Do you have a question about your financial affairs? Financial planning consultant Robert S. Pennartztakes calls at 1-302-654-5556, extension 138 or 1-800-366-0632, extension 138. A selection of these questions and Pennartz's responses are published in this column. Anonymity is assured.)Q. I see where the presidential candidates are talking about tax breaks for most Americans in the future. What can I do with my investment to minimize future taxes?
A. Your observation about taxes makes sense. The recent report by the tax policy center is based on preliminary information. It does not include either McCain's or Obama's health care proposals, and more. Both candidates are talking about major issues that need to be addressed: The health care problem in America, the solvency of Social Security and Medicare, the infrastructure (roads, bridges, etc.) in need of repair and upgrading, not to mention the on-going war(s). How are we going to pay for all of this? It seems clear that taxes are headed up.
As far as investments are concerned, beside the obvious appeal of tax-free bonds, consideration should be given to converting your IRA to a Roth IRA. There are taxes to be paid now on the amount that you convert, but once in the Roth IRA, your gains are tax free (once the account is 5 years old and you are over age 59-and-a-half). Currently, only taxpayers with an adjusted gross income of $100,000 or less can convert. However, in 2010, this income limit goes away, so all of us can convert at that time. That's only a year-and-a-halfyears from now. If you can establish your Roth account now with a small contribution, then (in 2010) convert your traditional IRA into the Roth IRA, you'll only have to wait 3-and-a-half years to access any gains in your account.
Individuals should consult their tax professional to determine whether this strategy is appropriate for their situation. Also, it is always possible that future legislative changes could affect this Roth conversion rule.
A Roth IRA is funded with after-tax money and accumulates tax free. A traditional IRA is funded with before-tax money and accumulates tax deferred. Withdrawals are taxable.
o Robert S. Pennartz is a certified financial planner practitioner at the Financial House, a Registered Investment Advisor, in Centreville, Del. He has been named a top advisor by Reuters, the Global Information Company. He lives in Pocopson Township with his wife and children. He is a registered representative offering securities through Lincoln Financial Securities Corp., Member SIPC. Lincoln Financial Securities Corporation and its representatives do not offer tax or legal advice. You should consult your individual tax or legal professional regarding your individual circumstances.