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.


Giving Gifts While on Medicaid Can Be Risky

Mabel’s children were concerned that Mabel would need long-term nursing-home care in the near future. It was the holidays, and Mabel always got a lot of joy out of generosity. But her children had heard that people in Mabel’s circumstances should not give gifts.

The concern is real. For Medicaid to cover the huge expense of nursing-home care, Mabel would have to show that she owned nothing more than around $2,000. And she must also show that she had not given away money or assets over the prior five years (2.5 years in California). That Medicaid rule – the “look-back period” or the “transfer penalty” – would charge Mabel dearly for her generosity. Depending on the size and number of gifts, the penalty could be substantial.

Many wrongly think that there is no penalty for gifts of up to around $15,000 annually. That misunderstanding confuses tax law with Medicaid law (and it also misstates tax law, but that’s another subject). The Medicaid rules are entirely different from the tax rules. In the Medicaid context, gifts of any amount that are given during the look-back period can be penalized.

There are exceptions. These include gifts to spouses and siblings under certain circumstances, disabled children, and children who are caregivers and who live at home with the elder for a span of time. But overall, gifts and Medicaid do not go together. The Medicaid rules are complicated and the consequences for mistakes can be very costly. There are a number of options to protect assets and still qualify for benefits, but these options must be weighed with great care. This is why it’s best to consult attorneys who, like us, are qualified by experience and expertise in Medicaid law.

There is one harmless deception Mabel’s children might consider, to keep Mabel happy and still satisfy the Medicaid rules. The children might help Mabel fill out checks for all the gifts she’d like to give, together with a greeting card for each gift. Everybody could thank Mabel, tear up the check later, and tell her what they “bought” with that amount. It may be that that little device would be worth it, so Mabel could enjoy the holidays too.

Otherwise, the sooner you consult a qualified elder law attorney, the more other options may be available. If we can be of assistance, please don’t hesitate to reach out for a consultation.