We all know that the funding for the freshly passed healthcare reform bill has to come from somewhere. If you have a successful medical practice, some of that money may come out of your pocket. The 3.8% Medicare Part A tax impacts individuals who make in excess of $200,000 per year. At this time, it looks like 2013 is the year when you will start seeing this additional tax impact your earnings.However, that’s not the only option available if you want to maintain your standard of living and ensure your future financial wellbeing. The new tax will be assessed on “unearned income”. That includes things like capital gains on investments as well as dividend and annuity payments. Notably, the tax does not apply to the earnings accumulating in your IRA, 401(k), or other tax deferred retirement accounts.
Start Planning Now
If you aren’t taking full advantage of the opportunity to divert as much money as possible into these tax sheltered accounts, now is the time to start. If you are self-employed (and your spouse does not participate in an employer-sponsored retirement plan), you can generally make tax deductible contributions to a traditional IRA. Even better, 2010 is the year that you can convert a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA where money will grow tax free – not just tax deferred – if you wait until retirement age to take distributions.
Of course non-deductible IRAs and other retirement vehicles offer protection from other forms of taxation and are always well worth investigating. You could even consider branching out and adding real estate holdings to an IRA. Any income you make from leasing the property could be protected in the retirement account rather than being exposed to capital gains taxes.
Increase Your Retirement Contribution Limits
As a small business owner and/or a self-employed individual there are other options available as well. With such a low cap on annual contributions to an IRA ($5000 or $10,000 for couples), you might benefit from setting up a plan with higher limits. This could be a Simplified Employee Pension (SEP), Keogh plan, or Solo 401(k). These offer the potential for you to set aside as much as $49,000 per year in a retirement account.
With the plans listed above, you will need additional financial, legal, and HR related advice. Setting up a pension plan through your business is complicated and can have unintended consequences such as affecting the deductibility status of contributions to an IRA. In addition, you may be required to cut your employees in on the deal. That’s not a bad thing if you are looking to retain highly skilled workers by offering a better total compensation plan.
Are you going to sit down with your financial planner and re-evaluate your retirement planning this year? Do you have some ideas for maximizing your income while minimizing your tax exposure?