interest+ Dividends+Capital Gains+IRA will roughly = AGI - Std Deduction - Personal Exemptions = Taxable income

So you want Taxable Income to be 30k + Std Deduction(10k) + Personal Exemptions(3k) = AGI

My point is the AGI can be about 43k given the current variables to stay within the 15% bracket. Of course your std deduction may not be std and your exemptions may be different than mine.

In my case I plan to do a similar strategy and 72t $30,000 from an IRA + Int+Div+CG+small Trust. The rest on my budget will come from taxable accts.

job
The $30k is my total living expenses, so I'll just take that and any more that I can from the IRA, up to the 15% limit, I'll rollover into the Roth.
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Re: Is this a good strategy
Old 04-04-2006, 05:11 PM   #14
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Re: Is this a good strategy

Nun,
Just to chime in -- (Brewer's got even more detailed advice) but I think you're on the right track. Make a few spreadsheets and run a few scenarios for your unique cases but I am of the opinion that taking Roth conversions early, (now if you can) up to the limit of your 15% bracket, makes sound long term financial sense in the face of uncertain taxes in the future. (I have trouble believing taxes will come down in the face of all the debt and deficit, but hey, ya never know!)

The point is that big Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) added to Social Security payments can push even modestly well-off retirees into higher marginal brackets.

And, sort of like backgammon, I like to know I've moved a certain number of my pieces 'home' into the Roth, beyond the grip of the taxman (we assume/hope).

Should you go into debt to convert the Roth? Worth considering if you have cashflow for a few more years.

Also, don't worry about getting the numbers wrong and converting too much of your IRA to a Roth in any given year: I just finished re-characterizing my Roth Conversion and it took all of 5 minutes filling in and mailing a simple form from Vanguard.
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Re: Is this a good strategy
Old 04-04-2006, 05:13 PM   #15
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Re: Is this a good strategy

For 2006, the married filing jointly 15% tax bracket tops out at $61,300. With a standard deduction of $10,000 plus personal exemptions for $3200 each, the 15% bracket is pretty generous.
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Re: Is this a good strategy
Old 04-05-2006, 01:38 PM   #16
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Re: Is this a good strategy

Quote:
Originally Posted by ESRBob
Nun,
Just to chime in -- (Brewer's got even more detailed advice) but I think you're on the right track. Make a few spreadsheets and run a few scenarios for your unique cases but I am of the opinion that taking Roth conversions early, (now if you can) up to the limit of your 15% bracket, makes sound long term financial sense in the face of uncertain taxes in the future. (I have trouble believing taxes will come down in the face of all the debt and deficit, but hey, ya never know!)

The point is that big Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) added to Social Security payments can push even modestly well-off retirees into higher marginal brackets.

And, sort of like backgammon, I like to know I've moved a certain number of my pieces 'home' into the Roth, beyond the grip of the taxman (we assume/hope).

Should you go into debt to convert the Roth? Worth considering if you have cashflow for a few more years.

Also, don't worry about getting the numbers wrong and converting too much of your IRA to a Roth in any given year: I just finished re-characterizing my Roth Conversion and it took all of 5 minutes filling in and mailing a simple form from Vanguard.
I ran a few simulations with the following parameters and assumptions and this is what I found

Age 45
expenses until 60 years old covered from after tax investments
Tax bracket 15%
Starting IRA balance 300k
ROTH balance 20k
After tax balance 100k
3% inflation
6% investment return

Senario 1
No rollovers to ROTH
Start taking 35k/year from IRA at 60 years old until 88 inflating by 3% per year

Senario 2
Rollover from IRA to ROTH at amount up to the top of the 15% income bracket each year
pay the tax from after tax funds
Take 35k/year from IRA at 60 years and inflate by 3% per year.
Once IRA is zeroed out take money from the ROTH at same rate until 88 years old

I'm still checking my maths, but initially it seems that if you do the rollover you end up with more total income
over the years, but with a smaller final net worth than if you leave the money in the IRA.

If you add the total income to the final value of the accounts you come out slightly ahead with the Roth rollover,
but it really doesn't make a whole lot of difference.
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Re: Is this a good strategy
Old 04-05-2006, 03:25 PM   #17
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Re: Is this a good strategy

Quote:
Originally Posted by nun
I ran a few simulations with the following parameters and assumptions and this is what I found

Age 45
expenses until 60 years old covered from after tax investments
Tax bracket 15%
Starting IRA balance 300k
ROTH balance 20k
After tax balance 100k
3% inflation
6% investment return

Senario 1
No rollovers to ROTH
Start taking 35k/year from IRA at 60 years old until 88 inflating by 3% per year

Senario 2
Rollover from IRA to ROTH at amount up to the top of the 15% income bracket each year
pay the tax from after tax funds
Take 35k/year from IRA at 60 years and inflate by 3% per year.
Once IRA is zeroed out take money from the ROTH at same rate until 88 years old

I'm still checking my maths, but initially it seems that if you do the rollover you end up with more total income
over the years, but with a smaller final net worth than if you leave the money in the IRA.

If you add the total income to the final value of the accounts you come out slightly ahead with the Roth rollover,
but it really doesn't make a whole lot of difference.
I'm confused, how do you get 15 years of $30k/year for expenses out of a $100k after tax balance?
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Re: Is this a good strategy
Old 04-05-2006, 03:29 PM   #18
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Re: Is this a good strategy

Quote:
Originally Posted by nun
If you add the total income to the final value of the accounts you come out slightly ahead with the Roth rollover, but it really doesn't make a whole lot of difference.
Yep. *The keys are being in a higher (or at least same) tax bracket in retirmeent and paying conversion taxes with funds outside the IRA.

If the simulation isn't complicated enough yet, see how the rise in your AGI from your conventional IRA withdrawals would affect the taxation of your Social Security income. *That's another advantage of a Roth-- those withdrawals don't count against your AGI. *If you pay less tax on your SS then a Roth is a better deal.

To make it still even more complicated, re-do the scenario with various delays in the date that you start SS payments. *Are we having fun yet?

A non-financial advantage to a Roth conversion is that you only have to contend with Form 8606 for a few years instead of having to calculate RMDs for the rest of your life.
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Re: Is this a good strategy
Old 04-05-2006, 03:53 PM   #19
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Re: Is this a good strategy

Quote:
Originally Posted by jdw_fire
I'm confused, how do you get 15 years of $30k/year for expenses out of a $100k after tax balance?
Sorry, I'm assuming that the 30k/year comes from part time wages. I wasn't really considering
how to fund the 15 years until 60, just the effects of the IRA /ROTH ratios
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Re: Is this a good strategy
Old 04-05-2006, 03:58 PM   #20
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Re: Is this a good strategy

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nords
Yep. The keys are being in a higher (or at least same) tax bracket in retirmeent and paying conversion taxes with funds outside the IRA.

If the simulation isn't complicated enough yet, see how the rise in your AGI from your conventional IRA withdrawals would affect the taxation of your Social Security income. That's another advantage of a Roth-- those withdrawals don't count against your AGI. If you pay less tax on your SS then a Roth is a better deal.

To make it still even more complicated, re-do the scenario with various delays in the date that you start SS payments. Are we having fun yet?

A non-financial advantage to a Roth conversion is that you only have to contend with Form 8606 for a few years instead of having to calculate RMDs for the rest of your life.
Yes you can have way too much fun with spreadsheets, but I'm not sure the differences I'm seeing are really worth
the effort or worry.

Here's another complication I have, I'll be doing all this from the UK. One wrinkle might be that the ROTH will be better for me because it has the same tax exempt status in the UK as the US, but I'll be in the 20% tax bracket in the UK as opposed to the 15% in the US.
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