HomeContentsPlanningInvestingExpensesIncomeLifestyleEstatesContactLinks

Retirees Need to Focus on Taxes, not Income.

Return to Expenses


Uncle Sam Wants Your Retirement Funds

As mentioned earlier, income management in retirement needs to focus on tax implications.  Since income is net of taxes and US taxes are progressive (tax rate increases with income), you need to be vigilant regarding the tax impact (expense) of actions taken to secure income.  Any time you receive money from pensions or annuities or receive distributions of dividends, interest or capital gains, you generate a corresponding tax bill.  Even interest from “tax-free” municipal bonds is considered in the tax calculation.  You may also generate a tax bill from your Social Security income or from your investment withdrawal.  The more you withdraw/receive in the same tax year, the higher percentage you’ll pay and the less income you’ll have.  As the following example illustrates, if you’re married and filing jointly you’ll pay only 10% tax on the first $19,750 received, but 12% or more on greater amounts (37% tax on income/withdrawal dollars over $622,050).

Example: Married Filing Jointly & Surviving Spouses (2020)

If taxable income is over --
But not over--
The Tax is:
$0
$19,750
10% of taxable income.
$19,750
$80,250
$1,975 plus 12% of the amount over $19,750.
$80,250
$171,050
$9,235 plus 22% of the amount over $80,250.
$171,050
$326,600
$29,211 plus 24% of the amount over $171,050.
$326,600
$414,700
$66,543 plus 32% of the amount over $326,600.
$414,700
$622,050
$94,735 plus 35% of the amount over $414,700.
$622,050
no limit
$167,307.50 plus 37% of the amount over $622,050.

Example: Individual (Single) Taxpayers (2020)

If taxable income is over --
But not over--
The Tax is:
$0
$9,875
10% of taxable income.
$9,875
$40,125
$987.50 plus 12% of the amount over $9,875.
$40,125
$85,525
$4,617.50 plus 22% of the amount over $40,125.
$85,525
$163,300
$14,605.50 plus 24% of the amount over $85,525.
$163,300
$207,350
$33,271.50 plus 32% of the amount over $163,300.
$207,350
$518,400
$47,367.50 plus 35% of the amount over $207,350.
$518,400
no limit
$156,235 plus 37% of the amount over $518,400.

Example: Married Filing Separately (2020)

If taxable income is over --
But not over--
The Tax is:
$0
$9,875
10% of taxable income.
$9,875
$40,125
$987.50 plus 12% of the amount over $9,875.
$40,125
$85,525
$4,617.50 plus 22% of the amount over $40,125.
$85,525
$163,300
$14,605.50 plus 24% of the amount over $85,525.
$163,300
$207,350
$33,271.50 plus 32% of the amount over $163,300.
$207,350
$311,025
$47,367.50 plus 35% of the amount over $207,350.
$311,025
no limit
$83,653.75 plus 37% of the amount over $311,025.


ClipArt/Taxes.jpg


Standard Deduction

Under President Donald Trump's 2018 tax law changes (Tax Cuts & Jubs Act), the personal exemption amount is eliminated, and more taxpayers claim the Standard Deduction.

For 2020, the Standard Deduction Amounts are as follows:

Filing Status
Standard Deduction Amount
Single
$12,400
Married Filing Jointly & Surviving Spouses
$24,800
Married Filing Separately
$12,400
Head of Household
$18,650

  • For 2020, the Additional Standard Deduction amount for those over 65 or blind is $1,300. The additional standard deduction amount increases to $1,650 for unmarried taxpayers.
  • For 2020, the Standard Deduction Amount for a individual who may be claimed as a dependent by another taxpayer cannot exceed the greater of $1,100 or the sum of $350 and the individual's earned income (not to exceed the regular standard deduction amount).

Taxes on Social Security Benefits

You may have to pay income taxes on your Social Security benefits if you have other income.  About one-third of people who get Social Security have to pay taxes on a portion or all of their benefits.

  • If you file a federal tax return as an “individual,” and your provisional income* is between $25,001 and $34,000, you may have to pay taxes on 50 ­percent of your Social Security benefits. If your combined income is more than $34,000, up to 85 percent of your Social Security benefits are subject to income tax.

  • If you file a joint return, you may have to pay taxes on 50 percent of your benefits if you and your spouse have a combined income that is between $32,001 and $44,000. If your combined income is more than $44,000, up to 85 percent of your Social Security benefits are subject to income tax.

  • If you are married and file a separate return, you probably will pay taxes on your benefits.

* Use the following to determine your Provisional Income:

Your Adjusted Gross Income
+ Nontaxable Interest
+ 1/2 of Your Social Security Benefits
= Your "Provisional Income"

At the end of each year, you will receive a Social Security Benefit Statement (Form SSA-1099) showing the amount of benefits you received. You can use this statement when you complete your federal income tax return to find out if you have to pay taxes on your benefits.

Money invested in traditional IRA or 401(k) accounts is taxable when it is withdrawn, and it must be withdrawn in annual installments (according to IRS Uniform Lifetime schedules) beginning at age 70 ½.  Money invested in Roth IRAs or Roth 401(k)s grows tax free, is not taxable when withdrawn, and has no withdrawal requirements.