Benefits of Roth IRA, by Chicago Accountants.

Many investors and financial professionals are familiar with the primary benefits of a Roth IRA: that after you pay taxes on the money going into the Roth IRA that the plans investments grow tax free and come out tax free.  That being said, there are so many more benefits to the Roth IRA that need to be noted. I’ll note just three.

First, Roth IRAs are not subject to RMD. Traditional retirement plan owners are subject to rules known as Required Minimum Distribution rules which require the account owner to start taking distributions and paying tax on the distributions (since traditional plan) when the account owner reaches the age of 70 ½. Not being subject to RMD rules allows the Roth IRA to keep accumulating tax free income (free of capital gain or other taxes on its investment returns) and allows the account to continue to accumulate tax free income during the account owner’s life time.

Second, a surviving spouse who is the beneficiary of a Roth IRA can continue contributing to that Roth IRA or can combine that Roth IRA into their own Roth IRA.  Allowing the spouse beneficiary to take over the account allows additional tax free growth on investments in the Roth IRA account. A traditional IRA on the other hand cannot be merged into an IRA of the surviving spouse nor can the surviving beneficiary spouse make additional contributions to this account. Non spouse beneficiaries (e.g. children of Roth IRA owner) cannot make additional contributions to the inherited Roth IRA and cannot combine it with their own Roth IRA account. The non spouse beneficiary becomes subject to required minimum distribution rules but can delay out required distributions up to 5 years from the year of the Roth IRA account owner’s death and is able to continue to keep the tax free return treatment of the retirement account for 5 years after the death of the owner. The second option for non-spouse beneficiaries is to take withdrawals of the account over the life time expectancy of the beneficiary (the younger the beneficiary the longer they can delay taking money out of the Roth IRA). The lifetime expectancy option is usually the best option for a non-spouse beneficiary to keep as much money in the Roth IRA for tax free returns and growth.

Third, Roth IRA owner’s are not subject to the 10% early withdrawal penalty for distributions they take before age 59 ½ on amounts that are comprised of contributions or conversions. Growth and earning are subject to the early withdrawal penalty and to taxes too but you can always take out the amounts you contributed to your Roth IRA or the amounts that you converted without paying taxes or penalties (note that conversions have a 5 year wait period before you can take out penalty and tax free).

Roth IRAs are a great tool for many investors. Keep in mind that there are qualification rules to being eligible for a Roth IRA that leave out many high income individuals. However, you can convert your traditional retirement plan dollars to a Roth IRA (sometimes known as a backdoor Roth IRA) as the conversion rules do not have an income qualification level requirement on converted amounts to Roth IRAs. This conversion option has in essence made Roth IRAs available to everyone regardless of income

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Ten Facts about the Child Tax Credit, by Chicago CPAs.

The Child Tax Credit is an important tax credit that may be worth as much as $1,000 per qualifying child depending upon your income. Here are 10 important facts from the IRS about this credit and how it may benefit your family.

  1. Amount – With the Child Tax Credit, you may be able to reduce your federal income tax by up to $1,000 for each qualifying child under the age of 17.
  2. Qualification – A qualifying child for this credit is someone who meets the qualifying criteria of six tests: age, relationship, support, dependent, citizenship, and residence.
  3. Age Test – To qualify, a child must have been under age 17 – age 16 or younger – at the end of 2012.
  4. Relationship Test – To claim a child for purposes of the Child Tax Credit, they must either be your son, daughter, stepchild, foster child, brother, sister, stepbrother, stepsister or a descendant of any of these individuals, which includes your grandchild, niece or nephew. An adopted child is always treated as your own child. An adopted child includes a child lawfully placed with you for legal adoption.
  5. Support Test – In order to claim a child for this credit, the child must not have provided more than half of their own support.
  6. Dependent Test – You must claim the child as a dependent on your federal tax return.
  7. Citizenship Test – To meet the citizenship test, the child must be a U.S. citizen, U.S. national, or U.S. resident alien.
  8. Residence Test – The child must have lived with you for more than half of 2012. There are some exceptions to the residence test, which can be found in IRS Publication 972, Child Tax Credit.
  9. Limitations – The credit is limited if your modified adjusted gross income is above a certain amount. The amount at which this phase-out begins varies depending on your filing status. In addition, the Child Tax Credit is generally limited by the amount of the income tax you owe as well as any alternative minimum tax you owe.
  10. Additional Child Tax Credit – If the amount of your Child Tax Credit is greater than the amount of income tax you owe, you may be able to claim the Additional Child Tax Credit.

Please call Chicago Accountants at 773-728-1500 if you need help in getting your individual or corporation income tax prepared.

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