Think you’re being tax-savvy? Better think twice

Posted by on January 28, 2013 @ 11:30 am in Taxes

An exchange I had during the holidays triggered my desire to write—and, hopefully, get some feedback from all of you.

The topic du jour is the fiscal cliff and what the government (House, Senate, President) will or will not do in the coming weeks and months. A friend who visited on New Year’s Day mentioned that he was stopping his Roth 401(k) contributions and shifting back to pre-tax ones. I asked him why, and he said, “Well, with tax rates going up, it’s more expensive to make an after-tax Roth contribution.”

Then I asked if he had checked with a tax advisor or a financial planner before making this change, and he said he hadn’t. So I asked if he had run the numbers to compare the additional tax cost against the potential value of the tax-free earnings accrued over time from Roth contributions. Again, he said “no.” Finally, I asked if he’d checked on the overall tax diversification balance of his assets. Nope. He decided to go check on the football score after that. I hope he eventually looks into all of these questions, but I have my doubts.

Have you made any moves as a result of the first phase of tax changes? If yes, what was your approach? Is this tax increase (including the estate tax provisions) driving some of your decisions, and have you sought any professional help to sort it out?

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