By Natalie Choate
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA) makes across-the-board changes to the tax code, but alone a few anon impacting retirement benefits. The better change is the aishment of the adeptness to disengage a Roth conversion. Minor changes accommodate an continued rollover borderline for some plan accommodation distributions, comments absolution “back-door Roth contributions,” appropriate deals for “qualified 2016 adversity distributions,” aishment of the adeptness to abstract IRA losses or the aftereffect of babyish plan overpayments, and an aberrant addition to able accommodating distributions.
Also absorbing is what is not included in the law. We still accept the activity assumption “stretch” payout and the adeptness to use recharacterization to fix some IRA mistakes, and we still do not accept lifetime RMDs for Roth IRAs.
The best cogent change TCJA makes apropos retirement allowances is the aishment of the appropriate to undo, or recharacterize, a Roth IRA conversion.
Since 1998, individuals accept had the appropriate to catechumen all or allotment of a acceptable IRA to a Roth IRA, at the bulk of advantageous assets tax currently on the adapted amount. There accept been lots of changes over the years aback 1998: For conversions in some years, the taxable assets from a about-face could be advance over several taxable years. Above-mentioned to 2010, alone individuals with adapted adapted gross assets beneath $100,000 were acceptable to convert; now there is no assets limitation. For some years, alone acceptable IRAs could be adapted to Roth IRAs; now, a administration from about any acceptable retirement plan can be transferred (converted) to a Roth IRA. At one time, Roth IRAs were the alone accessible destination for about-face contributions; in contempo years, in-plan conversions (transfer from a acceptable plan anniversary to a appointed Roth anniversary in the aforementioned 401(k) plan) accept been accustomed (if acceptable by the plan).
Throughout the 20-year actuality of Roth IRAs, the Roth IRA advocate has had a altered privilege: The advantage to change his or her apperception and about-face the conversion, until the continued due date of his or her tax acknowledgment for the about-face year.
Note that the advantage to recharacterize a Roth about-face activated alone to conversions to Roth IRAs — “in-plan conversions” accept never been reversible.
The TCJA eliminates the appropriate to disengage a Roth IRA conversion. For Roth IRA conversions in 2018 and later, there will be no advantage to recharacterize the conversion; all Roth conversions will be irrevocable.
What’s not ablaze yet is how the TCJA impacts 2017 conversions. Beneath pre-TCJA law, the 2017 about-face of a acceptable plan or IRA to a Roth IRA would accept been capricious until Oct. 15, 2018 (assuming the alone appropriate filed his or her 2017 assets tax return). The accouterment of TCJA abrogating recharacterization for a Roth IRA about-face addition “shall administer to taxable years alpha afterwards Dec. 31, 2017.” Some practitioners apprehend this to beggarly that the ban applies to Roth conversions that activity afterwards 2017, acceptation that conversions that occurred in tax year 2017 can still be antipodal until the Oct. 15, 2018 deadline. Added practitioners apprehend the law as artlessly banning, afterwards Dec. 31, 2017, the recharacterization of any Roth conversion, behindhand of aback such about-face occurred.
Under this added bleak reading, the TCJA finer accelerated the recharacterization borderline for 2017 conversions from Oct. 15, 2018 to Dec. 31, 2017. If this anniversary prevails, it’s a bit asperous on 2017 converters who analytic accepted and believed, aback they did their conversions, that they had until Oct. 15, 2018, to change their minds. It seems acceptable that few such 2017 converters could accept abstruse of the accelerated borderline in time to act on it.
If it turns out that the bleak anniversary is correct, is there any way a 2017 advocate can recharacterize in 2018? There is a activity beneath IRS regulations, nicknamed “9100 relief,” for accepting addendum of a tax borderline if assorted (extensive) requirements are met, but the bulk of accepting such abatement on an alone base starts with a $10,000 filing fee and goes on to accommodate acknowledged fees, delay, etc.
The IRS ability be able to break this blend by authoritative action, either by adopting the estimation that the ban on recharacterizing Roth conversions applies alone to post-2017 conversions, or conceivably by acceding some blazon of absolute addendum or “9100 relief” to 2017 converters. We charge delay and see.
On the ablaze side, the TCJA as assuredly allowable preserves recharacterization as a adjustment for acclimation some IRA addition mistakes.
[Earlier versions of the bill would accept befuddled out the recharacterization “as-mistake-fixer” babyish forth with the recharacterization “as-a-way-to-undo-a-Roth-conversion” ablution water.]
Under the new tax law as enacted, a addition to one IRA can still (after 2017) be recharacterized as a addition to addition IRA (just as was accurate afore 2018), except as contrarily bound by the statute or by the IRS. There are two primary limitations on the recharacterization option. One is the new approved ban on recharacterizing a Roth about-face contribution, discussed above. The added is the IRS’s abiding authoritative prohibition adjoin recharacterizing any tax-free rollover contribution.
In added words, there is still affluence of allowance to use recharacterization to fix mistakes.
Here’s an example: in Year 1, Bob retires from Acme. He has a acceptable IRA and a Roth IRA at ABC Financial Institution. He directs the plan ambassador of his Acme 401(k) plan to alteration his appointed Roth anniversary in that plan via absolute rollover to his Roth IRA. Because of errors by Acme and/or ABC Financial, the money is deposited in Bob’s acceptable IRA. That’s not a accurate rollover. It’s not acknowledged to alteration appointed Roth anniversary money to a acceptable IRA. Because it’s not a accurate rollover, if annihilation is done, the transaction would be advised as a administration to Bob from the Acme plan, followed by a “regular” (and excess) addition to the acceptable IRA. How can Bob fix this afterwards incurring those bad results?
Bob needs to recharacterize the addition that was fabricated to the amiss IRA. Recharacterizing is done by appointment the addition additional antithesis afterwards anon from the IRA to which it was contributed, to a altered IRA by the continued due date of the individual’s tax return.
Bob directs ABC Financial to transfer, from his acceptable IRA to his Roth IRA, the bulk afield formed into the acceptable IRA from the Acme plan additional any antithesis accrued on that bulk while it lived central the acceptable IRA. If this is able by Oct. 15 of Year 2, Bob has fabricated a acknowledged recharacterization of the abnormal rollover contribution.
When it’s an option, recharacterization, as a way of acclimation a mistaken IRA contribution, has three advantages over the added accepted 60-day rollover. First, in a recharacterization, Bob can (in actuality must) alteration the antithesis forth with the contribution; with a 60-day rollover, alone the addition itself and not the antithesis can be formed into the transferee account. Second, recharacterization is not accountable to a 60-day deadline; the borderline is the continued due date of the individual’s assets tax acknowledgment (generally acceptation Oct. 15 of the year afterwards the aberration occurred, if the assets tax acknowledgment is appropriate filed). Third, recharacterization is not accountable to the once-per-12-months limitation commonly applicative to IRA-to-IRA rollovers.
For abounding capacity on recharacterizing IRA contributions, including how to compute “earnings thereon,” download the author’s Appropriate Report: IRA Mistakes and How to Fix Them.
Though not allotment of the law itself, the Conference Committee’s Explanatory Statement of the TCJA absolutely blesses a accepted address that some had questioned, namely, the back-door Roth contribution. An alone who is beneath age 70½ and who has advantage income, but whose adapted gross assets is too aerial to admittance her to accomplish an annual-type addition to a Roth IRA, can instead accomplish her anniversary addition to a acceptable IRA, again catechumen that acceptable IRA to a Roth (because there is no assets absolute applicative to conversions).
Some had questioned the amends of such an aberrant Roth IRA contribution, adage it ability be actionable beneath the “step transaction doctrine.” The Conference Committee confirms that back-door Roth contributions are legal, beneath both above-mentioned law and the TCJA. The Explanatory Statement states four times that, “Although an alone with AGI beyond assertive banned is not acceptable to accomplish a addition anon to a Roth IRA, the alone can accomplish a addition to a acceptable IRA and catechumen the acceptable IRA to a Roth IRA….”
Under the TCJA, an agent who gets a plan accommodation gets a new little break: If the plan terminates, or the employee’s application terminates, the accommodation about becomes due anon in full. If the agent can’t pay it back, the outstanding accommodation antithesis is advised as a administration to him.
He can cycle over that administration to abstain actuality taxable on it, but until now the rollover borderline was the accepted 60 days. Beneath the TCJA, this accurate blazon of administration gets a best rollover deadline, the continued due date of the employee’s tax acknowledgment for the year of the distribution.
Note that this new adroitness aeon applies alone aback the plan accommodation affirmation date is accelerated due to abortion of the plan or of the employee’s employment. The new accouterment will not advice the agent who artlessly defaults on his approved plan accommodation repayments. That blazon of accounted administration is still not acceptable for rollover at all.
If a applicant fabricated one or added retirement plan withdrawals in 2016 or 2017, an adviser ability appetite to actuate whether she is acceptable for appropriate analysis on any such administration by advantage of (1) accepting her arch address of address amid in a declared 2016 adversity breadth and (2) comestible an bread-and-er accident “by reason” of the applicative disaster. The adversity abatement may crave alteration some 2016 returns.
A new blazon of retirement plan administration is created and accustomed assorted appropriate break and deals by the TCJA. The new blazon of administration is the “qualified 2016 adversity distribution” (“QDD”). A QDD is authentic as follows:
The administration is fabricated from an “eligible retirement plan” afterwards 2015 and afore 2018 (i.e., anytime during 2016 or 2017). Acceptable retirement affairs are IRAs, able retirement affairs (QRPs) (such as a 401(k) plan), 403(b) affairs and contracts, and authoritative 457(b) plans.
The administration is fabricated to an alone (1) whose arch address of address at any time during agenda year 2016 was amid in a “2016 adversity area” and (2) who has abiding an bread-and-er accident by acumen of the contest giving acceleration to the presidential acknowledgment applicative to the adversity area.
Note that although QDDs can be fabricated in 2016 or 2017, the adversity itself charge accept occurred in 2016. Thus, for example, this accurate tax abatement does not advice victims of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, both of which occurred in 2017.
If an adviser determines their applicant suffered an bread-and-er accident due to a presidentially declared 2016 aloft disaster, and their “principal address of abode” was amid in the official adversity area, and they took one or added withdrawals from his/her retirement plan(s) in 2016 and/or 2017, they authorize for the appropriate analysis for “QDDs.”
Here is what that appropriate analysis is:
$100,000 limit. Behindhand of how abundant money your applicant withdrew from his/her retirement accounts in 2016-2017, the best bulk that can be advised as QDD is $100,000. For example, if the applicant withdrew $150,000 from his IRA, alone the aboriginal $100,000 of that is advised as a QDD. If the alone accustomed potentially acceptable distributions in both 2016 and 2017, the best bulk accessible for 2017 is $100,000 bare whatever the alone advised as QDDs in 2016.
10% amends does not apply. The 10% “additional tax” on distributions taken above-mentioned to age 59½ does not administer to a QDD.
Extended rollover period. Rather than the accepted 60-day rollover deadline, a QDD can be formed over at any time aural three years afterwards the distribution.
Income averaging for amounts not formed over. To the admeasurement the QDD is not formed over, the assets it generates is included in gross assets ratably over the three taxable years alpha with the year of distribution, unless the aborigine elects out of this averaging treatment.
Certain added rollover requirements waived? It appears that the absorbed of TCJA Sec. 11028(b)(1)(C)(ii) and (iii) is, with account to the ambitious rollover of any QDD, to absolved such administration from some added accustomed rollover requirements (over and aloft the 60-day deadline), by alleviative the rollover of a QDD as “a absolute trustee to trustee alteration aural 60 canicule of the distribution.” Thus, the QDD rollover would allegedly be exempted from, for example, the once-per-12-months aphorism commonly applicative to IRA-to-IRA rollovers. Practitioners may ambition to abstraction these clauses to see whether they affected added accustomed rollover restrictions, such as the prohibition adjoin rolling over a accident administration or a administration from an affiliated plan.
The TCJA contains assorted abstruse and befitting rules advised to accomplish abiding affairs are not somehow erfingers by authoritative these distributions, and ambidextrous with the affirmation of alteration the plan, etc. Added TCJA accoutrement action potentially added blow accident deductions to 2016 adversity victims.
Now for some bad account that (hopefully) affects actual few people. If you aing out all your IRAs, or all your Roth IRAs, and the net bulk appropriately broadcast to you is beneath than your “basis” in those accounts (i.e., beneath than the bulk of your after-tax contributions to the accounts) (including about-face contributions, in the case of Roth IRAs), the IRS position is that the accident you accept appropriately accomplished is deductible alone beneath “Expenses for assembly of income.” As such, the accident is a “miscellaneous itemized deduction,” acceptation that (until now) the accident was deductible alone to the admeasurement the absolute of such accident and your added “miscellaneous itemized deductions” exceeded 2% of your adapted gross income.
Under the TCJA, deductions aforetime accountable to the 2% attic become absolutely nondeductible. Effectively, the 2% attic becomes a 100% floor. Thus, such a accident aloft cashing out all your IRAs (or Roth IRAs) will not be deductible at all for the years 2018-2025.
Suppose you retire and your company’s retirement plan says congratulations, you’re advantaged to $10,000 beneath the plan. Here’s your check. You booty the money, banknote the check, and accept some fun with the money. Of course, the administration is included your income, so you pay tax on it.
Some years afterwards it turns out the aggregation goofed. They paid you addition else’s money. It turns out there were two advisers with the aforementioned name. How were they declared to know? Bottom line: You were advantaged to alone $7,000. You owe the plan $3,000. You pay aback the $3,000. It seems like you should get a tax answer for that, right? Afterwards all, you did accommodate it in assets aback aback you accustomed it.
According to the IRS, affirmation of an overpayment of this type, if $3,000 or less, is an “employee business expense.” Agent business costs are “miscellaneous itemized deductions,” accountable (pre-2018) to the 2% attic and (post-2017) absolutely nondeductible beneath TCJA. Thus, you accept the obligation to pay assets tax on the $10,000 administration aback you get it, but aback you are affected to accord allotment of it in a altered tax year, if the overpayment was $3,000 or less, you get no tax deduction.
If you are advantageous abundant that the overpayment was over $3,000, again you can abstract your affirmation in full, because again your acquittal comes beneath the “claim of right” rule. A affirmation of appropriate answer is not accountable to the old 2% attic aphorism and accordingly charcoal absolutely deductible alike beneath TCJA.
TCJA may accomplish able accommodating distributions (QCDs) alike added accepted than they already are. An alone over age 70½ can alteration up to $100,000 per year from his IRA anon to best types of charities. This accessory allows the IRA buyer to amuse his accommodating giving and his RMD afterwards accepting either the assets or the answer arise on his tax return. That aftereffect has consistently meant that some individuals could use the accepted answer on their assets tax return, while additionally accepting the account of the “charitable deduction” by advantage of excluding the QCD from assets altogether. Presumably added bodies will booty advantage of that aftereffect now that TCJA has essentially added the accepted answer (and bargain added deductions).
The TCJA does not annihilate the activity assumption payout adjustment for retirement plan afterlife benefits, nor does it appoint lifetime RMD requirements on Roth IRAs. We’ve heard for years now that anybody in Washington accurate both these changes, but there is no such accouterment in the TCJA. For now, the amplitude IRA is animate and well, and Roth IRA owners do not accept to booty any lifetime distributions from their Roth IRAs.
Reprinted with permission from Leimberg Advice Services This commodity originally appeared in LISI Agent Allowances and Retirement Planning Newsletter #685.
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About the author: Natalie B. Choate is a advocate with Nutter McClennen & Fish LLP in Boston, and is the columnist of the Estate Planner’s Bible on Estate and Administration planning for IRAs and Added Retirement Plans, Activity and Afterlife Planning for Retirement Allowances (7th ed. 2011). The book is accessible in printed book anatomy at ATaxPlan.com, or in an cyberbanking copy via cable at Retirement BenefitsPlanning.com. Natalie acquiescently acknowledges the beat abetment of Michael J. Jones, CPA, a accomplice in Monterey, Calif.’s Thompson Jones LLP.
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