Author: Dr. Daniel Levine

Synergy: Holding Real Estate in Your IRA, Part 1 of 4

For many years now, people have been using non-directly owned real estate in their IRAs and other retirement plans. These intangibles are investments like REITs and real estate mutual funds. Most people didn’t know they could use the retirement plans to purchase directly owned real estate such as raw land, commercial buildings, condos, residential properties, empty lots, trust deeds, or real estate contracts. In general, the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) section 408 does not prohibit the holding of real estate in an IRA, provided the transaction is not prohibited under IRC Section 4975. Code section 4975 covers what transactions are prohibited between an IRA or retirement plan and a “disqualified person”. Generally, “disqualified persons” are defined to be the account holder, other fiduciaries, certain family members, and businesses under the account holder’s control. In essence, the prohibited transaction rules prohibit an IRA or qualified retirement plan from owning a piece of property which will be purchased from or use personally by the account holder, family members, or businesses under the account holder’s control. Simply put, the property must be used for investment purposes only and cannot be used personally while maintained in the IRA. In addition, properties that are individually owned outside of the IRA cannot be transferred or purchased by one’s individual IRA. Remember, the IRS will not let you use your IRA to purchase your home or...

Read More

10 Steps to Retirement Freedom

Everyone thinks retirement is a long way off, but it’s not. People in their 50s know “the years have run like rabbits”, to misquote a line of poetry from W. H. Auden. Get married, have children, buy a house and before you know it, it’s time to think seriously about your retirement lifestyle. Retirement, of course, is a topic that has been on your mind since you first began your working life. The most important asset you have is time and its positive effect on accumulating wealth. There is never a better time than right now to assess your situation. As a financial professional, I can help you determine the retirement lifestyle you want to have, and also help you calculate your capacity to achieve it. Step 1: Study Your Monthly and Annual Expenses The first thing to do is to look closely at how you’re spending your money. If you’re not exactly sure, my advice is to keep a log for two months and jot down every expenditure, no matter how small. You may be surprised to see how much you spend every month on such things as coffee, lunch, cable services, etc. While these expenses may provide a pleasant quality of life, they may also be draining your ability to have a more enjoyable lifestyle in retirement. Step 2: Consider Cutting Back and Saving the Difference Since...

Read More

Have You Checked Your Estate Plan Lately?

Hopefully you already have an estate plan, and if not, you should make this an immediate priority. Though it may be uncomfortable to think about, legal instructions must be clearly stated to direct your personal and financial affairs in case of death or your inability to care for yourself. An estate plan helps you control how your property will be managed when you are no longer able to do so yourself.   When to Review Without question, the best time to review your estate plan is immediately after a major life event, as listed below. Major changes to your life or lifestyle must be mirrored in your legal documentation. Too often we hear about families that live through the heartache of legal confusion and lost intentions. You can make it so much easier for your loved ones, both family and friends, when your wishes are clearly described. In addition to reviewing your estate plan after a major life event occurs, you should also make it a regular practice to review your documentation each year, refreshing some of the details affected by changing economic and tax related issues. While a quick review may be sufficient once a year, a more thorough review every five years is a wise protocol.   Review Your Estate Plan Now If… Your marital status changes, or the marital status of any of your children or...

Read More

Playing by the Rules and Saving Money with Accrued Interest on Bonds

  You’re Kidding Me! How would you like to limit your capital gains, and therefore limit your capital gains tax, as well as increase the basis of your bonds, which also decreases your capital gains tax?     Did You Know? When bonds are sold between interest payment dates, part of the cash you receive includes the interest that accrued up until the date of sale. In essence, the cash from your sold investment contains three elements: The principal Capital gains on the principal, if any Interest earned Here’s How You Do It If You Are the Seller: Have your accountant report your accrued interest as gross income. By doing this, you are removing the interest earned as only being capital gains. At the same time, you are increasing the bond’s basis which raises the floor on the bond, also limiting capital gains tax. Here’s how it looks in an example: A bond costing $5,000 is sold for $5,300 on May 31. The sale price includes $200 of interest the bond accrued from January 1 through May 31. Normally the $300 of increased value would be accounted as capital gains, but not this time. Have your accountant report interest income of $200, and capital gains income of $100. By dividing the earned interest and allocating the two portions as shown, you have limited your capital gains income and lowered...

Read More

Keep Your Investment Vehicles Out of the Tax Man’s Garage

5 Mid-Year Tune-ups You Should Do Right Now Taxes clearly represent the proverbial two-edged sword: they pay for the necessary services our society requires such as good roads, hospitals, schools, etc.…but taxes also create limitations on lifestyle choices and the growth of investment portfolios. Reviewing tax strategies and selecting those which are applicable to your situation can meet your obligations while simultaneously preserving more of your wealth for your own personal and business needs. Planning for the inevitable now, at mid-year, can make a big difference at the end of fiscal 2016. Here are five strategies that may help increase your bottom line in a big way. Take a Close Look at Your Investments This year’s federal income tax rates on long-term capital gains and qualified dividends are 0%, 15%, and 20%. The maximum rate of 20% affects taxpayers with taxable income above $415,050 for single taxpayers, $466,950 for married joint-filing couples, and $441,000 for heads of households. Individuals with high income can also be subject to the 3.8% NITT (Net Investment Income Tax) which can result in a marginal long-term capital gains/qualified dividend tax rate that could reach as high as 23.8%. Though high, this is still substantially lower than the top regular tax rate of 39.6% (or 43.4% if the NITT applies). What can you do? A. Lower Your Taxes by Holding Your Securities Longer. If your...

Read More