How to Save Money on Taxes in Retirement
Investing | Retirement Planning

How to Save Money on Taxes in Retirement

Retirement seems like a far-off future for someone in their twenties. However, life comes at you fast, and you should prepare for whatever it’s going to throw at you. Retirement is supposed to be your break from life’s constant drama, and you should be able to enjoy it accordingly. If you’ve already done, tax planning you may be able to achieve a stress-free retirement.

Looking into requirements should happen at a young age, but policies change all the time, and what was in your earlier years may no longer exist as you transition into settling into retirement.

For these reasons, you should always be aware of the money choices you have in your retirement. Most often, you keep retirement money in some savings account for you to use by and by as the need arises. However, this means that you also have to pay taxes on that money.

More significant amounts of money have greater amounts of taxes on them, so how is it that you can avoid some of these extra taxes that sponge off your savings. How can you make sure that you save your money on taxes so that you can have blissful ignorance and existence for longer?

What is retirement?

Retirement is defined as the time when a person decides to leave the workforce behind. Some people might ease off working by initially indulging in semi-retirement where they work fewer hours than other employees before completely retiring. Retirement means that the individual will no longer partake in economic activity with a company that they worked for. The traditional age for retirement is 65 or older, but sometimes people retire early to reap retired life benefits.

Retirement a few years back meant that the individual could no longer serve due to their age, but now it’s transforming into another facet of the American dream. In earlier times, retirement used to be a way for people to relax after years of breaking their back, but now it’s become this great way to spend the latter years of one’s life.

Do I have to pay taxes in retirement?

The short answer to the question mentioned above is, yes, you do. The amount you give on taxes depends on several factors like your filing status, the source of your retirement income, and the total amount of income you will receive. You need to know how much money you have to pay in taxes to understand how much money you’ll have leftover to spend. In short, you have to know how much your taxable income is so you can enjoy your retirement savings.

If you think you don’t need to know this information because you’re still working, you cannot be farther removed from reality. Knowing how much you’re going to be potentially taxed even while you have an ordinary income can help you figure out a great deal about your next move. It could mean that you can calculate how much you’re going to retire with and how many more years you would need to have an ordinary income that you can quickly retire with.

If you’re already retired, knowing about this information can help you plan how you spend your money and understand what measures you could take to ensure that the money doesn’t run out efficiently.

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Tax documents on the table

Is social security taxable?

If social security is the only source of income you have, you are likely not to be taxed on it, and it can be tax-free income. However, if you have other income apart from social security, a fraction of your social security amount is taxable. The amount of taxes depends on you and your partner’s weekly or monthly income and the nature of the bank accounts you have set up, i.e., an individual retirement account or a 401(k).

Do I have to pay taxes on my pension?

A pension is a fund into which an employer adds money while the employee is still working and earning an ordinary income. It is a fund from which the employee draws payments once they have retired. This money is taxable income even in retirement. You are taxed every time you withdraw from this fund thus, leaving you with less spending income.

How much income can I earn as a retiree without having to pay taxes?

Taxes on the money you have spent years making don’t seem like a very fair deal, so what can you possibly do to ensure that you can have an income without paying taxes. The amount of taxes you pay heavily depends on your source of income and the total amount of it. If your annual income is less than the tax bracket, you don’t owe any federal income tax. However, you need to make sure that your income is low enough to be tax-free income. Anything above a certain amount is taxable.

Your income sources can be many, and it can be an earned ordinary income that you gain using employment or self-employment or an unearned income through pension funds and 401(k)s along with social security. If this income is above a specific number, then this income becomes taxable, and you have to pay money on it.

If all your income is unearned, you may not need to file at all. The way to proceed is to calculate if you’re above the maximum number. A general rule of thumb is to add half your Social Security income to the amount you received from other sources, both work earnings and earned income, including nontaxable interest. If this number exceeds the IRS’s limits for the year, you have to file your income. If not, you don’t need to file this money. 

Additionally, if you’re 65 and older and filing as a single person, you can earn up to $11,950 in work-related wages before that money needs to be filed. For married couples filing jointly, the limit to earned money is more significant at $23,300 if both are over 65 or older and $22,050 if only one partner has reached 65. This fact additionally means that there are tax breaks for married people.

Do I have to pay state taxes?

State taxes, as the name might suggest, depends on the state that you’re living in. Even if you have don’t have to pay any taxes on earned income, you still may have to pay state taxes for your residence in a state. Suppose you’re residing in any of these five states (Minnesota, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Vermont, and West Virginia). In that case, your social security is likelier to be taxed as these states tax 85% of their residents.

Other states also tax the social security for residents, so you should check out the laws for your states before you willingly give them money. There are generally exceptions based on age brackets that you can claim to save some extra money.

Gold round coins on black textile

How to save money on taxes in retirement

Now that we’ve established how your income can be taxed, let’s move into what can you can do to save money on taxes in your retirement. It can be challenging to precisely understand when you’re retired and don’t have an income. However, being aware of how you can save money will help you understand if you need to earn or invest a little more to configure your financial future.

Here are some things that you should do to save money on taxes in retirement:

Know your taxable income

In the current climate, all of your money is taxable. However, the degree of taxes might differ. The question also remains, when is it taxable? If you’ve kept retirement savings in savings accounts and real estate etc., then these are taxable every year regardless of your retirement status.

Other accounts like 401(k)s and annual annuities are taxable whenever you withdraw from them. If you’re not withdrawing, you don’t have to pay a tax on them.

Invest in Roth individual retirement accounts (IRAs)

The Roth IRA is also an account that you might consider investing in. It is taxable at the time of deposit, but the withdrawals and interest are tax-free until a qualifying event. It’s not like there isn’t any drawback to a Roth IRA, but it’s a great way to trim some of the taxes from your savings.

Since you have to pay the tax money initially, you might have trouble deciding whether to invest in it, but it’s something financial advisors recommend. Furthermore, any gains you earn from this account are also tax-free, so it seems to make up for the initial dip.

Identify your tax bracket

Knowing your tax bracket will help you identify how much you have to pay in a given year.

There are different percentages for different incomes. The tax percentage depends on the income that you and your spouse have altogether. If you don’t have a spouse, then it just depends on your income, but your tax burden is likely to be greater. The greatest percentage is 37%, and the least is 10% for individuals with an income of less than $10,000.

A lower tax bracket means you have to pay less. The sooner you identify the tax bracket, the more accurately you will file your taxes, thus reducing the tax you pay.

Pay off your mortgage and decrease your expenses

Most of the taxes that get cut are when you make withdrawals from your pensions incomes or 401(k)s. The most considerable amount you need to withdraw is likely to pay the mortgage, which is why you should pay it off as soon as you can so you don’t have to withdraw constantly in a large amount. Furthermore, by the time you retire, most of your mortgage payments are the principal amount and don’t come with much tax benefit.

Another thing you might do is decrease your expenses overall. You’ll have to evaluate your income and expenditure, but reducing expenses will be a great way forward.

Diversify your taxes

Just like it’s a smart move to diversify your holdings, it’s an equally wise move to have different tax accounts. This fact means that when the economy favors it, you can withdraw money from your low-tax income or tax-free accounts, allowing you to save money. Similarly, when the taxes are low, you can withdraw from your 401(k)s and pension accounts, so you have a smooth flow of money.

Invest in a municipal bond

Municipal bonds are tax-exempt, which means that you won’t pay any tax on the income that you receive through these. If these bonds make sense to you financially, then they’re a high tax-free income. Notably, they don’t have a great return, but you can withdraw money whenever you want without much hassle.

Move to another state

Many states are better for retirement than others. For example, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Wyoming, and Alaska don’t have state taxes, so many retirees opt to move here when they retire with their jobs and employment.

This move may significantly affect the amount of money that you’re delegating to taxes from your savings. However, this move may come with its expenses. Just state taxes aren’t enough to make you want to switch homes, so make sure you thoroughly investigate what a move would cost before taking the plunge.

Manage your retirement withdrawals

We’ve stated that withdrawals are likely the most prominent reasons you’re paying taxes in a tremendous amount and losing out on savings. For this reason, managing them is imperatives.

Ways to manage this is by making intelligent withdrawals. If the tax bracket is low, you can withdraw from ordinary IRAs, and it won’t affect your taxable money that greatly. However, when your tax bracket is high, you can withdraw from a Roth account without tax on the withdrawal.

Final thoughts

There are many ways you can save money on taxes in retirement. We have listed some of them in the article above. However, the biggest takeaway to how to save money on taxes in retirement is that you need to be aware of your options.

You could do this by taking a meeting with a financial advisor, get second opinions, and then proceed to plan and manage your finances in a way that reduces the money you’re losing. Planning your financial future will ease you into retirement, you won’t have to take care of so many things, and you’ll get to spend the time relaxing instead of stressing.