Do You Have After-Tax Money in Your 401k?

Financial Advisor

Tim Hayes

Offices in Boston & S Dartmouth

I am an Investment Adviser Representative at Cambridge Investment Research Advisors, Inc., a Registered Investment Adviser (RIA) based in Fairfield, IA. I am also registered with Cambridge Investment Research, Inc., an independent broker-dealer with over 3,000 registered representatives nationwide.

Most clients pay fee-only or an hourly rate. The size and complexity of the client’s wealth management and financial and retirement planning determine that fee.

Some clients pay a commission, mainly those with smaller accounts, i.e., Roth IRAs, some public-school teachers with 403b retirement accounts, or parents or grandparents who set up a 529 college savings plan.

The first introductory and fact-finding appointment can be in-person or by phone. The next meeting where I provide my recommendations should be in-person. (For the time being, telephone, Zoom, and email are replacing some in-person meetings.)

Subsequent meetings during which we monitor your progress and investments can be done in-person or by phone, email, Zoom, or Skype – or, more likely, a combination of these meeting types.

Do you happen to have after-tax money in your 401k or 403b, assuming the fees and expenses in the IRAs are comparable to the 401k or 403b? A rollover might be beneficial.

In Notice 2014-54, the IRS provided the option for an individual to roll over their pre-tax retirement money into an IRA while rolling over their after-tax money into a Roth IRA.

If left in the plan, future earnings from the after-tax investments are withdrawn as taxable distributions. However, if rolled into a Roth IRA, those earning start growing tax-free.

The Secure Act

The Secure Act requires children, grandchildren, and any non-spouse beneficiary ten years younger than the IRA owner to withdraw the entire inherited IRA or retirement plan in ten years. They no longer have the option of stretching the withdrawals over their lifetime.

The Secure Act, however, keeps the rules the same for spouses. They can still roll the plan over into their IRA, become the IRA owner, or remain an IRA beneficiary.

Beneficiary Planning

A potential planning strategy, depending on how much after-tax money is in the 401k, is to roll the after-tax to a Roth IRA, maybe leaving that for the kids. You can reasonably invest in that account aggressively. The Roth grows tax-free, and the beneficiary can withdraw without incurring taxes. (The IRA owner also can withdraw tax-free.)

The one downside is that you must wait five years to make a total penalty-free withdrawal from the Roth account. However, you can withdraw the after-tax rolled-over amount at any time without penalty, as only the gains are subject to a 10% penalty.

Read More: Should You Name a Trust as Beneficiary on Your Retirement Account?

No Minimum Distribution

One usually does not contribute after-tax until they have used up all their pre-tax contribution limit.

Most people with after-tax money in their 401k typically have a significant account balance.

So, even if one does not intend on leaving money to someone ten years younger, there are still benefits. There is no minimum distribution required from a Roth IRA, meaning the money can stay in the account longer and be invested more aggressively. All withdrawals are tax-free.

When you leave or retire from your employer, deciding what to do with your 401k or 403b is a big decision.

The federal government has instituted a series of rules and laws to help participants with that decision. The first law, from the U.S. Department of Labor, puts an increased requirement on financial advisors who recommend that participants roll their money over.

The other, from the Securities Exchange Commission, requires an advisor to work in the best interest of the retirement plan participant.

If you have after-tax money in your plan, the benefits of a rollover increase.

These are the opinions of Retirement Financial Advisor Tim Hayes and not necessarily those of Cambridge Investment Research. They are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed or acted upon as individualized investment advice.

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