While it’s easy to get caught up in the holiday spirit, running out to grab last minute gifts, baking dozens of gingerbread men and trimming your tree, don’t forget about your retirement plan. The end of the year is an important time for retires, and there’s a few things you should wrap up before it ends.
One thing that comes with the end of a year is deadlines. An important deadline that can be costly to miss is your required minimum distribution. If you’re over the age of 70 ½ and have an IRA account, you have to withdraw a set amount by the end of the year. The tax penalty can be up to 50% of the amount you were supposed to take. Avoid this penalty by taking your RMD now, don’t put it off until after the holidays. You should always be prepared for retirement surprises and take into account all possible penalties and fees.
In the spirit of the holiday, and on the topic of RMDs, you might be thinking about giving to charity and a qualified charitable distribution can be a tax-friendly way to do so. The amount of your QCD can be used towards your RMD and will not count as income, making it a tax deduction in addition to the standard deduction. This is something to consider if you were looking to donate to charity anyways.
If you haven’t retired yet, spending down your flexible spending account or FSA could be a good way to end your year. You can make pre-tax contributions into an account that can be used to pay medical expenses. Basically, you can pay health expenses with tax-free dollars. The only issue is that you have to use it all before the year ends unless your plan allows you to carry any over. Don’t let this money disappear, figure out some way to use it in the last weeks of 2018.
Like an FSA, you could consider contributing to your health savings account. If you have a qualified high-deductible health insurance plan, you can utilize an HSA. You make pre-tax contributions into an account that you can then use to pay eligible medical costs. This differs from an FSA because you have unlimited time to pay yourself back. Until you’re retired it might be smart to pay these health costs out of pocket, but once you reach retirement, your account will have grown, and you can cover larger expenses that are bound to come up.
Wrap up your year by going over the steps that need to be taken before year-end. This includes everything from reviewing RMDs, HSA contributions and even charitable deductions. 2018 is quickly coming to an end and 2019 will be here before you know it, so it’s important to know that your portfolio is ready for the year ahead. At Epstein & White, we cover everything from investing and finances to lifestyle and estate planning and we want to help you feel prepared for the upcoming years and your upcoming retirement. Click here to schedule your complimentary, no obligation financial review and start 2019 off right.