Elder Law

Changing Tax Laws and Retirement Planning

SECURE 2.0 Act and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) enacted in August and December of 2022, respectively, contain new tax provisions. Lower-income household tax code changes will automatically take effect.

Households of higher income and net worth may want to review their retirement and estate plans to see if changes are necessary. Beyond these two new initiatives, some existing tax laws will expire by December 31, 2025. All new and due-to-expire tax laws affect your current bottom line, retirement, and legacy planning.

Inflation Reduction Act (IRA)

The IRA addresses many issues, including:

·        Climate Change

Incentivizing homeowners to add wind or solar power extend to 2032, with eligible homeowners qualifying for a 30% tax credit. Rebates for existing tax credits for purchasing new electric or other hydrogen fuel cell cars also extend to 2032. Qualifying car buyers receive a $7,500 tax credit at the point of sale. Qualifying sales of used electric vehicles for $4,000 have also been added.

·        Healthcare

Subsidy expansion for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act receives an extension through 2025. Another provision opens the possibility for Medicare drug price negotiations.

·        Corporate Taxation

Corporations earning more than one billion dollars in profits now have a minimum 15% tax based on the annual income of the corporation’s financial statement, not the taxable income. The IRA also adds a one percent tax on corporate stock buybacks based on the value of the shares.

·        Expanded IRS Enforcement

The IRS will receive an additional $80 billion over ten years to boost tax collections by increasing audits and other tax enforcement actions.

SECURE 2.0 Act

The SECURE 2.0 Act is part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA) of 2023. It changes how you save for retirement by altering rules from the original Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act of 2019. These changes seek to improve retirement savings options regarding accrual and withdrawing money from retirement accounts. The Act includes 92 new provisions that promote savings, incentivize businesses, and increase flexibility for retirement savings strategies. Effective dates for some of the provisions vary as some are effective immediately while others phase in over the next few years.

The SECURE 2.0 Act has Three Overarching Goals:

  1. Empower people to save more for their retirement
  2. Improve existing retirement rules
  3. Lower the cost of setting up a retirement plan for employers

These goals address the need for retirement preparedness. Empowering individuals to close the retirement gap between what they have saved and should have saved will provide more flexibility upon retirement. If current projections don’t change, US retirees will outlive their savings by an average of eight to twenty years, putting undo pressure on already strained federal assistance programs.

Raising the Starting Age for Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs)

The threshold age has increased from 72 to 73 for taking required minimum distributions from traditional IRAs and workplace retirement plans. In January of 2033, the RMD threshold will rise to 75. Additionally, the penalty for failure to take RMDs on time is halved from 50% to 25% of the undistributed amount.

Taking advantage of delaying RMDs will provide a larger withdrawal and potentially result in a higher tax liability in later years. An estate planning attorney or elder law attorney working with your financial advisor can help tailor distribution strategies before age 73 to mitigate tax consequences. Pursuing a more tax-diversified investment portfolio, including Roth IRAs and non-qualified holdings with unrealized capital gains that receive more favorable tax treatment, can preserve assets, generate later-life income, and help manage future tax liability.

Increase in Catch-up Contributions

You can set aside additional dollars over the standard maximum contribution to retirement plans like a 401(k) and IRA with a new proposal for catch-up contributions for age groups 62 to 64 and ages 60 to 63.

Yet another provision requires all catch-up contributions to be on an after-tax basis, except for those earning $145,000 or less. Other catch-up contributions will enable you to set aside more income in tax-advantaged retirement savings options while reducing current taxable income.

401(k) Auto-Enrollment

Auto-enrollment allows employers to enroll employees into a workplace retirement plan automatically. By 2025, an employee has to opt out of the program their employer provides rather than opting in. Participants can automatically defer 3% to 10% of their annual income into the retirement plan.

The Remaining 89 Provisions

An estate planning attorney or elder law attorney can help coordinate your strategies for the best possible retirement and legacy outcomes by interpreting many other provisions not mentioned in this article. Some of the more notable provisions include:

  • Retirement plan contributions if you have student loan debt
  • Rollover of a 529 Plan to balance a Roth IRA
  • Roth’s employer plan changes
  • Saver’s credit match
  • Penalty-free early withdrawals
  • New qualified charitable distribution rules (QCDs)
  • New limits on qualified longevity annuity contracts (QLACs)

How these new provisions affect your retirement and estate planning is unique and will require some broad understanding of the laws and how they apply to your situation.

Tax Laws That Will Expire

Many tax laws will be sunsetting. They relate to the Tax Cut and Jobs Act (TCJA) provisions of 2017. As these sunset dates draw nearer, it’s crucial to leverage current tax laws and mitigate the impact of the changes on your retirement and estate planning.

2023 Tax Bracket Adjustments

After 2025, tax brackets will move higher.

  • The current top tax bracket for individuals taxpayers, trust income, and estates of 37% will increase to 39.6%
  • The current 24% rate will increase to 28%
  • The current 22% rate will increase to 25%
  • The current 12% rate will increase to 15%

Determine the potential benefits of maximizing pre-tax contributions to retirement plans and capitalize on the current lower tax brackets.

Dramatic Cuts in Unified Gift and Estate Tax Deductions

In 2026, tax deductions will reduce with a projected inflation-adjusted exemption of $6.8 million. Lifetime gifting strategies will become limited and impact certain estate planning and wealth transfer strategies at death.

Tax-efficient Planning in an Uncertain Economic Landscape

The economic environment continues to change considerably. Persistent higher inflation and interest rates play a part in the calculation when establishing Charitable Remainder Trusts (CRTs). Establishing this trust type at higher interest rates creates a potential tax advantage.


There is a narrow window of opportunity for higher-value individuals and estates to preserve and protect significant wealth. The IRA, SECURE 2.0 Act, sunsetting laws, and the limitless possibilities of more tax legislation passing Congress means taking strategic planning seriously. An estate planning attorney or elder law attorney can provide a comprehensive understanding of how current laws can be leveraged to protect your financial future and legacy.

We hope you found this article helpful. If you have questions or would like to discuss your personal situation, please don’t hesitate to contact our Reno office by calling us at (775) 853-5700.

Estate Planning

How Americans are Retiring Poor

It’s Important to keep your finances well managed so you can enjoy a freedom of lifestyle during your retirement.  Sadly, reports say that less than 5 percent of Americans will be financially free by the age of 65. Changes in the U.S. economy coupled with increased health care costs and lack of personal savings have put millions of American workers at financial risk as they approach their retirement years. According to a study published online at cnbc.com, nearly 40% of America’s middle-class will experience poverty in retirement. Why?

One reason is that few Americans clearly define what financial freedom means to them. The definition is a wide array of personal opinion, but there is an economic equation that can easily encompass the most basic standard set for financial freedom; P.I ≥ L.E.Translated it means passive income = lifestyle expenses. An individual’s passive incomes from assets need to be equal to or higher than the income you require to afford your chosen lifestyle. Many people retire poor because they did apply this fundamental equation to their financial future. Some individuals are too disinterested to engage in financial planning or too lazy to be proactive and productive. The adage, “failing to plan is planning to fail” sadly applies to many Americans’ retirement strategies. Hoping things will work out is not a strategy any more than planning on winning the lottery is. Individuals must establish their goals and ruthlessly and relentlessly pursue them.

Every American has a different financial reality, and much of it is derived from the mindset they choose to adopt regarding finances. Consciously, as well as subconsciously, rich people think like rich people and poor people think like poor people. What you manifest is what you see and in turn, what you become. This mindset is why so often lottery winners go bankrupt after “hitting it big” and why wealthy people who go bankrupt often go on to develop a new fortune. Keep your mindset focus positive and reinforce your short and long term financial goals daily. Your attitude can determine your altitude.

Many Americans who retire poor chose the “let’s just wing it” path or did not attain sound and conservative financial management help. Do not be influenced by other poor people. Surround yourself with successful friends and family and learn from them. You can model their behavior in your own life. Retain a trusted accountant, banker, or financial advisor who can tailor your individual financial needs into an easy to follow set of steps and apply them. It does not have to be overly complicated and sometimes, the more straightforward the approach, the better. If you learn from successful people and sound financial consultants, you stand a better chance of becoming financially free. 

Some Americans stick their heads in the sand and never confront the facts of their financial reality. These are the people with stacks of unopened bank statements in their homes. While it can be painful to address a bleak economic reality, it is worse to have an inherent aversion to tackling the task at hand. You cannot abdicate your financial situation to anyone. You can receive trusted advice and help but do not avoid facing the truth of your finances. Oversight avoidance is how some famous athletes and performers have made vast fortunes but managed to squander every last cent. No one should care more about your financial freedom than you do.  

Many people who retire poor did not save any money, and those who inherited wealth squander instead of saving in the name of immediate gratification of a new car, or large home. Extravagant expenditures feel great at the moment, but the goal is to live beneath your means. Make saving money your number one habit. People who are successful at saving sometimes make a game of it like shopping online for the best deals or using coupons. Small savings during purchasing not only add up over time, but they also reinforce the habit of saving money. When you save money, you can apply the power of compound growth. Many people who retire poor do not understand how valuable the concept of compound growth is. It can take modest savings and in time, create wealth. Sadly, many Americans understand the concept of compound growth from the wrong side of the equation. Generally speaking, Americans are debt slaves. They rack up credit card debt and pay services charges, which are the bank lending industry’s compound growth money maker. People retire in poverty because they are on the wrong side of the compound growth equation.

Without the saving habit, compound growth equation, living beneath your means, and acquiring as little debt as possible you wind up working for money instead of money working for you. It is essential to assess the three following ways income can manifest itself in your life. There is earned income, which generally is in the form of a paycheck or salary for services or products provided. Then there is portfolio income which represents stocks, investments, and pensions. Finally, there is passive income, which comes in the form of royalties, patents, online services, or rental revenues, to name a few. These multiple streams of income can make retirement far more comfortable than relying on a modest pension and ever declining social security benefits check. People who retire rich have multiple streams of income, giving them a real path to financial freedom. People who retire in poverty continue working for money without the benefit of alternative sources of revenue.

There is little excuse to lack the knowledge and skillsets to become financially solvent in the digital age. Americans who struggle financially in retirement did not take the time to become financially educated. Being ignorant about finances is a sure way to retire poor. Online and for free, you can find many websites that generate articles about financial education. It comes as no surprise that people who retire with financial problems have the worst reading habits. If you don’t enjoy reading try financial literacy games for adults or learn through online seminars to boost your financial understanding. Even with financial knowledge if you lack a plan and the will power to follow it, you will retire without economic freedom. The practical application of your plan is crucial. Most Americans do not make a plan for their retirement, and many that do begin too late to affect a substantial change because compound growth and accrual of wealth take time. However, it is better to start your retirement plan late than not at all.

Ultimately the choice rests with the individual. Most Americans would rather retire with adequate incomes for a comfortable retirement lifestyle. Remember that you are not a product of your circumstances; you are a product of your decisions. Make the right decision today for your financial freedom in retirement.

If you have questions or would like to discuss your personal situation, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Please contact our Reno office by calling us at (775) 853-5700.