Home Business Marc A. Hebert’s Money Sense: Tax-advantaged savings, and how to use them

Marc A. Hebert’s Money Sense: Tax-advantaged savings, and how to use them


While it isn’t prudent to let taxes drive the majority of your investment funds choices, they surely can have an influence. There are tax-deferred and tax-free investments, yet exactly what do these terms mean and what are their preferences over taxable accounts?

Tax deferral alludes to the way toward postponing taxes. In these situations, taxes are not really disposed of but instead delayed until the point that a future time period to pay the taxes on your commitments as well as profit. Tax-free implies that no income taxes are due ever.

Tax deferral has a number of benefits. You can invest the money you would have otherwise spent on taxes. You might be in a lower tax bracket when you need to spend the funds. The dollars you earn in your account also earn money in the future, adding more dollars into your investment. This is the benefit of compounding.

Let’s look at the effect of taxes using this example. You have $5,000 to invest every year for 30 years. The investment earns 4 percent per year. You decide to put the investment into a Roth account. If certain parameters are met, the Roth distribution will be tax-free. After 30 years, you would have accumulated $280,425. On the other hand, say you decided to put this same investment in a taxable account. The earnings on the account are taxed at a rate of 22 percent per year. At the end of 30 years, you would have $242,556 in the account. The difference is $37,869.

It should be noted that the example doesn’t reflect any particular investment. Results in real life will vary. The example also doesn’t reflect the fact that tax rates do change and are different for different types of investments. For example, the taxes on ordinary income may be different from the taxes on capital gains. Tax rates have not kept constant as we all know.

Here are a few savings vehicles that will give you a tax-deferred or tax-free benefit:

Traditional IRAs: If you are under age 70½ and have earned income or a spouse with earned income, you can contribute to a Traditional IRA. Your contributions may or may not be deductible. This depends on your income level and if you are covered by an employer-sponsored retirement plan. The earnings growth will be tax-deferred. Your distributions from the IRA may or may not be fully taxable depending on whether or not you were able to take the tax deduction.

Roth IRAs: This type of account is available only to individuals with incomes below certain limits. Contributions are made with after-tax dollars and the account grows tax-free. If you meet certain rules, the distributions are tax-free, as well.

Simple IRAs and Simple 401(k)s: These accounts are plans that small businesses may have. They function similarly to traditional IRAs. The contributions grow on a tax-deferred basis, but you will owe taxes on the withdrawals.

Employer-sponsored plans (401(k)s, 403(b)s, 457 plans): Contributions to these plans grow tax-deferred. You will owe income taxes when you make a withdrawal. Sometimes there are Roth account options inside these plans. If this is the case, the distribution will be tax free if you meet certain rules.

While the accounts listed here are mainly retirement plan options, there are other types. Annuities can be considered tax-deferred accounts. There are Section 529 plans, Coverdell education savings accounts, and Series EE bonds, which have tax advantages and are helpful if you are saving for college. Health Savings Accounts can be an option if you need to save for medical costs.

With so many options, you should discuss your choices with your personal adviser to find accounts that fit with your unique situation.


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