Slaved Away for Decades. Now What?

So you have slaved away for decades at a job you probably hated or at the very least felt indifferent about and it’s time to retire; what now? Is it time to spend your days drinking mojitos on the shore of some beautiful island in the middle of the Caribbean while you finally start writing the novel you planed out when you were 33? Not just yet. If you’re about to start living on a fixed income you want to be sure your taxes are in order so no unexpected financial surprises will keep you from spending the rest of your days lounging on a tropical paradise. Luckily, you may be able to get free IRS efile from either your accountant or from accounting software.

If you’re receiving pensions, most of your pension tax pay out was probably done by your employer though that’s not always the case. If you chose to tax-defer your pensions then it will be fully taxable by those lovely people at the I.R.S. You can use a form 1099-R to report pensions and annuity income.

Many retiree’s have a 401(k) or an IRA. 401(k)’s are fully taxable while IRA’s are either fully or partially taxable depending on whether you have a deductible or non-deductible Traditional IRA. Also, savings. One is required to withdraw from their 401(K) and Traditional IRA plans once they reach 70. An exception to this is the Roth IRA. With the Roth IRA not only are you not required to make withdrawals but you could, in theory, leave all your money in the account to be disturbed to your heirs.

Something else to consider is whether or not you are going to move to another state after retiring. Different states have different tax rates. For example, Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, and Oregon do not collect sales tax while every other state in the union does. California has the highest sales tax with 8.25%. If you’re a smoker you should avoid New York City because the y have the highest taxation on cigarettes. Also, Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming do not collect personal income tax. Also, 27 states, including Alabama, North Carolina, and Wisconsin, provide a full exclusion for Social Security benefits.

After you’ve gotten your taxes in order and have a rough estimate of how much they’re going to cost you, you can relax worry-free. Who knows, you might actually get around to finishing that novel after all…

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Slaved Away for Decades. Now What? — 1 Comment

  1. I knew this post was written by a non-tax professional before I read it and you proved me right. 😉 One caveat: Be careful where you get your tax advice. Your information is mostly correct. It’s the “mostly” that gets people in trouble. But I happen to know that YOU consulted professionals before you made your retirement decision.