Granted, retirement plans are usually easier if you’re a full-time employee. But if you’re self-employed, you can still contribute to a retirement plan.
It’s expensive to be a sole proprietor. If you’ve been one for any length of time, you already know that. There’s the self-employment tax. Business insurance. Computers and mobile devices and applications. Office expenses. Health insurance premiums.
Although you can get some of that back by documenting it on your Schedule C, you still have to pay for a lot of things that full-time employees don’t. Plus, you don’t get those nice employer-match contributions to your retirement plan that many workers get these days.
But you can still set up a retirement plan as a self-employed individual. The IRS offers a handful of options, including: [MORE] . . .
WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today reminded taxpayers who turned 70½ during 2013 that in most cases they must start receiving required minimum distributions (RMDs) from Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) and workplace retirement plans by Tuesday, April 1, 2014.
The April 1 deadline applies to owners of traditional IRAs but not Roth IRAs. Normally, it also applies to participants in various workplace retirement plans, including 401(k), 403(b) and 457 plans.
The April 1 deadline only applies to the required distribution for the first year. For all subsequent years, the RMD must be made by Dec. 31. So, for example, a taxpayer who turned 70½ in 2013 and receives the first required payment on April 1, 2014 must still receive the second RMD by Dec. 31, 2014.
Affected taxpayers who turned 70½ during 2013 must figure the RMD for the first year using their life expectancy on Dec. 31, 2013 and their account balance on Dec. 31, 2012. The trustee reports the year-end account value to the IRA owner on Form 5498 in Box 5. Worksheets and life expectancy tables for making this computation can be found in the Appendices to Publication 590.
Most taxpayers use Table III (Uniform Lifetime) to figure their RMD. For a taxpayer who turned 71 in 2013, for example, the first required distribution would be based on a life expectancy of 26.5 years. A separate table, Table II, applies to a taxpayer married to a spouse who is more than 10 years younger and is the taxpayer’s only beneficiary.
Though the April 1 deadline is mandatory for all owners of traditional IRAs and most participants in workplace retirement plans, some people with workplace plans can wait longer to receive their RMD. Usually, employees who are still working can, if their plan allows, wait until April 1 of the year after they retire to start receiving these distributions. See Tax on Excess Accumulations in Publication 575. Employees of public schools and certain tax-exempt organizations with 403(b) plan accruals before 1987 should check with their employer, plan administrator or provider to see how to treat these accruals.
The IRS encourages taxpayers to begin planning now for any distributions required during 2014. An IRA trustee must either report the amount of the RMD to the IRA owner or offer to calculate it for the owner. Often, the trustee shows the RMD amount in Box 12b on Form 5498. For a 2014 RMD, this amount would be on the 2013 Form 5498 that is normally issued in January 2014.
More information on RMDs, including answers to frequently asked questions, can be found on IRS.gov.
Plan Now to Get Full Benefit of Saver’s Credit; Tax Credit Helps Low- and Moderate-Income Workers Save for Retirement
WASHINGTON — Low- and moderate-income workers can take steps now to save for retirement and earn a special tax credit in 2013 and the years ahead, according to the Internal Revenue Service.
The saver’s credit helps offset part of the first $2,000 workers voluntarily contribute to IRAs and to 401(k) plans and similar workplace retirement programs. Also known as the retirement savings contributions credit, the saver’s credit is available in addition to any other tax savings that apply.
Eligible workers still have time to make qualifying retirement contributions and get the saver’s credit on their 2013 tax return. People have until April 15, 2014, to set up a new individual retirement arrangement or add money to an existing IRA for 2013. However, elective deferrals (contributions) must be made by the end of the year to a 401(k) plan or similar workplace program, such as a 403(b) plan for employees of public schools and certain tax-exempt organizations, a governmental 457 plan for state or local government employees, and the Thrift Savings Plan for federal employees. Employees who are unable to set aside money for this year may want to schedule their 2014 contributions soon so their employer can begin withholding them in January.
The saver’s credit can be claimed by:
Like other tax credits, the saver’s credit can increase a taxpayer’s refund or reduce the tax owed. Though the maximum saver’s credit is $1,000, $2,000 for married couples, the IRS cautioned that it is often much less and, due in part to the impact of other deductions and credits, may, in fact, be zero for some taxpayers.
A taxpayer’s credit amount is based on his or her filing status, adjusted gross income, tax liability and amount contributed to qualifying retirement programs. Form 8880 is used to claim the saver’s credit, and its instructions have details on figuring the credit correctly.
In tax-year 2011, the most recent year for which complete figures are available, saver’s credits totaling just over $1.1 billion were claimed on nearly 6.4 million individual income tax returns. Saver’s credits claimed on these returns averaged $215 for joint filers, $166 for heads of household and $128 for single filers.
The saver’s credit supplements other tax benefits available to people who set money aside for retirement. For example, most workers may deduct their contributions to a traditional IRA. Though Roth IRA contributions are not deductible, qualifying withdrawals, usually after retirement, are tax-free. Normally, contributions to 401(k) and similar workplace plans are not taxed until withdrawn.
Other special rules that apply to the saver’s credit include the following:
Certain retirement plan distributions reduce the contribution amount used to figure the credit. For 2013, this rule applies to distributions received after 2010 and before the due date, including extensions, of the 2013 return. Form 8880 and its instructions have details on making this computation.
Begun in 2002 as a temporary provision, the saver’s credit was made a permanent part of the tax code in legislation enacted in 2006. To help preserve the value of the credit, income limits are now adjusted annually to keep pace with inflation. More information about the credit is on IRS.gov.
The IRS has 10 important tips for you about setting aside money for your retirement in an Individual Retirement Arrangement.
1. You must be under age 70 1/2 at the end of the tax year in order to contribute to a traditional IRA.
2. You must have taxable compensation to contribute to an IRA. This includes income from wages, salaries, tips, commissions and bonuses. It also includes net income from self-employment. If you file a joint return, generally only one spouse needs to have taxable compensation.
3. You can contribute to your traditional IRA at any time during the year. You must make all contributions by the due date for filing your tax return. This due date does not include extensions. For most people this means you must contribute for 2012 by April 15, 2013. If you contribute between Jan. 1 and April 15, you should contact your IRA plan sponsor to make sure they apply it to the right year.
4. For 2012, the most you can contribute to your IRA is the smaller of either your taxable compensation for the year or $5,000. If you were 50 or older at the end of 2012 the maximum amount increases to $6,000.
5. Generally, you will not pay income tax on the funds in your traditional IRA until you begin taking distributions from it.
6. You may be able to deduct some or all of your contributions to your traditional IRA.
7. Use the worksheets in the instructions for either Form 1040A or Form 1040 to figure the amount of your contributions that you can deduct.
8. You may also qualify for the Savers Credit, formally known as the Retirement Savings Contributions Credit. The credit can reduce your taxes up to $1,000 (up to $2,000 if filing jointly). Use Form 8880, Credit for Qualified Retirement Savings Contributions, to claim the Saver’s Credit.
9. You must file either Form 1040A or Form 1040 to deduct your IRA contribution or to claim the Saver’s Credit.
10. See Publication 590, Individual Retirement Arrangements, for more about IRA contributions.