Let’s Face it, the number 1 expense for an average American family is Tax.
We are taxed if we earn; we are taxed if we spend; we are taxed if we save; we are taxed if we live and we are taxed when we pass away.
Does it sound ironic to you?
The bill of rights says we are entitled to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness and security ..., but are we?
If you think you are paying too much tax for every dollar you earned from hard work, this post will be extremely helpful if you want to save more for yourself, your family or anybody that matters to you.
Well, I have to learn this the long hard way. So let me help you here to skip a lot of the frustration I went through and instead learn how to save yourself from being overly taxed.
You see, when I earned my first salary, I didn't know too much about tax, I just bought the tax software to report my tax and get my tax returns, never thought about how much I paid.
Over the years, I was married, got kids, I had to work harder to earn more to keep my family happy.
I found my household income was more than doubled from 10 years ago, and my life was twice as much busy as it was 10 years ago, but I can save much less (less than 1/2) than I could save 10 years ago...
And I can see my savings are going downward whenever there were a slightly bigger expense, such as vacation or the month of my insurance premium due.
If you have ever felt this way, let me share what I have learned with you, so you don't have to have the same experience that I had before, click here to sign up with me, I will occasionally send you some updates, blogs and news from investment, to retirement, from protection to long term care, from kids education to tax, asset and estate planning etc...
So with my AFTER-TAX Salary, I will never be able to purchase a house in where I am living now.
You know, I just moved to San Francisco in California about a year ago because of a job, it is probably one of the most expensive cities in the United States, if not the most expensive one.
Any crappy house can be easily sold for more than $1 million, and any descent house can easily cost me $2-$3 million.
I consider myself a high-pay middle-class, my salary could easily rank me the top 10% of the richest people in the US, if not the top 5%.
I understand it is our responsibility to pay income tax in civilized country; what I don't understand is that I pay so much tax, then what is left for me is only able to afford me a crappy apartment for myself.
You see, with my after-tax salary, I have to rent a 200-SQ feet studio, a tiny bedroom with a tiny kitchen and bathroom, no a living room. While my wife and kids have to live in a city that is about 3,000 miles away.
Is it really fair?
Every time, I want to see my daughters, I have to fly 6 hours + another 2 hours of uber...
Based on my calculation, assuming the housing price does not change again, if I don't have to pay any tax, I may be able to purchase a descent house about 10 years from now; but with my after-tax salary, I will never be able to purchase a house, not even a crappy one before I am reaching the age of 150.
So other than just filing tax-returns every year, I also started to become educated. What I found out was that when you earn more, you are required to pay a higher income tax rate, maybe state income tax as well. But it does not mean that's the end of it, there are also other taxes you need to pay in additional to that.
Ten years ago, both my wife and I were working, our combined house hold income was less, we end up paying less tax.
We have two kids and my wife does not work now; my earnings are more than doubled, but ...
Once I realized what expenses and how much I am paying now, I have to search for alternative ways to save on these expenses. Once I implemented this Strategy towards a "Tax-FREE" Retirement, I can see my saving are growing fast again.
Of course, it is not completely Tax-FREE; but it is a Tax-Reduced Retirement strategy. Because only certain Taxes can be minimized, but certain Taxes cannot be avoided, for example, "sales tax" cannot avoided as long as you spend; and "property tax" cannot be avoided as long as you own a house.
If you’re a visual kind of learner, then watch a short video on the power of having a tax free retirement by Ed Slott, who was named “The Best” source for IRA advice by The Wall Street Journal. Otherwise, feel free to read on below the video:
Why do you think everyone is concerned about Tax?
What other expenses we should be concerned about when we retire?
An average American family is paying about 30% of their overall household income to different types of Taxes.
According to motley fool, without accounting for sales tax, property tax and state and local income tax, the average American household paid $14,210 in various taxes in 2016, the most recent year for which finalized data is available. This translates to an effective tax rate of about 24% for the average household.
State and local income taxes: It's tough to say what the average state income tax rate is, because this varies tremendously based on where you live, and several states don't have an income tax at all. For example, the average state income tax in Florida is zero. With that in mind, the U.S. Census Bureau has estimated that Americans pay an average rate of 9.9% in state and local income taxes annually.
Property taxes: These are taxes we pay for the privilege of owning something, and the most common forms are real estate taxes and vehicle taxes. These vary from state to state, and obviously, people who don't own homes or cars don't have to pay them, so it's difficult to say how much the average person pays.
Sales tax: This is another one where it's somewhat misleading to talk about the "average" sales tax, since it varies significantly from state to state, and some states don't have a sales tax. Having said that, the overall average sales tax rate in the U.S. was 8.45% in mid-2015, according to a report from Thomson Reuters.
Do you know how many different types of tax we are paying?
Here is an example list of different types of tax, income tax including both federal income and state income taxes, payroll tax, corporate tax, capital gain tax, estate tax, unemployment tax, medicare tax, sales tax, property tax, sales tax, social security tax, retirement tax, … and that’s not all.
Do you think the tax rate is high right now?
Let’s look at the historical tax rate over the last 100 years. During the second world war, the tax rate for the highest tax bracket is about 90%, scary right?
So the answer to the question is “No”. Although the current tax rate is not all time low, but it is still pretty low comparing to the historical rates.
Do you think the tax rate will stay this low forever?
Let’s look at the historical US federal debt; before Obama took office in 2009, our national debt was about $10 trillion, and as of June 13, 2018, the national debt has become $21.15 trillion. The chart shows the percentage of federal debt relative to the GDP; by 2024, the projected national debt will become 100% of the US GDP. By 2042, the projected debt will be 247% of the US GDP.
Let’s look at the historical US Tax revenue chart (from US Office of Management and budget), where it goes. The orange portion of the tax revenue is going to the debt interest and interest only.
By 2031, all our tax revenue will be catched up by the entitlements (the total of medicare, social security, Medicaid, Obamacare and debt interest).
So do you still think the tax rate will stay the same?
Well, I wouldn’t be very too optimistic about that.
Now, let’s talk about our retirement, the major sources of retirement income include pension, social security, annuity, 401(K)/403(B), etc.
Good news and Bad news ...
Now, I have some good news for you...
The good news is, Americans are living longer.
The bad news is, we will need much bigger retirement fund to prevent us from out living our money.
Do you know Social Security trust fund reserves will be depleted by 2033? After that, we may only be able to receive reduced Social Security benefit.
Another bad news, by the time of our retirement, most likely, we probably have already paid off our housing mortgage, then the major tax deduction, mortgage interest, will probably be gone.
The good news is, with proper planning, we are able to maintain consistent growth of our retirement fund with minimum risks and Tax consequences.
If you want to learn more about how to plan for a peaceful retirement, click here to sign up with me, I will occasionally send you some updates, blogs and news from investment, to retirement, from protection to long term care, from kids education to tax, asset and estate planning etc...
Now, let’s take a look at the US Tax structures. There are three categories.
The first one is Tax-Always category, for any profit we are going to put into our own pocket, we will have to pay a portion to Uncle Sam; this category includes our Salary, interest rate from our Saving/CD, profit earned from bond, mutual fund and stocks, etc.
The second one is Tax-Deferred category. These accounts can be funded with pre-tax dollars, and the growth will not be taxed over time, but when we take out the money, we will have to pay tax to Uncle Sam; this category includes 401(K), IRA, Pension, real estate, etc.
The last one is Tax-Advantaged category. These accounts can be funded with after-tax money; the profit earned in these accounts will not be taxable; by the time we take out money from these account, we don’t have to pay a single dime to Uncle Sam. This category includes Roth IRA, municipal bond, 529 College plan and cash value life insurance.
By leverage the last 2 categories, Tax-Deferred and Tax-Advantaged Account, we may be able to enjoy the maximum benefit out of our retirement fund with the reduced tax consequences.
So do you want to enjoy a "Tax-FREE" retirement?
If you want to learn more about how to plan for a peaceful "TAX-FREE" retirement, Click here to sign up my financial education mailing list, I will occasionally send you some updates, blogs and news from investment, to retirement, from protection to long term care, from kids education to tax, asset and estate planning etc...
Another good news is ...
Time is still on our side because we live longer, we still have time to accumulate wealth and plan for our retirement.
Now, let’s look at the Wealth Accumulation Rules.
If we save our money in a Tax-Deferred or Tax-Advantaged account assuming a 7% growth rate, the amount will be doubled following the rule of 72; in about 10 years (72/growth rate), our investment will be doubled; but if the money is saved in a Tax-Always account assuming 25% tax bracket, it will take about 14 years to double our investment following the rule of 96 (96/growth rate); for Tax-Always account with 39.6% Tax bracket, it will take 17 years to double our investment following the rule of 120 (120/growth rate).
Let look at the rules from another angle.
With the same amount of investment, in order to double our investment in 12 years, the return rate need to be at least 6% under the Tax-Deferred or Tax-Advantaged account, 8% under the Tax-Always account assuming 25% Tax Bracket, and 10% under the Tax-Always Account assuming 10% Tax Bracket.
So does it make sense to invest under the Tax-Deferred or Tax-Advantaged account to accumulate wealth?
Let’s say for someone of age 35, if he can save $10/day, equivalent to 3.63 cups of Lattes; with 5% interest, his saving will become $249,677 in 30 years. By the time of 65, he will have about a quarter million for his retirement.
Can you save $10 a day?
Now, let’s look at the difference between all three different Tax categories, Tax-Always, Tax-Deferred and Tax-Advantaged.
Assuming someone of age 35 make $5,500 contribution to each of his 3 accounts under Tax-Advantaged, Tax-Deferred and Tax-Always; with 6.5% investment return, by the age of 65, he would have $505,941 in his Tax-Advantaged account, $393,430 in his Tax-Deferred account and $341,671 in his Tax-Always account assuming 33% Tax bracket.
Now, which one of these categories will help us to save the most?
A Tax Diversification strategy will leverage the Tax-Advantaged Program and the Tax-Deferred program to help us to reduce our Tax responsibilities under the same amount of retirement income.
The purpose of Tax-diversification is to achieve minimum Tax responsibilities, and to avoid hitting a higher Tax bracket without reducing the retirement income we shall receive. As a result, we will be paying less tax for the same amount of money taking out of our retirement account; with less Tax, we will have more money to spend for our personal use.
To achieve Tax Diversification, we need to have have a Tax-Deferred account, and at least one Tax-Advantaged Account.
Most of us should already have at least one Tax-Deferred account, if you do not have a Tax-Deferred account, contact me or click here to sign up with me, I will show you how to setup a Tax-Deferred account.
So the Key to the Tax Diversification Strategy s to setup a Tax-advantaged program that can maintain consistent investment returns with downside protection, it should have no limit to the contributions and no age requirement for taking the money out, it should last as long as we lives and most importantly, it should be able to shelter our investment returns from the being Taxed.
Now let’s look at different types of Tax-Advantaged programs.
Roth IRA, was designed for low income earners, so most of us probably do not qualify for this one, even if we qualify, we can save very limited amount of dollars ($5,500/year, and $6,500/year for age above 50) into this account. It won't help too much.
Roth 401(K), is similar to Roth IRA, but it is designed for high income earners, we can contribute up to $17,500/year to a Roth 401(k). Still limited amount.
Both Roth IRA and Roth 401(k), are under the market risk and we cannot take out the money before 59.5; if we do, there will be 10% penalty.
Municipal bound has very low interest rate, not worth putting money in.
529 College funding, as the name suggested, it is designed to pay for the educations, not for retirement.
So none of the above is suitable.
Cash Value Life Insurance (7702 program), there is no limit to the contributions, and we can take money out any time we want, it has downside protection, and upside potentials.
This is perfect for our purpose.
But there is one disadvantage, not everyone is eligible, due to the age and health conditions.
If possible, I would suggest everyone to setup a 7702 account when he/she is still healthy.
By the way, the congress is considering this product as a loop hole, there are some debates to suspend this.
So I would suggest all eligible people to get a 7702 account when it is still effective. According to the grandfather clause, as long as the effective date of the 7702 account is before the date of any new regulations, it will not be touched by the new regulations.
We have discussed every thing you need to know about a "Tax-FREE" retirement Strategy.
Are you ready to set your a "Tax-FREE" retirement plan yet?
Now, think about how many years we would need retirement income, how much we need to take the retirement income annually, what other income stream we have, how much Tax-deferred and how much social security benefit we will be eligible at the time of retirement.
It is impossible to predict when people would pass away, we just know everybody will pass away some day. So we have to leave some rooms so that we never outlive our money.
Don't worry, for most of the programs, if we have not deplete our money before we pass away, the remaining of our balance, investment returns and benefit will be available to our beneficiaries. Of course, we have to designate one or more beneficiaries before we pass away.
Additionally, in order to achieve the minimum Tax-responsibilities for our retirement, we have to be careful about the Income Tax schedule and the Tax Table for Social Security Benefits at the time of the retirement.
More importantly, we also need to make sure we don't lapse our cash value life insurance; it is "Tax-FREE" only if it is effective; if it is lapsed, it may become a Tax-Bomb.
Unfortunately, there is not a single-one-for-all solution; because every family will be slightly different, in their financial situations, life style, and life expectancy. That’s why every family has to look at their own situation to design a personalized strategy for their family needs.
The good news is that the overall blueprint will be the same, it is to leverage the Tax-Advantaged and Tax-Deferred Account to achieve the minimum Tax consequences when we retire.
And It is also not very difficult to design a personalized strategy for every family.
If you want to learn more about how to plan for a peaceful retirement, click here to sign up my financial education mailing list, I will occasionally send you some updates, blogs and news from investment, to retirement, from protection to long term care, from kids education to tax, asset and estate planning etc...
Plus, we cannot change the IRS regulations and we cannot predict the Tax Rate, all we can do is to design a strategy to minimize our tax responsibilities after we retire.
No matter what will happen after we retire, a Tax-Diversified financial strategy should be able to minimize our Tax-responsibilities, let's plan for a "Tax-FREE" retirement without ever worrying about Tax-Rate again, shall we?
So go ahead sign up my financial education mailing list, I will occasionally send you some updates, blogs and news from investment, to retirement, from protection to long term care, from kids education to tax, asset and estate planning etc...
Now, Do you think it’s possible to to save on Taxes?
Answer with a yes or no in the comments section and feel free to tell me more about what you think.
I asked a question at the end of the video if you can think of any other expenses we should be concerned about.
What about medical expenses, such as Long-Term Care (LTC), which can eat away our retirement savings quickly, Click here to read more on Long-Term Care.
Does it sound easy to save tax and plan for your own retirement? What about helping others to save tax and plan for retirement once you’ve learned how to do it for yourself. If that sounds like a cool thing to do…
So go ahead sign up with me, I will share with you how you can help the others to plan for a peaceful retirement, while at the same time you can also build a flexible legacy family business that can be passed on generations...
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Founder of BuildWealthwithDuo.com
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