Join Early Retirement Today
Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
The Four Percent Rule
Old 11-13-2016, 08:56 PM   #1
Recycles dryer sheets
 
Join Date: Apr 2016
Posts: 221
The Four Percent Rule

When people talk about being able to "safely" withdraw 4% of their invested assets each year (putting aside the many issues with this "rule" and the benefits of flexibility in post-retirement spending), they're talking about the 4% covering taxes as well as living expenses, right? And this includes capital gains taxes, correct? If so, isn't this "rule" somewhat useless because each person's tax basis in their investment assets will differ -- dramatically -- and so will the capital gains tax they need to pay when they're liquidating assets in retirement? How does capital gains tax play into the four percent rule?

Is the answer simply that, as a rough general guideline, based on historical results, a retiree can safely withdraw 4% of her investment portfolio each year, and if she has substantial capital gains then she will just have to pay a bigger chunk of that 4% withdrawal to the government that someone who does not have capital gain? So each of these people - the one with big capital gains in the one with no capital gains - can still withdraw 4%, but one of these people will have a lot less than 4% to live on, while the other will have most or all of her 4% to live on?
__________________

medved is offline   Reply With Quote
Join the #1 Early Retirement and Financial Independence Forum Today - It's Totally Free!

Are you planning to be financially independent as early as possible so you can live life on your own terms? Discuss successful investing strategies, asset allocation models, tax strategies and other related topics in our online forum community. Our members range from young folks just starting their journey to financial independence, military retirees and even multimillionaires. No matter where you fit in you'll find that Early-Retirement.org is a great community to join. Best of all it's totally FREE!

You are currently viewing our boards as a guest so you have limited access to our community. Please take the time to register and you will gain a lot of great new features including; the ability to participate in discussions, network with our members, see fewer ads, upload photographs, create a retirement blog, send private messages and so much, much more!

Old 11-13-2016, 09:11 PM   #2
Recycles dryer sheets
nvestysly's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 454
You bring up some interesting questions. I'm sure there are some on this forum who will have some very good, probably very specific, responses.

For DW and I the tax issue has very little impact. For a variety of reasons we typically pay ZERO federal income tax and very little state income tax. We are very careful to limit capital gains to reasonable amounts. We live on a modest amount of money so no need to withdraw huge amounts - ours is approx. 3%. With charitable contributions, property taxes, and other tax deductions the tax implications for us are nearly negligible.
__________________

__________________
Dreamin' of Streamin'
FIRE'd at 52 on 7/8/11
nvestysly is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-13-2016, 09:13 PM   #3
Moderator
samclem's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 12,770
Quote:
Originally Posted by medved View Post
Is the answer simply that, as a rough general guideline, based on historical results, a retiree can safely withdraw 4% of her investment portfolio each year, and if she has substantial capital gains then she will just have to pay a bigger chunk of that 4% withdrawal to the government that someone who does not have capital gain?
Yes.
And the most often cited version of the 4% rule allows for a 4% withdrawal of the initial portfolio value, followed by inflation adjustments of that amount every year (so, the withdrawals are relatively constant from year to year). Another version that many people use (and what you've described above) is to take 4% of the portfolio's ending balance each year. And there are plenty of other permutations (you can easily model them in FIRECalc). But none of the common ones attempt to correct for tax rates, loads on funds, amounts paid to financial advisors, etc. All of that must come out of the annual withdrawal amount.
samclem is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 11-13-2016, 09:19 PM   #4
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso) Give me a forum ...
REWahoo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Texas Hill Country
Posts: 44,255
The 4% rule does not address taxes.

It is simply the initial % you can safely withdraw from your nest egg, then adjust the withdrawal annually for inflation, and have a 95% chance of not depleting your nest egg for 30 years.
__________________
Numbers is hard

Charter resident of the lumpen slums of cyberspace

Retired in 2005 at age 58, no pension
REWahoo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-13-2016, 09:25 PM   #5
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
HFWR's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Lawn chair in Texas
Posts: 13,329
Folks like me, with primarily tax-deferred accounts, get taxed at regular income rates, so the cap gains in a taxable account might be the better deal, tax-wise, in some cases.
__________________
Have Funds, Will Retire

...not doing anything of true substance...
HFWR is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-13-2016, 09:38 PM   #6
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
 
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 5,889
I use a spreadsheet with year by year expenses, income, net worth, taxes and related figures for retirement planning. I put in real returns and inflation as parameters and model different scenarios. The I use the Fidelity Retirement Planner for a second opinion and reasonableness check.
__________________
Even clouds seem bright and breezy, 'Cause the livin' is free and easy, See the rat race in a new way, Like you're wakin' up to a new day (Dr. Tarr and Professor Fether lyrics, Alan Parsons Project, based on an EA Poe story)
daylatedollarshort is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-13-2016, 10:11 PM   #7
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
pb4uski's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Vermont & Sarasota, FL
Posts: 19,320
I wouldn't say it is useless... you can withdraw 4%... pay the relevant taxes and you can spend the rest. No problem. Taxes in retirement will often be fairly modest. Mine would be nil absent Roth conversions.... even with Roth conversions it is ~10%. No big deal.
__________________
If something cannot endure laughter.... it cannot endure.
Patience is the art of concealing your impatience.
Slow and steady wins the race.

Retired Jan 2012 at age 56...60/35/5 AA
pb4uski is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 11-13-2016, 10:22 PM   #8
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
Sunset's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: Spending the Kids Inheritance and living in Chicago
Posts: 5,663
My view on the 4% rule is that is the amount you can withdraw, what you spend it on is up to you.
If you live in a tax free environment or a high tax environment it's still the same 4% amount.
For example if all your investments were in a Roth, it would still be 4%
Sunset is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-13-2016, 10:23 PM   #9
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
NW-Bound's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 21,735
The 4% rule is definitely not useless.

You start with the 4% WR pretax. Everybody's tax is different, but you should know what yours is. Pay the tax, then the rest is yours.

Of course, it makes a big difference whether your WR is from an IRA, an after-tax account, or a Roth account. And most people have a mixture of these types of accounts, so their tax will vary through their retirement depending on what accounts they draw from that year.

ORP is a calculator (search the Web for it) that lets you see how to optimize the withdrawal to minimize the tax though your retirement.
__________________
"Old age is the most unexpected of all things that can happen to a man" -- Leon Trotsky
NW-Bound is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-14-2016, 04:08 AM   #10
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
FIRE'd@51's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 2,384
Quote:
Originally Posted by REWahoo View Post
It is simply the initial % you can safely withdraw from your nest egg, then adjust the withdrawal annually for inflation, and have a 95% chance of not depleting your nest egg for 30 years.
Technically, Firecalc says that historically you would have not run out of money 95% of the time. This is not the actual probability going forward, because overlapping data reduces the number of independent data points such that the 95% is not a statistically significant ex-ante probability.
__________________
I'd rather be governed by the first one hundred names in the telephone book than the Harvard faculty - William F. Buckley
FIRE'd@51 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-14-2016, 05:00 AM   #11
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 5,466
taxes are an expense , like any other expenses we have . all our expenses differ and all our taxes differ .

you treat taxes no different than any other expense .

when you were working your gross income was without taxes wasn"t it ?

how and what you allocated your gross income to while working is no different than how to allocate the gross income the 4% swr gives you . you still need to allocate your fair share of taxes just as you always did from a gross income .

you should be ball parking taxes and entering them as the expense they are .
mathjak107 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-14-2016, 05:11 AM   #12
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
DrRoy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2015
Location: Michigan
Posts: 2,281
Quote:
Technically, Firecalc says that historically you would have not run out of money 95% of the time. This is not the actual probability going forward.
The calculations that Firecalc runs use actual historical returns for the probabilities that are the result. If future returns are lower than the ones in the calcualtion (which is what I believe), then the result will be too optimistic.
__________________
"The mountains are calling, and I must go." John Muir
DrRoy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-14-2016, 05:42 AM   #13
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 4,748
But let's all remember that the 4% "rule" is a guideline, not set as an actual fact.

Your investment profile, what you're invested in and unforeseen market actions play a part in whether 3%, 4% or 2% will actually have you with $ in 30 years.

I personally tend to follow the 4% guideline but if you keep your money under a mattress or low paying CDs instead of being properly invested, you'll certainly be in trouble if you plan to spend 4% each year.
__________________
Living well is the best revenge!
Retired @ 52 in 2005
marko is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-14-2016, 05:56 AM   #14
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
NW-Bound's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 21,735
Yes. I look at the 4% as a guideline.

A few years back, I was wondering what kind of withdrawal I could get. Would it be as high as 8% as I read about what some pension funds were using? Then, Web surfing found me FIRECalc and this forum. Definitely not 8%!
__________________
"Old age is the most unexpected of all things that can happen to a man" -- Leon Trotsky
NW-Bound is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-14-2016, 06:01 AM   #15
Recycles dryer sheets
 
Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: Humble
Posts: 188
The study that was done "proved" (or argued) that 4% initial WD, inflation adjusted each year would not exhaust the portfolio in a reasonable length retirement. If you WD more than 4% to cover taxes, then you are not at a 4% WD and you're assuming a higher risk of portfolio depletion.

It's not perfect and there are MANY other accepted means to determine safe WD rates. It is a good starting tool. I've used it many times in conversations with co-workers thinking about retirement that have done virtually zero reading or studying on the subject.
Turn_the_Page is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-14-2016, 06:13 AM   #16
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
donheff's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Washington, DC
Posts: 8,936
I prefer an analysis that focuses on gross income because I can then add in my specific tax situation and figure out what I will have left to spend. Any calculator that tries to incorporate taxes is going to be very limited going forward. Tax rates change. I would rather rely on my own guesstimate about where taxes will go that base my retirement on someone else's.
__________________
Every man is, or hopes to be, an Idler. -- Samuel Johnson
donheff is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-14-2016, 06:33 AM   #17
Recycles dryer sheets
 
Join Date: Apr 2016
Posts: 221
Thanks for all the responses. They confirm what I thought and that having a tax-efficient withdrawal strategy is important. Regarding whether the 4% "rule" will give a 95% chance of not running out of money, who knows. The future might be better than the past, or worse. I suspect it comes down to how risk-averse one is. I am very risk averse, so I will try to limit my withdrawals to 2% per year (in the first year, plus an inflation factor), or something like that. Maybe that will result in my dying with a big pot of cash, which will benefit some charities and my kids. That is not really my objective; just a byproduct of being risk averse. But the 4% rule does show me that, if I want to splurge in a couple of years, I probably can.
medved is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-14-2016, 06:38 AM   #18
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
NW-Bound's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 21,735
At 2% WR, you are golden because that's the current S&P 500 dividend rate.
__________________
"Old age is the most unexpected of all things that can happen to a man" -- Leon Trotsky
NW-Bound is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-14-2016, 06:55 AM   #19
Moderator
samclem's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 12,770
Quote:
Originally Posted by medved View Post
I am very risk averse, so I will try to limit my withdrawals to 2% per year (in the first year, plus an inflation factor), or something like that. Maybe that will result in my dying with a big pot of cash, which will benefit some charities and my kids. That is not really my objective; just a byproduct of being risk averse. But the 4% rule does show me that, if I want to splurge in a couple of years, I probably can.
If you can handle variability in your annual withdrawals, you may want to consider basing your withdrawals on a percentage of your portfolio's year-end value, rather than just taking an amount now and adjusting it for inflation. Advantages:
1) You can never entirely run out of money. You take a "hit" on the real value of your withdrawals over time (if the portfolio doesn't have after-inflation gains), but there won't be a sudden "I'm now broke."
2) This method lets you spend more if your portfolio does well (so you decrease the chances of having a huge pile of money at the end), but you'll also need to spend less if your portfolio takes a hit. Since that's something I'd probably do anyway, it makes sense for m to just make it a part of my plan.

Bob Clyatt's "95% rule" provides a way to smooth out the variability of the annual withdrawals while preserving most of the advantages of a portfolio-linked annual withdrawal method. See his book and the the posts here. FIRECalc will also model that for you, it has a dedicated function to do it.

Good luck!
samclem is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 11-14-2016, 07:59 AM   #20
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
HFWR's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Lawn chair in Texas
Posts: 13,329
Have only started the FIRE journey, thus only one withdrawal so far (4%). I plan to follow the method samclem mentioned, i.e. 4% of porfolio value, with no inflation adjustment. The equity portion of a portfolio is there to provide growth, and inflation protection. So that's my inflation adjustment. YMMV, plus it's not chiseled in stone, and can be changed...
__________________

__________________
Have Funds, Will Retire

...not doing anything of true substance...
HFWR is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Top One Percent? Half a Percent? Tenth of a Percent? medved FIRE and Money 153 06-21-2016 01:02 AM
The 4 Percent Rule: Static Decisions In A Dynamic World Midpack FIRE and Money 15 02-21-2013 04:20 PM
Zero-Percent Certificate of Indebtedness ??? Craig FIRE and Money 6 11-21-2005 04:43 PM
percent above inflation searcher FIRE and Money 15 01-10-2005 05:15 PM
Initial Withdrawal Percent? moguls FIRE and Money 7 12-20-2003 03:59 PM

» Quick Links

 
All times are GMT -6. The time now is 04:52 PM.
 
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.