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retirement tax strategy and where to live
Old 09-21-2006, 10:21 AM   #1
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retirement tax strategy and where to live

Hello!

I have a few questions about tax strategy and where to live.* We would like to retire early (not ready yet, but excited b/c we just made the $500K milestone - plan is to get to ~$1.5M in about 10 years, we hope).* My first question is, what is the most tax-advantaged strategy for drawing off $$ when you retire early?* We will have $ outside our 401K to draw from (taxable investments in mutual fund accounts plus CD's) and also have $ in 401K (can't access early), IRA's and Roth IRA's.* What withdrawal strategy is most tax-efficient?*

Also, what states are tax-friendly?* I just read an article that says TX and FL (no state income tax) really aren't the most tax-friendly b/c you have to consider property tax and sales tax.* However, this article was based on retirees who are getting their income from pensions and 401K's (not those who plan to FIRE), so these sources of income are not taxable in several other states which also have low property tax.* If you are planning to FIRE, and withdraw from taxable investments first, does it make more sense to retire in a no state tax income state?* We are considering purchasing a retirement home early, as* real estate prices may drop in the next year.* Hope this all makes sense!

Thanks,
Lorraine
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Re: retirement tax strategy and where to live
Old 09-21-2006, 10:51 AM   #2
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Re: retirement tax strategy and where to live

1.5 million portfolio will give ~55-60k/yr in withdrawals. Each state will get their money in some form or another. My guess is the tax differential between different states will be rather small - on the order of $1-2k per year. I'd pick the state you like the most and live there as long as taxes aren't completely unreasonable.

You can either pay $3000 in property tax in texas or FL or $1000 in property tax and $2000 in income tax in a state with an income tax.
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Re: retirement tax strategy and where to live
Old 09-21-2006, 12:14 PM   #3
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Re: retirement tax strategy and where to live

Or, you can live in NJ and pay 15000 property tax AND state income tax.
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Re: retirement tax strategy and where to live
Old 09-21-2006, 12:22 PM   #4
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Re: retirement tax strategy and where to live

I wouldn't let the tax tail wag the where to retire to dog, but what you might do is take a look at your top three or four places to retire to and investigate the tax structure there. As a shortcut, the states that spend the least probably tax the least, so you could probably use something like the per capita state expenditures as a first cut. In my state's case, it's $1,551 per person, which seems pretty low to me.

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Re: retirement tax strategy and where to live
Old 09-21-2006, 01:18 PM   #5
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Re: retirement tax strategy and where to live

Quote:
Originally Posted by justin
1.5 million portfolio will give ~55-60k/yr in withdrawals.* Each state will get their money in some form or another.* My guess is the tax differential between different states will be rather small - on the order of $1-2k per year.* I'd pick the state you like the most and live there as long as taxes aren't completely unreasonable.*

You can either pay $3000 in property tax in texas or FL or $1000 in property tax and $2000 in income tax in a state with an income tax.*
I agree that the total tax differential for most states is small, particularly when you consider the differences in the services.* There are some states with high rates that also provide great services, Minn comes to my mind.* There are differences in how the state picks your pocket.* Some tax just income, others use a sales tax, some do both.* Wyo has had a reputation as a low tax state because they tax resources (oil), but their winter weather is tough to deal with.*

I suggest you make of list of the communities you would want to live in first.* Then compare them based on the TOTAL cost of living in those locals.* Retirees don't buy a lot of 'stuff' so you may want to weight the impact of sales tax less than income tax.* Be wary of states that assess property taxes (looks like TX does that).* Usually local property taxes reflect the cost of local services.*

Consider the cost of weather related utilities, energy costs, which I think will consume ever greater portion of our budgets.* Inquire also about the cost of home owner's insurance (FL has been mentioned).
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Re: retirement tax strategy and where to live
Old 09-21-2006, 01:27 PM   #6
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Re: retirement tax strategy and where to live

simple girl, have you seen this site?

http://www.retirementliving.com/RLtaxes.html

It has what appears to be a very comprehensive look at taxes in each state.

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Re: retirement tax strategy and where to live
Old 09-21-2006, 02:20 PM   #7
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Re: retirement tax strategy and where to live

Quote:
Originally Posted by simple girl
My first question is, what is the most tax-advantaged strategy for drawing off $$ when you retire early?* We will have $ outside our 401K to draw from (taxable investments in mutual fund accounts plus CD's) and also have $ in 401K (can't access early), IRA's and Roth IRA's.* What withdrawal strategy is most tax-efficient?*
Well, it depends on your tax brackets and deductions.* For example many people in ER will be within (or below) the 15% tax bracket.* You'll be paying the full rate on unearned income like interest from taxable accounts.* If your taxable investments are qualified dividends (15%) or long-term cap gains (<15%) then you'll be "beating" the earned-income tax bracket.* Higher rates (non-qualified dividends, depreciation recapture on rental property, cap gains on collectibles) would exceed your 15% bracket.* Ideally all your dividends would be coming from tax-deferred accounts (like 401(k)s & IRAs) and all your cap gains would be coming from taxable accounts.* (Especially when lower cap gains rates kick in next year & 2008.)* However I wouldn't necessarily disrupt a well-run asset allocation plan just for tax purposes.* Just as fast as you polish those cannonballs, Congress will be changing the rules.

But if you have a huge mortgage with a deduction bigger than the standard deduction, then you won't be as sensitive to the type of income.

Other options would be to spend down your taxable investments now before you start collecting Social Security and have to take RMDs from the IRAs.* Or convert the IRAs to Roths, although that's a whole 'nother discussion.

You can search the board's threads for keywords like "mortgage", "pay off", and "conversion".

Quote:
Originally Posted by simple girl
Also, what states are tax-friendly?*
Phew, that question's easier.

Hawaii.* And any other states that don't tax pensions, don't tax assets, don't have county/locality taxes, have low sales/excise taxes, and low property taxes (like 3.65 mils).* Those states are especially tax-friendly if they give you huge credits for other investments like solar power.* We won't pay Hawaii state taxes this decade and probably not the next one either.

IIRC Florida has just stopped taxing assets.* But I'm sure that someone will leap into my information gap.

Bloomberg has sold their "Wealth Manager" magazine to Highline Media, but hopefully those spam-spewing pinheads will continue WM's annual tax-friendly states ranking like this thread from last year's ranking.

Quote:
Originally Posted by simple girl
If you are planning to FIRE, and withdraw from taxable investments first, does it make more sense to retire in a no state tax income state?* We are considering purchasing a retirement home early, as* real estate prices may drop in the next year.* Hope this all makes sense!
Perhaps, but I wouldn't choose my domicile exclusively for tax planning.* You'd also have to consider family, friends, weather, climate, neighbors, neighborhood, culture, language local cuisine, and the distance to the nearest home-improvement stores...* I think tax planning would barely make it into the top ten.
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Re: retirement tax strategy and where to live
Old 09-21-2006, 03:02 PM   #8
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Re: retirement tax strategy and where to live

There are so many factors to consider when deciding where to retire. Taxes are only one and in my mind, a relatively small consideration. Other considerations:

housing costs
healthcare and health insurance cost and availablity
climate
community
interests
family and friends

For me, healthinsurance and family/friends trump taxes.


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Re: retirement tax strategy and where to live
Old 09-22-2006, 05:11 PM   #9
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Re: retirement tax strategy and where to live

Thanks to everyone for your excellent feedback.* It is much appreciated.

Nords -

I was really surprised to hear that Hawaii is tax-friendly.* We have always said we'd love to retire there, but felt it was too expensive.* We vacationed in Maui in 2005.* We absolutely loved the weather and all the outdoor activities.* However, the real estate prices and prices for food, etc. (milk was ~ $7/gallon, if I remember right) were astronomical.* Do you live there now?* Any tips on how to retire there without having to spend an excessive amount of $$??

Thanks all!
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Re: retirement tax strategy and where to live
Old 09-22-2006, 05:22 PM   #10
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Re: retirement tax strategy and where to live

I suggest splurging for 29.00 extra bucks if you use turbo tax and run different scenerios for all the states you want to move to and compare. Just looking at tax rates means nothing.
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Re: retirement tax strategy and where to live
Old 09-22-2006, 06:07 PM   #11
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Re: retirement tax strategy and where to live

Quote:
Originally Posted by simple girl
I was really surprised to hear that Hawaii is tax-friendly.* We have always said we'd love to retire there, but felt it was too expensive.* We vacationed in Maui in 2005.* We absolutely loved the weather and all the outdoor activities.* However, the real estate prices and prices for food, etc. (milk was ~ $7/gallon, if I remember right) were astronomical.* Do you live there now?* Any tips on how to retire there without having to spend an excessive amount of $$??
Let me emphasize that Hawaii is tax-friendly for retirees.* State taxes aren't too bad for W-2 income-- about 4-8%-- but our kid has paid more tax here than we have.* Investments are still subject to dividends/cap gains taxes but I believe that IRA RMDs are not taxed (I'm not certain).* I know that federal pensions are not subject to tax and that might also apply to civil service pensions.*

Maui's a tough place to make comparisons from.* We're on Oahu (JB lives on Maui) and when we vacation on Maui we actually haul some of our own meats & sodas.* So we think Maui is a bit pricey, too, but I think they have a Costco now to add to the Wal-Mart competition.

Hawaii real estate, renting or buying, is the biggest challenge.* Right now there are remote parts of the Big Island that may be "affordable" but I doubt we could buy our place again.* Median single family homes are about $625K and median condo prices are about $325K.* However the market has peaked and things should come down over the next 5-10 years.* If you can solve this challenge then the rest is pretty straightforward.

Other than real estate, the "Paradise Tax" is widely proclaimed to be about 30% but no one should try to duplicate their Mainland habits here so I think it's realistically 10-15%.* I know that it's cheaper than CA!* Here's what we spent last year:*
http://early-retirement.org/forums/i...96578#msg96578

For example, gas just dropped below $3/gal at Costco but I drive less than 3000 miles a year (and less than 6000 when I was working) so I've spent plenty more gas money on Mainland commutes & trips.* Milk is $3.50-$4/gal but I don't drink it much.* Brand-name cereal is $3-4/box but generics are $1.50 and Ralston oatmeal is even cheaper.* Mainland eggs are ~$1.25/dozen but local eggs are ~$1.50/doz (unless your country neighbor raises chickens).* Potatoes/fries are expensive but rice is very cheap.* Kona coffee is incredibly cheap from this year's harvest.* Apples, strawberries, and cantaloupe are expensive.* Rasberries & blueberries are so costly that they'd be cheaper if they were made from 24K gold.* Papaya, mango, lychee, tangerines, coconuts, bananas, and macadamia nuts are free off our backyard trees-- and we occasionally have two crops/year.* Fish is extremely cheap (it's free if you know a friend with a boat).* Beef & pork can be expensive but if you eat an Asian diet (tofu, fish, poultry) then the cost is probably about the same as the Mainland.* People buy in bulk at Costco or shop at farmer's markets.* Safeway & Foodland are pricey unless you join their "clubs" and shop hard with coupons.* Our family of three spent $6000 at the military commissary last year on groceries & toiletries, including a teenager who absolutely inhales expensive snack/convenience foods, so you could probably feed two adults on under $4000/year.

Although the land is very expensive, houses are cheaper to build-- no insulation and no double-paned thermal-glazed windows necessary.* Because we have a photovoltaic array our biggest utility bill is sewer followed by water (about $40/mo & $20/mo). Without our photovoltaic array our utility bills would be about $175/mo (including CATV & newspaper) and we don't use A/C or heat.* Solar water heaters are in 35% of the homes and their installation cost has dropped below $800.*

Clothing is much cheaper-- workers dress less formally and my standard retiree uniform is shorts, t-shirt & rubber slippers.* I buy a pair of sneakers every 2-3 years but my long pants are all older than my teenager.* I haven't bought a pair of jeans since the 1980s.* (Next month I'm going to have to start looking for my sweatshirt, just in case, and I'll have to make sure I know how to close all the windows.)* We barely spend a couple hundred dollars on clothing a year, including shoes.* If you buy the right materials you don't even have drycleaning expenses.

Cars last much longer (despite the salt air) and houses need less maintenance.* Our biggest car repair expense is usually replacing the air conditioner's compressor or evaporator core every 7-10 years.* We spend less than $400/year on car insurance for each car with USAA (minimum coverage, high deductibles, no collision or comprehensive).* Our home insurance is under $1000/year with a $2500 deductible and a similar hurricane deductible.* Our property taxes have darn near doubled in the last five years but we'll still only pay $2600 this year.

We dine out (local dives like Thai Kitchen & Zippy's) for about $25/couple or $150/month, and that's including the kid's school meals.* More formal restaurants run about $40-$75/couple.* Entertainment is mostly the beach!* Movie matinees are $6.25 and our kid seems to spend about $5 for a Jamba Juice.

What you spend more on in some budget categories you'll make up in others.* I haven't "winterized" anything in nearly two decades.

Let me know if you have a specific cost area or question...
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Re: retirement tax strategy and where to live
Old 09-22-2006, 08:15 PM   #12
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Re: retirement tax strategy and where to live

Quote:
Originally Posted by simple girl
However, the real estate prices and prices for food, etc. (milk was ~ $7/gallon, if I remember right) were astronomical.* Do you live there now?* Any tips on how to retire there without having to spend an excessive amount of $$??
The grocery stores have the tourist prices and the local prices.* The tourist prices are milk $7 a gallon and a box of Cheerios for $15.* If you get a local shopper card, then you get a discount at the cash register which bring things back to normal.* The card is free for the asking.

We should be reading about a trip report from Helen any day now as well.
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Re: retirement tax strategy and where to live
Old 09-23-2006, 08:23 AM   #13
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Re: retirement tax strategy and where to live

I recall reading that one of the biggest money mistakes retirees can make is selling a house, pulling up stakes and buying a house in a new locale. You may leave behind high taxes and snow, but you also leave behind family in some cases and social network and familiarity in others.

If I was going to go somewhere I would be sure to visit first in the dead of winter and heat of summer for at least a few weeks. I would also rent for a year before buying just to be sure.
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Re: retirement tax strategy and where to live
Old 09-23-2006, 12:36 PM   #14
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Re: retirement tax strategy and where to live

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I recall reading that one of the biggest* money mistakes retirees can make is selling a house, pulling up stakes and buying a house in a new locale.* You may leave behind high taxes and snow, but you also leave behind family in some cases and social network and familiarity in others.
That's called "being in the military"! Real estate is a tremendous challenge under those conditions, and most of the time the better answer is renting.

When we stopped moving, spouse's parents also moved here from Annapolis. They're in their low 70s, fit, active, and on no medications. Considering their parents' genes, this could go on for another 25-30 years. My parents-in-law appreciate the climate (no more mall walking half the year!) and they're watching their only granddaughter grow up. They sold their Annapolis home (investing the equity in CDs & Treasuries) and they rent a house that lets them keep all their furniture while doing just a little yardwork and a little cleaning. Those attractions overrode all the potential disadvantages of relocating.

They left behind their son (who visits every year or so) and their friends. They get together with them for a month or two on the Mainland through cruises, Vegas vacations, or at their hometowns. Oddly enough none of their friends seem inclined to come to Hawaii.

If there's a fly in the ointment, it'd be our growing kid and UV exposure. When our kid goes to college it'll probably be on the Mainland, and when she's gone I'm not sure they'd want to hang around with just us parents. Both of them have also had small skin cancers removed over the last couple years. They use sunscreen, wear hats & sleeves, and take care of themselves but they suspect that it's caused by living in Hawaii instead of Annapolis. However the move here, despite being one of the best moving-company experiences that we've ever seen, drove them crazy. As they age in place I'm not sure that they're ready to face the prospect of another moving trauma.

When the PIL moved here, spouse got an e-mail from her brother saying "I stand relieved!" It'll be interesting to see how that works out in the next decade.
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Re: retirement tax strategy and where to live
Old 09-23-2006, 02:03 PM   #15
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Re: retirement tax strategy and where to live

Quote:
Originally Posted by shorttimer
I recall reading that one of the biggest money mistakes retirees can make is selling a house, pulling up stakes and buying a house in a new locale. You may leave behind high taxes and snow, but you also leave behind family in some cases and social network and familiarity in others.

If I was going to go somewhere I would be sure to visit first in the dead of winter and heat of summer for at least a few weeks. I would also rent for a year before buying just to be sure.
This cannot be over-emphasized.

My parents moved to the Alabama coast in 1970. They liked it there year-round.

However, they saw many people from the far north (MI, MN...) who after spending several winters there decided to move there year-round and buy a house, and ended up bailing after a summer or two.
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Old 09-24-2006, 07:56 AM   #16
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Re: retirement tax strategy and where to live

I've been considering a more nomadic lifestyle after retiring. The basic concept is to get a low cost apartment or even a mail box here in Texas to lock in the "no state income tax." After that we'd be free to travel and go on extended visits at other locations. We'd also be free to be more seasonal.

I'm not sure how well it's going to sell. DW "downsized" into a 3080 sq ft house recently and has problems considering anything smaller. "Where would all our stuff go." I do have an answer but she's not there yet.
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Re: retirement tax strategy and where to live
Old 09-24-2006, 08:04 AM   #17
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Re: retirement tax strategy and where to live

Quote:
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I've been considering a more nomadic lifestyle after retiring.* The basic concept is to get a low cost apartment or even a mail box here in Texas to lock in the "no state income tax."* After that we'd be free to travel and go on extended visits at other locations.* We'd also be free to be more seasonal.

I'm not sure how well it's going to sell.* DW "downsized" into a 3080 sq ft house recently and has problems considering anything smaller.* "Where would all our stuff go."* I do have an answer but she's not there yet.
I have been through 2 divorces in the last 10 years. Amazing how this cleaned out the house. BTW, you will need more than just a
"mail box" to lock in those Texas res. tax benefits IMHO.

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Old 09-24-2006, 08:44 AM   #18
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Re: retirement tax strategy and where to live

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BTW, you will need more than just a
"mail box" to lock in those Texas res. tax benefits IMHO.
Obviously, Texas doesn't care if my residence is only a "mail box." It's actually pretty common. There's a trailer park north of Houston that has a couple hundred tranients with mail boxes registered. They vote absentee and are overwhelminly Republican. That outraged the local politicos who were Democrats and they tried to cancel their "residency." They lost in court.

The key to making it work is not to trigger something from the state you are visiting. Each state has its own triggers but I'd keep a low profile financially and not buy any property. The concept of out of state vacation homes is too widespread to not be upheld. Of course, I'm looking at being nomadic and not living year round anywhere.
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Old 09-24-2006, 10:06 AM   #19
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Re: retirement tax strategy and where to live

Yeah, it is easy to establish residency. What can be harder is terminating residency once it is established, especially in states with income taxes.
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Re: retirement tax strategy and where to live
Old 09-24-2006, 10:53 AM   #20
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Re: retirement tax strategy and where to live

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Obviously, Texas doesn't care if my residence is only a "mail box."* It's actually pretty common.* There's a trailer park north of Houston that has a couple hundred tranients with mail boxes registered.* They vote absentee and are overwhelminly Republican.*
Same deal here in Chicago, except the Democrats here are much, much smarter and more aggressive about it than the upstart Republicans in Texas.* We don't use trailer park addresses, we're more into vacant lots, Wrigley Field, etc.* Also, no need to go through all the bother to vote absentee.* "Transient" voting is done right at the ballot box on election day by patronage worker volunteers who are happy to help out!* Very convenient and handy! If other states would get into this, we'd have a Dem president and 100% Dem congress before long!* *

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