Retirement Planning - Redefined

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Ep 21 : Roth Conversions

June 1, 2020

With our tax brackets being at historically low rates, many people are looking at implementing Roth conversions in their plan. John and Nick will explain what exactly this concept is and how this may be able to save you some dollars on taxes in the future.

Helpful Information:

PFG Website: https://www.pfgprivatewealth.com/

Contact: 813-286-7776

Email: info@pfgprivatewealth.com

For a transcript of today's show, visit the blog related to this episode at https://www.pfgprivatewealth.com/podcast/

Transcript of Today's Show:

Speaker 1: Hey everybody. Welcome in to this edition of "Retirement Planning - Redefined" with the team from PFG, private wealth serving you in the Tampa Bay area. John and Nick once again with me on the show, as we talk investing, finance, and retirement. Nick, buddy, how's it going? How you doing, man?

 

Nick: Pretty well. Pretty well. Just still kind of moving through this pretty crazy time, but no complaints. Pretty fortunate overall.

 

Speaker 1: Good. Good, good, good. John, how you doing, my friend?

 

John: Doing good. Doing good. Recently purchased a rower. Nick sold me on it. He got one about a month ago, and he's been ranting and raving about it. And I joined the club. So, done a couple of sessions and excited to do a little more.

 

Speaker 1: A rower. So it's like an exercise machine, like one of those rowing, or actually going out and rowing in a boat?

 

John: No, no. Rowing in my garage, an exercise machine.

 

Speaker 1: Gotcha.

 

John: Once I get good, I might link up to Nick and we'll race down some fake river on a video screen.

 

Speaker 1: There you go. We'll have to set that up. We'll have to shoot that on Zoom or something. That'd be good.

 

Nick: Yeah, ranting and raving may be a little bit of an overstatement, but.

 

Speaker 1: Just a little?

 

Nick: As to be expected these days.

 

Speaker 1: Gotcha. Well, there you go. Well, hey, at least you're exercising, doing things to stay fit. It's good for stress and all that kind of stuff as well. So, always good.

 

Speaker 1: Well, listen. Today on the topic, basically we're going to talk about Roth conversions. If you determined a Roth was right for you, are you interested in converting if we're going from a traditional to a Roth? Things of that nature. So, we'll just jump in and start talking about it here today on the podcast. John, let's kick it off with tax liability. If you've determined that a Roth is right for you and you are interested, let's talk about some of the key components to maybe consider in tax liability would certainly be one of those.

 

John: Yeah. Yeah. Just understanding how a Roth conversion works. When you convert a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA, you pay income taxes at your current tax rate, and in return for that, you're getting tax-free withdrawals during retirement. And we'll talk about different strategies with that as we go on on this. But just to give an example, let's say someone's taxable income is $100,000, and they meet with their advisor and decided it's a good idea to do some type of conversion. They say, hey, let's go ahead and convert $50,000 of your traditional IRA to a Roth. Your new taxable income for that given year is $150,000. So that's how it would work from a tax liability standpoint. Whatever amount you're converting ends up being added to your taxable income for that given year.

 

Nick: Yeah. And the biggest thing we like to just remind people when they do a conversion is they want to make sure they have the money off on the sidelines to pay that tax. They don't want to do it with the converted money, especially if they're under 59 and a half.

 

Speaker 1: Okay. All right. So, with some of the monies and stuff like that, you want to, again, make sure you're having those conversations, to the guys's point. So what kind of strategies should we employ to kind of work our way through this? Kind of like the lump sum approach, we do it over time? There's lots of conversations out there about ways to go about a conversion.

 

John: Yeah. So one of the things that we do, we focus quite a bit on retirement planning. And when we do that, we're able to actually model out and estimate what someone's going to pay in taxes throughout their retirement. And we have certain scenarios where someone might go ahead and retire early. And let's say, they retire at 62, and they don't really have much income coming in other than maybe lowered social security amount or they have some non-qualified, basically non retirement assets that they don't have to pay income taxes on. And we would look at that. There could be a period from 62 to 72 where they're not paying much in taxes.

 

John: So what we'll do is we'll develop a strategy over that five to 10-year period where we're actually converting the traditional IRA in increments throughout that period of time to really take advantage of that period of time where they're in a lower tax bracket.

 

John: Well, if you look at that through the life of someone's 20, 30-year time horizon, that can make a big difference in their overall tax liability throughout their plan. So it's a nice thing to be able to look at and say, hey, what am I going to pay in taxes? And how can I take advantage of paying less ultimately overall? I know I've been talking a lot here. I'll let Nick jump in on kind of the flexibility of having different buckets of money, whether it's pretax and after tax, going into retirement.

 

Nick: Yeah, really, both fortunately and unfortunately, one of the things that we tell people that they can count on while they're working and then in retirement is that there will be changes. And usually the area that there's most often changes are in tax law. And we've seen that over the last couple of years. And so, sometimes people get a little bit caught up on the thought process of which is better, pretax or Roth money. And in our minds, and when we say it a lot, but we try to continuously emphasize it, is that it's important to have options. And so, to have options, you need to adjust how you contribute or take advantage of Roth contributions and that sort of thing, so that not only are you diversifying from an actual investment standpoint, but from an account type standpoint, which means giving yourself flexibility from a tax standpoint as you take out withdrawals. We find that really, really important.

 

John: Yeah. And where that comes into real life is, let's say someone wants to buy a car in a given year. They don't want to take out a loan. You don't want to take out 40 grand out of a taxable account. That's really going to increase your tax liability, where if you had some Roth money, you might say, hey, I don't want to pay any more taxes. I'll just pull it from that. Or it could be some type of health emergency where it's unexpected and you're pulling 40 to 50 grand out in one pop for whatever reason. So, it's nice to have that option to avoid paying unnecessary taxes.

 

Speaker 1: Okay. So, when we're talking about doing these conversions, obviously clearly taxes right now are lower. And so, that's something that is appealing to people, but we also have been dealing with this down market. Is that another component that should be obviously considered? And what's your thoughts from a conversion standpoint with that in play?

 

John: Yeah. And everyone's situation is different, and this is something that, this recent downmarket, some people took advantage of, where basically, the market dropped almost 30%, 40% from the high. And they went ahead and said, let me go ahead and convert my IRA and this lower balance, pay tax on the lower amount, so when it recovers, basically everything's tax-free moving forward. So, just a quick example of that is, say you had an account that was a $100,000 before the market dropped. Assuming 15% tax liability on that money, and it's a $15,000 tax hit if you were to pull it out. After a 40% drop, the account balance is 60 grand, and a 50% tax on that is $9,000. So you're looking at about a $6,000 tax difference at that point in time. But the reason you would do it is obviously after market downturns, just typically recoveries and all that growth that you get is now tax-free moving forward. So, that's a nice little benefit.

 

Speaker 1: Well, and again, any time you're thinking about that conversion, always check with your advisor, always talk with an advisor. If you're not working with one, reach out to John and Nick and have a conversation with them about it. But it's certainly, even before the whole COVID thing in 2020, it's just been a very popular conversation point, due to the fact that the tax rates that we're in have been so low. So again, if you do have questions around, is it a good time to convert, should I convert, things of that nature, make sure you're running your specific scenario past a qualified professional financial advisor like John and Nick. And of course, you can always reach out to them at (813) 286-7776. That's (813) 286-7776. Or go to pfgprivatewealth.com.

 

Speaker 1: Okay, guys, another place to consider would be the legacy portion. Is that something we should throw into that mix for converting?

 

John: Yeah. So a Roth IRA is actually a great vehicle to pass on to beneficiaries because they receive it tax-free. So, some strategies that Nick and I have implemented with clients in the past is basically converting it so their heirs can get it tax-free, and kind of this scenario where someone doesn't necessarily need the IRA money for income today. It's more of a kind of a cushion for them. And the goal is to pass it on to kids, grandkids, whatever it might be. So, to just kind of give a situation here, client's 68. Don't need the money for current income. Tax bracket's 12%, one of the lower ones. And kid's, daughter's, in a 35% tax bracket. So, the strategy that this person is doing is, over a 10 to 15-year period, again, going back to estimating the taxes, they're converting pieces of the IRA to a Roth. Okay?

 

John: Now you've got to remember that retirement really is a 20 to 30 -ear period. So you could do this over 10, 15, 20 years. Okay? So during that 10 to 15 years, they're basically just making all that IRA money. They're paying taxes in a lower bracket. It's becoming tax free. So when they do pass away, their daughter in this situation inherits it tax-free. In this current situation, the daughter is actually in a 35% tax bracket. So you could see it as a big tax savings there, because once the daughter inherits it, it's all tax-free, versus her paying it at 35%. So, kind of just summary, the client pays the taxes at a 12% tax bracket, daughter inherits it in a 35% tax bracket, but it's tax-free because of the conversions happening.

 

Speaker 1: Okay. And with the stretch going away, does that make that strategy more appealing at this point? Nick, what do you think?

 

Nick: Yeah, I would say, so previously what would happen if we had these kinds of conversations, in a good scenario, or I would say maybe a pretty typical scenario with what John just outlined is, maybe it's a widow. And between Social Security and pension houses paid off, etc., so they have good income. They don't really need to take much from their retirement account. They have a daughter that's a physician, making a really good income. And the strategy is to pass the money down. Well, previously, they might have said, hey, if we pass traditional IRA money to the daughter, it's not as big of a deal. Ideally, a Roth would be better, but with the way that stretch IRAs work, she would only have to typically take a small amount each year out, but do it over her lifetime. Now that that money needs to be taken out in a 10-year period versus over the daughter's lifetime, the tax impact is much more pronounced and harder to navigate.

 

Nick: And so, we're pretty confident that these sorts of conversations with those changes are going to happen much more consistently over the next couple of years. So, that's just kind of a good example of why and how some of the recent changes make it important to be able to adapt and be flexible.

 

Speaker 1: No, I definitely agree with you. And obviously, there has been a lot of changes. There were changes to start the year. And then, of course, the COVID changes also altered some things. So, if you're thinking about or have questions about, again, going over a Roth conversion, if it's right for you, how you want to implement that into your overall plan, or maybe you don't have a plan and you need to do all of those kind of pieces, well, reach out to John and Nick at PFG Private Wealth and let them know you want to talk about it. It's certainly a huge topic point, and it can be a very beneficial component or tool to your retirement planning tool belt, if you will. So, definitely have that chat with them. (813) 286-7776. That's (813) 286-7776. And don't forget to subscribe to the show, "Retirement Planning - Redefined" on Apple, Google, Spotify, or whatever platform you like to use for your podcasts.

 

Speaker 1: We've made it available for you to find at the website pfgprivatewealth.com. That is pfgprivatewealth.com. A lot of good tools, tips, and resources to be found there as well. And of course, you can always just search it out by typing "retirement planning redefined" on whatever platforming app you choose.

 

Speaker 1: All right, guys, is there anything else we need to address with the Roth conversions this week before we go?

 

John: No, I think we're good. Appreciate your time.

 

Speaker 1: Yeah. As always, we appreciate you guys stopping in, chatting with us for a few minutes. If you've got questions about those Roth conversions, again, reach out to them, folks, here on "Retirement Planning - Redefined." John, Nick, you guys enjoy the rowing machines, and I'll be looking forward to that competition coming up soon. And we'll catch you next time here on "Retirement Planning -Redefined" with John and Nick, financial advisors at PFG Private Wealth.