If you are experiencing financial hardship due to the coronavirus pandemic, you may want to consider withdrawing money from your retirement account while you still can. The special exemption allowing early withdrawals without a penalty ends soon.
Passed in March 2020, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act allows individuals adversely affected by the pandemic to make hardship withdrawals of up to $100,000 from retirement plans this year without paying the 10 percent penalty that individuals under age 59 ½ are usually required to pay. This exemption is only for withdrawals made by December 30, 2020.
If you decide to withdraw money from your retirement account, you will still have to pay income taxes on the withdrawals, although the tax burden can be spread out over three years. If you repay some or all of the funds within three years, you can file amended tax returns to get back the taxes that you paid.
To qualify for the exemption, you must meet one of the following criteria:
- You or a spouse or dependent have been diagnosed with COVID-19
- You or your spouse have suffered financial hardship due to the pandemic, such as a lost job, a job offer rescinded, reduced pay, business closed, or inability to work due to lack of childcare.
This step should not be taken lightly. Withdrawing money now means your retirement funds will be reduced and limits the retirement plan’s ability to grow. But for some people, it may be the best option to pay bills and avoid running up high-interest credit card debt.
Federal law requires that beginning on April 1 of the year after you reach age 70 1/2, you must begin withdrawing a minimum amount from your non-Roth individual retirement account (IRA) or 401(k) accounts. These withdrawals are called required minimum distributions (RMDs).
But what if you die after age 70 1/2 and before all the account funds have been distributed? In the eyes of the law, death is no excuse not to take RMDs from an IRA or 401(k). Your heirs must take the final RMD before they can take control of the account.
Congress created the rules governing the minimum distribution of retirement plan funds to encourage saving for retirement and to allow retirement assets to build up tax-free during the plan owner’s working years. But lawmakers built in provisions so the money wouldn’t simply keep accumulating tax-free forever. The funds you withdraw are treated as taxable income in the year you take the distribution. If you don’t start taking the RMDs from your retirement accounts and pay taxes on the withdrawals, you will face a 50 percent penalty on what should have been withdrawn but wasn’t.
The rules for inheriting an IRA as a spouse are different than the rules for a non-spouse beneficiary, but regardless of who is inheriting the IRA, the heir must take the RMD for the year the account owner died. The full RMD must be taken by December 31 in the year the account owner died, even if he or she died at the beginning of the year. To take the RMD, beneficiaries must contact the custodian of the account and submit a death certificate. If the account owner died before he or she was required to begin distributions, then the beneficiaries do not need to take an RMD.
The money from the RMD will go directly to the beneficiary listed on the account, not the estate. That means it will be taxable income for the beneficiary. If there is more than one beneficiary, it will be split evenly.
To find out the best way to deal with an inherited IRA, contact your attorney.
With the aging population becoming increasingly tech savvy, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has moved a lot of services online. From applying for Social Security benefits to replacing a card, the SSA has online tools to help.
To access most of the online services, you need to create a mySocial Security account. This account allows you to receive personalized estimates of future benefits based on your real earnings, see your latest statement, and review your earnings history. You can also request a replacement Social Security card, check the status of an application, get direct deposit, or change your address. If you are a representative payee, you can use my Social Security to complete representative payee accounting reports. Even if you don’t get benefits, you can use the account to request a benefit verification letter.
In addition to my Social Security, other online services are available, including the following:
For a full run down of the online services available, click here.
Older parents are becoming more common, driven in part by changing cultural mores and advances in infertility treatment. Comedian and author Steve Martin had his first child at age 67. Singer Billy Joel just welcomed his third daughter. Janet Jackson had a child at age 50. But later-in-life parents have some special estate planning and retirement considerations.
The first consideration is to make sure you have an estate plan and that the estate plan is up to date. One of the most important functions of an estate plan is to name a guardian for your children in your will, and this goes double for a parent having children late in life. If you don’t name someone to act as guardian, the court will choose the guardian. Because the court doesn’t know your kids like you do, the person they choose may not be ideal. Continue reading