Time does fly—and with it, some potentially significant tax benefits. There are actions which, if taken in October 2018, can have consequences on taxes—even 2017 retirement plans. We will discuss some of the general rules here; you should discuss the specifics of your situation with your tax professional.

Roth IRAs

  • ConversionsIndividuals who converted a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA in 2017 may “recharacterize” that conversion back to a traditional IRA if the recharacterization is done by October 15, 2018. Income taxes are due on the amount originally converted from a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA. If the account value has decreased, a lesser tax amount would be due if the Roth was converted back to a traditional IRA, then re-converted to a Roth in 2018. Tax rates have also changed in 2018 due to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed this year. Many individuals may find themselves in a lower tax bracket for 2018; hence, recharacterizing and reconverting in 2018 might mean lower taxes even if the account value remains unchanged. Note that such recharacterizations are allowable only for transactions made in 2017; no such recharacterizations are available for 2018 or later years.
  • Recharacterizations– Contributions to a traditional IRA can be recharacterized to a Roth IRA or vice versa. Suppose an individual contributed to a traditional IRA in 2017 but found their income was too high to take a tax deduction. Recharacterizing to a Roth IRA would have no tax increase but would move the future earnings on the account from tax deferred to tax free. While the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act eliminated recharacterization of conversions beginning in 2018, recharacterization of contributionsremains in effect.
  • Excess Contributions Excess contributions made into an IRA are subject to a 6% excess contribution penalty. Any excess contribution made in 2017 (plus accumulated earnings thereon) removed from the account by October 15, 2018 will not be subject to that penalty. No relief from this penalty is allowable if the October deadline is missed.
  • SEP IRAs for 2017– October 15, 2018 is the deadline for establishing and funding a SEP IRA for businesses if the business filed for an extension. This differs from the “normal” deadline for contributing to a traditional or Roth IRA (the tax filing deadline excluding extensions).
  • Simple IRAs for 2017– Employer contributions to Simple IRAs must be made by the tax filing deadline (including extensions) of the business. Again, if the business filed for an extension if 2017, the deadline is October 15, 2018.

Inherited IRAs may be “stretched” over the life expectancy of beneficiary—a significant extension in the time over which IRA proceeds must be distributed (and taxed). If the beneficiary is a trust, the trustee has until October 31, 2018 to provide proper documentation that may allow this stretch provision for IRAs inherited in 2017. Miss the deadline and the IRA must be distributed fully over a much shorter period.  Paragon Financial Advisors is a fee only registered investment advisory company located in College Station, TX.  We offer financial planning and investment management services to our clients.

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